Woodrow Wilson Department of Government by enk60739


									                       Woodrow Wilson Department of Government
                                and Foreign Affairs

PLAP 526                                                                   Mr. Rhoads
Sex Differences: Theory and Policy                                         Spring 2005

                                (and in class)

General Instructions

         The questions that follow are suggestive. You should feel free to write your paper
on any part of the assigned reading. Although it might help our discussions more if you
responded to one or more of the questions here, you should feel free to go in a different
direction if you would like to.
         The papers are not meant to be research papers. You should not feel that you
have to read anything other than what has been assigned for the class. If you want to
critically analyze a single author's position, that would be fine. Alternatively, you could
discuss two or three authors and indicate where you agree and disagree with each and
why. What you should avoid is simply summarizing the positions of the various authors.
I will be interested in your own analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the authors'
positions, and, where relevant, what you think public policy or cultural understanding
should be in the area under discussion. Pick out what interests you and what you think
would make for an organized, coherent, and well argued paper.

Week 2 - Masculinity/Femininity Questions

A. Differences and Their Sources

Sociologists and biologists are in essence dealing with a chicken-or-the-egg problem of
which comes first: do male and female preferences and attitudes arise from the sex roles
society has assigned to them, or do the sex roles sprout from the biologically based
preferences and attitudes that were there from the start? Discuss both claims. Which is
more correct? How do nature and nurture magnify and temper each other?

What behaviors and attitudes are generally viewed as masculine and feminine? Are these
stereotypes unfounded? Pernicious?

Udry says (563) the foundation for the division of labor by sex is reproduction and infant
survival. Look around you at the sexual division of labor. How persuasive is this view?

Consider Udry's discussion of the policy implications of his findings (572). Which of the
"alternative agendas" would you favor?

Many people believe that seeing human being as “determined” is incompatible with
human dignity. Is Cronin correct in saying that such people should be as opposed to
believing that we are socially determined as to believing that we are biologically

Cronin believes that we are not biologically determined but also believes that males are
dramatically more violent and substantially more likely to be geniuses. Analyze her

Explore Rhoads‟ understanding of the contemporary feminist world view. Does it help
at all, as he does, to explore the connection between a researchers‟ world view and their
findings on this contentious subject? Should one normally give more credence to
research findings which the researcher would prefer not to have found? For example,
findings which seem to reinforce sexual stereotypes?

Rhoads gives examples of four kinds of bodies of research, which he thinks suggest there
are biological causes for sex differences in humans. Are you persuaded that all four
provide important evidence in this regard?

Given your reading of Udry‟s article and Rhoads‟ discussion of Udry, what do you make
of this line of research? Are there any holes in it which a social constructionist could use
to make a thoroughgoing critique?

Is Rhoads persuasive in his argument that there are two kinds of females and one kind of
male? Discuss.

Is it true, as Rhoads argues at the end of his chapter, that the big cultural battle is not
between men and women but between some women and other women? Do more
traditional women have less influence in the culture wars than their numbers would
suggest they should have? Is the media biased against traditional women?

Is it true that in some real sense, feminists and traditional women each hurt the other‟s
ability to achieve their important life goals? What if anything should be done about this?

Do you think the point of view of traditional women is likely to die out as the feminist
agenda advances more successfully? Alternatively, do you think the feminist world view
is likely to need a very substantial revision in the future if it is to have continued
influence in the political and culture wars?

Is it true, as Rhoads seems to suggest, that there is more of a stigma if a bright woman
seeks a more traditional life for herself (as a stay at home mom/ homemaker or a woman
who only works part time while her children are young) than if she is a thoroughgoing
careerist who expects her husband to do half the housework and childcare?

Many scholars argue that whatever the findings of the biological and evolutionary
sciences they should not have any affect on how we look at public policy and what
directions are American culture should be changed. Rhoads disagrees and sees that sex
differences will and should have policy implications. Discuss.

Research on sex differences provokes numerous debates, but few so heated as whether
the research should continue regardless of its findings. Should we discard such research
due to its possible perversions, or press on? What, if any, ethical boundaries should
guide us? Are you persuaded that most psychology texts systematically minimize sex
differences? If so, why is this and what, if anything, should/could be done about it? Why
does sex difference research become politicized?

Of what significance is the finding that stereotypes about the traits of men and women
are similar in a wide variety of cultures?
Feminists usually argue, in effect, that society deals women "lousy cards"—an
unsatisfying life. But Gilmore says societies "force men to shape up" and bring about
"male-role stress." Discuss.

Gilmore thinks that the differences in sex roles that he sees are explained by cultural
rather than socio-biological sources.

Are men better or worse when pushed to the "impregnator-protector-provider" roles
(223)? Is maleness "nurturing?" Are men "innately" not so very different than women?

Compare Udry and Gilmore on the nature/nurture controversy. How much weight should
be given to the case of the “opposite sex identical twins” example given at the beginning
of Rhoads‟ chapter?David Gilmore says we need to re-conceptualize our notions of
nurturance—that another framework sees men as equally nurturant. Discuss his claim.
How do sex differences and the ways in which we would like to organize society impact
our definitions of what is feminine and masculine?

B. Differences and Culture

How should parents react to observed sex differences? Is there such a thing as gender-
neutral parenting? Should parents discourage children from behaving in ways that
stereotypically fit their sex? Should parents encourage children to behave in
stereotypical ways?

Is a good man more than just a good person? A good father more than a good parent?
Consider Blankenhorn and Miedzian on the traditional understanding of masculinity.
Blankenhorn and Miedzian disagree in particular about whether the following embodies a
destructive masculine mystique (Blankenhorn quoting Miedzian, p. 17, top): "He does
not express much emotion. He doesn't cry. He is very concerned with dominance, power,
being tough. His taste in movies runs to John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone. On TV, he

watches violent shows like Miami Vice and Hawaii Five-O. Whatever his actual behavior
may be, he is likely to indulge in callous sexual talk about women. He may feel that a
high level of involvement in child care is unmanly." Miedzian goes on to say that such
fathers "reinforce in their sons just those qualities that serve to desensitize them and make
them more prone to commit violent acts or condone them."

What does it mean to be a good man? A good father?
Consider Blankenhorn's historical functions of the father (25): protection, material needs,
moral education and representing the family's interests in the outside world. Are (should)
these functions be shared equally by women? Did we lose anything with the
disappearance of the phrase "good family man"? Are good parents androgynous, or do,
and should, fathers and mothers have distinctive roles (e.g., p. 30)? Is the mother usually
more responsible for baby survival and the father for ensuring good adult outcomes?

Critically evaluate Blankenhorn's proposed 8-point redefinition of a good family man.

C. The Unconnected Man

What best explains why girls' toys focus so often on relationships, boys and shopping?

Why don‟t women fish as men do in North Carolina?

 Does Crenshaw explain the Doonesberry cartoon? Does she explain why "a good man is
hard to find" for a woman who wants a committed relationship? Does the picture she
presents suggest that men are worth having?

Is Tannen saying that men are as connected (to other men) in their own way?

Do you notice that men speak “at angles” and at a greater distance than women do? If so,
why do you think this is?

Week 3 - Sexuality Questions

A. Theory

Buss has said that "Ultimately, the disturbing side of human nature must be confronted if
its harsh consequences are ever to be ameliorated." If what Buss says about human
nature is true, how can these "harsh consequences" be ameliorated? If our sexual nature
is instinctive and intended to help us choose the best mate for evolutionary purposes, to
what extent should we try to suppress our more socially unacceptable tendencies? How
effective is society at restraining our hormonal and evolutionary instincts and promoting
other behavior? Crenshaw discusses the role hormones play in human sexual behavior.
Are we prisoners of our hormones and biological history when it comes to relationships
with the opposite sex?

Could a deeper understanding of our evolutionary sexual strategies bring the two sexes
closer together or would it merely justify each sex's worst behavior?

Do you think modern men and women do choose their mates as Buss describes based on
the other's potential as a reproductive partner? How much of our dating and mating is
done instinctively as Buss argues, and how much is cognitively or culturally driven?

Why do professionally successful women care more about a mate's resources than less
successful (economically) women do? Are men's preferences in a mate as different from
women's as Buss suggests?

Buss takes an amoral approach to his findings, and has said that there is "no moral
justification for a single [mating] strategy." If nature does play such a large role, is he
right or does society still have an interest in imposing a moral structure on our sexual

Is there anything admirable in men and women as described by Buss that one might build
a morality on?

Buss says beauty is not simply skin deep. What should young women be taught about
beauty (113)? Should women work to be beautiful, or work to change societies'
expectations of beauty?

