Life’s not an exact science

2013-12-11 10:00

‘New’ studies on human behaviour are just an exercise in reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Anew study is offending women.

It claims to have found proof that women’s brains are wired differently, explaining the stereotypes that we bandy about.

These include that men are better at sports and reading maps, while women are better at multitasking and the soft, touchy-feely stuff like remembering anniversaries.

Firstly, I am surprised that this is a “new” study. Have we not heard this one before?

Secondly, some reports are pointing to holes in that piece of science and, on a social level, why is science reinforcing gender stereotypes?

But I’m not so offended by the points of difference that the study is said to be pointing out.

I celebrate differences among the races and sexes.

I like to look at my disparities as strengths.

I’m more annoyed by the banality of this study.

This is no Higgs boson, which, by the way, I still need someone to explain to me.

But let me admit one thing. I suck at reading maps.

I know this is not a feminist-friendly thing to admit in a national newspaper, but I’m not sure in which direction the map is pointing half the time.

My partner – as a friendly educator, I suppose – likes to hand me the map when we’re hiking. This is usually followed by: “You lead the way.”

I just fold my arms in annoyance and stand aside. As if exercise was not hard enough.

He thinks he’s being helpful and encouraging. I think: “You’re better at it, so why don’t you do it.”

Plus, I hate it when people make their problems my problems.

Technology has not helped me much.

I like to second-guess Google Maps when I’m driving thinking: “Nah, this can’t be the road. Surely Google would not lead me down a creepy road. Let me try the next one.”

I use petrol station attendants as my guide, which is not a failproof method because many times they delay me with rambling directions that contradict their finger-pointing.

At other times, they just shrug their shoulders, which makes me want to scream, “Why are you talking to me then”, as I hastily roll up my window and screech away.

But they are always kind and friendly, which science says satisfies my people-loving feminine side.

But I don’t think this has anything to do with my brain.

I suspect it’s because I got used to my father drawing me diagrams of directions from when I started using taxis to town as a teen, right into my adulthood when I learnt to drive.

They were crystal-clear maps with arrows that would take me from Soweto to Sandton without a hitch.

The study is wrong on another front. I’m not a pro at remembering dates.

I don’t care when we met or when we had our first kiss.

So technology has been a godsend on this front because Facebook birthday reminders are what keep me informed about the birthdays of my friends and their broods.

Again, I don’t think it has anything to do with my brain, but about being raised in a household that did not reward anyone for growing older.

Sometimes I would wait a week to see if above-mentioned loving father had remembered my birthday. He almost always needed reminding.

I lean towards nurture over nature in explaining how we differ in behaviour.

But over and above that, I feel studies that rubber-stamp clichés are boring.

But maybe there is another explanation for my annoyance.

I’m innately bitchy, as explained by another recently released study, which claims that mean-girl behaviour is hard-wired in women.

But how would I know this? I really do not have a head for science at all.

»?Follow me on Twitter @joonji

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