Archive for June, 2012

Compensation theory

No, this is not an article on the repeated attacks on my manhood by my critics, my sweetie, and that cute blonde at Starbucks 30 years my junior who hasn’t even seen my Beemer yet.

The media and pop culture like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus lionize the differences between sexes. It’s pablum for both the self-involved Me Generation and the unevolved Lost Generation that wants a return to the good old days of homogeneity like the good ol’ 1950s (BC?).  We all want to be special. If we can’t celebrate that we’re better, whether real or fictional, by virtue of sports team, city, country, skin color, religion, or sexual preference, there always is gender.

For decades medical research has highlighted those differences from genetics to hormones to neuroanatomy to individual and group psychology.  We’re all conceived as women in the womb until the Y chromosome for some kickstarts that nasty testosterone. Guys have larger parts of the brain for spatial reasoning, whereas gals have more for language. Etc.

Like most things in life, what we know merely serves to frame what we don’t know. Some sex differences are necessary for propagation of the species. But what about the rest? Are they cause or effect, and more importantly why?

Fascinating medical research suggests that many gender anomalies evolved not but to make the genders different, but to make them similar, to compensate for sex biology.  Researcher Geert de Vries first made this connection studying the brains of prairie voles. He found the males were devoted parents, just like the females, but had many more receptors for vasopressin, the pair bonding hormone.  The females naturally secreted more vasopressin during pregnancy.  The males didn’t have this advantage.  They compensated with more receptors.

So perhaps the gender differences codified by culture have been all wrong.

Ladies, you think you’re so smart with all your talking. It’s natural with those highly evolved language centers in your beautiful brains. You wonder why us guys have so little to say. Well, our manly secret is now out. You see, we’ve heard it all. We worked it out somewhere around age 5 when our GI Joes began massacring your Barbies. All your chitchat and stories and gossip are just not important. At all. Really. … Hulk smash. That’s all there is. No need to say more. Once your brain finishes compensating and catches up you’ll understand too.


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