Books that have been important to me #4 Barbara and Allan Pease: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps

In 1998, my wife and I were driving through northern New South Wales, and had the radio on. Margaret Throsby introduced her guest, Allan Pease, told us the name of his new book, and said something like, ‘Now I want to take issue with you at once about the title. I can read a map as well as any man!’

‘How do you do it?’ he asked.

‘Well, I point it in the direction we are travelling and it’s straightforward.’

‘That’s exactly the point of the title,’ he responded. ‘Most men can read a map however it is pointed, but most women have to place the map so it is line with the direction they are travelling.’

And he went on to explain why it was so, or why he thought it was so. My wife had said ‘So do I!’ when Margaret had spoken, and we agreed we ought to get a copy of the book.

I did so, read it, and was wonderfully rewarded. It made such sense of so much I had seen and experienced, particular as an administrator, about more of which in a moment. And in the interpersonal aspect of our lives, the relationships of men and women, it was so good that I bought several copies and gave them to our grown-up children, commenting to the men that this was compulsory reading. They all enjoyed it, because it is well written, well argued, right to the point, and often deliciously funny. Example: a wife complained that her husband ought to show her more warmth and affection, so he washed and polished her car… There are many more vignettes like that one.

The Peases based their argument on about 150 books and articles, plus scads of interviewing all over the world. Without explicitly saying so, their argument rests on the proposition that over a couple of million years, and through natural selection, men learned how to be good hunters (and, after the hunt, to be able to return to where the cave was), while women learned how to manage the cave and watch the children, which gave them a  reputation for having eyes in the back of their heads.

I’ll jump now to an account of the great effort universities made in the 1990s to get more women to choose Engineering as a preferred course. My university didn’t have mechanical engineering (educating ‘greasers’) as an offering, so we thought we should do well. After five years  we realised that success was not coming to anyone. UC didn’t in fact top the list. Melbourne, from memory, did top the list, and it did have mechanical engineering. But at the end of the time, only 25 per cent of the students in engineering as a whole were women. The fabled and desired 50:50 was never in sight. Women weren’t all that interested in Engineering, whatever the inducements. Nor are men all that interested in Nursing.

The Peases would tell you that it was a lost cause from the start. Men are hard-wired to look for and take an interest in weapons, structures, implements and conveyances; women are not. Women are hard-wired to nurture, build relationships, communicate, solve social problems; men are not. When I was a young father, my wife and I thought that Dr Spock (not the one from Star Wars) was the right guide to parenting. So we provided a variety of toys and let the young daughters choose what they want. They wanted dolls, and were not much interested in anything else. I don’t think we offered them a gun, and in fact when I was a boy we made guns out of pieces of branch. Eucalyptus branches offer an almost infinite variety of shapes. Twenty years later, after three girls and one boy, my second second was born, and he too rejected dolls, and went for things. No one taught him. It’s just the way he was.

I ought to stop here and say that the Peases were well aware that they had taken one side in the nature vs nurture debate, and that the monstrous regiment of feminists would have a go at them. Indeed some did, like Cordelia Fine, in her Delusions of Gender. The Peases argued, and I think argued well, that they were saying men and women were different, not that men were somehow superior. In fact, I think any clear-headed reading of the book suggests that women are in most respects superior. They can multi-task, where most men cannot. A man can do one thing at a time and powerfully, but if he is driving and the radio is on, and his wife starts to talk to him, he will need to turn the radio off (that’s so in my case). My daughters could do their homework with the music on. I can’t even read and listen, let alone write and listen. I have watched my wife (and marvelled) keep her eye on a simmering pot, hold the baby, talk on the telephone, wave to me and listen to the news, all at the same time. I have watched four women, all friends, in conversation. Most of the time more than one person was talking, yet all were listening. No group of men I have ever seen could do anything of the kind.

The sections on love and romance are just wonderful, and I felt the authors giving me a kick in the backside on almost every page. Male behaviour with respect to women is so single-minded and so stupid, most of the time, that it is a wonder that anyone ever forms a long-term relationship. Little aphorisms like ‘men need sex in order to feel loving, while women need loving in order to want sex’ may be overdone, but there is a powerful truth in such an observation. Ah, we learn as life goes on.

The most powerful truths in the book came to me in my role as an administrator, a role I had occupied, in whole or in part, since I had turned thirty. I had observed many times how adding women to any kind of committee changed the thinking of the committee. If it was composed of men, and it was dealing with a problem of some kind within the organisation, the common reaction of the men was to see a change in structure as the way to go, or (reluctantly) to replace the person in charge. A committee of women given the same challenge would look for the relationship problem that must be there, and try to determine some kind of win/win outcome that would keep the show going, and not cause anyone to be humiliated.

Even more important, they turned up. Committee work in any organisation is not rewarding in itself. Yes, you get to learn about something that is happening, but you also have to deal with the formal business, agendas, minutes, recommendations, responses. Many men find this stuff boring and pay little attention to it. They will say they have important work to do at the lab bench, or in the library, or anywhere but at the meeting. They hate meetings to go on any longer than one hour.  Many don’t even read the agenda or the papers that accompany it, and turn up expecting to find out what’s happening. In general, women take the whole business much more seriously, and make every effort to attend. If the meeting needs to go on a little longer they will sigh, but stay.

Before I had read the book I had developed my own sense of male/female differences, at least as I observed them in the workplace. After reading it I was able to put names to the differences. For women, in my view, the central dynamic in life is The Relationship, not just the one with her highly significant Other, but relationships in general. For men, the central dynamic is The Game, and that applies not just in sport, but in business, in politics and in almost everything. Men are competitive, women work together.

If you haven’t read the book, get hold of a copy. They’re still available from Amazon, and every library ought to have a copy. It won’t take you long to read and you’ll be glad you did, even if you disagree with the authors.

Which prompts me to add that I don’t want to deal with comments that tell me that the commenter doesn’t agree with the authors, especially if he or she hasn’t read the book. Life is too short.



Join the discussion 162 Comments

  • tripitaka says:

    Hi Don,

    I was reading with interest and of course thinking about how and why the story you are telling here about men and women seemed so self-serving and biased and inadequate to me and then I came to this very revealing phrase;” the monstrous regiment of feminists would have a go at them” and I just had to respond.

    This phrase is such an obvious piece of emotive writing that clearly indicates that there is a lack of objectivity and an emotional and biased assumption being made and it colours all the rest of your story. By characterising feminists in the way you do is evidence that you are unable to be objective about the various positions there are in this issue of what is or are the ‘proper’ relationships between men and women and their various abilities vis a vis one another.

    Do you see that “monstrous” is hyperbole? It is irrational and it is a clear denigration of a whole category of people and their thinking. If I was marking your essay as a piece of academic writing I’d be expecting some explanation and evidence that supports this claim you make and expect you to show how and why “feminists” – and do you mean all feminists? really? – are monstrous.

    And regiments? Surely not. War and the regimentation of humans into organisations specifically for killing other humans is a male thing is it not?

    I’m not all that bothered by the idea that feminists would “have a go at them”. That isn’t too emotional and not too derogatory, but it certainly is disrespectful and does suggest again without any attempt to justify the use of the term, that the cogent arguments that were and are provided by “feminists” are more coherent and deserve to be read and understood.

    It is disappointing to think that you are unable or unwilling to be more rational and unbiased about this issues that is creating such confusion and distress for men in western civilisation.

    And it is amusing – or hypocritical – I suppose that you say to commenters that they should read the book before commenting on your story, but I’d suggest that you haven’t read the commentary by the feminists you call “monstrous”.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Get over yourself, trip luv and stop inventing monsters.

      Monstrous means huge and unnatural. Which is true.

      “It is disappointing to think that you are unable or unwilling to be more rational and unbiased about this issues that is creating such confusion and distress for men in western civilisation.”

      A monstrously biased statement.

      If you had replied a little more rationally instead of confirming your feminist persuasion it would give you much more cred.

      Thanks, Don, but I have to say that I have a wonderful woman friend who is a great navigator. I always fancied myself as a navigator and have actually won trophies back in the pre GPS days of sextants but she has put me straight a couple of times.

      Like woman drivers who are mostly cautious and deliberate, there are some good female racing drivers that can show you the best line through a corner.

      But I agree that the two genders are hard wired to approach the same problems from different angles.

      As to which sex has the best solution makes for great discussion.

      • tripitaka says:

        Do you understand what you mean by “hard wired” Drongo? Is there a brief definition or a link you can provide otherwise it is obvious that your use of the term is lacking any actual intellectual input and is therefore of no interest or relevance.

        • spangled drongo says:

          You mean, trip luv, that you don’t get that you feminists are “hardwired” to the strategies you use to justify your continued existence and to perpetuate your cultural and political power?

          I would’ve thought you of all people, trip luv, would have some inkling of what it means.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Tripitaka, the phrase ‘monstrous regiment of women’ is a semi quote referring to John Knox and his attack on both Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England in the late 16th century. The original is ‘regimen’ meaning ‘regime’ or ‘government’, but it’s been used as I used it for a couple of hundred years. I thought most readers would know the reference. No need to get upset.

      • tripitaka says:

        Why would you think me upset? Are you jumping to conclusions on the basis of your narrow perception of how a feminist responds to writing that lacks sufficient rigor to convey the meaning the writer intended?

        So you claim that most readers would know where this semi-quote comes from? Really, such an awesomely astute and uniformly educated readership you rely on and so glibly do you elide responding to the substance of my comment. But perhaps you just didn’t understand my point; that seems to happen to you quite often. ?

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Why would I think you were set? Because you used so many adjectives, adverbs and coloured language. I didn’t ‘claim’ most readers would understand the reference, I ‘thought’ they would. Plainly I was wrong in your case.

        • JMO says:

          Hey trolpitaka still demonstrating bullying, combative, obnoxious and general nuisance behaviour I see.

  • margaret says:

    I wouldn’t read that silly book if you paid me so no comment.

    • dlb says:

      Your no comment speaks a thousand words.

      • margaret says:

        Could you give me a fraction of the thousand words that my ‘no comment’ conjures please dlb.

      • margaret says:

        Let me guess at two of the thousand words – ‘monstrous’ feminist.
        Does such a person undertake childcare when her daughter in law adds an extra day to her working week?
        The word monstrous is monstrous! I think it was used in a calculating way, knowing not many would be familiar with the quote and to incite a silly debate over nature/nurture and gender divide.
        The book is old stuff and an example of the infantilised attitudes of men and women towards relationship.
        I bet it has some ha ha anecdotes that are really stupid.
        Of course it would appeal to men and gullible women.

        • margaret says:

          “It’s not a position confined to one side of the ideological scale. “Men granted women the right to vote,” feminists were reminded this week in a local progressive journal, the writer’s article attempting persuasion with some “you catch more flies with honey” nonsense to replace the historical reality of suffragette bombings, occupations, mass demonstration, suicide martyrdom and strikes. Thank God for Sally McManus making the simple point in her National Press Club speech on Wednesday: “vested interests do not give up their power without a fight.””

          • spangled drongo says:

            Marg, men have always stood aside for women if they could prove that they could handle the job.

            Comparing today with a century ago is a different argument.

            It’s when men stand aside and women can’t that is the problem.

            And so the bar has to be lowered.

            And now that ever more gender challenged women like silly sally reckon they know best on how the country’s economy should proceed with her obvious COI is an even bigger problem.

          • margaret says:

            “And now that ever more gender challenged women like silly sally reckon they know best on how the country’s economy should proceed with her obvious COI is an even bigger problem.”

            Wtf? It’s not about women it’s about people- working people who underpin our society’s ‘good life’


          • spangled drongo says:

            Yes, marg, we know the union blurb too well and advocating large wage rises will only drive the bigger employers awa jobs off-shore in today’s global economy.

            There are already so many good reasons for them to go. This would be the final straw.

            What our lowest paid mostly need is reliable employment.

            Sally is too silly to see that – or admit it anyway.

            Wonder why she tries so hard to look like a man. marg?

            D’you think she feels she lacks authority or is Penny her idol?

          • spangled drongo says:

            “Thank God for Sally McManus”

            If I didn’t know you better, marg, I’d be a bit worried.

          • margaret says:

            That is a quote from the article, not from me.

  • JohnM says:

    “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” paints a similar picture.
    I, admittedly a man, just don’t understand the desire to have gender ratio of 50:50 in business and in maths and science fields when some aspects of those areas are more aligned to male traits. ( I also note that it’s all about women being pushed into male-dominated areas and never the other way. Male primary school teachers, for example, are almost extinct.)
    The meddling and social engineering should stop and be replaced by encouragement for those people who wish to cross the divide.

    • tripitaka says:

      You don’t understand the arguments for gender parity because you don’t care to read or listen to them. If I am mistaken you could provide some discussion as to why the arguments are wrong.

      That is how knowledge advances and the human race makes progress you know? You do need to understand what the ‘other side’ are wanting and why.

      It is easy to find explanations for the need to have equal numbers of men and women in the institutions that are the basis of our society; just google the question.

      It is not such an issue to have equal numbers of men in female dominated areas because these areas are not significant in determining the rules and laws and values of our society. And men are not ruled out of these occupations by sexism. They rule them selves out because the pay and status are not attractive for men who see feminine work as beneath them.

      • spangled drongo says:

        I wonder why feminists like Tripitaka have to justify their continued existence and to perpetuate their cultural and political power, now that equal rights and equal opportunities for women have been achieved?

        “Swayne O’Pie refers to the feminist strategies of deliberately creating ‘women’s issues’, ‘inequalities’ and ‘discriminations’ as the ‘Feminist Fraud’, leading to ‘Forever Feminism’ – a phenomenon found in many developed countries. He concludes that for feminists success will never be enough, they can never allow themselves to be satisfied. This book identifies feminism as the root cause of all the discriminations and disadvantages that men experience in western societies. Its analysis of the feminist agenda is applicable to the condition of men and women in all developed countries. The book is confrontational and O’Pie makes no apology for that. He’s a brave man, addressing issues which other writers have feared to confront – the deliberate exaggeration of rape statistics, the widespread influence of lesbian feminism, the deliberate cheating and lying of feminist ‘research’, the feminists’ psychological make-up and their need for anger. His honesty and integrity have made him a figure of hate and a target for the animosity of feminists; his motor home has already been attacked and seriously damaged three times by lesbian feminists (and signed by them). Feminism has become a malign and highly influential ideology in contemporary western societies, and it’s astonishing that it hasn’t been seriously questioned and challenged – until now. ‘Why Britain Hates Men’ is a powerful examination of how and why misandry (the hatred of men) spread so easily across the developed world; it shows why men are universally blamed, demonised, and whenever possible, punished.”

        You don’t want equality, trip luv, you want complete domination.

        • tripitaka says:

          Complete domination? I already completely dominate you, drongo. But you don’t have the capacity to understand that fact.

        • bryan roberts says:

          The fear of males has been promoted for at least 20 years. When I lived in Perth, in the late 80s, a man was reported to the police because he was sitting alone in a public park where children were playing.

          • tripitaka says:

            Who do you think is promoting this fear of men bryan? Is it a global leftist feminist conspiracy? Perhaps it’s the Rothschilds?

            Or is it men themselves? Or more accurately it is patriarchal male biased cultural assumptions about what is natural behaviour for men that promotes the idea that males are naturally aggressive and this excuses them for their propensity to use their superior ability to physically dominate women and less violent men .

            It’s the bad daddy state that tells women that they don’t have a natural right to walk alone at night because they might excite some man so much that like a dog he can’t help himself. It is the daddy state that has perpetuated the idea that men are predators and that predator behaviour is in their genes and women need to be wary of men for our own good.

            And as for your poor man sitting alone in a park, he should know that he isn’t supposed to do this and he should find a woman to sit with him. This is what women have to do if they want to go out at times when the daddy state tells us it is too dangerous. The man quite possibly could have been a paedophile and it is men who are just as vocal and vicious as women in hounding and attacking another male who is thought to be a paedophile.

            Another fail to understand the roots of the cultural differences between male and female behaviour.

          • bryan roberts says:

            Ah, my dear, I’m not a paedopophile, but in Perth I was placed in a common situation. I was in a lane way at the rear of my house, putting out the garbage, and a young girl approached me and asked me what I was doing. My immediate thought was that I should not be seen alone with her.

            That’s your society. If I had been a woman, my neighbours would have seen me as a a protector rather than a predator. That’s the society you want, that’s the society you got.

            In a professional environment, I would never risk being alone with a woman.

          • margaret says:

            My very dear friend was raped at knifepoint in a laneway behind her apartment block in Coogee in the eighties. She had just ducked out to see her babysitter safely on her way home – on her way back three minutes later …
            The fear is justified.

          • bryan roberts says:

            Then, margaret, you should agitate for the American solution. Be armed, and shoot to kill.

        • margaret says:

          “Swayne O’Pie refers to the feminist strategies of deliberately creating ‘women’s issues’, ‘inequalities’ and ‘discriminations’ as the ‘Feminist Fraud’, leading to ‘Forever Feminism’ – a phenomenon found in many developed countries. He concludes that for feminists success will never be enough, they can never allow themselves to be satisfied. This book identifies feminism as the root cause of all the discriminations and disadvantages that men experience in western societies. Its analysis of the feminist agenda is applicable to the condition of men and women in all developed countries. The book is confrontational and O’Pie makes no apology for that.”

          Swayne O’Pie ??? lol …

          • tripitaka says:

            LOL indeed Margaret; both the unfortunate name and the quote. I particularly enjoyed the surprise of reading that Swayne makes no apology for his “confrontational” opinion. Pfft hardly confrontational,more accurately banal hackneyed and so predictably funny.

        • tripitaka says:

          Thing is Nanny Drongo and what gets you so bothered and unhappy is that men like you just don’t get to set all the tests anymore.
          “the times they are achangin’ and the last one now will later be first.”. Now that is a quote. See the inverted commas?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Looks like the girls set these tests too, trip luv:

            “The practice is often carried out by local midwives (dayeh), mothers and experienced women in the family, with the least of hygiene and without anesthetises. Shaving razor is used to cut the designated piece; Betadine is used for cleansing, and the ash from burnt branches, to stop the bleeding. In some instances circumcision is done collectively and one razor is used on several girls. The practice would last about 10-20 minutes and in clandestine.

            Types of FGM

            According to World Health Organisation, FGM in Iran is of the two types:
            A) Cutting the tip of the clitorises
            B) Cutting parts of the labia minora or all of it in addition to the tip of clitorises
            The severity of the mutilation and its type depends on the practitioner.”

      • spangled drongo says:

        Germaine’s “feminist” comments on FGM are very germane to this discussion:

        “In her recent book, The Whole Woman, Ms Greer argued that attempts to outlaw the practice amounted to “an attack on cultural identity”, adding: “One man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation.”

        She said that women should have the right to undergo genital mutilation as a form of “self-decoration”‘

        And they have so much say in it. too. Especially in those first 40 days after birth.

        But there are others who have it done on the eve of their wedding if they missed out.

        Must make for a wonderful honeymoon.

        Is that “monstrous” or just monstrously hypocritical, trip luv?

        How do you think feminists compare with nannies?

        • tripitaka says:

          Greer is one woman’ not a scapegoat for your failure to understand ‘feminism’; it is so very revealing of your prurient interests that you choose this statement which is only one of the many hilarious and provocative and outrageous statements that Greer likes to make. I suspect she was laughing all the way to the publisher imagining the predictable response that comes from men like you when they read her books.

          • spangled drongo says:

            You mean as in one of the thousands of feminists like you that are cowardly hypocrites when it comes to standing up for the rights of Muslim women?

  • A timely observation of the empirical reality that gender is not just an artificial construct of culture but entails very real and valuable differences.

    • tripitaka says:

      The unfairness of the judgments about the real differences are the problem. The female abilities are not accurately assessed valued or rewarded and respected.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Poor ol’ trip hasn’t yet heard of “affirmative action” which has been going on in our institutions for the last four decades and putting men out of work in favour of women.

        But even so:

        “Almost all men who have children and work are employed full-time – around 85 per cent of men with children up to 15 years of age work full-time, again regardless of the age of those children.

        By way of contrast, only around a third of women with school age children work full-time, and under 20 per cent of those with children aged 0-5 are engaged in full-time employment.

        So, despite talk about modern families and men becoming more involved in caring responsibilities, the traditional full-time male bread winner and female caregiver model remains overwhelmingly dominant in Australia.”

        Do you think that choice might have something to do with it rather than abilities?

        • tripitaka says:

          Choice and abilities and chance and changes in technology and social expectations. Understanding the reasons people and society are the way that they are is complicated and beyond the ken of a simple man such as yourself raised in an unenlightened milieu who never made the choice to get an education or understand the ideas that drive human progress and have created such wealth and the flowering of opportunity that characterise the Western civilization we live in.

          Was there some sort of rational point you wanted to make?

        • tripitaka says:

          And Drongo, So what does it signify to you that ” the traditional full-time male bread winner and female caregiver model remains overwhelmingly dominant in Australia.”?

          The gliibertarian idea that people are individuals who make choices on the basis of a rational assessment of the reality is a discredited idea and like trickle down theory has no basis in facts and in fact is shown to be nonsense and accepted as such by all researchers who study how the human mind/brain works.

          The fact is that “Heterosexual marriage is an unequal institution. Women on average do more of the unpaid and undervalued work of households, they work more each day, and they are more aware of this inequality than their husbands. They are more likely to sacrifice their individual leisure and career goals for marriage.

          Marriage is a moment of subordination and women, more so than men, subordinate themselves and their careers to their relationship, their children, and the careers of their husbands.”

          and according to recent research; “In summary, with just one exception, every difference in physical health favored (women) who stayed single (instead of getting married) and those who got divorced (instead of staying married).

          And nothing you say goes over my head, the fact is that your snappy one-liners are tedious and your position on just about everything is so very predictable. You are a caricature of all that is wrong with ‘righties’ since they lost the culture war and that was inevitable. There are no attempts to be rational or present any considered arguments by your putative intellectuals against what you call ‘the left’; it is just Trumpery all the way down.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Your alibis and justifications are priceless, trip luv.

          • margaret says:

            Yep, as the article that trip posted concludes: “Marriage inserts us into the machine. And if it benefits women substantially less than men, then it’s no surprise that so many of our marriage promotion messages are aimed squarely at them.”
            I agree. And I’m married. The times are on women’s side now, aim for work you like, financial independence, a residence, live simply, enjoy life and take lovers as you choose. That’s my advice to my 12 year old self if I were 12 right now.
            Don’t be fooled by the “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” crap.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    In the RAAF we were taught to always point the map in the direction you were heading, to ensure what you were seeing ahead and to left and right was the same as the map. Mistakes from turning the wrong way were thus eliminated. I still do so and don’t believe it has anything to do with gender – I simply do it because it is the best way to read a map.

    We had to learn to read upside down, but that wasn’t hard and was very helpful when teaching my young children to read if sitting in front of them.

    • Aert Driessen says:

      That’s exactly what I do Doug, and I used maps a lot in my early career. Makes it easier to get the correct relationship between roads, fences, dams, mills, etc.

  • DonA says:

    I have never had a problem with maps but find it more convenient to leave it so the writing can be read, ie not travel up. However my car GPS always has travel up and I find that very easy to follow as it is more intuitive – no thinking involved.

  • DonA says:

    Also, I reluctantly admit I have been watching Married etc to observe the interactions. The statement “Little aphorisms like ‘men need sex in order to feel loving, while women need loving in order to want sex’ may be overdone, but there is a powerful truth in such an observation” I think goes a long way to explaining why some of the “marriages” are going nowhere.

  • dlb says:

    When I read a book I develop a mental map about where events happen. Even for fictional work I create a whole fictional landscape, and if asked I could draw a map of it all. I would be curious to know whether women do this, or whether they just have a vague concept of landscape when reading?

    Seeing pictures of foreign places I often build up my own mental landscape. When I finally visit such a place, for example London, I am often surprised that things are not where I imagined them to be. Buckingham Palace is such a place and for some reason I always thought it faced south. Sometimes the mental image is too powerful and my memory often reverts to the fictional mental map rather than what I briefly experienced in life.

    Re multi tasking doing homework. The only subject I could do this for was technical drawing. Being a spatial skill, I could do this with ease and have the TV playing in the background. Today I find the open-plan office difficult to work in, as there are too many distractions. Many people use music through headphones to block out extraneous noise and conversations. Unfortunately for anything that requires a bit of concentration I even find music distracting. I have found earplugs beneficial, but really shouldn’t a better designed office be the way to go?

    Re map reading, as a male I have no problems interpreting it upside down. But as Doug says always best to orientate it to the landscape to avoid mistakes when out in the field.

  • bryan roberts says:

    Don, if you wanted to find a topic that would arouse more emotion than climate change, you may well have succeeded.

    As for map reading, the TV program ‘Mythbusters’ did an ‘experiment’ on this, and found men were just as bad as women, or women were just as good as men, at guiding themselves to unknown destinations using maps.

