Thursday, January 19, 2006

Biological Differences Between the Sexes Always Make Men Look Bad
It's a pretty firm rule. Feminists lose it when it is suggested that more men are interested in science than women, but do you imagine that any of them will object to the International Herald Tribune article that says revenge is unique to men? Doubtful.

Which is strange, considering the study doesn't necessarily even prove such a claim. Here's what they did:

In the study, published online Wednesday by Nature, subjects witnessed people whom they perceived as wrongdoers getting zapped by a mild electrical shock. When male subjects saw this, their MRI scans lit up in primitive brain areas associated with reward; the brain's empathy centers remained dull.

Women subjects watching the punishment, in contrast, showed no response in centers associated with pleasure. Even though they also said they did not like the wrongdoers, their empathy centers quietly glowed when the shocks were administered.
The problem is, this tests only one kind of revenge: revenge on behalf of someone else. The punished are perceived as wrongdoers, not known as such. To say it differently, the person being punished had not wronged the person undergoing the test.

"Women are not, by nature, violent creatures." I could accept that hypothesis, though I don't know that it's been proven. But I have seen women react violently, and with an urgent desire for revenge. Ever watched middle school-aged girls? Ever seen one wrong another? If so, then you know that revenge will be taken, and enjoyed, when it is least suspected. The best example, however, is the "momma bear" instinct. Just try hurting some mother's child, or even just insulting them. You will see in that woman an immediate desire for vengeance.

And this experiment in no way tested how men and women react to wrongdoers when the victims of the wrongdoer are the test subjects themselves, or someone close to them.

But don't hesitate to publish a study that makes men look bad.

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