Biology and Destiny
As a natural scientist, this Nature vs Nurture, or the ‘Biology-is-Destiny’ debate has always annoyed me, simply because it is assumed that for a characteristic to be biological, or ‘natural’, it therefore must be ‘fixed’ or immutable, unchangeable.
Biology is NOT Destiny, for any species. This is fact, not speculation.
Nature is dependent on change and adaptation, not fixed in concrete, stone or genetic hard-wiring. That is species-suicide, or at least species-stagnation, even for plants. Adapt or die. Its an even more ridiculous concept when relating to homo sapiens sapiens – our species has not lived as a purely biological organism for uncounted millennia. Layers upon layers upon layers of civilisation, religion, tradition, education, culture, language, abstract thought etc have almost wiped off the physical biological map most of ‘fixed’ biological instincts and drives belonging to our evolutionary ancestors. Our species has made both conscious and unconscious decisions regarding biological processes ever since it crawled out of the primeval slime. Along with many other so-called ‘higher’ species, particularly of the mammalian kingdom.
For example, the biological instinct or ‘urge’ to void bladder or bowel is a simple biological fact of life for most animals. Many species do it immediately when the urge arises, wherever or whenever they happen to be. Humans learned to control or adapt this biological urge, we teach our young as a matter of course and we even teach the creatures who share our homes. Most higher species are ‘soft-wired’, not ‘hard-wired’, like right or left-handedness, a preference that can adapt. Human or mammalian sexuality and reproduction are no different.
It seems the social constructions that are the most ‘hard-wired’ and ‘fixed’, historically have proven unable to be changed, challenged or even questioned!
From most feminist discourse the issue of biological determinism, or even cultural constructs of any form, shape or model of an innate female sense of identity is discredited, or thrown as an insult (or politely termed a ‘critique’) onto other brands of feminism.
Notably towards radical feminists, who are often criticised for being ‘essentialist’ or ‘cultural’ feminists, or at least being naïve, to posit the possibility of a unique ‘female identity’, based on any universalisms, including mechanisms of patriarchal oppression.
Tania Lienert in her essay ‘On Who is Calling radical feminists “Cultural Feminists” and other historical Sleights of hand’ – mentioned:
“Feminists, especially radical feminists, have explicitly renounced biological explanations for men’s and women’s roles, knowing that if it is accepted that men are naturally violent and women are naturally passive, then there is no point in working for change”. (emphasis mine)
The same argument can be used against social constructionism, the automatic underlying assumptions are biology is ‘fixed’ (which it isn’t, and never has been) – and ‘social constructs’ are changeable (which historically, have proved to be enormously difficult to change).
Since the male mind has defined all the social constructs in his favour and for his benefit, it will change only when he wants them to. They all seem to be same old, same old, when it comes to the desperate need of the male to Erase the female from human (ie male) consciousness, in Life, The Universe and Everything.
According to postmodern theorists, there is no such category of ‘Woman’ anyway – complete Erasure.
Nothing left to argue about, no gender roles or distinctions, there are no universalisms biological or social to worry about, so there is still no fucking point in working for change. Fait Accompli.
If there is no such thing as a category of ‘Woman’ why do we spend so much energy in trashing the entire concept? Why spend so much energy deconstructing gender constructs? What are we arguing about if there is no such thing as ‘Woman’?
This generalised antagonism and hostility towards even the possibility, of a uniquely female identity, is possibly based in fear of upsetting either of the two masculine power-systems – an understandable fear. Large numbers of women do embrace this ideology, or theology, of ‘flight from the female’.
So we identify primarily with race, class, gay male sexuality and other divisions, which are also male-defined social constructions to distinguish between groups of males. Females are irrelevant to these distinctions, for they are male-male ones, just like masculinity and femininity are both male constructions.
Methinx it has been the most brilliant tactic of Divide & Conquer ever perpetrated – by convincing us all that we don’t really exist as a ‘class’ or ‘category’ at all, and never did,
neither socially or biologically (when it has always been both, not dissected, dis-membered or separate) –
we have absolutely no basis on which we can unite in solidarity, ( ‘ in numbers too big too ignore’ ) and will never be a threat to the oppressive power-structures we all know are there.
Daly’s concept of ‘Erasure’ has been completed, in all four of Mitchell’s ‘Estates’.
The post-modernist ideal of genderless humanity, removes, dismisses or minimises all concepts of unique femaleness and replaces it with masculinity, albeit a far more socially acceptable one in some cases.
Whether Culture and/or Biology, is Destiny then, it would still appear to be a very much a male Destiny.
Whether She was a biological or a social construct, may that Mad, Mad Woman, the indefinable, undefined, uncategorised, Mad, Mad Woman who went down without a fight
because it was in Her Nature and/or Social Construction to be
non-violent, non-aggressive, and Ultimately Non-Existent ;
– May She Rest in Peace, a Peace She has never known on Man’s Earth, in Body or Soul.