Sex divisions and pseudo science

Have men and women - or blacks and whites - being 'pre-programmed' by evolution to be different? Danny Hammill replies to the SSP's Kevin Williamson

In this post-holocaust/'post-communist' age, it is regarded as a sign of hopelessly naivety to belief that humanity can collectively advance itself. You have all heard it over and over again - 'human nature' precludes the very possibility of socialism or communism. Nice idea of course, but a real no-hoper. Get real, they tell us. This pessimism is reflected in the growing popularity - and influence - of ideas and (pseudo) theories which are predicated on some form of biological determinism. Though it comes dressed up in all sort of guises - 'sociobiology', 'evolutionary psychology', 'universal Darwinism', 'ultra-Darwinism', etc - these ideologies all share a fundamental premise. The explanation for social behaviour can be located in the laws of biology or 'genes'. Social phenomena are essentially rooted in our 'human nature'. To use the famous metaphor of the American philosopher, Daniel Dennett, the Darwinian theory of natural selection is a "universal acid" which eats away all other explanations. In other words, how can you compete with evolution? Just go with it and hope for the best. As the molecular biologist, Ervin Chargaff, puts it: "Have we the right to counteract, irreversibly, the evolutionary wisdom of millions of years?" (quoted in K Malik Man, beast and zombie: London 2000, p361). Historically, the left has rejected such biological determinism or universal Darwinism (the term I will use from now on). Indeed, the actual discipline of biology itself has been heavily influenced by the left and progressivist thought in general. Therefore, it makes it all the more dissappointing that comrade Kevin Williamson of the Scottish Socialist Party has penned a two articles in Scottish Socialist Voice (February 22 and 29) which serves up a wretchedly ignorant gruel of universal Darwinism. Apparently, there is an enormous gulf separating men and women - one that can never really be bridged. Why? Because of biology, stupid. Even the very title of comrade Williamson's first article on the subject gave the reductionist game away: 'One species "¦ but only just?' (February 22). Frankly, comrade Williamson's wacky argumentation in the first article was so poor it actually read like a parody of the vulgar universal Darwinism so beloved of the mainstream media. Indeed, it was not entirely mad to believe - initially - that comrade Williamson was engaged in some 'crafty' political manoeuvre. After all, the SSP was just about to hold its national conference (March 2-3), where one of the most hotly contested issues is a motion from the SSP's women's network - which advocates compulsory 50-50 gender representation on the regional proportional representation lists for the Scottish parliament elections. Maybe what the cunning comrade Williamson was really trying to do, you could have generously argued on the first reading, was scupper the 50-50 proposal, by drawing out what he thought were the deeply reactionary, sexist implications of such a move. Surely - please god - comrade Williamson's SSV articles would turn out to be all part of his ploy to embarrass the women's network and, as he puts it, the "well-meaning approach to fighting for equal opportunities [that] has led many males [and females? - DH] into a political cul-de-sac of tunnel vision when it comes to gender politics". However, with the arrival of the second article the terrible truth was clear. Yes, comrade Williamson, quite incredibly, actually means it - hook, line and sexist sinker. So we are told: "It doesn't matter which way you look at it - women are biologically different. Millions of years of human evolution have seen to that. The two sexes tend to look, think and act in different ways, and for reasons that aren't that difficult to work out scientifically" (February 22). Why? Because, thinks comrade Williamson, "for millions of years the males of the species were almost exclusively hunter-gatherers, who often travelled great distances to find food. Women tended to stay at home, rear the children, and protect the nest from attack while the men were away." This presumably explains, for example, the existence of the 'glass ceiling' - that is, why top women managers are paid less than their male counterparts, or why there is a 'pay gap' between men and women. In an almost chilling evocation of the of the old apartheid slogan - 'Separate, but equal development' - comrade Williamson boldly states: "These separate but complementary roles, developed out of necessity and honed and perfected over almost all of human history, created the biological basis for the gender difference that exist today" - indeed, he says, "much of our emotional and sexual make-up is pre-programmed at birth" (February 22). Armed with this theory, comrade Williamson then takes us on what can only be called a rambling tour of well known sexist gender stereotypes - though of course we do not doubt for a single moment that the comrade's endeavours are "well-meaning". Although female brains are on average around three percent smaller, writes the comrade, women tend to have slightly higher general levels of all-round intelligence. Women use areas of the brain in different ways from men. Men are more competitive and less communicative than women (apparently the average British male uses around 7,000 words per day, compared to the average female's