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mental gender/mental agenda

Over the weekend, several people round here linked to online quizzes from usually reputable sources about ways of thinking. The BBC are talking multiple intelligences (I have three!) while the Guardian provide another unsatisfying test for the gendered mind. I came out as balanced type-b -- which at least puts it above those tests which assess me definitely a man -- but the questions were still leading -- too many questions about hobbies, fashion and pets in the "female brain" section, too many about cars, computers and sport in the "male brain" section. Of course (the writer is at pains to point out) men can have female brains and vice versa, but like all yes-no divisions, it's a bit simplistic to be satisfying; the angel-devil model of personality except substituting a blousy cat-wreathed earthmother whispering, "doormat, scatty, weepy, irrational" on one shoulder, and a tech-wreathed alpha trainspotter muttering "pedant, nerd, loser, geek" on the other.

Also, like many self-assessment tests, it really needs a self-esteem screener at the front. They answer for absolute difference when what's being measured is self-perception (I'm aware that there are other tests of actual ability but this is not one) which is often dreadfully skewed. Isn't it about time someone wrote Why women are convinced they can't read maps, and why men think they just don't understand anybody? Except that there probably wouldn't be much market for it, nobody wants to hear that (external/physical differences aside) men and women are actually not as different as they like to think.

(Right now in the conversation, you could chime in and tell me that I'm not much like an average woman. Duly noted. Thank you for your continuing work in undermining my gender identity. Have a nice day.)

I'm actually fairly sure that (in me at any rate) there's (at the very least) a third operator in addition to systemizing and (ak thpt) empathising. Not everything is logic or feeling; what about the stuff that just appears, like a path in your head? Intuitive reasoning, I suppose you could call it; except that sounds a bit waffy and what I'm talking about can be quite solidly intellectual; grasping a concept or a theorem, for example. So perhaps conceptual reasoning, except that I'd also include things like faith, belief, and stuff you just know here.

I'm not putting this well. When I'm writing one of my strips, there's the plot you build systematically, I have these people, they're here, there's this and this, and therefore this happens. There's also the emotional truth of the characters, and how that relates to the author, the readers, the other characters, and therefore leads to certain behaviours. But there's also the fast leaps, where some sequence of events is suddenly revealed or a route abruptly appears in a way that is sudden, unexpected and yet completely right. And at that point I'm either systemizing and/or empathising too fast to notice what I'm doing or (and I'm much more inclined towards this interpretation) a different system is being called on altogether, one which has less to do with logic or emotion and a whole lot more to do with the the sudden apprehension of patterns.

I might also add a fourth operator, which I would call perversity, urge, compulsion, randomness, a powerful motivator for everyone who has ever said/thought/admitted "well, I just felt like it" after doing something blindingly stupid.

There we go, a four-way system. Much more stable, complex and thorough than a two-way. But who cares? given that a) I'm not the one getting books published about this sort of thing and b) patterning and perversity aren't skills you can randomly assign to one or other gender.


( 41 worms — Feed the birds )
22nd Apr, 2003 09:53 (UTC)
BBC quiz -- I only got one intelligence (if you mean it only suggested one 'best match':
You are a Linguistic Thinker
Linguistic thinkers:
Tend to think in words, and like to use language to express complex ideas.
Are sensitive to the sounds and rhythms of words as well as their meanings.

Other Linguistic Thinkers include
William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Anne Frank

Careers which suit Linguistic thinkers include
Journalist, Librarian, Salesperson, Proof-reader, Translator, Poet, Lyricist

Systematizing and empathizing, plus Patterning and perversity. I like it. We need a quiz for that, now.
23rd Apr, 2003 02:46 (UTC)
actually, I was "renaissance" (their shorthand for all over the place)
divided evenly between linguistic, spatial and interpersonal

"renaissance thinkers tend to spend their lives pissing around with all sorts of conflicting projects and never get anything done"
(no subject) - phlebas - 23rd Apr, 2003 06:53 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Apr, 2003 10:57 (UTC)
I took the GUARDIAN one the other day, fully *expecting* to be diagnosed all blowsy and cat-wreathed, but not only am I probably a man, I'm some sort of psychotic who doesn't empathise at all. I'm scared now! (snerk...)
23rd Apr, 2003 02:49 (UTC)
Re: Ha!
Lots of people whom I know damn well aren't un-empathetic monsters seemed to get this -- I think the trouble with the test is that you can easily dribble out all your marks by being (very sensibly) disinclined to absolutely agree with anything.

Also that too many of the questions refer to cars, computers, fashion and pets. Which are not givens of life, they are choices -- no matter which "gender" you are.
Re: Ha! - crazycrone - 23rd Apr, 2003 06:03 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Ha! - cleanskies - 23rd Apr, 2003 16:43 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Apr, 2003 11:07 (UTC)
Leonardo Quiz
Ohhhh, I'm a double-intelligenced Linguistic-Existential Thinker! (Ha, I don't hardly think at all these days!)
22nd Apr, 2003 11:07 (UTC)
I don't believe in the average woman any more than I believe in Neal Tringham. Who is she? Why have I never met her?
23rd Apr, 2003 01:58 (UTC)
But Neal is real! (and male!)
eek - badasstronaut - 23rd Apr, 2003 02:13 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sparkymark - 24th Apr, 2003 06:46 (UTC) - Expand
Neal Tringham: Fact or Fiction? - badasstronaut - 25th Apr, 2003 05:33 (UTC) - Expand
Been done? - sparkymark - 25th Apr, 2003 08:48 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Been done? - badasstronaut - 25th Apr, 2003 08:58 (UTC) - Expand
Hey, maybe he *is* real! - badasstronaut - 28th Apr, 2003 06:21 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Apr, 2003 11:13 (UTC)
Well, they all tell me that I'm either a man, or at the very least a fully paid up, scientificy-type, computer wielding geek. I was more entertained to note te direct correlation with Asperger's syndrom on my results.

