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Forcing gender roles on young children - Page 12

post #221 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
I think the answer is quite obvious: because I disagree and believe part of children's gender identity is biological, as I have stated time and time again. In any case, steering your child AWAY from stereotypes perpetuates those gender associates just as much as steering your child TOWARDS them does, which was the entire point of the post. Instead of being upset with me for believing this perhaps you should contact those who write children's development books and tell them to stop lying about the differences between boys and girls in the baby and toddler years.

I'm not accusing you of doing anything.
moonfirefaery: I am not upset with you in the least. You are entitled to your opinion just like everyone else, and , if you don't find anything problematic about gender than more power to you--and I mean that sincerely.

People write books about everything, and there are varying perspectives on how children develop. Not everyone agrees, which is why 'child development' is an academic discipline. Similarly, if, lets say, mothering is supposedly biological, than why on earth would we need the hundreds of books written on the subject to tell us how to mother? Wouldn't it be instinctual?

I don't agree with you that steering your child away from gender 'stereotypes' perpetuates them. You can only perpetuate an idea if you reinforce it's meanings by not challenging the assumptions upon which they are based.
post #222 of 255
How is steering a child away from something challenging it?

I think introducing children to everything and refraining from associating things were genders would be much more productive.

As for your question on motherhood, my answer is this: everyone is different. Some things are instinctual for some people, and some aren't. Nursing comes easily to some, and others have to work at it. Patience is inborn for some, and others have to try very hard to remain patient. It depends on the person.
post #223 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
How is steering a child away from something challenging it?

I think introducing children to everything and refraining from associating things were genders would be much more productive.
Well, here's an example from my own experience:

I hate, no, I abhor Bratz dolls. I feel that they embody every negative stereotype about 'girls' and 'girlishness' that I can imagine.

DD loves Bratz dolls, why? Because she thinks they are 'cool', and 'pretty', and all her friends have them.

What am I to do?

a) go against all my instincts and buy her the doll, in an attempt to let her decide for herself? or,

b) adamantly refuse to spend our hard-earned money on something that I find so objectionable? Explaining that mommy thinks that Bratz dolls teach girls that (among other things), girls are/should be primarily concerned about their appearance.

Either way, I am imposing my beliefs about Bratz dolls on my daughter. Yet, which is the more effective stategy for challenging the stereotypes embodied by the doll?
post #224 of 255
LOL! I hate the BratZ dolls, too. I probably wouldn't buy my daughter one of the dolls but would explain why it is inappropriate. There are many gender roles out there, many stereotypes, and that one is inappropriate. I agree. However, not all ideas related to feminism need to be shunned. Dislike of Bratz dolls, for me, isn't about associating things with certain genders. It's about a bunch of child dolls dressed like 23 year old college girls being inappropriate for young girls. :P How is a Barbie doll in a nurse outfit or mermaid costume as inappropriate as a Bratz doll? You know, she has other friends that have different colors of hair and skin and different styles. She hasn't got a fat friend yet, but she might one day. I'm not saying that everything is appropriate, just that I don't understand why gender-specific toys are all inappropriate.
post #225 of 255

Miss a couple days and PHEW! gotta catch up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
One's brain architecture and chemistry cannot change. However, there is amounting research that we can rewire the neorological paths that messages transmit through, change our way of thinking, and alter the way one's brain works. There is a type of therapy (can't remember the name) that is designed to reconnect broken or disconnected 'passages' in the brain. It can help dyslexia and a variety of other problems, because it increases the functionality of the brain and changes the way the brain works. The way our brains function change over time, and the chemical balance of our brains change, too. Just look at the actions of a teenager vs a thirty-five year old man. Behavior isn't only about experience.
Sexual identity is hardly about broken passageways. Again, comparing apples and oranges; I see where you're coming from , but it just doesn't jive, since dyslexia happens between the visual cortex and the learning and retention core, and sexual identity is wrapped up in hormone-placement, in the areas of the brain that dictate sexuality (sounds like a fun place!). Different areas of the brain. I see what you were trying to say, tho. You know and it seems like most of us here know, that sexual identity STARTS as a biological process. The seeds are planted in utero. Behavior is just behavior. And while behavior can impact the psyche (I speak as someone entering into clincal psychology from a behaviorialist point of view), it doesn't change the map of the brain. (broken pathways notwithstanding)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inci View Post
Also, I always think of the following quote by Kathy Najimy, which was her reply to someone who accused of her "going overboard" when she objected to her daughter playing with Barbie:

