In the excerpt “The Organization Woman” from the book “The First Sex” the author, Helen Fisher, tries to explain how men and women view power differently, and how this view affects their performance and life. In the excerpt, the authors’ background in human evolution helps to convey her perspectives by insisting naturalistic and genetic based arguments for explaining gender behaviour. To explain the differences in behaviour between males and females, Fisher employs the use of: biological determinism to imply male dominance hierarchies and anthropomorphism to further explain these behaviours.
The author’s attempt to make use of questionable observations and research in her mission for exemplifying the behaviours of men and women will be discussed as the paper critiques the methods used in said pursuit. Fisher, very crucially, tries to prove “men are men” by genetics and by their very nature behave the way they do in trying to achieve rank and status, which will get them to the top, leading them to be obviously more successful thereby being in a better position to pass on their genes.
Women, however, by their very nature are compelled to want a network of connection, which enables them to “achieve interpersonal harmony and tendency to work and play in egalitarian teams” (Fisher 29). This, the author argues, is the definition of power amid males and females. She suggests that hormones are the culprit of this behaviour. For men it’s the hormone testosterone, and for women, estrogens.
Based on the thesis of Steven Goldberg of City College of the City University of New York, Fisher states that “testosterone, which is a predominantly male hormone, is associated with men’s drive for rank” (Fisher 40), which stems from prehistoric times. She “suspects” estrogen contributes to “women’s deep drive to connect with others by way of a hormone that is directly related to nurturing behaviours in many mammalian species” (Fisher 40) which also makes women less concerned with winning but rather more with “belonging” and “being liked”.
To further emphasis this point, Fisher employs anthropomorphic conditions by using the example of the “male/male dominance hierarchy among “our closest relative, the chimpanzees” suggesting that the behaviour of these primates are directly relative to the behaviour of humans. Of course there is a flaw in this, the fact that human traits and stereotypes are being applied to animals to reaffirm the behaviour of humans.
During the “search for the ‘alpha male” (Lawton, 1997) the jay watchers commenced a study to located “aggressiveness” interactions in hopes of finding “dominance” and “submission” among nature to further explain human behavior. However, they were puzzled to see dominant birds (males) not interacting (fighting) during the first year of observing. Regardless, after continuing their study they found that only 14 of over 200 flock members of the pinyon jays were eligible for the study of ‘alpha male’ and that there is no linear hierarchy for male pinyon jay.
In terms of the relationship of the females of the flocks and the ranks were of no interest to them, which left a gap in their research because understanding the relationship with the females of the flock could have potential benefit as opposed to completely disregarding them. “Apparently this female either preferred dominant males or was of very high quality and was thus selected by dominant males”, they wrote in vain. The statement portrays dominance over the female by trying to conceive that they are not an active participant.
The fact in this article remains that men are supposedly biologically predisposed to taking risk to establish rank there- by ensuring the conveying and survival of their gene while women are like-wise predisposed to being nurturing and suspicious of others to ensure their off-springs are not hurt, and thus survive. The sociobiology’s theory of females being “coy” and simply waiting for the males to fight it out and in the end seeing off with the victor has been opposed by many feminists who claim that it is sexists towards the nature of woman.
Biology has great potential for harming women, but that is owing to human misuse of the science, not the science itself” (Zuk, 2002). There is much opposition between feminism and biology, wherein there is a great deal to learn in both, but that cannot be accomplished to such extents as it would if feminism and biology were to work together to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle and eliminate any misconceptions. In order to make animal behaviour interesting and applicable, scientists tend to compare it with some form of human life.
As a result many nature of animals – whether its male dominance or conceptual mating – it forms a norm in human life. For example, learning that female adders mate with many males, and indeed that some species of snakes form writhing balls of mating individuals, attracts attention and normalizes “Orgies are natural” or “Fooling around is in your genes”( Zuk, 2002). When speaking of gender, there is generally the difference between men and women being expressed, however, there is more to it.
When speaking about gender it is important to also note hierarchy, power, and inequity. Therefore, gender can be split into two tasks: differences and inequality. There is also a biological explanation of gender, which signifies a more truthful theory due to these theories are based upon objective scientific facts. There is a difference in the way society attributes women and men in the social and political structure and the way biologists do so in the involvement of reproduction.
According to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, the role of men is to compete with the other men for all the accessible women, whereas the women’s role is to simply choose the victor among the men. Darwin “theorized that this makes for greater competition among males than females” and since “competition is what drives evolution by natural selection, males are in the vanguard of evolution” and since “feminist socio-biologists, such as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, have revised… nd pointed out that females also can be active, sexually aggressive, and competitive and that males can nurture and be passive.
Among animals as well as humans, females do not just stand by and wait for the most successful males to come along”, (Hubbard, 1994). Scientists are aware of this falsification; aware that the perception of the world is twisted by our stereo-typical culture but regardless, we still look for something with this fogged vision. With comparison to our own theories we challenge the nature of our perception so that this theory of biasness may become more visible
The author fails to recognize that these ideas about what power is between men and woman could be attributed to the social, religious, or cultural context in which they were brought up in, which stems from long integrated attitudes from the beginning of the agriculture period. Before said time, in hunter/gatherer societies, men and women had no direct use of “power” in the sense that we use it today. Women were not preoccupied with forming close connections with others, nor were men preoccupied with attain rank, status, or finances. In other words, power was equal among each.