Are women stupider than men? This woman, Charlotte Allen thinks so, but she was smart enough to hack into the sophisticated hierarchy of retard-screening and get her essay "Women Aren't Very Bright" published in Sunday's Washington Post, so we are not yet sold. The essay, which about 978 of you emailed us over the weekend, appears to mark the conclusion of a years-long campaign to preserve the storied tradition of women being brain-dead. (Marion Cotillard may be part of this campaign as well...developing.) Anyway, drawing from a deep, rich store of evidence, from the writings of eighteenth century English nobility to the success of Grey's Anatomy, to studies indicating women kill fewer people in car accidents, Charlotte Allen, a Weekly Standard contributor and Beliefnet editor, suggests women should embrace their stupidity and call this whole "feminism" thing off. Click "more" to read me and Megan Carpentier, of the blog Glamocracy, break down Allen's argument into 100-calorie pack sized bites and ponder the finer points of this most momentous piece of...uh...is "scatgitprop" a word?
MEGAN: Hey, you stupid emotional fucking dyke.
MOE: Hi. Good morning. The opinion editors of the Washington Post did our work for us today by publishing the demented ravings of some lady named Charlotte Allen in a piece called We Scream, We Swoon, How Dumb Can We Get?. The headline on the website initially "Women Aren't Very Bright," has been changed to read "Why Must Women Act So Dumb?" I think there is something somewhat "meta" going on here! But let's not dismiss her like the feminist drones we are! Let's take it paragraph by paragraph. Drink in the contrarian genius of her well-constructed arguments, provide an abridged version that our feebleminded readers will find easier to follow.
Her inspiration appears to have come from watching women at a political rally for Barack Obama. Women tend to get very emotional and irrational over such affairs, in stark contrast to men with their clever little public statements of dissent i.e. "Iron My Shirt", or that guy who shot his brother-in-law after the Democratic debate...
Here's Agence France-Presse reporting on a rally for Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Maryland on Feb. 11: "He did not flinch when women screamed as he was in mid-sentence, and even broke off once to answer a female's cry of 'I love you, Obama!' with a reassuring 'I love you back.' " Women screamed? What was this, the Beatles tour of 1964? And when they weren't screaming, the fair-sex Obama fans who dominated the rally of 16,000 were saying things like: "Every time I hear him speak, I become more hopeful." Huh?
MEGAN: 1. The French Press is smarter than the American press.
2. Despite what every poll says, most Obama supporters are women.
3. They're all stupid bitches who care only that he's hot and speak well and care nothing for policy but that's okay because they're too stupid to understand policy anyway.
I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women — I should say, "we women," of course — aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?
Clearly the Earl of Chesterfield never met an Olsen twin.
MEGAN: 1. Some guy in the 1700s had teh wimmins all figured out.
MEGAN: 2. It's not women's faults that they're overly emotional and easily distracted because they'd simply designed that way.
MEGAN: 3. OMG, the Olsen twins are, like, soooo thin.
I'm not the only woman who's dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It's a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can't believe that there's this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.
MEGAN: 1. Women are bitches to one another.
MEGAN: 2. Celine Dion does kind of suck, though.
MEGAN: 3. This woman is particularly bitchy to other women.
MOE: 3. "Office of Women" sounds like a really good book. I mean, talking about Botox, that is truly an ingenious subject for a horror novel. Almost like if they did one called "Office of Men" and all the dudes did was play fantasy football all day. Truly horrifying. And very subversive.
We exaggerate, of course. And obviously men do dumb things, too, although my husband has perfectly good explanations for why he eats standing up at the stove (when I'm not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I'm not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. When men do dumb things, though, they tend to be catastrophically dumb, such as blowing the paycheck on booze or much, much worse (think "postal"). Women's foolishness is usually harmless. But it can be so . . . embarrassing.
MOE: It would be less embarrassing if more of us got into this whole school shooting racket.
MEGAN: 1. This woman makes me want to poke her with pointy objects.
MOE: I know I would be less embarrassed.
MOE: Although I think we are making headway re the spending whole paychecks on booze thing.
MEGAN: I am embarrassed to have her as part of our gender. Can we expel her?
MOE: I have definitely almost accomplished that myself.
MOE: She is not very pretty; I looked her up.
MEGAN: But is she BOTOXED?
Take Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. By all measures, she has run one of the worst — and, yes, stupidest — presidential races in recent history, marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex. As far as I'm concerned, she has proved that she can't debate — viz. her televised one-on-one against Obama last Tuesday, which consisted largely of complaining that she had to answer questions first and putting the audience to sleep with minutiae about her health-coverage mandate. She has whined (via her aides) like the teacher's pet in grade school that the boys are ganging up on her when she's bested by male rivals. She has wept on the campaign trail, even though everyone knows that tears are the last refuge of losers. And she is tellingly dependent on her husband.
MEGAN: 1. Which debate did she watch again?
MEGAN: 2. Tears are the last refuge of losers? Man, seriously, the men can have this one.
MOE: 1. She was totally asking for it with that "Iron My Shirt" guy.
