Morbid excesses in sex distinction

I partially agree with the idea that societies exhibit what Charlotte Perkins Gilman would term as a “morbid excess in sex distinction.” This term refers to the idea that the sex distinction has evolved to the point of being “morbid or gruesome” (Allan, 2014, p. 194). Part of this idea is a literal evolutionary argument that secondary sex characteristics accounts for this discrepancy. These terms are pretty subjective to be applied to biological characteristics, but I also reject the idea of their being a biological evolutionary purpose or cause of the degree of gender differentiation that is exhibited by most societies.

However, this idea also encompasses the social conventions of gender, and the idea that society trains young girls that their primary role is to attract men. This is definitely true, and visible virtually everywhere. For example, a quick survey of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America’s websites will demonstrate this huge degree of differentiation ( & Currently, the Girl Scouts home page is splashed with pink, they initiate their youngest members into the flowery “Daisy” rank and currently appear to be partnered with Barbie. The Boy Scouts feature a young child wielding a bow and arrow on their home page, hosts shooting range tips and progresses their Cub Scouts through Tiger, Bear and Wolf ranks. The only objection that I would maintain about applying Gilman’s idea to our social institutions and practices is the element of social evolution present in the argument – I don’t think it is accurate to suggest that gender inequality arose through a process similar to natural selection, nor do I think it could possibly serve an evolutionary purpose for all of us.

Privacy Statement