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in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You're How Smart? & Femina Sapiens

Here are two articles that I've bundled together because they both speak to gender, which has not gone unnoticed by writers in any genre.

The first is a short Newsweek article on research about the perceived difference in intelligence of women and men. Although the article makes a passing comment that men and women have some respective strengths, the article is not substantially about which gender is more intelligent, but how women and men perceive their differences. Here's the short answer: although the genders basically possess the same intelligence, men perceive themselves, their sons and their fathers as more intelligent than their wives, daughters and mothers. And so do women.

The second article is a thought-provoking piece in the urban-policy magazine City Journal about the struggle between feminists and evolutionary psychologists. It was written by Kay S. Hymowitz who is a contributing editor of City Journal and the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Ms. Hymowitz begins the article this way:

In the struggle for equality between the sexes, it keeps coming down to motherhood, doesn’t it?

And later:

Especially galling to feminists has been the field of evolutionary psychology, which proposes that evolution has fundamentally shaped human sexual and reproductive behavior—behavior that often seems to conform to the worst stereotypes.

Although much of the article is shrouded in Darwinism, I don't think the question of Darwin was right or wrong is the point of the article. The research shows how men and women actually behave and the measurable physiological reasons behind their behavior. The linchpin of the author's thoughts seems to be that, in her opinion, women are more invested in raising their children than men, no matter what forces are applied to change that (such as the Swedish failed attempt to equalize investment by men by offering equal paternal and maternal leave from work). She supports this with an anecdote by a dedicated journalist who feels literally addicted to her newborn child. The author also posits that this behavior continuously improves the lives of the subsequent generations of women.

In fact, as neuroscientists and geneticists piece together the human brain’s evolution, it’s becoming clear that, if it’s natural for a woman to go crazy over her babies, it’s also natural for a woman to run the State Department. The same human female brain that’s primed with oxytocin is, like the male brain, a fantastically complex machine, capable of reasoning, innovative problem solving, and maneuvering through hugely varied social environments—whether the PTA, a corporate headquarters, or Congress.

Hey, you writers out there. This is the stuff of science fiction and fantasy. Get busy.

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