“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus,” says therapist John Gray, who claims that men and women are two completely different beings, as if they came from different planets. Men are aggressive and warlike, but also protective like the Roman god of war Mars. Women, on the other hand, are emotional, beautiful, vain, and fertile like the goddess of love, Venus. This leads to the idea that men and women pursue two completely different reproductive strategies and that each of their traits – be they physical or intellectual – serve this reproductive strategy: men and women are biologically completely different and the differences in their behavior are for the most part biologically justifiable and determined. It can also be deduced that her sexual behavior has completely different goals and ideas (he only wants to distribute his sperm, she wants a romantic relationship and children). The social role, i.e. society, plays no decisive role; Everything, or at least almost everything, is biologically justifiable.
Usually, science differentiates between the innate sex and the so-called gender roles. The innate, biological sex indicates whether one is born as a man or a woman. Gender provides information about the role of the sexes in society. Put in a nutshell: Can women park backwards? Are men less emotional than women? Is household and parenting primarily women’s business? Why are there fewer women in the MINT subjects than men? For some people such questions may sound banal, but in a nutshell, it’s about finding out what role gender plays in a society, which is “typical male” and “typical female”. Such clichés are known to everyone and unfortunately also let some humbug flow into people’s brains and even made it possible for talentless idiots like Mario Barth (a German “comedian” who makes stupid jokes about sex-stereotypes) to become famous comedy icons.
Opposed to this biologistic world view are the various theories of “gender sciences”, which claim that the biological is of no relevance and that only the social sex (gender) is decisive (the so-called gender as a separation from the biological sex). An extreme form is the so-called “queer theory”. It focuses on sexual identities that are essentially socially determined and deny the dual sexuality of people. According to this “theory” subdivision of humans into man and woman does not correspond to reality and the sexes are constructed socially. In fact, there are significantly more genders and the task is to deconstruct the sexes. The queer theory is not primarily about sexual orientation (homo-hetero- or bisexual), but about gender identities. For example, the homepage gender-wiki has no entry to homosexual or heterosexuality. Decisive spokesmen of queer theory come from the so-called post-structuralist direction (also called postmodernism or irrationalism). Michael Foucalt and Judith Butler are some of their chief ideologues.
Both directions have in common that they absolutise one side. While some consider the biological to be ubiquitous and the social at all events a side aspect (critiques of this biologistic world view of evolutionary-psychological, culture-negating, aspects of human evolution can be found in: LEVITIN 2009, BLUMBERG 2005, 2009, ROSE & ROSE 2001, ROSE 2000, FUENTES 2012, RYAN & JETHA 2016, LEVINS & LEWONTIN 1985, LEWONTIN 1992, 2002, LEWONTIN, ROSE & KAMIN 1988, JAMES 2016, FRY 2013, SUSSMANN & CLONINGER 2001, GOULD 1981, MOORE 2001, 2015, KRIMSKY & GRUBER2013) , the other side claims that the biological is irrelevant, counting only the social. We will certainly treat the “nature versus culture problem” (nature versus nurture) in several contributions. Both approaches are one-sided in their way and therefore unscientific. In the German-speaking world, this biologizing view has become more popular through Ulrich Kutscher’s 2018 book “The Gender Paradox: Man and Woman as Evolved Human Types” (KUTSCHERA 2018), which will be mentioned several times (critical as well as positive) in the course of this series.
In a series of articles I would like to explain what is wrong with these theories and what is really behind the difference between a man and a woman. Because this topic is more complex and multi-layered than I thought, I found it advisable to write several parts on it, which will hopefully make reading easier.
We will deal with different contents: philosophical and scientific issues, the biological differences (and similarities) of the sexes. In this part, the queer theory is subjected to a sharp and negative criticism. It is, to say the least, irrational and unscientific mischief.
