Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chris Blazina Speaks with Gender Essentialist Roy Baumeister

As an indication of how prevalent and entrenched essentialism is in gender studies, the textbook for my new class in human sexuality (part of my counseling psychology program) references Roy Baumeister as an expert in the ways men and women differ psychologically. Oy Vey!

So here is Dr. Chris Blazina and The Secret Lives and Men - talking with Baumeister about his new book.
Is There Anything Good about Men? How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men.” Roy Baumeister offers provocative answers to these and many other questions about the current state of manhood in America. Baumeister argues that relations between men and women are now and have always been more cooperative than antagonistic, that men and women are different in basic ways, and that successful cultures capitalize on these differences to outperform rival cultures. Amongst our ancestors---as with many other species--only the alpha males were able to reproduce, leading them to take more risks and to exhibit more aggressive and protective behaviors than women, whose evolutionary strategies required a different set of behaviors. Whereas women favor and excel at one-to-one intimate relationships, men compete with one another and build larger organizations and social networks from which culture grows. But cultures in turn exploit men by insisting that their role is to achieve and produce, to provide for others, and if necessary to sacrifice themselves. Baumeister shows that while men have greatly benefited from the culture they have created, they have also suffered because of it. Men may dominate the upper echelons of business and politics, but far more men than women die in work-related accidents, are incarcerated, or are killed in battle--facts nearly always left out of current gender debates. Roy F. Baumeister is the Eppes Eminent Professor of Psychology and head of the social psychology graduate program at Florida State University. The Institute for Scientific Information lists him among the handful of most cited (most influential) psychologists in the world. He is the co-editor, with John Baer and James Kaufman, of Are We Free? Psychology and Free Will and The Cultural Animal: Human Nature, Meaning, and Social Life.

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