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?