The irrationalism of queer theory
Regardless of what “typical male” and what “typical female” is, one agrees that sex is genuine. But the queer theory contradicts this genuineness of the sexes. One of the most important theoretical minds of this irrational direction is Judith Butler. (Here I refer essentially to the statements of BUBLITZ 2002; Reading Butler in the original may be more legitimate for the critic. But this is not a Butler analysis, but a brief account of her positions. I also do not have the time to deal with such an unscientific humbug. It can also be assumed that BUBLITZ 2002 will not distort Butler’s positions). Butler blurs the distinction between “sex” and “gender” by completely rejecting the biological sexes. Sexes are only socially constructed, biological sexes obviously do not exist. For her, bodies are objects that can be imagined only by mind and reason, concepts and constructs that are accepted in society and thus become visible and perceptible, such as the heteronormative model of binary sexuality. In various works, such as “ Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity ” (1990), “ Bodies that matter” (1993) and “ Excitable Speech. A Politics of the performance.” (1997), she works out that the gender categories “male” and “female” are understood as the product of a repetition of speech acts and are not seen as natural or inescapable materializations. However, in “ Bodies that matter” she makes it clear that she does not reject the materiality of the body, and that this, as well as its recognizability, can only be achieved through constructions. To emphasize Butler’s argument: You are not born a male or female (or hybrid), but by the fact that the midwife / physician / parent defines you as a male / female / hermaphrodite at birth, you are constructed into the appropriate gender.
These views seem like the assertion of a crazy outsider. But her point of view is based on a philosophical direction which, depending on how one narrows down, can be summarized as radical constructivism, poststructuralism or postmodernism. However, I prefer the more appropriate name irrationalism. This viewpoint asserts that there is no access to reality outside of consciousness. It is the consciousness that creates the world. Although there is a world “out there”, so independent of our consciousness, the world is not recognizable. This irrationalism is unfortunately not uncommon in bourgeois ideology. It is expressed not only in religion, esoteric or astrological (i. e. the belief in a “higher being”, which controls the world unrecognizable for humans), but finds its entry in science, too:
“Irrationalism is not a new phenomenon in the intellectual history of humanity. It was always the ideological weapon of the reactionary forces of society. Today it is the reactionary answer of the power- and opinion-elite to the aggravation of the economic and societal crisis of imperialism. With it, the already heavily mutilated, but still existing bourgeois-democratic legal system in the FRG should be undermined and (…) introduced into the ‘natural order of life’. (…) It spreads as an ideological method, which is characterized by the conception of irrationalist (…) methods. (…) Characteristic is its uncontrollability, its claim to convey a superior ‘higher knowledge’ beyond science, ordinary empiricism and reason. Irrationalism occurs in a religious as well as an irreligious form, opposing rationality with spirit, intellect with instinct, and consciousness with unconsciousness.” FROMM & WRONA (1978: 190-191)
Although some measurements, numbers and data are consulted, they are scientifically mutilated. Since the core thesis is that a scientific world view is not possible because one cannot concede any or very limited objective theoretical statements, theories and concepts. Whether to consult this or that explanation for the data and facts is either private or subjective. A scientific explanation of the phenomena is thus explicitly excluded. So we have a methodology that dispenses with justifiable and verifiable reasoning and does not ask for causes and connections. In fact, even such a methodology is classified as “totalitarian” because it asserts a claim to truth. So here we are dealing with an anti-Enlightenment ideology, in which science is considered as a “narrative”, “myth”, or “social construction among many” (for further engagement with the irrationalism: KOPP & SEPPMANN 2002, ed. and SOKAL & BRICMONT 1998). They believe that there are no facts in themselves but are constructed by societies.
This view also has the following consequences: In theory, all explanations are justified to certain circumstances. Creationism and theory of evolution, Copernican and Ptolemaic world view, presence of genders and their denial. Everything is justified. Which theory is the “right one” (if there is something “right or real” in this perspective) is chosen for pragmatic reasons. So everything is real, which is useful to one, or the majority. Hard to believe? Now this is the point of view of the irrationalists. A famous irrationalist, the Frenchman Bruno Latour comments on the death of Ramses II, whose mummy was examined by French scientists and died of tuberculosis, that he could not have died because the bacillus was discovered by Robert Koch in 1882. Before, the bacillus would have had no existence. (cited in BOGHOSSIAN 2015: p. 33)
Another irrationalist, Richard Rorty, said for example, dinosaurs were created with the creation of the word “dinosaurs”. True, dinosaurs existed independently of us, like other things in the universe. But the question is whether they are “representationally” independent of us, possing “intrinsic (= inner) features” that allow dinosaurs to be considered independently. (Cf. and criticism, see BOGHOSSIAN 2015: pp. 48 f.). So, since we call any entities (namely, any fossils) linguistically “dinosaurs,” they become dinosaurs.
