Re: Coordinating Sex Roles

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 7 Apr 1997 18:08:16 -0700 (PDT)

> I was complaining about our society in general, not about this forum
> in particular. And to our general society, "philosophy itself" seems
> much less interesting and fruitful than lowering the apparently
> subsantial costs due to misunderstandings and uncertainties regarding
> desired and expected sex roles.
> Robin D. Hanson

Philosophy may well seem [to you, and perhaps to many] less fruitful to
society. Good thing I don't give a damn about society then. I care
only about how I might act and deal with other individuals to achieve
my individual ends, and how I can eliminate things like "society" that
might get in my way.

But let's for the moment assume that knowledge of what the expected
gender roles in society will be is worth my effort to speculate on
and criticize. Let us then identify what factors might lead to change.

- The initial cause of gender role divergence, i.e., the tremendous
differential in investment of calories, risk, and time in the
production of children between genders, is lessening. Calories are
cheaper, risks are lower, time is more productive, and children
themselves are produced less. So it is likely that assumptions of
egalitarianism will be more useful as time goes on, though they
will never achieve parity until men actually carry children or
women no longer do. Public institutions should reflect more equal
treatment under law except where absolutely tied to the basics of
reproduction, and society will likely favor such law changes. All
"roles" not related directly to investment in children should be
eliminated in favor of assumed equality.

- Since reproduction-based institutions like marriage will have an
increasingly smaller role in society, we might expect laws that
temper or eliminate them will become more politically advisable.
Gay marriage, adoption, polyamoury, and other alternative family
arrangements will probably become more accepted, and laws giving
special privilege to them less accepted.

- Since the investment of genetic parenthood is decreasing, laws
that favor genetic parents rights over acting parents should be
reduced or eliminated. Contract law in reproduction in general
should be more strongly enforce and less regulated. These laws
will be more difficult to change for psycological reasons.

- Since cultural evolution is much faster than genetic evolution, it
is likely that our psychological predispositions will not change
to match the more egalitarian culture. It might be good, then, to
realize those predispositions now and accept them so their future
divergence from egalitarian ethics won't catch us by surprize. In
particular, it is probably a good idea to continue gender-specific
fashions and marketing without apology, and to eliminate private
anti-discrimination laws that prohibit free association based on
gender (in private schools and businesses, for example). It is
likely that such moves may encounter resistance from dogmatic
egalitarianists, so some such changes might be difficult. I don't
have a solution to this problem in mind.

Those are my initial guesses. I'm sure others will have more.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC