[Leslie Carol Botha: The War Of The Sexes is a new book by Paul Seabright… first it is the war on women – now the war of the sexes – can’t we all just kiss and make up? If not, then it is time for the men to leave and give women a chance to clean up the mess – again. Actually women – we need to go to Cirque du Soleil’s Amluna – who needs this *&^% anyway?]
Why it really is a man’s world (unless you’re a praying mantis, of course)
by Roger Lewis
19 April 2012
THE WAR OF THE SEXES BY PAUL SEABRIGHT (Princeton University Press £16.95 tel £14.95)
The chief thing that exercised me, when I was on a barge seeking the source of the Severn with a bunch of Rotarians — apart from the icebergs, the killer whales, and the bar running out of lemon slices — was the way the women sat at one end of the boat, the chaps at the other.
Husbands and wives never interacted for the entire voyage. They ate separately, drank separately. There was absolutely no convergence of the twain.
It’s not that there’d been any mass falling-out — this is simply how everyone preferred it, or at least had got used to it.
And you don’t have to consider the extreme case of Muslim women being hidden under a parachute to see that the concept of purdah (secluding women from public view, as during the Raj) is pretty prevalent still: think of male bastions such as Freemasonry, the Garrick Club or cricket and golf clubs, the segregation at public schools, and the horror some people express at the concept of female bishops.
As Paul Seabright asks in this fascinating book, why are there so few women airline pilots and absolutely no women jazz drummers?
The answer, simply put, the reason for the discrimination, is that men and women are fundamentally incompatible.
Despite millennia of trying their best, they don’t get on — so people prefer to keep company with their own kind, happiest when standing apart, e.g. the men in Wales going to rugby and choir practice, the girls going to ‘coffee mornings’ to drink litre bottles of Yugoslavian Riesling.
I remember asking a military brass hat what he thought about the new directive, a few years ago, for women to serve alongside men on warships.
‘Christ!’ he said, snorting into his vintage port, ‘They are enough trouble on land’.
When looked at from an evolutionary perspective, boys and girls only get together ‘to leave their genetic imprint on the future’, i.e. to have sex and produce children. Which is where the problems start.
Courtship rituals, says Seabright, are characterised by exaggeration, deception, blandishments and outright falsity. People pretend to be what they are not — nicer, more successful, more charming, a better catch.