In her book, Delusions of Gender, Cordelia Fine puts forward a rather bold claim. She asserts that gender differences don’t really exist. Instead, the supposed differences between the sexes is really a product of society. What Fine is articulating is that since society has manufactured our “idea” of traditional gender differences we should now break down these standard gender roles. In this view, gender-neutrality exists in that there is no intrinsic character traits specific to men and women. If this is the case, then the specific ingredients of men and women doesn’t exist, thus, it follows that no “new flesh” or human fulfillment is possible. For example, if there was no real difference between the ingredients of the sauce and the noodles, then the concept of spaghetti in which two opposite natures unite to complete one another, would be impossible.
Is Fine’s argument true? There is also another skeptical claim that articulates that women don’t need men, and that to truly be fulfilled women must break free from the dependency of men and their traditional female roles. Is this claim also true? In this series, we’ll go through a systematic investigation to show that these skeptical claims are completely false. In doing so, we’ll build a case that when a man and woman unite under their natural ingredients, they will become bonded closer together and help perfect one another, thus completing each other’s happiness.
First, we need to establish, beyond a doubt, how unique and distinct the sexes really are. This might seem like a silly exercise because to most gender differences are obvious. But, thanks to the pop culture’s brain washing of young people, who actually believe that there is no difference, I have to walk you through the basics of men and women.
Popular books such as Men are From Mars; Women are From Venus, Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Can’t Read Road Maps, His Needs, Her Needs, and many others illuminate the fact of gender polarity in a variety of areas. The rise of books centered on understanding the other sex should indicate that the sheer volume of this topic supports the view that men and women are highly distinct. In the field of marriage counseling, the majority of counseling advice center on the fact that men and women communicate and think very differently. In fact, in her book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Deborah Tannen compares how men and women communicate to an anthropologist studying cross-cultural communication!
Going beyond how relationship counseling acknowledges the gender difference, we can notice the difference merely by understanding the physical contrast of genders. Probably the most transparent way to witness the gender difference is by the physical and biological design of men and women. In fact, scientists have uncovered 1,559 genetic differences between males and females that relate not only to the sexual organs, but to a variety of other organs such as the brain, skin, and heart.
For example, some of the basic differences is that men grow hair in areas of the body where women do not. Women’s skin is softer than men’s are, and men have a larger, more prominent Adam’s apple than women to name a few of the physical differences. In fact, gender scholar Julia Sherman notes, “Sex differences exist for almost every physical variable, and they increase with maturation.”
To further dismiss this gender neutral theory, an exhaustive study on male and female brains by leading neurologists published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that “The difference between the genders were so profound that men and women might also be separate species.” (see here). In fact, the physical differences are so apparent that in athletic events the men and women must have separate leagues and events. The reason why in every sport the men play against the men and the women play against the women is because we recognize the obvious fact there is an evident difference in the physical makeup and structure between the sexes.
Even more so, military officials have thoroughly consulted medical research on the composition of men and women so they can understand if women can endure the same physical strain as men do in combat. In this investigation, researchers found that across all areas women are physically inferior to men. Physician Hugh Scott explains that the distinct scores of men and women, “is due to the naturally occurring, unalterable anatomical and physiological differences in physical strength and endurance that exist between males and females, which is hormonal in nature.” Moreover, Scott goes on to say that the physical difference between the sexes comes from their very chemical makeup. “The hormonal nature of the physical and physiological differences between males and females is due to the secretion, metabolism, and chemistry of the male sex hormone, testosterone,” Scott goes on to explain that the reason men exhibit a stronger physical nature than women is because men have more testosterone hormones than women. “The anabolic effects of testosterone make men at least 30 percent stronger than women, especially in the upper body.”
When considering aligning women’s roles in the military to men, the army completed an exhaustive study to the President on the variations of men and women. A view of that study indicates: “The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male. She only has 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength as the male.” The fact that research shows that men are better suited to the strains of combat than women is no knock on women. Instead, this data indicates that a physically straining environment is not the women’s natural setting just like the evidence shows that the nurturing environment of child-care is not the natural domain for men (see here). Once a person knows the area they are not well suited for, he or she will be able to identify the realm they were made for.
These apparent physical differences between men and women are a result of their makeup at the biological level. The chemical framework that outlines a person’s sex is not a random selection but more of a coding system akin to computer software. The basic genetic information that governs the sex of a person clearly distinguishes between male and female. The male sex chromosome is XY while the female chromosome is XX. If there were little to no difference between men and women, it is odd that the DNA that holds the software within a human person has a unique coding system for men and women. The simple fact that the genetic makeup of the sexes is distinct is demonstrating the profound difference between men and women.