use of around 21,000 words per day). Men are less able to admit they are wrong - quicker to aggression. Women, on the other hand, are more intuitive and 'touchy-feely'. If that was not enough already, comrade Williamson wants to convince us that women also have "greater peripheral vision and awareness", while men have "tunnel vision" - which is "a male trait" that has "its roots in evolutionary genetics". Yes, that's right, the "female brain" - so utterly different to the "male brain" of course - is "better adapted to multi-tasking" and hence "puts much more store on conversation, facial expressions", etc. You get the idea by now. Women are angels, men are, er, well "¦ not so angelic. In fact men are veritable devils, as comrade Williamson explains - thus accounting for our "class-divided society which has been constructed and organised in the mirror image of the way the male brain is wired: namely competitive. Aggressive, dogmatic and unwilling to tolerate dissent" (SSV February 29). So it was inevitable - it seems - that tyrants like Adolf Hitler, JV Stalin, Pol Pot, etc came to state power - they had been 'hard-wired' by millions of years of evolution to do so. Why bother resisting fascism, Stalinism and genocidal Maoism when it is all in the 'genes' and is therefore destined to repeat itself endlessly throughout history? The real problem, you see, is with men - none of this nonsense about politics, class and class struggle. So comrade Williamson gives us the following advice: "For goodness sake keep them away from politics and power where they tend to be a total liability! The male brain's tendency to single-mindedly pursue goals may well have been useful in hunting wild boar. But it is much less suited to activities that rely heavily on mutual cooperation and communicating in an equal and non-threatening way - such as in democratic government, for example" (February 29). Just in case you were feeling the urge to disagree by now, comrade Williamson abruptly informs us: "This is ABC social history". Naturally, this is all - at the end of the day - a load of reductionist codswallop. Universal Darwinism with a 'socialist' face. The irony is, of course, it is the very same sort of opinions and 'facts' so militantly asserted above by comrade Williamson that have been historically used to deny women's rights and women's equality. But what comrade Williamson is up to is nakedly transparent - cringingly so. By playing the self-loathing male and trying to bamboozle us with hocus-pocus sexist science, he hopes to boost the case for compulsory 50-50 representation. He comments: "It could be and often is argued that in a democratic and forward-thinking socialist organisation like the SSP, women are treated as equals and have equal opportunities to represent the party at all levels." Yes, it could. Naturally though, our scientifically trained comrade can put us right: "Until the Neanderthal tendencies in male behaviour are eradicated through the education and shared experiences of a genuine socialist society then we've got no alternative in the meantime but to enshrine equal representation at every level of our party through organisational means and try as individuals to tone down the aggression and male dogmatism at a personal level" (my emphasis, February 29). We have got to overcome 'genes' through bureaucratic quotas, thinks comrade Williamson. One has to immediately ask - if males are 'hard-wired' to be aggressive, why stop at 50-50 representation? Surely, the males will just bully their way to the top anyway - perhaps like Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Using the ideas expounded above by comrade Williamson, it only seems logical to introduce something like an 80-20 or 90-10 female/male ratio - or why not just go the whole hog and demand the exclusion of men? And how will a "genuine socialist society" magically be able to negate the effects of the "pre-programmed" male? If it will be possible then, why can't we aim to achieve full equality in working class organisations through "education and shared experiences"? Whether consciously or not, comrade Williamson is of course following in the footprints of the reactionary social anthropologists of the 19th and early 20th century. Like him, they too were obsessed by the 'hunter-gatherer model' and male-female 'difference'. Men, supposedly, were hunters, while women were mother figures who waited for their stone age hubby to come back home with a slaughtered woolly mammoth. This meant that men must be at the forefront of progress - while women get on with the housework and raising the family. Prehistoric men, so the story goes, went off to the hunt, wielding their newly-made stone weapons, while women sat nursing the babies back in the cave. In effect, women were passive and biologically hampered - merely waiting for the benefits of developed language (from organising the hunt) and technological innovations (from designing weapons) to trickle down to them. Therefore, under this model, hunting was thought to have expanded men's minds - which obviously explained their greater intelligence. Charles Darwin, of course, thought that men were more intelligent. He believed that intelligence had arisen out of competition among men to win and subsequently 'provide' for women. "Thus," he wrote, "man has ultimately become superior to women. It is, indeed, fortunate that the law of equal transmission of characters to both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise it is probable