You Can’t Fool Mother Nature


I marvel at the fact we now need books penned by sociologists and
anthropologists to confirm what we all once knew and took for granted:
that there are significant differences between the sexes. Not just
physical and biological differences between men and women – you will
recall that women can give birth, men can grow beards — but also in
terms of personality, growth, natural ability and instinct. That girls
learn differently than boys ought to be common knowledge. That women
socialize differently than men is so obvious it’s almost impolite to
mention it.

The “conflation of the sexes” proposition is not news. The assumption
that women are vastly different from men was long ago turned on its
head. In fact, this late 20th century phenomenon spawned its own
genre of literature at least a decade ago. This “gender equality” genre
represents two sides of an argument. On one side, the forklift
feminists and their male enablers claim that natural differences
between the sexes are negligible beyond the birth vs. beard absolute.
They posit that any apparent differences between men and women can be
attributed to environmental factors. Men would be more like women, the
argument runs, if they would just embrace feminine traits such as
affection, connection, and caring. Women, for their part, would be more
masculine if they suppressed these female instincts in favor of focused

The other side of the argument boldly states the obvious: first, that
men and women are indeed different beings; and, second, that the sexes
are complementary. God had something quite specific in mind when he
made the conscious decision to create an Adam and Eve. Mother Nature is
serious business, and it is instructive to note she has both faith and
science firmly on her side. Nevertheless, a whole generation now seems
to have accepted the heresy of androgyny and not without consequences.

For one, if society is ready to accept that no significant differences
between the sexes exist, we’re ready to socially reconstruct the
definition and institute of marriage to accommodate same-sex unions.
Yes, there are actually people who see this cause – same-sex marriage
— as the defining issue of our times and devote much of their waking
hours to advancing this social agenda. Everyone has heard of ‘gay
activism’ and its various offshoots – transgender, transsexual,
bisexual activism. Much less is known, however, of what I call
‘role reversal activism.’ Accepting the premise that the differences
between the sexes are negligible, certain heterosexuals (for lack of a
better term, those who don’t claim to be ‘gay’ and aren’t motivated by
advancing a homosexual agenda) are promoting the idea of man-as-woman
and woman-as-man. Although the fringe extremists, including some
self-hating males, advocate developing artificial wombs for men so that
they can bear the full labor of maternity, role reversal activists
focus more on social, cultural and familial role reversal of the sexes.

Woman-becoming-man was popularized by the Women’s Lib movement of the
1970’s when it asked a simple question: why can’t the woman be the
breadwinner? Newer is the concept of man-becoming-woman, because it
took a generation of Women’s Lib feminists to indoctrinate their sons.
One of the many operative questions here is: why can’t a father be the
“mother” to his children? Apparently these people have never seen Mr.
Mom, the 1983 family comedy starring Michael Keaton that illustrated,
albeit superficially, the sheer ridiculousness of the proposal. Crazy
as it might sound to some, the Mr. Mom syndrome (dad stays at home,
while mom is out in the corporate world winning the bread) is a growing
fad that its partakers seem to believe is a symbol of their
evolutionary progressiveness.
Andrea Doucet, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at
Ottawa’s Carleton University, argues in her forthcoming book, Do Men
Mother? Fatherhood, Care and Domestic Responsibility, that the sex (she
uses the term “gender” since the word “sex” denotes natural
differences) of the person doesn’t matter when it comes to “mothering”
children. Nor does she find it odd that modern Canadian couples
apparently use economics rather than nature to decide who will “stay at
home” with baby. In most of the cases she discusses, couples jointly
decided the father should stay at home if Mom had a better paying job
or a more lucrative career. Doucet states that she believes men should
become more involved and “in tune” with their children, and that’s
admirable. But that doesn’t mean a father should quit his job and
assume the role Mother Nature reserved for his wife. For Doucet, who
says she’s influenced by American feminist philosopher Sara Ruddick,
mother and father are interchangeable; a man is, or can be, just as
good at “mothering” as a woman.

Oh, what an insult to mothers and motherhood! I wonder if Doucet will
be surprised when Do Men Mother? sends a steady stream of angry
stay-at-home moms knocking at her door way up in her Canadian ivory
tower? After all, Doucet’s research seems to conveniently neglect even
the most obvious facts of biology and physiology. Perhaps the indignant
women-mothers will point out that their husbands have no breasts – for

Fortunately another recent book, this one written by a childless
careerist (and Pulitzer Prize winner) turned stay-at-home mom, provides
a sort of antidote to Doucet’s sociological claptrap. The Mommy Brain:
How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter by Katherine Ellison presents a
formidable body of research pertaining to the physiological roots of
maternity. Drawing on brain studies and hormone analyses of new
mothers, Ellison offers scientific evidence that a neuro-chemical
change initiated by childbirth and nursing endows women with heightened
sensory perception and enduring energy. Efficiency increases,
multitasking becomes habitual, and an instinctive alertness delivers
ongoing safeguards for their children throughout childhood. This
ensemble of mothering smartness includes empathy, self-restraint,
conflict resolution, and the calm management of emotions.

Ellison isn’t arguing that men shouldn’t “mother” their children; the
thought doesn’t even occur to her. But she does show that true
mothering is specific to women – and that the woman’s body, including
her brain, actually changes to accommodate the noble task of
“mothering.” Thus, contrary to the long-held myth that having children
dumbs-down Mom, birthing, nursing and raising children actually makes
Mom smarter.

The human brain, of course, is only one of the many consequential
differences in men and women's aptitudes for raising young children.
The bare fact is that the role of mother and father are vastly
different but complementary. Men are the protectors, the warriors, and
women are the nurturers, the nest builders. You can try to fiddle with
the formula, but in the end you can’t fool Mother Nature.


Post a comment