women who write such stuff always seem to look like theynhave just come from Little League tryouts? There must be anrule that specifies all feminist academies shall cut off theirnhair and wear only jeans and sweatshirts.nOne big fad in feminist studies these days is “proving”nthat sexual differences in temperament and behavior arenunrelated to hormones. Professor Ruth Bleier (photographednin sweatshirt and jeans at the University of Wisconsin)nlills up a book with chemical formulae, while at thensame time contriving not to mention all the mainstreamnresearch that would reduce her arguments to rubble. Whatnshe does spend hme on is in denunciations of what she callsn”heterosexism”—that pernicious idealogy that discouragesnlittle girls from growing up to prefer the company ofnwomen.nA more clever approach is offered by Anne Fausto-nSterling in Myths of Gender. For every piece of researchnsuggesting a physiological basis for sex differences, sheneither cites an article on the other side or dismisses thenresearch as “not currently an important view” or “disingenuous.”nhi fact, the new feminist sciences have no positive aim,nonly a desire to discredit sexist biology and psychology.nWhile “sexist” scientists attempt to tackle the givens ofnexperience and to find explanations for the universalnpatterns of sexual distinctions, feminists begin by shuttingntheir eyes to the painful facts of life. Their hostility tonnature is understandable if we consider that feminism camenout of the same 19th-century reformist milieu that gave usnthe first natural food craze, prohibition, and the Victoriannmoral uplift. Like their spiritual ancestresses—the Susan B.nAnthonys, Carrie Nations, and Mrs. Grundys—feministsncannot abide the old Adam. They are desperate to trade innthe beer-swilling, cigar-smoking, street-brawling lout sonimperfectly designed by the Creator for a new model—nsomeone with Alan Alda’s assertiveness, Tom Brokaw’snbrains, and David Bowie’s masculinity. While their grandmothersninsisted on referring to the “limbs” of a table and anchicken’s “upper-joint,” the modern bluenose takes refugenin “chairperson,” “our father/mother,” “he/she.” (They allnought to learn Latin, which has no real third personnpronoun. Beginning students always manage to say, amat.nhe, she, it loves, fast enough to sum up most reactions tonfemspeak.) Feminist writers and scholars simply translatentheir aversion to reality into the gibberish of academicndiscipline as if they were trying to confirm the old stereotypesnof women—incapable, dear things, of seriousnthought. To update Dr. Johnson’s celebrated declaration,nhe/she lies, and he/she knows he/she lies.nWhenever I read such feminist stuff, I am reminded of annacute comment thrown out by one of the contributors to anspecial issue of Science dedicated to these matters (20nMarch 81): Conception cannot take place unless the sexualnbehavior of males and females is sufficiently different. Sincenanimal behavior is partiy a function of our central nervousnsystem, male and female brains have to be at least differentnenough for mating to be possible. Otherwise, women mightnjust as well cut their hair off and wear jeans and sweatshirts.nWhat is so intolerable about the most obvious things in thenworld? No one, after all, is claiming that “biology isndestiny” except in the sense that it is destiny for an apple, ifnit is thrown up in the air, to fall to earth.nNot all feminists or “womens studies” scholars are liars ornlesbians. A good many of them are making importantncontributions to their disciplines, precisely because theynconcentrate on the uniqueness of the feminine experience.nA few names come immediately to mind: Alice S. Rossi fornher studies of women students, Niles Newton for hernexploration of the complex eroticism of the female sex, AnnnDouglas for her observations on the feminization of 19thcenturynAmerica, Carol Gilligan for her often dotty butnsometimes sensible remarks on female ethics. Sherry Ortnernfor contributing the woman as nature/man as culturendistinction to sociology and anthropology, and philosophernCarol McMillan, who makes her first appearance in Chroniclesnthis month. What all these writers share is thenrealization that boys and girls are different and an awarenessnof the significance of those differences.nThe differences show up in so many ways. Take the casenof birthdays. What do most men want on their birthday? Anfishing rod, a box of cigars, golf clubs, a table saw? All thenthings that take him out of the domestic circle and allownhim to forget, if only for an hour, that he has been seducedninto becoming civilized. Even books are an escape. (Hownmany men, I wonder, read books and smoke cigars just tonhave an excuse to get away to their den?) But what do theirnwives ask for? Perfume, bath oil, flowers, a frilly nightgown.nIt doesn’t take a dirty mind like Dr. Ruth’s to know why.nThese preferences suggest more than the usual generalizationsnon hairy brutes and ethereal creatures.nGifts are, in a way, tributes to who and what we are. Anninappropriate gift (say, a pair of designer jeans) is offensive,nbecause it tells me what you really think of me. By whatnthey expect for presents, men affirm themselves as undomesticatednindividuals, while women declare in no uncertainnterms that they are daughters of Eve. When a womanngives up on perfume and starts asking (honestiy) for sensiblenthings, she is not getting old: she is dying. It isn’t sex sonmuch as beauty. Even the poorest, drabbest grandmothernlikes to have nice things about, likes to look her best. It’s notnfor you, poor man, so much as it is for her.nMen without women would probably be even worse thannthe Hittites—great empire builders with no apparent sensenof beauty. Not that women necessarily create beauty. GeorgnSimmel was probably close to the mark when he suggestednthat women rarely display original genius in the artsn(although they have made enormous contributions to lyricnpoetry and the novel). On the other hand, they demandnbeauty from us: it is one of the conditions (along withnchildren) on which they consent to live with us. Inevitably,nwe suffered from delusions of grandeur: they wanted paintednwalls and a basket of flowers; we gave them Vermeer andnBrahms.nI can only imagine what my feminist former friends andncolleagues will say to all of the above. They will probablynnot offer an actual counterargument or genuine response ofnany kind. In the unlikely event of a radical feminist readingnthis magazine, we shall find ourselves treated to lectures onnsexist insensitivity and male chauvinism. With any luck, wenmight hear from one of those organizations with charmingnacronyms like ALLECTO, B.I.T.C.H., SCUM, or NOW.n(continued on page IS)nnnJUNE 1986/9n