MEGAN: 3. TELLINGLY DEPENDENT?
MEGAN: says the woman who references her husband eating at the stove in the third paragraph.
MOE: 3. Every time her husband steps in everyone comes back and supports Hillary again because only her husband can make it all better. And remember that time Bill Clinton fucked up? It was soooooo catastrophically harmful, and so unembarrassing, compared to Hillary's foolish little foibles i.e. crying and botching universal health care.
Then there's Clinton's nearly all-female staff, chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy. Clinton finally fired her daytime-soap-watching, self-styled "Latina queena" campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, known for burning through campaign money and for her open contempt for the "white boys" in the Clinton camp. But stupidly, she did it just in time to alienate the Hispanic voters she now desperately needs to win in Texas or Ohio to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.
MOE: 1. Hispanic voters are almost as stupid as women.
MEGAN: 2. Little racist much, dearie?
MOE: 2. It was clearly a huge mistake to fire chief strategist Mark Penn because he is a man.
What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental? Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list. At the top of the paperback nonfiction chart and pitched to an exclusively female readership is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." Here's the book's autobiographical plot: Gilbert gets bored with her perfectly okay husband, so she has an affair behind his back. Then, when that doesn't pan out, she goes to Italy and gains 23 pounds forking pasta so she has to buy a whole new wardrobe, goes to India to meditate (that's the snooze part), and finally, at an Indonesian beach, finds fulfillment by — get this — picking up a Latin lover!
MEGAN: 3. Latino voters in Texas really care that much about Patti Solis Doyle (sorry Patti)?
MEGAN: 4. What's up her butt about Patti Solis Doyle?
MOE: Wow, now those are some pretty damning observations about Eat, Pray Love the likes of which I have never heard coming from a woman.
MEGAN: Right, because we all like that book because it's genetic or something.
MEGAN: Also, I could do with a Latin lover right about now, FYI.
MOE: Dudes do read comparatively intelligent books; I have seen it on the airplanes.
This is the kind of literature that countless women soak up like biscotti in a latte cup: food, clothes, sex, "relationships" and gummy, feel-good "spirituality." This female taste for first-person romantic nuttiness, spiced with a soup¿on of soft-core porn, has made for centuries of bestsellers — including Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel "Pamela," in which a handsome young lord tries to seduce a virtuous serving maid for hundreds of pages and then proposes, as well as Erica Jong's 1973 "Fear of Flying."
MOE: Here she has a point; growing up I totally dug Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre and all the boys were reading Tolkien.
MEGAN: Oh, well, gosh, if the bitch uses a French word, she must be smarter than me.
Then there's the chick doctor television show "Grey's Anatomy" (reportedly one of Hillary Clinton's favorites). Want to be a surgeon? Here's what your life will be like at the hospital, according to "Grey's": sex in the linen-supply room, catfights with your sister in front of the patients, sex in the on-call room, a "prom" in the recovery room so you can wear your strapless evening gown to work, and sex with the married attending physician in an office. Oh, and some surgery. When was the last time you were in a hospital and spotted two doctors going at it in an empty bed?
MEGAN: Also, I read a ton of shitty romance novels as a kid, and you know what I got out of it? The word soupçon.
MEGAN: And doctors definitely never, ever have extramarital sex or affairs or bone in the office because they're waaaay too smart for that, unlike women. Women doctors are basically sexless, didn't you know? Vagina-less robots.
MOE: Television has become more puerile and unrealistic with more romantic subplots to appeal to women.
MEGAN: Also, if you like Grey's Anatomy you're obviously stupid, but Hillary only pretends to watch it
MOE: I have to say Grey's Anatomy is a really stupid show. Every time I see it I am sort of awestruck by its idiocy.
I swear no man watches "Grey's Anatomy" unless his girlfriend forces him to. No man bakes cookies for his dog. No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club." No man contracts nebulous diseases whose existence is disputed by many if not all doctors, such as Morgellons (where you feel bugs crawling around under your skin). At least no man I know. Of course, not all women do these things, either — although enough do to make one wonder whether there isn't some genetic aspect of the female brain, something evolutionarily connected to the fact that we live longer than men or go through childbirth, that turns the pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat.
MEGAN: Men aren't hypochondriacs? Bitch, please. Also, not that I'm married, but I'll be damned if every guy that I've ever known well enough to know when he's sick (my father included) doesn't stay in bed for 2 days when he has the sniffles.
MOE: The Washington Post actually just ran a story wherein men, too, got Morgellons disease.
MOE: But I had never heard about it before the article.
MOE: Because no women I know have gotten that.
MEGAN: Oh, right, going through childbirth makes us dumb.
MOE: The brain supposedly contracts slightly in the ninth month of pregnancy.
MEGAN: Dumb dumb dumb
MOE: Or something. Scienc
MOE: I don't know how that works duh.
MEGAN: Science is hard
Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women. The only good news was that women tended to take fewer driving risks than men, so their crashes were only a third as likely to be fatal. Those statistics were reinforced by a study released by the University of London in January showing that women and gay men perform more poorly than heterosexual men at tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness, both crucial to good driving.