Suppose you are married with two daughters—a 15 year old who is slovenly (e.g., never
seems to comb her hair) and a 16 year old who buys every teen fashion magazine in
existence. The 16 year old loves short mini-skirts and skimpy bikinis. What do you say
to these two?

Eagly and Wood compare evolutionary psychology with "social structure" theories for
their ability to explain sex differences, particularly in mate selection. Which theory is
more persuasive? More promising? Why?

Eagly and Wood state that Buss' results on cross-cultural mate preferences (men prefer
youth and beauty, while women prefer wealth and status) can be interpreted in terms of
the social power structure, rather than in terms of evolutionary psychology. How
persuasive is their argument?

Does the lack of information about ancient humans' society (Eagly and Wood, p. 411)
cast doubts on the evolutionary psychology explanations?

What role does the different distribution of power and status among American men and
women play (if any) in creating gender differences ?

Do men, on average, have stronger libido and a stronger taste for sexual variety? If so,
do evolution and/or testosterone explain these differences? Which parts of Rhoads‟
discussion do you find the least persuasive?

Do men care more about a romantic partner‟s beauty than women? How much of the
male emphasis on female beauty is biological and how much is cultural? Does American
society place too much emphasis on female beauty? If so, what if anything, do you think
can be done about this? If you were the mother or father of a sixteen year old girl of
average beauty, how do you think you should talk to her about this?

Do women care more about men‟s resources, power, and status when looking for a
romantic mate than men do with respect to women‟s resources, power and status? Why
do you think this is? Why does money seem to make a man more “attractive”?

Is Rhoads right that there is a “sexual intimate side of the female desire for a dominant
male?” One study shows that ideally, men would like a mate a little over four inches
shorter and women would like one six inches taller. Why would this be?

Is Cashdan persuasive in her argument that women face the a dilemma in trying to
become economically self-sufficient on one hand and attracting men willing to support
them on the other?

Discuss Cashdan‟s discussion of the choices that a woman must make with regard to
sexual restrictiveness and/or with regard to competing against men.

Fisher and Crichton suggest that women are just as interested in sex, and sexual variety,
as men are. Buss says they are not. Perhaps it is just a certain kind of "urbane" women
who are. Compare and evaluate the contrasting arguments.

How persuasive is “the orgasm wars?”

According to evolutionary biologists, is there such a thing as the perfect man or the
perfect woman? What are they like? Do modern women and men strive to be perfect in
evolutionary terms? Are we attracted to what the evolutionary biologists say we will be?
Should women want tall, strong, muscular men if spousal abuse is a large problem?
Would equality in relationships be more likely if women preferred men about the size of
the average woman?

What do you make of the Doonesbury and Cathy cartoons?

B. Policy

1. Male and Female Relations Among the Poor

Is welfare "a promiscuity entitlement" as Gilder states? Is Gilder right in arguing that
welfare renders "men still more optional, desperate, feral, and single"? If so, does
welfare really help unmarried women?.

To what degree, if at all, would the social problems of poverty-stricken areas be
alleviated if women did not agree to engage in premarital sex?

To what degree would these problems be alleviated if more male role models were
present in the community, as Raspberry suggests?

How important is the absence of biological fathers in so many families to the problems
of contemporary families? Would greater male child support and more frequent
visitation solve these problems? If so, how would one bring this about, or is it the case
that only the physical presence of the biological father in the family would be effective at
solving many of these problems?

Are the mating goals of young men and young women in the inner city as strikingly
different as Elijah Anderson suggests? How important is a difference in male and female
sexuality to understanding what is going on here?

Is the type of welfare reform that has been emphasized in recent years in women‟s best
interest? In men‟s best interest? In society‟s best interest? Can welfare reform help
rebuild the two parent family?

Is Rhoads right that contemporary American society does a very poor job in educating
young girls about male sexuality and protecting them from its worst forms?

Are you persuaded that female economic success make it more difficult to preserve two
parent families? Discuss.

Do you think that most unmarried teenage women deciding whether to have an abortion
or put their child up for adoption are aware of the fact that men find single mothers with
children “a big turn off?”

How persuasive is Barras in her understanding of the effect of fatherlessness on young

2. Sex and Power

Is there a connection between the drive for political power and sexual promiscuity? How
would Buss and Crenshaw interpret prostitution and the fact that many highly desirable
men pay for the services of prostitutes? Would they be right?

Do Huber and Ceaser convince you that the sexual conduct of politicians is a legitimate
and important public issue? Is "cashing in on political power in the bedroom" the same
as depositing tax receipts in a private account in Switzerland? Or is Paglia right to
believe that politicians "cannot always be judged by conventional moral standards?".

Is Ceaser or Sigelman (in Morin) more right on this issue of "Philanderers-in-Chief?"

Do sex differences in sexuality help explain the sad tale in “The Sugar Daddies Kiss of
Death?” What might be done about this situation? Do you agree that it requires
“separate messages to girls, men, and parents?” If so, is Rhoads persuasive in his view
that there should also be separate message given to young low-income Americans?

3. Sex and Close Military Quarters

What do you make of the articles discussing the issues surrounding sex in missile silos,
on submarines, and in foxholes/on guard duty in combat areas? Discuss.

In the missileer case, is there here a genuine conflict between woman‟s fair chance for
equal career opportunities and genuine religious belief? If so, which should take

Anna Simons seems to suggest that men, when being candid, will admit that they are
frequently disrobing and thinking about having sex with women of their acquaintance. If
she is right and if men‟s libido is dramatically greater than women‟s, should this affect
our decisions on cases such as the missile silo and sexually integrated submarines?

Week 4 - Aggression Questions

A. Theories of Aggression

Is Goldberg persuasive on Why Men Rule?

Do women perceive aggression as more dangerous to themselves because of the female
gender role?

Why do 'boys just want to have guns'? Are stag parties based on paintball fights an
improvement on those based on strippers? From society's point of view, are these
paintball fights beneficial, harmless, or harmful?

Does the article "Violent Behavior Ebbs After Classes" persuade you that aggression can
be un-learned? If so, does this suggest that aggression is a learned rather than an inborn
behavior? Why are men more aggressive? Why do they more regularly seek dominance?

Is Rhoads persuasive in arguing that it is simply common sense for parents to encourage
boys to protect themselves physically more often than they encourage girls to do so?

Does society encourage men to fight and dominate women physically or does it
encourage men to see that it is cowardly to fight a woman? Are men who beat up their
mates likely to be respected by other men? Does this depend on society? On balance, is
it good or bad for men to be taught “that it is cowardly to fight with women”? Would an
emphasis on sex difference make such a teaching more prevalent and believable?

Can men be taught to believe that it is cowardly to fight with women? If so, does this
show that Rhoads‟ emphasis on the deep causes of male aggression are not so deep and
powerful after all?

Does monogamy reduce aggression? If so, how? Does this mean that we should
encourage men and women to get married?

Rhoads briefly discusses a study that shows, where women get together often with their
neighbors, crime rates are lower, but that this effect is heavily dependant on the women
having husbands. Why do you think that this may be?

“If women continue to like dominant men and men seek dominance as a way of attracting
women, does this mean that women are responsible for male aggression and violence?”

“Women care just as much about being dominant and thus being competitive as men do.
They just have different techniques for achieving dominance and competing, which are
appropriate for their different goals.” Discuss.

Would we have a more peaceful world if women were in charge of the politics of every
country? Would it be a more peaceful world if women were in charge of most of the
countries of the world? If so, how if at all might this be brought about?

If neither men nor women like women who seek to be dominant, how can feminist goals
ever be achieved? Why do so many women not like women who seek to be dominant
whereas they do not mind men who seek to be dominant? Or is this not true? If it is true,
how can one explain the fact that women seem to be more interested in electing female
politicians than male politicians? Or are they?

Within male groups, even among younger boys, why is it that toughness sometimes leads
to high status? Why is this the case even in schools in which most of the participants are
the sons of college professors?

If Rhoads is persuasive on the subject of the roots of male aggression, how can women
successfully make their way in the world?

Take a close look at Goldberg‟s discussion of women in hierarchy? Is it the case that
they need special sensitivity and femininity in order to be successful? Is it likely that if
women shared power equally with men in the bureaucracy as Goldberg says “chaos
would result”? (112)

“How can biology be controlling male aggression, and yet we end up with peer groups as
different as those in Selby?” Discuss.

B. Competitiveness and Title IX

Courts' interpretations of discrimination statutes such as Title IX often take plain
statistical inequality as prima facie proof of discrimination. Should women's relative
level of interest be taken into account in Title IX cases? What assumptions about biology
and society underlie Title IX, and are these correct assumptions? How, if at all, might the
law change if it reflected different assumptions?

