There goes that pesky biological reality again image

There goes that pesky biological reality again

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

Isaiah’s indictment of the corruption in his generation is an all too obvious summary of late modern western culture. The moves - ever quickening in pace - from ‘What is truth’ to ‘There is no absolute truth’ to ‘It’s true if it’s true for you’ to ‘If you deny this is true you are a hater’ perfectly fulfil Isaiah’s warning.

We have come to the place where it is no longer socially acceptable to say that a woman is necessary for producing a baby; or that ‘husband’ means ‘male’ or ‘wife’ means ‘female’; or that one’s biological sex is determinative of your gender; or that biological sex has anything to do with the careers people choose. In these instances, and others, we are meant to say a thing that evidently, objectively, is, isn’t - and woe betide us if we don’t toe the line.

The trouble is, reality has a way of making itself known. So the evidence mounts up that the most progressive societies are also those in which occupation is most closely linked to sex; and two men are not actually capable of becoming parents without hiring a womb; and biological sex is determinative for all manner of things.

Denying this last point has all kinds of negative consequences - not least for physical health. In Gender Medicine Marek Glezerman describes the differences in male and female bodies, their differing responses to medical treatment, and different medical needs. Ironically, from our current cultural standpoint, the core of Glezerman’s case is that doctors have treated male and female bodies as essentially the same but increased understanding of the differences between them calls for much more deliberate ‘gender medicine’. As Glezerman notes,

While developing ever-more advanced technologies to treat disease and augment our limited human abilities, we’ve collectively forgotten about the deep history of our bodies - and with it, one of the most basic factors underlying how our bodies work.

It turns out that when it comes to health men and women are not the same. Contrary to popular opinion, men have a higher pain threshold than women (though older men feel pain more than younger men as their levels of testosterone decrease); women are more prone to knee injuries than men, because of the size of their pelvis; the male brain has more connections within each hemisphere while the female brain has more connections between the two hemispheres; heart attacks are more common in men, while women are more prone to strokes - and in many cases the symptoms of heart attack look different in women than in men, which means more women die of heart attack due to incorrect diagnosis than do men; it takes food twice as long to pass through the small intestine in women than it does for men, so Glezerman cheekily suggests it would make sense if women ate only twice a day while men ate four times. These examples could be continued, and in the book they are.

Glezerman deliberately steers away from engaging in contemporary debates about gender. His concern is that both men and women should be treated in a way that optimises health. Women, especially, are penalised because most medical research is undertaken on men, but women need to be treated differently from men, as they are different.

The argument - and evidence - as it concerns medical diagnosis and treatment is compelling. But the relevance to contemporary demands to call darkness light, and light darkness is obvious. As is noted in the foreword,

True equality between people does not mean that “we are all the same.” Indeed, the opposite is the case. True equality means the equal right of each individual to be different, the equal right of each group to be different, the equal right of each gender to be different.

Isaiah would agree. Darkness is not light. Sweetness is not bitter. Men and women are not the same. Woe to us if we pretend they are.




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