Nature and Nurture Entwined

Back when I was a wee lass, ingesting all sorts of psychological theory from books and experts, I came across the (imo) annoying and dated nature-nurture debate. At the time, I felt it was a ridiculous argument. Reducing complex human behaviour to either biological reality OR socialization – and ne’er the twain shall meet! – was too simplistic. But camps there were. I felt perhaps, at least in psych textbooks they were presented in such a way so that a moron could understand the basic principles. And I figured in the real world, no one actually reduced phenomena to one or the other.

And as far as the debates went, honestly, I thought we’d gotten past dichotomous thinking in the last century. Most reasonable people seemed to agree that most human conditions were a combination of what you were born with and how that set of attributes or qualities were enhanced/stunted/mutated by social and physical environment.

You could look at mental disease and personality disorders, for example. One might be born with a predisposition for schizophrenia or psychopathy, but if and how and when it manifested would be tempered by the conditions you were exposed to in your life. And you could apply this idea to pretty much any condition, disease, or behaviour. Interplay seemed to be the way things were going. It made sense, of course, to a budding methodologist who never in her life designed less than a two-by-two and well understood interaction effects as well as extraneous variables.

But I was wrong. It wasn’t until starting to dig deep into a feminism that was always shouting in the background for me all my life, that I saw stubborn dichotomous camps set up once again. For cripes sake!

Biological essentialism (due to Nature/evolution or some penis-swinging imaginary god-dorkus) and its diametric opposite, socialization, are two major camps in the war on women and conceptualizations of gender. I discovered that idiots, which comprise the majority of the population, believe in essentialism – men and women are born to do and be certain things with men on top and women as slaves on the bottom in all ways. And this essentialism, as I said, is explained as either ordained by some fucked up god, or as ‘nature’s way’. Determinism. All right and good. Any deviance must be corrected in some way.

And then there is the other camp: intelligent, well-meaning and deep-thinking women – our radical feminists. But I don’t entirely agree with their standpoint that socialization accounts completely for how things are for men and women. I’ve tried to understand that point of view. Really. I’ve really tried. But through my studies and research and personal reading, I just can’t get there. I do think psychology and behaviour are much more complex than that. I think socialization is a very strong influence, indeed, and our world is as fucked up as it is because society is comprised of sick fucks who brainwash children to be demi-gods (male) or fuck-slaves (female) as soon as they’re born.

But to explain WHY this happens and indeed, how we got there in the first place and why we can’t managed to budge it significantly no matter how hard we try? Well, I think socialization doesn’t take us all the way on that.

As unpopular as this is going to sound, I truly believe that those sick fuckers – men – those who constructed and maintain with an iron fist and dick the sick fuck society we have, are born with nasty tendencies. I also think that women are born with tendencies to be more collaborative and fair and empathic, and to see a bigger picture and act accordingly. And of course there is variation within male and female groups, but by and large, men stole the power they have through their natural, biological tendency to be vicious, violent, sadistic and greedy, and they’ve refused to change for the better over these 10,000 years. They’d have changed if they wanted to, yes? They don’t want to – what they created and maintain suits them just fine. They thought about what they wanted, tried out an approach that suited their violent nature, it worked, it felt good, and they’ve kept it going – like forever. When they coined the saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, they were referring to how things worked for them. Not women.

I don’t believe, however, that women are born to be slaves. I believe, because women are more humane by nature, that they’ve fallen victim to violence from the start and put up with it in order to survive. Dissenters are effectively silenced and crazified – there has never been a critical mass willing to go against their nature and adopt male tactics in order to change their status. To regain our power as a class, we would need to rise en masse and violently take back what has been stolen. There is no other way out of the deep hole we exist in. And I think women aren’t willing to become men in order to be the women they were born to be: free of male violence and powerful in their own peaceful right. You can’t gain peace through violence. At least, we’ve never seen it happen the way men have done things. Perhaps women could make it work. But it will never happen.

Definitely not a popular viewpoint, and yet on I go. Feminists, although well-meaning, are still trying to be nice to the oppressors. To be fair. To garner support. To compromise. Even though they are wrong in their theory, and even though sucking up to the oppressor never actually works. By giving men the benefit of the doubt, which often takes the form of: “You’re not naturally violent – you’re just suffering under patriarchy like women do. We will try to believe this even though you somehow came up with the idea that you should violently enslave women and somehow can’t manage to change despite thousands of years having passed and despite millions of women protesting this treatment” – women shoot themselves in the collective female foot. Nice doesn’t work when you’re talking to people who just don’t care.

