Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Popeye Has to Defend OliveOyl ?מדוע חייב פופיי להגן על אוליב אויל

A friend sent me Yet Another Article citing a “study” finding that male and female brains differ, and therefore 'proves' that the genders are destined to behave according to long-held stereotypes. Since you have to sign up as a member to comment (I hate that. What’s that all about?), and I don’t want to become a “member” of Yet Another Forum, I’ll sound off here, where I’m a member of my own club and anyone with a computer is welcome and encouraged to comment.

Dr. Louann Brizendine is here to tell us among other things that “his amygdala, the alarm system for threats, fear, and danger is...larger in men…making men more alert than women to potential turf threats.”

Why, then, are women the stereotyped worriers, and the ones who are stereotyped as getting up on a chair and shrieking if we see a mouse or a spider?

Dr. Brizendine goes on to explain how male’s brains are the reason they constantly check out women and stare at their breasts, and why, when we tell them our problems, they go into Fixit Mode. She concludes by proverbially throwing up her hands and sighing that it makes more sense to deal with these brain realities, than to argue with them or ignore them…”The best advice I have for women is make peace with the male brain. Let men be men.”

Ah, yes. Let men be men: It’s just one molecule away from “boys will be boys”. It’s all wired in. It’s in their DNA. Not a darned thing we can do. Why even try to civilize them?

Dr. Brizendine's credentials notwithstanding, this is simplistic pop drek parading as science and excusing gender stereotyping.


  1. I read the article. I also googled Brizendine. This is not "pop drek" and your argument weakens when you deride it by simply sneering. Most men are men and most women are women. So what?


  2. YYbYZhL, snark confessed to. But I did relate to Brizendine's credentials. I simply said that they do not equal "proven truth". As for "Most men are men and most women are women", this is a truism, not a counter-argument.

    I have a hard time believing that the human brain is a bunch of pigeonholes, each "responsible" for a single area of functioning: There must be overlap; we're talking about living tissue and cells, not the post office. And even if it were such, the "purview" of each lobe can be twisted to fit whatever the particular researcher is trying to prove, as I demonstrated, i.e., an "alarm system for threats, fear, and danger" can function in a myriad of ways, no?

  3. Dear Yam,
    \you remind me of a remark I made to a friend after finishing first year of nursing school, which for me apparently was an eye opener to the world. I remarked, than, "I have learned that there is a larger difference between woman and men than between woman from different cultures". Also I remember walking into a store with my 3 year old son, who got hypnotised by the viuw of large tires,tires for a me they are just a bunch of rubber or whatever that yekey black stuff is they are made of, my 3 year old XY got close to being on a high.
    It is ok to be man and woman, I am a woman, I am proud and strong of mind, I know how to wash dishes and I know how to handle a crisis, I get my kids up in the morning and my man of to work,
    so we do not have to disagree about our brains be wired differently for 24 hours a day.

  4. I could not agree with you more!!

  5. Steven, thanks. Lotte, I love what you wrote. by the way, instead of Anonymous, you can click Comment As and just fill in your name; you don't have to fill in the URL field.

    Anyway, I have actually been thinking lately about women from cultures other than my own, with whom you certainly have had lots more contact than I. I have always felt like despite all the International Women's Days, I have little in common with women from the developing world / traditional / patriarchal cultures. I would love to discuss this with you in person!

  6. it's very easy to say:"Most men are men and most women are women. So what?" as YYbYZhL said, or to say:"It is ok to be man and woman" as Lotte said.
    but the big question in here is us there such a thing as "nan" and women"?
    "man" and "women" are partly biological terms but also partly caltural. accepting the cltural way doesn't meen it's the biological and the oposite.
    i am a proude woman. i don't give a damm about washing dishes, and i can't see myself in a relationship in witch i'm incharge of cleaning the house or getting my partner to work.
    so, like many times - Yam - i'm with you!

    p.s - sorry for any spelling/grammer mastakes. i usualy write in hebrew...

  7. Hey Noa, thanks for commenting (and for using the Comment As feature). Don't worry about spelling and grammar, other commentors are also not native English-speakers, and us natives make errors too! Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed.

  8. I keep seeing articles on these sex studies and they always get my goat. Yes, men and women on average may have certain traits that come across as statistically different in studies, but when they get translated into pop media they become "men are this way, women are that way" like it's some kind of law of nature.

    In reality, this is simply not true. People are very complex. In my family, almost all of the women are mathmeticians and scientists. We are aggressive and don't "get" social cues like the article says women are supposed to do. At first I thought it was cultural (many women in my culture are like me.)Now I know we carry genes for a certain rewiring of the brain.

    My husband- who was raised traditionally- says being married to me is like being married to a very attractive man. I say, no, I like the way I am, and I am not a man, but a woman!

    And as a final thought, if it were really so natural for women to behave a certain way (ex, be less promisuous than men, be meek ect.) Why would they have to be threatened to behave that way? Why would there be books like the Bible basically threatening their lives if they behaved a certain way? Why? because these stereotypes are simply not true!

  9. mla, thanks for posting. I'm curious: What culture are you from? Your point in your last paragraph is interesting: Why would society need external pressures to keep women complacent if they're naturally that way in the first place?

  10. My culture is Asia Minor Greek, specifically Pontic Greek. The homeland was once around the Black Sea from Romania to Turkey but now most of us are all over the world.

    The culture was once many years ago very strict and segregated by sex, but luckily that has changed. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents were/are ardent feminists, which came as a shock to the locals when they arrived as refugees from the Soviet Union to Northern Greece in the early 1900's. At that time rural Greeks covered their women up and kept them like property. That's one of the reasons when I hear people talking about the good old days, it makes me want to gag. I wonder how many women today would want to live as perpetual children.

    At any rate, when I see a Greek woman in the hard sciences, many times I discover she is of Asia Minor descent! I suppose some of this might be genetic, but I am more likely to point to the value we as a culture place on education for women.