Friday, August 26, 2005

Smart Women Don't Get Laid

Kameron Hurley of Brutal Women, guestblogging

"As long as there are entrenched social and political distinctions between sexes, races or classes, there will be forms of science whose main function is to rationalize and legitimize these distinctions."

- Elizabeth Fee

Bear with me here, I'm a little hung over. Ce la vie.

It appears that we finally have proof! White, middle-class men of Science administering tests made to test the intelligence of white, middle class men have finally solved the mystery of inequality that has troubled feminists for generations.

Men are just smarter.

This is a great article because it assumes 1) everybody knows that IQ tests are the best measures of intelligence out there! In fact, that's why dark-skinned people always score so low! Because they're "naturally" dumb, just like women! 2) That people who have high IQ scores are smart and destined to get high-powered jobs and make lots of money and win Nobel prizes, though all the guys I know who tested at genius level are either in the Marines or managing hardware stores. 3) Men's brains are bigger than women's, which make them smarter! As we all know, size matters. Einstein's head was as big as a truck! 4) There was an expectation that white middle and upper class men, administering tests to young white men written by white middle and upper class men would then find that white, upper and middle class men didn't do well on the tests.

Gee. Somebody needs to start asking better questions.

I'm reminded of reading about a couple of women biologists who were standing around the lab one day shooting the shit with a handful of their colleagues, who happened to be men. One of the men said he wanted to look into doing a study about whether or not women's sex drives increased around the time of ovulation.

The two women biologists exchanged looks and burst out laughing. "We wouldn't have asked `if,'" one of the women said, "We would have asked `why?' Our starting points were different. You base your questions on your experiences. We wouldn't have wasted time asking `if.'"

I don't know at what point I internalized the idea that being a smart girl was a bad thing.

Now, I certainly concede that dorky guys aren't exactly idealized in the sexual arena either, at least not until they're 30 and successful and making tons of money while the former high school football jock pumps gas at the local BP. But about the time the dorky guys get to be hot, the dorky girls are getting "old," and unless you were really beautiful to begin with, I thought, you were pretty much screwed. Or not, as the case may be, in the attractiveness department.

And sex is a really great motivator.

As a pre-teen I'd already long known I was a dork. I knew this from the first day of kindergarten, when I tried to talk to a very pretty girl in a very pretty dress who did, in fact, turn out to be very popular in gradeschool (How do we know these things so early? Do we just all naturally gravitate toward these people? Is that what makes them popular? Her name was Laura Peterson - wow, I can't believe I still remember that), and was rebuffed for... I don't know what. My hair? My lack of social skills? I was doomed to dorkdom early on.

In the third grade I found the smartest, dorkiest guy in class and he became my best friend and we hung out a lot and read books. By the first grade I realized I was chubby and not-blond and not terribly socially desirable as a hang-out buddy for other girls because their games tended to be all about how to get a boyfriend, and they had to worry about their skirts all the time (my grandmother looked after me and my siblings during the day, and dressed me in skirts as well, but I didn't much care about them), and if I wasn't reading books, I was having My Little Pony & G.I. Joe wars or racing matchbox cars who all had names like "Fireball" and "Racer." I liked to talk about why and how things worked and why the world was the way it was, and all the girls seemed to be talking about were shoes and how to get boyfriends, because let me tell you, the "measuring your worth by whether or not you have a boyfriend" thing starts really, really early. And if you don't have a boyfriend, it means you're defective.

I suppose it was internalizing the boyfriend-getting activities that convinced me I shouldn't be smart. Or, if I was smart, to just not tell anybody. Because it was common knowledge at sleepovers that boys didn't like dorky girls who read books and used big words.

