Everyday Feminism, whose goal is to make progressives feel bad about themselves, no matter how progressive they are, has a new post by James St. James called “Here are 20 examples of cissexism that we’ve probably all committed at some point”. (About 50% of their articles are listicles of this sort, and I have no idea why. Do people read something more readily if they know how many items it will cover?)
At any rate, the first “fallacy” in the piece disturbed me because it’s simply a denial of biology in service of an ideological view: the view there is no such thing as biologically-determined sex. But that’s completely bogus, and if you knew something about human biology, or animal biology in general, you’d see how ridiculous this claim really is. Pay attention to the last two paragraphs of the indented bit below (their emphasis):
1. Believing That XX and XY Actually Mean Something
Boom. Let’s start with one of my favorites, if only because it tends to ignite passions the fastest.
Now, to be fair, XX and XY chromosome pairs do mean something: a general idea of future conditions a person may or may not develop that are directly due to those chromosomal pairings.
They do not, however, concretely stand for any of the following: indicating a person’s intelligence, physical abilities, sexual orientation, development during puberty, appearance or make of genitals, or what level of bodily production of which sex hormones.
We simply have too many examples of when any of the above was untrue.
Transgenderism, intersexuality, and Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), to name a few. (Fun fact: That last one can sometimes give female-identified people the stereotypical look of a model. Just sayin’.)
Think about it: If one instance of a mathematical proof is shown to be wrong, then the entire proof has to be tossed on account of it being deemed inaccurate. Because it’s—you know—useless to the bettering and/or benefit of humankind.
Call me starry-eyed, but I’m preeeeetty sure we like to treat our science like our math as often as we can.
The author reluctantly admits this: “XX and XY chromosome pairs do mean something: general idea of future conditions a person may or may not develop that are directly due to those chromosomal pairings.” That’s about as weaselly as it gets!: “future conditions a person may or may not develop” (the “pairings, by the way, take place only during gamete formation). In Drosophila and humans, the two species with which I’m most familiar, the behavior, appearance, and primary and secondary sex characteristics are determined almost completely by whether the chromosomal constitution is male (XY) or female (XX). (In birds and butterflies, unlike mammals, it’s the female who has unlike sex chromosomes and the male has like sex chromosomes, but again, biological sex is determined by the nature of the sex chromosomes.)
Yes, there are a few exceptions, like AIS, but the various forms of that syndrome occur between 1 in every 20,000 to 1 in only 130,000 births. Is that “too many examples” to all0w us to say that biological sex is not connected with chromosomes? If you look at all cases of intersexuality that occur in people with XX or XY chromosomes (we’re not counting XOs or XXYs or other cases of abnormal chromosomal number), the frequency of exceptions is far less than 1%. That means that, in humans as in flies, there is almost a complete correlation between primary/secondary sex characteristics and chromosome constitution. As for intelligence, no, I know of no correlation, but who’s claiming that the sexes differ in smarts? As for physical abilities, sexual orientation, appearance of genitalia, and hormone titer, the correlation between being XX or XY and those traits is very tight. Again, there are exceptions: some females are bigger, stronger, and have more muscles mass than some males, but there’s a biological reason why most Olympic events depending on physical traits are separated by sex. What we see is a bimodality of traits depending on sex-chromosome constitution, with a very low valley between those two XX and XY peaks.
How does James St. James respond to these uncontestable correlations? By saying that we have to abandon the whole notion of biological sex because there is a small percentage of exceptions, as the correlation is not perfect. As he says (I’m assuming James St. James is a “he”):
“If one instance of a mathematical proof is shown to be wrong, then the entire proof has to be tossed on account of it being deemed inaccurate. [JAC: what he means is that “the proof is wrong”.] Because it’s—you know—useless to the bettering and/or benefit of humankind. Call me starry-eyed, but I’m preeeeetty sure we like to treat our science like our math as often as we can.”
I wouldn’t call him starry eyed, but arrantly ignorant of biology, and willfully so because he wants to believe that sex is a complete continuum, which fits his ideological agenda. I suppose that agenda comes from assuming that we have to shade the biological truth because those who don’t conform to the norms (intersexes, transgender people, and so on) will be marginalized or discriminated against.
And indeed, that can happen, and has happened. But the solution is not to lie about or distort biology, pretending that biological sex is a complete continuum with no modes. The solution is to accept the biological facts and realize that they say nothing about what’s moral or immoral, or about how we should treat people. A genuine bimodality of sexual traits does not mean that we should treat those who lie between the peaks as “inferior” or “wrong”.
And we don’t treat biology like math, ignoring a phenomenon if there are some exceptions. Math is a system of logic; biology is the messy real world, where things can go awry and there are no absolute “laws” in the sense that physics has them. To use part of a famous quote by Richard Feynman, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
Indeed. It’s a characteristic of the Regressive Left that they deny scientific truths when it’s convenient for them to do so—when they’re faced with Ideologically Inconvenient Truths. We all know the dangers of that route—Lysenko comes to mind. It’s far better to know what’s true, and deal with it, than make up stuff that fits your narrative. The latter is what theologians do, not rational people.