Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another Obligatory Post

By now, you may have read this article in the Washington Post.

Or even this series of responses at DCist.

What I am most worried about, however, is my personal ambivalence towards this whole debacle.

Charlotte Allen, the unfortunate looking woman who penned the offending article, is simply misguided on a number of accounts. I don’t think I have anything to offer that the comments on DCist haven’t already jumped on, but here’s a summary of relevant complaints about the article:

  • The issue of women swooning over Obama and the role of raw emotion in politics could have made for an interesting opinion piece if Allen hadn’t (shallowly) delved into the pseudo-science that labels women the inferior sex.
  • In addition to studies that “prove” women are bad drivers, there are also hundreds of studies that explore the number of ways girls in every age bracket are intentionally and unintentionally discouraged from studying math and science.
  • Allen herself points out that in lieu of visuospacial skills, those of the fairer sex usually have “excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men.” If the SAT (of course, I’m not claiming that the SAT is the alpha/omega of intelligence assessment) places equal emphasis on math skills and verbal skills, how does she draw the conclusion that women are, on whole, “kind of dim”?
However, after reading Allen’s piece and the number of responses at DCist, I was struck by something – I don’t really care. I imagine that if I had read this piece in high school, I would have been outraged and started some militant coalition against the Washington Post. Today, however, I just shake my head. I can easily point out the flaws in Allen’s arguments and I could cite a number of studies and theories to dispute them. After three years of studying feminist theory in college classrooms with brilliant young women, this article just saddens and frustrates me. Has college made me apathetic? On the other hand (and I’m hoping this is the case), perhaps I’ve become more trusting in the opinions of people like those who left comments at DCist, people who can recognize this kind of drivel when they read it.