In a blog post, Jerry Coyne regrets that many on the left outright rejects scientific data that seems to contradict their ideological stance. This is particularly acute when it comes to the confrontation between feminism or gender studies and biology. I say “seems”, because science doesn’t tell us how the world should be, only how it is. Indeed, our tendency to look up to nature as the autority over everything can make us forget that fact. That is what one can call the “call to nature” pitfall.
Big, massive, slow-moving Mother Nature
To most people, nature appears as something incredibly stable. It seems to have always been as they know it since their birth. Even in case of major natural disaster, we get the feeling that things usually get “restored” to how they were before. And this feeling exists evenhough individual lives have been changed forever. So, most people have the impression that whatever is “natural” is both ancient and permanent. Or if it can evolve, it does so only extremely slowly, over millions of years. So, nature is kind of conceived as this massive gigantic entity that changes only extremely slowly.
By the way, this is also probably why so many people are so reluctant towards some scientific advances like biotechnologies. Indeed, they believe that fast changes imposed on such a slow-moving entity can only lead to our doom.
The “call to nature” pitfall
Thus, when you tell feminists or gender studies researchers that biological data show, on average, that women are less muscular and smaller in size than men, they hear that this is pretty much a given once and for all. Women have always been and will always be more petite than men, unless we can overcome the massive weight of nature. And this seems almost impossible. From that, it follows logically that the present gendered division of roles in society is rooted in our natural dimorphology.
Due to this bias, people get the feeling that such data actually validates the vision of definitely frozen gendered roles. Indeed, they believe that if it is in our gene, then, there is pretty much nothing that can be done about it. And that is, I think, the main reason why they prefer to ignore these data or discredit them.
In a way, they fall in the same “call to nature” pitfall than many conservative people who adhere to the idea that the present gendered role division of society just reflects nature as expressed in the human species.