Thursday, November 10, 2005


Male/Female - Real Differences

During the past week or so, I have discussed the view of masculinity and men held by many psychologists and similar persons. These items hold at least two beliefs in common, a negative view of "traditional" masculinity and that "traditional" masculinity is the result of "the male role socialization process." Levant claims:
The new psychology of men views gender roles not as biological or even social "givens", but rather as psychologically and socially constructed entities that bring certain advantages and disadvantages, and, most importantly, can change. This perspective acknowledges the biological differences between men and women, but argues that it is not the biological differences of sex that make for "masculinity" and "femininity".
While a given culture/society certainly helps define how masculine roles will be defined there appear to be biological differences so strong that to ignore their presence would be foolish at best.

A few years ago my mother was reading a book of feminist orientation that claimed that a girl throwing like a girl was result of fathers going out and throwing ball with their sons while daughters were relegated to more feminine activities. For years I had heard that there was a difference in the bone structure of males and females that caused the difference in throwing and other motions.

Ironically, it turns out that the greatest gender difference in physical abilities is in throwing.
By far, the largest documented sex differences in physical competencies are for throwing distance and throwing velocity (Thomas & French, 1985). As early as 4- to 7-years-of-age, more than 9 out of 10 boys show a higher throwing velocity than the average same-age girl, despite the fact that girls are physically more mature at this age. By 12 years of age, there is little overlap in the distribution of the throwing velocities of boys and girls; the very best girls show throwing velocities that are comparable to the throwing velocities of the least skilled boys. The sex difference is somewhat larger for throwing distance. By 2- to 4-years-of-age, more than 9 out of 10 boys can throw farther than the average girl, and by 17 years of age only the very best girls can throw as far as the least skilled boys.

The finding of large sex differences in throwing skills as early as 2 years of age indicates that it is very unlikely that these differences result from the differential socialization of boys and girls (see the Parenting section below). In fact, these sex differences are almost certainly related, at least in part, to differences in the structure of the skeletal system that supports throwing.
Some of these differences go way back (same source as above):
for prehistoric fossils, patterns of bone wear indicate that men walked and ran more frequently than women (Ruff, 1987). Across preindustrial societies, men travel farther from the home village than women, on average, for a number of reasons, including finding mates, developing alliances with the men of neighboring villages, hunting, and intergroup warfare (Chagnon, 1977; Hill & Hurtado, 1996; Hill & Kaplan, 1988; Symons, 1979).

The world record for the mile run is 3.43.13 for men. Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier over 50 years ago. No woman has broken that barrier yet. The woman's world record is 4.12.56. The American high school record is 3.55.3 set by Jim Ryun in 1963. Strength differences are similar. The world record in the shot put for men is 23.12 meters and for women is 22.63 meters. Doesn't seem like much of a difference until you consider that the men's shot put is 16 pounds and the women's is 8.8 pounds. The men's shot is nearly twice as heavy and the men still throw it further. Physically in appearance and performance the differences in masculine and feminine are completely obvious to anyone.

If you read this article, you will find the story of boy raised as a girl because of accidental genitalia damage during circumcision, who never found happiness until she went back to being a man. An childhood of being socialized as a female could not make him a her.

Interestingly, performances by women are closest to that of men in swimming events as compared to running and jumping events. In fact, the record for swimming the English Channel is held by a woman (7 hours, 40 minutes) as compared to the fastest men's time of 8 hours and 12 minutes.

In 2002, Israeli scientist announced they could tell differences between boys and girls three weeks after conception. Yes, over eight months before birth the differences between males and females are observable.

There are also lots of ways males and females think and learn differently.

All of this just scratches in the differences between man and women, male and female, masculine and feminine. These differences are rooted in biological evolution. There used to be only asexual organisms. To write of the differences between masculinity and feminity "as psychologically and socially constructed entities" denies evolution and the adaptations our species has made over hundreds of thousands of years to survive and flourish. Creationist are ridiculed roundly for holding such views but the APA president and others proudly deny our biological history and our biological being and are called experts. Ignoring and denying the innate aspects of masculinity is harmful to individuals and society.

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