Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sharing Some "Oh My!"

I came across The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould recently when I was reading some essays by Barbara Kingsolver. I don't have much to say about it except that it was a really interesting read. I wanted to share this particular section about female brains/skulls because I just thought it was too interesting not to.

Gustave Le Bon was a follower of Broca's school of thought in the field of craniometry. In La psychologie des foules (published 1895), Le Bon wrote:

"In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studies the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely. [....] A desire to give them the same education, and, as a consequence, to propose the same goals for them, is a dangerous chimera....The day when, misunderstanding the inferior occupations which nature has given her, women, leave the home and take part in our battles; on this day a social revolution will begin, and everything that maintains the sacred ties of the family will disappear" (pg 104-105 of Gould)

To think, to give woman the same goals as man would mean the ruination of family! I guess you could see why I went, "Oh My!," when reading this. Of course, there was a bit of giggling at 3 am when I read this, but I still think it is important to discuss things like this. Undoubtedly, someone in America, or even the world, still thinks like this.

1 comment:

saragraph said...

fascinating. this could be useful to my diss in some way...