Does playing sports confer psychological advantages above and beyond good exercise
and fun to women (Marcus) and men (Rhoads/Raspberry)?

Is there some tension between Raspberry's argument and McGrath's or not? If so, who
gets the better of the implicit debate? Discuss.

Why do you think boys and men seem so preoccupied with violent computer games and
war? Why do you think they are more tolerant of risk? Are the evolutionary
psychologists persuasive on these questions? Is Hilary Lips persuasive?

If, on average, women are more interested in cooperation and men more interested in
competition, is this a powerful argument against the justice of current interpretations of
Title IX?

Why do you think the junior varsity lacrosse player at St. Paul‟s videotaped himself
having sex with a girl and showed it to his teammates? Do you think that he would have
been as “humiliated” as the girl was, if she had videotaped it and showed it to her
classmates? If not, why not?

Katz links what these boys did to problems of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Is
there a connection? Discuss. Did the St. Paul‟s headmaster handle the situation in the
appropriate way?

Should volunteers be able to contribute money in order to create a Hopewell football
team? Do school football teams create school spirit in a way that other sports teams do
not? If so why do you think this is? Why do you think there is so much more controversy
about volunteers supplementing public moneys to create football opportunities as
opposed to the relative lack of controversy when money goes to buy band uniforms, field
trips, guest lecturers and so on?

Is there something especially threatening about football and perhaps wrestling programs?
Is it connected to their “maleness”? Is it connected to the “violence” that seems tied to
these sports?

Do football and wrestling “water” male violence? Or do they channel and mitigate it into
relatively harmless directions?

Is it the case that “women‟s attitudes toward sports are socially constructed and limited
by discrimination and stereotypes?” If so, are women‟s attitudes about sports also caused

by deeper, perhaps biological, causes? What does the evidence about children‟s attitudes
toward competitive sports suggest?

Is the “three part test” regulatory mechanism for enforcing Title IX reasonable?

Of what relevance is the fact that men have more interest in club and intramural sports
than women do? Brown University argues that women have much more interest in dance
than men do, is this a problem society should address or does the greater prestige for
sports versus dance suggest that this is like comparing apples and oranges?

More generally is there a problem if men and women develop dramatically different
recreation tastes, for example, ballet versus combative, competitive sports? Should
Brown have been allowed to eliminate two male and two female teams in the way that
they initially intended?

Should competitive dance and cheerleading “count” for Title IX purposes?

Is there an injustice when male “walk-on” athletes are not allowed to join teams because
of a concern for Title IX gender proportionality? Why are men apparently more willing
to be “bench-sitters on teams” ? Is this fact reconcilable with men‟s supposed greater
interest in surpassing their competitors in prestigious positions? Discuss.

Why do you think it is that men seem to be more interested in aggressive combative
sports and women seem to be more interested in graceful, aesthetically pleasing sports?
Do these differences “go deep” or are they socially constructed?

Do you agree with Indiana University‟s decision to fire Bobby Knight? Does society
expect greater displays of aggressiveness from men when they are in violent or
competitive situations? Do you agree with Ledeen that Coach Knight‟s aggressiveness
and harsh discipline contributed to the success of his team? Do you agree that he teaches
hardwork, discipline, friendship and scholarship? Did Knight get too little credit for how
much he emphasized academics? To what extent is Knight‟s behavior a product of his
biological and/or social conditioning? Discuss.

Mike Lupica supports Bobby Knight‟s firing, arguing that he was unable to change his
aggressive behavior, despite the University‟s threats to terminate him. Lupica writes, “he
wouldn‟t change. Because he can‟t.” To what extent can society attempt to change
aggressive men like Bobby Knight? And to what extent must society accept the
aggressive tendancies as part of the nature of the male sex? What is to be done about
“bullies” like Bobby Knight?

Should Texas Tech have hired Bobby Knight?

C. Domestic Violence

Buss states that physical abuse often occurs because of "morbid jealousy" on the part of
the abuser. Also, he finds that men are more distressed over sexual infidelity in a partner
while women are more distressed about emotional infidelity. Do these findings suggest
an evolutionary origin for jealousy and abuse?

Do the reports of women's violence toward men undermine arguments that men are more
aggressive than women? Does society "wink" at male violence against women, as
feminists often charge, or at female violence against men? Or does it do both or neither?
Is Leo right in claiming that (violent rhetorical male bashing by women) is culturally
permitted, though the equivalent by men against females would not be? If so, why?

 Are commentators missing the mark when they don't partially blame males' innate
aggressiveness for domestic abuse? Would preventative measures change if they
intentionally reflected biological explanations for men's abusiveness?

Does Satel persuade you that feminists are endangering the lives of battered women?
Should there be mandatory arrest and separation policies regardless of the spouse's
wishes? Is Gwinn more persuasive than Satel?

Does biology or socialization best explain why girls/women seem less tolerant of risk?
less heroic?

Why are married women less likely to be victims of violence than divorced, separated or
never married women?

If the leading cause of male spousal homicide is sexual jealousy, what, if any, policy
conclusions might be drawn from this fact? For example would it change the way we
deal with domestic violence perpetrators and/or their spouses?

Why are women‟s fights so often over men or attacks on their sexual reputation?

“One can learn much about the sexual differences in human nature by just focusing on
the competing phrases „fight or flight‟ and „tend and befriend.‟” Discuss.

How persuasive are the studies which link high testosterone levels with greater

You‟ve read a description of the Diluth Method of intervention and also a critique of it.
What do you think of it? For example, does society tell women not to be angry? Is
biology as well as a culture a partial explanation for women‟s willingness to suppress
their anger? Would women in society be better off if women did not suppress their
anger? What do you think would be the results if women more often verbally expressed
the anger that they felt?

“Far more effective than the Diluth approach to preventing male violence against women
would be a return to a culture that taught young boys that “only a coward fights with a

girl.” But feminists bent on creating real-world warrior women (e.g., Zenas) would never
permit this.” Discuss.

Several of the readings suggest what I have been independently told by one marital
counselor who works with domestic abuse couples who want to stay together. “The
women say that they hit their husbands because „he won‟t listen to me‟; the husbands say
that they hit their wives because „she won‟t stop yapping and nagging at me‟” The
Deluth Model for intervention says that nothing should be done about ehat the men think
is provocative behavior. Do you agree? Would your answer depend on whether the wife
wants to stay married to the husband or not? Is a relevant consideration, as we will see in
our communication week, women are on average more comfortable verbally?

Do men get a sense of power from dominating women? If so, what is the source of this
feeling? What can/should be done about it?

Do women get pleasure from dominating men? Are they frequently successful? Do they
frequently get any pleasure from being dominated by men? Do men frequently get
pleasure from being dominated by women? Discuss.

Is the male tendency to think in terms of hierarchy inevitable or should it be unpacked
root and branch? Is it a cultural construct or part of man‟s evolved psychology? Should
the goal be to root out hierarchical striving or to keep it in bounds and to keep it
nonviolent? Discuss.

Is psychological abuse (Pear and Flowers p 15 vs. Satel) a serious problem? Is it defined
too broadly by feminists?

Is there a root cause of domestic violence and if so, what is it? Which intervention
approaches do you find most promising or how would you proceed in this area?

Week 5 - Nurturing Questions

A. Theory and Evidence

How strong do you think that Frody and Lamb‟s implicit critique of Rhoads‟ argument
is? Discuss.

How important, if at all, is biology in explaining why women are more attracted to
infants? Discuss.

What should be the stance of feminists with regards to women‟s “nurturing instinct”? If
it exists does it inevitably mean that women will not have equal power tom men in the
world outside the family? Does women‟s nurturing work inevitably make them more
dependant than men on society? Does it make them more dependant on men than men
are on women? If so, discuss the implications of these facts.

Is the “mommy track” a pro-women innovation? Would you give the same answer about
a parental track? Discuss.

Is it best for women to have a cultural norm that suggests that pregnancy and its
aftermath should not slow them down in advancement of their careers or is it better to
have a cultural norm which suggests that it should slow them down, that they are in the
midst of important work of its own? Discuss.

Is mom best for babies? Discuss.

Are differences in helping and nurturing behavior best explained by biological or
socialization theories? How persuasive is Eagly and Crowley's social roles explanation
of the gender differences on helping behavior?

Compare Lips versus Blum and Crenshaw on the extent of and explanation for sex
differences in nurturing.

Is there a difference between ascribing the differences in nurturing behavior to biology
and to evolution, or are they one and the same? Do you find the evolutionary arguments
of Wayne Babchuck et. al. satisfying?

