Girly men versus nerdy girls

Posted on November 20, 2012 by


I have a long, rambling, slightly incoherent discussion of biological differences between liberals and conservatives in the comment threads over at Bonald’s, but it is an interesting topic, so I thought I’d sum it up for you all. Please note that I have not bothered to read the original surveys or studies in any detail, so it could all just be bunk, but it does match what I’ve seen anecdotally and offers me a starting point for the discussion:

This might be interesting for you all: Recent Developments in Ideology Research. It discusses the physiological differences between people of liberal and conservative temperaments. To sum it up, conservatives are the ants and liberals are the grasshoppers.

I’d love to see research into liberal/conservative men’s testosterone levels, but I’m thinking you’d have trouble getting funding for that, as the results would probably end up with headlines like, “Study proves liberals are a bunch of girly men.” We also know that urbanization is actually a side-effect of androgyny (that more emo men and more butch women have a preference for urban areas — the men because they are more “sociable” and less territorial, the women because they are less timid and enjoy anonymity), and that the liberal/conservative divide is actually an urban/liberal divide — intense urbanisation being a modern habit that requires physiological changes to make it bearable. Likewise, having higher visual-spatial skills (related to elevated testosterone levels) is associated with a more binary morality system, as is common in the Abrahamic religions. And so on.

I suspect that one major reason why liberals balk at the idea of complementarianism is that they are more biologically androgynous. They are simply not as complementary as we are, by their very nature. The physical difference between the sexes is simply greater, at the conservative end of the spectrum.

That is why, when conservatives say things that other conservatives take for granted, like, “Women should be protected,” liberals act like we’re from a different planet. That sort of protective instinct in males is related to territorialism (testosterone levels), and the urge to be protected is related to timidity in women (estrogen levels), so they very well may have absolutely no idea why we feel that way. They can’t relate at all. And they chalk it up to us just being a throwback to the 1950s… when there was more physiological differences between the sexes.

On One Hand You’re an Authoritarian, on the Other Hand You’re Not

What did they find? Consistent handers scored about 20 percent higher on the authoritarian scale than their inconsistent counterparts (2.3 v. 1.9 on a 0-to-4 scale). Of course, like all good political scientists (actually, Michael is a political scientist, Keith is a psychologist, but we won’t hold that against him), they also tested partisanship. They found that consistent handers were more likely to identify as Republicans than Democrats (37 percent Republican, 25 percent Democratic). In all, then, they found that consistent handers tend to be more authoritarian and Republican than their inconsistent counterparts…

Then they cite research that shows consistent handedness is associated with less cerebral interhemispheric interaction (i.e., a lower degree of connectivity and interaction between the left and right hemispheres of the brain).

Background info: lower interhemispheric interaction creates a mind that operates more on the logical level and less on the emotional level. The really fascinating thing is that conservatives seem to have similar minds (both leaning masculine), but higher physiological difference; with liberals their minds are also similar (both leaning feminine), but with lower physiological differences.

In other words, even though conservatives have more children, if those children are a bunch of manly girls and girly men, they’ll struggle to pass on their traditions. So a healthy diet (no hormone-warping junk food and low carb for boys), encouraging physical fitness (especially in boys), environmental conservation (keeping industry from poisoning the groundwater), and keeping fathers in the home (affects hormonal balance in children) need to be major priorities for conservatives.

This also has important implications for conversion: don’t bother arguing logically with liberals. It’s pointless, as they’ll just emote all over you and stomp off in a huff. Try to make an emotional plea, as that will more likely change their mind, or at least allow them to relate to your argument.

This, in itself, completely explains the liberal/conservative divide in the reaction to Todd Akin’s unfortunate comments. Conservatives all understood the logic of what he meant to say, but liberals just became enraged at the formulation and emoed about it for a few weeks. This is what our debates have now all degraded down to — conservatives posing logical arguments (often poorly-worded, as logical thinking and verbal fluency are different blessings) and liberals eloquently picking a fight about how conservatives are mean. This is a political stalemate that cannot be bridged for purely physiological reasons: we don’t care about their feelings and they don’t care about our thoughts.

The most interesting thing about my readings this morning was the discovery that true atheists are mental conservatives. They are just as inclined to more masculine, binary thinking: true/false, right/wrong, God/no God. Liberal-thinkers are mostly gray-scale thinkers: there might be a God, but he/she/it might come in many forms, there are various kinds of truth, and emphasis on fairness over justice, emotion-driven thinking, etc. This explains why atheists, like conservatives, are a more male-dominated group.

And now I’ll stop boring everyone with my girlish nerdiness.

Posted in: Gender Dynamics