    I speak rather feelingly, as I have absolutely no sense of direction. I have even got lost while looking a a map on my phone, because I was holding it upside down.

    And I have tended to ‘do’ things for women, which is probably why I live alone.

    But I agree, it is a very amusing book.

  • dlb says:

    Don, I’m not highly knowledgeable about popular culture but……. I thought you should know that Mr Spock (not Doctor) was from Star Trek and not Star Wars. I have only ever seen the original Star Wars movie and never ever got interested in Star Trek, except to know Spock was the character with the pointy ears.

    • bryan roberts says:

      Dr (not Mr) Benjamin Spock was an American paediatrician, whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the best-sellers of all time. It has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 42 languages.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      Yes, Star Trek (elder error), but if I put Mr Spock you might have pointed out that he was a doctor. Can’t win.

    • margaret says:

      Star Trek wouldn’t interest you dlb … unless … you like quality sci fi about futurism and equality for minorities.

      • dlb says:

        Thanks for the link Marg, I was unaware of the social justice themes in Star Trek. I really didn’t have much need for science fiction growing up, too much real life space drama happening to fire up my imagination.

        You are right, I don’t have much time for alien minorities, particularly those with pointy ears.
        By the way I have heard Trump is finally going to deport those detainees the CIA have been holding at Roswell for the last 70 years.

  • margaret says:

    Can’t wait for the full and definitive list of Books That Have Been Important To ME.
    Already it’s showing an interesting trajectory.

    • bryan roberts says:

      Can you elaborate margaret? Your reasoning would be fascinating.

      • margaret says:

        Ah Brian, you flatterer.

      • bryan roberts says:

        The books I have read and re-read are: P&P, Childhood’s End, The Master and Margarita, Quiet Flows the Don, Anna Karenina, the Demon Princes novels, Stand on Zanzibar, all PD James, all Dick Francis, all Desmond Bagley, and a whole heap of inferior shit. Hundreds, possibly (probably) thousands. How do you stand in judgement of someone’s reading preferences over a lifetime? And what can you deduce from it? That tastes change? I’m in the process of culling my collection, and I find books that were interesting in my youth are dated, if not completely boring.

        The books haven’t changed, so you would guess I went to a good school where I was exposed to English literature, I was interested in science and Russia, and read a lot of SF/crime/adventure novels. After that expose, your reading of my character would be fascinating.

        • margaret says:

          You guys are only interested in yourselves … I guess it’s those ginormous brains that fill your cranial space.

          • tripitaka says:

            So true Margaret, so many men are spoiled little boys who never had to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and were able to assume despite any evidence to the contrary that they and their desires were fascinating. It was always assumed that there would be a good woman who would do that for them. Sad for them I suppose, that women now have choices and can choose to live alone and look after them selves and their children without a man if it is a better and healthier way to live.

          • bryan roberts says:

            I offered you the chance to express your opinion. It can hardly be my fault that you don’t have one.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “Sad for them I suppose, that women now have choices and can choose to live alone and look after them selves and their children without a man if it is a better and healthier way to live.”

            No, trip, just sad for society awa you. If you had a good man to look after you and the kids you all could be much better off and happier plus you wouldn’t be a burden on the taxpayer and your country.

          • bryan roberts says:

            I’m actually fascinated by you, margaret. Why would you think a couple of books Don has read and liked represents an “interesting trajectory”? I gave you enough information for you to plot a moon orbit, and got a wisecrack.

          • margaret says:

            No you’re not fascinated by me Bryan, you’re looking for an opportunity to cut me down.
            We’re all on a trajectory mate. It ends when it’s over. Reading does shape people’s thoughts and attitudes, how could it not, I’m just not interested in interpreting your tastes.

          • bryan roberts says:

            Then why are you interested in interpreting Don’s tastes?

          • margaret says:

            I’m interested because he’s a novel writer. Writers usually are or have been readers.

          • bryan roberts says:

            margaret, I have written tens of thousands of words, many of them more imaginative than a novel. Many have been published.

            You should be starting to feel a little sick.

          • margaret says:

            Yes Bryan I am feeling quite bilious.

          • bryan roberts says:

            A couple of Bex and a good lie down.

          • margaret says:

            Yes tripitaka, many older men are such deniers of so much in lives lived well by women alone because women have been the object, rather than the subject of their affection.
            Bryan have you read The Mayor of Casterbridge?
            “In 1851, J.S. Mill listed examples of of this kind of cruelty:
            a bulldog set at the heels of a wife, attempted murder by hanging, stabbing, blows with the poker, murder in a fit of drunkenness. ‘You hear of men occasionally leading their wives out with a halter round their neck, and selling them amid shouts of laughter, not disgust’, wrote a journalist in Eliza Cook’s Journal.”
            Source: Francoise Basch, Relative Creatures: Victorian Women in Society and the Novel 1837-67.

          • JimboR says:

            “I have written tens of thousands of words, many of them more imaginative than a novel. Many have been published.”

            I’m curious Bryan. Got some pointers? There are enough Bryan Roberts authors out there that I couldn’t work out which was you.

  • margaret says:

    I can’t read maps and neither can my husband, and neither of us listen 🙂
    He does make me laugh though and we both like Australian history, our grandkids and music at the folkie like Neil Murray, Don Walker and Yirrmal.
    Sort of works …

  • Julian says:

    Just downloaded on iBooks. Thanks Don. Also sad to see Snowy Hydro Southcare fund raising trust wind up. It did some amazing stuff.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Thanks Don, a delightful piece. It describes me to a tee; I am male to my last strand of DNA. I celebrate difference. In financial jargon they call it (I think) a ‘diversified portfolio’. P.S. Our 50-year plus marriage continues …

  • don coyote says:

    Did any books discuss an evolutionary cause of woman’s lack of a sense of humour?

    • dlb says:

      And why boys like to poke hornet’s nests with sticks. 🙂

      • tripitaka says:

        hahaha none of my boys ever poked hornets nests and they didn’t need to throw stones at girls they wanted to talk to either. It’s all cultural.

    • tripitaka says:

      Do you not understand how to google? Or is your question a demonstration of how juvenile and sexist your sense of humour is and how lacking in any insight your are about your inadequacy?

      There are no serious attempts by evolutionary scientists to work this out because it simply is not a reasonable hypothesis; there is no evidence that women do lack a sense of humour. It is well understood by evolutionary scientists that the behaviour observed in western women is programmed by society and the social expectations of how a woman should behave.

      I was lucky enough to be raised by a father who back in the ’50’s was a feminist although he wouldn’t have used that word but he knew quite clearly that women were as capable of men of being ‘geniuses’ as a man was – and now we know that there is no such thing as a genius and that Da Vinci was a very strange man and either asexual or homosexual and Michealangelo was definitely gay as….

      So, consequently I don’t share many of the foolish and culturally biased assumptions that used to be so prevalent about ‘hard-wiring’ of male and female abilities and behaviours that used to be common and still are in the ignorant who don’t bother to keep up with what science now knows about human nature.

      And I was never told to “bite my tongue” as most girls and women were when I was growing up that inhibited their ability to make jokes about men who assume they are more intelligent than women which is a very funny thing if one doesn’t have to live with such a man. That is one example of the conditioning of female behaviour that could possibly explain why it may seems to some people that women lack a sense of humour.

      There are other examples of how and why some people would believe that women lack a sense of humour, many others, but you can try and use what intelligence you have to work out for yourself other reasons why it would be the case that our male dominated society would not value a sense of humour in women. Or google. 🙂

      • bryan roberts says:

        Poking a hornet’s nest with a stick.

        You had absolutely no idea that don coyote’s comment was sarcastic, not serious..

        • tripitaka says:

          bryan there are many forms of humour; it is said that sarcasm is the lowest form but I can’t be bothered googling to find out who said that or why and way too early in the morning to be having an opinion on these opinions.

          I don’t agree that dlb was being sarcastic; I thought the smiley face at the end of the sentence was an indication that the comment was offered with good natured intent and it is one of my assumptions that sarcasm is not consistent with good nature.

          It is also the case that there is such a thing as ‘dry’ humour and it can be funny to some people if the person subject to a sarcastic comment does not respond in the way that people are expected to respond to sarcasm and pretends to not see the sarcasm. Did you realise that?

          In general I’d say that people both men and women are far more complex than Alex and his good wife are willing and/or able to acknowledge in the little book they wrote on map reading and not listening.

