Monday, August 27, 2007

And Don't Come Back Saying You Can't Find It

This explains so much. It turns out that there's a biological basis for everything we do - including our behavior in the kitchen. Which, as everyone knows, is frequently about men saying, "I can't find it," and women going to the cupboard and fishing it - whatever can or box he was looking for - out of some dark recess. Then saying, "There. Was that so hard?"

According to The Economist, a new study shows that women are better than men at "relocating" sources of food. In other words, finding food that's tucked away somewhere, like in a refrigerator or cabinet. Furthermore, the higher the caloric content of the food, the better women are at finding it. "Women's minds are specialised for their ancestral task of gathering the sort of food that cannot run away," the researchers, who are evolutionary biologists, said. They theorize this unique female skill evolved to complement the male talent for chasing down food and killing it. Men hunters, women gatherers. We may run from our gender roles, but even after all these years, we can't really hide.

All very interesting and entertaining stuff. But I wonder if these kind of studies - the ones that confirm that the sexes really do differ, and usually along the lines we already know about - are such a good thing. Because even if biological predisposition is real, it's only a part - and a lesser part - of the story.

I know I'm better at digging the pancake mix out of the pantry than anyone else in my house, male or female. That's because I'm the mom, and the mom always knows where kitchen stuff is kept. You see, even in these enlightened times, moms generally buy the food, cart it home, and put it on the shelves themselves.

Furthermore, there's a payoff involved in being the all-knowing one; the kitchen is still generally a sphere of feminine influence (as opposed, say, to the garage, which is still a sphere of male influence), and being hyper-competent in your sphere is a way of asserting your ongoing importance in the scheme of things.

Retro? Un-PC? Even annoying as hell? Definitely. Still, we're not all the difficult to figure out; psychologists could do it as well as evolutionary biologists.

1 comment:

DRPI said...

I'm always amused by these studies that come out periodically which conclude that men and women (and boys and girls for that matter) are different. As if everyday experience wasn't enough to convince a person of this fact. Seems like these researchers could make better use of their time, funding and resources.

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