"Every second of the rest of the 90 years of her life, the world is going to bombard her with how perfect being thin is. My objection to it, my little drop in the thousands of drops she is going to be flooded with, is nothing. I have to be heavey-handed because I am not the world; I am just my one little voice to her. So I am going to be biased. I am. 'Cause the world is not going to be fair, If the world were objective and fair, I wouldn't have to work so hard. But I have to be really, really aware and sometimes intense just to have a chance in hell of something seeping in." (Ms. magazine)

This, in part, is why I'm a feminist, and why feminism is still necessary.
I really feel this. Amen, sister. Now, we all have to take it to the next phase... GLOBAL AWARENESS. It's not just our kids and the toys they play with... it's girls in parts of the middle east being told they are intrinsically VILE and being punished for just being female, it's baby-girls in China STILL being found in ditches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
I don't believe that these 'personality differences' are inherent or biological. I truly believe that they are taught, and reinforced very early on in children.
The truth (and you'll find it yourself if you look) is that the differences ARE biological... they START that way, to be sure. In blind studies, world wide (one out of Scandinavia, published I think about 10 years ago, that spanned something like 30 years, pops into mind...) children in an array of social and economic stations were observed from infancy on. No matter what gender neutral or gender specific toys were introduced, a majority of girls and boys instinctively played, in most of the groups without suggestion, in sexually stereotypical ways. Offered the same toys each time, equally, boys picked up ANY thing, a block, a shoe, a doll, and made it "Go", gave it projectile-properties, or momentum... made it fly, made it drive, crashed it, threw it, etc. Girls picked up anything, a cup, a stuffed animal, a car and "Nurtured" it... wrapped it in a blanket, kissed it, etc. These are 'wired' behaviors, kwim? BUT they can and do change thru modelling and 'conditioning'... overt and covert.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut View Post
I think it's very naive to assume that by merely "paying attention" and "actively seeking to avoid" gender stereotypes that you are avoiding them. It's like a fish trying to pretend he can't notice the water. Studies have shown that even parents striving to avoid this treat their sons and daughters differently. I thought many people in this thread did a good job of pointing out all nuances and conditioning that make it impossible to completely raise your kids in some kind of vacuum. For instance, my son was also interested in cars before he could speak. And he was also interested in cooking and cleaning like I do, and very affectionate, and in rocking his dolls to sleep. We're so conditioned ourselves it's so easy to find evidence that conforms, and unconsciously toss out the rest.

Also I don't think anyone is saying that we are born blank slates. I think the mistake is that most people assume that boys and girls are polar opposites, that all boys are alike and all girls are alike. And of course there is a whole lot of pressure and shame if one doesn't quit fit.

Personally I agree with Germaine Greer, who states her belief that there is no way to determine any differences that may exist, b/c we are so conditioned from day one. I find it astonishing irl how many people will just point to "the way things are" as proof that we're utterly different. Lack of critical thinking skills indeed.
I just liked what you said, and I think you always express yourself intelligently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demeter9 View Post
I wonder how many of the people in this thread are going to tear their hair out when their children hit their teens and start acting out gender-stereotypes to find themselves....because they've been discouraged from playing out gender roles as little children.
I wake up at night in a cold sweat sometimes with this very thought!! Or maybe it's just the thought of the teen years...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
Anyone familiar with Dora the explorer? I find it very curious that in the wake of this chararcter's success, along comes a 'boy' version of Dora -her cousin Deiago. What's the point? Was there concern that boys might identify with Dora? Really, it's the same c$%p, just gender-specific.
Nephew loves Dora... I think because his cousin, my daughter, looks just like her. His mom, my SIL is horrified, and pushes Diego on him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut View Post
See posts throughout this thread where observant people note how even very young babies are dressed in certain colors, bought certain things, and spoken to and treated in different ways based on their genders.
Folks do instinctively treat male and female children different from the go... I didn't even realize I was guilty of it myself, until I took a class on Emotional Availability, and one portion of the class discussed this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lis View Post
What I find interesting is that while we are quick to be critical of how society places value judgments on our children in terms of how they should behave, learn, play and develop, we fail to be critical of ourselves and how we place value judgments on our children. We watch them play, take interest in and/or focus on specific things and we assume (most times) it is because of their gender, some innate biological determinate factor, and/or a genetic predisposition, etc etc. It is precisely because we take notice in these things; encourage or devalue certain types of play (even on a superfical level), we too as parents, intentional or not, have ALOT to do with imposing gender roles on our children as we are not free from societal expectations or assumptions of what gender means and what is socially acceptable for our children to like, take interest in or enjoy, even at a young age.
Well stated.


