Day 2

As I scan the text, yearning for my underlines and comments in the margin to give me a starting point, I am at a loss and find my mind wondering to today’s intriguing article in the Jacobin, titled There’s a Gene for that, by Pankaj Mehta.  The author claims “History is littered with horrifying examples of the misuse of evolutionary theory to justify power and inequality. Welcome to a new age of biological determinism.”  Mehta explores advances in Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS), which is a way to “provide a blueprint for decoding the information contained in our DNA, and to identify the genetic basis of complex traits and diseases.”

The article harkens to past mistakes taking shape in the present with new scientifically justified rationale.  Looking back, let us take a look at the NOW statement of purpose, written in 1966, which states:

NOW is dedicated to the proposition that women, first and foremost, are human beings, who, like all other people in our society, must have the chance to develop their fullest human potential. We believe that women can achieve such equality only by accepting to the full the challenges and responsibilities they share with all other people in our society, as part of the decision-making mainstream of American political, economic and social life.

With the wording, “human beings” in the NOW text, are new techniques in scientific discovery, to understand what makes us human, what gene’s do we possess that might show inequality, going to be used against the arguments maintained by feminist thought?  Within the capitalist constructs we currently find ourselves in, this offers an appealing, scientific explanation, for the contradictions we find throughout our societal structures.  Or are they appealing?

An example might include genetic predisposition for nurturing behaviors.  If women are found to hold this gene more often than men, could science force us back into the nurseries and out of the work force?  The science behind genetics cannot begin to understand our complex social structures, yet our commodified society craves categories and boxes to place people, even at the expense of equality.  As the article clearly warns, “Biological determinism, to paraphrase the great literary critic Roberto Schwarz, is a socially necessary illusion well-grounded in appearance.”  And much like Mahta I feel that “we must work tirelessly to ensure that history does not repeat itself in the genomics era.”  Key word:  Tirelessly!  Maybe they can find a gene for that …

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Day 2

  1. Sometimes I think I am so damned lucky to have run across so many feminists, of so many stripes and intensities, both as a lesbian and as a daughter. I see things from the feminist perspective ALL THE TIME, and it stuns, amuses, baffles … to read this:

    “… that women, first and foremost, are human beings, who, like all other people in our society …”

    Like all other people in our society? Half the people, like all the other people? That just strikes me as so bizarre, that they would say it that way. Was it the times? Was it because they who wrote it had had so many years of being treated like they were not “in” the society, but were instead an ornament, an accessory to the “real” society of men? Or were they writing it for a male audience to understand, knowing that men thought women to be accessories to their own, “more important,” “real” worlds?

    I have a hard time with my own intense sexism. Get kicked in the shins by the same boy on the playground every day, do you not have legitmate reason to begin hating the immature little f’ker? I feel like that with men as a species; when I am dismissed as being of less worth, for no reason whatsoever, or looked at as an object, or not given a chance. Yes, I hate you, you worthless piece of toxic sludge; for you hurt women every day with your uneducated dismissals, your presumptions of greater worth, your unearned power.

    Then there are a few rare exceptions. Men who think of women as equals, who feel, who care about their children to the same degree I care about my own. At times, I probably alienate those exceptional men because they ARE exceptions, and it’s obvious how I really feel; for the rest of the males, who aren’t really included in my definition of a human being, I think I offend them not because they can tell “how I really feel about them,” but by the fact that they can tell I DON’T feel about them. As if my own personal version of this statement reads, “… that women, first and foremost, are human beings, and so are a few of the other people in our society.”

    There is a solution to this stuff, Marcy, and you are it; you raise boys worthy of being considered fully humin, part of “ALL of the people in our society.”

  2. Stacie

    Wow! I cant put anything in words to describe how intelligent, and amazingly adorable. All I can say is this: I love your writing, you have a talent, a HUGE one at that. Thank you for sharing this with us, it is so insightful to read your blogs. It most certainly get the brain functioning. Nicely written.

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