Upon reading Eliezer's possible gender dystopias ([catgirls](http://lesswrong.com/lw/xt/interpersonal_entanglement/), and [verthandi](http://lesswrong.com/lw/xu/failed_utopia_42/) and the other LW comments and posts on the subject of future gender relations, I came to a rather different conclusion than the ones I've seen espoused here. After searching around the internet a bit, I discovered that my ideas tend to fall under the general category of "postgenderism", and I am wondering what my fellow LessWrongians think of it. 

This can generally be broken down to the following claims:

  1. A higher level of egalitarianism between the sexes increases utility. For example, if only men are generally allowed to do Job A, then you are halving the talent pool of people who can do Job A, AND women who would otherwise be happy in Job A lose that utility. It is equally of dis-utility if only women are socially allowed to be emotionally expressive, etc, etc. In other words, Equality = Good.
  2. The differences between men and women are a mix of environmental factors, such as social conditioning, and biological factors, such as varying levels of hormones.
  3. Some of these differences are optimal in the current environment, and others are suboptimal. For example-Women have better social skills (good!), but are more prone to depression (bad). Men are better self-promoters (good!), but are more prone to suicide (bad).
  4. Should transhumanism occur, it will eliminate the suboptimal differences. We can help people become less suicidal and not depressed.
  5. This will lead to a spiraling effect- Fewer *actual* differences will lead to a lessening of socialized differences, which will lead to less actual differences, etc
I am positive at least *some* of this will occur. In fact, I would posit that it is already occuring in that we have drugs to treat depression, and hormone therapy to assist people with hormonal problems, etc. Some postgenderists claim there will be no need for different genders at all, as we can have male pregnancies, and female paternity, etc. I rather doubt it would go that far.
My questions to you all is- When do you see these changes occuring, if at all? How far do you think we will go? Will we end up as essentially a one-gender society? Will we move towards the middle but still retain some gender differences? What would they be? Will they be purely physical, or some psychological differences as well? 

A possible contention is that the forces of natural selection would not allow this to go too far. In other words, women are attracted to high-testosterone men, and men are attracted to feminine women. However, we already have studies that show that birth control can make women desire lower testosterone men, and I don't see a reason why we wouldn't end up just being attracted to the new/different standard.
Another possible contention is that people *like* having both men and women about. This is an acceptable argument, but is based solely on personal taste. I would also surmise that most the people who desire the current two-gender system to persist are men (and therefore used to being the dominant gender, and therefore not personally feeling a reason to change it).

One Good Reference-
[Postgenderism: Beyond the Gender Binary](http://ieet.org/archive/IEET-03-PostGender.pdf) , George Dvorsky and James Hughes, PhD, IEET-03, March 2008


EDIT- Due to some really insightful comments;

I replaced men being prone to aggression as a negative, with men being prone to suicide.

I made the verbiage a little more explicit that no one would be *forced* to change, but would seek out the changes that transhumanism would have available.



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This will lead to a spiraling effect- Fewer actual differences will lead to a lessening of socialized differences, which will lead to less actual differences, etc

I anticipate (and rather hope for) more differences. The main reason I would hope to see 'gender' differences to cease to be a significant concept is because people will explore whole swathes of new currently unthought of kinds of difference, relationship and community so that simple gender as we know it is lost in the crowd.

I rather doubt it would go that far.

I rather doubt it would stop at only that.

that was also my first thought

An ex girl friend gave me an anecdote on gender differences years ago. A woman tried a little experiment on herself. She wondered what it would be like to be a man, and just wanting a taste, she just boosted her testosterone for a day. And what a day it was. I believe she was some kind of tour guide, where she spent the day talking to and leading groups of people. Normally, she found herself rather wound up and anxious about pleasing the group, and not wanting to assert herself and what she wanted. But with a boost of testosterone "she just didn't care". That was the defining result of the experiment for the author, and my ex girl friend as well. Testosterone was a magic elixir that dispelled worries and enabled assertiveness because "she just didn't care".

Did that increase the utility she gained? That the tour gained? Could be true either way. Could be both. Could be neither. I could say that about any of the various "improvements" to either sex you suggested - there are plenty of people who would take them the other way, And as the anecdote suggests, it may be more of a case of trade offs than independent dimensions. Once she lost her empathy and "just didn't care", her assertiveness went up, and depression went down.

Even if everyone chose to go transgendered, there's no real reason to expect us to meet in the unisex middle based on shared utility functions. It's the differences in our values that makes possible mutually beneficial exchange.

Step 2: Give the tour guide a second shot of testosterone (saline),

Step 3: Give the tour guide a third shot of testosterone (estrogen).

Step 4: Compare the results from Step 2 and Step 3 with that of Step 1.

It might also be worth comparing the results with those from other mind altering drugs.


I think this is the most compelling argument so far.

It reminds me of the Sibfox "experiment": Russian scientists were domesticating foxes (in order to make getting their fur easier- "Let's turn them into pets, so they will trust us, so we can kill them easier!" ugh...But anyways) In the process of selecting for domesticity/trust, etc, they ended up with foxes that were dog-like: They barked, had floppy ears, and mottled fur. The fur mottling was lucky for them, since it meant that they couldn't fulfill their original purpose, and instead are being used as pets.

I can definitely see that humans would similarly have trade-offs rather than independent dimensions as well. And I can also see that those independent dimensions are not necesarily "good" or "bad" themselves. However, I do think that people will be more likely to choose to be located somewhere in that dimension-space that isn't currently inhabited by the gender of their chromosomes. (aka women in positions of authority might choose to have more testosterone, and no one would think that is "weird" or "unfeminine")

How does one go about boosting one's testosterone for just one day? Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone#Routes_of_administration] fails to enlighten. Did your girlfriend replicate the experiment?
Wikipedia provided quite a few enlightening possibilities, I thought. In any case, you can rule out injections & pellets as lasting more than a day, buccal for being strange; this leaves essentially pills and gels. Testosterone gels like Androgel seem more common than pills, so I'd guess it was a gel dose.
You can also, with a prescription, go to a compounding pharmacy and get testosterone cream, which is the most cost effective method of taking supplemental testosterone on a regular basis. I'm not sure how about the half life for any single large dosage, and don't know the method used nor the dosage used in the anecdote given. And no, my ex did not repeat the experiment, nor do I recall her mentioning any controls being taken. I don't think the paper came from a scientific journal - knowing my ex, I'm sure of it. More likely the New Yorker. There are studies about the effects of testosterone supplementation on mood and depression.

I would also surmise that most the people who desire the current two-gender system to persist are men (and therefore used to being the dominant gender, and therefore not personally feeling a reason to change it).

Although this may be true, I would be very surprised if more than 5% of the population would want to eliminate the two-gender system. If you were trying to campaign for a single gender, you'll have to focus on appealing to both genders.

As for the one-gender society question, current social values indicate it will be a century or two before this idea could seriously enter the mainstream views of the world.

For the foreseeable future, I predict the slow decrease of gender roles in society.

I am not arguing that people would start out TRYING to eliminate the two-gender system. I think it would happen naturally as people first got rid of maladaptive differences (aka- aggression, low social skills and low empathy for men; and depression, low risk-taking and low self-promotion for women), which then started a cycle towards one-gender or similar In other words, one gender (or low gender differences) isn't the original desire of anyone. It's the unintended result.

Your comment about aggression being bad seemed off to me. Aggression is a useful strategy. Maybe you meant irrational misplaced aggression...

Gender is pretty useless. I see no reason that we would opt to keep it around once we have control of our bodies. Assuming that everyone gets one body and it's rather permanent (which is a pretty big assumption), either we all figure out what the optimal physiology is and converge to that, or we decide that we like diversity or something and invent vast hordes of unique bodies, or some mix of both. I see no reason to keep a binary (which we don't exactly have in any case). Analogies can be drawn to fashion; there would likely be popular mainstream body characteristics, and vast numbers of subcultural variations.

I think you are vastly underestimating the reach of transhumanism, given that 'it occurs'.

Edit: Natural selection hasn't substantially applied to much of anything for the last few thousand years, and will be totally thrown out when we get access to our source code. Evolution is in our origin but not in our future.

Not necessarily true. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_10,000_Year_Explosion] Not in Robin Hanson's Malthusian em future.
Memes. That's not at all obvious. Note evolution =/= genetic evolution.
yes you are right. I should have made clear I was talking about biological evolution by natural selection. I assume that is also what the OP was talking about, given the reference to selection of mates. By source code I mean genetic code. Once we have access to that, the human timescale modification will so totally dwarf any natural selection that it's basically not there. Can you elaborate on your position?
Except at that point evolution incorporates human modification into itself. Specifically, those who are better at modifying themselves in way that promote their inclusive genetic fitness [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l3/thou_art_godshatter/] will out compete those that don't.
Which is, of course, a good point to make up a new name so that the old one isn't stretched out of shape.
Which is obviously affected by memetic evolution.
The apparent position of the sun in Earth's sky hasn't substantially changed in the last few seconds.
Yes, aggression is not the best example. Thank you. I have edited to fix this. :)

Yes, and in the long-run I do have to wonder how this sort of thing will impact people who have very standard identities for both sex and gender but wouldn't mind being more fluid. I for example am pretty close to a 0 on the Kinsey scale, but if there were a pill to make me bi would probably take it. Similarly, part of me has strong "ick" feelings about changing my gender identity, but at a meta level if I could first self-modify to not have that reaction and then make the modifications temporarily I'd consider it.

Edit: I'm also curious why Daenery's post is being voted down. It seems like a reasonable topic at multiple levels, and voting down someone with three large dragons at their disposal is not in general a good idea.

Upvoted for catching the SoIaF reference! :) I am also curious as to why the down voting, as it seems that no other posts have negative votes. But I assumed that it was just that I am new, and so am unintentionally breaking some sort of LW norms. But feel free to let me know! I won't take it personally :)
After thinking more I have developed a hypothesis: there have been some large scale discussions of gender issues here that have lead to the LW equivalent of flamewars. As far as I can tell, those are about an order of magnitude more polite than the equivalent would be in most areas of the internet. But I suspect that some people are responding to something marginally connected to that and thinking "oh no, this isn't a subject we need more of" and downvoting to express that.
I've been very down on some previous discussions of gender and related issues here, but find the current post to be good and constructive. It's so much more interesting to think about how something that seems really fundamental to us now might be different in a technologically enhanced future than it is to think about how the straight dudes among us could all use rationality to get laid way more often.
Thank you both for the idea! Actually that is a large reason of why I wrote this post. Because I am interested in topics of gender and relationships, etc., those are the topics I looked into when I first found LW. I almost wrote the entire site off because of the massive flamewars I inevitably found about PUA. (Luckily I stayed around long enough to find all the other good stuff) I figured the best way to combat this effect for future potential new LW-ers is to have more posts about gender and relationships that ARENT devolving into PUA flamewars. Note- I am not bashing PUA. I'm just saying that I wasn't impressed when my first impression here was that it was all that was talked about in regards to gender.