And Robert... I was wondering where u had gone... to answer: I resent something as important as sexual identity and the way we develope as humans in ourselves and in our society being simplified down to chocolate and vanilla... I don't resent you, just your choice of analogy. I think you were researching for your product, have some great info on marketing and how it relates to gender, and stumbled onto MDC; finding a great place to to do market research and have a stimulating debate. But you're debating something that shouldn't be a debate. It is sad that our society perpetuates this debate... it's a part of the oppression that has been mentioned here loosely. As long as we are debating and questioning each other, we won't question those in power. You said it yourself... "... disagree about facts...". A fact is a fact, and whether you agree or not, it remains a fact that sexual identity has a distinct biological assignment process. Where it goes after it's been assigned (do to injury, illness, age, or chemicals) is a crap-shoot, and when you factor in the social pressures to homogenize and fit in, or to be diverse and "fight the power", or whatever, it only complicates the subject more. It isn't chocolate and vanilla, tho, man. At all. I DID like your inquiry re; brain injury (stroke, etc... tumor, maybe?) to areas of the brain that govern sexual identity, and am going to ask my professor at school if he has ever seen anything on it, and follow-up on it... I've not come across any studies using that as a base... Cool.
post #226 of 255
If we can fix broken passageways, why can't we alter the paths by which our neurons travel to change our thinking? I'm not talking about changing the map, just the way we get from North Brain St to South Brain Avenue. :P To me it seems impossible to be able to do the first, which seems like an amazing feat, but not the latter.
post #227 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
But whether or not the boy and girl will play with the toy isn't up to the toy company.
Certainly not reliably. But sometimes just by making different versions available (at the point of sale or wherever the kids see it), they can get some siblings of opposite sex or different ages to reject the other version. In some cases, the versions don't even have to be labeled with such suggestions; whichever version one sibling goes for in those cases will be rejected by the other, if the children (usually the older one, but sometimes the younger) want to differentiate themselves at the same time they really want the same thing.

How many times have you seen this with hand-me-downs? The child wants what the older sibling, or cousin, or whomever has, so when the older one outgrows it, you give it to the younger one who can now feel more grown up, right? But now the younger one rejects it because in some way it's not hir own! It could even be something like a bedroom that the younger one has coveted, but now wants painted a different color and the furniture changed. It doesn't have to be based on sex, it's just a desire to differentiate, but if the child has the excuse that "it's a girl's/boy's color", that might help twist your arm.

Quote:
LoL! I wonder what the differences between the different bubble baths for certain ages would be, lol.
AFAICT (but I've given up at least for now trying to market a final consumer product, and am just trying to sell the non-irritating foaming base), the main difference is scent. At least they try to predict what's an adult vs. kiddie-desired fragrance; good luck! Secondarily, there's a tendency to use milder surfactants in the liquid (but not the powder) kid versions, in the mistaken impression either that children's skin is more sensitive to defatting (usually not) or that urogenital irritation is more of a problem with children than adults. My inquiries have turned up some cases where women have outgrown susceptibility to vulvovaginitis from soap, but other cases where they acquired it only after puberty. (Failure to report, or to inquire about, masturbation as contributory clouds all previous research findings in this area.) What it does seem to be is a sex-differentiated, not age-differentiated problem, in that male urethritis from soap does occur, but apparently much less commonly than female genito-urinary irritation.

But those are functional concerns. Mostly it's that the products are "positioned" differently for different ages. Adult toiletries, especially women's, are more frequently "fancy" and higher priced. Heck, just labeling the product as "bubble bath", "body wash", "shampoo", "hand soap", or "dishwashing liquid" can be mere positioning. There can be some functional differences between such categories, but there don't have to be.

Robert
post #228 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
I think some are, and some aren't. It really depends, I think. Children are going to go to mommy about their periods, and boys will go to daddy about their penises--usually, I mean.
Good save with that disclaimer, because I think in a lot of households those issues come up with whomever cleans the toilet.

Whe I explained to Mother that I was banking my urine off the toilet lid because "sometimes my ding-dong goes straight out", Daddy was no help, even though he was a doctor!

Robert
post #229 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
I hate, no, I abhor Bratz dolls. I feel that they embody every negative stereotype about 'girls' and 'girlishness' that I can imagine.

