Gynosympathy

Gynosympathy is the well-documented, yet poorly examined, tendency in human being to sympathize with females more than males, leading to the preferential protection and appeasement of women. As a scientific reality, gynosympathy is so well demonstrated that it is virtually irrefutable.1 As a social concept, however, it is virtually unknown.

The reasons for this discrepancy are many, not least of which is that gynosympathy is such a deeply rooted phenomenon that human beings have a very difficult time recognizing it.

It likely has both evolutionary and cultural aspects. For example, Bateman’s Principle would lead us to suspect that men would exhibit gynosympathy more often in the context of sexual relations (or their implied or imagined potential) which has been born out in a study by Rudman and Goodwin [“Gender differences in automatic in-group bias: why do women like women more than men like men?” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology 2004 Oct;87(4):494-509.] that found “that for sexually experienced men, the more positive their attitude was toward sex, the more they implicitly favored women.2

Another excellent demonstration of gynosympathy can be found in a study by Plant, Hyde, Keltner, and Devine [“The Gender Stereotyping of Emotions,” Psychology of Women Quarterly 28 JUL 2006 DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2000.tb01024.x] wherein a variety of facial expressions were posed by professional face models, photographed, and selected for their precise muscular sameness. Participants shown photos of men and women with the exact same expressions judged the women to be more sad (eliciting sympathy) and the men to be more angry (eliciting a threat response). “Even unambiguous anger poses by women were rated as a mixture of anger and sadness.” This is a clear bias of sympathy in favor of women.

Of course, researchers often focus on conclusions other than gynosympathy; the authors of the PWQ study, for example, lamented that women were not allowed to be angry. Ironically, by sympathizing preferentially with women (why not lament that men were not allowed to be sad?) the researchers were exhibiting the very bias they thought they were addressing.

But, the most dramatic examples of gynosympathy are probably recent video experiments in public domestic violence (check here and here) which illustrate vividly the disparity in human reactions to male and female violence and suffering.

A human gynosympathetic bias is clear. It absolutely saturates gender politics, leading to exaggerations of the plight of women like the “rule of thumb” myth, the “wage gap” myth, and the widespread belief that before the 20th century no woman could own property. It leads political activists to glamorize the history of voting rights and ignore conscription, to demonize men for fighting (and dying) in war while glossing over the well-documented role of women in urging, and even shaming, men to trek off to battle while they remained home in peace and safety.

Gynosympathy distorts legislation, leading to brazenly discriminatory laws that explicitly name women as a class of victims who need special protection, even against problems (like violence) where men suffer comparable or even higher rates of victimhood. It skews medical research, leading to preferential funding for women’s health issues out of proportion to their incidence and fatality rates compared to similar men’s health issues. And, in US courts, the influence of gynosympathy drives a sexist bias in prosecution, sentencing, and execution that dwarfs the racial biases in the justice system.

It is time to recognize this cognitive bias for the systemic and dangerously discriminatory influence that it is; to seek out its discriminatory influence in ourselves, our culture, and our institutions; and to push for a more rational, scientific, ethical, equitable, humane, and universally sympathetic approach to gender issues.

1 Of course, valid science being defined by falsifiable theories, nothing scientific is technically “irrefutable.”

2 Incidentally, the same study “confirmed that women’s automatic in-group bias is remarkably stronger than men’s” and “men lack a mechanism that bolsters automatic own group preference,” making ideological theories of a “patriarchal” conspiracy to boost men at the expense of women a scientific absurdity.

5 Comments

  1. Jacobi
    Posted February 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to direct this comment at the author of this post..I know that gender bias exists on both sides of the sexes (that is why we have the “woman box” as well as “man box”) but we do have different types of feminists. Some are radical and a tad crazy, I must admit, but others are advocates for feminism in the belief that men and women should be seen as equal in a sense that they should be free to be what they’d like and achieve their desired goals in life without people questioning them based on the gender listed on their birth certificate. I know you claim to be an anti-feminist, but are you anti both men and women embracing their differences and recognizing their similarities without judgment and limiting expectations of each other?

    • Posted February 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Your assertion that there are “different types of feminists” is essentially a version of the NAFALT argument (Not-All-Feminists-Are-Like-That) which has been better addressed at other anti-feminist sites.

      Suffice it to say that flying the flag of Feminism while pretending innocence of its worst abuses is morally akin to the Nuremberg defense. Feminism isn’t a birth demographic like race, gender, sexuality, or nationality, an identity where people might find themselves purely by accident. It’s an ideology one chooses, and with choice comes accountability. If you want to distance yourself from the truly nasty history of Feminism and the radical craziness of its leadership, then stop making excuses and abandon Feminism for reason, science, honesty, justice, and genuinely gender-neutral equality before the law.

      • Mitchell Pratt
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Feminism is, and has always been about, equality and justice. Where are you getting this idea that radical misandry is the “real version” of feminism?

        • Mitchell Pratt
          Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          And what about the ‘Not-All-Men-Are-Like-That’ argument – are you opposed to that too? Why does your site focus solely on feminism? Why not ALL forms of gender inequality?

        • Posted June 13, 2014 at 1:58 am | Permalink

          The “Feminism is about equality” myth has been repeatedly debunked. Expanding privileges without expanding obligations is neither equality nor justice. For example, women have never been held equally accountable for the laws that suffrage gave them a voice in crafting. The disparity in sentencing between men and women who commit the same crime dwarfs the racial disparity that is universally recognized as proof of inequality and injustice, and stands as indisputable proof that the core of Feminism is supremacism, not equality.

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