SSM: The Wrong Side of Intellectual History

June 2012 

From The American College of Pediatricians

The core case against gay marriage is extremely simple: If a mother’s missing, that’s important; if a father’s missing, that’s also important. We should think of it this way: When you were growing up, didn’t you notice the psychological difference between your mother and your father? Wasn’t some of the difference obviously attributable to the fact that one was a man and the other a woman? There has been an ideology, a kind of religion since the Seventies that says that psychological differences between the genders were mere social constructs, but the advent of brain scanning devices and new research in social psychology are now shifting the balance back to show that nature shapes us to some extent after all. All this has enormous significance in the area of child-rearing, which is far-and-away the most important reason why society should keep committing itself to giving economic benefits and social recognition to mother-and-father couples.

Social Psychology. Studies in social psychology confirm the common observation that women tend to describe themselves more in relational terms, welcome more help, experience more relationship-linked emotions, and are more attuned to others’ relationships (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Gabriel & Gardner; 1999; Tamres & others, 2002; Watkins & others, 1998, 2003). In conversation, men more often focus on tasks & connections with large groups, women on personal relationships (Tannen, 1990). When on the phone, women’s conversations with friends last longer (Smorda & Licoppe, 2000). When on the computer, women spend more time sending emails in which they express more emotion (Crabtree, 2002; Thomson & Murachver, 2001). When in groups, women share more of their lives and offer more support (Dindia & Allen, 1992; Eagly, 1987. When facing stress, men tend to respond with fight-or-flight; often, their response to a threat is combat. In nearly all studies, notes Shelley Taylor (2002), women who are under stress more often “tend and befriend”; they turn to friends and family for support. With children, women tend to coddle, men to challenge.

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