Letter to the Editor

Disappointing sex column

Last issue’s sex column, “A hormone’s double standard (Jan 10)” by Harrison Levitan, was disappointing, as it showed a lack of tact in its discussion of gendered behaviors. The argument reproduces a typically sexist rationale that social roles for men and women are rooted in biology.

The column is about Oxytocin, a hormone that plays a role in feelings of intimacy. Levitan believes this hormone is the reason why men like to, in his words, “hit-it-and-quit-it.” Although Levitan writes that he is “not encouraging all men to roll over after sex, shrug and blame Oxytocin before getting dressed and walking out the door,” he tells women “to hate on Mother Nature” if they feel frustrated with men’s behavior.

There is no talk of gendered social roles as being culturally constructed; Levitan merely rationalizes different sexual behavior as rooted in Oxytocin. Following this line of thought, women should suffer in silence, because men can’t change the way they act.

While humans are biological creatures, they are also social ones. We learn how to act from the actions others take, and the often misogynistic media images we absorb. Blaming differences in men’s and women’s behaviors on biology while giving no attention to socially assembled sexism is dangerous logic. It provides an open door through which some of the ugliest aspects of our society evolve, such as rape apologism, or the belief that rape can be provoked by a victim’s behavior. Our culture is permeated by violence – especially violence against women – and to pass off even simple acts of disrespect as biology only feeds into cultural structures that hamper social justice. Additionally, Levitan pays no attention to what repercussions this sort of rationalization might have for LGBTQ students, and thus renders them invisible.

If Levitan must write another column, he should be extra careful about the implications of his arguments.

Paul Seltzer is a sophomore majoring in women’s studies.

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