DD loves Bratz dolls, why? Because she thinks they are 'cool', and 'pretty', and all her friends have them.
Well of course, why do you think they named them "Bratz"? I have no idea what those dolls are like, but naming them after adults' disparaging word for children (i.e. misbehaving ones), brats, tells me that whatever they're like, the maker of those dolls is telling children, "Your parents will hate these! Hooray!" The kids are supposed to want them because their parents will hate, no, abhor them. It's a socially acceptable means of rebellion.

There's an entire fetish out there for adults who hate Barney material. I bet if you searched for the string "hate barney" or "kill barney", you'd return loads of rants, even videos.

Robert
post #230 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
Well of course, why do you think they named them "Bratz"? I have no idea what those dolls are like, but naming them after adults' disparaging word for children (i.e. misbehaving ones), brats, tells me that whatever they're like, the maker of those dolls is telling children, "Your parents will hate these! Hooray!" The kids are supposed to want them because their parents will hate, no, abhor them. It's a socially acceptable means of rebellion.
Granted, they are an extreme example. lol. But, man, they are just vile!
post #231 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
Sexual identity is hardly about broken passageways. Again, comparing apples and oranges; I see where you're coming from , but it just doesn't jive, since dyslexia happens between the visual cortex and the learning and retention core, and sexual identity is wrapped up in hormone-placement, in the areas of the brain that dictate sexuality (sounds like a fun place!). Different areas of the brain.
But I won't believe it until I see findings in humans that say lesions in those areas produce changes of the type predicted by your claim. You can get dyslexia by injury to the areas you mention above, so I would apply the same criterion to the claim about sexual identity.

Quote:
But you're debating something that shouldn't be a debate. It is sad that our society perpetuates this debate... it's a part of the oppression that has been mentioned here loosely.
Whoa, that's really dangerous territory. You don't just want to give evidence for your claims, you want to stifle controversy about them! That can mean one of two things:
  1. It really is like the example I gave before -- holocaust denial -- in that the assertions made by that side imply that a whole buncha people are liars.
  2. Your case is so weak it can only be sustained if the other side is squelched.

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As long as we are debating and questioning each other, we won't question those in power.
If you succeed in stopping the debates and questions, that means you're the one in power.

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It isn't chocolate and vanilla, tho, man.
How do you know?

Quote:
I DID like your inquiry re; brain injury (stroke, etc... tumor, maybe?) to areas of the brain that govern sexual identity, and am going to ask my professor at school if he has ever seen anything on it, and follow-up on it... I've not come across any studies using that as a base... Cool.
Then what evidence did you see that convinced you there was an area of the human brain determining the things you consider sexual identity? That's how it is with functional mapping of the brain; we owe most of it to stroke and head injury patients, some tumors and surgical cases too.

There are ways now to image or otherwise map portions of the brain under certain conditions of activity. You can try having people think about lemons and see what parts of the brain "light up" in terms of glucose catabolism or other markers. But that won't work in the case of the markers you claim for sexual identity, because they're not acutely turned on or off the way a memory of a lemon is, say.

Then you're down to how parts of autopsied brains look, just a step above phrenology. Call me when you can get blinded observers to sort stained sections of brains into homosexual and heterosexual.

Quote:
I think you were researching for your product, have some great info on marketing and how it relates to gender, and stumbled onto MDC;
Excellent deduction! Last year I stumbled upon an issue of Mothering that had a cover story on selecting bath products. To get the article, I had to register online. So they e-mail me links each week, and here I am.

Quote:
finding a great place to to do market research and have a stimulating debate.
The market research, eh, I don't know how good that opp'ty is, but you're right, I can't resist getting my 2 cents in.

Robert
post #232 of 255
Quote:
they can get some siblings of opposite sex or different ages to reject the other version
I really doubt their aim is to get people to reject their toys, but to attract as many people to their toys as possible by appealing to as many personality types as possible.

Children don't see pink and associate it with girls until society teaches them to do so. Rather than eliminate pink toys we should just not urge girls towards them.

Quote:
I think in a lot of households those issues come up with whomever cleans the toilet.
Well, it sure wasn't like that in mine or any other household I ever visitted. I went straight to my mother when blood began leaking from my vagina.

Quote:
Whe I explained to Mother that I was banking my urine off the toilet lid because "sometimes my ding-dong goes straight out", Daddy was no help, even though he was a doctor!
Yeah, I was generally talking about puberty-related issues there, but thanks for sharing, I guess.