Men’s Nature is Outward & Women’s Nature is Inward
While men and women have significant differences in their physical structure, the clearest area of distinction is in their reproductive organs. This critical element of divergence is the sign in theology of the body that outlines how men and women’s differing aspects communicate God’s larger message that both natures must unite. For example, in the act of sex to create new life, the male reproductive organ points outward. If it did not position outward, then the male could not deliver his seed to the female. In turn, the female reproductive organ points inward. Therefore, in the act of sex, the male pointing outward is the giver of the seed, and the female pointing inward is the receiver of the seed. Notice how these roles of giver (male) and receiver (female) are dissimilar, and process of giving and receiving are distinct as well. Moreover, these giver and receiver roles in sex complement each other as both work together to create life. So, a distinction is crucial in that without the difference no life is possible.
There exists a close connection with the physical structure of giver pointing outward (male) and receiver directing inward (female) in that a person’s entire nature originates from this giver-outward and receiver-inward formula. In other words, the human body’s reproductive organs of outward (male) and inward (female) holds a deeper meaning of the full essence of that person. What this means is that if we want to understand the character traits that sum up masculinity, simply look at the male reproductive organ pointing outward in a firm manner. As we will see the character traits of outward moving, steady, and unyielding define masculinity. Just as well, if you want to know what traits personify femininity look to the female reproductive organ. The female nature of inward pointing as a receiver that is soft and comforting are exemplified in the woman’s reproductive organ.
As gender scholar Philipp Lersch states, “If what occurs regarding the female is a centripetal process, directed from the outside inward toward the center of life, what occurs regarding the male is a centrifugal one, directed from the center of life outward.” The fact that women’s sex organs lay inside the body points to a close connection to the center or receiving nature of women. Therefore, how God created the entire female body indicates the receiving-inward persona of women. Similarly, the male body and its full composition communicate that men represent the giving-outward ingredient of God’s creation. A thorough examination of how God shaped the genders and how they behave will reveal God’s handiwork in how their opposite natures are calling for each other.
The complementary fit of the sexes is also communicated by the very structure of the body frame. The female figure appears to converge more toward the center of the trunk (i.e., inward) while the male figure spreads away from that point (i.e., outward). The fact that the abdominal area in the female, in the interest of carrying children, is longer and fuller further emphasizes the inward pointing aspect of the woman. What is also noteworthy is the relationship between shoulder and pelvis widths. In men, the shoulders are broader and the hips narrower, while in the women the reverse applies, narrow shoulders, broader hips. Given this alignment difference, the male directs more strongly toward the outside as his narrow bottom points to wide upper half. Alternatively, the female body directs toward the inside as her narrow top half points to the wider bottom half. Isn’t it interesting to see that the male body literally points outward, and the female body literally points inward. These distinctions profoundly speaks how the male is more geared as the giver who directs outward in his thinking and behavior while the female is geared as the receiver that points inward in her thinking and behavior.
As Pope John Paul II articulates in his Theology of the Body, the human body of male and female reveals their interior disposition of that person.
“The body is…the means of the expression of man as an integral whole, of the person, which reveals itself through ‘the language of the body.’ (TOB 123:2)
As we press further in our look of the sexes, we’ll notice more distinctions that outline God’s recipe of giver and receiver. The entire frame of the male and female convey their persona of giver going outward and receiver going inward. Scholar Manfred Hauke noticed that the sharp, physical angles of the man project this outward essence. As Hauke notes,
“It should be noted that male angular bodily forms are more suited than round ones [of the female] to making outward, attacking thrusts against sources of resistance. . . . The striated muscles, which are capable of sudden, strong contraction, are more strongly developed in men. Their more powerful muscles enable them to take, literally, a more solid grip of matter. This difference in musculature is no. . . product of culture . . . , but a concrete expression of the physiological distinctiveness of the sexes.”
In looking at the female, the fact that her body zooms in on the center of her is suggestive of her inward nature fulfilled in pregnancy. A woman’s body is perfectly suited for pregnancy from her hip alignment to the ability of her uterus and abdominal to expand and organs to shift properly to accommodate supporting a new life (see here). It is almost as a woman’s body was designed specifically for this inward nature in pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a transparent way we can see that the nature of women is that of a receiver that points inward in which she provides care and comfort for life. But, if we dig deeper we can see more evidence that manifest women’s inward persona. Various studies have illuminated that women are hard wired to personally connect with people through empathy more so then men. We’ll go through more evidence in subsequent articles but for now it is crucial to establish the inward nature of women is that which is centered on relationships and emotionally connecting with people. In fact, researchers see patterns that when women are stressed, they seek out friendships and personal bonds with people, whereas when men are stressed they’ll seek out more physical responses or escaping the situation in which showcase their “outside” and aggressive demeanor. In this, we see that women’s inward nature is fixated on bringing objects and relationships into her. Men, on the other hand, are less interested in relationship enhancement and are more interested in going “out” to seek and find the truth.
