Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm

By Anthony Walsh | Go to book overview

function as defenders, preserving that which is valuable to the species; males function as a kind of genetic "laboratory" with which nature can experiment and occasionally introduce some advantageous alleles. In this view, both functions are necessary; but neither is superior or inferior to the other. However, it is not "the species" that bears the brunt of social discrimination. Individuals do, and reproduction of the species may be irrelevant to individual women fighting sex-segregationist male attitudes and discrimination.


CONCLUSION

As Alice Rossi ( 1977, 1984) has long argued, recognition of the evolutionary and neurohormonal basis of sexual dimorphism must be an important item on the agenda of sex-role sociologists. Sex-role sociologists can no longer refuse the valuable insights offered to them by the biological and neuro- sciences. There is nothing inimical to social justice for women in the recognition that sex differences exist and that they are grounded in the fundamental purpose of reproduction. Biological explanations of sex differences no more inherently lend their support to either social justice or social injustice than do environmentalist theories. If social practices are to be justified, they must be justified by ethical and moral principles, not biology. Biology may lead men and women to opt for different occupational roles, but male prejudice often leads them to devalue the roles that most women prefer. Prejudice and male dominance cannot be justified on any moral grounds nor on the basis of the evidence of sexual dimorphism. If some women, for whatever reason, have preferences that are not typically female, then prejudice should not deny them their preference when their biology clearly has not.

There are always ill-willed characters who will jump on anything that will give their prejudices an easier ride; but the fault is with the rider, not the vehicle. The truth of a scientific assertion must be judged solely on the available evidence for or against it, not on whether it can possibly be used for negative ends. Surely it is better to acknowledge and welcome our complementary sex differences than to continue to deny their existence--a denial that sometimes leads scientist and layperson alike to view sociology as something of an eccentric discipline devoted to either asserting or denying the obvious. Let us offer our sex-related abilities and characteristics to one another in a spirit of humanism, equality, and mutual respect.


NOTES
1.
Many early twentieth-century feminists emphasized and gloried in differences between the sexes ( Degier, 1991:123-125). Carol Tavris ( 1992:58-60) sees modern feminists divided into those who see no significant personality differences between the sexes that are attributable to biology and those who recognize and celebrate women's special (and superior) qualities.

-142-

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Biosociology: An Emerging Paradigm
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Note xv
  • Chapter 1 the Case for Biosociology 1
  • Notes 16
  • Chapter 2 Genetics and Human Behavior 19
  • Notes 41
  • Chapter 3 the Brain and Its Environment 43
  • Notes 66
  • Chapter 4 Emotion and the Autonomic and Endocrine Systems 69
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 5 Intelligence and Society 93
  • Notes 117
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter 6 Sexual Dimorphism and Sex-Role Behavior 121
  • Notes 142
  • Notes 144
  • Chapter 7 Human Sexuality and Evolution 145
  • Notes 170
  • Chapter 8 the Nature and Nurture of Criminality 173
  • Notes 197
  • Chapter 9 Love, Marriage, and the Family 201
  • Notes 224
  • References 227
  • Name Index 259
  • Subject Index 269
  • About the Author 273
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