POP Culture, II

2002-12-01

There is some other interesting stuff at the post-objectivism site, including a call for dialogue between Buddhists and Randians (not as far-fetched as you might think), a fine interview with literary scholar Kirsti Minsaas, reflections on the Culture novels of SF writer Iain Banks, and some intriguing essays on Rand and feminism. I happen to be a female chauvinist, so the latter essays strike a chord with me. But I find it hard to accept statements such as the following:

Feminists, as a rule, assume that there are few if any inherent, unchangeable differences between men and women; only a lot of individual differences and variation. (Thomas Gramstad, What is Feminism?)

"Man" and "woman" are social-cultural categories, not biological ones. (Thomas Gramstad, Vive Les Differences)

While I appreciate Gramstad's call for a biological individualism, it does no good to ignore aggregate biological differences. This is not some primitive sociobiology, but more and more simple biological fact (read Steven Pinker's book The Blank Slate for an overview and pointers to the research results). It's downright silly to say that 'man' and 'woman' are purely socio-cultural categories -- would we say the same thing of our near-relatives the chimps, orangutans, and gorillas, or animals such as dogs, horses, pigs, ad cattle ("don't be so patriarchal, 'bull' and 'cow' are purely socio-cultural categories, not biological ones")? However, admitting that there are aggregate biological differences between the sexes does not imply collectivism or a desire to ignore individual differences. The dogma of the blank slate is not the only defense against simplistic stereotyping, nor the best one (since the evidence proves it false).


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal