Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why Don't Women Like Golf?

One of the most dispiriting facts about American intellectual life is the failure of some serious thinkers to accept that there are genetically determined differences between the sexes.

Many people who pretend to be Darwinian refuse to believe that the two genders are anything more than a social construct. The pseudo-sophisticates among us imagine that gender is nothing more than performance. As in, theatrical performance.

Gender roles are like rules in a play; the socially prescribed behaviors and the costuming constitute your gender identity. There is no genetic basis for the fact that women carry purses and men carry wallets.

We owe this idea to a Berkeley professor named Judith Butler. Aside from her ability to market bad ideas and to garner an academic reputation by producing high-toned gibberish, Butler has received an award for being the worst writer in America. Link here.

If you read through the link and arrive at the sentence that won Butler the award, you will see everything that is wrong with higher education in America.

Given the sorry state of American intellectual life, I am constantly on the lookout for evidence that demonstrates persuasively the reality of gender difference.

I have noticed, based on some very hard evidence, the golf is largely a man's game. Some women do play golf, but the game is largely a male domain.

Before you jump out of your chair, I will tell you that I am fully aware of how important the Dinah Shore Classic is to certain groups of women. I am informed, reliably, that the women who congregate for that great golf tournament are not really there for the golf.

I do not have a research laboratory at my disposal, so, when I was trying to figure out why women are not burning up the links in anywhere near the numbers that men are, I asked a woman friend why this should be so.

Her one-word answer: Breasts.

Initially, that solved it. As you know, I like one-word answers. Nothing is more high concept than a one-word explanation.

But as I discovered today, there's more to the story. Matt Ridley reports in the Wall Street Journal that the old and tired cliche of the husband who runs off to play golf while his wife meets her girlfriends to go shopping for shoes has a great deal of truth to it. Link here.

Ridley's explanation is blindingly obvious: Men hunt while women forage and gather.

When you go out hunting you are out in the open, you are moving around a lot, you are stopping to take a shot, and you are trying to hit the target with as few shots as possible.

Isn't that the definition of a great hunter?

So far so good. But what connects foraging for roots and berries with buying shoes.

Ridley could have made this a lot easier if he had pictured women shopping for food at the local farmer's market. In emphasizing shoe shopping he has set us a greater challenge.

Actually, I tried to contact Carrie Bradshaw, but her email and telephone number are unlisted, so I am reduced to speculating.

One thing we know about women's shoes, is that they are not designed for hunting or for sport. High heels, pumps, stilettos, and open toed sandals are not about hunting or competitive striving.

Some of them are about sexual display; others are about looking ladylike; others are perfect for an afternoon shopping with girlfriends.

Women's shoes are like much, but not all, of women's fashion. They are about appearance and they are about being someone for whom others hunt.


David Foster said...

Dunno. You'd have to also look at women in other sports: tennis, for example. (I guess you could say tennis isn't as close to the hunting model since the players compete directly against each other rather than against the course)

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Good point. At the least, we know that women do like tennis, and that they like it much more than they like golf.

I don't know exactly why, but when players volley they are involved in something close to an equitable exchange, even a conversation... even though the point is to get the upper hand.