Last week, I had the real pleasure of seeing real time evidence proving one my theories crop up. Last week, I wrote about the octuplets case to point out that claims that this woman had her childbirth urge go haywire didn’t make sense, because there is probably no biological urge to have children that’s a separate entity from the urge to fuck. To say this is not to say any of these things:
1) That nature has no way of encouraging childbirth
2) That women who feel a strong desire to give birth don’t exist
3) That biological urges are more real than cultural constructs. Cultural constructs are just as real, and maybe even more real in some cases.
I was specifically attacking the recent cultural invention of a fake biological urge called the “biological clock”, which is this weird belief that women have genetic programming that tells them to freak out if they haven’t given birth by age 30 or 35 or 25, whatever you want it to be. The “biological clock” was created to intimidate the willfully childless, sure, but mostly it’s there to strike out at women who do want children. It’s an attempt to pressure women into accepting marriage and childbirth before they’ve established themselves in their careers both to make them dependent on their husbands and to permanently hurt their ability to compete with men in the workplace on a more equal plane. Also, that the belief that women have a biological desire for childbirth instead of for sex was a traditional way for sexists to deny that women have a real sexuality worth respecting.
And as one, as if they were wanting to prove my point, a bunch of sexist asswipes rose up and screamed, “There is TOO a biological clock!” If my theory is true, then we would expect the sort of reaction I saw in my trackbacks. Humorously and predictably, male wingnuts like this one gathered around a woman who debases herself for male approval named Darleen Click, who I would say was an incompetent affirmative action pick at Protein Wisdom if the male bloggers weren’t just as dumb as she is. According to the linkers, Darleen “eviscerated” my argument. With evidence of this biological clock, which is the only real way to eviscerate my argument? Of course not. Sexists don’t need evidence—stomping your feet is evidence.
Interestingly, no where would she state something so positively about homosexuality or transgenderism … no, those aren’t subject to change at all, no social construct there. Heh.
Huh, I read that 15 times over, and nowhere did she point to the gene that creates the biological clock or any kind of study to show that it is an evolved trait and not a cultural construct. She just makes an evidence-free assertion about what I would believe, but alas, it’s wrong. Because it appears Darleen may have a genetic need to be wrong 99% of the time. (I’d say 100%, but she did say she likes “Battlestar Galactica” once, if I’m not mistaken.) Just kidding! Because something is real—and Darleen’s strong urge to be fucking wrong all the time is as real as turds left in a catbox—doesn’t mean it’s genetic. Truth is, if the evidence showed that homosexuality and transgenderism were cultural constructs, I would defend them just as fiercely, because they are nonetheless real. If you weren’t born gay, that doesn’t mean you’re not gay or that it’s suddenly a choice. My attraction to opinionated guys who make me laugh is not a choice, and it’s very real, and passing laws against me because of it would be a human rights violation. Trying to use social intimidation to make me feel sexual attraction to wingnuts with masculinity issues who fetishize guns and pretend they don’t know where the dishwasher is will not make me not feel something that, no matter how obviously a social construct, is real to the marrow of my bones. I fail to see what else you need to know when it comes to the right of gay and transgendered people to be free and equal.
In fact, I would have guessed before the research on this subject started to be more solid, that sexual orientation is pretty much all environmental factors, because it’s obvious that your orientation is about more than what gender you want to fuck—just because you’re attracted to one sex doesn’t mean you want to fuck all members of it, you know. But both Darleen (who is looking for excuses to discriminate) and I (who doesn’t see why discrimination is any less wrong if something’s a deeply felt cultural construct) are going to have our expectations disappointed, it seems. If you listen to this Dear Science podcast, it seems that male homosexuality, at least, may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with the womb environment being an environmental factor. In other words, it’s fucking way too complicated for pretty much any wingnut to understand, not that settling on the cause of homosexuality will change their bigoted opinions or cause anyone to think, “Hey, why aren’t we looking for the cause for heterosexuality?” But to summarize what the podcast covers—there appears to be a gay gene, but just because you have it doesn’t mean you’re automatically homosexual. But if you’ve got it and the hormone levels in the womb are different from the dose a straight brother got plus a whole other host of factors, then you roll the dice and you’re gay. Frankly, I think this is good for our side. That “gay” comes from a complex system that is nonetheless real and natural means that they’re never going to find one factor to attack that would eliminate homosexuality, which is what you know the fundie nuts would try to do if there was a singular cause for something that is not a problem to sane and decent people.
What makes the biological clock concept so hilarious is that if you believe in it, you have to believe that all of humanity has evolved rather suddenly to compensate for the 1960s, where a combination of co-ed education, equal rights laws, and the birth control pill made it possible for large numbers of women to delay marriage and childbirth until later in life when their fertility starts to decline. Because prior to the invention of female-controlled, reliable birth control to delay pregnancy indefinitely and the economic environment to motivate women to do so, sex and reproduction were pretty firmly linked. Maybe not all the time, but most sexually active straight women were going to have some babies, probably starting pretty young. To assume that we’ve evolved that quickly requires a creationist level of scientific illiteracy, and I’m amused to think that the folks at Protein Wisdom, who think they’re so much smarter than their wingnut brethern who pray over tampons probably aren’t that much smarter. At least the anti-choice nutters remember that, prior to the 60s, the link between childbirth and sexuality was never completely broken, though it had faded under the widespread use of less effective means of contraception like the diaphragm and the condom.
People have a biological urge for sexual gratification that expresses itself a good deal of the time in heterosexual intercourse. That’s all you need to compel women to get pregnant absent contraception. In fact, the existence of contraception is a strong argument against the existence of a separate genetic urge to procreate that’s as strong or stronger than the urge to fornicate—people want sex and biology uses that to lure them into giving up some of their resources to offspring, and in order to fight back against nature, we invented contraception. Nature also makes sure that you have an urge to care for babies you do have, and that much I think is scientifically demonstrable. You don’t need a genetic biological clock for this system to work. Once again, for people that are determined to miss the point, that doesn’t mean your urge to have babies isn’t real, just that it isn’t genetic. My urge to slam down on the couch and watch “The Office” is very real and feels physical after a hard day of work, but I don’t have a gene that tells me that I like “The Office”.
I blame evolutionary psychology for the growing folk belief that something isn’t real unless it’s genetic. Evo psych pretty much exists at this point to push this belief, and therefore push the belief that sexist cultural practices we observe in real life are genetic and therefore unchangeable. You can see this in action with the myth of the biological clock—women do experience, so it must be genetic, and therefore we can safely push women into marriage and childbirth before they’re too young to really know what they want without any guilt because nature intended it that way. The strong belief in unscientific claims about women’s natural and genetic tendencies that just so happen to leave us vulnerable and dependent shows how desperate sexists are for any kind of rationalization. Which I suppose means feminists are winning, slowly but surely, at least as long as we keep fighting.