Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sex and Race

Reactions against racism of James Watson -- who said "he is 'inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa' because 'all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really'" -- came very fast: Robin McKie and Paul Harris, "Disgrace: How a Giant of Science Was Brought Low" (Observer, 21 October 2007). It may be a sign that the scientific establishment now accepts as the scientific norm that race, IQ, or both are social constructs rather than immutable biological essences, scientists such as the late Stephen Jay Gould having successfully educated their fellow scientists and the general public.

It has not gotten that far when it comes to gender, though, probably because most people, even many scientists, still think that gender, unlike race, has a biological foundation called sex. However, the concept of sex has changed as much as gender -- for instance, from the one-sex/two-gender model (according to which a woman is an "imperfect" man) before modernity to the two-sex/two-gender model (which has us believe that men and women are "opposite" sexes) after modernity in the West (see Thomas W. Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Harvard University Press, 1990) -- demonstrating that it, too, is a social construct.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Awesome blog!