The Female Brain

The Female Brain - Louann Brizendine The train wreck started with the initial characterization of the hormones. Establishing the hormones with a particular gender and giving them “jobs” that fit with gender roles does not bode well for the hope to see an objective look at the female brain without sexist stereotypes or gender roles muddling the examination of evidence.Then it got into the book. At the beginning, it casually implied that PMS is scientifically valid. I was disappointed in that since there are quite a few medical professionals that have come out to say that the hormonal effects on a woman’s emotional state before menstruation is pretty much a social construct. It would have been nice to see some facts and studies laid out about the opposing theories that exist, but no it picked a side, and presented it as if there was no debate. Even the prevalence of the common side effects among women around menstruation would have been nice, but this book is woefully barren of many figures for a science book. And sadly at times it is even without facts.Many times the author states a common pop culture bit of pseudo-science psychology that many have heard, but there is no real scientific evidence for it being true. The first “fact” that had a lot of “truthiness” to it was the fact about how many words men and women say in a day on average. “Men use about seven thousand words per day. Women use about twenty-thousand.” This is scientifically false. Men and women actually say the same amount of words per day, around seven thousand.The second “fact” I had some real beef with was the statement that males are more likely to be on the autistic spectrum, and girls aren’t. That is a twisting of data and leaving out social behaviors and expectations out of identifying children on the autistic spectrum. The truth is boys are diagnosed more often than girls, however this does not mean that girls aren’t autistic. Typically the expression of autism is different between boys and girls, due to how the different genders are conditioned to socially interact, a boy with autism is more likely to have a angry outburst while the girl is more likely to be reserved and quiet. In the end the angry outburst gets more attention and therefore a diagnose occurs, while a quiet child is hardly seen as problematic, and therefore no source of that favorable behavior is sought.“Men are on average twenty times more aggressive than women.” While this is the social construct that is in place in many societies, there is plenty of data that put in a power position, women are just as likely to be as aggressive as men can be. As more women are rising up in the ranks of businesses, guess what, rates of women sexually harassing male employees are going up as well. Also there is a lot of speculation about that the cases of husbands who get physically abused by the wives are drastically under reported, mainly due to the social stigma that men are the aggressors and women are the victims.“Girls are motivated—on a molecular and neurological level—to ease and prevent social conflict.” How would that explain mean girls?Oh and here is a big one: “85% of twenty- to thirty-year-old males think about sex every fifty-two seconds and women think about it once a day—up to three or four times on fertile days.” Not only is this statistically impossible, but it is incredibly sexist too. It reinforces the concept that females aren’t naturally sexual, and that men are naturally hyper-sexual. And it makes a woman who enjoys sex look abnormal. It is covert slut-shaming.And her justification about why less women enter into science and math professions totally ignores the documented fact of stereotype threat that goes into effect when women go against expected female behavior. If you give a test to boys and girls, both will perform similarly, however if before the test if the teacher says “oh the boys always do well on this test,” there is a drastic bump in the boys’ score and a drop in the girls’ score. The same thing happens when women enter into male dominated fields, and the result less women enter into those fields, and less women remain in those fields.The thing is that most of these scientifically baseless “facts” are social fallacies that people started saying to justify sexist concepts about the genders. The fact that the author uses them, to support her theory, in my opinion, makes her the book lose all credibility. And as I said, since many of these statements she uses have no scientific merit, what about the references in the back?In most science books I read there are either footnotes or superscripts that connect a statement stated in the book to the corresponding source in the bibliography. In this book, while there is a bibliography, there is no connection from any statement made to the sources in the back. Which makes sense, since the original scientific papers and such, in no way supports what the author theorizes and definitely not the fallacies she uses.A big problem is that most of the book is anecdotal. She ends up presenting a very narrow view of experience to justify her theory. She explains the neurological structures of the brain, and then she goes into an anecdote as if it confirms what she thought about the expression of the brain structure. She doesn’t take into account social conditioning and pressure.It pains me to no end that this book not only masquerades as scientifically valid but people are just lapping up this neurosexism and recommending that everyone else drink the kool-aid, ultimately perpetuating sexist stereotypes and reaffirming gender roles that have been constructed.This book tells girls "Of course you are the emotional irrational mess society says that you are! I can prove it with 'science'! Don't bother your pretty little emotional wreck of a head with math and science you are just not wired to understand it anyway."For anyone who says that they loved this book, I would highly recommend the book Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. Please for the love of sanity read this book and really try to understand the science behind claims and studies and don't just buy into it because it feels true without any real meat of evidence to add to the claims.