Monday, May 28, 2007

Irrational Women

While walking around helping students today in my third year writing class, a boy grabbed my arm and asked me to explain a sentence from a reading sample in his textbook. I stopped, leaned in and took a look at the sentence he was pointing at:

"It is a mistake for him to use cold reasoning to overcome anything which he cannot understand in his wife."

I did a double-take, and went back and read the entire passage. Then I laughed quite hard, and the boy ended up learning a new word: sexism.

Take a look at the essay the kids in this 3rd year writing class - along with all the other 400 students in their grade, not to mention how many other schools who happen to use the same text - are reading. It's reprinted in the book after appearing on an entrance exam for Tohoku University; there's no further information to know to whom to give credit for these pearls of wisdom. To me, it sounds like something they took out of an issue of Good Housekeeping from the 50's, or some chapter on marriage from a very old life-education textbook, but it could very well have been invented out of whole cloth. What's perhaps even more amusing than the students at my school and others studying this passage, is that since it appeared on an entrance exam, past students were actually tested on this; every applicant to Tohoku that year would have had to read and answer questions on this in order to pass the exam. To take that concept a little farther: current students of Tohoku University have all certified their comprehension and assimilation of the ideas contained in this passage by very virtue of being students at the university.

And people in the US complain about biases in SAT questions!

Anyhow, it's good to see that students studying English here are being given entirely new ways to see the world (and women's proper place in it), and being equipped with the language abilities necessary to really succeed in the future (at putting women in that place).


Anonymous said...

I think the issue with bias in SAT questions is that certain items are unidentifiable by certain races.

For example, if you show a white student a picture of a tea cup, they will tell you it is a tea cup.

But if you show the same picture to a black student, they will tell you it is a crack pipe.

Anonymous said...

In this world of baseless PC-ness it seems like more sensible advice than 'we are all the same' appreciation of differences and adapting to them seems like a good thing to teach children.

Luke said...

While I recognize the problem with going too far in the other direction and pretending for political correctness' sake that there are no inherent differences between the sexes, I'd say that in a country that really does not respect the rights of women at all, it's not a good idea to inoculate youth with any more ideas like this, especially ones that are offered as-is without any actual documentation or scientific evidence. That is, I'm not for promoting the status quo into perpetuity, simply because it is the status quo, certainly not here where the status quo is so damaging to women. Baseless adherence to stereotypes isn't any better than "baseless PC-ness" in my view.

Particularly as the education system and culture here seem primed to further any existing gender differences by turning girls into perpetual 12 year olds, playing dress up and cooing at cute stuffed animals.

Anonymous said...

Tres feministe.

Anonymous said...

(I'm Anon from 6:32 PM, June 04, 2007)

Good points.