This disposition of positioning men pointing outward and women pointing inward is not a mere coincidence and not a result of social conditioning. They are rooted in the very biological structure of the person. In fact, babies manifest these differences. Researchers conducted extensive observations of the movements of infants and found that, even at this early age, the female babies read inward as they related more strongly to their own body and their immediate environment. Conversely, the male babies directed outward more toward distant aspects of their surroundings. Thus, again we witness more evidence of the female leading inward and the male positioning outward.
The male-outward and female-inward formula is not only displayed in their physical attributes, this formula is showcased in their social and occupational settings. Men display their outward character in social interaction in that men are more goal orientated while women are more caring orientated in social settings. In the extensive writings of anthropologist and psychologist F. J. J. Buytendijk, he identifies the term of “work” aligned with men and the term “care” aligned with women within their respected environment. Buytendijk states, “The distinction and contrast of the sexes is revealed and can be known in the distinction of two acts: the act of work and the act of care.” Buytendijk was studying what the primary focal point was in how males and females interact in their surroundings. He goes on to say, “work means an activity that proceeds from an intentional act in which the consciousness is directed toward a proposed goal.” The key word is “act.” In focusing on “act” and “work,” Buytendijk is stressing how the man’s persona draws outward to discover concepts and complete tasks.
Buytendijk continues, “Work presupposes the one who directs himself toward a particular end, result, or goal that itself lies outside of the work as such.” In short, the man represents several steps moving outward beyond himself to accomplish a task. Therefore, the male persona gravitates toward accomplishment. This accomplishment is rooted in thinking (i.e., truth-seeking) and doing (finishing a task). In fact, anthropologist Margaret Mead communicates that this male drive for achievement is universal in all cultures. She states, “In every known human society, the male’s need for achievement can be recognized.”
Buytendijk then goes on to describe the feminine persona, “Care, which is feminine in character, does not manifest a line of procedure. Within the act of care as such there is no direction toward a goal to be achieved, for the act is intentionally directed toward the object of care as it is, in its own value.” Therefore, the role of the woman is inward, soft, gentle specifically designed for care and primarily does not look beyond the object to be cared. Anthropologists tend to agree that this object of care of the female is a child or a relationship in general. For everything to have life and sustain life, it needs care. The aim of care is not outward moving to accomplish a goal but inward shifting to nurture a person and a relationship. While men can certainly exhibit care, care remains secondary to the main masculine trait of work and achievement.
This assessment of “care” being attached to women and “work” being attached men is in line with what we witness in career choices (more on that later) and volunteer work. Research shows that in volunteer settings, such as serving the poor, women predominantly perform acts of care and comfort with duties centered on connecting with the poor person in a relationship frame while men mainly perform acts of work for the poor person (building homes for habitat for humanity, teaching, etc.)
Anecdotally, this theory is true in my own experience in instances of volunteer work. My female friend, Lisa, excels in instances where care needs to be expressed in serving the poor, or establishing a personal connection with people. However, as a male I feel naturally weak in this area. Conversely, in instances where we need to teach a complicated theological topic to the person or complete a specific task from painting or constructing a fence, I feel more at home where Lisa is more reserved in this setting. This fact is because the masculine and feminine nature fixate on different trait patterns. Yet, when combined these qualities of men and women harmonize with each other. The inherent and diverse aim of the sexes is clear to scholars that study this. Anthropologist Margaret Mead describes the goals of both sexes as summarized:
“The small male looks at his body and at the bodies of other males of all ages and realized his potentialities to explore, to take apart, to put together, to construct the new, to penetrate the mysteries of the world, to fight to make love. The small female looks at her body, and at the body of other females of all ages and realizes her potentialities to make, to hold, to suckle, to care for a child.”
Here, Mead is drawing key points. The man wants to accomplish tasks that go beyond himself. He wants to fix things, to understand things, to achieve advancement in his understanding and doing. However, the female wants to go into herself to care and to nurture a life. In fact, Buytendijk goes into detail to indicate that this “care” associated with the female is heavily related to mothering. Buytendijk calls motherhood the female “fulfillment of the activity of care.” Now, one can see how “care” and “work” complement each other.
