Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day (cleanskies) wrote,
Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day

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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.

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