Reclaiming Complementarianism – Part 1

Scriptures and even existential realities advocate and prohibit a limited set of particular functions between the sexes. However, this hardly constitutes a framework of rigid gender roles. Alternative rational paradigms can justify the existence of these exclusionary functions. But before visiting the biblical counsel, which is understandably most psychologically problematic for women (Eph 5:23), it behooves to frame an alternative paradigm of complementarianism.

Rather than conceiving of man/husband and woman/wife in terms of gender roles, it would prove more apt and productive to conceive each sex as having intrinsically dominant propensities. These should not be thought of in terms of being rigidly defined or unchangeable. For each category of attributes, individual members will vary within a range for each sex (and even overlap with the range of the other sex). These differentiating propensities better endow one spouse or the other to certain functions within the marriage. However, since Scriptures is circumspect concerning the allocation of these abilities, a flexible casting of functions proves more profitable.

These propensities are not socially constructed, although they may be confirmed and re-enforced by socialization. Evidence from science, history, psychology, and sociology can be enlisted to validate this contention, although full discourse would be too long-winded for the purposes of a blog. But to give a couple of examples:

Gender Differences in Navigation

Anecdotal observation that males tend to give directions according to cardinal points (or global reference points), while females according to the right or left of self or landmarks has acquired scientific imprimatur.

The overall pattern of gender differences that have been found points to a difference in the strategies that women and men use to find their way in the environment. Indeed, when asked how they find their way to new locations, women and men report different strategies (Lawton, 1994, 1996). Women are more likely to say they rely on knowledge of whether to turn right or left at specified landmarks along the route; men are more likely to report orienting to global reference points, such as the cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West) or the position of the sun in the sky.[1]

But where do the respective sexes learn of these different approaches in direction giving? I cannot recall of a specially segregated primary school class whereby boys were taught to navigate and give directions in a particular manner.

This apparent trivial observation speaks to how males and female relate differently to the cosmos. Use of cardinal terms and/or external and global reference points indicates an approach to life through finding one’s place within the context of the cosmos. Use of relative terms (left, right) indicates an alternative approach by locating the cosmos in relative context of self. Hereby, one observes the roots of objective and subjective thought.

While individuals within each sex, in displays of gender nationalism, may laud their own approach, there exists no absolute superiority in one approach over the other. Both prove mission critical to existence. There will exist occasions where one or the other approach proves inadequate in order to survive and thrive. “There is no up or down in space,”[2] or in a darkened labyrinth. On the other hand, a nose-to-the-ground exegetical and immediate exigency approach to life can lose sight and way of the bigger picture and vision.

There exists certain professions which are advantaged by compass brains; those disciplines, which require a systematic comprehension of the whole operation, such as in systematic theology, philosophy, architecture, engineering, and computer science. It is perhaps for this reason most of all, that these professions are dominated by males, despite civic efforts to contend against this natural proclivity. On the other hand, successful politicians are those with both compass brains and lizard brains.[3] Those with high psychosocial IQs tend to dominate in both government and corporations, not those with extraordinary technical knowledge and ability. The cool rationality of Neville Chamberlain was outwitted by the “unbalanced” Adolf Hitler.

Gender Differences in Modesty and Discretion

Those salacious sex surveys which compare the number of Lifetime Sexual Partners (LSPs) between men and women prove to be objectively bogus and unreliable. (Herein, we are only considering opposite sex sexual partners.) Incontrovertible logic dictates that for every distinct partner that a male has, there shall correspond a distinct partner for a female. Even if there was one thousand men who had visited one prostitute; for each additional LSP that each of those thousand men chalked up, that prostitute would do likewise.

It is believed that this sex discrepancy is mathematically impossible because with male and female populations of equal size, average numbers of LSPs should be the same for both sexes.[4]

Consequently, the average mean of Lifetime Sexual Partners between the sexes should be roughly the same. More accurately, the ratio of opposite sex partners between males and females should be the inverse of the ratio between males and females in any measured population. Therefore, all other things being equal, if there are in Western nations, 110 women for every 100 men, males should correspondingly have about 10% more distinct opposite sex partners than their female counterparts.

However, self-reported sociological surveys consistently report LSP ratios which far exceed the mathematical logic; from 50% to over double.

Locality Source Year

Ave. Male

Ave. Female
Britain Natsal-3 (C.H. Mercer)(16–74 years) 2010–2 14.1 7.1
The Health Survey for England (16–69 years) 2011 9.3 4.7
France Study of Sexuality (30–49 years) 2005–6 12.9 5.1
France Study of Sexuality (30–49 years) 1992 12.6 4.0
France Study of Sexuality (30–49 years) 1970 12.8 1.5
India Men’s Health GSS 2013 3.0 2.0
Sweden NIPH 1996 13.0 7.0
United States NCHS (15–44 years) 2011–3

2002

6.6

6.7

4.3

3.8

Global Durex – GSS – 48 countries 2005 10.2 6.9

Unless all the males throughout the world, who are claiming such virility, are parachuting off of Greenland or to some other civilization forsaken place to be serviced by women, skepticism is in order.

Much hand-wringing is evident within the sociological disciplines; as well as all kinds of mathematical formulas and cockamamie theories to obfuscate this critical methodological problem. For at stake here is nothing less than the intellectual legitimacy of self-reporting methodology, let alone these disciplines in general.

Yet while direct measurements of the conduct prove unreliable, a universal (and ahistorical) reality is indirectly made evident. Males have always been reputed as being the considerably more sexually adventurous. But in opposite sex hookups, mathematical logic objectively requires a rough equilibrium throughout history. This confirms that males tend to unabashedly peacock their sexuality, whereas females deem it prudent to publicly appear more modest than their actual conduct warrants.

Some may clamor that this relative modesty is socially and culturally coerced. But in order for a value to become communally shared and prevalent, there must preexist a number of disparate individuals, who reached this attitude prior to social interaction, and from whom it would become shared. Moreover, there is good evidence that this shame largely emanates indirectly from a woman’s physiology; namely in having a sexual innie instead of an outie.

  • No. Trust me, trust me, you don’t want to go down there,
  • It’s very damp, very clammy.
  • Smell the mildew, gets in your clothes, it’s horrible…
  • I can’t talk to you about down there
  • You just know it’s there like the cellar.
  • You can hear the pipes
  • Things get caught there from time to time.
  • Little animals and things.
  • It gets wet, people come, they plug up the leaks
  • Otherwise, the door stays closed…
  • A place you don’t go.
  • Closed up, under the house down there…
  • And there was this very ugly thing staring back at me…
  • I am afraid of the water getting in
  • and filling me up so I explode…
  • A place of pain, nastiness, punching,
  • invasion and blood.[5]

To what professional activity, this quality may advantage, nothing immediate comes to mind. But in relationship, the woman tends to be like Solomon’s Shulamite (Song 1:5–7), in perpetual need of reassurance of her worth. On the other hand and at her best, she is man’s haven in a heartless world; a secret garden of confidentiality where the husband can temporarily withdraw and rest from the ravages of a cold, callous, and brutal existence.

These are but two natural propensities which probabilistically distinguish the sexes. There are many others that can be discerned. If modern society seems not to be aware of such distinctions, how can they be socially imposed? How does one propagate a gender caricature with which one is unaware exists?

[1] Carol A. Lawton, “Gender and Regional Differences in Spatial Referents Used in Direction Giving,” Sex Roles, Volume 44, Issue 5, March 2001, p. 322.

[2]  Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game, New York City: Tor Books, 1985, Chapter 10.

[3] Joe Klein, “Donald Trump’s Lizard Brain,” Time, February 18, 2016, http://time.com/4228885/donald-trump-lizard-brain/.

[4] Marc Artzrouni and Eva Deuchert, “Do Men and Women Have the Same Average Number of Lifetime Partners?” Mathematical Population Studies, 17:4, 2010, pp. 242–256.

[5] Eva Ensler, “The Flood”, in Vagina Monologues, Premiered New York: HERE Arts Center, 1996.
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