Should transhumanism occur, it will eliminate the maladaptive differences. We can make people less aggressive and not depressed.

You could, for example, make them take Prozium) or forcibly rewrite their DNA. The "we can make" I am uncomfortable with. Who are 'you' to make me not have a trait that I am perfectly content with? The potential for more fundamental invasive interference is not something I would eagerly anticipate.

(While the references are just fictional evidence with respect to how the future may be the are actual evidence and illust... (read more)

I can see how maybe my verbiage was unclear, and I apologize. I did not intend the word "make" to mean to force them to change. I meant "make" as in create/change. People would want to change and transhumanism would help create those changes. I may edit for better word usage. Thank you. :)
Please do edit it, no reason not to, and it stands out pretty clearly.

A higher level of egalitarianism between the sexes increases utility.

I haven't looked at the literature in a long time, but I seem to remember there being an inverse relationship between sexual equality and self-reported happiness (particularly among women in developed countries). Is this not true? Of course, even if utility for women decreases it might be made up for by increases in utility for men, but I am unaware of any such phenomenon.

EDIT: I had something like this in mind, but remember it having cross-cultural comparisons, so this probably isn't exactly it.

On the other hand, feminist relationships seem to be happier.

If both results hold, it could plausibly be that feminism and unhappiness are both caused by something else at the country-wide level (the collapse of traditional meaning and values, perhaps,) or that feminism improves intimate relationships while worsening other aspects of life (by increasing labor supply, perhaps,) or that feminists make things worse for non-feminists (by not laughing at their rape jokes, perhaps.)

Sounds interesting. Thanks for the link.
One interpretation is that we're in some kind of awkward middle stage where women are trying to fill multiple roles (perform well at paid job, look hot, take care of the house, raise kids, manage family's health, have a social life, etc.) I know I was raised with the message that it was important for me to be good at all of these things, and I would feel more a failure if I didn't do them all than I think my husband or most men would. I can imagine that women's satisfaction would increase if role expectations were more egalitarian.
Even the paper you linked to doesn't claim that equality CAUSES unhappiness. A correlation might exist, but some of the authors' suggestions include: or (i.e. it's more socially acceptable to claim unhappiness)

I didn't mean to suggest that a single, slightly related, research paper demonstrates causation between the two variables, merely that it is a piece of disconfirming evidence for the statement I quoted.

I was told the exact opposite of that in my Positive Psych class. I remember multiple sources being cited but the only one I could find in the time I'm willing to devote to this conversation was a 2006 gallop poll thats mentioned in "Happiness" by Diener and Biswas-Diener. Anyways the countries that scored highest on happiness tended to also be high in gender equality.
Do you have any way of finding that poll and linking to it? An actual poll would very much outweigh a half-remembered unverifiable source.
The poll is cited as the 2006 gallop world survey. I'm finding several article that reference it but the full data doesn't appear to be available to the public.

I would also surmise that most the people who desire the current two-gender system to persist are men

I would bet against that. I anticipate that preference for current gender system to be approximately the same across the sexes (and also fairly widespread).

I'd imagine it's virtually universal. Transhumanists are a tiny population, and I can't think of anyone outside that population who would even consider revising such a basic facet of human life. Those few who've been posed the question of "Should we add or remove a gender?" in earnest would assuredly respond with an incredulous stare. Maybe some feminist academics have discussed it, though.
Number of Google Results * Postgender- 1,004,100 Transhuman- 841,000 * Postgenderism- 77,000 Tranhumanism- 1,340,000 Google scholar * Postgender- 1,330 Transhuman- 4,720 * Postgenderism- 10 Transhumanism- 1,910 So even though people considering postgenderism are apparently a slightly smaller minority than transhumanists, it's not a completely undiscussed topic: Both topics are being discussed both in scholarly and in non-scholarly modes. I can see how you would assume that because the transhuman community doesn't do much discussing of postgenderism, that it must not be that popular, but in fact it is just that they are pulling from a different pool of adherents. Postgenderism has its roots in feminism, masculinism and transgender movements.
Note that this may be an unrepresentative sample. Both non-standard gendered individuals and transhumanists are often groups considered to have disproportionate internet footprint and compared to their actual size. Given that, using this data to decide that one minority is "slightly smaller" than the other seems dubious. Similar remarks may apply to the academic footprint (although my impression is that postgenderism and related ideas are much more common in academia than transhumanism.)
Which is why I wasn't using the data to say "The postgenderism movement is 68.3% as much as the tranhumanism movement" or some-such. Because that, yes, would be insufficient data to make that claim. Instead I used the data to say "Both things are being discussed. Transhumanism probably more so". For which I think Google results are, in fact, sufficient to make that claim.
My objection was to the notion that these are useful statistics for evaluating how many people are discussing the issues. Given how close the numbers are, given the proportionality problems, and given that for one of the numbers one actually gets fewer results (Postgender v. transhuman although that one is probably less of a good measure because postgender is also an adjective whereas the general adjective form of transhumanist is transhumanist), I don't think concluding anything about the size of the groups discussing it is justified from this data even in the weak way you have done so here.
There's a fairly large segment of the LGBTQE community which probably would if they knew about the idea jump at it. See especially the subset that identifies as "genderqueer" or talks about "genderfucking".
What does the 'E' stand for? I recently heard the term QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay) which I like for actually forming a pronounceable word.
Same here.
The "E" the stands for et cetera.

