Steven Pinker on Feminism

The Bully Pulpit

Steven Pinker

“I am a feminist. I believe that women have been oppressed, discriminated against, and harassed for thousands of years. I believe that the two waves of the feminist movement in the 20th century are among the proudest achievements of our species, and I am proud to have lived through one of them, including the effort to increase the representation of women in the sciences.

But it is crucial to distinguish the moral proposition that people should not be discriminated against on account of their sex — which I take to be the core of feminism — and the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. They are not the same thing. Indeed, distinguishing them is essential to protecting the core of feminism. Anyone who takes an honest interest in science has to be prepared for the facts on a given issue to come out either way. And that…

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sarineal
    Dec 25, 2018 @ 14:41:38

    That’s a strawman argument, isn’t it. Feminism is about advocacy for women, that is female persons, for equality on the basis of sex, inherent in that is the idea that the sexes are biologically different but this doesn’t mean that their abilities and potential in life are different or that women should be limited to a much poorer education and domestic life only. So they therefore argued that women should get the same pay for the same job, there is no justification for pay less a female nurse than a male nurse working in a medical ward. They also argued against the practice of limiting women’s education and firing them when they got pregnant, instead of ignoring that biological difference of who gives birth they argued for maternity leave provisions and fought for women to be able to get an education and have the career of their choice. Now they all complain that girls are doing better at school, but they never seem to look at how boys are doing comparing with how boys have done historically (here’s a clue: it’s not different and boys have historically had options for going into vocational training that were denied girls.

    We have human brains in male and female bodies, when children grow up they don’t differ by sex as to ability to learn to walk and talk or learn to read. He creates a false either/or distinction from the quote, either women are lesser and discrimination is justified despite the brain studies and other research never addressing function but tending to pre-existing bias that different is lesser or science must furiously hide the weak claim that women are lesser. In effect what is being argued there is that we ignore the very obvious biases in science, we (hopefully) wouldn’t say that for race, so why is it still OK to argue that on a sex basis. Unless they can actually prove slight differences in the brain (mostly due to body size difference between male and female) affect actual functioning like ability to learn

    On top of that the blank slate argument never existed, nature and nurture both apply and as I’ve seen one biologist say it’s like arguing which is more important, the horizontal or vertical sides of a rectangle. When they talk about grammar, obviously the physiological ability of having a voice box capable of creating vowel and other sounds is important, as well as a brain capable of processing the communication as well as exposure to language. Children found abused, where caregivers don’t speak to them don’t develop language skills properly, nurture obviously counts too.

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