I read this book when I was either seventeen or eighteen and had even liked it.
But later I realized that the book an extreme case of generalization and stereotyping.
Men are like rubber bands. Women are like waves.
Once you understood the basic differences, you will know why a man or a woman is behaving the way he/she is.
I hated it after I thought about it. The book was just an excuse made up by a man for behaving like jerks. Men suddenly become distant because they are biologically built that way. Just keep yourself busy when they are acting distant and hiding in their caves and make sure that you are ready with a smile when they come out of their caves. What crap!
On Mars, people are fiercely competitive. On Venus people care about each other.
The more I thought about it, the more I hated it. I learned that the author of the book got his PhD in a dubious way and felt validated.
Over the years, I heard different debates and theories from other scholars about why men seem to fare better in Math and Science. One of them came from a prominent, well respected economist and drew a lot of opposition for what he said. I was in grad school in the US then. One of my male professors (a Yale graduate himself) asked us what we thought. A lot of people (in a class of 10 people) including the professor said they think that Dr Summers was right, a lot of scientific studies have proved that this indeed is the case. One of my friends said that most of those studies have been done by men. I couldn’t make up my mind whose side I was on. I wish I liked Math so that I could argue fiercely. But I hate it. I wish I had seen more women than man who do better at Math or like it better. If that was the case, then I would argue fiercely too just like I do when someone claims ‘women are always bad drivers’ or ‘men are better cooks because most highly paid chefs are men’. But the fact is I don’t know many women who break the stereotype. I do know some and they are really good but they are few and far between. I myself always liked English and Hindi better than Math. I knew my weakness so worked hard to overcome but the good grades never came naturally like they did for other subjects.
So I don’t know. If Charles Darwin was right, there is a biological evolution that happens. For centuries, women did not feel it was absolutely necessary to earn a living to survive, so did we all start out as equals and women lost their math skills over time because many generations did not use them. I don’t know.
What I know for sure is that there should be equal opportunities. If a woman wants to be a scientist, she should get the same respect that her male counterparts get. In Indian context, if your daughter wants to become an engineer then she should have parents willing to incur the cost. And if indeed women like literature more than Math, then who the hell says that math is the only thing that matters. What makes studying math superior to studying languages or anthropology.
When I see my daughter looking back and checking if I am there in a new situation or waiting for me to say ‘its okay’ before she jumps from a high place, I wonder if she is biologically conditioned not to take risks. If that’s really the case, I will do every thing to reverse it but I still wonder.
Here are two posts that made me think about this. Two of my favorite bloggers spoke directly and indirectly about stereotyping. Mad Momma stereotyped her children in a very cute way and nobody raised an eye brow and most nodded in agreement. IHM had a heated discussion with a friend who was stereotyping children.
What do you think?
On a good day, I have five hits from people I don’t know and I would love to get your views. The ones that know me are allowed to speak as well.
BTW, it does not mean that it’s okay to tell me on other occasions ‘Oh u have it easy because you have a daughter’ or “wait till u have a son and you will know what naughty is’, specially from women who just have one child. Though I don’t know what I believe in (as I said I have not made up my mind yet) but I take a serious offense to such statements. I won’t let you perpetuate a stereotype under my watch. Even if there is some amount of biological conditioning, there is social conditioning as well. I went from being a smart, aggressive, argumentative child to a shy and awkward girl and a lot of it was due to social conditioning on how girls are expected to behave.
So my only request, even if you believe that men are from Mars and women from Venus, you are entitled to your views but please don’t share your views with children. Lets let them become what they would have if we were not to tell them what the society expects.