that man would have become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in ornamental plumage to the peahen" (1874 The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex - quoted in Timothy Taylor The prehistory of sex: four million years of human sexual culture London 1997, p26). Of course, the plain fact is our knowledge of such societies is extremely limited. In a sense, no-one really knows. Therefore, any statements or assessments have to be guarded and cautious - 'guestimates', if you like. However, what we can say with complete certainty is that the 'hunter-gatherer' model promulgated above by Charles Darwin - and Kevin Williamson? - is hotly contested. At the very least, the current state of research and knowledge does not seem to point in this direction. Far more significant though, is how sexist prejudices are being projected backwards in time - as a 'retroactive' justification for pursuing or alibying reactionary social attitudes and policies of the here and now. Step forward universal Darwinism (which, it should be noted, is so far mainly Anglo-American phenomenon). Conveniently for all upholders of the status quo, it claims to explain all aspects of human behaviour - and hence culture and society - on the basis of evolutionary features of human nature that found their final form during the infancy of our species some 100,000 to 600,000 (take your pick) years ago. Thus, what its protagonists describe as the 'architecture of the human mind' which evolved during the Pleistocene period (starting some one million years ago and lasting 900,000 years) is fixed - and insufficient time has elapsed for any significant subsequent change. Don't buck nature. As the radical Marxist biologist, Steven Rose, writes, for our universal Darwinists, "everything from children's alleged dislike of spinach to our supposed universal preference for scenery featuring grassland and water derives from this mythic human origin in the African savannah. And of course there are more serious claims, such as those legitimising men's 'philandering' and women's 'coyness', our capacity to detect cheaters, to favour or genetic kin, to be aggressive. Evolutionary psychologists claim to have identified and explained all these as biological adaptations - that is, behaviours that have been selected during human evolution to assist in the survival and hence the propagation of our ancestors' genes" (Hilary Rose, Steven Rose [eds] Alas poor Darwin: London 2001, p2). Hence, molecular biologists and their admirers - especially those in journalistic circles - are indecently eager to explore the genetic bases of mental illness, obesity, homelessness (yes, thats right), homosexuality, a propensity to violence and aggression, and so on. The influence of Darwinian natural selection on the social-human condition also explains why individuals engage in such complex behaviour as love, jealously, risk-taking, infidelity, rape, status-seeking and addiction. The desire for evolutionary fitness, we are told, lies at the root of cultural differences in gender distinctions and social relationships - it even defines our very notions of good and evil, right and wrong. Obviously, in the hands of the universal Darwinists, natural selection is a 'theory of everything' - or perhaps, more accurately, a dream of a 'final theory of everything' (Steven Rose describes this absolutist hankering of some biologists as "physics envy"): an eternal principle that explains why we behave the way we do and what makes us what we are, which defines the very meaning of human existence. Richard Dawkins, who has been called the 'chief gladiator against religion', insists that anyone who believes in a creator, god, is 'scientifically illiterate'. He argues that the idea of higher purpose is an illusion and religion a dead issue. Yet Dawkins does find ultimate purpose in human existence - the propagation of genes. For the American radical sociologist, Dorothy Nelkin - author of books like Selling science and The DNA mystique - such absolutist beliefs "follow a religious mindset that sees the world in terms of cosmic principles, ultimate purposes and designs" (Hilary Rose, Steven Rose [eds] ibid p17). Male human aggression - inbuilt. Female human passivity - also inbuilt. Human nature - immutable. Ultimately, there is no escaping the pressures of biology or 'genes/DNA' - even in a "genuine socialist society". This grim philosophy is given one its most clearest expressions in the work of EO Wilson - in many ways the grandfather of evolutionary psychology and universal Darwinism. In his 1975 magnum opus, Sociobiology, he sets set out to synthesise all known knowledge about social animals - from corals and jellyfish to ants, birds and primates. In addition, Wilson sets out to demonstrate that the same principles could be applied to human beings. According to him: "Behaviour and social structure, like all other biological phenomena, can be studied as 'organs', extensions of the genes that exist because of their superior adaptive value." Hence, he continues, "It may not be too much to say that sociology and the other social sciences, as well as the humanities, are the last branches of biology." So human cultural traits, such as religion, ethics, tribalism, cooperation and competition, can be - and should only be - explained in evolutionary terms: "The time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of philosophers and biologised (New York pp4, 22, 287 - my emphasis). Wilson was not afraid to develop