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On-going Gender Bias
September 29, 2004
by K. C. Wilson

We define aggression as, "what men do," and nurturing as, "what women do." The genders are used to define the terms. This blinds us to the equal aggressiveness of women, and equal nurturing of masculinity.

It is the real gender bias in our society which continues to this day, expressed in stereotypes such as deadbeat dad and batterer, and innocent victim woman, and relied upon to gain special treatment for women. We fall prey to it because we continue to attribute characteristics to groups while ignoring genuine gender differences. Feminism in particular has fallen into the same trap of which they once accused others.

It shows up in the strangest of places. In her book, Odd Girl Out, Rachel Simmons says, "... the female orientation to relationship and connection -- to nurturing and care-giving --" as though they are one and the same. This in a book whose very purpose is to show how the female orientation to personal contact is just as readily used to bully and abuse as nurture and care.

On a web page of the National Institute of Mental Health we find, "... [suicide] is associated with aggressive behavior that is more common in men." No study has ever found a gender association with aggression any more than one with love, empathy, greed, or lust. Testosterone has been explicitly dis-associated with aggression, causing no more than does estrogen. NIMH even performed some of the studies that established this.

Society uses its men for its aggressions. This does not mean men are aggressive, but society. Men have greater outbound energy than women and boys are more rambunctious than girls; masculinity is adventure, independence, and exploration. If this is called aggression, that is the bias to which I refer. It is damaging, not only in its unfairness to men and their subsequent narrow treatment, but in the effects on all such as readily denying children their fathers.

Carol Gilligan created a career by asserting an inherent female moral superiority, a throwback to Victorian times if ever there was one. (See her book, In a Different Voice.) Unfortunately, she never found any evidence. Indeed, Lawrence Walker of the University of British Columbia published a review of 108 studies on gender differences in solving moral dilemmas. He says that, "Sex differences in moral reasoning in late adolescence and youth are rare." And Anne Colby of Radcliffe College says, "There is little support in the psychological literature for the notion that girls are more aware of others' feelings or are more altruistic than boys. Sex differences in empathy are inconsistently found and are generally very small when they are reported."

Gender differences appear in how things are expressed. Not what.

Male-aggression is only the first half of the bias. No gender association for nurturing has ever been found, either. It's purely social perception. Life-long child development researcher Michael Lamb says, "With the exception of lactation, there is no evidence that women are biologically predisposed to be better parents than men are."

Men often nurture differently from women, but after their study, Sandra Ferketich and Ramona Mercer concluded that men and women are identical in the depth of their love for their children.

The two best sources for the evidence that fathers, in their own way, are just as important to children as mothers are Kyle Pruett's Father Need, and the academic classic, The Role of the Father in Child Development by Michael Lamb. Yet we treat fathers as disposable, even dangerous. This male-aggression female-nurturing prejudice does more damage than anything about which feminists complain.

Whenever you hear a reference to aggression or nurturing, watch for an allusion to gender. If there is one, call them on their bias.

Copyright © 2004 K.C.Wilson. K.C. Wilson is the author of Male Nurturing, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and other e-books on family and men's issues.

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