Socialization Assumptions And The Blank Slate FallacyPosted: July 20, 2015
I was reading an article about how butthurt Millennials turned social justice into institutionalized intersectional warfare – a corollary, my five regular readers will note, to this post on cat’s paw intersectionalism I wrote last year – when I happened upon this comment.
The comment raises a standard feminist/SJW refrain: that the reason for [life metric where men are perceived to do better than women] is because society is set up for men to succeed, and even where men directly manifest the observed results, it is because they are “socialized” to do so.
Or, as an example, the wage gap:
P: Men make $1.00 for every $0.77 women make.
P: This is because men choose higher-paying professions and aggressively negotiate raises or higher salaries.
C: Men do this because they are socialized to be more driven and aggressive.
Okay, let’s accept that arguendo. What happens?
The argument rests on a fundamental assumption: that socialization is the predominant factor behind sex-based behavioral differences. Put another way, the argument needs humans to be a blank slate: socialization will ultimately decide metabehavior.
The issue with this theory is that it fails to identify an origin for the socialization pattern. A simple question betrays the flaw: why would humans deliberately choose to socialize men to be more aggressive or ambitious than women? It’s one thing to claim that socialization patterns repeat themselves: men socialized to be more ambitious or aggressive and women socialized to be demure will raise future generations in their images. That makes enough sense. But that pattern cannot exist sua sponte; even an iterated system needs an origin condition.
We’re left with two possibilities: the “Adam and Eve” theory, in which Adam and Eve decide to socialize their boys as more ambitious and their girls as more demure for no discernable reason, or the “evolution” theory, in which males evolved to be more ambitious and aggressive through some natural condition.
Perhaps it has to do with vastly increased testosterone levels, physical size and strength advantages, and sperm competition? Or does a virgin birth “institutional oppression” theory make more sense?