his biologism to its logical conclusion - that is, all forms of social inequality exist as an evolutionary adaptationist by-product. So, in an article for The New York Times Magazine he argued that "genetic bias" meant that, even if women were granted "equal access to all professions, men are likely to play a disproportionate role in political life, business and science" (October 12 1975). If that really is the case - and yet at the same if you really believe in women's equality - then there does not seem to be any alternative to a permanent system of positive discrimination and bureaucratic quotas (ie, 50-50ism). Not to do so would be the height of irresponsibility since, if you allow 'nature' to takes its course, men will always dominate and domineer. Unfortunately, such invidious ideas are spreading rapidly - especially amongst certain academics. Over the last decade, the London School of Economics - the former enfant terrible of 1968-style student radicalism - has become a cathedral of universal Darwinism. Hosted by Helena Cronin, a regular series of seminars on evolutionary psychology/universal Darwinism has netted a plethora of short books under the general headline, 'Darwinism today'. In this vein, one LSE star performer, Kingsley Browne, wrote Divided labours: an evolutionary view of women at work (London 1998). According to Browne, biological differences between males and female psychology went a long way to explaining both the 'glass ceiling' - the inability of women to rise to higher management positions - and the 'gender gap' - the difference between male and female pay for equivalent jobs. Men are naturally more aggressive, competitive, achievement-orientated and willing to take risks. Back in familiar territory - he inexcusably forgot to add that men also have "tunnel vision" and are good at hunting wild boars. In Browne's opinion: "When given a choice of tasks to perform, males are more likely to select the more difficult tasks and females the easier ones. Females are more likely to give up after failure and to attribute failure to lack of ability than lack of effort." All this, Browne believes, explains why men are better at mathematics and science than women, and why they make better managers. Women, on the other hand, are more nurturing, less willing to take risks and place greater stress on family than on work. Therefore, thinks Browne, "Pressurising fathers into greater domestic roles is unlikely to result in an overall gain in life satisfaction, and it may not even benefit women "¦ Conversely, pressuring women to accept management they really do not want is likely to lead to inadequate performance or unwanted stress and changes in family life" (pp5, 19-20, 58-59). Perhaps the "nadir of evolutionary psychologists speculative fantasies" - to use Steven Rose's words (Alas poor Darwin London 2001, p2) - can be found in A natural history of rape (Cambridge, MA, MT Press, 2000), by two US academics, Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer. In true - muscular - universal Darwinist fashion, they argue that rape is an adaptive strategy by which otherwise sexually unsuccessful men propagate their genes by mating with fertile women. The two draw extensively on examples of forced sex among animals, which they insist as categorising as 'rape' - in this way anthropomorphising animal behaviour. Specifically using the term 'rape' to refer to forced sex by mallard ducks or scorpionflies - the latter being Thornhill's specialised area of animal study - deliberately conflates the conspicuous differences between human and other animals' practices of forced sex. Above all, forced sex among animals nearly always takes place with fertile females - hence the reproductive potential. However, as we all know, the victims of rape are often either too young or old to be fertile. The universal Darwinist explanation insults women - victims and non-victims alike - by suggesting, for example, that a tight blouse is in itself an automatic invitation to sex (as they do on page 179). A biological explanation for the human phenomenon of rape is trumpeted over and above any social-rational explanation. Interestingly, the Marxist biologist, Richard Lewontin, points out how the ideology of male-female 'difference' has been championed by some sections of the feminist movement - not just Kevin Williamson and his supporters in the SSP. He writes: "But it is also a consequence of the ideology of the part of the feminist movement that affirms an essential psychic and cognitive difference between men and women, and that often denies to men the possibility of serving in anything but a supportive role in the fight against claims of the biological inferiority of women. Sometimes these differences are said to be the outcome of the maturing child's relation to its mother, and so are biologically based only at second hand, since it is female biology that prescribes their role as mothers. At other times, it is claimed that psycho-social differences, favourable to women, are directly the consequence of the action of hormones and genes on psychic development. So women have been said to be naturally more cooperative, more loving, less violent and competitive, and more able to conceive problems in a broad outline" (It ain't necessarily so London 2000, pp198-199). Some radical feminists have argued for an "esterocentric" view of evolution. It's all in the hormones, according to them. Lewontin, however, steadfastly demands that we must distinguish the origin of