William Leith, reviewing a couple of books in the Observer finds that “We’re all beginning to believe that men are essentially different from women”. I don’t know who he includes in the royal we but some of us have had an inkling about this for a while.
Leith spends most of his time reviewing a supposedly serious book written by someone called Simon Baron-Cohen (any relation to Ali G ?) which attempts to explore the essential differences between the sexes. According to the author he spent more than five years writing the book because “the topic was just too politically sensitive to complete in the 1990’s”
Leith seems to share this craven fear of the middle-class Femocracy too. “The more you delve into the male mind the worse it looks. And the more you delve into the female brain the better it looks. When you take the lid off, the male brain looks really clunky – it is competitive, narrow and insecure” He goes on “The more you read the worse it looks for men. Women like to talk about emotions and relationships. Men like to talk about sport and traffic.” Apparantly “women are better users of language. They use more words, make fewer errors, use longer sentences and more complex grammatical structures. Men pause more. Men stutter more.”
I think some of these assumptions are questionable to say the least. My interest in discussing Arsenal’s chances for the cup is limited. Does that mean I’m a girl ? Do women really use the English language better than men ? Is Margarate Drabble better than Shakespeare? Was Shakespeare able to write in “complex grammatical structures” in spite of his sex ?
What’s really sad about this article is that Leith seems to believe that discussing relationships is in some way superior to talking about traffic. Both can be done with wit and style, both can be utterly dull and suicide-making. The sub-heading of this review states that the inescapable conclusion is that “All men are nerds”. By this I assume Leith is alerting us to the propensity for the “male” brain to concentrate on detail and it’s capacity for discerning spatial relationships which he at least refers to in his otherwise silly article. He presumably puts Michaelangelo, Da Vinci et al in the “nerds” category because of their single-minded pursuit of reflecting reality in forms different to the original. I suspect he would sneer “trainspotter” at their dedication. I’m almost certain he thinks the inventors of the jet engine, spinning-jenny or tumble-drier would have better used their time discussing their next-door neighbours relationship.
The sort of sad self-loathing displayed in this article is a good advert for banning any Polytechnic course with the word gender in it.