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Post 2: Cyborgs' Attitudes of Gender

tangerines's picture

 Part of our discussion this week centered on the nature versus nurture debate, and whether humans are, as Clark claims, “primed to seek … nonbiological [sic] resources” (6). I agree that we are easily able to adopt and adapt to new technologies and survival aids; in other words, “primed” to use tools that suit our needs. As our needs change and grow more complex, so do our tools. However, I take issue with Clark's claim because it reflects only one part of human nature (however one decides to define “human”). Although we are adaptable “human cyborgs,” I think that we are also fairly resistant to change. We take time to adapt to new ways of behaving, thinking, and using new tools.

I saw a prime example of this while reading the news today. Under the headline “What Sex is Your Brain?” on the BBC's science website, I found a quiz (http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/add_user.shtml) which purports to inform any taker as to the gender of his or her brain. “Some researchers say that men can have 'women's brains' and that women can think more like men,” says the blurb, which goes on to claim that taking the quiz allows you to “Get a brain sex profile and find out if you think like a man or a woman; see if you can gaze into someone's eyes and know what they're thinking; find out why scientists are interested in the length of your fingers; see how your results relate to theories about brain sex.” After taking the quiz, the results for each section are scored with short “suggestions” as to the meaning of your results. Based on some research but also some theoretical projections, some results were graded as being “male-brained” and some as “female-brained.” In several sections I was scored as having “a balanced female-male brain,” although I'm not sure what that really means. These statements seem to reinforce stereotypes of women as emotionally sensitive and men as more spatially aware, yet also suggest that one can be a woman with a male brain or vice-versa. If this is truly possible, then what would that mean for gender roles? What does this mean for transgendered individuals?

I'm extremely skeptical of the quiz and its possible connotations. Altogether it seems to me to support pressures that persist in our society to fit into binary gender categories. The idea that one's capabilities depend on one's gender sounds a bit ridiculous, especially since the language of the quiz specifically mentions the possibility of someone having the brain of the opposite gender. If anything, I think that the evidence presented shows that there are far fewer differences between the genders than previously believed, but this possibility is not examined in the results of the quiz. This is an example of the human tendency to force our explanations of our findings to fit our preconceived notions, rather than adapting the beliefs themselves.

 

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