Is there tension between Garment's discussion of the pull of maternity for Governor
Kunin and McDermott's rhapsodies about motherhood on the one hand and Cowan,
Cowan and Kerig's findings that after babies arrive wives (and husbands) are unhappy
with the family division of labor and less happy with their marriages?

Is there a debate between Blum, Crenshaw, Garment, Glusker and McDermott on the one
hand and Shields and Rollin on the other? What are the issues? How deep goes the
desire of the average woman to give birth and care for children?

Consider Rivka Palatnick‟s article on “Why Men Don‟t Rear Children: A Power
Analysis.” Is it more true that biology or society assigns to women a childrearing
function? Discuss.

Why do you think McDermott (and her contemporaries) changed so after having
children? Can her feelings be explained by socialization? What does this say about the
prospect for full equality in the workforce? How should this impact day care and family
leave policies?

Why, after birth, are wives increasingly likely to think that "child care should be done
almost entirely by parents" (Cowan 170) while husbands are more sure that other child
care resources are acceptable?

Do Cowan et. al. convince you that bad marriages mean fathers are tough on girls but not
on boys? And to a lesser extent mothers are tough on boys and girls? If so, what do you
make of this finding?

Why are families more likely to separate if the first born is a girl? Why do families seem
to have another child more quickly if the first is a girl?

Does “Amazing Amy” do more good than harm? Why are boys not interested in playing
with Amazing Amy? Discuss.

Discuss with reference to Eberstadt, how if at all does this article change our way of
thinking about “nurturning the young”?

B. Breastfeeding

If, as one researcher says in the Washington Post, (June Reinisch) “the evidence is
growing that breastfeeding is among the most important lifelong benefits a mother can
give to her child” what does this mean for womens choices about career and family?
How should women react? How should their doctors go about their business? Should
employers‟ policies with respect to mothers with young children change?

How important do you think the findings with respect to breastfeeding as a way to lessen
the risk of breast cancer are? Do you think that these findings are likely to affect
womens‟ fertility and breastfeeding decisions? In what way? Discuss.

How significant is NOW‟s accommodation and support of “The New Mother
Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Bill”?

Where do you come out on the debate precipitated by Abigail Trafford‟s article “What‟s
Good for the Baby may Guilt Trip the Mother”?

C. Child Custody

Do you support a best interests of the child standard in custody cases? Alternatively,
would you support the tender years doctrine which would ordinarily grant wives custody
of young children? Would you support it for children under one year when the mother is
breast feeding?

Would a preference for the primary care-giving parent be less objectionable than a
preference for custody by mothers?

Richard Neely suggests that the indeterminacy of the "best interests of the child" standard
allows men to threaten a child custody fight unless women take less in child support.
Why don't women just refuse custody unless adequate child support is given?

Is biological determinism--the view that biology determines social roles--a proper
framework for legal and governmental policy? What do you think of Stephanie Shields'
argument that such determinism merely--and wrongly--serves to justify social roles
without allowing for human preferences and political decisions to alter those roles?

D. Day Care

Is day care a problem for children? If so, what is the answer (e.g. Greenspan's 4/3

Should government (1) provide more funds for daycare; (2) aid stay-at-home parents as
much as families in which no parent stays home; or (3) give a preference to stay-at-home
parents? Explain your reasoning.

Does quantity count in daycare? What do you make of the controversy about the way the
recent behavioral and cognitive results on the effect of daycare have been promulgated
and interpreted?

Why does Audry Fisch entitle her article “Where‟s Poppa?” Where do you think he is?
Why do you think he is there? Is it a problem that he is there? How different are the
policy recommendations that the childcare researchers come to as a result of their work?
How do you explain what differences there are?

Eons ago, mothers used to take their babies to work, using a sling while they picked
berries. Marjorie Williams seems to think that the modern trend toward bringing infants
into the workplace is not the road to a more sensible work-family balance today. Do you
agree? Discuss.

How worrisome is the research on the effects of daycare for children‟s bodily health,
behavior and cognition? Should our culture, our policy, be doing more to discourage
mothers with infants and toddlers from working full time? Should we be subsidizing
daycare more heavily? If yes, should subsidies go to the middle class as well as low-
income Americans?

Is Hrdy correct in her belief that professional women simply face “irreconcilable
dilemmas” with regard to their choices on career and mothering? Discuss.

Is Rhoads right that “quality daycare is a chimera?”

Does mothers‟ guilt about being away from a child have a biological basis? Or is it
simply socially constructed? Discuss.

Are you persuaded that fathers, as compared to mothers, have an easier time doing
without substantial day-to-day contact with their young children? If so, why do you think
this is?

The vast majority of mothers seem to want to spend less time at work and more time with
their children. Why does it seem to hard to bring this about? Discuss.

Rhoads seems to think that mothers are “delighted to learn that something they like to do
and do better than anyone else is important to the well-being of their children and thus to
society more broadly.” Should they be? If so, why aren‟t they? Discuss.

Is the project to create a more androgynous family a misogynist one? Discuss.

“Rhoads, Lewis et al. and other biologically inclined authors seem to suggest that if
women are to be good mothers, they will pretty much have to turn their lives over to their
young children. There has to be some sort of rule of reason. Otherwise the trends in the
West which suggest we are not reproducing ourselves will get dramatically worse.”

Week 6 - Conversational Styles Questions

Why do groups of girls dislike boastful or even self-confident girls? Why are their
groups less hierarchical than boys' groups? Do boys "fight to be friends (236-240)?" If
so, why? Why do women pay more attention to the feelings of their listeners? Is a
woman's style more polite and civilized? Why are women criticized when they use a
male style?

Does a woman's gentle style (41, 48, 49, but 125) lead her to get less credit for her
accomplishments? Is there tension between this idea and the suggestion that women
receive more praise than men? (121)

Why does a male style not work for women? (122-129) Did the female military officer
showing off muscles in a bikini find trouble because she violated "expectations for how a
woman should be"? (122)

How easy would it be for women (or men) to change their communication styles? (101,
280) Would it be a good idea if they did?

Does the wide range of clothing and makeup styles that women have "mark" (107-114)
them in unfair ways? Is there a middle ground approach for women which would leave
them unmarked (e.g. attractive, below-the-knee suit, a little make-up)? Would women be
less likely to complain if they all wore nearly identical gray and blue suits while men
were choosing from a wide array of colorful outfits? Are women more interested in
clothes? If so, why?

Is there a tension between Tannen's seeming defense of stereotypes (312-13) at the end of
her book and her complaints about those that "mark" women as, for example, nurse not
doctor and secretary not manager? Discuss.

Is the addressing of professional women by their first names sometimes a sign of
friendliness or approachability, as Tannen thinks, or is it almost always a sign of lack of
respect as many women professionals think (208-9)? Why do women tend to compete

relatively more for connection whereas men compete more for advancement? (e.g. 211-

Why do women at work mix business talk with talk about their personal lives while men
mix business with banter about sports or politics? Why do men tease or put down people
they like?

Why are women more likely to do "troubles talk(71)? " Why do men think an expression
of trouble is a request to solve the problem? How pervasive are these sex differences?

Tannen says men often say they are wrong or have gone too far by teasing or doing
something to make amends rather than giving an apology or otherwise admitting error. If
women realized that this was a male way of making amends could they come to
appreciate and accept the male style (90-91)?

Why in mixed groups do women give more "silent applause"? (120)

In play groups and meetings why do boys of 30 months of age and men tend to ignore the
suggestions of girls and women? Can this pattern be changed (280, 288-9)? Should it
be? If so, how?

In Why Men Rule, Steven Goldberg argued that whenever a hierarchy is present, men
will be biologically driven to dominate it. Can the various conversational strategies
Deborah Tannen describes be viewed in this light? What are the various strategies
women and men employ to control social situations? Do you think this is rooted in
biology, or is it simply a matter of evolving cultural styles?

Tannen says that generalizing is the heart of science yet in discussions of sex roles and
gender attempts to generalize often cause ill will because they "reinforce stereotypes"
(311-17). Why is generalizing so controversial in this area? How persuasive is her
explanation of the source of the differences between men and women in conversational
style (315-16, 14-15)? Will her research and suggestions lead to men and women
speaking more alike or more differently (312-315)? Is her discussion at 211-212 relevant
to this issue? Does the Brown article on genes and female intuition suggest that nature
may have something to do with women's greater sensitivity to the feelings of others?

Why is it easier to talk about the gender gap in voting than in aggression or nurturing or
tolerance for risk? Does focusing on significant differences that have been found
between most men and most women make it easier or harder for the sexes to live well

Ehrenreich argues that men don't much like to talk, except as competition, and will talk
only if they can set the terms. Does this seem true? If so, why is it true?

