The great androgyny myth rides again

It is a central feminist claim that we should aim at a mix of sex-related psychological characteristics. Women should have some male characteristics as well as female ones. Men too should be more female in their thinking and attitudes. "Androgyny" is the goal

Needless to say, there have been various attempts to prove the functional superiority of androgyny. The work of Sandra Bem was prominent in that connection long ago. In the '70s, she put together a set of questions (the BSRI) that identified male and female characteristics and showed that a combination of such characteritics was "healthier".

I did a survey back in the '80s to look at the issue. The BSRI had already by the time been shown not to measure what it purported to measure so I used an alternative questionnaire that offered the prospect of being more valid than the BSRI. I applied it to a community sample rather than the much more customary student sample

I found that in the comunity at large, feminine attitudes correlated strongly with neuroticism, lack of assertiveness, and lack of self-esteem, which is pretty bad. Masculine orientation, however, also went with low self-esteem and low assertiveness. It was concluded that the best mental health was shown by undifferentiated respondents (those who tended to say that sexually polarized self-descriptions were inapplicable to them). Those who were androgynous (mixed attitudes) were generally LOW scorers on three indices of mental health.

My demonstration that androgyny in the community at large was NOT a good thing was thoroughly ignored however. I was not surprised. Leftists believe only what they want to believe and damn the evidence.

So the myth of androgyny lives on. Writers on the subject are still characterizing it the way Sandra Bem and others did many years ago. The theory rides high on a foundation of what feminists WANT to beleve and nothing much more.

The latest attempt to prove the wonderfulness of androgy is abstracted below. It is as ludicrous as the work of Sandra Bem. This time they decided to go directly into the brain, not examine what was in it via questionnaires.

What they found was that male brains are more complex. That was their basic finding. But that was NOT what was wanted. It made male brains look more versatie and efficient and that would never do.

So amid a flurry of complicated statistics they looked at what went with varying degrees of brain complexity. Female brains were the least complex but what about people who were half way along the continuum? Could they be the wonderful androgynes? Is medium complexity better than high complexity?

They predictably found that it was. Such people "had fewer internalizing symptoms", whatever that means. They don't define "internalizing symptoms" anywhere in their article. Generally, however, internalizing means keeping your feelings or issues inside you and not sharing your concerns with others. Extremes can be associated with poor mental health (depression etc) but there was no evidence of that in this study. "Externalizers" would not be too good either. Extremes of that would be neurotics.

So support offered to feminist beliefs by this study is negligible. If anything, it shows that male brains are superior in important ways. Horrors!

The Human Brain Is Best Described as Being on a Female/Male Continuum: Evidence from a Neuroimaging Connectivity Study

Yi Zhang et al.


Psychological androgyny has long been associated with greater cognitive flexibility, adaptive behavior, and better mental health, but whether a similar concept can be defined using neural features remains unknown. Using the neuroimaging data from 9620 participants, we found that global functional connectivity was stronger in the male brain before middle age but became weaker after that, when compared with the female brain, after systematic testing of potentially confounding effects. We defined a brain gender continuum by estimating the likelihood of an observed functional connectivity matrix to represent a male brain. We found that participants mapped at the center of this continuum had fewer internalizing symptoms compared with those at the 2 extreme ends. These findings suggest a novel hypothesis proposing that there exists a neuroimaging concept of androgyny using the brain gender continuum, which may be associated with better mental health in a similar way to psychological androgyny.


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