There is no question here of individuals making a choice; still less of that choice being one between good and evil, morality and immorality, normality and abnormality. We all start out as female – if there is therefore the slightest “abnormality” (and there is not), then it is in the relatively scarce presence of the extreme macho male. If there is any criticism to be made and more profound questioning to be asked, it should be made of those who find it so difficult to understand and enjoy the rich and valuable differences between us. Such bigotry includes those who refuse to treat men and women equally, who believe unquestioningly and unreservedly that marriage between a man and a woman is the only correct and morally sound arrangement, without, it seems, a thought either of the growth in divorce rates or of the loveless and pointless lives of so many couples trapped in their Stepford Wives–esque worlds. A far more valuable focus should be on happiness, the optimisticand caring spirit of those who lead joyful lives whatever their sexuality.
Sexual bigotry has, in my lifetime, largely been the province of men – I half suspect because the Alpha Male is fearful of the vulnerabilities associated with softer, shared and different forms of loving relationships. And also because few schoolboys appreciated that the word “homosexual” derives from the Greek “homos” meaning “the same”, rather than the Latin “homo” meaning “man”! This bigotry has included the uncomfortable conviction that same–sex relationships must be unnatural as they cannot involve procreation. And of course they cannot. The “conviction” has always been an “uncomfortable” one because, were it as simple as that, homosexuality would rapidly and genetically wear itself out, and of course it has not. We now know that, far from being an uncreative, aberrant form of life, homosexuality is genetically linked to mothers who are especially fertile. Homosexuals are usually part of larger–than–average families. If there is anything “normal” about the genetic source of same–sex love, it is that it is linked to greater fertility and larger numbers of brothers and sisters; it is part of the programme to grow the population.
There is nothing “unnatural” about any of these states – indeed many of our greatest artists have been homosexual, combining the “male” drive with the “female” awareness of words, colour and social complexity. As we will see in a moment, at the extreme limits of the brain we find autism, most frequently a male phenomenon. Here too, this has a spectrum of its own and is, in large part, no more than an extreme variant on the average. But it is an area worth specific attention, because it produces the focussed scientists and inventors of our age; usually these are male. Without autism we would probably not have fire or the wheel. During their early years at school, the more complex “female” brain puts girls, on average, at an advantage. However, gradually and then more rapidly, the driven and systematic orientated brain (usually male) overtakes. It is extraordinary that 167 of the 170 surviving Nobel Prize winners are men.
The trouble with all these statistics is that, inevitably, they are historical. Women scientists today are still, doubtless, suffering from the male–orientated world of the past. The higher testosterone–driven male will tend, in larger numbers than women, to want to pursue the remorseless and driven lives of the leading researchers and scientists. Expect that, within the next generation, however, there will be many more women competing for, and winning, by right, the most senior posts. Five years ago, MIT shocked academics when it confronted its male–dominated culture and the way it had marginalised women. In 2004, neuro–scientist Susan Hokfield was appointed Provost. Already in America, most of the graphs are pointing strongly in favour of more women. Whilst male science degrees in the US have declined slightly over the last thirty years, the number of women earning such degrees has more than doubled to slightly overtake the men.