          • margaret says:

            That’s why I just can’t read ‘amusing’ books about gender difference that show how much we really need each other because only one gender is capable of doing certain essential things in life – and let’s face it who needs to listen if you can read maps so … ‘let’s get married’ and ‘share’ those ‘skills’ – (but you do the housework and remember the kids birthdays’) 🙂

          • bryan roberts says:

            “pretends to not see the sarcasm”

            Which of course you do. It’s just a convenient stick with which to beat the drum.

            There are many other, more recent, studies on gender differences – perhaps, instead of ranting, you might care to read some of them … and no, I’m not going to post urls. If you’re so fanatical, you can find them yourself.

    • tripitaka says:

      And if you haven’t noticed I have; Margaret is very funny in her responses to the bryan roberts persson but he seems unable to acknowledge this or perhaps bryan’s need to denigrate Margaret overcomes any ability he has to recognise the humour.

      coyote you might find this interesting; seems that animals could have a sensa huma but sadly for your hypothesis the researchers did not separate the rats according to their sex.

      • don coyote says:

        Yes, a subtle reply by Margaret.

        Perhaps I was generalising too much.

      • bryan roberts says:

        Well, margaret seems unable to recognise humour in anything else, so I’m delighted to have enlivened her life.

      • bryan roberts says:

        Of course dogs (and baby animals) enjoy play, no one would contend otherwise. But I have yet to see a dog (or a rat), male or female, laugh at a cartoon.

        • tripitaka says:

          There was some interesting research about the way male and female relationships developed published in the 19th century that details the way matriarchal family organisations existed and worked.

          Father Lafitau (1724) described in glowing terms the honoured status of women among the matrilineally organized Iroquois:
          He wrote “Nothing…is more real than this superiority of the women. It is essentially the women who embody the Nation, the nobility of blood, the genealogical tree, the sequence of generations and the continuity of families. It is in them that all real authority resides: the land, the fields and all their produce belongs to them: they are the soul of the councils, the arbiters of peace and war…”

          The Scottish moral philosopher Adam Ferguson (1767) remarked of ‘savage nations’ in general that the “children are considered as
          pertaining to the mother, with little regard to descent on the father’s side”.

          Johann Jakob Bachofen published Mutterecht in 1861. Drawing on ancient Greek historical texts and myths, he advanced the following propositions:
          1) humanity once lived in a state of sexual promiscuity;
          2) there could be no certainty of paternity;
          3) kinship was traced through females alone;
          4) women’s status was correspondingly high;
          5) monogamy emerged relatively late in history.

          Lewis Morgan, described living matrilineal institutions among the Iroquois and other Native Americans in his book Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871) and comparable systems across much of the globe. In this and in his subsequent Ancient Society (1907 [1877]), Morgan championed the historical priority of the matrilineal clan over patriliny and over the nuclear family.

          Morgan wrote “When women in these matrilineal, matrilocal households needed to exclude a lazy or unwanted visiting male, they could reliably depend on their frequently-returning brothers to ensure enforcement of their will. He cites personal correspondence from the Reverend
          Arthur Wright, for many years a missionary among the Seneca Iroquois: Usually, the female portion ruled the house, and were doubtless clannish enough about it. The stores were held in common; but woe to the luckless husband or lover who was too shiftless to do his share of the providing. No matter how many children, or whatever goods he might have in the house, he might at any time be ordered to pack up his blanket and budge; and after such orders it would not be healthful for him to attempt to disobey. The house would be too hot for him; and, unless saved by the
          intercession of some aunt or grandmother, he must retreat to his own clan; or, as was often done, go and start a new matrimonial alliance in some other. The women were the great power among the clans, as everywhere else.”

          The most comprehensive and still remarkably accurate and relevant explanation of how male and female relationships was, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” written by Engels after Marx’s death, but it was a joint collaboration, as he used Marx’s detailed notes along with his own.These men must have been the original feminists predicting that:

          “when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man from any other considerations than real love, or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences. When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual – and that will be the end of it.”

  • margaret says:

    “After five years we realised that success was not coming to anyone. UC didn’t in fact top the list. Melbourne, from memory, did top the list, and it did have mechanical engineering. But at the end of the time, only 25 per cent of the students in engineering as a whole were women. The fabled and desired 50:50 was never in sight. Women weren’t all that interested in Engineering, whatever the inducements. Nor are men all that interested in Nursing.”
    1) Success WAS coming because 25 percent is fine. 2) If 25 percent of Nursing graduates were men that would also be fine. Are they?
    Nobody expects any profession to be exactly 50:50 – not a realistic expectation.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      My memory, at the time, was that 25 per cent was NOT regarded as fine by feminist critics. Suggestions were made about the reasons, and they seemed to consist of comments about male culture…

      • margaret says:

        Feminist critics, if they were unhappy with progress, I just don’t get ideologues …

        • Don Aitkin says:

          I don’t quite follow you.Most of critics were university people, or former ones, writing as journalists or politicians. I maintain that there is a strand of feminist critique that sees 50/50 as the ‘natural’ division of jobs, status and power, where it not for this awful patriarchy thing.

          As for nurses, since I married one and know lots of them, men are not much attracted to nursing, and seem, in the few cases I know about, to be attracted quickly to the management side of things.

          • margaret says:

            Well, nursing like many professions seems to run in families and I would say that’s just what you learn from the modelling of the parent and in the past less choices for women.
            If there is a strand of feminist critique that sees 50/50 as the natural division of jobs, status and power the that strand adheres to rigidly black/white thinking with no understanding of the diversity of woman and men and the fact that on a scale of one to ten men aren’t on one end and women on the other but most cluster around four to seven in their common humanity. Whether or not that makes sense to you is as you have said to others, not my problem. Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus we all live on planet earth and have more in common than any reason to adhere to “vive la difference” upheld by patriarchy.

  • tripitaka says:

    “men are not much attracted to nursing, and seem, in the few cases I know about, to be attracted quickly to the management side of things.”

    DonA this is what you see all but what you see is the results of the ‘awful’ patriarchy and of course influenced by your own biases and the human tendency to look for confirming evidence of one’s own prejudices and beliefs. If men were ‘hard wired’ to not want to be nurses, the proportion of male nurses in different countries/cultures would be similar, but they are not.

    “the numbers of male nurses the world over is low, but there are certain trends. In the UK, men make up 10.6% of the nursing workforce, see our previous post ‘The Rise of The Male Midwife’, and that percentage is rising and has been for the last twenty years.”

    “China is facing difficulty in hiring male nurses and out of China’s 2.18 million registered nurses only 21,000 are men, that equates to less than 1% of the workforce……money is an issue. The basic wage for a nurse in around 1,500 yuan (£147) and is another reason why men are not attracted to the job. Zhao Yue, director of the School of Nursing of the Tianjin Medical University said, “Nothing will change, until the public changes its attitudes and nurses’ pay is raised”.

    ” What is striking is the high number of male nurses in Saudi Arabia. At 32% it is far higher than elsewhere in the world. There is even a surpluss of male nursing graduates, with thousands of graduates on waiting lists for nursing jobs. And yet there is a shortage of female nurses. The disproportionately high numbers of male nurses can be attributed to the social conditions in the Kingdom. ”

    • Don Aitkin says:

      ‘ what you see is the results of the ‘awful’ patriarchy and of course influenced by your own biases and the human tendency to look for confirming evidence of one’s own prejudices and beliefs’

      How refreshing to read a comment from someone beyond bias, feminist critique or patriarchy!

      • tripitaka says:

        Thanks Don. It is so refreshing to be subject to the sort of sarcasm that I detect in your comment. 🙂

        I am not beyond bias but I have the training and the motivation to look at my biases and to check them out. Feel free to point out in a rational and unemotional and non abusive way just where my biases lie and I will be very happy to consider how I can consciously address that problem.

        I am not beyond feminist critique. I imagine from my cursory reading of the various strands of feminist thought that I would be subject to a great deal of critique from various strands for my particular and idiosyncratic version of feminism.

        And being beyond patriarchy.. no-one is beyond being affected by this; since it is still the fundamental philosophy that orders the world I live in.

        You could always ban me for being so refreshing of course. That would solve your problem I am sure. 🙂

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Not sarcasm, at least in my intent. Just irony. Having taught political science to undergraduates for ten years I know very well about bias, and used to devote tutorials and lectures to it.