social differentiation from the forces maintaining it. In his view, the division of reproductive labour - a direct consequence of the anatomical difference between the sexes - lies at the origins of social difference in work and social role. Under early conditions of production and in 'gathering-and-hunting' societies, the producers and nurturers of children will be more sedentary and a division of labour, of group association, of spheres of power will develop. The continued maintenance of labour and power differences, and their elaboration, however, depend on particular historical circumstances so that we are not bound to the aboriginal situation. Pregnancy and nursing, even in societies of low technological level, do not put an absolute constraint on women's labour. When intensive labour is required, as for example at harvest time in peasant agriculture, women are in the fields by necessity while pregnant or nursing. In technologically advanced societies with extremely low birth rates and high levels of technical support, again the relation between the reproductive and the sexual division of labour is broken - or, at least, substantially whittled away. In other words, the roots of the sexual division of labour - and sexism - does not lie in our genes or our primordial ancestors (whoever they were). The Kevin Williamson approach to 'gender difference' could, without that much tweaking, be applied to so-called 'racial differences'. Blacks have got more rhythm, can jump higher, have larger penises that white men, etc. Needless to say, there is a Mount Everest of 'scientific' racist literature 'proving' that all the above are, in comrade Williamson's words, "scientifically proven facts". Let us take a relatively famous example. In 1906, a Virginia physician, Robert Bennett Bean, published a long technical article comparing the brains of American blacks and whites. With a kind of neurological green thumb, he found meaningful differences wherever he looked. Hard numbers, statistics, "facts". He took special pride in his data on the corpus callosum, a structure within the brain that contains fibres connecting the right and left hemispheres. Following a cardinal tenet of 'craniometry', that higher mental functions reside in the front of the brain and sensorimotor capacities towards the rear, Bean reasoned that he might rank races by the relative sizes of parts with the corpus callosum. So he measured the length of the genu, the front part of the corpus callosum, and compared it with the length of the splenium, the back part. He plotted genu v splenium and obtained - surprise - virtually a complete separation between black and white brains. Whites have a relatively large genu - hence more brain up front in the seat of intelligence. Blacks have a keener sense of smell than whites; but they also suffer from a paucity of intelligence. Ditto with women - within each 'race', women have relatively smaller genus than men. Robert Bean confidently concluded from all this: "The negro is primarily affectionate, immensely emotional, then sensual and, under stimulation, passionate. There is a lobe of ostentation and capacity for melodious articulation; there is undeveloped artistic power and taste - negroes make good artisans, handicraftsmen - and there is instability of character incident to lack of self-control, especially in connection with the sexual relation; and there is lack of orientation, or recognition of position and condition of self and environment, evidenced by a peculiar bumptiousness, so-called, that is particularly noticeable. One would naturally expect some such character for the negro, because the whole posterior part of the brain is large, and the whole anterior portion is so small" (quoted in Stephen Jay Gould The mismeasure of man London 1996, p111). Of course, racism is not very fashionable today (though sexism appears to be alive and well). However, our modern-day universal Darwinists have other fish to fry. We can also explain genocide - even the nazi holocaust - by appealing to 'genes'. Jared Diamond, for instance, claims that "of all our human hallmarks - art, spoken language, drugs and the others - the one that has derived most straightforwardly from animal precursors is genocide" (The rise and fall of the third chimpanzee p264). How does he know this? Why, by studying the behaviour of kasakela chimps in the Gombe national park in Zaire. These chimps went on an orgy of violence - 'massacring' chimps who belonged to a different 'tribe'. In Diamond's view, the Gombe deaths show that chimps "carry out planned killings, extermination of neighbouring bands, wars of territorial conquest, and abduction of young nubile females" (ibid p276). Fatally, Diamond is drawing a direct analogy between chimp and human behaviour. The Nazi holocaust is like one group of chimps wiping out another - the roots of genocide lie in our evolutionary past and therefore there must be similarities between human and chimp behaviour. After his study of primates, Diamond gloomily intones: "The potential for genocide lies within all of us" (p255). Here is the voice of pessimism and despair. Nothing can change. A view challenged by Kenan Malik, who reminds us that "the horrors of 20th century have come to be seen not as the product of the degradation of the enlightenment traditions of humanism, universalism and reason, but as its most terrible manifestations" (Man, beast and zombie London 2000, p358). A view perfectly expressed by the sociologist Zygmunt Baumann, who