The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

SEX DIFFERENCES: Maybe it’s just my imagination, but we (we being a generic term for the large number of people who really don’t care too much about this subject one way or the other unless and until someone either points the subject out to us or the noise reaches the point where we, this we being the same we as the previous we in this sentence, can’t ignore what is essentially none of our business and stop to watch the fireworks) can’t get away from the constant caterwauling of the easily offended anymore. There’s a lot more of them now than there used to be; I’m not sure why that is, but you can never discount the malign influence of television; and there hardly seems to be a week goes by without some jejune lout saying something that puts some group’s nose out of the metaphorical joint for ordering a beer without a real ID card.

The most recent example of this occurred when the President of Harvard University mentioned that there might be some genetic differences between men and women and that maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with why women didn’t enter certain male dominated fields of enquiry like belching loudly and igniting one’s own flatulence with a lighter. A female biologist, offended by the suggestion that there might be physiological and psychological differences between men and women, immediately fled the room to find her smelling salts before she swooned. The president of Harvard has apologized for his remarks since then; in fact, he has enjoyed apologizing so much that he apologized three times that I know about and may go on apologizing just for the fun of it. He may even go into the apologia business, in fact, and supply apologies for every occasion. It takes a great man to recognize when he’s wrong and to make a fortune out of his errors.

As for the offended biologist, well, the fact that a biologist, of all people, cannot tell that male and female members of the same species often have more than a few differences bespeaks a terrible failure in the American system of education. One wonders if sex education classes in this country spend any time at all on the larger purpose of the reproductive organs or whether they spend all their time discussing how to best manage a ménage a trois for maximum effect, whatever that may mean. Many people routinely castigate American students for lacking such basic information, and rightfully so, I think, but one wonders how a biology professor managed to get as far as MIT without someone noticing that she didn’t know much about her subject.


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