Quote:
How do you know?
That's a silly question. How do you?
post #233 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
You know and it seems like most of us here know, that sexual identity STARTS as a biological process. The seeds are planted in utero. Behavior is just behavior. And while behavior can impact the psyche , it doesn't change the map of the brain.
Behaviour does have an effect on how neural connections are established. Repeating the same behaviour, over and over stimulates the cells involved to grow and connect with one another. How can the map not change if new 'pathways' can be established?
post #234 of 255
I just love this. Everyone, please take a look. From the first issue of Ms. magazine.

http://www.trans-man.org/baby_x.html

Quote:
X: A Fabulous Child's Story -- by Lois Gould © 1972



Once upon a time, a baby named X was born. This baby was named X so that nobody could tell whether it was a boy or a girl. Its parents could tell, of course, but they couldn't tell anybody else. They couldn't even tell Baby X, at first.

You see, it was all part of a very important Secret Scientific Xperiment, known officially as Project Baby X. The smartest scientists had set up this Xperiment at a cost of Xactly 23 billion dollars and 72 cents, which might seem like a lot for just one baby, even a very important Xperimental baby. But when you remember the prices of things like strained carrots and stuffed bunnies, and popcorn for the movies and booster shots for camp, let alone 28 shiny quarters from the tooth fairy, you begin to see how it adds up.
Could never have said it better myself.
post #235 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwebbal View Post
I just love this. Everyone, please take a look. From the first issue of Ms. magazine.

http://www.trans-man.org/baby_x.html



Could never have said it better myself.
LOVED it!
post #236 of 255
Robert, you ask why I would resent you, (which I don't) but then behave in an incendiary way. C'mon.

Simply put, to you and any others that wanna debate about sexual behavior vs. sexual assignment, or 'brain gender': I'm going into the field of clinical psychology, as a behaviorialist... what that means is that I heartily believe that behavior CAN change the paths between synapse channels. Neural traces are imprinted and deepened through repeated use. This is the foundation of the form of therapy I subscribe to. So, I'm in agreement with you there.

A metaphor my instructor from a couple years ago, in a neo-natal development course used (we were discussing the process of sexual assignment in the fetus): If we take a map of the globe's surface and wipe away all the lines and names, borders and time-zones, the world would still be there, and you would still see the land masses. If we wipe away all the existing pathways from synapse to synapse in the brain, the brain is still there, and all the regions of the brain that harbor our abilities and behaviors, our interests and maintenance, would all still be there. I am presenting the finding that sexuality, like hair color, or eye color, or height, is like a land mass on the globe of the brain. I can buy into the theory that severe injury via stroke or what have you, (plate tectonics? ) may change that land mass. And the pathways between the synapse receptors in and around 'sexuality' may change, but the original gender assignment is a constant, in and of itself. Plainly put, perhaps a woman whose hormone placement in her brain's architecture in utero dictated she would be a homosexual woman CAN have a stroke and find herself suddenly straight. Ok, sure... but she ws not originally wired that way... it took an injury to make her straight.

I DON'T believe neural traces via BEHAVIOR can be deepened to a point where they change a person's sexual assignment. Just as my behavior will not change the color of my skin.

That may be what the sexual re-conditioning camps think...

And fwiw, I'm not looking to have power. I don't propose that these are MY ideas; I am sharing what I have learned. I'm a student, and don't have the trademark on these 'claims' as u call them... I prefer 'findings', since what I'm referring to is what we discussed in school, and what is detailed in the texts we're assigned to read. Nor do I care to stifle you and your quest for further knowledge; I'd rather we all JOIN forces to find a mutual understanding and discover what is being kept from us...

Robert, your need to question what I bring to the table in an effort to share with you what you seem to be curious about seems like it might be a result of your own social conditioning... question everything, sure... but you're fighting the wrong fight. It's just that you hadn't been given the newest info, yet... most folks HAVEN'T... and they should be pissed about it. There is new information and new discoveries about the human brain... it's not the same science it was 15 years ago... even 10 years ago. (Neo-natal neurology is relatively new, and does not rely on strokes and autopsies... Thank GOD! I am SO looking forward to next term...)
post #237 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwebbal View Post
I just love this. Everyone, please take a look. From the first issue of Ms. magazine.