It's also the case that having two genders that specialize in different things was adaptive in the ancestral environment and might still be adaptive in the current environment.

Edit: Why is this being downvoted?

Possible, but not obvious. Especially since we'll be able to develop many more differentiated categories than just two, should multiple-specialization prove desirable.
I considered mentioning the caste systems that were prevalent in most societies until the modern era.
I think it's rather less likely that it's still adaptive than that we've adapted to want it even if it no longer offers any sort of fitness advantage outside of sexual selection.

I'm horrified by the prospect of someone or something eliminating maladaptive differences between humans.

Also, your post misuses the word "adaptive". If you tried to design a human male who was evolutionarily adapted to the modern environment, you wouldn't end up with a less aggressive male.

You wouldn't want to pass "maladaptive differences" to your children, if it was a possibility, would you? Would you like to get rid of them themselves? That's the intended meaning, I think. Although, once the technical possibility is there, one cannot exclude the probability that some states take firmer control over the genetic code of their citizen than other.

You wouldn't want to pass "maladaptive differences" to your children, if it was a possibility, would you?

It depends on which differences we're talking about. In the modern environment, fertility and intelligence are inversely correlated. But I wouldn't want to get more grandkids by making my kids stupider.

I am mildly frustrated that both you and the original poster seem to be using the word "maladaptive" as if it were a synonym for "bad" with a convenient veneer of scientific objectivity, like saying "see, evolution agrees with me that such-and-such qualities are morally undesirable!" Ha ha. Evolution, including human evolution, can be horrible. A week ago we had a discussion post about how an actual population of humans regressed to chimp-level intelligence due to evolution.

Maybe related: You'll get more than pretty butterflies.


It continually amazes me that people can read EY's Azathoth metaphor comparison or sort of understand how evolution works and still end up basically falling for the naturalistic fallacy!

I shared a link to that post since I hoped it would spark the same kind of gut feeling that no evolution really isn't your friend in others.


Maladaptive =/= unwanted

Adaptive is a technical term with a precise definition.

There are plenty of maladaptive traits that I wouldn't want eliminated. For example I think people are currently maladaptivley altruistic and evolution is selecting against that because the benefits of kin selection are much reduced in our atomized society.

I agree that the wording could be better. What word would you replace "adaptive" and "maladaptive" with, so that they still put across the basic idea (traits that might have once been useful, but that we no longer want in this/future society, either for the individual, or for society as a whole)? If you suggest something that works better, I will happily edit! I see you mention "bad" and "unwanted". Would either of those terms be acceptable replacements?
It is indeed a hard word to replace. Perhaps optimal and suboptimal, because this is basically a value judgement? I'm not sure. Or maybe throwing in some utility speak. That's always popular with the LW crowd. :)
Optimal and Suboptimal it is! Thank you! Post edited :)

My best guess in a Friendly singularity:

Gender relations have been pretty generally broken for a while now. Clearly once we're actually grown up, we owe ourselves a few centuries of fix-fic (warning, TVTropes) before we abandon the concept completely.

Can someone remind me how much I am now required to donate to Singinst for having wasted time speculating on CEV's output?

The CEV document [http://intelligence.org/upload/CEV.html] mentions the following tariffs for arguing about CEV's output on SL4: * $10 to argue for 48 hours. * $50 to argue for one month. * $200 to argue for one year. * $1000 to get a free pass until the Singularity.

I think you could have been clearer on when you're talking about physical sex and when you're talking about psychological gender. Are you advocating the elimination of psychological Gender Identity, or the elimination of Sexual Dimorphism?

As someone who has already successfully hacked himself to become Agendered, it is my belief that the former is entirely environmentally caused anyway, and a deep cultural change is what would be needed to address it. However, while I would strongly advocate seeking a future in which each and every individual can have exac... (read more)