According to Rorty, Galileo’s evidence for the Copernican worldview is as legitimate as the views of the Catholic Church, which at the time wanted to refute Galileo with the Bible. Because, according to Rorty, there are no facts about which systems are “correct”, there are no objective standards to check whether Galileo’s system is the better, more correct explanation of the world. If the literal interpretation of the Bible is defined as unscientific, this is – according to Rorty- only a cultured form of insult (see BOGHOSSIAN 2015: pp. 67 ff.).
One could still find an inexhaustible number of such absurd statements (other irrationalists say, for example, that our brain creates the world and is not a reflection of the environment, so the brain constructs the “world out there.” This includes Chilean -US-American philosophers Humberto R. Maturama and Francisco J. Varela or the neurobiologist Gerhard Roth. Their neurobiological reasons for radical constructivism should not interest us here and, if necessary, be scrutinized in another series of articles.
The legitimate question that arises from this is: How do we actually know about the world outside our consciousness? How can we recognize the world, objectively reflect it? Answering these questions is important in order to draw a line from the irrationalist positions presented above.
With our sense organs we perceive our environment, which is reflected in our brains. In short, without sensory organs and nervous system we are not able to recognize. Here, too, is the fundamental error of the irrationalists: their assertion that the world is not recognizable and constructed by us is based on “realistic”, “naturalistic,” and “materialistic” basic conceptions, because they have to admit the materiality (ie the “authenticity” resp “Fact”) of a brain that generates consciousness, to assert that a brain (or we) constructs the world.
Because if we say that the world is constructed, we have to assume that there is a constructor (our consciousness, our brain?). But where can we assume that the designer himself is not a construction? How can we say that the world is constructed and therefore not recognizable if we do not first have to assume that there is something unconstructed? How can we even know that there is an unknowable world when we construct everything?
Of course, one could argue that our sensory organs cannot perceive everything or mislead us. Certainly it is known that we cannot perceive UV-light and everyone knows optical illusions. Now, on the one hand, make sure that when we speak of optical illusions, we thus recognize them as such, they cannot be constructed, otherwise we could not perceive them as optical illusions. Even the concept of illusion would be wrongly chosen from an irrationalist point of view, because according to irrationalists, this illusion would be socially constructed and thus equivalent to other representations, whereby the concept of illusion loses its meaning, since it suggests something wrong.
On the other hand, we do not perceive our world with just one sense organ, but we have several that complement each other and complete our image.
In addition, through our scientific practice, we experience things that are beyond our senses: UV light, radioactivity, but also more abstract topics such as scientific theories and contexts. Measuring instruments and our logical thinking are an extension of our senses, with which we describe the real things (and do not construct!).
With our language we are able to describe these real things (and do not construct them!). Of course that does not mean that we always describe things correctly with our language. We can misinterpret some things, but we can also deliberately obscure and mystify (something the irrationalists do). But our scientific practice enables us to describe real things ever closer and more correctly, to discard the old, etc., but this process of knowledge is never completed, but inexhaustible (to intensify the elaboration of these philosophical positions, I recommend the textbook on historical and dialectical materialism or works by Marx, Engels and Lenin on the subject).
The whole thing of irrationalism and its varieties is to fight the existence of verifiable objective reality. The followers of irrationalism regard reality as unpleasant and unsatisfactory. But instead of discussing how we can improve them, they dodge the point of completely rejecting objective reality, claiming that everything, especially the practice of discovering and verifying reality – science – is a random social construct that a certain truth does not exist as such. Eventually, they end up in a kind of absurd skepticism and solipsism and tell a random nonsense about random stuff. But none of it turns out to be scientifically logical.
This longer digression into the philosophy of irrationalism may deviate from the very subject (and to actually think about such fantasies is ironic). But the fact that a branch of gender studies has this irrationalist tradition did not stop me from writing about it.
