Monday, August 22, 2011

The Battle of the Sexes - who won?

Today the Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce may or may not have put her foot in it when she said in a speech that woman have communication skills and emotional intelligence that men cannot match.

Now I like Quentin Bryce. If we have to have a representative of the monarchy to open parliament and shopping centres and warships and whatever else the GG does, I’m glad we’ve got her. She speaks well and scrubs up nicely. However, some media commentators -- possibly those with bitter divorces and child support payments -- are now positively outraged: But if I said women were less logical and more emotional and can’t parallel park, I’d be crucified by feminists!

Quentin Bryce - a woman
Well, they didn’t really say that, but it seems to be the point they’re going for. But what would I know? I’m running on illogical emotion here, people.

I believe the GG is right when she says women have better communication skills and higher emotional intelligence than men. I also believe that men are better at anything involving spatial relationships and cold, hard maths. But only generally speaking, of course, because Ada Lovelace could run rings around most men, and, when you get down to it, what the hell is gender anyway?

What I believe is that way back in the olden days when we were all sitting around the cave listening to the sonorous mating call of the woolly mammoth at night, men and woman had very different jobs. Men hunted, and women gathered.

What matters when you’re hunting? Distance, speed, spatial relationships, and silence, because if you don’t do it right you’ll end up in the wrong place on the food chain.

And when you’re gathering? Verbal communication. Zogina, I remember there were berries growing by those rocks last year. Let’s go and check there.

Evolution wired men and women for different tasks, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s actually meaningless. Because if generalisations have taught us anything, it’s that there is always an exception to the rule and people should be judged on their personal abilities regardless of gender, or ethnicity, or any other box they tick.

What’s annoying is that it’s apparently still a hot button issue in Australian politics in this day and age. 

What's annoying you today? 


  1. Of course there are differences, but I suppose to point out that one is superior to another in a political arena is only asking for trouble. She'll be lucky if she doesn't get clubbed over the head and dragged back to the cave after this (kidding).

  2. LOL, LG! Knowing some of our media commentators and politicians, she'll be lucky if she's not sent straight back to the kitchen to make the men sandwiches!

  3. Lewis Mumford's The City In History discusses the different gender roles in early human settlement. Fascinating how gender roles influenced architecture, settlement patterns, even the shape of crafts and tools. It would, basically, support her statement, for what generalities are worth.

  4. A friend of mine whose a maths teacher would disagree with men being better ;)

    Oh, gender issues. There's no getting rid of them. I can't even order my thoughts into a pithy response.

    But! I did give you an award! HOORAY!

  5. @ Margo. That sounds like an interesting book. I'm a sucker for anthropology.

    @ Miss Cole, HOORAY!

  6. Oh heaven forbid she try to say anything positive about why the genders act differently. There is no amount of political correctness that won't dilute a message anyone would have to say. Hopefully she doesn't back down and issue an apology for offending people. I'm sick to death of anti-Feminists saying "If I said what you said I'd be KILLED" well...she said it better and without insulting anyone.

  7. It's obvious from your blogs that both you and LG communicate better than I do, and if we were all pissed off and given clubs and a hunk of mastodon to fight over, even there I'm quite sure I'd be limping off without any dinner.

    So I'm very appreciative of the emotional intelligence that allows people to get along - I'd rate that skill more highly than any barbecued mastodon.

  8. Hi Steph, crazy isn't it? I'd kind of hoped we were all mature enough to acknowledge differences without making value judgments on them, but I guess some thing never change.

  9. MC, for all we know barbecued mastodon is delicious! Much better than those nuts and berries we womenfolk are scrabbling up. I suppose the point is that in any society with a decent mix of people, everyone has skills that will contribute to the welfare of the group as a whole. It's just a shame we're still arguing about whose skills are better.



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