I think the key thing to remember about gender is that it is, of itself a social construct. Beyond contemporary European society you can find societies accepting a wide range of genders, based around biological sex, age, social status, sexual identity, etc... Define your social identity, including your gender identity, any way you feel is right - don't let the norms of society dictate who are what you are (I know you never would anyway). The other thing to bear in mind is that social identity is also situational - how you wish to define and present yourself depends on who you are with and where you are.

On the other hand Biological sex is a genetic fact... Of course you get the bog standard XXs and XYs, but you also get the genetic nasties - XXX, XYY, XYY (don't think you can get YYY, but I may be wrong). There is far less room to play with here, but people still can cross the biological boundary if they feel that's the only right path for them. We've both met those that have gone that way, some more successfully than others.
23rd Apr, 2003 02:53 (UTC)
it's got a twitchy aspergers trigger, that test ...
more likely you just didn't feel like absolutely agreeing with their statements because you were being bloody-minded ;)

(and many of their statements were passing dumb)
22nd Apr, 2003 11:44 (UTC)
Well... I just discovered that BBC quiz doesn't support my browser [Opera], so it obviously doesn't cover people like me who prefer not to use whatever piece of crap MS tells me to just because they say so.

In the past decade or so, multiple intelligences, and, prior to that, learning styles theory have been very trendy in education. Unfortunately, and this is one of my pet peeves in my professional area, lots of theoretical work and research that gets done in social sciences [including education] gets diluted until it's almost meaningless for mass consumption. So you end up with learners who fill in tests that tell them they're kinaesthetics, and they then believe that they can only learn things when they're leaping about or something like that. And teachers who agree with them. And they do stuff like narrow something very complex to three discrete categories. So what am I trying to say? I expect Howard Gardner's [et al] Project Zero has yielded some really valuable stuff, and I really should catch up on the literature from that at some point, but when people start yapping about being a V or a 'musical' or whatever, I can't help feeling they're just adding on another stereotype to their player character sheet... Half Elf, Magic User, Neutral Good, 16,14,12,15,11,8, Female, Armour Class 3, Kinaesthetic Learner, Intrapersonal & Linguistic intelligences predominant....
22nd Apr, 2003 15:02 (UTC)
But the 'naming of things' is important. To create an arbitray classification allows you to 'know' something by naming it and hence acknowledging it. In reality nothing is actually gained, but the act of naming something creates a comfort zone (I suppose thats what you're also saying here), as well as creating some form of justification, however artificial. Or thats what the half-cocked anthropologist in me wants to say.

Don't expect anything too deep, I don't do 'deep', just passing observation.
(no subject) - badasstronaut - 22nd Apr, 2003 21:53 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - badasstronaut - 23rd Apr, 2003 07:45 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Apr, 2003 16:33 (UTC)
The Guardian gives me an EQ of 24. This makes me almost as un-empathic as somebody with Asperger's, apparently. Hmm.
23rd Apr, 2003 02:55 (UTC)
er, right, sure
Somehow when I think of you, insensitivity *doesn't* spring to mind.

See my comment to uitlander above.
Asperger's Brain - crazycrone - 23rd Apr, 2003 06:16 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Asperger's Brain - badasstronaut - 23rd Apr, 2003 06:40 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Asperger's Brain - crazycrone - 23rd Apr, 2003 10:15 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Asperger's Brain - badasstronaut - 23rd Apr, 2003 11:17 (UTC) - Expand
22nd Apr, 2003 20:41 (UTC)
Scientists have proven tests like this are entirely unnecessary. All you need to do is measure the length of your finger. A male faculty member at my university believes it, so it must be true.


I can think of plenty better things to do with a finger though.

22nd Apr, 2003 21:58 (UTC)
Yes, you could dip it in a jar of Nutella and then lick it.

23rd Apr, 2003 02:21 (UTC)
The BBC says I have a "Musical Mind". Duuuh!

The guardian gave me an EQ of 48 (average) and an SQ of 13 (below average). So I'm reasonably sensitive, but disorganised. Hmm.

Mind you, it's all based on a book by Ali G's brother, so...
23rd Apr, 2003 08:26 (UTC)
You don't find it hard to parse double negatives: strongly disagree?
42 on the EQ: completely average but in my case it just means "wounded".

23rd Apr, 2003 17:03 (UTC)
Re: You don't find it hard to parse double negatives: strongly disagree?
aw, baby
23rd Apr, 2003 16:07 (UTC)
a) this was a very good rant. thank you!

b) on a tangent but also sort of related, and it's not scientific at all but still, i hate the 400-question purity test that's doing the rounds right now, because it has decided that people who identify as 50/50 bisexual should pretend they're (i'm) straight.

c) i did the stupid guardian test anyway, and all i can say about it is:

When I look at an animal, I like to know the precise species it belongs to.

the fuck? is this ever actually an issue for someone who's from this planet? i mean, sure, i might not know what breed a certain dog is, but i can tell it's a dog. or am i missing something? i know i'm stoned right now, but i've checked with my cohort and really, i don't think it's me.

d) hello, by the way!
23rd Apr, 2003 17:06 (UTC)
it does? what a bother ...
I loved how on the original purity test you could pretty much triple your scores if you'd had a good stab at being straight, gay *and* bi .

( 41 worms — Feed the birds )