I think of feminists such as Gail Dines. She is a classic panderer to men’s need for victimhood status. I love her work on pornography and her bravery in speaking out in public, until she starts in with her ‘men are hurt tooooo’ schtick. She creates a false equivalency between “men are unable to form intimate relationships” (boo hoo, like they care) and the fear, degradation, erasure of personhoood, and bodily harm (and so much more) that are an ever-present danger for all women and reality for many. These are hardly the same. Men started porn, men believe they are owed porn, men demand more and more violent and truly frightening porn, and men deny the harm of porn, and thus they keep the industry surviving and thriving and expanding. They are not victims in this, and I don’t feel sorry for them. I think there is more going on than socializing to account for the enthusiastic perpetration and eroticization of atrocities such as porn. This is not just socialization at work. If this were the case, assuming that children and animals are subordinate to women, you’d posit that women would develop their own porn industry where they rape or abuse children and animals in order to assert dominance as mandated by our beloved patriarchal system. But women don’t do that. Men do, though. There is something in the biology that predisposes men to violence and dominance and the sick enjoyment of it. And somehow, I doubt a matriarchy would see men’s and women’s roles reversed. The few matriarchies that have existed functioned quite differently and more fairly than anything men have come up with to date.

I think the idea is that by subscribing to a ridiculous extreme view that gender must be 100% socially constructed, feminists try to ensure that women don’t get branded as natural slaves when suggesting that men might actually be brutes or have the very real potential for brutehood from birth. I get it. Men have a hard time with logic, and I can imagine them saying something like, “so it follows that…” From a more intelligent, female perspective, I don’t think it’s in any way an inevitable conclusion to say that women are natural slaves – there is no evidence that women gravitate to slavery naturally. Slavery is achieved through physical, sexual and psychological violence. Period.

I think you can say that a violent nature that allows one to achieve dominance also allows one the freedom to be one’s true self, whereas behaviour enforced by a violent oppressor is not natural behaviour at all. That’s not to say males who are naturally inclined to be violent can’t be socialized to be better humans. They can – remember biology and socialization work together. It’s just that they’ve created a socialization process that rewards their natural qualities.

For women, the opposite is true. Natural inborn propensities for positive social behaviour such as empathy or fairness are not behaviours that can win in a violent society. Rather, they are abused. They are ridiculed. Know that these behaviours are not submissive, but actually a different kind of power – I would argue a better power. They just can’t overthrow a deeply-ingrained, violent power without a critical mass, and likely without violence either. In addition, the socialization process created by men also ensures that a set of submissive behaviours (including supporting and giving a free pass to violence), which are not natural in women, are learned at early age. In this way, men can be natural and are rewarded for it, and women behave unnaturally and are (sort of) rewarded for it as well, or are less punished than when they don’t submit. And when one’s natural tendencies deviate from the norm (sissy boys and ‘butch’ girls), there has always been a price to pay. Men and women have gotten around this to some extent by trying (and failing) to change sex. Both are fueled by patriarchal misogyny.

Some argue (i.e., MRAs and their cockpuppets) that if we turn things around and allow women to behave naturally and socialize men out of their natural violence, we are ‘taking away their natural rights’. That argument only holds if that new system actually took away men’s rights in the way that the current system takes away women’s rights. And it wouldn’t. Whereas now, by allowing men the power to be natural and violent, women and children are greatly harmed. But removing genderized socialization and by giving women the power to be natural and pro-social AND free from men, men are not harmed. Only worshipping violence causes harm. Pro-social behaviours are good for everyone and lead to a more productive, intelligent, progressive society. The only ones arguing to keep violence and harm are men. Strangely, they don’t seem to want peace, freedom and progressiveness. The big question, though, is: can men be socialized out of their violent natures? I really don’t know. Maybe not completely. It may work with the less psychopathic and aggressive, but I don’t think socialization can erase biology. If that were the case, no women would protest the violent slavery forced on them. As it is, women’s natural tendencies fight constantly with how they’re socialized.

I’d like to see radical feminism revised to account for a more complex explanation of human behaviour that takes into account that oppressors have more freedom to be their natural selves and that the oppressed cannot express their natural selves unless it is an exploitable quality (e.g. care-giving). And in that way, we can employ both nature and nurture in explaining how patriarchy started and the purpose it serves, and how it is maintained. And then finally, we might have part of what we need to dismantle it. Current simplistic theories are neither adequate nor accurate.

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Posted on November 28, 2015, in Feminism, Male Privilege, Violence and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Nature and Nurture Entwined.

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