Ehrenreich suggests that good talk within the political feminist movement raised women's
expectations of good conversation, but Goodman complains that women don't participate

much in talk radio's talk about politics. Instead, she says, they focus on the personal on
talk TV. Discuss.

With reference to the California State creative writing exercise, do women read literature
more or less like that Lisa wants to write? Do men read literature like Dave wants to
write? If so, why?

Anne Roipe's book review quotes Tannen critics who say she neglects power and
position, "puts the burden of change on the backs of women," "glorifies existing
stereotypes," and "dictates that all women should behave in a certain way." Discuss these

Tannen advocates conversation training for corporate America. What might such training
sessions involve? How can women and men better understand each other? Or is the
chasm unbridgeable? What would corporate structures that understood and fully
exploited men's and women's varying conversational styles look like? What strategies
might be employed to increase women's input? Should women adapt their conversational
styles to the styles prevalent in institutions largely governed by men? Can they do this
while avoiding the pejorative terms often associated with authoritative women? What, if
any, role might law and government play?

Is there a "better" conversational style? What improvements do you think both women
and men could make? Are men too competitive and impersonal? Reflect on your own
conversational style. Does it match Tannen's generalizations? What do you like and
dislike about your own style?

Imagine you are a senior manager at a firm. What strategies would you employ to elicit
the most input from and assign the most credit to deserving employees?

Why do many modern women object to an inclusive understanding of the word 'mankind'
while calling each other 'guys'? Would either 'ladies,' 'gals,' or 'honeys' be an

A. Men and Women in Prison

Should the staff try to communicate more with the prisoners in female prisons? Should
the staff be trained to expect "a wider range of emotions" when talking to female

Should prison managers be taught that female prisoners need "a different style of
management," including more communication skills on the part of guards, active
listening, and awareness of "emotional dynamics"?

Why do you think that “men‟s prisons develop inmate subcultures based on hierarchies of
power and coercion” while women‟s prisons “tend to develop inmate subcultures which
revolve around make-believe families and intense friendships”(Rasche 49)?

In training guards, should there be less emphasis on security and custody in female
prisons, and more on negotiating and listening skills? Should there be more emphasis on
parenting in female prisons if female prisoners seem to take their children and parental
responsibilities more seriously?

Should sex-segregated prisons be illegal? Should public policy encourage male guards
for male prisoners and female guards for female prisoners? Should female guards be able
to conduct full-body searches of male prisoners, but male guards be forbidden from
conducting full-body searches of female prisoners? More generally, should there be more
emphasis on privacy issues and sexual misconduct and appropriate and inappropriate
touching when training male guards in female prisons than when training female guards
in male prisons? If, as some of the literature shows, women prisoners cause less problems
when they are given more privacy and given more property than male prisoners do, is it
appropriate for female prisoners to be granted more privacy, and allowed to have more
personal property? Could it be argued persuasively that males actually need more privacy
so as to avoid violence from other prisoners?

How should vocational traning be handled? Since there are fewer female prisoners, and if
prisoners are to be kept somewhere near their homes, the prisons they are in will usually
be much smaller. Is it acceptable for these smaller prisons to have a significantly smaller
range of training options than male prisoners have at their prisons? Would it be
discrimination if there were fewer services provided to female prisoners, or could one
argue that the discrimination would occur if the same number of options were available to
female prisoners, and thus significantly more dollars were spent per prisoner on female
traning than on male training? Consider p. 191 of Rasche. Should the vocational
preferences of female and male prisoners be accepted as given, or should public policy
lean against them so as to encourage a non-traditional approach to occupational training.
Should more attention be given to improving conditions in male prisons or in female
prisons? Consider not just the fact of greater vocational training opportunities for men,
but also the fact that (Rasche, p. 54 bottom statement) male prisons are more "harsh and
depriving" than female prisons are.

Do you approve of the Washington area corrections officials treating female juvenile
delinquents differently than male juvenile delinquents (Klein)?

Is there a way to get male guards to stop sexually abusing female prisoners? What should
be done to effectively address the problem while also maintaining prison discipline?
Should we consider all female guards in female prisons and all male guards in male

Week 7 - Courtship, Dating, Hooking Up & Cohabitation

A. Theory

Buss states, "men have lower thresholds than women for reading in sexual interest," and
"women rate sexual aggression on average...to be close to the 7.00 maximum of distress."
If these statements are true, should women make more concerted efforts to limit their
friendliness, or perceived flirtatiousness, around men they find sexually undesirable?

Is marriage an unnatural and unstable state for humans?

Do you think Buss' explanation of the evolutionary forces which lead to sexual
harassment and date rape is credible?

What are the important differences between marriage and cohabitation? Is cohabitation a
good way to test a mate's compatibility and commitment?

Why is The Rules a national bestseller? What are the possible benefits and downfalls for
men and women if "The Rules" are followed? When a woman becomes very interested
in a man she has just started dating, in what sense, if at all, is he an "adversary" (Ch. 6)?

Do "The Rules" work? Would they help combat the predatory sexual scene that
Anderson and Stern paint in Week 2?

B. Policy and Culture

Does Dave Barry get dating about right?

Is the tendency for men to be sexually aggressive overstated? Will it become more
socially acceptable for women to be sexually aggressive and for men to demonstrate
sensitivity? If so, will the differences between the sexual behavior of the sexes begin to

1.. Sexual Harassment

Do most women like to be complimented on their appearance? Whistled at
(Muggeridge)? Have men "talk to" their breasts? (Barry) Where does one draw the line
between flattering a member of the opposite sex and sexually harassing him or her?
What sort of policies can protect men and women from unwanted behavior?

Did Bernice Harris sexually harass Christopher Held? Would Held have harassed Harris
if he had behaved as she did?

How much do women differ in their judgments about what they find offensive?

Are ambiguous cues in courtship inevitable? Are (Browne 198) women in part
responsible for sexual harrasment if they send ambiguous signals? Is it a mitigating
factor if the man genuinely thought the women would be interested in a sexual come on
or “well intentioned compliment?”

Should sensitive women be protected if it means men and some women lose the pleasures
of a bawdy joke?

Should the law use a reasonable woman or a reasonable person standard? What, if any,
changes in sexual harassment law would you support?

Would Miss Manners' or Mencimer's suggestions help prevent sexual harassment?

3. The Sexual Revolution

Has "the reign of feminism" made "women become unimportant, indeed nonessential," as
some have suggested? Some critics have instead said it is men who have been made
nonessential by feminism. Is this view more persuasive? Has feminism harmed both
sexes? Has it helped one or both?

Buss says men like casual sex more and women like an investment of resources as a sign
of commitment before sex. Fillion says women often sleep with men for no investment
(often they pay for or split the date's expense). Does this suggest the sexual revolution
satisfies male needs more than female?

Fillion says studies show young men feel pressured to have sex more than young women.
How should we understand this data?

Is Fillion saying (199) that there would be less female promiscuity if there were more
attention to encouraging women to emphasize their desires and pleasures? Are you

What are some of the positive and negative results of the sexual revolution for women?
For men? Has the sexual revolution made our society too tolerant? Or is Levine right to
argue that women especially should celebrate still further loosening of customs which
restrict their sexual expression?

Compare Fillion who says when a woman sleeps with a man for the first time she should
be ready to articulate her sexual desires (e.g. "touch me here") (199) and The Rules,
which says avoid "lengthy seminars about your needs during sex" (82). Who is more
right? Can a woman who has slept with a man be as blasé afterwords at the Rules seems
to recommend. How do you think her partner would react if this advice were followed?

Rissman and Schwartz seem to suggest that young women have condidence and power in
sexual relations these days but the Rhoads, Glenn/Marquardt and UVA RA readings
suggest that men call the shots more than ever before. What is really going on? Does it
depend on the age of the women? Do young women tire of casual sex in a way that
young men do not?

Compare the dating scene of the fifies to the mating scene today? Has the sexual
revolution benefited males,females,both or neither? Does it keep men from having to

grow up? Did the romantic music of the fifties encourage young men and women to
think long term? Is it in their interest to think long term?

Career Women

How do you interpret the phenomenon of successful career women expressing anxiety
over their relationships with men, and a desire to be married? Does this suggest that the
traits adaptive for career life are not adaptive for domestic life? Does it suggest that
women value success in personal relationships more than success in careers?

Schiffren and the Elle magazine interview present contrasting views of life as a young,
single woman. Who do you think is right? Should such women aspire to be married?