The legitimate question remains: Just because a branch of gender studies, the queer theory (whose dominance in this branch I may not judge), tells such a nonsense, should we reject all sciences that deal with gender issues?
The Center for Gender Studies in Marburg has the following self-presentation:
“In gender studies, gender is understood as a mechanism by which social positions, work, power, resources, and recognition are differentially and hierarchically assigned. The analysis of these mechanisms and the principles of construction of gender and hierarchical gender relations in theory and practice form the subject of gender studies and feminist science. Gender Studies deals with the conceptual interpenetration and theoretical analysis of gender relations in history and the present as well as with the question of their essential forms and justifications; they convey knowledge of the history and theory of gender and gender relations.” Source
Studies on gender differences in a society are first of all nothing reprehensible and may have their justification. It should be said here, however: All forms of linguistic constructions, all possible equality commissioners, all forms of gender equality will not allow for genuine gender equality, unless the most important thing is addressed: the changes in the economic mode of production, the abolition of existing class distinctions by private property of the means of production. Economic exploitation mechanisms of capitalism – the social basis for any inequality – are not abolished by beautiful words.
Our second part will address the question of why it makes sense to have two sexes.
BLUMBERG, M. 2005: Basic Instinct – The genesis of behavoior. Thunder’s Mouth Press
BLUMBERG, M. 2009: Freaks of Nature – What Anamolies tell us about Development and Evolution. Oxford University Press
BOGHOSSIAN (2015): Angst vor der Wahrheit. Ein Plädoyer gegen Relativismus und Konstruktivismus. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft
BUBLITZ, H. (2002): Juduth Butler zur Einführung. Junius Verlag
FROMM, E. & WRONA, V. (1978): Irrationalismus – Element der geistigen Krise des Imperialismus, in Einheit 2-78
FRY, D. P., Hrsg. 2013: War, Peace and Human Nature The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views, Oxford: Oxford University Press
FUENTES, A. 2012: Race, Monogamy and other Lies they told you. Buting Myth about Human Nature. University of California Press
GOULD, S. J. 1981: Der falsch vermessene Mensch. Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft
JAMES, O. 2016: Not in Your Genes – The real Reason Children are Like their Parents. Vermillon
KOPP, H. & SEPPMANN, W. (2002, Hrsg.): Gescheiterte Moderne. Neue Impulse Verlag
KRIMSKY & GRUBER (2013): Genetic Explanaitions – Sense and Nonsense. Harvard University Press
KUTSCHERA, U. (2018): Das Gender-Paradoxon – Mann und Frau als evolvierte Menschentypen. LIT-Verlag
LEWONTIN, R. 1992: Biology as Ideology – The Doctrine of DNA. Harper Perennial
LEWONTIN, R. 2002: Die Dreifach-Helix. Gen, Organismus und Umwelt. Springer
LEWONTIN, R., ROSE, S. & KAMIN, L. J. 1988: Die Gene sind es nicht… Biologie, Ideologie und menschliche Natur. BeltzPVU
LEVINS, R. & LEWONTIN, R. 1985: The Dialectical Biologist. Harvard University Press
LEVITIN, K. 2009: One is not born a personality – A biographical history of Soviet Psychology. Erythros Press and Media
MOORE, D. S. (2001): The Dependent Gene – The Fallacy of „Nature vs. Nurture“. OWL Books
MOORE, D. S. (2015): The Devoloping Genome – An Introduction to Bevahvioral Epigenetics. Oxford University Press
ROSE, S. 2000: Darwins gefährliche Erben – Biologie jenseits egoistischer Gene. C. H. Beck
ROSE, H. & ROSE, S. 2001: Alas Poor Darwin – Arguments against Evolutionary Psychology. Vintage Verlag
RYAN, C. & JETHA, C. 2016: Sex Die wahre Geschichte. Klett-Cotta Verlag
SOKAL, A. & BRICMONT, J. (1998): Eleganter Unsinn, wie die Denker der Postmoderne die Wissenschaft missbrauchen. C.H. Beck Verlag
SUSSMANN, R. & CLONINGER, R., Hrsg. 2011: Origins of Altruism and Cooperation, New York: Springer