You start to learn appropriate conversations for girl-sleepovers, 90% of which revolved around who liked what boy and how to get him from somebody else and how you'd have to starve yourself tomorrow because you'd been eating so much (oh yea, boy, the "you gotta be thin!" stuff starts right out of the gate). I learned from these conversations, and from watching the girls who "got" boyfriends (whatever that means when you're 10 years old), that I needed to be thinner, blonder, and more sociable. Sociable meaning I needed to laugh and smile a lot and really be interested in clothes and lip gloss.

The trouble with spending so much mental energy on grooming, clothes shopping, make-up, and worrying about everything you eat means you don't have a lot of mental energy left for other things. And you're often hungry or depressed, as you get caught in a binge-and-purge loop as you get older.

For years, I was convinced that if I was thinner and stupider, more boys would like me. Which, of course, was the main goal of life. I could do any number of Grand things. I could win a fucking Spelling Bee, or win the yearly academic achievement awards in all six categories, and it wouldn't get me more friends. It wouldn't get me boyfriend approval. It would just get me a bunch of awards, and unless you're already a Hot Chick, what's the point?

I was very lucky in that I've got amazing parents who were very clear that I needed to be smart and independent, and my worth was not measured by how many guys looked at my flat ass. They would have been very happy with a daughter who was a doctor or a lawyer, but I gave up on the idea of being an astronaut when I realized that I was consistently getting my lowest scores in math, and astronauts had to be good at math.

It didn't help that I had a sixth grade teacher who once looked at my math assignment - I'd gotten all but 3 of the 40 problems wrong - and said, "Well, you know, girls aren't usually so good at math."

Yea, that's really inspiring, thanks.

There's a lot more that goes into test scores than raw brain power.

Tell somebody "you can't" long enough, and they just might believe it. Tell somebody being smart is unattractive and being attractive is desirable and watch their test scores drop.

It's another reason to write books. Give people some other fucking options. Make us a world where intelligence is valued in everybody, and not measured in how well you can mark boxes on an answer sheet. Give me a place where I can fly.

For awhile, when I first started community college classes, I tried to dress more fem and talk less. I did this because my boyfriend at the time cheated on me with a thin fem girl and was running after a plain, ditzy blond with the IQ of toilet paper, and I was terrified that if I couldn't even keep this mediocre guy, how would I ever be able to "keep" a relationship together with anybody better? I'd only ever had one boyfriend, and who else would ever be interested? Men really did only want to be with stupid women, I decided. It's what was on TV. It's what I was experiencing. It was all around me. If I was going to be attractive, I had to be stupid. And being attractive, when you're 17 and have raging hormones, is all you're really concerned about.

So I strove to be quieter and dress in more skirts, and made myself utterly miserable. This was about the same time I stopped writing for about six months, where nothing at all could work its way through. I convinced myself that if I lost this boyfriend, I would never have another one. I worked so hard to be a suitable woman that I lost sight of everything else in my life, and started trying to teach myself to cook, and spent my days cleaning up after the boyfriend and waitressing while he skipped out on classes and lay around in bed reading.

I was giving up myself and watching it be subsumed by something else. I wasn't going anywhere. I wasn't thinking much of anything. I wasn't challenging myself at all. I didn't have the leisure time to go out and create anything worthwhile at all. I could barely cook instant potatos.

At some point, I realized I had a boyfriend like everyone said I should, and I hated it. I was miserable. I felt like I was doing everything right. But I was broken. I didn't want what other people wanted. I wasn't a real girl. Real girls didn't feel this way.

So I ditched the guy, went back to wearing boots and khaki pants, and after my Alaska Boys phase, I threw out pretending to be dumb all together. I even started researching new stuff, and teaching myself how to figure out the logic games on the LSAT.

But by that time, of course, my test score data had already been tabulated. I did not have the IQ of a genius. Too bad, really. I've always wanted to manage a hardware store...

In any case, I sure am glad that boys are smarter than me, just like everyone always said. I'll keep that in mind the next time some guy tells me that polar bears don't live in Alaska and women can't pee standing up.