          I haven’t banned anyone yet, since I place great value on freedom of speech. As for patriarchy, I do see signs of it in our society and culture. It is much less to the fore than it was fifty years ago.

          At the end of the week I’ll write a short summary of my own sense of the nature vs nature problem.

          • bryan roberts says:

            “I’ll write a short summary of my own sense of the nature vs nature problem”

            I’ll look forward to this. I assume one of the opponents is human nature?

          • tripitaka says:

            Good to hear that your words were ironic and not sarcastic. There are a few definitions of irony and I’m not sure which one you think is relevant.

            Very true that there is less patriarchy than 50 years ago.

            In my understanding of the nature/nurture debate, there is no vs. There is no question about whether it is nature or nurture that creates the individual and their particular personality and abilities. The consensus in science is that it is 100% nature in the form of genes that determines the potential and 100% nurture that determines how the potential is expressed.

            I look forward to your summary and will try not to be too irritating and raise too many hackles when I respond. 🙂 No that is not true actually. I love raising hackles and challenging people to examine their assumptions. Is that nature or nurture I wonder.

        • bryan roberts says:

          You first have to demonstrate that your particular perception of the world is accurate.

  • tripitaka says:

    And Don what does it matter that “there is a strand of feminist critique that sees 50/50 as the ‘natural’ division of jobs, status and power,”? There are many strands of thought that are problematic irrational and easily critiqued with facts and rational argument.

    But I suspect that you have misunderstood the actual argument that this strand of feminists are making. I doubt that these feminists would be arguing that the 50/50 split is ‘natural’; I’d be thinking that they are arguing that a 50/50 split is the ideal result in terms of building a fair and just and non-sexist society.

    Good for you for marrying a nurse, but I wonder how many young nurses you know. Things have changed you know.

    • margaret says:

      In truth where would women be without feminists who were and are dogged in their 50/50 ideals? This was Industrial Revolution England (from Relative Creatures … Francoise Basch)

      “Outside the factory population, it seems that the nursing profession was one of the few open to mothers seeking a paid occupation.
      The reports of the commissions of inquiry and of factory and health inspectors and the observations of people like Engels and Gilbert all comment on high infant mortality.
      Gilbert described the slave market where middle-class families recruited nurses for their children while the nurse’s own offspring was entrusted to strange hands, perhaps to waste away and die.

      Mothers ‘are kept solely as domestic animals, for the nourishment they yield’. The commentator compared the rich child to a young vampire sucking the blood of the poor man’s son.

      But there were signs of future change, the first crèche was founded in London in 1850 and was followed in the north of England by several others between 1864 and 1874.”

      Yes the monstrous feminists have our back.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “Yes the monstrous feminists have our back.”

        While everyone else holds your hand.

        Women get to live in clover at everyone’s expense. Huge pay increases in sport. Free admission. Free transport:

        You girls are so hard done by.

        • tripitaka says:

          Drongo, You could have a sex change is you want free stuff so bad.

          • spangled drongo says:

            ” … is you want free stuff so bad.”

            How did you reach that conclusion, trip luv?

            Seeing as you thought of the idea of a sex change and my mild pointers are simply in response to your never ending screams…. after you.

            But I’m sure you’ve given it serious consideration and realise how it would jeopardise all that welfare.

        • tripitaka says:

          C’mon Drongo doesn’t everyone – except you of course – want free stuff. The existence of the free-rider and the problem that they create for wealth creators like your self is a big part of your libertarian ideology isn’t it?

          So how come you don’t want free stuff? Is it nature or nurture that you just naturally made all the right choices and are such a wonderful individual?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Trip luv, your “free stuff” is not free. Only for the troughers.

            But you simply can’t work that out in your tiny mind.

            Pleased that you admit, though, that you have an entitlement mentality that is quite prepared to bludge on the govt, the taxpayer and your mates.

            Me, I’m still happy to work, self fund and pay taxes.

            But because of people like you I do try to minimise my tax.

            These days I don’t feel as guilty about that as I did once.

  • tripitaka says:

    “In the 1970s and 1980s, orchestras began using blind auditions. Candidates are situated on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them. In some orchestras, blind auditions are used just for the preliminary selection while others use it all the way to the end, until a hiring decision is made.

    Even when the screen is only used for the preliminary round, it has a powerful impact; researchers have determined that this step alone makes it 50% more likely that a woman will advance to the finals. And the screen has also been demonstrated to be the source of a surge in the number of women being offered positions.

    By the way, even a screen doesn’t always yield a gender blind event. Screens keep juries from seeing the candidates move into position, but the telltale sounds of a woman’s shoes allegedly influenced some jury members such that aspiring musicians were instructed to remove their footwear before coming onto the stage.”

    “Prior to the switch to blind auditions, the music director hand-picked new members. Under these hiring practices, women comprised less than 5% of the major orchestras in the United States. Today, women comprise between 25% and 30% of the musicians in US orchestras.”

    • spangled drongo says:

      I wonder if the local councils used a screen to select applicants for night soil removal jobs?

      The bastards! So that why they were 100% men?

      • tripitaka says:

        Of course some women from wealthy families who were regarded as property by the men in the family, did live very privileged lives and were simply parasites. But the majority of women who were forced by the patriarchy to sell themselves to a husband because they would never have been able to apply for a job, not even carrying the cans from the dunny to the truck, and many many women certainly would have done a lot of extremely hard and dirty work that was equivalent to having to removing the night soil.

        You really are a very silly old man with a great deal of misconceptions about the way things are and were.

        • spangled drongo says:

          It never occurs to poor ol’ trip that things were that way because that was how the system worked.

          Not because women wanted their “fair share” of those many, many killing jobs that men occupied.

          They wouldn’t have tackled them in a fit.

          When I was a teenager I was working a jackhammer below sea level in a divers suit putting down pylons, the way men had been doing it for many years.

          No women ever asked for the job.

          Times change, trip luv. Especially when those jobs get easier with better technology.

          And the problems are so much nicer to cope with.

          You really need to get over your self importance, your feeling of being hard done by [when in fact you are in clover] and just stop with the whinging.

          What a one-eyed, twisted view of humanity you have.

          If you had to do what my mother had to do, your screams would be deafening.

          As your parents would [or should] have told you; start counting your blessings.

          • tripitaka says:

            Drongo you drongo “that was how the system worked.” yes how else would things be? How could things not work as determined by the system. lol Human systems are dynamic and complex. That is amazing isn’t it?

            And I suppose you think that the western civilisation that privileges wealthy white males just formed out of some sort of natural selection? You are a funny old man and proof that males are not the high point of evolution and certainly not more intelligent than women.

            A teenager working below sea level in a divers suit and a teenager saving abandoned new born aboriginal babies from meat ants in the outback. Wow the stories you tell. 🙂 Of course I believe you.

            But it’s not the fault of women you know; the fact that you worked so hard and are still so poor that you need to continue working into your dotage is the result of capitalism and the way those wealthy white men set the system up so that wealth trickles upward and away from working people.

            Those capitalists use workers like you to reap profits from your sweat and kept you ignorant with your nose to the grindstone foolishly believing that if you worked hard enough you too could be president of the United States or some other dream that was never going to come true.

            If it wasn’t for unions and people who whinged and worked to change the system, men women and children would still be working down the mines and in the factories just like they did in the Industrial Revolution.


            So I don’t bother to counting my blessings; I work to make life better for my children and grandchildren, for the men and boys and the girls and women. You should try thinking of other people and working for a better society rather than being selfish and greedy and believing in the ideology of libertarianism and self-interest.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Trip luv, it doesn’t bother me whether you believe me or not but you really need to take yourself in hand and get out of the terrible Marxist rut that is constipating you.

            When I left school I was too busy getting an education to go to university and had a wide variety of jobs in order to do this. I went back and matriculated years later and then did Uni at night to try to learn something useful but I quickly found out that as with lots of science they simply couldn’t produce the answers I wanted in the cutting edge stuff I was seeking to do so I simply carried on anyway and when I was seeking to get my plans approved in London or New York [for world wide acceptance] they never once failed to accept them even though I knew they didn’t understand them.

            By being self employed nearly all my life in many businesses I have been able to name my own price and if a drongo like me can do this, I’m sure you could too.

            The milestone that you think is your salvation, trip, is really a millstone that’s drowning you.

            Wake up and live!!!

          • spangled drongo says:

            In case you hadn’t noticed, those time had changed before you were born so you are a little out of touch there.

            And to claim that they only changed due to union pressure is silly.

