Book Summaries health History

Chapter 8: Sexing the Mind (The Red Queen)

This chapter is about the differences between men and women.

Men are better at spatial tasks than women. Spatial skills and polygamy go together in several species.

Female bodies evolved to bear and rear children. Men’s bodies evolved to suit the demands of rising in the male hierarchy, fighting over women and providing meat for their family.

Male and female minds are mostly the samer, but there are key differences. Men are taller than women, but the tallest women in a group of women is usually taller than the shortest man in a group of men.

Victorian men exploited women by exaggerating sexual differences. There is a modern fear that any differences between the sexes will once again be exploited, which explains the apprehension around this subject. But this does not mean that these differences do not exist.

Men are more violent than women, and women are more nurturing. It is not fair to ignore these differences for women. Take education. Since boys are more competitive than girls, it would be disadvantageous to girls to go to mixed sex schools – the evidence confirms that girls do better in single sex schools.

In almost every pre-agricultural society, men looked for sources of food that are distant, unpredictable, mobile. Women, burdened with children, looked for sources that are close, static, and predictable, like plants.

There are four mental differences that are persistent between men and women.

1) Girls are better at verbal tasks. 2) Boys are better at mathematical tasks. 3) Boys are more aggressive. 4) Boys are better at some visuo-spatial tasks and girls are better at others.

Men are better at reading a map, and women are better judges of character and moods. Intriguingly, gay men are more like women than heterosexual men in some of these respects.

The Baldwin effect: People specialize what they are good at, and so, they create conditions that influence their genes.

Conscious choice and technology can both influence evolution.

Even a highly conditioned trait has some basis in nature. Nurture always reinforces nature, rarely fight it. An exception is aggression. Males are aggressive despite parental discouragement. It is hard to believe that 83% of murderers and 93% of drunken drivers in America are male, is due to social conditioning alone.

Men exposed to less testosterone than normal are unassertive and effeminate. Men with too much testosterone are pugnacious. Women whose mothers were injected with progesterone (to avoid miscarriage) later described themselves as having been tomboys.

Studies of male conversation find it to be public (men clam up at home), domineering, competitive, status-obsessed, attention seeking, factual and designed to reveal knowledge and skill. Female conversations tend to be private (women clam up in big groups), co-operative, rapport-establishing, reassuring, empathetic, egalitarian, and meandering (talk for talk’s sake).

Some of these preferences could be related to differences between hunting and gathering. It can’t be a coincidence that men enjoy hunting, fishing, and eating mean much more than women do.

Men who were conceived and b orn in periods of great stress are more often gay than men at other times. Gays are more often lefthanded than heterosexuals. Homosexuality is partially caused by hormonal imbalance in the womb, but not later. But homosexuality is caused by both nature and nurture.

In a study at the University of Michigan, a large sample of American students were asked to rank the qualities that they most preferred in am ate. Women preferred kindness, intelligence, wealth and status. Men preferred kindness, intelligence, youth and beauty. Some argue that if women controlled wealth, they would not seek it in their partners. But American women who make more money than average pay more attention than average to the wealth of potential spouses, not less. These considerations change between one-night stands and marriage.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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