After all, men are naturally smarter than women. Women are just born dumb. We arrive that way, full-fledged and drooling, from the womb. Obviously. As you can see.

I sure do feel better knowing that.


At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, sister. Unfortunately it doesn't get any better for women when they get older.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when I was younger and dumber, I dumped at least two girlfriends because they consistently embarrassed me by saying dumb things in front of my smart friends (of both sexes). Looking back, I don't doubt that at least one of them was smarter than she was acting.

At 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again for a great post Kameron. But this Richard Lynn character from the 'study' is a ringer. He's a well known scientific racist, and contributed plenty of his highly suspect 'data' to the infamous and as you suspected, well debunked book 'The Bell Curve'. has a bit about him and his unique background:

For even more background see also: The Institute for the Study of Academic and Scientific Racism:
[]. BTW: There's plenty of really creepy stuff there that might help populate & animate some interesting characters for your novels.

The bottom line here is 1.) 5 pt's on a std. IQ test is well within the margin of error. and 2.) As we know, IQ just measures, well IQ and Nothing else significant. Attendance at any Mensa meeting will tell you that. It does not make anyone more successful or happier or more likely to finish or attain higher education.

This fact can also be ably demonstrated by watching C-Span for any length of time. Or your own State Legislators at work. We are not governed nor led by genius.

So bottom line: The study is likely more Meaningless claptrap. 90% of what you hear about IQ today just is. Especially when they do population & cultural comparisions, which again are mostly meaningless on standard tests. Steven J. Gould covered this in his 'Mismeasure of Man', one of his earliest books.

And yes, I know this overshoots the target here a bit. I think smart chicks make good mates. Everywhere. Everyone I know thinks this too. Unless they are paying thu the nose for the 2nd or 3rd trophy wife, and even many of them are smarter then they let on. I've yet to run into anyone who used IQ as a dating criteria, but I guess it's been done, rarely to be certain. So the culture may be in denial about these essential facts of life, but it's been known for ages.

And no, I've got little idea of why these posts always sound like lectures and go on so long. I'm taking my notes now and leaving. There's plenty out there on the Bell Curve, the NYRB did a great series on it too.

Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

At 4:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about IQ tests. I don't think they mean much. In a high school psychology class, I scored in the 99 percentile on an IQ test, but I don't hold much weight to it. It was a written test and heavily language biased, I think. I've always been a strong reader and written IQ tests involve a fair ammount of reading, even though some of the questions are logic and math based.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The result of this sort of study could equally be 'men are more stupid than women' - as I understand it there is generally a Gaussian distribution of IQs for both sexes with a greater range for men than women, so there are more men at the bottom end as well as at the top. This equally interesting fact never seems to get much of a mention for some reason.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger jenniferinc said...

The question for me is why is it that the studies that say men are better than women at XXX get more women challenging the methodology (in this case, quite rightly)... and the studies that say women are better than men at XXX don't get their methodology challenged much at all...?

I expect part of it has to do with the fact that people only actually ever hear about the studies that support old thinking, and less about the ones that support new thinking...for all the press this study has gotten, hardly a peep about Christopher Clarke's new paper declaring that women are biologically better suited than men for board and executive leadership positions...what's up with that?

And BTW, why does anyone bother using IQ tests for studies anymore at all?

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Kameron Hurley said...

Jennifer, I'd hazard a guess that it's because things that women are generally "proved" to be good at (and yes, these studies are often just as flawed as the reverse. Anything that speaks in "all" absolutes drives me nuts) are things that are more "traditionally" associated with being female anyway, and those things are usually considered unimportant or somehow lesser than those things that men are "proved" to be better at.

Even in the case of the "Women would make better CEOs" study, the reason given was because women are "naturally" more "caring and nurturing" than men, two important and useful characteristics that - even if true when applied to *all* women - aren't seen as being inherently valuable, or at least not as valuable as traits associated with being masculine.

It's shitty, because I'd love for "caring and nurturing" to be traits seen to be just as valuable as "confident and aggressive" in the corporate board room, but we're not there yet.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As long as there are entrenched social and political distinctions between sexes, races or classes, there will be forms of science whose main function is to rationalize and legitimize these distinctions."

The same applies to the idea of the nation-state and the efforts 'science' has been making in aiding the tyrants of the national world to makes sense of and eradicate a creation of their own making - 'terrorism'.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger jenniferinc said...

I can't help but there's something to be gained in this day and age by saying "YES, people ARE different - and isn't that just the most brilliant thing ever?"

Isn't it the job of those with a conscience to set a better example of how to move toward peace from a really rich understanding of and fascination with and admiration for differences, instead of using difference as a weapon?

If we are to hold science accountable, it's only right to apply our standards of excellence across the board. The point of my original question was that "Science that supports my thinking = good science, and science that does not = bad science" is a faulty standard, however noble your intentions.

BTW, however hideous readers may find him, Lynn did not do this study alone. He also had a partner, Irwing, who was recruited specifically because he was the anti-Lynne, hoping to prove an opposite hypothesis, and was quite disappointed by the results of the study. To get a bit more info of this definitely weird study, Gaussian distributions on IQ tests etc., check out and scroll to the post beginning "BBC." There's more in heaven and earth, Horatio...which is too bad, because I was just getting caught up.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent point-by-point discussion. Btw, for a related article, The science of gender and science in which Elizabeth Spelke @ Harvard takes on Steven Pinker.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this isn't central to your post, but I just had a brief comment. Einstein's brain was not larger than normal---in fact, I have heard that it weighed slightly less than average (although well within the normal range). I think the correlation of intelligence with brain size is pretty weak.

At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, unless you're an elephant. I've heard that brain size does seem to play a role in memory.


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At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, this is somewhat outdated, but to put my two centimos in.
American culture is based on being popular, good looking and cool. The whole of American public identity is overly represented by media in general and Hollywood in particular to the rest of the world. Image is king. And queen. Face it, good looking people, whether stupid or smart get further socially in life because others "allow" them to. Hot girls never have to or usually don't develop, evolve or grow beyond their poorly chosen paths (self centeredness, narcissism, feelings of entitlement,blah blah) because there's always some dumbass who's willing to put up with her shit after the previous dumbass she was with wises up and dumps her. New dumbass comes along and she dumps her shit on him. Cycle only breaks when 1) She gets old and haggy and her power of beauty is gone. 2) She runs into a male version of her who turns the tables on her by being even more so what she is.3) She runs into a psycho who kills her (that's a joke. Well, halfway...) You think hot chicks are deadly, I'm sure hot guys are even deadlier, because women in general do swoon over that shit. To most of them, just like...ahem...size, looks do matter in a potential partner more then they are willing to publicly admit.
Anyway, Hollywood and American Media drills into our brains that looks matter more then substance. This is unfortunately very true. Looks, looks, looks. Everyone wants to be under 30 forever. This is very unhealthy in the long term because it indicates a denial of reality . The fact that we age, the fact that we change. The fact that image doesn't necessarily reflect what's on the inside .
But try and tell the rest of the world that. The real question becomes, do we give a flying fuck about what the rest of the world (also referred to affectionately as cows, sheep, lemmings..etc...) thinks (If at all?).
The image game is just one way a person is supposed to be happy. Obviously you tried it and it didn't make you happy. True happiness matters more then the APPEARANCE of happiness. If every one of those motherfuckers in Hollywood were so fucking happy, would there be so many fucking divorces ?
Going back to popular and good looking vs. smart. Smart loses unless it's "packaged" with looks. Especially for girls. There are good looking smart people. They're incognito though, because, you can't tell how smart a person is by how they look, you can only tell how attractive physically one is.
But the whole thing is, bottomline, the whole of American society is an extrapolation of high school/adolescent attituddes where looks/popularity is prized while brains and intelligence are ridiculed as being the characteristics of nerds.
In essence, stupidity is celebrated. And the real question becomes not, is it fair that looks are valued more then intelligence, because it obviously is not fair.
But then again, life itself seldom is. The real question is, yes it is unfair. Is that something that one is going to allow to bother them if they happen to not be in the "in" crowd?
Because even the most "in " crowds end up being out at one point.
Intelligence is valued it seems everywhere but American. Yet we are the richest, most powerful country on the planet.
No wonder people hate this country. And no wonder a fucked up attitude valuing power and money (and with it image, looks, and other superficial characteristics) over intelligence has created the kind of attitudes in society, especially at certain age and gender levels/classes that this country possesses.