            Also, trip, the holier-than-thou argument is a very poor one. “Self praise is no recommendation” as someone once said plus your assumptions are simply hubris.

            I’m sure you can do better.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “So I don’t bother to counting my blessings;”

            I’ve noticed that, trip luv.

            I mean, they’re only your due, after all!

            Especially all those taxpayer-funded blessings that you would have had to do killing work for in another era.

            And what is even more sad is that you’re not prepared to see where it is coming from.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Trip demonises coal mines and the work women and kids had to do there but refuses to understand that if there is one thing above all others that has reduced human poverty it is coal.

            Were women of that era smart enough to realise that they were on the cusp of serious evolution?

            Compared to what they had been going through, I’m sure they were:


  • David says:

    “that was how the system worked”
    SD is a deep thinker.

  • tripitaka says:

    Drongo It is not being out of touch to have an understanding of history and the pattern of changes that have happened in Western civilisation. A broad understanding of the developments that have led us to where we are now is essential for anyone to profess to be knowledgeable and have an opinion worth sharing on current events and possible future directions.

    Unions and whingers I said – whingers are the do-gooders and bleeding hearts that are so reviled by glibertarians like yourself – have changed conditions for workers. There have been a couple of men from the capitalist class who have been bleeding hearts and who have done good things but the fundamental belief system of capitalism is that of self-interest so do tell what other forces there were that changed things so that children were not forced to work in mines and factories for long hours in such dangerous conditions.

    You do identify as a libertarian do you not? And I suppose that you also feel free to call yourself a conservative when you want to use that identity to win an argument or make a point. There are big differences between these two right wing ideologies so do you choose which one you are on the basis of which one is best for you?

    I didn’t offer any holier than thou arguments lol. You do present with some of the indicators of a paranoid personality disorder, but I’m thinking that this sort of gratuitous denigration of my self is one of those well worn methods that you habitually use to avoid engaging in any real debate that might reveal your self.

    And Drongo you say you don’t care what I believe about you but then you go on to tell me more about your life and how wonderful it and you were. It sounds typical of a certain class of Australian male of the era and not so special that you stand out in any way. What is the point of telling me all this personal stuff? I suppose when you have spent your life working out how to make a bigger profit there is no time to think about any of the things that make life enjoyable for more contemplative and intellectual people. Sad.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Trip luv, you demonise coal mines and the work women and kids had to do there but refuse to understand that if there is one thing above all others that has reduced human poverty it is coal.

      Were women of that era smart enough to realise that they were on the cusp of serious evolution?

      Compared to what they had been going through, I’m sure they were:

      BTW, other responses of mine are in mod.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Trying again to reply:

      “So I don’t bother to counting my blessings;”

      I’ve noticed that, trip luv.

      I mean, they’re only your due, after all!

      Especially all those taxpayer-funded blessings that you would have had to do killing work for in another era.

      And what is even more sad is that you’re not prepared to see where your blessings are coming from.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Trip, you may have noticed that you inferred that I was telling lies about my “career” so that is why I went to the trouble of giving you a few details.

      You are all the time making silly assumptions about me when you haven’t the foggiest idea.

      But I know I should realise that only helps to make more silly assumptions, which is what you prefer to do and the only way your mind works.

      The last thing you really want to know is the truth, hey trip luv?

      • tripitaka says:

        Drongo so how does going to the trouble of telling me more stories about your life prove that what you previously told me was true? That is such an obviously irrational thing to say. 🙂

        • spangled drongo says:

          So sorry, trip luv, to try to point out to a clever person like you, who still needs to be supported by the taxpayer, how a sad old, uneducated drongo like me somehow manages to not only support himself and kin but actually pays income tax to the govt to support people like you.

          And also how I went about it in my uneducated state, foolishly thinking it may shine a light on a possible solution for you.

          But of course I should have realised that for a serious, contemplative intellectual like you, that would be the last thing you would want to confront.

          Let alone do anything constructive to solve your problem.

        • spangled drongo says:

          I suppose what I’m really trying to awake you to, trip, is that if you are a successful real problem solver the world will beat a path to your door.

          It all starts with the giving, not taking.

          • tripitaka says:

            Why bother trying to do anything for me drongo? Are you a do-gooder or something?

  • margaret says:

    “Only a change at the very beginning of life – the individual child’s life, that is – in the form of male and female parenting, can free us from our extended childishness and the inevitable world destruction that our childishness implies.
    That of course, would demand a restructuring of the work place, of societal institutions, of labour and the economy, such as has been attempted in only a few instances recently in Western culture”.
    “Perhaps anthropologist Marvin Harris is correct when he says, “Male supremacy is on the way out in all industrialised nations. Male supremacy was just a phase in the evolution of culture.”
    From “But When at Last she Really Came, I Shot her” : Peter Pan and the Drama of Gender. Susan S. Kissel.
    And books like Why Women Can’t Read Maps and Men Don’t Listen will become historical oddities.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Interesting that he says: “Male supremacy is on the way out in all industrialised nations. Male supremacy was just a phase in the evolution of culture.”

      He ignores the answer in the first sentence.

      It’s been on the way out since the IR thanks to the IR created from F/F energy.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    It fascinates me that an essay about a book whose central message is that women have superior skills to men, in most of the areas that help to build good societies, should draw such flak from women commenters. The Peases were arguing that there is a good deal of ‘hard-wiring’ in our make-up, but they nowhere suggest that culture plays no part. I’ve had to deal with the nature vs nurture debate since the mid 1960s, and my considered view is that both are important. The notion that culture (or genetics) explains everything is a real nonsense. But, like the debate about human and natural contributions to global warming, it is most difficult to say just how much each source supplies, and the ‘experts’ can only deal with the tiny area in which they are expert. Jumping from amphibians, or any other creature, to humans is also nonsensical, it seems to me. This is an area where commonsense has to apply.

    Having said that, there is no doubt that male dominance has characterised our culture, though it has declined a lot since my youth. I do not see an end to it, rather, I do not see a world coming in which women are dominant, unless such a change occurs in all societies at much the same time and in much the same degree. It is the male who does the defending of the female and the progeny, and I see no signs that women are going to be frontline soldiers in any number. While we need defence against other nations men will continue to play an important role in the governance of societies. But women are increasingly growing in importance in the civil world, especially in organisations both private and public. How this will work out in the long run I don’t know and don’t care to guess at. Other than that my own experience is how much better organisations are when the male/female ratio is around 1/1. My wife has said the same thing about hospitals, where male nurses usually change, for the better, the style and culture of the ward. And I have had two females bosses in my working life, both excellent.

    Finally, this essay produced what I regard as the funniest comment in the more than 14,000 that have been posted here: ‘I wouldn’t read that silly book if you paid me’! That is truly delicious.

    • margaret says:

      Gosh you and Bryan are easily fascinated.
      Maybe the reason I personally think such books are pap for the smug, is the nice little earner they create with a gullible readership. See below – after Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps comes the onslaught of a money spinning ‘franchise’.

      Why Men Can Only Do One Thing at a Time & Women Never Stop Talking (2003, with Barbara Pease)
      Why Men Don’t Have A Clue & Women Always Need More Shoes (2005, with Barbara Pease)
      Why Men Lie and Women Cry (2006, with Barbara Pease)
      The Definitive Book of Body Language (with Barbara Pease) (2006, a revision of the 1981 Body Language”)
      Easy Peasey: People Skills For Life (2007, with Barbara Pease)
      Why Men Want Sex & Women Need Love (2009, with Barbara Pease)
      Body Language in the Workplace (2011, with Barbara Pease)
      Body Language of Love (2012, with Barbara Pease)
      Spare us all please pretty Pease.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        I wrote a book, with others, that ran to 11 editions, each one rather different. It was the only book that made me any money. On the face of it, the Peases have done well in much the same way. If you haven’t read the book, you are not in a position to call what they write ‘pap’. To do so exposes you to the obvious charge that you are both ignorant and uninformed.

        But, that’s your problem, not mine, as with Tripitaka here.

        • margaret says:

          …”to do so exposes you to the obvious charge that you are both ignorant and uninformed”.
          I shall have to accept that then, as I’m not going to read the silly book or its subsequent follow-ups with their pap titles.
          I think they are ‘old-hat’.

    • tripitaka says:


      “The Peases were arguing that there is a good deal of ‘hard-wiring’ in our make-up,”

      Then they should have provided some evidence for this and an explanation of what ‘hard-wiring’ is. What they provided was just gossip and stories that come from societies in which the patriarchy has determined the pattern that men and women fit themselves into and as Margaret has pointed out it is a nice little earner for them.

