Blaming personality on gender

Yet another book that attempts to explain away gender-based behavior through brain chemistry.

Or rather, to make excuses for gender-based behavior through brain chemistry. Specifically, statements from the review of the book like: “The male brain secretes less of the powerful primary bonding chemical oxytocin and less of the calming chemical serotonin than the female brain. Instead, the male hormones that bathe the brain are testosterone and vasopressin, which make him seek competitive, hierarchical groups to prove his self-worth and identity.”

What I want to know is, how come every time I see a statement like this, the behavior that men supposedly can’t help themselves about is one that very few of the men I know display at all? When I point this out I’m generally told the men I know are unusual–but I’m not buying it; they can’t all be that unusual.

I don’t buy it when I’m told women are inclined to crave constant conversation and connection (and avoid competition and hierarchy), either. Know too many women who need their alone and apart space, too.

Actually, the only thing that correlates in our household to how much we want to talk evenings is the day job–whenever one of us has a day job, they tend to come home feeling quieter and less inclined to chat than the one who’s been home on their own all day.

So many people seem determined to prove men and women are inherently different, in ways we just can’t control, and that thus none of us are really responsible for any gender-based behavior we display.

I wonder if it’s a little like the women who will tell you all men are jerks–or the men who will tell you all women are difficult and overemotional–because it’s easier to believe this is the way of the world than to believe that they might be in a troubled relationship. That it’s likewise easier to say that “men and women are wired differently” than to work with the fact that people are different, and if two people are different in a way that gets on each others’ nerves, they’re going to have to find a way to work that out that respects both parties.

And anyone who isn’t willing to share the remote is not awash in this or that brain chemical: what they are is overcontrolling.

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