February 19, 2017


​By D. F. Effiong

In its obvious form, feminism has concentrated on educational opportunity and careers demanding an end to practices that have excluded women, and strong remediation, which includes not only affirmative action but also the establishment of women centers. On the conceptual level, it has forced a reevaluation of scholarly practices and opened neglected questions of the history, status, and particular interests of women. It has resurrected the work and built the reputation of some women artists and thinkers whom history and male indifference had discounted. The natural sciences take their share of the heat.

In point of opportunities for women, the traditional recruitment and apprenticeship system has been unfair and exclusionary. Strenuous pressure for change has been the predictable result, as women claim their right of equal access to any vocation, no matter how long tradition has regarded it as a province of the male intellect until recently, however, the substance and the cognitive style of science per se had not been the target of much feminist complaint. The main demand was for fair chance at careers, in and out of academic life, a just claim, unproblematic in its philosophic standing if not immune to vexations (Paul and Norman, 109).

It has been this demand for a fair chance that feminist scientists brought to bear the intrinsic presentations of equality especially in fields such as biology and mathematics. This is despite the key process of feminist criticism of science, which is the insistence inasmuch as science has until now been a male enterprise, it is ipso facto biased by unacknowledged assumptions derived from the practical values of western society (Paul and Norman, 108).

The record of science, until recently, is in its social aspect tarnished by gender exclusions (and as well of course, by class snobbery, anti-Semitism racialism, and vulgar nationalism). At times, baseless paradigms in medicine and the behavioral sciences have been pretexts for subordinating women. Pseudoscientific doctrines of innate inferiority and moral frailty have been used to discount female capacity for achievement and to confine women to subservient roles (Paul and Norman, 110).

In “Towards a Feminist Algebra,’’ Maryanne Campbell and Randall K. Campbell Wright argued that women and other disempowered groups are encounter “word problems or narrative problems “or ’’narrative problems of the “ if a man and a half makes-a-dollar-and-a-half- “variety-refer to situations that are sexiest racist, class-bound stereotypes. They doubtless, condemn the “man-and-a-half’’ problem because it encodes the assumption that men work, and it therefore implies style that women don’t, or shouldn’t (Paul and Norman, 113). In reconstruction how early man and woman behaved, we are told by the author, Meredith F. Small, “researchers have generally looked not to Bonobos but to common chimpanzees. “The burden of what follows is that this was a very bad mistake” The spin is that we have undeniable evidence already for that fondest of constructivist, feminist fantasies: an original, genderless human society of perfect sexual and behavioural equality, full of great games and no domination. David H. Freedman, writing on the “aggressive egg,” takes on writing page from the writing of C E. McClung, whom the Biology and Gender Study Group scourged for gender-laden imagery. Freedman’s article near its beginning, describes the spermatozoa as “a wastefully huge swarm…..flop(pin)g along, its members bumping into walls and flailing aimlessly,” then, once they are in the vicinity of the female gamete, “the egg selects one and reels it in, pinning it down in spite of its efforts to escape. It’s no contest, really. The gigantic, hardy egg yanks the tiny sperm inside, distills out the chromosomes, and sets out to become an embryo.

The spin is conscious, its purpose is to highlight the small size, the prodigality, the incompetence, the mis-directedness of male gametes, and the purposeful, dominant object that is the female (Paul and Norman 125). This metaphor, simple as it is, thwarts every theory that orchestrates male dominance because of strength or physicality. Feminist biologists have herein and intrinsically subdued such ‘inequality’ by bringing to bear the ‘sperm in distress’. Psychoanalytic theory on the other hand, has established the origins and the dimensions of the persuasive bias (of men and women) concerning equality. Our early maternal environment coupled with cultural definitions of masculine (that which can never appear feminine) and the anatomy (that which can never be compromised by dependency) leads to the association of females with the pleasures and dangers of merging, and of males with the comfort and loneliness of separateness.

The values of competence, of mystery. Indeed competence is itself prior condition of autonomy and serves immeasurably to confirm one’s sense of self. Evelyn Fox Kellers’ (a feminist empiricist) psychoanalytic reveries have yielded a chain of proposed cognitive relationships, at one end of which is autonomy and at the other, aggression. All characterize the male (gender) or the male end of spectrum of cognitive styles (Paul and Norman, 140). There are many who also argue that male dominance (as written right into the DNA) can never be equal to the woman in this light. Hence, the idea of a “master molecule” DNA- encoding and directing the destiny of the living cell, its aggregates, and the organisms those aggregates produce. The work of Nobelist Barbara McClintock had however opined that DNA “master molecule” is shorthand for “nothing more, it carries no implication of “dominance” (Paul and Norman, 141).

Keller presumably does not believe that the proposed cognitive differences between men and women are inborn. From the essentialist belief in an inherent mathematical excellence of boys as contrasted verbal precocity of (girls and their weakness in spatial relations) – to such believe, feminists usually respond with rage (Paul and Norman, 142).

Gross, Paul R. and Norman Levith. Higher Superstition The Academic Left And Its Quarrels With Science. USA: The John Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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