It never fails to astonish me how an innocent remark these days can set off fireworks. Mention that you like the cut of George Bush’s jib, and some people will denounce you as a fascist. Say that the worst thing that can happen to Cub fans is for their team to end the 60-year World Series drought, and half of Chicago will hurl curses at you. Let a university president – someone such as Harvard’s Lawrence H. Summers – suggest that perhaps females simply aren’t wired for science and math, and the ladies go after him with torches and pitchforks.
What’s the big deal? If it’s not in the wiring, what is it?
It probably isn’t fair to point out that two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie heads up a very short list of women who have made their marks in either of those fields. After all, an argument could be made that for a long time women were discouraged from pursuing such careers. But at a time when women far out-number men in colleges and universities, what’s the excuse? Today, women are free to do whatever they want. And, as the numbers prove, what they want is to avoid science and math!
When my class graduated from high school nearly half a century ago, everyone, boys and girls alike – except Phil Spector, who had his eye on music, money and madness – was headed for Stanford, Cal Berkeley and UCLA. Only the boys, though, went to Cal Tech.
It certainly wasn’t because the girls in our class were dumber than the boys or had been precluded from taking advanced algebra, calculus and trigonometry at Fairfax High. They just weren’t interested. Heck, neither was I.
So, why does President Summers get lambasted for merely suggesting the obvious?
Let us consider the facts. In general, women are not as big and strong as men. They tend to be more emotional. They also tend to be more sensitive to the subtleties in human dynamics, more aware of subtext, and certainly more aware of the nuances of language – both body and verbal. So, why is the notion of their brains being wired differently so threatening to them? I suspect it’s because some of them believe that when a man points out differences between the sexes, he’s really saying that men are somehow better than women. That irks them no end because even though these women will insist that they’re really the same as men, and only wish to achieve true equality, down deep they really think they’re superior, and that the only thing men are good for is getting stuff down from high shelves and opening ketchup bottles.
And in some ways, women are superior. Just not when it comes to science and math.
I had a friend, Roger Price, who devoted much of his life to the study of women. As part of his research, he married four of them. One of them was a Japanese woman who spoke no English. So amicable were the four divorces that Roger never paid a single dollar in alimony. Although Roger, creator of “Droodles” and author of “In One Head and Out the Other,” had a reputation as a satirist and a curmudgeon, he was extremely fond of women, and never made a secret of the fact that he found them more interesting than men. And what’s more, he would add, they smell better.
One day, when Roger was getting up in years, he confessed to me: “When I was young, I kept women around for sex. Now, I have sex with women in order to keep them around.”
I can not imagine a woman saying such a thing. And until I hear of one, I will continue to believe that there are major, unfathomable differences between the genders. And, furthermore, I will be convinced that any person – man or woman – who denies those differences exist is simply lying through her teeth.