The Female Brain: Was This a Book About Slut-Shaming?

The book The Female Brain isn’t new.  It’s been on the shelves for a few years, but Veronica Arreola’s review of this book raises many points still valid today.

The book was supposed to shed light on how and why our female brains work differently, and perhaps more efficiently, than those of men. But Veronica, one of our favorite feminists, has some insight we wanted to share:

I stopped reading this book on page 68.

It’s amazing I made it that far. Part of me thinks I should finish the book because I should know what is inside. People not only like to come to me for gender advice, but also test my boundaries on “gender roles.” A friend loaned me this book, I believe as a way to see what my expert opinion of it would be. I have no idea how she feels about it.

It frightens me to think this was a New York Times best-seller. Oh, the masses who read this and loved it!

You know what made me finally put this book down?

*It wasn’t her pointing out that female and male brains work in different ways.
*It wasn’t her stating on page eight that a female engineer quit her work to be in a more people-oriented career, thus giving more credibility to the idea that engineers don’t work with people or for people.
*It wasn’t even when she dug up the old “I gave my daughter a truck and she treated it like a baby” cliché.
*It was almost when she says men look for visual clues (plump lips, smooth skin) to ensure fertility when looking for women to date.

It was her slut shaming.

In the chapter about how the female brain works in the areas of love and trust, she states: (Warning, put that cup down and swallow that bite):

“Social reputation is often a factor in male assessment, since the most reproductively successful males also need to pick women who will mate only with them. Men want to ensure their paternity but also to be able to count on a woman’s mothers skills to make sure that their offspring thrive. If Melissa had immediately gone to bed with Rob or showed off to him about all the guys she has had, his Stone Age brain might have judged that she would be unfaithful or had a bad reputation.”

Go ahead, read that passage again. Yes, you read it correctly. Cave men don’t want slutty women to hook up with.

There’s a lot of research in here and a lot of medical terms that aren’t clearly explained. But from all the things on gender that I have learned from reading outside and inside the classroom, and the science background, I have, I have to say that this person takes facts and uses a huge rubber band to tie it to normative behavior.

Instead of this book, pick up Pink Brain, Blue Brain. Sure it’s two tor three times longer, but it doesn’t traffic in stereotypes and certainly believes that we have evolved from the Stone Age.

Guest contributor Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinadad.

Image via amazon.com

  • Jane

    I haven’t read it, but won’t now. It’s sad that sexism, under the banner of religiosity and fundamentalist belief, still thrives, even in science, even in women.

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