Sunday, June 11, 2006

Brooks Gets Space at the NYTimes

And why this is, is no mystery to me.

It's because, even though there must be -- Fuck, I don't know, seven HUNDRED women in the nation more qualified than he is to do the job he is currently doing -- that is, write a short, interesting, opinion column for one of the best newspapers in the country -- he gets the space, because he has one magic qualification: a penis.

Which, oddly enough, is what Brooks is writing about this week at the NYTimes:

There are three gender-segregated sections in any airport: the restrooms, the security pat-down area and the bookstore. In the men's sections of the bookstore, there are books describing masterly men conquering evil. In the women's sections there are novels about ... well, I guess feelings and stuff.

And, you know, that's just stupid. Who would want to read about crap like that? Feelings and stuff?

Women, he guesses. Not that he knows. Because who would ever bother to, like, talk to women? It's not like they matter or shit.

He goes on with this brilliant discourse:

Over the past two decades, there has been a steady accumulation of evidence that male and female brains work differently. [Not that he cites any of this evidence, mind you.] Women use both sides of their brain more symmetrically than men. Men and women hear and smell differently (women are much more sensitive). Boys and girls process colors differently (young girls enjoy an array of red, green and orange crayons whereas young boys generally stick to black, gray and blue). Men and women experience risk differently (men enjoy it more).

At this point, does anyone else want to cry bullshit? Girls use color more? Girls use color more? Not that I am not all for yay girls, but tell that to Van Gogh, tell it to Reubens, tell that to my daughter's pre-K class -- has Brooks never met any kids? Who are these boys he knows who color in black, gray, and blue? And are they all depressed because their daddies make them listen to Rush?

It could be, in short, that biological factors influence reading tastes, even after accounting for culture.

It could be indeed. Or it could be that Brooks is an idiot. I don't know: you make the call.

This wouldn't be a problem if we all understood these biological factors and if teachers devised different curriculums to instill an equal love of reading in both boys and girls.

The problem is that even after the recent flurry of attention about why boys are falling behind, there is still intense social pressure not to talk about biological differences between boys and girls (ask Larry Summers). There is still resistance, especially in the educational world, to the findings of brain researchers. Despite some innovations here and there, in most classrooms boys and girls are taught the same books in the same ways...

Here we get to Brooks' point. Separate but equal schools, folks! That's what we need! Segregate them girls! Stick the boys in their own schools!

But don't worry! Because we can trust the school boards! You know we can! Funding will no doubt be equal for the girls! Why, after all, would parents fail to sink as much money into educating their girl children as they do into educating their boys, once they have set up these separate schools? Huh? Huh? Why would they?

I attended a sexually segregated public school system: Jefferson Parish, in Louisiana. The high schools were sexually segregated through the 80's. My brothers attended East Jefferson High School, about 15 minutes from our house, which had classes in Latin and Physcis, which had multiple National Merit Semi-finalists every year.

I attended Riverdale High school -- by the river, and a chemical dump, an hour away from our house by bus. No Latin. Two years of French available. No Physics. Advanced math available, but only one teacher for the entire school, and she was vastly overworked. (I took the class, but failed miserably. Probably would have anyway, to be fair. I lobbied for physcis and, by being VERY ANNOYING, got a class added in my senior year --- but the teacher they hired had taught second grade the previous year, I fucking kid you not. I knew more about physics than she did.)

East Jefferson also had -- ho, of course -- a huge sports program. We didn't even have a gym. We used the parish gym across the road.

You see why I'm the tiniest bit skeptical about Mr. Brooks' plan.


Mouse said...

the article I blogged about on the various school types out there had sexually segregated schools on there; I wasn't too fond of the idea for the same reason you aren't. I just don't think that the schools would be equal.

zelda1 said...

First of all, my grandsons, both the Baby and The Seven Year old, both love crayons of all colors, especially reds and blues and yellows and greens and oranges. Yep, they are boys. Second, my son and daughter both loved the same books, because I read to them every single night and they requested the same books. Every great once in a while, my son would want me to read something that she didn't like or vice versa but they were not gender specific. They were fairy tales, and horse books, and train books, and Little House books, and wicked witch books. My gosh, they were not even 16 months apart and there were no differences. Plus, when I was a kid, a teen, I was in an integrated school, both boys and girls, but the girls had a different curriculum. First, no sports, none, not even basketball or track. We got PE, which was exercise and dancing. We had no math or shop classes past the requiste alegebra and the girls who didn't excel were excused and put in adult living classes, how to make a grocery list. We, the girls, were encouraged to go into nursing, teaching, or housewifery, while the boys were prepped for universities and professional jobs. Have we not learned anything from the pre integration of our African American sisters and brothers. Seperate is not ever going to be equal. Fuck, I hate these men who think with their dicks.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the differences of focus in Riverdale High and East Jefferson's academics and sports.

My two brothers attended EJ. The girls were the "cheerleaders" for East Jefferson's sports. They would come to Riverdale for their football rallies.

What year did you graduate? I'm trying to get info on the class of the 1967 Riverdale High School Reunion.