November 14, 2008

"His maleness resounds from every monomaniacal sentence," said Germaine Greer about Malcolm Gladwell (Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, etc.).

"There is no answer to everything, and only a deluded male would spend his life trying to find it." Oh, so she's dissing men when she asks why women don't write large!
Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses. "They are more interested in understanding than explaining, in describing rather than accounting for."
In praise of detail work. Which Greer is not doing.

16 comments:

PJ said...

I've seen titles similar to those listed (Outliers: The Story of Success) that are written by women, but they are shoved into the pop psychology new age shelf.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses.

Having a sentence like this is a great convenience. Usually when you're trying to show that someone's engaging in self-contradiction you have to pull together widely separated statements.

Minzo said...

"Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses"

Yes, for someone as clever as she is, she does occasionally come out with stupid stuff like this. And you've got to say its pretty sexist too- can you imagine if a male intellectual had said something similar about a woman?

Henry said...

I was in the Brown bookstore a few weeks ago and the browsing tables were littered with big idea books. Explanations for everything were right there to be had.

It just made me laugh.

The fact is, Hitchens and Gladwell are journalists, not thinkers (Dawkins, I believe, is in a different class -- but I haven't read him).

The gig of the idea-journalist is to popularize big ideas by making them sound even bigger. Gladwell is a smart, entertaining writer, but it's not like he's pumping out The Orgin of Species or The Double Helix.

Gladwell's gift is the ability to choose interesting topics to write about. How hard is that to figure out?

mccullough said...

I agree with her. This is why the shelves of the great philosophers are populated by "the system builders": aka the dead (mostly white) dudes.

So many guys have one big theory to explain the universe, but it never tells the whole story.

I'll take Jane Austen over these guys any day. This is why there are a lot of good women novelists, they like nuance and individuals.

It's like when you hear all this shit about "what the conservatives or Republicans need to do" as if there's a one-size fits all answer.

Let's start praising the virtues of flexibility and open-mindedness.

jdeeripper said...

I didn't read her article and Gladwell is obviously a lightweight who is good at writing lame little books for non thinkers.

On the page in the link do you realize what the two Most Viewed articles are?

1 The Ten Best Sex Toys

2 The Ten Best New World Red Wines


Here's a video of Hitchens: Christopher Hitchens: Why Women Still Aren't Funny

aberman said...

Germaine Greer's most recent polemic was an erotic paean to adolescent boys, "The Beautiful Boy."

Basically, she's revealed herself as a showman and shallow thinker who hit a nerve a few decades ago in "The Female Eunuch," her paean to sex with rock stars.

Why do people care what Germaine Greer thinks?

Lem said...

This polemic fits in nicely with an article Althouse posted a few nights ago.

“Their idea is, in broad outline, straightforward. Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock propose that an evolutionary tug of war between genes from the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg can, in effect, tip brain development in one of two ways. A strong bias toward the father pushes a developing brain along the autistic spectrum, toward a fascination with objects, patterns, mechanical systems, at the expense of social development. A bias toward the mother moves the growing brain along what the researchers call the psychotic spectrum, toward hypersensitivity to mood, their own and others’.

What if our brains are different enough to cause us to focus/think differently?

http://tinyurl.com/6m9n6h

Nancy said...

How does she explain Peggy Noonan, who writes too large for me to enjoy but once or twice a year.

Ben Calvin said...

Women, she said, are too sensible to try to write such broad-sweep theses. "They are more interested in understanding than explaining, in describing rather than accounting for."

Yes, that just about covers Ayn Rand, doesn't it?

Synova said...

Ayn Rand.

Even if you hate her.

She wrote huge ideas and no one stops to wonder how her vagina defines those ideas. Her ideas were all encompassing, revolutionary ideas.

Are women writers still seeking approval above all else? I wouldn't think so, considering how in-your-face they can be about feminism... but on second thought about that, (and considering the hysterics over Palin), being the correct sort of feminist obviously gains approval from the "right" people.

Synova said...

Ha, Ben!

Synova said...

And I suppose it's quite all right to stereotype women and describe them as having limited abilities so long as the "woman" doing it is a feminist.

John Althouse Cohen said...

And you've got to say its pretty sexist too- can you imagine if a male intellectual had said something similar about a woman?

Oh, haven't you heard? It's OK to begin a sentence with "The trouble with men is..." but it's not OK to begin a sentence with "The trouble with women is..." Come on -- get enlightened.

Revenant said...

There is no answer to everything

Perhaps not, but "ignoring everything feminists have to say" solves most problems a man might face. :)

kynefski said...

If we're going to have Richard Dawkins in the Labels, let's give some credit to Lynn Margulis as a purveyor of big ideas. It's hard to imagine a more broad-sweep thesis than asserting that the modern synthesis is fundamentally flawed.