Week 8 - Marriage Questions

RE. Thompson and Walker. Why do men and women have such different understandings
of what makes for a good marriage? Why are women more sensitive to the nuances
within a marriage? Do they make more of an effort to please? If so, why? Why are men
so much less likely to talk and share emotions with their spouses?

Explore the ways that husbands and wives do housework. Why do women who make
more than their husbands "cater to their husbands' whims" rather than demand "a fair
distribution of labor at home" (Thompson and Walker 857)? Are Thompson and Walker
saying that wives do the lion's share of housework because it pleases their husbands and
makes for happy marriages? Is this sensible if (Barnett et. al.) married women can't be
happy if their marriages are not happy? Why do men who do more solo child care love
their wives less (859)? Why do women who have lower standards for housework get
more help from their husbands?

Explore the differences in roles and satisfaction between lower class and middle class
women in the wake of the arrival of a baby (Thompson and Walker 863). Why do
women tend to "view men's minimal help with child care as substantial" (864)?

Does it make sense that men are more powerful in marriage but women are more likely to
confront disagreeable issues (849 and Goleman, 140-1)? Consider in this regard
Tannen's (You Just......, 260) finding that women attempt to "preserve intimacy by
avoiding conflict"? (294) Consider also the fact that women seem to suffer more
physically in the aftermath of an argument (Okie excerpts from the Post, 12/10/96)

What differences are there in the way that men and women look at their work outside the
home and at their spouse's work outside the home? Why do economically successful
men resent the time their wives spend working outside the home?

How can one explain the differences between women/girls and men/boys ways of
interacting and their subjects of conversation (Tannen)? Is man's desire to be a
"protector" a source of tension in marriages (288-92)?

If Goleman is right about flooding and the effects of stonewalling on men and women,
how should spouses' discussions/arguments proceed (140-1)? Would marriages work
better if women expected less emotional connection from their husbands and looked to
female friends for such bonding or would men and marriages benefit if men were induced
to open up more (Tannen)? If the latter how could this be brought about?

In light of the Booth/Dabbs findings should women try to get testosterone readings for
men they are considering marrying?


What do the differences in men's and women's health say about sex differences, if
anything? Should any social or public policies spring from these findings? For example,
should educated wives with unsupportive bosses (and their families) be made aware of
the likely risk to husbands? Should wives quit? Husbands learn to be less angry or
protective? Why do stay at home dads have more heart disease than hard chargers at the

What do you make of the findings on power/dominance and marital satisfaction? In
particular why do you think that wife dominance in a marriage is so much more
problematic than husband dominance? Why should wives be more unhappy in wife-
dominant marriages than husbands are ( Weisfeld et. al., 140)?

Weisfeld downplays the importance of male control of resources. Considering Buss‟
discussion of their importance in the sexuality week reading, does this show a significant
problem with evolutionary approaches?

Is women's relative lack of power in marriage (and the world?) connected to their greater
capacity for attachment (Blum, 217, Okie, Thompson, et. al.)? Or is Cancian correct in
her suggestion that "feminization of love persists because it serves the interests of the
ruling classes" (262). If nature is the source of women's greater capacity for attachment
has nature done women wrong? If societal forces are at the root of women's greater
emphasis on attachment, has society done women wrong? Or, regardless of its source,
should women feel blessed to have a greater capacity for attachment?

In light of the dynamics of marriages presented in your reading, why is it that women are
more interested in getting married than men are, especially since men seem to benefit
relatively more from marriage?

Re: Barnett and Baruch. Why do men who do more at-home work seem to resent it
(129)? Are the authors persuasive in their view that the traditional husband's role is one
of low demands and high control whereas for wives it is high demands and low control?

Does marriage improve women's sense of well being? Does being a mother? Compare
Barnett and Baruch with the Pew poll of women and consider the nurturing reading done

Barnett and Baruch say that "the role of paid employee" is central for the psychological
well being of women (134) but also say that, for women, "dissatisfaction in the marital
role cannot be compensated for by satisfaction in any other role (136)." Are these views

Compare the Pew poll findings with Barnett's work. Consider, also in this regard the
findings on determinants of husbands' satisfaction in marriage and wives' reactions to
husbands' satisfaction or lack thereof.

Re. Pew poll--Are women correct in their belief (1) that "the ideal setting for child
rearing is one in which the mother is home full time."

Goleman says men take longer to recover physiologically from "flooding," but Okie
suggests that wives are more vulnerable physiologically after an argument. Is there a
way to reconcile these two discussions?


Do Glenn et. al. convince you that marriage is good for men, women, and society?
Should we adopt some of the attitude changes and policies Waite discusses so as to
promote marriage, e.g. stigma, Medicaid, AFDC, ending tax code marriage penalty?

Why are so many people not marrying these days? Is cohabitation a problem? If so is it
more of a problem if there are children?

Should we adopt Carlson and Blankenhorn's tax proposal as a way of encouraging
marriage? Should the tax credit for parents who use day care be extended to parents who
stay home to care for their own children, as Blankenhorn and Carlson advocate?

Should the government be promoting marriage (i.e., “marriage education”)?

Does it make more sense for feminists to advocate policies that will keep marriages and
families together, or to advocate policies that enhance women's autonomy? Are the two
sometimes mutually exclusive? Is one or the other always better for women?


Is Nock and Brinig's finding surprising (p. 12) that marriages have the lowest risk of
breakup when men see the division of labor as "very unfair" to their wives? Does this
mean that husbands want their wives to work too hard?

What do you make of the finding (Nock and Brinig p. 13) that marriages are strengthened
when spouses participate in "men's work" and hurt when spouses participate in "women's
work"? Is "men's work" more fun or desirable or could it be that society considers it more

Nock and Brinig say that "stable marriages may not be experienced as fair marriages."
What do you think about this?

Discuss the Browne book on marriage.

Should men in marriages do half the childcare and housework? If so, how can this be
brought about?

With reference to Deutsch, what seems to be the secret to getting men to do half the
housework and child care? Do these women‟s marriages seem happy? Is the Weisfeld
article relevant?

Should women whose husbands do much less than half the housework behave like
Mainardi or Roback? What do you think is the likely result of using either model for
marriages and their stability and for male and female happiness and/or career fulfillment?

If women, on average, care more about a clean house than men do should they do more
than half the housework as a matter of justice (consider Roback, 129).

Goldberg says that men are fundamentally different and that women used to know this
but modern ideology now blinds them from seeing this truth. Discuss. Is it true that men
are attracted to feminine women and indifferent to a woman's worldly success?

Discuss Goldberg's view that many men will be unwilling to form families if "being 'the
man of the family' means nothing special."

Goldberg reverses a frequent feminist position by arguing that socialization convinces
women that positions of power are more important than giving birth and raising those
who will continue the species. Discuss.

What do you make of the phenomenon of the “Sex Starved Marriage?‟ Is this a problem?
If so what is it‟s source?

Compare Goldberg with Schwartz. Are there any points of agreement? Is androgyny or
peer marriage desirable and/or likely? Consider the evidence given in the week's reading,
and the likely views of men and women.

Is Pat Mainardi or Jennifer Roback Morse the wiser woman? Did Roback Morse have "a
pretty big character flaw" (p.144) before her transformation or is she a beaten woman
now? Has Roback Morse given up too much for a loving and harmonious family?

Does the Belsky/Lang/ Huston research suggest that non-traditional women who have
children will have a harder time having happy marriages? Or that they better take the
advice of Deutsch?

The Mundy article suggests that it is husbands not wives who decide to put off marriage
and having babies (perhaps they also encourage the wives to keep working and not stay
home with the baby?) How often do you think this is the case?

Does the Washington/ Post Kaiser poll data suggest that we really want to go back to
1950s gender roles and that women want to go back even more than men? What is going
on here? How do you interpret these results?

Week 9

Week 9 Evolutionary Theory

In “the Mating Mind”, Miller argues that human achievements in the arts probably
originated in activities designed to attract mates and demonstrate genetic fitness. Are you
persuaded? (among others see pp. 188, 215, 253, 213) Discuss.

Is Miller‟s a low understanding of generosity? Or is it compatible with “genuine instincts
for generosity (325)”

Why do people rap (354)? Dose verbal display really work for both sexes? For example,
if a woman is a great wit and an inventive story teller does her attractiveness rise (357)?
Is Miller's view of sex differences in verbal display persuasive (368-376)? Discuss.

Miller says that (256) female Olympic medallists in swimming are more sexually
attractive to a man than are erotic dancers because swimming is a better fitness indicator.
Do you agree? Discuss

If a woman is a great wit and an inventive story teller does her attractiveness rise?