I aspire to be genderless and try to identify as such. What is the extent of this mind hack? How did it work? What is it like throwing out the concept of gender? How did you do it? So many questions. Tell me your secrets! Theres something wrong here and I can't quite articulate it. I am confused. Edit: for your question, I'll venture a guess that it's about throwing out mandatory dimorphism, not about the psychological part, which is doomed anyway and not worth talking about. Also, I don't think OP was trying to imply that postgenderism is about conformity.
I still use male pronouns simply because there is no gender-neutral pronoun in the language and I am physically male, and I don't think it's sane to include attachment(or unattachment) to a gender-pronoun in one's self-concept. It wasn't something I did in an afternoon or anything, so I'm not sure I can give useful instructions or explanations... It began as a quest to identify and purge all of my Cached Thoughts that were sexist or had sexist connotations, not just about other people but also about myself. I discovered two things in doing this, first, that there is a LOT more sexism that goes unquestioned in our culture than I originally thought there was, and second, that in my own mind, without those Cached Thoughts there to complete the pattern, there was nothing intrinsically male(or female) left. I had dissolved my gender identity. Explained it away. I'm not sure if this is something everyone could do, but it sure seems like it would be. Subtle, but pervasive. You start to notice those little sexist Cached Thoughts in others, even those who self-identify as not-sexist. You start to notice little false beliefs about your own personality, things you assumed were there but aren't, or things that are there but that you made excuses for. It makes knowing yourself easier, definitely. And spotting these assumptions in yourself helps you notice when you try to make similar ones about other people, as well. I make myself think of myself as a human rather than as a man (that is, I deliberately do not think of myself as male, which was difficult to actually do at first, like breaking a bad habit); sex is a feature of the body no different than height or skin color. (height is a better analogy, because that has obvious physical consequences that are a lot harder to not care about if what you have isn't what you want, like sex.), and gender identity was a bad habit which I broke. It can be a significant shift to one's perspective.
Before anything else, let me say that I applaud and admire your self-hack. What I have to say below is merely an expression of some of my personal thoughts on this issue, and is not intended as any sort of attack on your self-identity. What do you mean by gender identity, exactly? One might disclaim any explicit, verbally-endorsed gender identity, while still retaining the psychological traits that others would categorize as characteristically masculine or feminine. For myself, I don't consider myself to have a strong gender identity, and am somewhat repulsed by the idea that some part of my core essence is intrinsically male. Thus, it is sometimes tempting to think of myself as agendered or androgynous, but I find myself rather persuaded by intellectual arguments to the effect that it's simply not true, that as a question of simple fact, my psychology is intrinsically male, and that this remains the case no matter how I choose to verbally self-identify. Sex isn't just one trait; it's a bundle of correlations between traits, a cluster in a high-dimensional configuration space [http://lesswrong.com/lw/nl/the_cluster_structure_of_thingspace]. If I know the shape of your genitals, I can make all sorts of probabilistic predictions about your other features. The fact that these predictions are probabilistic in nature and that there are many exceptions (some men are shorter than most women, some men are gay, some men have two X chromosomes [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelter%27s_syndrome], &c.) doesn't change the fact that they are doing useful cognitive work. You can think of this from a minimum-message-length perspective: if you're trying to describe an adult human male in a limited number of bits, and the recipient of your message already knows a lot of things about humans, you can shorten your message by saying that you're taking about a man and then describing the specific ways in which the man departs from the human male average, rather than describing ever
There is far greater psychological variation within each sex than there is between the sexes, is there not? Even if the space of all possible minds from XY-grown human brains and the space of all possible minds from XX-grown human brains do not perfectly overlap, I know of no evidence that suggests that the disparity is actually significant enough to be meaningful. Is it even possible to reliably tell the difference between an XX brain and an XY brain just by looking at the structure of neurons? Has anything ever actually been found that was exclusive to one or the other?
It depends on what you're measuring. Let me illustrate with a toy example. Consider some quantitative trait such that the trait value is normally distributed within each sex, and say that both distributions have the same standard deviation (call it s) but different means (call them x1 and x2). (Imagine two bell curves plotted on the same chart, partially overlapping.) We can measure the difference between the means in terms of s; this statistic is known as Cohen's d [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_size#Cohen.27s_d]: d = (x1 - x2)/s So if d is less than one, then there's a sense in which we can say that the variation within a sex (as operationalized by the standard deviation s) is larger than the variation between sexes (as operationalized by the difference in means x1 - x2). But there's nothing intrinsically special about d<1; if we chose some other way to operationalize the claim "more variation within a sex than between sexes," we would get a different result. As it turns out, d=1 is actually very large, as sex differences go: Janet Hyde reviewed a number of studies [http://bama.ua.edu/~sprentic/672%20Hyde%202005.pdf] (PDF) and found d<1 for every trait measured except for throw velocity and throw distance (which aren't even psychological). Given that there is a large amount of overlap for every psychological trait measured, it's tempting to conclude that there is there is therefore no such thing as psychological sex. Ultimately, however, I don't think this inference is quite justified. Why? Well, consider this diagram [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pattern_classification_medium.JPG]. In the diagram, if you look at any one particular trait in isolation, there is substantial overlap between groups, but if you look at the entire configuration space, the groups don't overlap at all. I suspect this kind of phenomenon to apply to real-world psychological sex differences: the difference mostly isn't in any one exclusive trait, but is buried in the correlat
Aw. When I did the same thing, the male parts of my identity did turn out to be cached... but I couldn't want to remove them. (I don't know the mechanism that led me to absorb them, rather than the female equivalents, given that everyone including me thought I was a girl.) For example, I'm weak. I dislike being mocked for it, and I'd like to live in a world where men can be weak; but given that the norm exists, I want it to apply to me.
I am upvoting a lot of these posts. E Night- You are offering a wonderfully unique view on this issue and I would love to see you make a discussion post about it!
Do you mean not gendered, or null-gendered? Or something else entirely? I hunger for details. When dysphoric I do a dissociatey thing where my gender gets pushed under the rug. If I could sustain a less bad variant of that, it might spare me a lot of trouble.
Agender means not having a gender at all; dissolving the entire category, not just occupying a neutral position within it. What worked for me may not work for you, but what I did was carefully examine the pieces of my mind that were male and trace out how they got there. In my case, they were all simply Cached Thoughts I had absorbed from the environment, and never questioned before.
What does it mean to be agendered? Can you provide a specific example? I've never respected gender roles; I'm a fairly androgynous (physically and behaviorally) male and I'm attracted to fairly androgynous females... but I don't know how one would go about "dissolving" their hormones and genitalia.
As a trans-girl who more or less transcends gender, in what specific ways have you "hacked" yourself?
As I've already explained to two other commenters, the first step was digging through my own mind for every piece of myself that was male and tracing how it got there. This took over a year to actually do, but all of those pieces turned out to be Cached Thoughts I had absorbed from the environment. Another way to look at it, is that in social contexts a person's body is a lot like a costume that comes with a role to play. I found that gender is purely a function of that role, at least in my case. I would hypothesize that dysphoria, at least in part, results from an individual having an especially clear concept of the body they wished they had, and subconsciously trying to play the role attached to that body instead of their own. I had my own breakthrough when I learned to recognize and differentiate the role from myself and detach myself from it, so that nothing in my personality depended on my body(I could freely want a different body without it affecting who I see myself as). Ironically, I think role-playing in online games played a large part in my learning to do that.
Oh sorry I must have missed that. My mistake. Anyways, I agree that a person's body is basically a costume or a shell and that there is often a role associated with that. However, how do you deal with the social aspect of being agendered? As far as my experience goes in the real world, you can tell people all you want that you're without gender but if you look like a boy you'll be treated like one. Whether you play that role or not. I remember when I first started really passing and the world started treating me as a girl I would constantly worry about playing into the stereotypical role: should I be wearing make-up today, do I look okay, should I pretend to be bad at that? I quickly realized however that there was no point to transitioning just to conform to a new role again. So I simply stopped trying to play into any specific gender role and did what comes naturally. Since then I identify somewhat as a tomboy. I do what I like and I like what I do and I've never been happier. I would never want to go back to having a male shell however, the female body is by far the closest to my gender identity. Is that sort of what you're aiming at?
You actually answer this yourself. I wouldn't really proclaim my lack of gender identity in any case, unless the subject came up specifically. If the body you have is going to affect how people treat you, I feel that wanting a different body for the role it comes with isn't addressing the problem so much as dodging it. What I mean is, if I'm going to be treated a certain way just because of the body I have, it doesn't matter to me (on the meta level) what that treatment is. I'm treated like a boy because I look like one, but to me, that isn't any better or worse than being treated like anything else because I look like one. It's a much deeper and more general problem than a person's personality not meshing well with the role socially associated with their sex. Granted, the body I have isn't the body I would choose to have, but to me that now feels like something entirely unrelated to issues of identity. With the conscious recognition and isolation of the role, all possible bodies are equal so far as my identity is concerned. Not quite; I don't believe gender identity should exist at all. Rather, what I'm aiming at is the separation of preference-of-body and preference-of-role from each other as well as from identity. A question I once posed to myself was, if all the social connotations attached to each of the sexes were perfectly reversed, swapped, would that change what body you would choose to have? And I found that I could not give a simple answer. The question of body seemed straightforward, but my mind kept trying to attach something else that confused the answer, and that something turned out to be the question of role. Suddenly it was clear to me, on a gut level, that they really were separate questions, and that the question of role was effectively a question of environmental preference that just happened to be tangled up with this "gender" concept in our own society.
How has that made your life different?

