No doubt, there are differences between women and men, some obvious and others more contentious. But arguments for inequality of worth or rights between the sexes have wholly lost intellectual respectability. Why? Because they were grounded in biologically evolved dispositions and culturally transmitted prejudices that, however strongly entrenched, could not withstand the kind of rational scrutiny to which they have been submitted in the past two centuries. Also because, more recently, the Feminist movement has given so many of us the motivation and the means to look into ourselves and recognize and fight lingering biases. Still, the battle against sexism is not over — and it may never be.
DAN SPERBER is a social and cognitive scientist at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. His books include Rethinking Symbolism, On Anthropological Knowledge, Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach, and, with Deirdre Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition.