DRAWN FROM NEUROSCIENCE, THIS SYNTHESIS
SEEKS TO TAP ESSENTIAL QUALITIES OF
THE FEMININE PRINCIPLES of CONNECTEDNESS
STRENGTHENING THE CASE FOR THE INNATE VALUE OF WOMEN…as well as the many MEN WHO — THANKFULLY — GET IT!
With the current instability of geopolitics, the environment,
the economy and global inequality
how different might this world be if our national & global systems
updated to incorporate the feminine principles of interconnectedness
in every decision made, everywhere, especially in politics!
• In his decades dedicated to researching the Divided Brain (thedividedbrain.com) Dr. Iain McGilchrist stresses while we use the whole of our brains, the world today is paying an increasing price for the ongoing dominance of the brilliant, but blinkered, systematizing, hierarchical proclivities of the brain's left-hemisphere--exemplified by the current status-quo. McGilchrist's lament is the resulting lack of integration of the contextual, flexible, big-picture perspective of our more empathic, lateral, right-hemisphere.
• Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, author of The Ethical Brain, makes the point that the left-hemisphere “will stick to its belief system no matter what". McGilchrist reiterates in his summation of the rigid left side as “the side that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know!” (Yes, political lefts and rights are the reverse!)
• Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen’s research described in The Essential Difference and Science of Evil: On Empathy & the Origins of Cruelty differentiates between men and women by tagging "the extreme male brain" to be less empathic and more tending toward autism. According to Gazzaniga, Baron-Cohen’s book “lays the scientific groundwork for a brighter science of understanding of the dark side of the human condition.”
• In his book, The Moral Molecule: How Trust Works, Dr. Paul Zak presents his lab's research on the prosocial, bonding, qualities of the neuropeptide oxytocin -- 'the love hormone.' Zak describes oxytocin as inducing empathy which in turn fosters feelings of trust, safety and forgiveness. He applauds the resulting qualities of reciprocity and understanding as what stimulates respect for differences -- gender, race, religion, skin color, tribe, politics, belief, value systems, etc. The Golden Rule at the universal heart of our world's major religions -- now substantiated by science -- bids us 'do unto others what you would have them do to you.'
• By contrast, Kray & Haselhuhn in Scientific American show in competitive situations (think politics and the corporate culture) men’s more naturally testosterone-driven impulse to win and succeed results in their having lower moral and ethical standards, more inclined to reactionary violence thus making men more inclined than women to sabotage and undermine opponents.
• Nobel winner Joseph Stiglitz defines economics as America’s #1 religion clearly discouraging competition as he encourages co-operation and collaboration. Recent studies show students of business and economy (more frequently men and characteristically left-hemisphere motivated) to be more inclined to self-interest, competitiveness and sociopathy than those who opt for the fields of Law, the sciences, humanities.
• Nobel Laureate Professor James Heckman’s work on "the economics of human potential” contextualizes the inherent costs of the 'empathy-deficit' that exists in society's over-valuing of cognitive (left-hemisphere) skills, particularly in the crucial fields of early brain development and education.
• Sherry Turkle, in her book Alone Together, adds research on the impact of technology and social media as significantly reducing empathy activation thus diminishing the ability to relate one-on-one. She makes the point that grounded face-to-face reality enables us to better relate to, and understand, each other’s similar and different experience.
• The Atlantic magazine's Lisa Mundy in “Why Silicon Valley is so Awful to Women” quotes Joelle Emerson and others describing implicit and explicit gender bias and sexism in the (very left-hemisphere) world of technology -- initiated and led by a handful of men -- that now dominates the globe. Women working in tech today make up between 15% and 30%.
• Decades ago, Dr’s Carol Gilligan, Deborah Tannen, and Riane Eisler's and neurosurgeon, Leonard Shlain's best-selling books focused on the inherent gender imbalance evident in our culture and exemplified in language -- a left-hemisphere strength. Today in Washington, the political Right's narrower, more direct and assertive left-hemisphere message proves simpler to convey in sound-bites than the Democratic Party's more all-embracing right-hemisphere platform. Currently in the US House of Representatives, 19% are women -- 78 Democratic and 26 Republican.
(To keep the above, very brief, synthesis simple, my take on how this understanding can change the world is obviously sweepingly general! That said, understanding our common physiological differences as well as similarities opens the door to more easily seeing -- though not necessarily agreeing with -- those who think or act differently. Best scenario -- this understanding enables us to better "hold the tension of the opposites" so that an alliance between the left and right -- brain hemispheres and political parties -- might be possible. A middle way? At a time when more women are speaking out, the intention here is to expand and extend the concept of Feminism by adding this science-based criteria extolling the virtues of the right-hemisphere's manifestation of 'Feminine principles'. The 'soft' virtues that neuroscience tells us are not exclusive to women (although they may be more innately resonant with women) but also to the very many men who get it, customarily not corporate or political leaders! With partcular thanks to the work of the men whose neuroscience is referenced here -- as well as the prescient women -- all have affirmed the blessing of the life-enhancing values of empathy. A level of mutual caring which should be a goal for us all to acknowledge and work toward -- if for no other ethical reason, for future generations. For the sake of all life on Earth, we urgently need to awaken from our easy Western complacency and apply this knowledge to how and where humanity goes from here -- personally and collectively, locally and globally. Lets just hope it will be soon enough.)
We are all in this together....and reminder from Father Thomas Berry:
"The destiny of this planet, is our destiny"