MOE: Women don't like killing people with their cars and that is bad.
MEGAN: Which is why men's insurance rates are higher?
MEGAN: Fuck that noise.
MEGAN: Also, gay men are stupid?
The theory that women are the dumber sex — or at least the sex that gets into more car accidents — is amply supported by neurological and standardized-testing evidence. Men's and women's brains not only look different, but men's brains are bigger than women's (even adjusting for men's generally bigger body size). The important difference is in the parietal cortex, which is associated with space perception. Visuospatial skills, the capacity to rotate three-dimensional objects in the mind, at which men tend to excel over women, are in turn related to a capacity for abstract thinking and reasoning, the grounding for mathematics, science and philosophy. While the two sexes seem to have the same IQ on average (although even here, at least one recent study gives males a slight edge), there are proportionally more men than women at the extremes of very, very smart and very, very stupid.
MOE: I love that sentence — "women are the dumber sex — or at least the sex that gets into more car accidents"
MEGAN: Also, I have to say, my sister is a motherfucking neuroscientist and can't navigate for shit (sorry, if she's reading this, but everyone knows it's true) and I can navigate really well but know shit all about neuroscience, sort of like Charlotte Allen.
MOE: This is true, that there are more men at either extreme. Um, who cares. Also: my brain does lack the capacity to rotate three-dimensional objects around inside it I think. That would be cool. Women and men are different. At least one recent study seems to concur with Charlotte's thesis.
MEGAN: Men and women are different, that doesn't make us stupid.
I am perfectly willing to admit that I myself am a classic case of female mental deficiencies. I can't add 2 and 2 (well, I can, but then what?). I don't even know how many pairs of shoes I own. I have coasted through life and academia on the basis of an excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men. (An evolutionary just-so story explains this facility of ours: Back in hunter-gatherer days, men were the hunters and needed to calculate spear trajectories, while women were the gatherers and needed to remember where the berries were.) I don't mind recognizing and accepting that the women in history I admire most — Sappho, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth I, George Eliot, Margaret Thatcher — were brilliant outliers.
MOE: Dude, Sappho.
MOE: Can we xpost this to Fleshbot now?
MEGAN: that would be awesome.
MEGAN: Also, she doesn't know how many pairs of shoes she has? Couldn't she just count them? Or would that be too hard because she's just a stupid girl?
MOE: I never really thought about how many pairs of shoes I had until a man too it upon himself to count them for me and eloquently weigh in as to their physical state. "Discusting" — get into it.
The same goes for female fighter pilots, architects, tax accountants, chemical engineers, Supreme Court justices and brain surgeons. Yes, they can do their jobs and do them well, and I don't think anyone should put obstacles in their paths. I predict that over the long run, however, even with all the special mentoring and role-modeling the 21st century can provide, the number of women in these fields will always lag behind the number of men, for good reason.
MEGAN: Wait, what? How will the number of female Supreme Court Justices always and forever lack behind the number of men when, for the last decade, women have outpaced men in law school admissions and graduations by a lot?
MEGAN: Also, men are more often fighter pilots because they were the only ones allowed to be for a really long time by the male military hierarchy.
MEGAN: Also, MY SISTER IS A NEUROSCIENTIST
MEGAN: And women outpace men in medical school admissions/graduation as well.
MOE: You know but people like Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas are more brilliant than women the women just fall into the middle doing things like nonprofit law and stuff
MEGAN: If Charlotte was on TV, I would be throwing crap at the screen.
MEGAN: You know why people think women are stupid, Charlotte? Look in the mirror, girlfriend.
MOE: We already learned all the women in law school are tragic plastic surgery-obsessed gym rats who run into traffic because they were molested by their fathers here. She's just repeating what she read on Jezebel.
MEGAN: Oh, darn, right.
MOE: And the brilliant conclusion:
So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.
MEGAN: Well, I do have to admit I feel dumber having read the article, that's for damn sure.
MOE: I have no ability to make a house a home. Maybe I am a brilliant outlier like Thatcher.
MOE: I am exhausted from all that reading I must say.
MEGAN: You know how you make a house a home? You unpack and then live there. The end.
MOE: Should we talk about how Hillary says Obama is not Muslim as far as she knows? Or how Ms pretty pretty pretty Edith Pilaf thinks America caused 9/11 but faked the moon landing? Because I feel like Charlotte was robbed of the opportunity to make a really compelling case for her thesis and adding these two anecdotes might have made her argument sooooo much more convincing.
MEGAN: Ah, the French! So reliably anti-Bush.
MOE: So, one other thing we know about Charlotte Allen is that she stood up for Terry Schaivo, who was not, we maybe should point out, one of womanhood's brilliant outliers.
MEGAN: Ahem. Also, I love how the Teri Schiavo case — which she decries as little less than murder at Michael's and the doctors' hands — prompts her to place all her trust for her feeding-tube-laden future on her husband and not to ever in a million, zillion years sign a living will. I think Charlotte is, indeed, quite dim.
We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get? [Washington Post]