This is in response to Chris Bodenner’s post at the Atlantic (this quote is from a reader):
The reason that a lot of people like myself don’t self-identify as “feminist” is because a lot of feminists (not all) self-identify as skeptics of the notion that there are any essential differences between men and women. Given the way these differences have been exploited by men to subjugate women, I have a lot of sympathy for these feminists and their mode of feminism. But my sympathies don’t mean that men and women are not different. They are—not totally different, not fundamentally different, but essentially different—in their essence.
Caitlin Jenner reminds us of this truth.
To me, as a hell-yeah feminist, Caitlyn Jenner is the exact reason for feminism, and a perfect justification of it. Biological women and men are obviously different, so any argument that does not account for that fact is fundamentally flawed. To me, transgender women actually strengthen the feminist argument. Because the point is this: everything that humans are or do that can be measured has a probability distribution which can be separated by male and female (and lots of other ways), and in all cases those distributions overlap. Even the case of childbirth has overlapping distributions. Since the outcome is binary, it is not the classic bell curve, but all men fall in the “cannot” category, while not all women fall in the “can” category.
It’s not meaningful to say that women and men are or should be indistinguishable by whatever measure, or that there is or is not some fundamental or essential difference. That just doesn’t matter. Each one of us is different from the average human as well as the average man or woman. It’s all about the individual. As a feminist, I don’t care what sex a person was born, and I don’t care what sex they identify with. The point is that as far as economic and other opportunities go, Feminism should seek to protect each and every individual; the average is irrelevant.
Celebrating (or decrying) differences between the sexes is really just an intellectually lazy way of celebrating/decrying differences between individuals, by grouping those individuals by sex as the easiest and often most common and obvious distinguishing characteristic.
And how can a person make the argument that men and women are indistinguishable, and at the same time make the argument that women and men should be separated to protect the women? What? I’m not even going to click the links to get to the bottom of that one. My own personal intellectual sloth, I guess.
I wrote a blog post about the whole math thing, and it has data about the overlapping distributions in the specific case of math aptitude: