Phoenix Feeley

NJ appeals court affirmed yesterday that the government has a “moral” interest in enforcing unequal laws based on sex. In short: Male bodies are fine, Female bodies are obscene and must stay covered. Male chests are respectable, Female chests are pornographic. Male breasts = Moobs. Female breasts = Illegal Dirty Pillows.

Phoenix Feeley, a women’s rights advocate and (literal) fire-breathing performance artist and circus performer lost the appeal yesterday in her ongoing battle against charges incurred in 2008 when she was arrested –twice in one day- for removing her top on the beach like a male.

From the appeal decision:

The facts are essentially uncontested. On June 28, 2008, defendant removed the top of her bathing suit while sitting on the public beach in Spring Lake. Police officer Robert Zoino approached and asked that she put her top back on. When defendant refused, Zoino arrested her and brought her to police headquarters.

 After being processed and supplied with a tee shirt by the police, defendant was released. However, shortly thereafter, Zoino and another officer responded to a call of a topless woman at a street intersection near police headquarters. Defendant was again arrested and issued additional summonses. Police officer Michael Rutka found the tee shirt supplied to defendant hanging from the entrance door of the police department.

 Before the municipal court judge, and again on appeal to the Law Division, defendant did not challenge these proofs.2 Instead, she argued, among other things, that application of the public nudity ordinance under the facts presented violated defendant’s rights to equal protection under the fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, defendant contended that men were permitted to appear topless on the public beach, but women were not. Both the municipal court judge, and the Law Division judge, rejected the argument.

In a thorough written opinion, the Law Division judge cited extensively to our decision in State v. Vogt, 341 N.J.Super. 407 (App. Div. 2001). Noting that “defendant . . . [may have] present[ed] compelling policy arguments in her brief,” the judge nonetheless concluded he was “bound by the holding of the appellate court because both the factual circumstances and the regulations in question in Vogt and in this case [we]re indistinguishable.” He found defendant guilty of two ordinance violations, imposed an aggregate fine of $750, and this appeal followed.

Defendant argues that we should depart from continued reliance upon our decision in Vogt because it “unjustifiably sanctions arrest and prosecution based on gender.” The argument lacks sufficient merit to warrant extended discussion in this opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2).

The ordinance in this case provided in pertinent part:

[I]t shall be unlawful for any person to appear or travel on any street, avenue or road, beach, waterway, alleyway, driveway or any area of private property open to public view in the Borough or appear in any other such place in the Borough in a state of nudity; in an indecent or lewd dress or garment; or make any indecent exposure of his or her person; or urinate in any of the above described places except in public restrooms.”

She was charged with two counts of Public Nudity, one count of Dressing and Undressing in Public, two counts of Disorderly Conduct (later dismissed) and one count of Obstruction.

According to her blog she was:

Detained for over 6 hours

Sent for psychiatric evaluation

Physically abused by cops

Legal procedures not followed

Patient confidentiality not permitted

Left with no money, phone, or ride 3 towns and a 3 hour walk from where I was.

Feeley has been fighting for years against antiquated sex-based clothing laws that discriminate against women, and has put her safety and freedom on the line to do so. In 2005 she was wrongfully arrested and detained in Manhattan for walking down the street bare-chested, even though New York City had repealed its discriminatory sex-based clothing laws in 1992. She won a $29,000 settlement for that illegal arrest.

“In another country, a woman can’t take a scarf off her face without getting stoned to death,” she says. “What so different about the two?”

From yesterday’s NJ appeals court  decision:

“In Vogt, supra, 341 N.J. Super. at 416-17, we concluded that “there [wa]s no constitutional right for a woman to appear topless on a public beach,” and [r]estrictions on the exposure of the female breast are supported by the important governmental interest in safeguarding the public’s moral sensibilities, and th[e] ordinance [wa]s substantially related to that interest.” Id. at 417. We further noted that distinctions based upon gender must satisfy an “`intermediate’ level of scrutiny,” i.e., “the distinction must be justified by an important governmental interest that is substantially accomplished by the challenged discriminatory means.” Id. at 417-18 (citations omitted). “The burden of justifying the classification is on the state, which must show that the claimed justification is `exceedingly persuasive.'” Id. at 418 (quoting United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 533, 116 S.Ct. 2264, 2275, 135 L. Ed. 2d 735, 751 (1996)). We determined that “the ordinance satisfie[d] both the federal and state tests for equal protection.” Id. at 417.

Defendant has presented no principled reason for us to depart from our holding in Vogt. We therefore affirm.”

(All Bolding mine.) In other words, women’s legal rights to equality are based on safeguarding arbitrary cultural sex discrimination traditions. The court’s obligation is to uphold sex-based social customs, even if discriminatory against females.

THIS is why mothers are harassed in public for FEEDING THEIR CHILDREN. And it is why 15 year-old girls want to undergo THIS procedure:

"Top Surgery" for Women

Fascinating interview with actor and gay man Brian Belovitch, who was legally a “woman” for 14 years before overcoming his gender dysphoria and coming to terms with himself as a proud gay man.

Brian was a “Transgender Teen” who went on female hormones, had black market silicone injections (which later had to be scraped out) and breast implants before ultimately healing and accepting his body and himself. He describes the shame and abuse heaped upon him as a masculinity non-performing man, and the years of struggle to overcome the internalized messages they caused.

[Note- the video goes a bit wonky for a few moments near the start but after that it clears]

RadFem Dictionary

September 14, 2011

Can there ever be an alliance between trans and radical feminism? Can you imagine any way in which the interests of genderists and the interests of women can co-exist? Or even align?

As a jumping off point I am posting this thoughtful comment left by a male transgender addressing this very question.

Soran Says:

September 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm e

Warning…looooooooong post.

I’m not sure if there’s a quote feature, but…

SheilaG wrote: “Soran, that was a thoughtful comment. And perhaps T is a poison. Whatever it is, it is unfortunately M to Trans are attacking the very group that finds them horrifying in the extreme.

So the best that can come out of this, is for all male to trans to work on MALE society…. to challenge male authority, to leave women alone.

Male who transes will know that like Columbus, you bring harm to the native peoples. When you enter female land, female sensibility, you still cannot escape the male …. and no, you don’t have benefit to bring radical feminism, you have ruin intentional or not.

Attack the patriarchy of men’s worlds, challenge them. Leave born women to our own liberation from male anything.”

Wow, I really have to apologize for the long-windedness below. I don’t have a great deal of emotional intelligence to apply to my situation. The radical feminist critiques of trans culture help me apply my analytical intelligence instead. It’s calming, in the same way as being around other trans people (especially those who don’t like the ‘community’). The trans community weirds me out because of the high heels and the makeup and the drag shit, and radical feminists are the only other people who seem to see this. It’s utter doublethink, but it sucks less than thinking that I’m obligated to deform my feet to be myself. For me, the radfem criticism of trans culture has taken the pressure off.

I can’t vouch for other transwomen, and I don’t know what they mean by ‘woman.’ I don’t know what I mean by ‘woman’ in reference to the one in my head, beyond the body I think I should have. Any ‘gender role’ can only be described in stereotypical terms that simply don’t ring true for me. This is a strictly biological aversion for me. I don’t mean that I’m ‘neurologically intersex’ or whatever. I think that’s a possibility, but for now I’ll stick with what I know.

For all of human history, a rather stable proportion of the population has ‘known’ (at least in the sense that I know my mind exists) that they could not sanely carry out the physical sex role assigned to them. By this I don’t mean BS gender roles, but the act of carrying the organs themselves. This population will never disappear. Like comic-book mutants, it’s moot whether they should exist because ‘normal’ humans will keep giving birth to more. It’s also moot what the cause is, because we can’t prevent it. There are other people who reject traditional gender roles but not their genitals, but I’m not talking about them.

So am I woman, or man? Wait a minute…lemme take off my Anglo lenses (I suppose my black ass should do that more often)…

Oh! It’s a false dilemma. The transgender population does not have to subscribe to Western ‘transgender’ ideology in order to reject their birth sex. Obviously most do, but that’s the Anglo lenses. Some Native American cultures see us as a third sex with a specific role that bridges the divide between men and women. In Thailand, a kickboxer named Nong Tum continued to fight and beat men after her ‘transition’ from man to kathoey (‘ladyboy’). I wonder how interested in women’s space she is.

I think I could be very grateful for a third-sex role. I think I could find more peace there than as an American-style Transwoman®. I think trans women reject the third-sex role for what they perceive as female ‘privilege’ (passing on patriarchal terms) and a larger community to be part of. I think I lucked out here in that I’ve always been a loner, so that’s not as hard for me. For the rest of this I’ll still use the term transwomen, because that’s the closest Western description I have for men who ‘should have been born female.’ By this I do not mean that I *am* female.

The group won’t disappear. But the ideas (western transgender ideology) are horseshit. So…maybe the group can get new ideas. I realize this isn’t your problem. I’m not asking you to solve anything, but I do consider your perspective necessary to this task.

As trans women have had the harmful effect on women that we’re discussing, I think that such a reformation should be treated as ‘with-women-or-against-them.’ By this I mean that however possible, trans culture should consider itself obligated to take cues from radical feminism (on issues where they would otherwise be sure to conflict). If radical feminism changes, it shouldn’t be to better fit trans culture, but to better use it. Trans culture should be subordinate to natal women, and in a pathetic cargo-cult fashion I think it tries to be.

Reason numero uno that I think trans culture should learn from radfem culture: A mutual enemy (patriarchy, whether trans women realize it or not). If women aren’t safe and free, I’m not safe or free. I think trans women should operate on this assumption, especially when it’s false (in order to check their own male privilege).

Reason numero dos: In this culture, a person who considers ‘hirself’ a third sex will feel compelled to use the same medical and therapeutic services as a Barbie-doll transwoman. Whether this is a good thing or not, it will happen. Since the money is already flowing, I think the harm can be reduced by applying radical feminist reasoning. I also have to admit that yes, I myself want these services. If I’m going to do that and add to the demand, the least I can do is tell my therapist that I’m not there to learn gendered stereotypes.

As for OCD, most trans women I know are rather messy. Especially their cars. Beats me.

Not that I’m qualified, but I feel that the above comments are saying that a man is obligated to carry a working penis. You can’t tell me that radfems saying ‘what about the menz’ and mourning some guy’s balls isn’t kind of funny.

TRIGGER WARNING – the next paragraph pertains to rape, and it IS offensive.

PIV is natural (like rattlesnake venom and hurricanes). Rape (not consensual PIV, but rape) is the natural mode of reproduction for half of the life on the planet. Ducks are engaged in an evolutionary arms race to see which sex can convolute its genitals more, to either facilitate or prevent rape.

The evolutionary psychologists are right IMO (and aren’t trying to excuse anything, largely – laymen are doing that). It’s nature that’s wrong. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. As animals, I think patriarchy is in our genes.

By evolutionary standards, Warren Jeffs is perfect. Utterly perfect, alongside the shark and the Venus’ flytrap. He created an entire culture to spread his seed, and when he could no longer do that he self-destructed. His is the standard to beat among living things, in terms of natural selection. Conscience would have been an impediment.

But we have gained abilities beyond those of other animals, and obligations beyond them as well. Lions are entitled to patriarchy because they can’t question it. As a human I have the ability to propose that our biology itself is obsolete. And I reject it. Apparently involuntarily. What I mean is that patriarchy is a symptom of a more fundamental problem – the existence of a 50% male population. You don’t need ten men to provide DNA for ten breeding women. Or a hundred women. If men find themselves in a role where they’re expected to turn wrenches during the day and be used as communal sperm dispensers by night, I don’t think they’ll mind too much.

And joy of joys – it’s easier to neuter or hormonally feminize men than to ‘fix’ women who’ve had enough fixing.

Maybe nature does have a conscience, lol. Maybe Nature (look Ma, no balls!) has decided that men have cultivated enough farmland and should start putting down their weapons, eh? That would explain why there are so few f-to-trans and so many masochist men and voluntary eunuchs and ‘sissies.’ Not to mention the deterioration of the Y chromosome, or the fact that an active process is required to maintain it once an embryo turns male.

Of course, one must ask what magical genetic programming I assume all women have that I am missing. I don’t know. I suspect that Nature’s role for women (derailed by accidental overbreeding of male children) is to create communities, which are defended and supplied materially by men. In a sense, that women are the head and torso, while men are the arms and legs. Now imagine a person whose limbs attack them and drag them into trouble against their will. That’s humanity.

I’m thinking of your statements about acting upon male space vs. female space. First, here’s what I can tell you about the privilege I have. As it stands now I present on most days as a man. A feminine man who’s frequently called ‘she’ and ‘her’ and ‘Miss’ even when I’m in dad jeans and a tucked-in gray polo shirt, but a man. A six foot, 230lb mulatto man. So people generally leave me the fuck alone. Until I open my mouth and they realize I’m not Antoine Dodson. Then suddenly I’m Mr. Very Articulate African-American Gentleman Friend of Mine. Colorism works to my advantage. “Good hair” fetishism works to my advantage. Truth be told, I get my ass kissed even racially.

But I worry a lot about other trans women. Many trans women aren’t part of the community at all, and many of these have such feminine bodies (without any type of treatment) that they can’t pass as male. Some are almost unaware of trans culture or don’t understand it. I see them all the time in the Hispanic community. For these and many other trans women, acceptance from natal women is the only safety they have (and many get that acceptance without a second thought).

I remember one woman I saw on the train, whom I didn’t ‘clock’ until some man did. She was maybe 19, 5’4″ and 110lbs, and dressed for a casual day out, nothing I don’t see on lots of young latinas. She froze solid in absolute terror when this man started asking her if she was ‘a dude.’ I asked the guy why he didn’t mind his own fucking business and proceeded to keep his attention on me. Then I sat between him and her. That was all I could do, and then she was alone again when she got off at her stop. I think she felt just as alone when I was sitting next to her. All I could offer was basic physical safety, and she probably couldn’t be sure of that.

Imagine how much genuine love this girl would have for any natal women with whom she could travel in a pack. Said natal women would probably laugh if you asked them whether they feared the trans girl. That pack is a female space that I hope to find myself in one day, but you are right – if I push my way in, it will disappear. For one, my own mind is not yet part of that space.

And if I find a safe third-sex space, will I be comfortable with women there? Will I be comfortable with men-born-women there?

Staying away from Michfest, etc. is easy. I don’t understand what it is that trans women think they can ‘soak up’ there. Yes, my psychology is bereft of female socialization and estrogen. It’s also missing memories of moonlit summers on the French Riviera, and a Ph.D in computer science.

But what a trans woman gets by barging into a WBW space is not female socialization. It’s women responding to what they see as a man. If someone’s going to play safari and ‘study’ WBW in their ‘natural habitat,’ they could at least realize that pushing themselves into the situation changes the dynamic.

As for challenging men in their space (the streets, office, home, the moon), I don’t think trans women will be properly qualified to ‘represent’ women’s interests unless they are listening to women. Otherwise all trans women can bring against patriarchy is uninformed Nice Guy mentality.

My only suggestion to radical feminists is this: I hope that men who want to ‘disarm’ themselves eventually become useful to you, and I hope that women gain the ability to control the male birthrate.

ALL non-abusive comments which are thoughtful and which relate to the feminist topic of THIS post will be approved. Comments like “Go fuck yourself” will not be approved. For those who have already posted responses to this comment on the other thread feel free to re-post them here. Please keep nested comments to a minumum, instead quote the portion of the post you are responding to when possible.



The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is a weeklong private event produced annually since 1976 by and for people who are female. For the last ten years, groups of male transgenders have protested the existence of the festival. Not only protested, but terrorized and harassed and tried to sabotage and destroy the festival. Their reason for doing so is their strong belief that people born female have no right to congregate on the basis of that commonality. The male transgender activists have literally formed an encampment each year outside the perimeter of the Michfest festival grounds, which they patrol with weapons and plan sabotage missions into the camp– to write graffiti, to cut the water lines to the handicapped showers, to slash tires, to wreck tents, to flier the camp with pictures of their penises. Last year many of the male transgenders fled their own encampment out of fear of the growing violence of their own group members. Why are these men so angry? Why do they want to destroy a private women’s music festival? Why do they want to force women to look at their penises?

The answer is that these men are angry because they weren’t invited to the festival, because people born male are not invited. Transgender male activists believe females have no right to exclusively female spaces, such as female sports programs, female support groups, female health services, female educational grants, female schools, female fitness centers, female domestic violence centers, female homeless shelters, sex-segregated prisons, female camps, sex-segregated hospital bed assignments, female bathrooms, female reproductive services, etc.

They believe that females have no rights to any space or service or gathering, public or private, that excludes the presence of males, or that exists for the benefit of female fellowship, or for the protection of females from potential male predation. It’s true! That’s what transgender activists believe, and that is what they are fighting- sometimes literally with violence and terrorism – to enforce on females. It’s also worth noting that female spaces and organizations (whether public or private) that exist for Lesbian women are the target of most of the terrorism harassment and boundary violation of these women-hating, homophobic males.

Some of these male-supremacist activists violate the boundaries of female spaces in the most direct manner. They simply ignore the wishes of the women and insert themselves in female spaces in a hostile act of unwanted penetration.

Here is a partial list of incidents involving these men at this year’s festival, as posted by Graceaware on the Michfest forum:

0.1. a female-born womon is told “I am more woman than you” by a trans woman

0.2. a trans woman’s detailed narrative about masturbating with her penis and cock ring is read aloud in a sex-for-one workshop for pre-orgasmic womyn, triggering the sexual trauma of one woman severely and upsetting and triggering several others. (Alice K)

0.3. a trans woman with a penis is seen nude at the shower by a woman born female and her four-year-old granddaughter

0.4. a trans woman’s erection is noticed at a party in the Zone

0.5.a penis is seen at the WOC Burlesque show

0.6. a WHITE trans woman wears a “Trans Women Belong Here” t-shirt to the WOC Burlesque show, offending womyn of color with the proclamation that she belongs in WOC space (Angel S)

0.7. a trans woman, seemingly high, wanders into the Teen Tent, causing a pre-teen to be asked by the other teens there to leave for her own safety due to her pro-Fest boundary t-shirt

0.8. the clothesline of a woman born female is stolen after she hangs up her shirt with “No They Don’t” on it (in response to “Trans Women Belong Here.”)

0.9. “IT WAS HERE” and the symbol for trans with an anarchist A in the middle was carved into janes at triangle.

0.11. many female butches’ sex and gender are questioned in the ONE place they used to be able to count on that NOT happening.

0.12. the stories of violation, trauma, and triggers on the Land as told by women born female are discounted and disbelieved.

0.13. in the “Allies in Understanding” workshop, a wbw who was paired up with a trans woman (Tobi H) asked the trans woman if she was trans. Tobi said yes. The wbw did not want to discuss the issue with a trans woman, she preferred to discuss it with another wbw with the opposite opinion so she did not engage. AT the end of the workshop Tobi said that the wbw she was paired up with “made assumptions about her” and therefore chose not to engage.

0.14. A trans woman elbowed a wbw in the breast as she shoved her way onto the dance floor at Night Stage (Alice K)

0.15. a wbw was harassed late at night by several trans women who followed her on the path and said things like “how does it feel to be the last one out late at night?” as the shone flashlights in her eyes.

0.16. a wbw at a fire was harassed by a trans woman who tried to press her into a conversation about the Issue, and would not take no for an answer, forcing the wbw to leave the fire.”

Who are these men that ignore the boundaries of women and expose themselves to four year old girls in women’s showers at a private women’s festival?

Let us start the list:

Alice Kalafarski

Alice Kalafarski – attends a pre-orgasmic workshop for women- many of whom are healing from male sexual predation and violence- he shares a graphic description of using a cock ring to beat his meat. When women attendees are traumatized he poo-poos them, and laughs. (Horrifyingly, he claims to volunteer at a rape crisis center) Says he snuck into fest because it was where “Michfest was made for queer women to celebrate their shared sisterhood and give each other lots of orgasms” and he wanted to see if he could find a lesbian to have sex with. Refused to perform the two work shifts all attendees are required to perform as condition of attendance. Interrupts a ritual goddess ceremony to announce to the women that “goddess stuff is silly”. Pushes women out of the way to force his way onto a crowded dancefloor- elbows one of them in the chest. (More incidents will be added as they come to light).

Tobi Hill-Meyer

Tobi Hill-Meyer-  Calls himself a trans butch lesbian (“TransDyke”). Protests flyers posted at fest honoring butch women as discriminatory, because the flyers didn’t mention that “men can be butch lesbians too”. Says: “Lisa Vogul hasn’t changed her stance saying that trans women shouldn’t come. But the fact is, we are coming.” Allowed other men to use his armband so they could enter without paying “I know that at least one person was re-using my arm band and I was under the impression that there were some other folks who re-used an armband or two or three as well.”

Gemma Seymour

Gemma Seymour

Gemma Seymour – A heterosexual man and father who trans-itioned into genderism in his forties: “I was born a woman, from a woman, and will always be a woman. My cunt may be only in my head for the time being, but at least I don’t use it like a dick.”

*UPDATE: Gemma is now claiming he has never ever set foot into Michfest, only encamped at the perimeter and stood at the gate. More info will be posted when available.

*UPDATE: Gemma Seymour’s Michfest “walking stick” :

Annie Danger

Annie Danger

Annie Danger-  Penned the widely distributed “Open Letter to my friends who go to Michfest” where he asks attendees to ““Please do things while you’re there that show me that you really respect my body. My life. My womanhood.” And states: “I feel hurt and I am writing because want to trust that you have my back as a transwoman. I am having a hard time separating your attendance of MWMF and your silence with me about this issue from your level of respect for me; for my body.” You can see what he means by respecting his body And what he means by his “womanhood” if you skip to the six minute mark in the following video which he posted on youtube in children’s section (since removed by moderators).  *Warning- not for children or weak stomachs! *Second warning! Really, you’ve been warned! Once seen can never be unseen!

Skip to 6 minute mark. HERE. 

June Day

June Day

June Day / Angel N. S. – Self-described “Queer kinky trans redheaded pornstar” and Software Engineer. Male who performs in Tobi Hill-Meyer’s (above) lame and women-hating, lesbian-hating Porn movies. Seen in the Zone and at Daystage. Wore “Trans Women Belong Here” shirt into WOC space.

——————————————————————–More to be added—–

Michfest attendees have tried for years to discuss, talk, explain, ask nicely, converse, dialogue, and mediate with these men. They have tried to get the men to respect the boundaries of their private space- one week a year for females to gather at a private event for females only. Well guess what. It hasn’t worked. These men will never ever respect the boundaries of women, or respect the rights of females to congregate according to their constitutional rights as human beings. To these men, people born female are NOT human beings, and have no civil rights. No amount of talk will get them to respect the experiences and rights of those who are born and raised female in a male-supremacist world.

I’m going to continue to profile these men so that a list can be compiled before next year’s festival. I will add names and pictures to this post as they come in. Perhaps a separate website can be created to track the trespassers and identify them. Perhaps photos of the trespassers can be posted around the festival next year so the men can be escorted off the festival grounds. Perhaps next year womyn can photograph all the trespassers during festival so we can compile a complete list of predatory males.

When a man won’t take “No” for an answer, women must take whatever measures are necessary to protect their boundaries, their rights, and themselves. Enforce Boundaries, don’t just ask for them, because your requests are being denied.

Finally, the cause of sex differences in spatial abilities is found: It’s caused by female-hatred in male-supremacist cultures. No surprise to women, big surprise to genderists and other male-supremacists who cling to the sexist “Brain Sex” theory as if it was the Rock of Gibraltar. The way white-supremacists used to cling to the “Negroid Brain” theories of yesteryear.

From Live Science:

“At least one notable gender gap in abilities between men and women may be due in part to culture, a new study finds.

According to the research, women in cultures where men are in charge score lower than their male counterparts on a test that measures the ability to rotate objects in the mind’s eye. But in communities where women are at the forefront, the gender gap disappears.

Many studies have found that women are generally worse at this task, called spatial ability, than men. Some, like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, have suggested that such innate abilities might be the reason that women are underrepresented in science and math careers. Summers drew fire in 2005 for suggesting as much during a conference on work force diversification.

The Karbi and the Khasi

The gender gap in spatial abilities shows up across cultures, but little is known about how much of spatial abilities are really inborn and how much are shaped by culture. That nature-nurture schism is important in debates like the one Summers sparked, because if the difference is cultural, it suggests that discrimination and stereotypes might be to blame for the lack of women in high-level math and science positions.

To find out, study author Moshe Hoffman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management, travelled to Northern India to visit two very traditional tribes.

One tribe, the Karbi, is patrilineal, meaning that men own most property and inheritance always goes to the oldest son. A second tribe, the Khasi, is matrilineal. The youngest daughter inherits the property in Khasi villages and men are forbidden to own land.

The advantage of going to rural India to study these two tribes is that they’re biologically and geographically very similar, Hoffman said.

“We have this beautiful control group where they live literally right next door,” Hoffman told LiveScience. “These villages are kind of interspersed with each other, and the tribes diverged genetically only a few hundred years ago.”

Hoffman and an interpreter went to eight villages, some Khasi and some Karbi, and recruited 1,279 volunteers to complete a four-piece puzzle of a horse while being timed. All of the volunteers got a day’s wages just for showing up; to motivate them, Hoffman offered another fifth of a day’s wages if they completed the puzzle in less than 30 seconds.

“In some of these villages, almost the entire village came up,” Hoffman said. “Most of these people work in the field all day long, which is pretty strenuous work, so if you were a mother you would come up with one baby strapped to your belly and one more grabbing on to your leg.”

Culture and gender

Across both tribes and genders, people took about 40 seconds, on average, to complete the puzzle. In the patrilineal Karbi tribe, men completed the puzzle 36 percent faster than women. But in the matrilineal Khasi tribe, women and men were equally good at their task.

What that shows, Hoffman said, is that “even while holding biology constant, there is an effect of culture on the gender differences in spatial abilities.”


Read the whole article HERE.