For example-Women have better social skills (good!), but are more prone to depression (bad). Men are better self-promoters (good!), but are more aggressive (bad).

Wouldn't keeping these two examples symmetrical be better? Depression while it does affect others primarily hurts the person who is depressed, inappropriate aggression while it does affect the person engaged in it, primarily hurts others. Implicitly this affirms the axiom that average women are more valuable than average men, which is ingrained in us to a surprising extent.

There are plenty of examples of male traits that hurt men. Higher suicide rate for starters.

Upvoted! That is really useful advice, thank you. I will edit the original post to include suicide rate instead of aggression.

Several commenters have pointed out that you are misuing words like "maladaptive," when traits like aggression are often highly adaptive. And that's a problem. But I don't understand how you think what you're calling evolution would even work.

What exactly are you refering to when you talk about natural selection? To invoke Sagan, the secrets of evolution are time and death. Evolutionary reasons for the way we are are made up of ancestors who passed their genes on. Your edits emphasize that this would be a voluntary process, but if the people who ... (read more)

I agree normatively with "postgenderism" but have little reason to put particular stock in the predictions above.

Should transhumanism occur, it will eliminate the maladaptive differences.

Transhumanism is a set of values, not an event. (One would not say that Humanism has happened.)

Agreed, but is there an accepted word for "humans develop the technology to dramatically alter their bodies, such that they begin developing into a species that is not recognizably human?"

Why expect most of the change to occur with the removal of maladaptive differences, rather than by increasing adaptive differences? Why expect us to make women more more confident than men?

Your links are, sadly, not properly formatted.

Adding hyperlinks to posts does not work like adding links to comments.

Seasoned users: Is it possible to do [brackets-parentheses) links in articles,
or does one have to do it via the clumsy, user un-friendly WYSIWYG interface?

Nope. Either that or one can click on the "HTML" toolbar button and edit the HTML source directly: link text [http://example.com/link-url.html]

I think we will eventually end up in either a genderless society, where the sets of attributes that define gender no longer exist and humans are free to adopt whatever attributes they desire, or in a patriarchal dystopia. The dystopia will come about through "voluntary" changes that will not be explicitly forced, but will be the only option for non-men under patriarchy. The game will be more rigged than it already is.

Feminist theory has held that gender (the set of memes that people with penises behave in certain ways, and people without penises... (read more)

Feminist theory has held that gender (the set of memes that people with penises behave in certain ways, and people without penises behave in other ways) is both socially constructed and socially enforced.

Many (and probably most) animals also have gender in the sense that individuals with penises behave in certain ways, and individuals with ovaries behave in other ways, despite not having memes.

One cached thought in the rationalist community that isn't often questioned is that natural selection, rather than higher-level social pressures, cause certain things.

I'll take it you haven't been paying attention to the discussions of status on OB and LW. In my experience rationalist are much more willing to consider explanations based on social pressure, then feminists are to consider explanations based on natural selection.

I think this is a cached thought. It's very easy to anthropomorphize; if scientists can do it for the concept of natural selection itself, they can certainly do it for animals. The scientific community is much less neutral than we would both like it to be, and as such, it will support findings that are more in line with the social status quo. This is something that we admit for everything that we've changed our minds about, and it doesn't seem surprising to me that we'll continue changing our minds. In my experience, almost all "status" conversations are based upon a hackneyed post-hoc evolutionary just-so story. Most prominent feminists are not in fact scientists, and this is the fault of our society for not being more scientific in general, not feminism specifically (what political movements are led by scientists?). Additionally, I think when you use the word "consider," you mean "accept." Feminists do consider explanations based on evolution; they just reject them because they think another explanation is more probable. The fact that they reject them isn't very useful; what would be interesting is why, but you don't bring that up. I think this one section also displays fairly bad mind-killing -- even if my team is bad in some way, that isn't evidence for it being wrong, and it isn't evidence for your team being right.
Yes, but it's still true. I'm confused by this statement. Are you seriously arguing that the observations that, e.g., female but not male bears take care of the cubs, or that peahens prefer peacocks with more impressive tails, etc., are simply cases of scientists being biased? Speaking of cached thoughts: it is a common cached thought to dismiss any explanation of human behavior based on evolution as a post-hoc just-so-story regardless of the merits of the explanation. OK, let's look at your explanations: So you're explanation appears to boil down to "it's all the patriarchy's fault". This appears to be a classic case of an anti-affective death spiral [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Affective_death_spiral]. On the contrary, if your team is bad at rationality, that is evidence for it being wrong.
Cached thoughts are thoughts that we think are true because we cached them at some point and never re-evaluated them. To properly re-evaluate a cached thought we need to re-evaluate all dependencies, including the ones that we might not notice at first. It's exceedingly hard to do that, which is why otherwise intelligent people in the past didn't start questioning the aspects of racism and sexism that are commonly denounced today. I'm not a prominent feminist; I haven't written anything of substance on feminism, and I don't even consider my opinion to have much meaning since I'm male-assigned. I'm not the people I was talking about. I think you should read some actual feminist literature (I'd start with bell hooks and then move on to some Dworkin), with an eye towards the differences in how you perceive the world versus how bell hooks and Dworkin perceive the world.
Good grief. You may lack relevant experience to justify a particular opinion, but that's totally different from saying your opinions are invalid-by-maleness. It is needlessly essentialist. Mary Daly's exclusion of men from her class (for the reasons she posited) was conceptually wrong.
There's a difference between an essentialist gender outlook, where gender is an essential aspect of people with a certain biological configuration, and an objective gender outlook, where gender is an objectively observable configuration of human minds. Specifically, the difference is that after the Great Feminist Cultural Revolution, gender won't objectively exist. It will have been erased from institutions, individuals, and cultures (by "after", we mean "hundreds of years after"). Gender is like any other socially instilled bias, except that it tends to run much deeper (gender socialization starts at birth; religious socialization starts later, and isn't connected to one's anatomy at all). As such, it does objectively exist, and you can't handwave it away.
As far as I can tell, this is a definitional dispute. There are many traits that females express in modern society. I take essentialist theory to be saying that all of these traits are based in sex, not in gender. As you say, this is wrong - lots of these traits are gender and would disappear if feminist social engineering succeeded. Only those traits actually based on sex would remain I was criticizing the position you expressed that men have literally nothing to say about the dividing line between female gender and female sex. For example, a man can say "Getting pregnant is an expression of sex, not gender" or "Wearing dresses is an expression of gender, not sex."
You seem to have targeted a problem that I don't care about, so we've miscommunicated at some point. Men have literally nothing to say about the experiences of women under patriarchy, which is the basis of feminism.
Let's ignore for the moment whether all feminists do or should believe this. Is you position that men have nothing useful to say about how to end patriarchy? Because that looks a lot like the stereotypical patriarchal assertion that women have nothing useful to say about how society should work. It seems to me that the counter-argument to that position should work just as well to justify male participation in the intellectual process that hopefully leads to the reshaping of society to make it more gender equal.
Men and women are taught drastically different things under patriarchy to such an extent that I think that men attempting to think in a feminist way will be off-target far more so than women. Patriarchy exists objectively. I don't think Mary Daly was wrong, but I haven't read her (yet).
Imagine two professors of German studies: Hans, a native and citizen of Germany, and Bob, a native and citizen of the United States. If you are asking questions about what it is like to live in Germany, sometimes you get correct answers from Hans, and sometimes from Bob. There's no reason to believe that Bob will never have useful things to say about Germany, even when talking to Hans. Even if Hans will give a more accurate answer more often. Why is it different when the subject is feminism and Hans is female instead of German?
Because it's easier to get facts about what it's like to live in Germany if you aren't a German than it is to get facts about what it's like to be a woman in patriarchy if you aren't a woman. To put it another way, until it's possible to print out and debug human connectionist networks and association maps, most of the knowledge about gendered oppression can only be obtained by listening to women. This is, of course, something that men under patriarchy are loathe to do, which is why Less Wrong (a male-identified male-dominated community) insists that men are perfectly fine sources of feminist analysis.
I certainly don't expect Bob to give more useful answers than Hans a majority of the time. When it changes from Hans & Bob to Alice & Bob, the percentage will fall further. In short, your position is that men have no useful input, which is very different from saying that they seldom have useful input. Bob should never have become a professor of feminism, as you describe the issue.
How seldom does seldom have to be before seldom becomes 'no'?
Why is this relevant? The truth should not depend on the observer?
The truth does not depend on the observer, but the data observed does, very much so, depend on the observer. Especially when the device capturing and interpreting the data is as messy as a human brain, two observers looking at the same situation can come away with very different impressions. I missed this: This is what I was referring to: The fact that there are postmodernist feminists is completely irrelevant.

