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Feminism and Gender Studies in Science Essay

Gender in Science

The realities of contemporary living in the West are marked by the continual incorporation of different feminist provisions as an integral part of what can be defined as the Western sociocultural/scientific paradigm. The fact that this is indeed the case can be illustrated regarding the ongoing popularization of the idea that science/rationality is not as gender-neutral as most people tend to assume.

There are currently two argumentative dimensions to the claim that science is gendered, which can generally be categorized as “technical” and “discursive”. The first of them is concerned with the empirical observation of the fact that the particulars of one’s gender affiliation have a notable effect on how he or she tends to perceive the surrounding reality, as well as on how the concerned individual indulges in the dialectical (cause-effect) type of reasoning.

For example, according to Hrdy, it may be the case that the specifics of women’s “brain-wiring” naturally presupposes that they should be particularly likely to succeed in conducting biological research: “(As compared to men biologists) women biologists may have some special sensibility concerning the creatures that they study, an ability to enter into the lives of their subjects” (148). The “discursive” justification of the idea that the factor of gender affects both the methodological subtleties of particular scientific research and this research’s practical implications has a strongly defined moralistic sounding to it.

Its proponents suggest that since there can be no a thoroughly objective scientific theory in existence, it is important to ensure that the scientific endeavor serves the purpose of safeguarding the so-called “constitutive values”, which are best defined as the set of ethical axioms that originate in the currently dominant socio-cultural discourse. In its turn, this makes it possible for science to be “gender-conscious” to an extent – something best exemplified regarding the scientific implications of feminism. As Intemann noted: “Feminists… aim to change theoretical frameworks (in science) that reinforce gender stereotypes or power relations” (1004).

It is understood, however, that the gendered outlook on science/rationality cannot be deemed as such that represents an undisputed truth-value. The reason for this is that the advocates of “gendered science” do not take into account the evolutionary predetermined operational specifics of the male and female cognitive apparatuses, as well as the fact that to say that a particular scientific project is constitutively/contextually sound is a polite way of saying that this project has been curtailed to appease the self-appointed guardians of public morality, and as such, it can never prove very fruitful.

Effects of Feminism on Science

It is quite impossible to come up with the axiomatically sound answer to the question of what a feminist conception of science should be all about. The reason for this is quite apparent – as of today, there is no universally adopted definition as to what the notion of “feminist science” stands for, in the first place. This alone exposes the sheer erroneousness of the suggestion that feminism can make science better – both concepts are methodologically incompatible.

Whereas science is concerned with expanding humanity’s intellectual horizons (even if it comes to the expense of offending some delicate sensibilities in people), feminism aims to achieve something opposite – to slow down the pace of the ongoing scientific project as “innately male-chauvinistic”. In this respect, the effect of feminism on science can be compared to that of just about any monotheistic religion.

While promoting the idea of gender-egalitarianism, feminists invariably act as the agents of energetic entropy within the society – hence, the actual significance of feminism’s strong affiliation with the essentially quasi-religious and highly entropic notions of “harmony”, “equality”, “tolerance”, and “asexuality”. What this means is that, despite the apparent progressiveness of the feminist rhetoric, feminism will ultimately seek to “stabilize” the fluctuating dynamics within the society, once the latter ceases to remain patriarchal.

The main purpose of science, however, has always been and will continue to be concerned with challenging people’s conventional understanding of what causes the physical/social reality to manifest itself in a manner it does. Galileo Galilei stands out perfectly exemplary, in this regard. After having discovered that there are black spots on the Sun, he stated: “Sunspots are… not permanent or fixed, but variable concerning shape and density.

They also undergo various degrees some small imprecise and irregular movements. Absolutely all of them are produced and dissipated, some in shorter and others in longer periods” (Galilei 97). Apparently, by its very virtue science is strongly opposed to the idealistic, mechanistically orderly and spatially stable conceptualizations of how this world turns around – it is there to offend, to shake off outdated knowledge, and to offer often counterintuitive but scientifically valid explanations for nature’s various phenomena.

Feminism, on the other hand, is there to oppose what its promoters perceive as the sheer ‘wickedness” of the thoroughly objective laws of nature – something that turns this ideology into nothing short of yet another highly irrational/aggressive quasi-religion, aimed to erect obstacles on the way of scientific progress.

Sexuality Studies as a Science

Even though feminism can be hardly considered a viable theory of gender relations, there is very little doubt that the science of sexuality is indeed epistemologically respectable – provided, of course, that the validity of this statement is to be assessed through the methodological lenses of neurology (rather than psychology).

The reason for this is that, as opposed to what it is the case with psychologists (and feminists to say the least), whose theorization of sexuality is highly speculative, neurologists are aware that the particulars of one’s sexual self-identity/behavior should be discussed in conjunction with the morphological specifics of his or her brain’s structuring, which in turn suggests that, contrary to the feminist perspective on the issue, the Darwinian principle of the “survival of the fittest” continues to apply to the socially integrated representatives of the Homo Sapiens species.

Consequently, this presupposes that one’s ability to act the society’s productive member is positively related to the person’s aptness in addressing its biological functions as a man or a woman. Allegorically speaking, men are the evolution’s instrument for ensuring the great variance of different genetic mutations within the species, whereas the women’s biological role is to “screen” these mutations while selecting only the potentially beneficial ones (Hrdy 133).

Because different regions of the brain’s neocortex/limbic system have long ago been found responsible for determining the qualitative aspects of the affiliated person’s sexual behavior, and because these regions can be subjected to quantitative measurements (neuro-scanning), there is a hypothetical possibility for sexology to be as epistemologically sound as it is the case with just about any “hard” science, such as physics or chemistry, for example (Boyle 10). However, such an eventual development will only be made possible after the hawks of political correctness/feminism loosen their grip on the intellectual domain in the West.

Works Cited

Boyle, Robert. “New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects”.

Galilei, Galileo. “Concerning Sunspots”.

Hrdy, Sarah. “Empathy, Polyandry, and the Myth of the Coy Female.”

Intemann, Kristen. “Feminism, Underdetermination, and Values in Science.” Philosophy of Science, vol. 72, no. 5, 2005, pp. 1001–1012.

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