http://www.trans-man.org/baby_x.html



Could never have said it better myself.
This is an interesting thing by Lois Gould, but her book "A Sea Change" is much more interesting and examines gender assignment in more depth. It's a great book.
post #238 of 255
This is the exact reason I did not find out the gender of my DS before he was born. I did not to receive a bunch of pink or blue clothing and related gear!
post #239 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
Robert, your need to question what I bring to the table in an effort to share with you what you seem to be curious about seems like it might be a result of your own social conditioning... question everything, sure... but you're fighting the wrong fight. It's just that you hadn't been given the newest info, yet... most folks HAVEN'T... and they should be pissed about it. There is new information and new discoveries about the human brain... it's not the same science it was 15 years ago... even 10 years ago. (Neo-natal neurology is relatively new, and does not rely on strokes and autopsies... Thank GOD! I am SO looking forward to next term...)
PrennaMamma: I realize that you are directing this to Robert specifically, but I wanted to address your assertion that in debating what is a long-standing controversy between the affects of 'nature' vs 'nurture' on gendered behaviour, that one is 'fighting the wrong fight'.

Biological differences aside, I don't feel that questioning claims about the inherent basis of women's and men's behaviours is a exercise in futility. Historically, it has been shown time and time again, that scientific researchers employ assumptions and biases without being aware of them. Some scientific arguments then give rise to 'findings' or conclusions that are often more ideological than they are scientific. There is a tendancy to oversimplify the FACT that human behaviours are influenced by a complex set of factors, some biological, some cultural, that can lend itself to a widespread social acceptance of specific gender roles as 'natural' and/or 'normal'. This is scary because social policies are influenced by what 'society' deems natural and normal.

There are (thankfully) always going to be folks who adopt counter-discourses to the dominant ones produced by medicine, psychology, etc. This is a GOOD thing, because as we've seen repeatedly, dominant discourse(s) (or TRUTH), is produced under the control of institutions (universities, military, media...etc) that have an interest in maintaining the status quo.

We all find 'meaning' and 'identity' in the categories that we construct out of these 'truth discourses'...mother, father, woman, man, lover, student (you get the idea). If we accept that within these categories, there are 'normal' and 'natural' ways of being, than we will internalize ideas about what is normal and abnormal--this produces our identity.

It's always important to be critical of how power and knowledge is produced and reproduced. Especially when confronted with claims of 'truth' that are asserted as 'absolute".
post #240 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolalola View Post
Historically, it has been shown time and time again, that scientific researchers employ assumptions and biases without being aware of them. Some scientific arguments then give rise to 'findings' or conclusions that are often more ideological than they are scientific.
I see the results of that sort of thing a lot. A lot of the distortion of our understanding comes from what might be called the tyranny of attention, or the assumed comparison, or a classific'n fallacy. Sometimes an item is arbitrarily singled out for study over others that might be comparable, and when findings come out about the studied item, assumptions are made that what's being brought out are differences as opposed to similarities. This causes more att'n to be focused on the arbitrarily selected item, so the process self-accelerates.

One example I encountered had to do with formaldehyde as a sterilizing agent for reprocessing hemodialysis equipment. Formaldehyde was better studied than its replacements, with every adverse finding about formaldehyde leading to another, so that the devil that was known looked worse than the devils that were unknown.

It's similar with discussions of neurophysiologic vs. psychologic mechanisms. Besides the one being discussed here, another example is so-called "addiction". First certain behaviors were rather arbitrarily selected as opposed to others and given this name, which previously was about synonymous with "devotion". Then every time a finding is made associating neurophysiologic mechanisms with "addictions", that is given as further justification for "addiction"'s being a distinct phenomenon with neurophysiologic causes, as opposed to psychologic causes. It's just assumed that if other behaviors not considered "addictions" were similarly studied, they would not have similar neurophysiologic correlates, so they aren't similarly studied. And part of it is bound up with the social dynamic that says these behaviors are important to study because of their social consequences, while other behaviors are relatively trivial. But the reason they have social consequences is because they have been identified as "different" to begin with!

Anyway, I sure see that process at work here. I don't see evidence that sexual preference is any differently determined from preferences for lots of other pleasures. It's obvious that we're hard wired to like orgasms, but it doesn't seem to be at all clear how we develop our preferred means of producing orgasms, and of all the pleasurable and complicated social interaction that goes with them. But because of the sorting machine of society, all manner of extra meaning and importance has become attached to the classific'n of those preferences into categories, with all sorts of social consequences. The importance attached to all this then carries over to scientific findings about biology, where the tyranny of att'n rules. So some people become upset when the ostensible differences between the "important" sexual preferences and the "unimportant" preferences are questioned. But the reason there aren't similar findings concerning those preferences is because they're deemed unimportant, so they haven't been studied, and the reason they're deemed unimportant is social, not scientific.

Robert
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