In general, it seems strongly that some aspects of gender are social constructs and others or not. The most helpful way of distinguishing them is to look at differences across different societies. If some difference in gender behavior exists in all or almost all societies then the degree of social construction in it is likely to be small. If some gender aspect only exists in some specific times and places then it is a gender construct. Let's look at examples which are relevant to modern society. In the United States, and much of the Western world, it is taken for granted that pink is a feminine color and blue is a masculine color. Indeed, we start this with a very young age, giving clothes of the appropriate colors to infants. Many people in the US consider this to be an obvious universal. But in fact, this color distinction is very modern. However, now consider for example aggressiveness. In pretty much all societies, males are considered to be more violent and aggressive than females.

Aside from looking at other cultures, there are other methods. For example, one can look at children who were genetically male but had surgery at a very young age that made them anatomically female.... (read more)

In general, it seems strongly that some aspects of gender are social constructs and others or not. The most helpful way of distinguishing them is to look at differences across different societies.

There are however two huge pitfalls when engaging in this sort of reasoning.

The first is the tendency to conclude that since aspect X of gender apparently doesn't exist in society Y, it is therefore a social construct, and it can be eliminated by changing some particular aspect of the existing society in isolation -- ignoring the possibility that any such change necessarily entails making the society look more similar to Y in other ways, which would be seen as unfavorable even by most people who are negatively disposed towards X per se. This of course sounds like a clear fallacy when spelled out like this, but the fallacy can often be found at the core of many gender-related arguments, and countering it is often impossible without making arguments of the sort "lack of X leads to Y" that sound insensitive and offensive when stated explicitly.

The second is the failure to realize that aspect X of gender can be a stable equilibrium for collective behavior, like driving on the ri... (read more)

Characteristically Burkian.
Not all attributes of gender are transient; not all of the things commonly attributed to one gender or another would be totally gone in a genderless (non-transhumanist) society. But that doesn't mean that the category of gender cleaves thingspace at the natural edges. This isn't a good experiment unless the people involved have no knowledge of the child's birth sex. Also, as far as I'm aware, there's about one prominent case study describing this, and as such I think it's misleading that you use the word "frequently". The one time I know of this happening, you're right -- the person eventually transitioned back to masculinity. But that's not much to update on.
Sure. This is far from perfect. I presume that you are thinking of the David Reimer case [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer]. While that is the most prominent example it is not the only one. In fact, that case is actually is one of the less useful examples since there were many complicating factors. But there are a variety of other case studies. See, e.g. here [http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/106/1/135.full].
You think it likely we will end up in a future with what you see as an enormous evil gone, even as most people don't see it that way. I'm reluctant to update my predictions about the future much based on yours because you have an idiosyncratic prediction that matches an idiosyncratic value system. Maybe you took steps to avoid thinking something true because you hope it? As an analogy, imagine you were speaking to someone and they predicted the USA, Canada, and Mexico would become a single political entity before 2100. You might think that very interesting, but if it later was revealed that the person's solution for America's problems was unity with Canada and Mexico, you would probably be skeptical about the prediction and think it might be wishful thinking. The reason you didn't think that at first is because you had never heard that discussed as an ideal or near-utopian scenario (at least I haven't).
I didn't give any distribution for the two option-clusters I outlined. I think it's more likely that we'll end up in a patriarchal dystopia for a variety of reasons. I think that the enlightenment ideas that transhumanism claims to champion are meaningless in a patriarchal context (or a context devoid of feminist analysis). I think you're being very eager to disagree with me, which isn't unsurprising, since politics etc..

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