Did you know that…
Astronauts can’t burp because there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs?
That one million, million, million, million, millionth of a second after the Big Bang the Universe was the size of a pea?
That there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body?
Isn’t that interesting? These are just a few examples of why science is SO COOL! And also why you should read this piece about a book that takes a scientific approach to the female brain!
I came across The Female Brain when I was walking around Barnes & Noble with a friend of mine over winter break. He was the one who found it and said, “Wait, they have books about this now? This would’ve been helpful YEARS ago!” When I took a look inside the book, I realized that it definitely wasn’t a relationship help book. It was a book written by a neuropsychiatrist, Louann Brizendine, M.D. I borrowed it from the library when I came back to school and proceeded to have an enlightening experience with her work.
Her thesis throughout the book is that many of the behavioral differences that society acknowledges between men and women are actually legitimate, and can be explained to a certain extent to hormonal differences between the sexes. Basically, the balance of certain hormones in women and men effect certain changes in their behavior. For the purpose of this book, the woman is the central focus, and she covers the entire lifespan of the women using engaging anecdotes and accessible scientific explanation.
Before anyone gets up in arms about explaining away a woman’s feelings using hormones and chemicals, I want to say that I’m definitely on your side about that. Nothing burns me up faster than when someone tries to write off my sour attitude as simply “her time of month.” It invalidates my emotions and channels their source to an area of myself that I can’t exactly control. What I think that Dr. Brizendine does well is write this book in a way that simply provides some information that may be a factor in our daily lives. And a good amount of it acknowledges excellent qualities in women’s behavior as well.
For example, Brizendine posits that the female brain is wired for excellent communication skills. According to her research, women are more receptive to hand gestures, body posture, breathing rates, gazes, and facial expressions, all of which make communicating with people that much easier. Infant girls were shown to focus on the faces of people far more often than infant boys, who were more concerned with the rest of their environment.
There is also evidence that, since men may not have as developed a sense of communication as women, it is quite possible that women learned to use tears to let men know that they are upset. Rather than support an irrational claim that “all women are weepy”, Brizendine tactfully employs science to make her point, and the evidence that supported her argument was convincing.
Ultimately, you can’t just chalk up everything that someone does or doesn’t do to pure science — that would take away a person’s sense of being and willpower, as well as displacing blame when poor decisions or bad choices are made. I also can’t deny the fact that, while I thought this was an interesting read, the book has received mixed reviews and criticism for its content. It is interesting, however, to see that every now and then, our social constructs and expectations may be more than just broad assumptions or stereotypes. There are exceptions to every rule, but this book provides a fascinating look upon some of the science that might inform both men and women about another facet of the human condition.