throws up his hands and cries: "It was the rational world of modern civilisation that made the holocaust thinkable "¦ The truth is that every ingredient of the holocaust - all those many things that rendered it possible - was normal "¦ in the sense of being fully in keeping with everything we know about our civilisation, its guiding spirit, its priorities, its immanent vision of the world - and of the proper ways to pursue human happiness together with a perfect society" (Modernity and the holocaust London 1989, pp8, 13). If you still want to get even more depressed, there is the social critic and full-time miserabilist, Brian Appleyard, who believes "it is a struggle with the givens of human nature that defines humanity, not the progressive effort to transform that nature "¦ As such, the individual represents something that is 'given', and this idea of a 'given in our nature' - however metaphysical - suggests a distinct realm which would be dangerous for us to invade. This seems to me a valuable, indeed a universal, idea that expresses a human truth" (Brave new worlds London 1999, p176 - my emphasis). In other words, the very idea of human mastery has come to be seen as suspect. Surely unarguably, the anarchist ecologist, Murray Bookchin, writes: "In a real sense, we seem to be afraid of ourselves - of our uniquely human attributes. We seem to be suffering from a decline in human self-confidence and in our ability to create ethically meaningful lives that enrich humanity and the non-human world" (Re-enchanting humanity London 1995, p1). With such a climate, says Kenan Malik, "The consequence is a collective form of paralysis that seems to grip humanity; it is as if humankind has placed a 'do not disturb' sign on its door" (Man, beast and zombie London 2000, p359). In contrast to the reactionary determinism of the universal Darwinists, communists are for an emancipatory determinism - the fight to understand freedom in the context of a historically as opposed to a biologically determined society (if freedom is the freedom to act without causes, then of course only the mad can be free). Rather, contra Kevin Williamson and co, humans are both determined and free because of the peculiar conditions of human beings: we are both subject and object, both in nature and out of it, both created by events external to us and also creators of such events. Humans are determined because we are objects, part of the nature order and created by events external to us. Humans are free because we are able to become subjects, to order nature and shape events external to us. Humans come to be free because we come to be subjects, rather than simply exist as objects. It therefore follows that humans are self-created beings who realise ourselves through our relations with other such beings. We are capable of being agents responsible for our actions. We are individuals with rights, duties and obligations, individuals who have control over our actions, and not simply conduits for natural impulses. It is the capacity for all this that makes humans subjects and not simply objects, as animals are. A far cry from the gloomy philosophy spelt out by comrade Williamson in SSV. Steven Rose, for one, lays out a more optimistic vision for humanity than Williamson: "For humans, as for all other living organisms, the future is radically unpredictable. This means that we have the ability to construct our own futures, albeit in circumstances not of our own choosing." We need to recapture an understanding of living organisms which places their trajectories - or "lifelines" - through time and space as lying at the very centre of our radical biology. For Rose, and for communists, "Organisms are active players in their own fate, not simply the playthings of the gods, nature or the inevitable workings-out of replicator-driven natural selection" (S Rose Lifelines London 1997, pp17, 309). We aim to be free in the Marxist sense - which comes from the freedom of necessity. We humans, more than any other life form on this planet, make our own history. History far transcends the narrow limitations that are claimed for either the power of genes or the power of the environment to circumscribe us. Our genes, in making possible the development of human consciousness, have surrendered their power both to determine the individual and its environment. 'Genes', 'DNA', 'human nature', etc have been replaced by an entirely new level of causation with its own laws and its own nature that can be understood and explored only through that unique form of experience - social action and social organisation. Regrettably, this optimistic, revolutionary, message is not the one that emanates from Kevin Williamson and Scottish Socialist Voice. Instead, comrade Williamson wants his readers to accept the 'biological differences' between men and women - and he means a hell of a lot more than our obvious anatomical-reproductive differences. Still, as the comrade says, "If the reader of this column has no interest in human evolution, how gender differences developed, and in particular how we should try and understand them as socialists, then they should skip the rest of this article and continue to drag their knuckles along the ground." Are Steven Rose, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, etc just 'neandarthals' in relation to the study of evolution? It is absurd to even suggest this. In reality it is comrade Williamson who is in serious need of re-education when it comes to the 'battle of the sexes'.