Pinker dares to posit the idea that women don’t have the same preferences as men and therefore, might actually choose different paths, not be forced into them by the patriarchy. Now we’re talking! . . .
In particular, she examines the role testosterone plays in male risk taking (including those amusing Darwin Awards) and the role oxytocin and empathy play in female career choices. . . .
Pinker does more than dryly discuss the biology; she provides example after example of women who have succeeded in this “man’s world” and found it wanting. As Pinker explains, let’s move on past the idea that a woman can’t do the same work as a man, and discuss why she may not want to. Any woman who has wondered if her preferences run counter to the feminist cause should pay close attention here; believing that a woman should have every right to pursue the same goals as men is different from believing that every woman should want to. Time and again, Pinker points out how women have sought those goals, attained them, and then shifted their eyes to a different prize. These “opt out” women can be found, as Pinker states, “in every major university, law, engineering, and accounting firm in North America and Europe” (p. 64). Women are 2.8 times more likely than men to leave science and engineering careers for other occupations and 13 times more likely to exit the labor force entirely. This is not because they are overwhelmed with childcare, either. They leave their careers at every age and every stage of life, whether or not they have families. Pinker concludes with what seems to be an obvious yet ignored truth, that women are autonomous beings who know their own desires. As one woman put it, “…work is not the only thing I do. I have a life” (p. 90). . . .
All of which creates a wide range of male ability with huge numbers of both extremely low and high achievers. Boys are three times more likely to be placed in special education classes, twice as likely to repeat a grade, and a third more likely to drop out of high school. However, males also dominate the highest percentiles of achievement, from math competitions to scrabble tournaments. . . .
Girls are often taught that females bond together while males are cutthroat. Indeed, the opposite is often true. Girls are also taught that females are beaten down by that oppressive patriarchy, but in actuality, women are more competitive with each other than with men. Once again Pinker gives example after example of women who have undermined, sabotaged, and exploited each other. . . .
After systematically breaking down each of these misconceptions about gender, gender differences, and the power of society, Pinker sums things up this way, “…forty years of discounting biology have led us to a strange and discomfiting place, one where women are afraid to own up to their desires and men—despite their foibles—are seen as standard issue” (p. 254).
Feminism killed femininity.