Psychology Of Women- A feminist perspective

Discussion in 'The ChitChat Lounge' started by d_ist_urb_ed, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. d_ist_urb_ed

    d_ist_urb_ed Genuflect b*tches!

    I am taking this course as a part of my major requirements as well as to fulfil a writing emphasis elective. I will use this thread to provide a synopsis of a selected article and then use the facts/research/statistics/opinions in that article to have a (hopefully) intellectual dialogue. I look forward to comments from both males and females and any other organisms (This means you, Neo). Please try to keep the discussion clean and remember, we can all agree to disagree, agreeably. Cheers, i'll put up the first synopsis later on. Thanks.
  2. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    so we just spam till you post the synopsis?
    Garima likes this.
  3. d_ist_urb_ed

    d_ist_urb_ed Genuflect b*tches!

    Aight people, the first article that will get us started on the discussion is by Caplin and Caplin titled 'A Brief Historical Perspective on *** Difference Research' As the title suggests the authors explore the recent history of "scientific" research on *** differences and attempt to identify the biases and problematic assumptions underlying them. I shall provide a brief synopsis of each topic that they present.

    This research was done with two primary objectives in mind:
    1) To learn from the mistakes made in the past
    2) Knowing the history of ***-difference research helps us to understand current attitudes
    Some of the experiments described from the past here will seem insensitive, blatantly prejudiced, biased, uninformed and of poor judgement. But the irony is, such kinds of experiments are going on even today, only with subtler forms of the problems described above. Without further adieu, they jump right into it.

    Whose history is it anyway?
    It should come as no surprise that history is often recorded through the eyes of the dominant group. The authors make a good point that modern science was born and reared mostly during the Vatican Age in Europe. Naturally the most prominent people who funded "scientific" research or were involved in it were white, wealthy (sometimes middle class as is pointed out in the article) and most importantly male. The people of the era were heavily influended by the Judaeo-christian culture which, no suprise, is filled with tales about how women are "inferior" to men. Therefore basically the article goes to show us how scientists from that culture and from that era conducted research with the pre-assumption that women were inferior to men and thought up of ways to prove it rather than asking the substantative question of whether men were superior to women. One of the more horrendous examples of that is a study conducted by George Romanes in 1887 in which the conclusion was basically, "Women have smaller heads, therefore they must have smaller brains and therefore they are less intelligent" Although this study was (thankfully) discredited eventually it was never questioned during it's time and was quoted as "scientific" proof that men were intellectually superior to women. I wont go into very much detail about the other studies but the article basically goes on to say that instead of questioning the research, future generations took it up as a foundation to further come up with theories to support that fallacious data in the first place. Creating theories such as women were much better suited for nurturing and caring and such. At this juncture i should state a social psychological principle that they state. Humans in general, when subjected to a certain kind of media that affirms, supports or credits their beliefs tend to accept it much more readily. That is obvious you might say. But here's the twist, when the very same humans are shown research that utterly and without doubt discredits the former research, they tend to take it down much more reluctantly or not at all. This later leads these stubborn individuals to try and search for other avenues to prove their point. Even scientists werent spared as they tried desperately to seek differences between the brains of males and females. They searched lobes, they searched splenium sizes and they even compared spinal cords and found absolutely none. Some of these experiments are flawed and some are absolutely hilarious. I have highlighted various aspects of the article that if you choose to read will be quite interesting and relatable to you. In any case, thus was the history of the man trying to find the inferiority of the female. Moving on.

    Social Darwinism
    Darwin's theory of evolution was hugely used to justify the supposed inferiority of women. Now bear in mind that the people who made these arguments already assumed that women were less intelligent. Evolution is all about survival of the fittest. Not just of individual organisms but of whole structures, just as socio-political and cultural. Therefore they theorised that if a certain structure was thriving it must be at the prime of it's condition. This whole thing led to them saying that basically women's inferiority in intelligence was necessary for sustaining growth. Passivity was attributed to biology rather than society and culture. Another big thing from darwinism was the maternal instinct theory of how women had this natural intelligence, if you may, to take care of the young while the men did not. Supposedly this allowed the man to develop intellectually and in other ways that women were inferior in. An other term is morphological infantalism proposed by darwin which basically said that women were proportionally smaller than men and thus like infants. More intelligent than infants but less intelligent than men. Therefore we can see the ethnocentrism, the biases, the prejudices and the stereotypes involved in such research. There's much more in the article if you want to know more. Moving on.

