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A Book Review of Debra Soh’s “THE END OF GENDER”

January 27, 2022 Authored by: Rabinarayan Swain

The world as we humans have known it is getting more and more strange to us with each passing day. Of course change is the only permanent thing, and things are changing for better too, we are told. We are undeniably the beneficiaries of many such changes. But not all changes are for the good. In fact, in the name of progress we have already done away with many institutions and today in the name of inclusion and social justice we have started altering some of the foundational axioms of humanity. The much invoked “Science” itself has become a victim of Woke activism. Dr. Debra Soh, in her book “The End of Gender” has attempted to highlight and dispel some of these popular woke myths.

“Before you study the facts study the historian.” This is a very popular quote among politically literate persons. In present time, the same will hold true in the field of science too. Following paragraphs will justify this claim. The author, Debra Soh, is by no means a conservative. She is a sexologist by profession, an atheist, a left leaning liberal who also happens to write for the infamous magazine ‘Playboy’. She is a feminist too even though she objects to the term “TERF” : ‘Trans Excluded Radical Feminist’.

No one would possibly imagine such a person to get hounded by the Wokes. But as per the Woke ethics, anyone who has not updated himself/herself with the latest “Truths” is a sexist, racist, homophobe, transphobe (there are stylish variants like enbiphobe and femmephobe as well). In short, the personification of absolute evil, who must not be engaged with or allowed to make his case but must be hounded, shunned away, and segregated like a carrier of some contagious and incurable disease. Hence Soh, while having very compatible views with major left liberal ideas, has also become a victim of this cancel culture and funnily dedicates the book to all those who have blocked her on Twitter.

Coming back to the topic of the book, how many genders are there? Your answer most probably would be 2 as would be mine or any other sane person’s and no one will believe there are people thinking otherwise. Unfortunately we don’t enjoy the luxury of common sense anymore. The Canadian Medical Association Journal, the journal Nature, one among the most trusted scientific journals in the world, and many other prestigious institutions have “scientifically” endorsed gender fluidity. One educational BBC film for schoolchildren suggested there are more than 100 genders. Genderqueer, bigender, androgyne, trigender, quadgender, pangender, gender-neutral, genderfree, agender, neutrois, aliagender, demiboy, demigirl, feminine-of-centre, masculine-of-centre, girlflux, libramasculine, anongender, genderfluid, amalgagender, MTX, FTX: these are only some examples of possible genders, permutations and combinations are still going on, such as DFAB nonbinary trans femme, AMAB genderqueer girl. There are also (these are the favourites of the author) “moongender, which means your gender comes out only at night; puzzlegender, which means you have a gender that feels like it needs to be pieced together; and arborgender, which means you identify as a tree.” present in this endless list of genders.

Experts, often cited by LGBTQ activists, obfuscate things between sex, which is determined by gametes (hence only 2, as only male and female gametes and no intermediate is possible) and gender identity, which is, how some one feels with respect to his/her sex i.e., masculine or feminine. However there is no absolute standard of masculinity and femininity. While for 99% of us, the biological sex and gender are the same, for some it is not so owing to chromosomal defect or exposure to abnormal amount of testosterone in womb or social conditioning (We will encounter this impact of socialisation more explicitly in the next book I am going to review.) Taking Social justice on its face value as something good, it can still be achieved without tampering with norms of science but that’s not how the activists think.

The next rhetoric used by feminists and SJWs is “Sex is a social construct.” In fields like STEM where there are competitively less number of women than that of men or in case of leading corporates, feminists often rant about ‘sexism’ and portray it as the outcome of a societal ill. But there have been enough studies done in neuroscience to prove that male and female brain are different from each other. Studies from other branches such as evolutionary evidences further prove that it is not a social construct but this is how we humans are designed. Not only we humans, but our primate cousins like vervet and rhesus monkeys, despite lacking socialization from their caregivers have shown similar behaviours. Young female monkeys have chosen dolls while male monkeys have wheeled toys, similar to what is observed in human babies. But in the name of equality among genders we are trying to move away from our behavioural adaptations and pressurising women to shed their femininity and become more like men. Similarly in case of mating women are more selective about their sexual partners as sex comes with a greater cost to women, due to the possibility of pregnancy and related responsibilities—giving birth, breastfeeding, raising the child etc as evolutionary biologists would explain. Similarity gender role and beauty standards- both developed as per our adaptation as a species and not due to oppressors (men) exploiting eternally oppressed (women) as feminists would want us to believe.

Interestingly scientists are not free from the clutches of ideological activism either. There are some regions of brain that show clear sexual dimorphism. One such region is hippocampus but they have tried to explain it away in terms of men involved in the study being physically larger than women and scaling the size to overall size of hippocampus. Feminist neuroscientists since have tried to apply the same logic to all regions of brain that has shown such dimorphism. Commenting on it Soh says ,”By this logic, men who are physically smaller would be expected to have an amygdala that is female-typical, when in actuality, their amygdala would still likely resemble what is typical of men. It’s quite possible that a larger amygdala in men is reflective of genuine sex differences in, say, brain function. Even if male and female brains were identical structurally, this doesn’t rule out differences in brain functionality.” As we said a while earlier, study the scientist before you study facts.

