“One is not born, but rather becomes, woman.” This is perhaps one of the most quoted lines from Simone de Beauvoir’s work; she is one of the first feminists to claim that gender is a social construct. Since then, the popularization of the “social construction of gender” has mushroomed. Denying that gender is a product of culture can get you branded as “sexist” or “misogynistic.”
Last year, a Swedish university asked one of their professor’s to apologize for lecturing his students about biological and anatomical differences between men and women. In a letter to the management, a female student wrote that by claiming the existence of biological gender differences, he has an anti-feminist agenda. The fear and denial of sex differences are increasing in a perturbing way.
A “Social Construct” Exists Before Birth
The Findings of Neuroscience
Neuroscientists have their say on it: Many studies prove that men and women’s brains are different. As a counterargument, one can argue that parents interact differently with girls and boys from the moment of birth. It is a reasonable way of thinking.
In recent years, neuroscientists have studied the brains of babies in their mothers’ wombs. In other words, they studied the human brain from the prenatal period, brains untouched by society and culture. They found that gender differences are generally largest in the prenatal period, and those differences diminish with age.
Mainstream media did not talk about the dramatic differences observed in the studies. Feminists may argue that we should stop looking for sex differences. They fail to see that denying and neglecting such differences is not in the interest of women.
A Development for Equality
Women are not treated equally with men in biomedicine. For decades neuroscience, overwhelmingly studied only males, assumed that everything fundamental to know about females would be learned by studying males. Now that they are aware of the biologically-based sex influences on brain function, we should witness positive changes in the context of understanding and treating mental disorders.
To treat women as equal to men, we have to stop treating women as if they are men. What some may label as “Neurosexism” is actually working in the interest of women’s rights.
In 2016, The National Institute of Health adopted a new policy called “Sex as a Biological Variable,” or SABV for short, requiring all of its grantees to seriously incorporate the understanding of females into their research. It is an underrated victory for women’s rights.
Understanding sex differences helps women. Denying them does the opposite.
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