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I recently saw a youtube video that claimed that all gender constructs were the result of nurture. I cannot remain silent when I see such nonsense being parroted. Keep in mind that the youtube video was a snippet from a TV channel, hence this kind of stupidity is actually broadcast out into the world.

It is quite uncharacteristically for me to call something “stupid”. But when I see this kind of garbage being spewed it is hard to remain nonjudgemental. The reason for me to become emotional about this kind of thing is that I firmly believe that this kind of nonsense is damaging to society. People who fall for this will end up unhappy and will end up spreading this unhappiness to others. And what is more, if people believe this they will not only take the wrong actions, but they will also be unable to learn from the result of those actions.

Our brains create a model of the world that allows us to predict the consequences of our actions. When this model fails our brains will provide an explanation for the discrepancy. There are two possibilities: either we come to the conclusion that our model was wrong and change it, or we come to the conclusion that somebody else did something that caused the model to fail. In the later case we blame somebody else, but keep the model we have.

If we believe that gender differences are a result of nurture, then this includes a build-in cause for any discrepancies: nurture. I.e. the model includes the reason for the failure of itself. As a result people who subscribe to this model will be (almost) unable to change it. They will be unable to learn. To me, this is adding insult to injury.

I have not said anything about why this view is wrong, so let me just add a few words to that purpose.

In order to propagate men and women need different strategies. When women become pregnant they will be unable to forage/hunt for themselves for at least a little while. And during that time they need the support of the people in their environment. If a woman would take risks and burn bridges this would reduce the chances for her (and her children) to survive. This is why women have become inclusive: they want to keep as many options open as possible. They would rather live in a society that supports everyone. Including those unable to fend for themselves.

Men are different. In order to attract a female a man must stand out from the crowd. The better he is able to demonstrate that he can provide for a female and her child better than anyone else, the more attractive he becomes as a mate. There are two ways to stand out: accumulation of resources or taking a risk to obtain resources. In primitive cultures it is difficult to accumulate resources as most of these (food) will rot and degrade rapidly. Hence men have become risk takers. They tend to exclude lesser options in favor of a (single) better one.

This is the fundamental difference between men and women. Men tend to exclude and women tend to include. There are many other ways to express this, but when we analyse these they all seem to boil down to include/exclude. Notice btw how beautiful nature has arranged this. Humans can profit from both: taking risk and mutual support. I am continually amazed at the inner beauty of nature. But I digress.

To suggest that the gender differences are due to nurture instead of nature is pure and utter stupidity. Don’t fall for it.

2016-12-26 Corrected spelling, minor editorial change.


Originally posted at: 2016-12-15
Last modified on: 2016-12-26