    Sociobiology: Today's Social Darwinism
    Sociology was best described, in my view, by Kramare and Treichler (1985), as "an androcentric science which persistently depicts males as the norm while defining females in relation to them, naming females passive and inferior.’’ This section just draws from previous sections and names some modern examples like Buss and the like. If you want you can read it in the article.

    Alright, this is basically a cut and paste.

    In this chapter, we identified some of the problematic patterns of scientists’ behavior
    in the history of research that persist even today. These include:
    1. beginning with a biased assumption (e.g., that males are more intelligent
    than females)
    2. failing to question the assumption(s) underlying the research (e.g., failing
    to question whether the predominance of males in high academic and political
    positions is proof of males’ greater intelligence)
    3. asking research questions based on that assumption (e.g., “Is men’s greater intelligence due to their bigger brains?”)
    4. when results of a study do not support the assumption, continuing to avoid
    questioning the assumption (e.g., if men’s brains turn out not to be larger
    than women’s, relative to their body sizes, then not questioning whether
    men are more intelligent)
    5. misinterpreting research results that seem to contradict the assumption.
    (Thus what had been considered a desirable characteristic-such as
    reading quickly-is portrayed as an undesirable one, or one that leads to
    6. failing to question the evidence for, the logic of, and the damaging consequences of theories

    So, that's it people. That's basically the summary of the article. Men, i want you comment on how the entire expose makes you feel. Women, the same thing, but also if you feel those effects in modern day society. Please make this a active discussion if you can. Everyone is welcome to comment. But stupid or insensitive statements will be flamed to the seventh layer of hell. You are warned. I have attached the document. You can read it if you like. Cheers.

    Attached Files:

  4. thehundredthone

    thehundredthone New Member

    What would you like us to discuss? The statement that women are not actually inferior to men (subjective) or that the female brain size is not directly proportional to their intelligence (subjective) or that the female brain is wired differently than the male brain (subjective)

    IMO there is no real objective comparison being made here. Through the course of evolution, primate females are in general smaller built than the males. Therefore the bodyweight is less, cranial volume is smaller, hence the brain is smaller and lesser in volume. However this probably does not mean that the number of neural connections are less, or that even if neural connections are less, that the mental capacity is diminished.

    I guess the summarised statement about flawed research is probably correct. There will be bias (conscious or otherwise) depending on the gender of the scientist conducting the research and this is a result of social conditioning.

    I think the only way to have a neutral observer/conductor would be a group of scientists brought up in an environment which is isolated from society in all ways including the restriction/prohibition of the knowledge of social standards. This would again have ethical implications. The other option would be to hand over the research to artificial intelligence, however in which case we would probably not be able to get the interpretation that we would like. That, and the fact that we are far from developing any sort of self sustained intelligence as of now.

    I personally don't see this as much of an expose. If anything, we are being too subjective by trying to set universally common standards for men and women. However the conditioned male superiority complex (or female inferiority complex) is something that needs to be addressed.
    bjr likes this.
  5. d_ist_urb_ed

    d_ist_urb_ed Genuflect b*tches!

    ^I shouldnt have probably termed that as an expose. I should have made this clear, i do not want you to discuss the science behind it, nor do i want us to embark on reflection upon the physiological differences. But rather, i want us to discuss about these trains of thought(the notion that women are intellectually inferior) and how they reflect in modern day society(if they do) and their implications (if any). I hope i've made myself clear. Thank you for your insight however.
  6. shak

    shak Harrr!

    the concept that women are intelectually inferior to men can still be found in abundance throughout the modern day world .. the general idea that only the under developed or third world countries pocket this ideology is absolutely absurd , even the so called, politically correct countries made up by major europe and americas, adhere to this concept though in a very subtle form ..
    there are several examples, like the dumb blondie jokes, how many of them actually use a male blonde as the subject? i have never come across one .. the women car parking jokes? or should i say 'myth', i know jokes are jokes and are not to be taken seriously, but, dont you feel these jokes have actually stereotyped blonde women? and it certainly doesnt has to do anything with the colour of hair cuz otherwise we should expect the same for blonde men, which is not the case.

    i feel the cause has nothing to do with the theories and studies made in the past by prejudiced scientists with pre-meditated conclusions, not many people are aware of them, not everyone reads darwin or others that you have mentioned in your post ... its more than that, we loook around and see male dominant society and that overshadows the extremely valuable contribution from women! women are active in virtually every field .. and they excel men at times still the concept remains ...

    a natural tendency maybe?

    so although this concept is old and almost extinct, still it rears its head amongst the most advanced of societies ever so often ... and i guess it will remain so for a long long time ...

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