DAVID BROOKS MAKES...

DAVID BROOKS MAKES MY DAY. AGAIN. Just one day before my book exhorting women to aspire to full humanity is due in the bookstores, my favorite conservative, David Brooks, came right out and said it in the op-ed pages of The New York Times. Forget being part of humanity, girls. Women are a different species. What makes humans human, above all things, is, of course, our brains. Well, according to Brooks, the results, which most serious scholars are still debating, are in. Women have different brains. They read junk. They snivel. They even smell differently.

Just for a little perspective here, remember that the idea that humans have different kinds of brains is not new. When the IQ test was first developed, the people involved thought that Jews had inherently inferior brains, and that the country was in big trouble because too many of these �other� people were coming into the country. Brooks� bad news for today is that too many of the inferior species are coming into the colleges.

Now Brooks has been worried about finding college admissions tilted against sons for a while. One explanation for the femininity of college classrooms might be that males are linguistically challenged, and therefore don�t deserve to be represented in the halls of academe. Isn�t that what Brooks� pal, Larry Summers, said about women and science? Instead Brooks concludes that, since the system doesn�t pick the men, the rules for getting into college must be defective. I guess the logical fallacy of assuming your conclusion wasn�t part of the guy classes when Brooks went to college all those years ago.

Brooks� solutions include segregating the girls into separate schools and revising the curriculum of the boys� schools to include more books with war in them so they can compete better. He describes the current integrated schools as favoring �new-wave young adult problem novels, which all seem to be about introspectively morose young women whose parents are either suicidal drug addicts or fatally ill manic depressives.� No offending volumes are named. Nothing is said about the generations of women who grew to literate adulthood on a diet of Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick, et al. If it weren�t coming from a conservative like Brooks, I�d call his plan affirmative action for guys.

The weirdest part of the whole article is Brooks� revulsion at the �girly� books. What�s Brooks� problem exactly? Squirming at even having to admit that he ventured into the female section of the book store, he describes the offerings as �well, I guess, feelings and stuff.� (Eeeew! Not that I opened or read any of it!) It�s hard to believe that a man who wields the power of the New York Times opinion page is too insecure about his masculinity to admit he touched Jane Eyre. But this isn�t the first time that Brooks has gone out of his way to reassure us. Or someone. Last March, in a cute little correction to an elementary mistake in an earlier column, also praising �Masculinity,� he took the opportunity tell us how sexy he was: �Last Sunday, I wrote that Plato used the word 'eros' to signify the appetitive part of the soul. This isn't the first time I've been led astray by the power of eros. The correct word is 'epithymia.'� (Emphasis added.) What�s this? I�m too sexy for my laptop? Dave? Too much information. Get a grip. Or something.

--Linda Hirshman

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