Are women and men more alike than different from each other?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

“Sex shocker!  Men and women aren’t that different”
In this article for Salon, sociologist Lisa Wade talks about sexual dimorphism—“the degree to which males and females of a species differ.”  She says that compared to many other creatures, human males and females are really very much alike.  But instead of recognizing this, “we obsess over gender differences. We search for them in scientific studies, scour religious texts for hints from a higher power, and extrapolate from the behavior of our friends and loved ones.”  Dr. Wade talks about the unending stream of books written on the topic and the unceasing arguments “over whether the differences we think we see are caused by nature or nurture.” But she says we need to keep things in perspective. And by comparing humans with many other species, we can see how much more alike than different we humans are— and why the term “’opposite sexes’ is obviously a misnomer.”  To drive home her point, she makes comparisons and contrasts. For example, “If we were as sexually dimorphic as the blanket octopus, men would be 0.8% the size of a female, or about the size of a walnut.”  Read her article to see her other comparisons, written with a  great sense of humor.

Related:  Dr. Wade followed up that article this week with a brief post on her own website, Sociological Images, and included a very funny science video on the reproductive behavior of the green spoonworm. (God must have a sense of humor!)  You can also watch the video on YouTube; or better yet, read  an article and watch it as part of a New York Times science series in partnership with Creature Cast: The Unexpected World of Biology. Believe me, you don’t want to miss this short video—especially after all our thinking and talking about sexuality and gender issues here on our own Christian Feminism Today website recently!

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and is the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.

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