Soh then proceeds to sexuality where she argues that sexual orientation and gender identity are not unrelated and they are decided by biology. However while describing the biology of being gay, she mentions, “in prison, where there is lots of same-sex sex going on, but the inmates taking part in it aren’t necessarily gay.” Though she uses it to illustrate how someone being in heterosexual relationship doesn’t necessarily refer to his heterosexual orientation but as it can obviously be seen it also illustrates the effect of social factor cannot be neglected which owing to her ideological commitment and profession she ignores. She also mentions a study by sexologist Ray Blanchard who observes that “gay men were more likely than heterosexual men or lesbian women to have a greater number of older brothers and 15 to 29 percent of gay men owe their sexual orientation to this effect.” While that may be the case but out of a small community, finding similarity does not necessarily suggest causation but correlation.

Some people don’t feel sure or comfortable with their biological sex. They are called gender dysphoric. While being gender dysphoric has become chic, prescribing every gender dysphoric persons transition (changing of the gender one was born in) is another dangerous phenomenon gaining popularity in US and Western Europe. Across all eleven long-term studies ever done on gender dysphoric children, between 60 to 90 percent desist by puberty and start confirming with their birth gender. So while a health professionals should consider this fact and ask the person to wait, they join the outcry of transphobia and recommend puberty blockers , cross hormone therapy and even surgery. In Britain the last decade has seen a 25-fold increase of gender change. Side effect of puberty blockers include lowered spinal bone mass density and, differences in spatial memory. “Side effects in trans men taking testosterone can include an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and painful orgasm.” while ” For trans women taking exogenous estrogen, they are at an increased risk for blood clots, stroke, and cancer.” Despite all these the gender change industry is flourishing.

Societal norms and language are at a loss to keep up with the acceleration of social justice. For “women”, various dystopian terms such as “pregnant people,” “birthing parents,” “uterus-bearers,” and “menstruators” are being suggested. Advocacy for gender neutral toilets, prisons and shelter is increasing day by day despite such spaces posing opportunity for sexual offenders to gain easy access to their victims. Interestingly in UK, police now record a male rapist as female if he identifies as a woman. Hence, 1 in 50 male prisoners in the British prison system started identifying as transgender. In sports too participation of trans women has sparked debate since trans women get the obvious advantage of high testosterone level. On the top of that we have advocacy for gender neutral parenting too despite it going against the cultural norms and the well known fact that biology would override ideology.

However the above mentioned well established facts do not go mainstream thanks to the outrage mob and cancel culture and scientists themselves being a part of this Woke culture. In 2018, in response to a leaked memo of Trump administration, more than 2,600 scientists, including nine Nobel laureates, proclaimed that science showed gender is not binary. The book mentions several prominent names from different fields such as Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro, Larry Cahill, James Damore, the portal ‘Quillette’, Marcus Evans, Jonathan Haidth among many others being victim of this outrage mob. Many young scientists have gotten their thesis rejected on the account of being politically incorrect. We are heading towards Orwell’s ‘Ministry of truth’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ simultaneously if these trends continue.

One might wonder why gay activists, bisexual activists, trans activists, black activists and feminists (except TERFs) are joining hands in this hounding festival even where something doesn’t concern them at all. The answer is intersectionality. Intersectionality brings all the “oppressed” groups into one tenet: women, trans, homosexuals etc. against the common evil white man which in our context roughly corresponds to the so-called “brahminical patriarchy.”

While concluding, the reader may remember that the author of this book is a sexologist and left leaning liberal. In the book one will find her sharing cringe anecdotes and writing paragraphs of explanations and sermons about how she’s not a traditionalist, how society shouldn’t impose traditional gender role and how we shouldn’t be homophobic and address trans persons by their preferred pronoun. She also provides arguments in favour of premarital sex and free sex, believes in leaving the final decision to the individuals, without observing how a radical individualism and mistrust in society played a major role here. Her professional and ideological bias aside, the facts speak for themselves. In fact coming not from conservative commentators but from a liberal sexologist they show even more explicitly, how despite all the popular pseudoscience of today stating otherwise, what science itself suggests. Liberals, who started their journey against the anti-science attitude of the church, when their world view today is not getting validated or endorsed by science, when the blank slate hypothesis is getting rejected and latest research in neuroscience, behavioural science, evolutionary biology and epigenetics seems to support the traditional lifestyle, have become the biggest anti-science mob today. Science has suddenly become a “social construct” and the tool of oppression in the liberal eyes. However with the increased interference of the woke mob in his life, the common man finds himself locked in an ideological battle ring. It remains to be seen whether common sense will prevail over ideological indoctrination.


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