At 2:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a DumbFUCK .. intelligence is not associated with skin color.. if youi can recall or learn that.. many of the successful millionaires of the silicon valles are indians and they have dark skin. Lame losers like you work for such people cause you cant "invent" something on your own.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU R SO DUMB!i'm dark-skinned and i scored 143 on my IQ test,4 more points and i'm a genius!

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm dark-skinned and i scored 152 on my IQ test, that's on a genius level, and your comments offends ppl!!!!!!!

p.s IQ means intelligence quoient

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At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

man/women whatever u are, please watch ur mouth about darkskinned, or pple with big heads, what the hell are u talking about.

ur theory is stupid and only applied to western culture, cause i lived in iraq and boys and girls dont start dating till they are arround 18, so what is in those girls mind?
girls are just stupid by GOD, this has nothing to do with their age, women think of their appearance 99% of the time no matter what age, so ya they are pritty occupied. poor poor creatures.
EX. women look at every mirrory surface they pass by, is that mentally retarded or what?

At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, your boyfriend wasn't mediocre--he was a loser. Bravo to you for ditching him for bigger and better things! Also, good for you for going back to being the real you. NEVER dumb yourself down for anyone. You'll be the only one who ends up regretting it.

I have some male friends who refuse to date stupid women, because they feel like blowing their brains out after the first 10 seconds of conversation. There are plenty of other men who share their sentiments--and plenty who don't. You just need to make sure you're looking in the right places for Mr. Right. Good luck with everything!

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, I think half of the posters here misunderstood the blogger's commment about black people. She was being sarcastic. Read it again, dipshits.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why society hasn't gotten over the fact that women can be smart. Why are smart guys attractive, and smart girl "independent" and childless? I think a lot of guys are offend of being dominated.

The media doesn't help either? Have you looked though the TV stations? Why do all the 16+ years old have to be hot, or at least cute, when the guy's can be ugly, fat and old. When a girl is just one of those things, their career's are in jepordy.

As for girl not being good at math? I think girl (as a whole) might be better at the arts whereas guy better at math and science. I make that oversimplification based on brain chemistry. That doesn't mean that some women are extremely good at math.

As a woman of color, math teachers have been reluctant to admit that I'm just better at math than most men, and most people non-white, non-asian people. I just make sense in my brain. I do it with out thinking.

That's my rant for the day.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think more women should write about this topic. I too "dummied" down in H.S. to be popular and that, was just stupid. Now I am proud to be a strong intelligent woman and if a man can't handle my heat then he needs to step out of my way...the men that want ditzy women can have them I want an intelligent man that isn't easily intimidated by beauty and brains.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

A very personal account, indeed! I am a male, but I feel like sharing my own experiences.
I was slower in cognitive development than the other boys, and I was not acting it. I never had a girlfriend in high school; they stuck with the valedictorian, good looking boys (I'm no model, but I have some good Sicilian features).
But I never was attracted to a lot of those girls; especially the major alcoholics. There were a few women, very smart, but they were already taken.
Right now, my social life is at a stand-still, but it's because I'm pursuing writing and holding up work.
I hope this parallel was at least intriguing. If anyone wants to flame my post, by all means!

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