Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sweden vs Science

A minister in the Swedish government has made the following extraordinary claim about men and women. Jens Orback announced that,

The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideology.

Don't let the meaning of this pass you by. The Swedish government has made it official policy that what is "male" and "female" is invented and has no real existence. Gender difference, it is being claimed, does not really exist.

In Sweden, this view is taken seriously. So much so that funding for a book was denied by a county government because it contained an interview with a leading neurobiologist, Professor Annica Dahlstrom. Professor Dahlstrom referred in the interview to scientific research showing that there are differences in the brains of men and women.

So, Swedish liberals have a problem. They want to believe that there are no differences between men and women. But then a leading neurobiologist lets it be known that science has revealed the most significant of differences between men and women.

What do the Swedish liberals do? They try to suppress the scientific evidence.

Of course, when the Vatican objects to such dubious practices as the use of the unborn for medical research or spare parts, liberals attack the Catholic Church for its "dark age" attitude of hindering scientific progress. But, as we now clearly see, liberals themselves don't support science in an open-ended way. They are willing to try to suppress a scientific truth which is inconvenient to their political beliefs.

And why do they do it? Why do they so stubbornly cling to the unlikely idea that men and women are the same?

The reason, as I have outlined many times before, is as follows. Liberals believe that we are human because we can create who we are by our own will and reason. Our gender, though, is not something that we can choose for ourselves - it's something we're simply born into. Therefore, it becomes a limitation or constraint on our freedom to choose who we are.

Liberals want to remove this constraint. A favourite option for doing so is to claim that gender is merely a social construct. Our masculinity or femininity is merely a creation of society, so the argument goes, designed to uphold a power structure which privileges male will at the expense of female will.

If true, two things follow. First, gender itself can be deconstructed, removing the constraint on the "freedom" of the self-creating individual. And second, by doing so the patriarchal power structure is undermined, paving the way for "equality" (equal will) between men and women.

No wonder that Swedish liberals cling so stubbornly to this idea, even if it makes them look like flat-earthers. It fits in with their ideology beautifully. It makes possible the kind of freedom and equality which liberals so eagerly seek.

Sadly for liberals, science is now fatally undermining the "gender is a social construct" idea. It is now beyond dispute that our masculinity or femininity is created, to a considerable extent, by biological factors. Science has proved decisively the very thing that conservatives have always claimed: that we are not just "blank slates" but that our distinctive natures as men and women are hardwired into us.

And finally, what of those liberals who don't want to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence? Most, no doubt, will retreat to option two. They will recognise that gender difference is real, but insist that it be made not to count.

They will therefore continue to support the attempt to overcome the influence of gender through social engineering.

For instance, they will no doubt approve of the "equality bonus" recently proposed in Sweden. The Swedish government is upset that most parental leave is still taken by women, even after such leave was made available to men. Swedish men, if fact, only used up 18% of their leave entitlement last year.

For a conservative, this is not so surprising. Women will by nature have a stronger maternal instinct than men, and men will have a stronger provider instinct than women. So you would expect most parental leave to be taken by women.

But the Swedish government is willing to spend a lot of money offering financial incentives to men not only to stop working and take parental leave, but to do so alone, when the mother isn't home.

For the liberal Swedish government it's important that gender not count in how we arrange work and family life. And if the financial incentive doesn't work? Get ready for more heavy-handed measures to combat any traces of traditional gender roles in liberal Sweden.

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