Does Miller‟s rendering of evolutionary biology offer an adequate account of morality?
Where did practices of moral reason originate? Can moral thought processes be traced to
biological differences or do they spring from another source? Are you persuaded that
altruism comes from the desire to attract mates?

Evolutionary biology assumes a theory of natural selection or sexual selection operating
on humans. Describe this selection method briefly. Is it fair to assume this selection
process operates similarly on humans as it does on animals? How can sex differences in
modern society be traced to different evolutionary routes? Does evolutionary biology
leave adequate room for human initiative, creativity, and rationality?

Do you think that people who talk too much are altruists (350-1)? If not is Miller right
(350-1) to say that speaking is connected to sexual display? Consider Miller on gossip
(366-8). Does Miller satisfactorily explain why men talk more during courtship than
marriage? Is Miller persuasive in his explanation for the large human vocabulary (370-

Consider Miler's epilogue. Should "the core of social policy" be "discovering better ways
of managing human sexual competitiveness?"

How does Tooley support his claim on pp187 that “universal behaviors concerning
gender differences emerge strongly as likely to be innate rather than learned.”? Do you
think he provides an adequate criticism of Malik?

“The key to these speculations is this: now that we have been relieved of the notion that
the „naturalistic fallacy‟ might lead to oppression for women, there might be nothing
wrong with thinking in terms of the „is‟ of natural sex differences, rather than thinking in
terms of the „ought‟ of some contrived feminist alternative, then we are liberated to think
along unfamiliar but exciting lines.” (Tooley, 209) Discuss

How might a proponent of evolutionary psychology refute Angier‟s claim on pp. 5 that
the theory regarding women‟s sex drive is contradictory: on one hand arguing women
have naturally/evolutionarily low sex drives but on the other observing social institutions
that tend to suppress women‟s sex drives? Consider Angier together with your
hypothetical response. Which seems more persuasive?

“Many of sociobiology‟s speculations rest on similar question-begging and
circularity.”(Ferguson 35). Do you agree? What is an example of this claim? How
would an evolutionary psychologist refute this critique? Discuss.

Week 10— Cognition Questions

How significant do you find the sex differences in cognition? Evaluate the separate
claims for biologically based sex differences.

What do you think of Doreen Kimura's supposition that sex differences in cognitive
talents may be rooted in evolutionary pressures? What's the evolutionary principle
underlying this claim?

Evaluate this statement from Lubinski and Benbow (702): "Due to their more evenly
distributed preferences and abilities, the career choices of mathematically gifted females
and the amount of time they devote to scientific careers will be less distinguished than
their male counterparts." Are they persuasive? If so should we accept this status quo
(Consider Pool pp. 246-7)? If not what should we do about it?

Diane McGuinness says "Some learning skills are sex-related" and "any attempt at
remediation should begin by understanding the nature of certain sex-specific
aptitudes(28)." What do you think? What might an education system that incorporated
male / female differences look like? For example, should remedial reading populations
be identified based on slow learning compared to others of the same sex? Should boys
having difficulty reading be encouraged to read aloud and be in structured classrooms
(116)? You might consider Pool's examples (244-5) as well as McGuinness'.

Pool (p. 244) suggests that women might be encouraged to use a spatial approach to math
before encountering geometry whereas McGuinness (28) seems to approve of an
approach that emphasizes using a more verbal approach to teaching girls algebra.

How much of our educational attention should be devoted to bringing boys' reading up to
girls' levels and girls' mathematics up to boys' levels? Does it depend on the level of
education being considered? Would we be better off letting everyone do what they are
good at and are inclined toward once a bare minimum of competency is achieved by all?
Given where we are now, should education for boys or for girls get more emphasis? Is it
more important to do something about the relative absence of girls in advanced math and
science or about the relatively large numbers of boys who cannot read or write and the
relatively small proportion of males going on to college?

How would you explain the following result of the research of Lani Guinier and
colleagues: "despite having virtually identical criteria upon entering law school, women
do not perform as well in law school?" Are Guinier's explanations plausible -- that
women are disadvantaged by their less competitive attitudes and their difficulties with
speaking in class? What do you make of BeVier's contrasting explanation of the
performance discrepancy -- that female law students value life options and roles other
than having a career in law? What about BeVier's assertions regarding the gender
difference in competition style? Is it true that women "tend to try to get to the front of the
line in more subtle ways, to disguise rather than celebrate their competitive instincts"?

Do you agree with the College Board's decision to modify the PSAT in order to qualify
more females for the National Merit Scholarship?

Is there a problem in Virginia's college physics programs that needs addressing? In the
composition of our high school's math and science programs and gifted classes? In the
representation of women in national geography and math (but not spelling) contests? If
so what should be done about these problems? If we should do something to address

these problems, how will we know when the problems have disappeared? Will they only
disappear when women and men are equally likely to achieve in all areas?

Why do women scientists publish less than men? Why are the career outcomes of
women in science and engineering different from those of men?

Consider the short articles on the biological/medical sciences at the end of the week's
reading. What factors do you think best explain men's relatively greater advancement in
these fields? What if anything needs to be changed?

Is it true, as Riordan states, that mixed-sex education is more "natural" because women
and men coexist outside of school, in work and relationships?

How much weight should the "social development" arguments for or against single-sex
education be given, relative to academic arguments? Is teaching students how to get
along with members of the opposite sex a legitimate role of the elementary and secondary

Is co-education better at producing egalitarian attitudes about gender (Riordan p. 42- 45)?
What should we consider good outcomes with respect to teen attitudes about gender?
Should they learn that males and females are equally suited to all “roles” in society?

How do you evaluate the arguments (in Riordan) for single-sex education, such as
increased role models of the same sex, traditional sex-role development, unrestricted
access to all curriculum opportunities, and improved teacher-student interaction?

Is "the adolescent subculture" (Riordan 56-58) detrimental to getting a good quality high
school education?

What do the findings presented in the AAUW book suggest about the advisability --
socially and academically -- of placing girls in single-sex schools?

Who "loses out" more in the current education system? Boys? Girls? Or are both sexes
treated fairly? (see Hafner, Lewin, and Strauss.)

Can teachers ameliorate the problems each gender faces in education by changing their
classrooms and teaching styles? Or would single-sex education be helpful in addressing
these problems? Should the Bush administration‟s efforts to encourage more
experimentation with single sex education be supported or opposed?


Do you think women's conversation style will become more like that of men as more
women become businesswomen and executives?

Is women's willingness to work longer for less pay better explained by biological or
sociological theories? If women are less likely to demand higher pay than men, are
employers still responsible for eliminating gender gaps in salaries among their

Should schools, the government, and the community take steps to encourage women to
choose jobs that are on the higher end of the pay scale? Is it worrisome that, according to
the Washington Post article, women work fewer hours than men? Is this a sign that men
should take on more responsibility at home?

The Dabbs and Purifoy articles suggest that occupation choice and achievement are
linked to heritable hormone levels. Should this be considered as part of the discussion
over inequality in the workplace?

Who gets the better of the debate between biologically inclined researchers, Kimura or

Is Williams saying that women are not entitled to their time off to enjoy their young
children (106,109)? Compare Williams' discussion of mothering small children to
Browne. Why is Williams led to the conclusion that only a complete restructuring of
wage labor can solve the problems she identifies. How significant are the problems she
identifies and how feasible are her suggested remedies? Will they solve the problems she
identifies if enacted?

How persuasive is Williams' attack on gender stereotypes ( 112-14)? Does "domesticity's
hegemonic role" enlist women "in their own oppression(115)?"

Is it true that women “drive men to an early grave?” If so what is the fundamental cause
of this behavior. Do middle class women have it “better” or “easier” than middle class

Compare and evaluate Williams, Nemko, and Browne on occupational segregation and
the glass ceiling.

Does Dowd in essence offer another explanation for the glass ceiling? Women don‟t
want to outshine potential mates because it turns off men. Consider the letters and
evidence, not present in the Michigan study which finds that women prefer the boss.

Does Browne convince you that there are benign explanations for occupational

Who gets the better of the battle of the Darwinians—Kingsley Browne or Rosalind

Do you agree with Deborah Rhode's assertion that men and women fail to perceive a
gender bias in the workplace that nevertheless does exist? Is there truth to her statement

that the unequal division of household labor impairs women's career life and reflects
"injustice" (p. 142, bottom)?

Why do managers who profess to be non-gender biased still rate male applicants more
highly than female applicants (see Rhode, p. 146 and p. 145, bottom)?

If men place a higher relative priority on career relative to family is it just that they
achieve more career success?

Should the state seek to interfere with patterns of job sorting by sex?

