notgettingenough 's Reviews > Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
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bookshelves: sociology, science-sort-of, australian

18 Sept 2013 Update: some stories reading Karen's review brought to mind from my childhood....

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

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My mother spent a year or so teaching at Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, one of the posh boys schools, at a time when women didn't do that (perhaps they still don't?). It was the early seventies and she was a huge hit with the boys - big tits and sexy legs - and the teachers - big tits, sexy legs...arrhh, no, I mean great mind, they all admired her mind no end. They admired the way it went all the way up to her breasts. I mean the top of her head. All the way up there. One of the reasons she left was because they were all so very kind to her. 'Monica,' they'd kindly say to her, 'you don't have to bother going to staff meetings.' The fact that she protested and insisted she wanted to go to staff meetings was of no avail. It is one of those things, isn't it? Nobody wants to go to staff meetings, every man there must have rather envied the idea that femininity could excuse her, and yet my mother had to insist on her innate right to go to the darn things. To be fair, my mother's the exception, one of those who really did like doing stuff like that, a trait I have most certainly neither inherited nor acquired.

So she left and went to Methodist Ladies College, the posh girls equivalent. At some point two of the kind male teachers from PAC happened to be visiting MLC, so she took them to the staff room for a cuppa. Afterwards she washed her cup and said to them 'If you are wondering why I don't wash yours, I happen to believe that men are just as good as women at washing up.' 'Oh, better,' said one of them to her, 'Much better.'

And that is pretty much the point of this guide to the literature on the brain differences between men and women. If there were some reason why men suddenly thought that washing teacups was a desirable occupation, there would be an academic redefinition of the brain to fit this. In fact for now it is the other way around. The desirable occupations in life, the ones that are seen as the plums, must be taken up by men rather than women because they have the right brain composition. Depending on how good your sense of humour is, it is either discomforting or hilarious to discover that neuroscience is not above redefining what is 'necessary' depending on how their business of deciphering the brain develops.

This explains the choice of word in the subtitle - neurosexism - but it is the sort of thing that irritated me as I read this - I don't like the current style of pop science where impartiality is a positive defect. It's like there is something going on which we might call 'extreme pop science'. You have to outdo the last writer in outrageousness. But while I was aghast at some of the ways she put things, I imagine the reader at large would not have noticed, let alone taken umbrage. Fine probably thinks it was acceptable to do so because all that mattered was getting her very important point across. I couldn't disagree more. Her material spoke for itself, the relentless mass of it which she brings to bear. She didn't need to be spurious on top of it. She should have left that for her publicly disgraced subjects. As it is, by waving the flag of her partiality - which she somehow attempts to do whilst claiming that this is the issue with the other side - right in our faces, she left me wondering if she is as trustworthy as she wants to be. Having the longest bibliography in the world doesn't cut the mustard if the reader is left gasping at the shamelessness with which she prejudicially discusses her data. Take this, for example:

rest here:

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 8, 2013 – Shelved
September 8, 2013 – Shelved as: sociology
September 8, 2013 – Shelved as: science-sort-of
September 8, 2013 – Shelved as: australian

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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Manny None of this is true, except the rhubarb.


notgettingenough Manny wrote: "None of this is true, except the rhubarb."

Liar liar pants on fire.


message 3: by Manny (last edited Sep 08, 2013 10:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Manny I never said we had to go to the Museum of Lingerie. You said we had to go, but then you almost gave up (in a pathetic, girly way, I might add), when you discovered that we had to climb about 200 steps. I felt it would have been unprincipled to admit defeat, and, Sir-Edmund-Hillary-like, insisted on conquering this obstacle just because it was there and because there was a Museum of Lingerie at the top.

I may not have expressed myself as well as I wished (male brains are better adapted for looking at lingerie models than for writing), but I hope I have said enough to show that you are utterly in the wrong.


message 4: by notgettingenough (last edited Sep 08, 2013 01:12AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

notgettingenough I'm not talking to you. That message on my secret diary, which I believe is the sort of message girls are supposed to leave on their secret diaries, was especially aimed at you. And I now realise you snuck into it anyway.

And I so didn't say we had to go. All I did was point out it was free. Though why they didn't take advantage of all the men walking by to charge them, I have no idea. Clearly a museum run by men who don't know how to finance a household.


notgettingenough By the way, anybody who thinks this is made up....
http://blog.women-on-the-road.com/his...


message 6: by Cory (new) - added it

Cory notgettingenough wrote: "By the way, anybody who thinks this is made up....
http://blog.women-on-the-road.com/his..."


There's a guy who has a museum on the history of women's sanitary items in his basement, which you can only visit if you agree to go with him, and him only. Lingerie is quite mild and understandable in comparison.

"It puts the lotion on its skin....."


notgettingenough Speaking of sanitary items, I failed buying-tampons-in-French at a pharmacy in Grenoble. Of course, putting aside the fact that I forgot tampons means something completely different in French, using various other euphemisms complete with gestures got me nowhere. I'm just telling everybody right now, should you ever find yourself on my charades team and somebody has to do 'women's sanitary item', it isn't going to be me.


message 8: by Cory (new) - added it

Cory Lol. ^That is the best thing I've heard all day.

Crude charades should definitely become a thing.


Nandakishore Varma Not, I can understand why Manny wanted to see girls' underwear then immediately after that, see naked girls. You see, his clear, incisive male brain was imagining many ways of putting the lingerie on them. We men are like that - our brains are wired to practical and scientific.

Of course, a woman would never understand.


notgettingenough Nandakishore wrote: "Not, I can understand why Manny wanted to see girls' underwear then immediately after that, see naked girls. You see, his clear, incisive male brain was imagining many ways of putting the lingerie ..."

I dare say it's a small step from that to discovering the multiverse or something.


message 11: by Nandakishore (new) - added it

Nandakishore Varma notgettingenough wrote: "Nandakishore wrote: "Not, I can understand why Manny wanted to see girls' underwear then immediately after that, see naked girls. You see, his clear, incisive male brain was imagining many ways of ..."

Not a small step, but that is how all great discoveries start.


Manny This is an effective method for doing groundbreaking scientific research pioneered by Richard Feynman. Why do you think Geneva has so many strip joints?


message 13: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Manny wrote: "I never said we had to go to the Museum of Lingerie. You said we had to go, but then you almost gave up (in a pathetic, girly way, I might add), when you discovered that we had to climb about 200 s..."

George Mallory gave the "Because it's there" retort about climbing Everest in 1924, when Edmund Hillary was only 5 years old. We will probably never know if George Mallory reached the summit before he died or not.


message 14: by P.E. (new)

P.E. 'And that is pretty much the point of this guide to the literature on the brain differences between men and women. If there were some reason why men suddenly thought that washing teacups was a desirable occupation, there would be an academic redefinition of the brain to fit this. In fact for now it is the other way around. The desirable occupations in life, the ones that are seen as the plums, must be taken up by men rather than women because they have the right brain composition.'

How convenient ^^


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