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Are men and women really from different planets?
Professor Lewis Wolpert, the renowned developmental biologist, examines the scientific evidence underlying a controversial view of physical and psychological differences between men and women.
Author of Six Impossible Things and Malignant Sadness and Vice President of the British Humanist Association, Wolpert is known for his staunch defence of science and rational thought.
'Brilliant and persuasive' - Sunday Times
NoScientist on 27/03/2013 2:00pm
I agree with Rosielee below that the differences between men and women should be celebrated and not ignored. To follow this through to language and thinking I am reminded of Luce Irigaray and her essentialist position whereby one should use the means available to them in their own gender to fully express themselves and not rely on the characteristics or attributes of the opposite. A somewhat contraversial position to take but where you end up if you don't allow for compromises.
Rosielee on 20/02/2013 5:37pm
Although Wolpert doesn't satisfactorily explore the exploitation and oppression of women through the psychological and physical differences he identifies, this debate does raise intereresting questions about the scope of society's influence in gender differences. Though modern society has been successful in pushing for equality between the sexes, Wolpert's argument that many of the differences that underly the historical oppression of women are genetically determined may indicate that equality is a false aim. if equality is understood as sameness, then it's an impossible thing to achieve with regards to gender. However even if the differences between men and women is less socially determined that we think it to be, this does not and should not justify a lesser value being placed on the abilities of women. Men and women are psychologically and physically different. that's undeniable. The potentiallly interesting consequence of Wolpert's talk is that these differences might not be changed through social attitudes, and why should they? the differences should be celebrated, not ignored or denied.
jorge raul on 01/01/2013 5:47am
interesting topic but I have to say that after 10 minutes I was aware that most of his points are conventional and not too stimulating. Mostly complementing women and apologicing about men in the ussual culturally reverted sexism so common now a days. Sorry I could not finish it.
josietj on 20/09/2012 5:52pm
Very disappointing. To disregard Cordelia Fine's chapter-length arguments about why these differences are not necessarily biological with "I don't think that it can be social" in the question at the end, is ridiculous for someone who claims to "staunchly defend science and rational thought".
Assumptions abound in this talk: why should a human that is bigger be more aggressive? Why should girls preferring pink be anything to do with genes (the Victorians thought that pink was a more masculine colour, making it sound like an entirely social preference)? Why should any of the lists of differences claimed here as "obvious" be anything to do with biology, aside from the fact that Wolpert thinks that they are?
Just because a difference is observed in all/many societies does not make it inherent in all/many societies.
A boring rehashing of Mars/Venus all over again.
WhereWithAll on 26/06/2012 12:49pm
One of Foucault’s most fertile insights into the workings of power was his identification of the body and sexuality as the direct locus of social control. It is this emphasis on the body as directly targeted and formed by historically variable regimes of bio-power that has made Foucault’s version of poststructuralist theory the most attractive to feminist social and political theorists. At a fundamental level, a notion of the body is central to the feminist analysis of the oppression of women because biological differences between the sexes are the foundation that has served to ground and legitimize gender inequality. Wolpert succeeds here, I think, in embracing the clear biological differences, but doesn't return to the essentialist gender focus that has caused the oppression that he speaks of.
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