      There is a new thing in science that is called neuroplasticity and it has made the idea of hard wiring a thing of the past. Here is a nice little article about neuroplasticity by a neuroscientist, Tony Hannan:

      “I run the Neural Plasticity Lab and our focus is on understanding how genes and the environment contribute to the healthy brain and to specific brain disorders. We’re all dealt our unique ‘genetic deck of cards’ at conception, however we now know that environmental factors throughout our lives combine with genetics to control our risk of developing specific diseases.”

      Another quote from a more comprehensive article about neuroplasticity: “The … “nature vs. nurture” binary dispute is collapsing today under the weight of a mounting body of evidence. Yes, we enter the world with some brain physiology already set, but each brain is reshaped into its own unique configuration.”

      And here is another article that explains a few more things that you appear not to understand about the current state of knowledge: “neuroplasticity is an umbrella term referring to the ability of your brain to reorganize itself, both physically and functionally, throughout your life due to your environment, behavior, thinking, and emotions. … With the relatively new capability to “see” into the brain allowed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), science has confirmed the incredible morphing ability of the brain beyond a doubt.

      The concept of a changing brain has replaced the formerly held belief that the adult brain was pretty much a physiologically static organ or hard-wired, after critical developmental periods in childhood. While it’s true that your brain is much more plastic during the early years and capacity declines with age, plasticity happens all throughout your life.”

      And you say: ” I’ve had to deal with the nature vs nurture debate since the mid 1960s” and I say, so what? If you still believe in hard-wiring you need to do some catch up work in this area of knowledge that has moved ahead so fast in the past decade. And commonsense? I can’t believe that you still believe that there is such a thing as ‘commonsense’? The idea that this is anything more than ones’ own prejudices masquerading as intelligence is hilarous.

      I thought you might be unable to understand the new fangled idea that it is 100% nature and 100% nurture that determine outcomes in human personalities and not any supposed proportion of each. I suppose it takes more agile and younger brain to be able to comprehend new ideas. But the new understanding is dealt with in the articles above.
      You dont’ seem to have kept up to date with much. Experts are no longer dealing with a tiny area in which they are experts. Things have changed and these days experts can and do talk to each other using the internet and there is a lot of cross discipline research that goes on in the attempt to understand human behaviour.

      I cannot imagine why you imagine that your beliefs are more salient than the latest research. You seem incapable of putting forward a rational argument for your beliefs, you just pick and choose bits and pieces that suit your story, just like the Peases.

      For example, you state that “males defend women and their progeny” and I say except when they kill women and their progeny. So what is the point of your statement that is so easily shown to be wrong?

      And so what that your wife says things that agree with you? So what that you had 2 female bosses and they were great? Anecdotal evidence does not cut it as rational argument for your position. Sheesh.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        ‘Then they should have provided some evidence for this and an explanation of what ‘hard-wiring’ is.’

        They did. Go and read the book.

        ‘What they provided was just gossip and stories that come from societies in which the patriarchy has determined the pattern that men and women fit themselves into’


        The rest of your comment is simply an empty insult. You add very little of any value to this website.

        • margaret says:

          Here is a quote from Why Men Don’t Listen …
          “A woman knows her children’s friends, hopes, dreams, romances, secret fears, what they are thinking, how they are feeling and, usually, what mischief they are plotting. Men are vaguely aware of some short people also living in the house.”
          I’m not a psychologist but it seems to me that a book written in that vein falsely puts women on a pedestal and at the same time lets men off the hook because they are doing the powerful work outside family life.
          Last night 60 Minutes had a segment on highly taxed Sweden where men are given parental leave that leaves Australia in the dust. The leave (408 days or similar number) can be taken up until their child is eight years old. Whilst I know the arguments against such a policy it’s a policy that explicitly values men and women as equal parents and is obviously intended to create a good society.

        • tripitaka says:

          Don I can see why you don’t value the input I provide; it is not difficult to understand how galling it must be to be critiqued in the way that I do.

          But I don’t value the input of your website to our Australian culture. There are worse right wing nut job sites of course but this little den of ignorant climate change deniers who are clearly exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger effect is nothing that an ex-academic should be proud of.

          So banning me will be the next step? Or 18C perhaps?

          • margaret says:

            Thanks for the links tripitaka- I’ve saved them to read – I’m also interested in epigenetics and how PTSD can be carried through generations as in war trauma.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Tripitaka, it isn’t galling at all. Like others who read this website, I wonder from time to time where your fiercely held, and to me, quite over-the-top, opinions come from. But they are your problem, not mine. There are all sorts of views put forward here, so the range is quite wide. I’m not interested in banning people, as I have said before.

          • spangled drongo says:

            What our darling trip has great trouble in understanding is that the D-Ke is also the cognitive bias suffered by people who love to claim that their imagined opponents suffer from D-Ke.

            Denial unlimited.

          • Peter WARWICK says:

            Tripitaka, You seem to have a pebble in your sandshoe, causing a severe limp, and the pebble has MALE written all over it. We have heard all the chants:

            • ALL MEN ARE BASTARDS
            • ALL MEN ARE LIARS
            • ALL MEN ARE CHEATS
            • ALL MEN ARE THIEVES

            We know all that. Tell us something new !!

            There are web sites where you can vent your troubles with males. But please spare us here. The ad hominem stuff is well worn, and boring.

            I was the one who suggested to Don A that a “Go to jail. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” button for him to use, and it seems to be working.

            This is a site for rational debate, not the venting of personal pebbles in sandshoes.

  • don coyote says:

    Have we come to any consensus about the female sense of humour?

  • margaret says:

    Books that have spoken to me.
    Coonardoo Katherine Susannah Pritchard
    The Timeless Land Eleanor Dark
    Tirra Lirra by the River Jessica Anderson
    The Millstone Margaret Drabble
    The Samaritans Monica Dickens
    A Kingdom by the Sea Nancy Phelan
    For Love Alone Christina Stead
    The Man Who Loved Children Christina Stead
    Too Close to the Falls Catherine Gildener
    The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Graham
    Mr Darwin’s Shooter Roger McDonald
    When Blackbirds Sing Martin Boyd
    Fly Away Peter David Malouf
    The Great World David Malouf
    The Great Fire Shirley Hazzard
    Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Anne Tyler
    Howard’s End EM Forster
    My Love Must Wait Ernestine Hill
    The Good Companions JB Priestley
    Love for Lydia H. E. Bates

    … that’ll do, but there’s quite a few more and some of them haven’t spoken to me but they’ve interested me nevertheless.
    Must be because while I was good at maths in primary school something went wrong at high school. A teacher saying “Don’t be so stupid” when I answered an algebra question she asked didn’t help.

    • margaret says:

      I don’t expect teenage boys to be feminists. Teenagers need to find their way to autonomy before taking on a tokenist label. I wouldn’t have called myself a feminist as a teenager, you grow into it and feel particularly strongly about it the older you get.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Marg, I can excuse your wayward philosophy because it is naturally self-seeking but when you see otherwise normal teenage boys brainwashed and pandering to the feminist PC of this world, does it not make you want to puke just a bit?

        It surely must tell you what social pressure is on these boys to be so considerate.

        At the very least you should feel a certain amount of guilt for your over-the-top collective feminist coercion.

        • margaret says:

          I’m sure the young chaps can look after themselves and need no apologies from we monstrous ones. They have mothers, some of whom are hopefully, feminist.

          • spangled drongo says:

            That’s the way, marg,

            Bugger the boys !!!

            And you can’t see how stupid and unjust this is?

            Yet you scream at any perception of feminine injustice?

            What’s that called, marg?


            Or just getting your own back on innocents?

          • margaret says:

            Spangles it’s time to take your chill pill.

          • spangled drongo says:

            My chill pill is your rationality pill, marg.

  • dlb says:

    I just saw “My Fair Lady” in Brisbane, directed by Julie Andrews and a faithful reproduction of the original 1956 Broadway production.

    Great show, but surprised there were no trigger warnings about sexist language and themes 🙂

  • margaret says:

    “… which cited all sorts of scientific studies in support of its thesis that boys and girls have such innately different brains they must be raised quite differently. Smelling a rat, she consulted the studies for herself, and found they had been wildly misrepresented and proved nothing of the sort. How does she explain, I ask, the popularity of the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” oeuvre, if it is so flawed?”

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