Therefore, men can help a situation in his drive to understand and to complete a job in which he goes beyond himself in a sacrificial manner. In several instances in the Bible, God instructs people to a mission in which they must go outside themselves in a self-sacrificial way (Genesis 12: 1-3; Isaiah 6:8; John 20:21; Matthew 28: 19-20, Mark 16:15, Acts 13: 2-3). Additionally, women can help the situation through their strength in caring. Indeed, throughout the Bible, God is always presented in terms of one who provides comfort (see Psalm 23:4, 119:76, 147:4; Isaiah 40:1, 49:13 61:2; Matthew 5:4, 11:28, 14:14; 2 Corinthians 1:3; John 14:27, 1 Thessalonians 5:11). With “care” and “work,” we witness another convergence of the sexes in which when their character traits when combined, complete the human picture.
Another aspect of the man that highlights his thrusting outward demeanor is aggression. In nearly all studies, the male is more aggressive than the female. The aggressive nature of men illuminates their assertive character trait in which they act or speak in a confident and strong manner and can confront false ideas. Conversely, women typically display a passive character trait in which they remain more timid and less aggressive. Of course, too much aggression or too much timidness would be unhealthy. Here, we see why the genders need each other’s natures as they provide a healthy balance that harmonize one another. Men need women to provide them with her receptive nature. Men by nature are not humble, passive receivers. This, by the way, is why men don’t typically ask for directions (see here) So, to help men obtain a receptive, humble quality God gives men the female nature. Conversely, women by nature are not assertive and are often timid in confronting false teaching. So, to help women in this area, God gives them the masculine nature.
The aggressiveness in men originates at their chemical level given the increase in testosterone in men. In fact, hormonal studies indicate that male hormones likely inhibit empathy and nurturance. This data reveals that men are biologically weak at empathy and nurture, thus, more inclined to direct outward in aggression and truth-seeking. Here, the reader can probably connect the dots of the gender’s complementary exchange. Women can help men experience empathy and comforting aspects while men can help women grasp the concept of understanding and knowledge by seeking things beyond their internal reflection.
Furthermore, the National Academy of Science report highlights the outward and inward essence of the sexes. In men, the authors described the male brain activity as “an efficient system for coordinated action.” The word “action” denotes a movement outward. Therefore, God designed men’s thought process to respond to data with a desire to complete a task. Additionally, one of the researchers of the NAS study indicated, “Male brains are geared to link perception with doing – so men would be better at, for example, learning a new sport. Female brains, meanwhile, are configured to handle matters of heart and mind and to study others’ behavior, then interpret it using intuition” (see here). This statement outlines the outward or active mentality in the males coupled with the inward essence of the females. The female focusing on other’s behavior through her “intuition” is highly suggestive of her inward nature. Intuition is a form of reasoning through emotion. Thus, the NAS study communicates the inner formula of the female is described as: inward, care, emotional, relationship-centered while the male formula represents outward, rooted in action, logic, and truth-centered.
As we can now see the evidence shows how the nature of men point outward to understand and to act while the nature of women points inward to care. The outward and inward movement of the sexes reflect the brush strokes of God painting the human person to unite in the dance of outward as giver and inward as receiver.
Here, it is crucial to note the giver-outside nature of the man and the receiver-inside nature of the women serve as God’s ingredients of creation that unite and fulfill the human portrait. Therefore, within the creation of the human body as a whole God articulates his design. Indeed, with theology of the body, we see how humanity remains one in God’s creation while having different roles (cf. 1 Corinthians 12: 12-30). God’s formula communicates that dissimilarities are profound because differences illustrate love in that one uses his opposing nature to serve the other to complete what the other is lacking while the other does the same in reverse.
It now should begin to dawn on us that men and women do not have interchangeable characteristics that the “gender neutral” philosophy suggests. There are vast differences between men and women. And in these differences we see how they become united.
We must keep going to further understand the designer’s artwork in how the opposite natures illuminate the complete balance and fulfillment of the human picture. The next article will show detailed evidence of how the mind’s of men and women differ in a complementary way.
To be continued….
Julia Sherman, On the Psychology of Women (Springfield, MA: Charles C. Thomas, 1971), p.8.
Robert Maginnis, Deadly Consequences (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2013), p. 75.
Ibid., p.78 citing Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, Report to the President, (Washington, D.C.: 1992).
Hauke, p. 86 citing Philipp Lersch, On the Nature of the Sexes, 4th ed. (Munich, Germany, 1968), p. 25.
Hauke, p. 89 citing F. J. J. Buytendijk, Woman. Nature – Appearance – Essence (Cologne, 1953), p. 246. N. 1.
Ibid., p. 311.
Margaret Mead, Male and Female (New York, NY: Dell, 1949), p 168.
Buytendijk, p. 314.
Mead, p. 230.