Why is there still so much sex-segregation in vocational education programs?

The following jobs are sex segregated—personnel officer, brain surgeon, auto mechanic,
clothing apparel sales, Navy pilot, carpenter, nurse. List reasons that you consider benign
and non-benign for this sex segregation. Why have lawyers become more balanced
between the sexes, whereas nurses and brain surgeons have not? Consider other
occupations that are sex segregated and discuss whether there is biological or
evolutionary evidence which might predict such segregation.

Do you agree with the court's decision in the Sears case? Discuss.

Should women mimic the mannerisms that men use in order to get promoted?

Does "the glass ceiling" exist? If so, does Tannen understand why it does? If so, what
can be done to eliminate it?

Morris reports on a poll that shows that 87% of female business managers had made or
were considering making a major change in their lives. One third frequently felt
depressed. Forty percent felt trapped (65) How should we understand these findings?
Would male managers report similar numbers?

Is the new French system of political candidate selection more just than the old. Could
and should the United States move toward such affirmative action measures?

Should women serve in combat? Should men and women have different physical
training standards? Should their training be segregated?

How persuasive are the following arguments against gender integration into combat
units: physical strength differences, "male bonding" and unit cohesion, sexual attraction
between soldiers, the costs of evacuating pregnant soldiers or sailors?

Do you think that significant numbers of women may come to desire strong upper bodies
in the way that many men do (Wojack 69)? What do you think of Wojack‟s plan for
gender integration into combat units (e.g., a minimal number of women—20% in any
infantry platoon).

With reference to Browne‟s ch. 5 outline—Would women fear the same things or
different things? Would their fear be greater than men‟s? Would significant numbers of
women love war? If not would this be a problem?

Would men follow a women leader in combat? Would men tend to be overprotective of
women? Do women belong in combat aviation?


For all the authors feel free to assess their arguments in light of what you have
encountered elsewhere in the course. Compare one or more authors to what you have
learned from today's modern science/social science. How well do their old arguments
hold up?

Are women meant to make themselves agreeable to men? How persuasive is Rousseau's
discussion of the nature of women's power? Why does Rousseau believe that "the male is
only a male at times; the female is a female all her life"? Is this true? Compare the ways
that Emile and Sophie teach each other. What is the source of Sophie's happiness? Is
Sophie less free than Emile? Is she his equal?

Is it true that the more women resemble men, "the less will be their power over men"
(91)? Are women more dependent on men than men on women (91)?

Are women more cunning? Can the use of cunning unite obedience with equality (95)?

Do women pay more attention to their appearance, gracefulness, (e.g. gait and dancing),
and graciousness than men do (95)? Why do they? Should they?

Rousseau says Sophie should be her husband's disciple, not his teacher. But he also tells
Emile that "from this time on, Sophie will be his teacher." What do you make of this

Is Rousseau right when he tells Sophie that if Emile lives happily with her, she "will be a
happy woman?"

Consider Wollstonecraft's critique of Rousseau. Does Rousseau ask women to put social
graces above true virtue? Have the historic, feminine virtues been "patience, docility,
good-humor, and flexibility?" If so, are these harmful to a woman's liberty? Is virtue, in
truth, the same for both sexes? Does it require independence as opposed to subservience
to love?

Rousseau's supporters might point to his emphasis on truth telling, conscience, morality,
and love of virtue (97,99). Would their defense be sufficient?

In the absence of societal pressure would girls romp like boys and be no more likely than
boys to play with dolls and to be concerned with dress? Would boys and girls play easily

Is youthful love overrated compare to friendship and the reflective, mature years (120)?

Does Rousseau's vision lead to female adultery as husbands become bored with their
wives' charms and with wives who have been taught to please (210)?

For women is there a distinction (or a necessary choice) between distinguished
accomplishments and lovability (122)? Is it true that friendship or indifference inevitably
succeeds love?

Find the truth in Rousseau vs. Wollstonecraft.

Is Tocqueville's understanding of male and female nature more like Rousseau's or
Wollstonecraft's? What does he see as the source of man's conjugal authority in
America? Why does woman accept it?

What exactly is the Christian teaching about marriage and the head of the family? Would
women be willing to be "subject" to their husbands if their husbands loved their wives as
they loved themselves? Discuss.

Is Browning persuasive in his treatment of the male problematic? Of the female
problematic? Could his understanding of "equal regard" (150) become a basis for greater
harmony between husbands and wives? Discuss.

What does C.S. Lewis mean when he says the Christian lover does the work of Eros
when Eros is not present? Discuss.

Is Lewis right to say that joking about sex is less damaging than reverential gravity? Are
we composite creatures akin to both angels and tomcats (100)? If not, why not?

Is sex often about a male conqueror and a female subject (103)? Is this as harmless and
confinable as Lewis thinks?

Why is femininity a problem for Beauvoir? Is the feminine about not doing anything? Is
woman still an amusement to man, while man is the justification for women (213)? If so,
can this be changed? If so, how?

Do women want time and conversation with sex because they have time to kill (213)? Is
the traditional woman a parasite (214)?

Discuss Beauvoir on socialization (215-216), and on sexuality (217-218).

Beauvoir says few men in their hearts want women "to succeed in making it." Is this
true? Does she understand men (219-20)?

What does Beauvoir see as the way out? How persuasive is she? How deep goes the
tendency of women to want to please and to live for others? In Beauvoir's vision what
differences will remain between men and women once justice has been achieved?
Discuss. Compare Lewis and Beauvoir on the significance of the sex act.


Should women, as in Norway, be paid to take care of a young child? Should single
woman be paid? If so would this differ from pre-reform U. S. welfare policies? Should
men who say they are caretakers be paid?

Should parental leave policies support women‟s family work or their work outside the
home? Look cross-nationally at the existing policies, which do you think best? Explain.

In your view have the Nordic countries been successful in developing policies which
induce men to care significantly more for young children? Should the state give
subsidies for fathers to do more care giving of babies, should it subsidize women to stay
home with babies or should it be neutral between mother and father care on the one hand
and parental and paid care on the other? Should there be maternity leave in addition to
any parental leave?

Ref Rhoads and Rhoads: Why is there such a difference between the faculty‟s answers
about how husbands and wives should divide work and the way they actually divide it in
their own lives? Why do women do almost all the baby care tasks more than their
husbands and like to do almost all of them more than their husbands? Do you think these
results will change significantly in the next 20-30 years? Why? Consider individually
some of the 25 different tasks.

Should policies as in Sweden encourage male leave taking to such an extent that the
family would lose a portion of a leave subsidy if the husband does not take it. Does
gender neutral post birth paid leave in colleges help level the playing field for women or
does it tilt it further? What should universities post-birth leave policies be?

A high-ranking Princeton committee has proposed giving a one-year extension of the
tenure clock (i.e., the time by which faculty must be either promoted or let go) to all
tenure track assistant professors, male and female, who have a new baby. This would
replace a policy which extended the clock only if faculty applied for such a extension.
The thought was that, under the current policy, there was a stigma against faculty who
requested and made use of the policy. Does this policy change sound like a good idea?

Is a half-time tenure track proposal worthy of adoption? Would it be abused? If so,
how? Could any abuses be reduced to a tolerable level? If so, how?

Are universities fair to female faculty? If not, what could be done about it?


[just a few questions this week. There are innumerable ways that these readings
could be contrasted and/or criticized]

Compare Angier, Graglia, and/or Crittenden on sexuality and the best route to women's
well being.

Considering the week's dialogue, where do you think most women would place
themselves or would they feel unrepresented by any of the writers. Discuss.

Compare and assess Pollit, Crittenden, Steinem and/or Graglia on women and nurturing.

Pollit and Graglia completely disagree on how society propagandizes women toward
certain kinds of behavior. Discuss their quarrel..

How persuasive is Angier's critique of the standard biological approach to sex
differences? Consider some of the topics covered in AP 526: sexuality, aggression,
nurturing, conversational style, courtship, cognition, occupational segregation.

How different is Young from Angier? What would she say about Crittenden and Graglia,
and what would they say about her?

Who gets the best of the “conversation” between Barnett and Rivers and letter writers in
the Chronicle of Higher Education?

Are the Cathy cartoon and Crittenden right in their assessment of the dating pool
available to older, careerist daters?

Compare and contrast the Graglia arguments about how women are socialized with one
or more of the feminists'.

"The differences among women about the question of whether the sexes are
fundamentally different are more fundamental and consequential than differences
between left and right." Discuss.

Discuss Rhoads‟ thoughts about problems in and solutions for modern marriages. Would
more attention to sex differences improve or harm the lives of women and/ or men?


To top