It’s rather trendy nowadays to claim that all differences between males and females are the result of societal pressures, and that biology has no role whatsoever. I have always been suspicious of this view, as I am of any claim that sounds overly simplistic. Data from the biological sciences suggest that the difference between males and females isn’t just limited to genitalia, but also to nervous and endocrine function, as well as the extent of possible expressible phenotypes once grown.
In no way do I seek to alienate those who don’t identify with the male-female dichotomy or feel a mind-body disconnect, nor am I attempting to invalidate their experiences, but the generalizations I wish to discuss have been scientifically validated, and I think they are worth noting.
First off, males and females have, on average, equal intelligence, but the range of possible intelligences for males is far more extreme. What this means is that males are far more likely to be geniuses and have above-average intelligence, but they are also more likely to suffer from cognitive disabilities and have low levels of intelligence. The implications of this fact are enormous, as it explains not only why Nobel Prize winners are usually male, but also why most school dropouts and people of exceptionally low IQ are also male. It also implies that in any society in which intelligence is rewarded, more males than females will rise to the top, as those with the highest level of intellect are more likely to be male, but that moves us into territory too nuanced and controversial to adequately discuss here.
Everyone knows that males tend to have higher levels of testosterone than females. What most people don’t realize is the sheer magnitude of this difference. Males can have up to 30
times the amount of testosterone coursing through their veins (and there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that this number is too low to describe all cases). Testosterone is highly correlated with status-seeking behavior, of which physical aggression and risk-taking are simply two of many means to that end. The reason males tend to be more physically aggressive and take more risks is not driven by social conditioning, but rather biology playing itself out (you can observe this by noticing how even at ages far too young for social conditioning to have taken hold, males are more likely to engage in these behaviors than females).
Finally, a good neuroscientist can actually differentiate the brain based on sex. Female brains have a much higher ratio of white matter to grey matter, indicating a greater degree of connectedness between different parts of the brain. Males have 10 times more grey matter, indicating much higher levels of localized cognition. The degree to which these differences affect how males and females think and experience the world is still being investigated, but it would fly in the face of logic to suggest that such vast difference in structure would have no effect on cognitive output.
There are many out there who react to discussion of the differences between males and females with hostility, claiming that such thoughts will inevitably lead to sexism and belief in biological essentialism. I shouldn’t even have to point out that this is ridiculous. If there are differences, we should understand and respect them, not ignore them.
Maybe there are certain things that one sex will be better at than another. This doesn’t have to mean that one sex is any better than the other. It doesn’t grant one sex any greater moral worth. It simply means that human beings are equal, but not necessarily equivalent. It emphasizes that we are not all interchangeable–to some degree we are all unique and individual. In a society that places great value on the idea of individuality, why would you ever want to suppress that truth?