Gender issues (was HUMOR: Anti-cryonics philosophy)

Omega (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 22:13:14 -0800

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

> [Michael Wiik:]
> > It seems to me quite intuitively obvious why there are more male
> > geniuses than female. Lacking the time and motivation to defend this
> > assertion, I nonetheless welcome comments.
> I'm speechless. How does one rotate one's finger about one's ear in
> ASCII? "Intuitively obvious?" Well, so was Fermat's last theorem.


An appropriate response. I agree with most of what you had to say in
your post, but somewhat disagree with what I see as an assumption in
your closing statement:

> the political
> cause of treating all humans as symmetrical with respect to ethics, the
> law, default maximum potential, and social opportunity.

and would like to propose that some additional perspectives that seem
relevant to extropian philosophy here:

1. Starting with my disagreement: Fighting for symmetry implies that there
is a symmetry to fight for; that all asymmetry is "strictly memetic".
Obviously this is not true, but the big question is: Are the biological
asymmetries entirely trivial with respect to the structure of our culture?
I would hazard that the answer is that some asymmetry is still significant.

2. If we pursued this discussion, we may or may not reach agreement of how
significant these asymmetries are in fact, but I don't feel that this
issue is worth pursuing because no amount of debate on this list will
change the fact that society itself is not going to come to agreement
on this issue until the point is moot.

3. With regard to the fact that society will fail to come to agreement, I
cite two things:

a. The woman's movement itself has vacillated on this issue of symmetry,
and today stands divided on the issue of whether women need "special
protection" within our society.

b. The more that monogamous marriages get replaced by "serial monogamy"
which in practice amounts to polygyny, the more society will feel
very deeply rooted atavistic urges to get rid of excess males; a
trend that obviously will keep society in turmoil on this issue.

4. What will make the point moot? The free market itself once nanotechnology
gives people the ability to really change their gender. Once people who
are unhappy with their current gender have the ability to "vote with their
genitals" then there simply will no longer be any social cause to champion
in this area; assuming that life does not become so mutant that gender
itself loses its meaning.

So summing it up, I would claim that:

a. The rapid rate of change of technology, combined with
b. The comparatively slow rate change of culture, and
c. The possible genetic obstacles in modifying culture,

will result in the question of gender roles becoming moot long before
our society resolves these issues in any significant way.