Monday, May 28, 2012

Too Sensitive?

So I was looking through Nature Magazine's Future archives the other day--if you don't know about Futures, in each issue of Nature, there's a science fiction flash story that ponders various outcomes of the future. So just to be clear, it's fiction, not non-fiction. Anyway, I came across Ed Rybicki's "Womanspace."    

Read the story first, it'll be quick... Read it? Okay, now, check out the comments posted below the story. Bit of a hazing, right?  

Now I'm a woman (have the ovaries to prove it), and I didn't find this offensive or sexist in any way. The story is clearly meant to be an amusing piece of tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at differences between men and women. And frankly, I think the author was spot on. I know from experience, whether shopping with my mom or friends, that women tend to meander around the store. Whereas with my dad, we go into the store with a specific goal, get the item, and leave.

Of course, this is all generalizing, and I myself don't exactly fit into mold: If I have something in mind, I'll go in and get it; if I'm just browsing, I'll meander.

But I worry that we're becoming just a little too sensitive, that whenever you point out a difference between groups of people, you're immediately condemned as sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. As if differences were something bad.

Newsflash! Men and women are not the same, and that's not a bad thing. There are strengths and weaknesses in both sexes; neither sex is perfect and one sex isn't better than the other. It's this variety that helped us as a species succeed. If everyone was the same, we'd be nothing more than giant amoebas--and how boring is that?

This whole thing reminds me of an incident in 2003, when baseball manager and former player Dusty Baker made a remark that "black and Hispanic players are better suited to playing in the sun and heat than white players." And naturally, he was called out on it, even though all he did was make an observation. Whether that observation has merit or not, I don't know (I don't watch baseball), but considering the guy has been in baseball for over two decades, I doubt he made that observation on the fly.

I wish some folks would take a step back, look at things in an objective light, and not act on their emotions, getting their knickers (haha) twisted. I certainly don't think the author meant any harm, simply making a funny observation--which is something we all do. Like here's an observation: not only do internet flame wars exist in the mindless boggle that is Youtube's comment section, but also amongst intellectual, sciency-type people on a scientific journal. 

But what do you guys think? Does the story debase women, or is it some harmless fun?


  1. Lol.

    What a fuss!

    The story just illustrates that you shouldn't send a man to do a woman's job because he'll be crap at it.
    And a woman's job? That would be everything except lifting heavy things. That's what we keep men for.
    Take a man shopping? He's there to carry the bags, and that's all he's there for. Because if you send a man to get sugar he'll come back with valve grinding paste and a stick with a sucker on the end of it, and later he'll complain that there's no sugar, even though he's the wasteful tit that has three in his tea when you only have one.

    The story was mildly amusing. The comments were a fuss over nothing.

    1. LOL! Yes, men are too busy coming up with ridiculous theories to actually get the job done, so when the woman gets it done, they wonder how she did it, and so goes the theorizing...

  2. Great story.

    Men and women are different and some people do get too sensitive about it and assume the person making the observatrion is making a complaint or trying to put them down.

    The bigger question is, are they being over sensitive or trying to control reactions?

    1. That's an interesting question. I assumed some folks were being over-sensitive, claiming the story stereotyped women and blah, blah, blah. I have to wonder if we even read the same story. But perhaps they're raising a fuss because they want others to be equally offended by the material, thus propagating sexism.

      It's the same way I feel every time Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton decry an act of racism.

  3. Our differences don't define us, but they exist, and turning a blind eye to them in favor of political correctness or "sameness" (from The Giver) doesn't really show respect for anybody, does it?