Viewpoint: Gender equity debate demands understanding of biological differences

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[Editor’s notes: Marta Iglesias is a predoctoral researcher in the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Lisbon. Her research is focused on how evolution shapes brains and behavior in competitive contexts such as mate selection and aggression.]

Among feminists, there exists a pervasive tendency to believe that animals and humans play different roles in the world, and are subject to different rules. Some ascribe this difference to ‘culture’ or ‘intelligence,’ while others ascribe it to ‘society.’ However, this alleged distinction between humans and other animals does not stand up well under scrutiny. Certainly, our cultural dimension affects the way we reproduce, but we cannot modify it much. This is because the mechanisms we have evolved to choose a mate and to reproduce are a product of our biology, passed down a long lineage of successful breeders.

These differences manifest as the differences we observe in our daily lives: from the toys we prefer when we are small to the products we consume when we are adults; from the tendency to be the object of bullying or its perpetrator to the likelihood of causing a traffic accident; from the posture we adopt when we sit in the underground to the importance we attach to career status.

We can more productively fight gender problems if we acknowledge naturally occurring differences upon which we can work, instead of imposing rules that only increase misunderstanding, allow fallacies to proliferate, and instrumentalise fear as a motor for change.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Why Feminists Must Understand Evolution

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