randombio.com | science commentary
Friday, December 01, 2017

The science of sexual harassment

The harassment scandals are designed to prop up the myth that men and women are the same

T hese days it seems that only true misogynists—not the imaginary ones that feminists talk about, but the ones who wouldn't touch a woman with a ten foot pole—are safe.

The accusations we're hearing depict actions and attitudes that are almost unimaginably crude. They show us that those institutions that have been lecturing us are a swamp of hypocrisy. But what does it mean? Why now? Is it an attempt by feminists to clamber back to the top of the victim hierarchy? A feeding frenzy for ambulance chasers? A breakup of leftist mythology? Or just another fad, like tearing down statues and wearing silly pink hats?

Maybe, as Angelo Codevilla says, it's an attempt to revitalize political correctness:

[S]omething was needed to show that the whole P.C. montage is something other than what it is—and that America should stand with the ruling class in defense of basic decency. We needed a good panic. So here it is.

I think it's something more fundamental: Nature is reminding us that women are different from men. Many men, if propositioned by a female boss, would rejoice at the unexpected employ­ment benefits. This isn't cultural, but genetic; there are sound biological reasons why the two sexes have different reproductive strategies. For the male, reproduction is cheap. For the female, it is expensive. Males are stronger and take bigger risks. Unless prevented from doing so, men will protect women.

It is difficult for a female to sexually harass a male, let alone rape one, despite what the newspapers say. Women's power over men is mostly negative: it is exercised by rejecting them (and by wearing out their auditory cortex). But admitting that would be to admit that these differences are built into our genes.

As much as people deny it, this asymmetry is caused by biology, not by power. Therefore, no matter how much power women manage to wrangle out of the government, and no matter how much they smash the “patriarchy,” the inequality will remain.

The sexualization of entertainment and the ubiquity of porn are not the cause of it. These are nature's attempts to restore what is being lost, much as food industries pack their nutrient-challenged food with sugar and salt in an attempt to make it palatable.

Feminists ended chivalry and killed off the concepts of ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen.’ We're taught to slam doors in their faces—what the Chinese call “letting them eat closed-door soup”—and to treat them like guys, and now people are surprised at the results. Weren't the past fifty years of cultural sleaze supposed to have taught us that women are just as lustful, sleazy, and crude as the typical Hollywood producer? If that were so, they could not be harassed. Women are either just like guys or they're not.

Most men want to treat women as equals. But the terms of how that's done need to take their inherent differences into account. Pretending there are none, physically or psychologically, leads to technological solutions to fill the roles that women are abandoning: sexbots for companionship, and soon artificial incubators to take over women's reproductive duties. It also leads to legal solutions to suppress the problems that arise from denying biological reality.

As tempting as it is to conclude that chivalry and mutual respect are resurfacing, it seems more likely that these scandals are one last effort to build a quasi-legal system to prop up the myth that men and women are functionally interchangeable.

We tend to think of moments like this as points of primary cultural change, but in fact the sexual revolution was purely technical: the birth control pill irrevocably divorced sex from reproduction. To paraphrase Breitbart, culture is downstream from technology.

Before the Pill, premarital sex was considered immoral. And for good reason: premarital sex—and this might shock some readers—could lead to pregnancy and childbirth, which was, at one time in our distant, barbaric past, considered a big deal.

Those who lived through that era know it bore little resemblance to the way it's portrayed today. Those attitudes were rational adaptations to the technology of the times. In the frenzy of women wanting to compete equally with men, maybe it's dawning on feminists that they gave up more than they gained. It is a price they willingly paid. And deep down, maybe that's what this is all about: buyer's remorse.

The idea that leftist mythology is shipwrecked might sound appealing, but this isn't it. People are strongly invested in the mythology. They won't give it up easily.

dec 01, 2017, 5:57 am. Last edited dec 02 2017, 6:59 am

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