3 Dec 2016

Tom Utley: Feminists Will Howl, But Women’s Brains ARE Different From Men’s - Take Their Shaky Grasp Of Logic…

By Tom Utley: Distinguished lawyer though she is, in a profession that sets great store by the accurate use of language, Cherie Blair appears confused about the meaning of the word ‘mythical’.
She used it this week in a rare-for-her Newsnight interview, in which she told a fawning Evan Davis that fathers should play a more hands-on role in bringing up children, while employers should do more to promote the rights of mothers in the workplace.
‘We still organise our work in such a way,’ she said, ‘as though we were still living in this sort of mythical world where all women stayed at home and men went to work.’
To be fair to the former Prime Minister’s wife, she is probably saved by that word ‘all’. It is indeed a myth that there was ever a time when all women stayed at home, while their menfolk brought home the bacon.
But where mothers of young children are concerned (and it is clear from the context that she was talking about them), there is nothing in the least bit mythical about a world in which the great majority of those who had the option devoted their time to raising offspring, leaving it to the fathers to earn the dosh. It actually existed — and not so very long ago, at that.
Indeed, it is a world in which Cherie and I grew up in the 1950s, when it was still unusual for mothers to take paid employment if their husbands were able to support them. There were a great many exceptions, of course, but most who took jobs outside the home did so through necessity, not by choice. 
What struck me most forcibly about Wednesday night’s interview was Mrs Blair’s assumption, unspoken by her and unchallenged by Mr Davis, that there is no fundamental distinction between men and women that makes one sex better adapted to rearing children and the other happier at work.
Any differences, she seemed to be saying, were the result of social conditioning — centuries of suppression of women’s aspirations by domineering men — rather than anything hard-wired into the DNA of the human species.
But can this be as self-evidently true as she and Mr Davis appear to believe?
Of course, I realise this is a deeply unfashionable question to ask, and I’ll have the entire feminist lobby crashing down on me (not for the first time) even for raising it.
House-husbands and New Men will write to me in their droves, saying their idea of perfect fulfilment is changing the baby’s dirty nappy or cooking supper for their barrister wives. Meanwhile, thrusting young women will accuse me of ‘gender stereotyping’ and tell me their only ambition in life is to excel in business, engineering or boxing.
Indeed, Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone found himself in hot water this week for a similar offence against political correctness when he uttered one fatal sentence in the debate about the football child-abuse scandal.
‘It’s basically the dads who are the coaches,’ he said, ‘and the mums who wash the team kit.’ No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Culture Secretary Karen Bradley slapped him down, telling him women also coached football, while men — including her husband — were ‘very good’ at cooking and washing the dishes.

All I will say in Mr Hollobone’s defence (though it’s a pretty strong defence, I humbly submit) is that what he said was manifestly, demonstrably, 100 per cent true. Beyond doubt, it is ‘basically’ the dads who are the coaches and the mums who wash the team kit. I can’t see much sense in pretending otherwise.
The interesting question is why this should be. Is it, as feminists would suggest, because women have been culturally bullied, since time immemorial, into believing that football is a man’s game, while their own place is at the washtub?
Or is it simply that fathers tend to enjoy football more, because of the way men’s brains are structured, while mothers care more that their young should look clean on the pitch?
Indirect support for the latter theory came this week from Professor Larry Cahill, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine.
Though he said nothing about football or clothes-washing, he did say drug-testers were so terrified of being labelled as sexist that they put women’s health at risk by ignoring physical differences between male and female brains. 
I know that other scientists dismiss talk of differences in brain structure as ‘neurotrash’. 
But from my own observations of the opposite sex — women’s map-reading skills, intuitions and sometimes shaky grasp of logic — I am inclined to believe Professor Cahill.
Whatever the truth, however, I reckon differences of opinion over the true nature of homo sapiens go to the very heart of the divide between Toryism and other political world-views.
As I see it, creeds such as Socialism take as their starting point a conception of an ideal society and then try to make human nature conform to it. The result is almost always oppression and unhappiness (ask Cuban exiles in America).
Tories, on the other hand, try to take human nature as it is, with all its virtues and vices — and institutions as they have evolved over time — seeking to improve society from where we are now, bit by bit. We work from the bottom up, as it were, rather than the top down.
Hence the heavy stress laid by traditional Tories on the importance of the family as the bedrock of society, reflecting man’s strongest instinct as a naked ape: to do the best possible for his and her young.
True, Socialists will say we should love the whole human race equally. But you can be sure that even the reddest of the red would rescue their own family from a burning block of flats before turning their attention to the neighbours.
Man is a tribal and territorial animal, too, which accounts for Tories’ stress on love of country. Indeed, supranational groupings throughout history have failed to hit the human G-spot — which is why I reckon the EU is already looking as doomed and outdated as the Soviet Union and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Most Britons feel British first and European a distant second. And the same goes for the French, the Italians and the rest.
But to international Socialists and their ilk, human nature — family-oriented, tribal, territorial and competitive — is a massive obstacle to achieving the perfect society. So it must be thumped and battered into conforming to the ideal of equality.
Thus, girls must be told endlessly that, apart from superficial physical differences, they are exactly the same as boys in every way and should share their ambitions to excel at football and get out into the world of work — no matter how insistently their brains and hormones may tell them they’d rather be at home with the kids.
If you ask me, these are the true victims of social conditioning in modern Britain — along with the poor blokes who have been bullied into believing they’re happiest doing the child-rearing.
Yes, of course there are countless mothers who get a buzz from pursuing careers, just as there are some men who like nothing better than baby-sick down the back of their sweaters. I wish them nothing but well.
But why can’t Mrs Blair accept that millions of women don’t share her career ambitions — and most men are not like the ‘hands-on’ dad to whom she is married. 
(Presumably Mr Blair snatched time off to invade foreign countries and fill his boots with tyrants’ cash between mopping up baby-sick and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar aloud.)
With study after study showing that traditional families are the ideal nurseries for happy, well-adjusted, productive and law-abiding citizens, would she and her like please stop telling us that they belong to a myth of the distant past?
Stay-at-home mums are the unsung heroines of modern society. For all the lip-service he paid them, David Cameron did damn all to help them. Now it’s up to Theresa May.

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