Mmmm, have I got nice things to read! Yesterday evening when I came home from Rebeccas little birthday bbq there was a nice brown little package on my desk. Mmmm…packages. It was the highly anticipated Steven Pinker book The Blank Slate. I’ve been longing to read this since I stumbled across The Language Instinct two years ago. That was probably the most interesting, well written, exhiliarating non-fiction book I’ve ever read. It gave me the sense of enlightenment that only a couple of scaringly good speakers at the university have given me before. At the university it was about juicy stuff like war and sexism, this time it was about language! Well, not just language, but about how the mind works. “How The Mind Works” happens to be another Pinker book, that I haven’t read yet.
Some favorite examples from The Language Instict:
The Language Instinct was pretty much a recap of what the scientific world has found out about language and linguistics so far. Why we speak, how we learn it, why we speak different languages, etc etc. What makes it so goddamn interesting, is the research and experiments pointing towards the theory that language is… an instinct. Meaning that language is in our genes, that the structure of grammars are related to the structures of thought. And that leads to other stuff that might be in our genes, as behaviour. And here it gets explosive, when you try to be a 21:st century politically correct, somehow radical kinda person. Are we talking about biologism here?!? Hey, I thought you were a fascist if you didn’t claim that identity is a result of society and is socially constructed! What the fuck happens with equality if we aren’t blank slates when we are born?
Ah, the feeling of opening a new door to widened thought, it’s like a rush of oxygen and caffeine! Read the preface, then skipped right to the Gender part in The Blank Slate, but haven’t had time to read much yet. Already in the preface he did his best to explain why natural differences between the male and female mind are NOT opposed to feminism. Well, not as a whole. Of course It IS opposed to some feminists, who presuppose that the minds are blank slates, and that all differences are socially constructed.
Now I’m going to guess how the rest of the argument goes. Saying that some people might be born smarter, more violent, or caring than other, does not take any of these behaviours or properties in defence. Let’s say men have a mind biologically different from women, that make them more violent, generally and statistically speaking. Some percentage of women might have more violent minds than some percentage of men. Whatevah. That still doesn’t say that violence is good, or that violence can’t be stopped.
I think the opposition to any genetic theory might be based in the general feeling or thought, through most policital camps, is that Nature pretty much equals Good. And that’s bullshit.
It’s always used as arguments to defend or attack stuff. Homosexuality is not Natural (it’s something you choose or a product of culture), and therefore not Good. Or homosexuality IS Natural (it’s in your genes), and therefore Good. We almost don’t know shit about what’s natural or not when it comes to sexuality, and it has NOTHING to do with Good or Bad. Of course, that’s my opinion, and many will disagree, but I think most who disagree just haven’t thought it through, because Natural just sounds so goddamn nice, when it’s really a fundamentalist stupid and, may I say fascist, claim.
You just have to think 20 seconds about it, and you see that using Nature as an argument is nonsense. You can’t say watching TV, going to the dentist or paying your bills is Good by saying its Natural. It doesn’t mean anything. Attacking gays for being Unnatural is likewise nonsense. Even if they are, in the meaning that there would be no pre-programmed homosexuality in our genes. We might have a lot of pre-programmed behaviours that you might like or don’t like. You don’t have to think cancer is Good just because it’s Natural. It’s up to you to argue for your values and stuff. As mentioned in an earlier post, I would choose to judge how you act by the consequenses. Pedophiles might have pedophile genes, but hey, that doesn’t mean you should don’t go fuck little kids in the ass, because it HURTS! Grownups, go ahead.
When it comes to feminism, some people I know just won’t take genes or heritage into the equation, even if they don’t know squat about it. It’s written off before it’s tried, the reasons are only to be found in society, culture and environment, because IT’S LIKE THAT. Kookoo. Probably because we’re only in the middle of the fight for equality, and when you’re fighting it’s really dangerous to show any doubt. It’s like they believe that their/my own belief in equality would be proven WRONG if there are genetic answers to be found, and that if you take in biology, you give up. Then you’re kinda lacking faith, and arguments, aren’t you? If women are genetically more caring, you think you have to stay home with the kids while the man goes hunting. Not if you don’t wanna! Go find yourself a caring man! Maybe you’re one of the minority genetically-not-so-very-caring. Maybe there could be medicines against violence? Maybe we could genetically erase violence?
Looking forward to explosive debates with fellow feminist friends…
And I would like to know what kind of feminist this line of thought would render me. Does anyone know?