1 Oct 2010, Comments (5)

From the Fine to the Ridiculous

Author: Helen

No, I’m not dead, and no, the Grog’s Gamut fiasco hasn’t made me give up blogging about the patriarchy and the rest of the kyriarchy in favour of talking about shoes. Life has thrown more work at me lately than I can cope with, and I’m going around with my head bulging with posts I have no time to write.

A Balcony reader has nudged me to put up something about this article in last Saturday’s AGE by Cordelia Fine, and yes, the writing of this very fine psychologist and academic (yes I know, hilarious, I’m sure that’s never been done before) need to be disseminated far and wide, in fact, hammered into the heads of all the nouveau-essentialists, in the media and out of it, with a giant cluebat. Here are some quotations from the article by Suzy Freeman-Greene:

At one point in Delusions of Gender, for instance, she writes: ”It is appalling to me that one can, apparently, say whatever drivel one likes about the male and female brain and enjoy the pleasure of seeing it published in a reputable newspaper, changing a school’s educational policy or becoming a bestseller.”


…(T)hree years, ago when [son] Isaac was at kindergarten, Fine discovered his teacher reading a book that claimed his brain was incapable of forging the connection between emotion and language. ”And so,” she explains in Delusions of Gender, ”I decided to write this book.”
The teacher was reading Why Gender Matters by US physician Leonard Sax. An influential campaigner for single-sex education, Sax once claimed that the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature about six years earlier in girls, while those involved in maths and geometry mature about four years earlier in boys. Fine dismisses such ”neurononsense” and quotes American linguistics professor Mark Liberman’s description of Sax’s use of scientific data as ”shockingly careless, tendentious and even dishonest”.
What did she say to her son’s teacher? ”I explained to her that this was not a scientifically valid claim. And she was very responsive to it.” The exchange, she says, sparked the teacher’s interest in the issue.


Read the whole thing. This is where the academic rubber hits the social change road.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Farrelly, who, unfortunately, is a regular in the Fairfax opinion stable, says anything about gender that pops into her head!

(The BER project is)…a Gillardist fem-coup to make the Rudd assassination pale in comparison. Or, more sinister yet: a Third World plot to effeminate the West.

…Now that almost every school has a major chunk of its ”open” space fenced and scaffolded, what will give?
Boys, and boy-ness, for a start. As even boisterousness becomes frowned-upon and the fighting that is bound to erupt in such pent conditions becomes punishable by that boys’ own worst-possible penalty, endless hours of raking-it-over talk, just being a boy becomes a problem.
The incentive is to stay static, watch the screen, make like a girl, gossip, get fat. Which is where the double whammy kicks in. Estrogen.
Double whammy, double mammy. For not only does estrogen generate fat; fat also generates estrogen. Add this feedback loop to the xenoestrogens already ubiquitous in the environment and you have a very interesting development in endocrine politics.

*Golf clap*

Yes, it goes on, and yes, it’s all as hateful as that or worse. (Notice there is material for a whole other post on fat hatred in there. It’s an all-round trainwreck.)

Cordelia Fine holds a PhD in neuroscience, is a Senior Research Associate at Macquarie University, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Elizabeth Farrelly used to be an architect. I have no idea why Fairfax consider Farrelly qualified to witter about absolutely anything and everything in the opinion pages. Oh, yes, I forgot – women who seem to hate their own gender are always given a megaphone in our media.

Comments (5) »

  • screamish says:

    How do these people even GET these writing gigs? I mean, do they just call up and say “I’d like to write this”? Amazing.

  • re your excellent discourse, and in particular …
    “Oh, yes, I forgot – women who seem to hate their own gender are always given a megaphone in our media”
    … and you didn’t even have to get to BETTINA FKNG ARNDT whose anti-female agenda gets published quite a lot.
    See for ref all her last decade’s squawking, and in nauseating particular, the October WmnsWeekly (I cannot bear to say the name) which has a puff piece Arndt may have written herself, since, in describing the tragic death of journalist Dennis Minogue age 53 and very overweight, the article fails to mention that he was not only father to 20-y-o Arndt’s 5-month old son, but father to other young children to whose mother he was still married.

    There can be No Greater Hate For A Woman, than to have unprotected s*x with her husband, and that, as A Movement, is a large one.
    May I suggest that Arndt can join Fine and Farrelly and ride also, far off into the sunset.

  • paul walter says:

    Earlier tonight (fifth)noted a commentary on the Grog’s Gammut outing by ScepticaLawyer and sort of muddled on, not really attendant much on what it was about.
    Later, I thought to look here as one does from time to time, and lo and behold, the “straight” report that explains it all is here jumping up and down, waiting for me to read it.
    Well, I won’t ask if “Fine” is “Fine”, I know it won’t help, either way, from this point.
    Secondly, the Grog’s Gammut outing was well-echoed in the stentorian tone of Paul Kelly on QA this week: these people live only arrogance.
    But it’s comforting from time to time when they react so touchily to the blogshere so frequently.
    So Grog suffers the fate of all whistle blowers, real or imagined, in the Open Society, does he?
    I like the idea of people being accountable for their posts, but, as you say, its easy to use your name when that’s not worth anything.
    Am sad about Farrelly, she wrote well on the Henson fuss a couple of years back. But, post John Fairfax, the view from the North Shore is no longer the same as the one from the Balcony, if it ever was that much.
    As to Cordelia Fine’s article, will try to hunt it down next and see what that’s all about.
    Sounds like it might be parallel a bit to the extended “Saturday Salon ” thread at LP that’s into Gender at the moment.
    Finally, this Marshall Stacks; is he suggesting that Arndt reckons married couples not using condoms are criminals?
    Staggering, but I’d reckon she’s far more daft than Greer could dream of being. Chalk and cheese.
    Funny, Arndt was a quite likeable subject once on telly; good fun on the Walsh midday show during the ‘seventies.
    Now she just looks miserable.

  • Hello Mr Walter – Miss Arndt, when very young, had an affair with a married man, which resulted in a child. The man’s wife and other children were not thrilled. All of this is omitted from the puff-piece feature on Arndt in the current issue of The WW For Arndt to have unprotected s*x with another woman’s husband is an act of hate against women. Especially when seen in the light shining from her recent output of theorem on men’s issues.

  • paul walter says:

    Thanks Marshall, appreciate your comments.

    [Sorry Paul, sentence deleted because maybe straying too close to actionable! H]

    Also read the Fine article. Sure is complex, this early growth, personality and character formation; socialisation, enculturation and individuation etc stuff. Good circumstantial evidence for beleif in a divinity, the sheer impact of the beauty of a sensed powerful mind.

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>