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Feminism & Gender

January 22, 2005

Feminism, or a return to Victorian stereotypes?

Over at Powerline, Deacon posts about the flap over Harvard's president saying there may be genetic reasons for the disparity in the number of male vs female scientists and mathematicians.

Deacon writes:

Chavez also notes that feminist Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at MIT, is said to have responded to Summers by citing studies indicating that "women score higher on math tests if there are fewer men in the room while they are taking the test." I know I'm missing something, but doesn't it seem odd that feminists would be interested in embracing "studies" that portray women as so stereotypically fragile?

That's a rhetorical question, of course, because I'm sure Deacon is well aware of the evolution of "feminism" and the "civil rights movement." Once they stood for taking back basic human rights; once they stood for self-sufficiency and an end to subservience. Now their Orwellian watchwords are: "Weakness is Power." "Helplessness is Invulnerability." "Victimhood is Dominance."

The "studies" Ms. Hopkins cites reek to me of feminist apocrypha, like the debunked urban legend that more women are victimized by domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.

And this quote is a classic of the "Oh, Colonel, I fear I shall swoon" genre of wounded-womynhood writing:

For her part, Hopkins reported that, upon hearing Summers' remarks, "I felt I was going to be sick. . . .My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow."

Dear Lord in heaven, this woman expresses herself in prose torn from the pages of a drugstore romance novel. "At last, my dear lady," the pirate king spat, "I'm going to show you a woman's place on my ship!" As he approached like a prowling leopard, his torn shirt revealing his rippling, dusky chest, I felt I was going to be sick... My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow as he roughly tore my bodice, enfolding me in the strong arms I had struggled so not to desire..."

Perhaps Ms. Hopkins is reading from the official Naomi Wolf Style Manual of Breathlessly Reporting Sexual Harassment and Other Beastly Male Behavior. Compare Ms. Wolf's statement about her "sexual encroachment" by Harold Bloom at Yale:

"He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. 'You have the aura of election upon you,' he breathed.

"The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh. I lurched away. 'This is not what I meant,' I stammered. The whole thing had suddenly taken on the quality of a bad horror film. The floor spun. By now my back was against the sink, which was as far away as I could get. He came at me. I turned away from him toward the sink and found myself vomiting, in shock."

The quality of a bad horror film, indeed. I share her outrage, though. It's quite negligent of Yale not to have maintenance repair those spinning floors. Someone could get hurt.


Update: Bill at INDC journal examines some of the evidence for innate differences between the brains of men and women. Personally, I find it depressing that at this late date, we are still being asked to: 1. deny that men's brains and women's brains are different, and 2. act as if "different" automatically means "inferior in the case of women, superior in the case of men." As Bill points out, women in general tend to do better on language sections of standardized tests. Where's the outrage over that? Where are the statements that "boys do better on language tests when there are no girls in the room?"

 

Posted by EtherPundit at 05:00 PM | Comments (11)