Although evolution psychology underscores the importance of sex differences in sexuality, it is increasingly becoming clear that some social psychologists view this allegation as an exaggeration that is not rooted in science (Stewart-Williams & Thomas, 2013). Indeed, the binary classification of categorizing species is being put to question due to the occurrence of life events that go beyond the explanations and classifications provided by evolutionary psychologists. This paper reflects upon the question of natural binary in the context of some of the fundamental issues discussed in the chapter.
The media “Is Anatomy Destiny” raises pertinent questions relating to the issue of anatomy by arguing that the concept of anatomy is to a large extent influenced by social categorizations of the human body rather than biological or natural processes. Dreger (2010) makes reference to body types that challenge existing social norms (e.g., conjoined twins, dwarfs, and intersexual individuals) and argues that these people are perceived as unnatural merely because they threaten social categorizations that are often used to entrench sex differences.
While it is clear that Dreger does not believe in the concept of natural binary and in fact views it as a creation of our social and cultural considerations, she does not address some of the issues raised by evolutionary psychologists that strengthen the notion of natural binary. For example, evolutionary psychologists believe that sexual differences are naturally apparent in the pursuit of casual sex for males and mate choice criteria for females (Myers, 2013; Stewart-Williams & Thomas, 2013). If Dreger’s assertions are valid, it would mean that such differences are perpetuated by social and cultural categorizations of what is masculine or feminine, rather than natural binary.
Darwin’s writings on sexual selection put “a strong emphasis on sexual dimorphism, female mate choice, and male competition for mates” (Stewart-Williams & Thomas, 2013, p. 138). However, Dreger (2010) uses the examples of conjoined twins and intersexual people to reject the notion that human beings display different characteristics beyond the variations in their sexual organs and other notable attributes.
This means that the differences noted between males and females when selecting mates are not as a result of sexual selection or natural binary. Consequently, if there was no natural binary as argued in the media, it would mean that women’s behavioral orientation of investing heavily in their offspring is as a result of cultural and gender-based considerations rather than genetic makeup. The issue that would arise from such a categorization is the universality of the behavioral orientation across cultures since women in all cultures seem to invest heavily in their offspring relative to men.
Lastly, it would have been plausible if Dreger (2010) explained how women are unique in forming social relationships and helping those in need. Although Dreger refutes the notion of natural binary, she concludes her video by arguing that females have unique characteristics that are different from their male counterparts. By declining the natural binary argument, Dreger seems to acknowledge that such anatomical differences between men and women cannot be as a result of nature. Again, the question arises as to why women are good at developing and maintaining social relationships, while most men are poor in interpersonal relationships.
Dreger has certainly raised valid issues regarding anatomical differences and sexuality, though more detailed research studies need to be undertaken to determine the role of natural binary and sociocultural considerations. It is only through such studies that the perception of universality in the anatomical differences can be understood.
Dreger, A. (2010). Is anatomy destiny?. Web.
Myers, D. (2013). Social psychology (13th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Stewart-Williams, S., & Thomas, A.G. (2013). The ape that thought it was a peacock: Does evolutionary psychology exaggerate human sex differences? Psychological Inquiry, 24(3), 137-168.