Tag Archives: emotional bonding

Differences that unite

Salt is a rare but important commodity for monarch butterflies. Those that eat milkweed along roads treated with salt appear to have an advantage over those that don’t. With more salt, males develop more thoracic muscle, enabling them to fly further in search of females. Females get bigger brains and eyes, allowing them to find better places to nest.*

Hmmm. Males and females may be genetically programmed to have different priorities, and these may be expressed differently in different environments?

Because so often male / female communication seems so screwed up, I don’t think we really appreciate the extent to which biology plays a role. I may be painting a target on my chest, because so often when someone, anyone, brings this subject up, shout-downs often follow. I think the major culprit is the tendency to over-generalize.

So let’s agree for just a moment, anyway, that human sexuality has a mental component, and minds can’t be divided into simple categories of “man” and “woman.” We have homosexuals and pansexuals and asexuals galore, babies occasionally born physically as both, and while it may be that each of us has a tendency to a “wiring” that allows us to see the world a little differently than other people in the room, there are few absolutes.

We all know and accept not all straight men are insensitive, and not all straight women are nurturing. Bonding conditions at birth play a huge role, as does testosterone exposure in the womb, as does a hundred million other factors we haven’t even begun to discover.

Nature also plays with groups of individuals, tribes or societies. Where behaviors are partly genetic, and genes switch on and off, and environments change, and everything overlaps, sorting out a single “truth” about these things is pretty complicated. Categories are useful tools but are oversimplifications when dealing with continuums. Depending on them for ultimate “truth” is reckless.

Personally, I think differences are pretty cool and without them our species, any species, would be at a significant disadvantage. It’s rare that two people see the world in the same way, but it’s possible for either or both to change a point of view, if not priorities and genetics. Unconditional love is one of the most powerful and transformative forces on Earth.

Along with really good sex.

It also appears that some lab rats may feel regret, and, possibly empathy.* Not to overgeneralize, but I know a few guys that could take some lessons.

*Science News, July 12, 214