“I feel like arguing with a woman”

Several months ago, on a popular entertainment science show in China called “The Strongest brain”, two people started an argument on whether or not the assessment for an challenger is reasonable. One person is a neuroscientist and a professor from Peking University, one of the top universities in China. He likes to say that “Science is the sole criterion for evaluation”.  The other person is a very famous author/businessman/editor/director/teen idol, but also a controversial person. Some people think he is shallow. And he is often teased by other people for being short and like a girl.

They argued with each other so fiercely, and suddenly the professor said:

“I can’t stand this. I feel like arguing with a woman.”

The writer was so outraged that even if the professor apologized twice, he stormed out of the scene and refused to come back to continue the recording.

This event lit up a nationwide discussion on whether or not this exact sentence is a prejudice against women. So I am a woman, and I don’t like this sentence. I argued with my male friend on this. His claiming is “The professor should not have used this sentence to attack the author. But without any context, this sentence itself is not a prejudice. Men and women are different. Women do prefer arguing and they argue more emotionally than men, who usually argue more rationally. And the sentence is just stating the difference out.”

I can’t argue with him on that because I am an emotional person. I know I don’t like it but deeply inside my heart I do feel that women are more emotional. And not just me, not just my friend, a lot of people in the society feel the same way. They wouldn’t say it out loud and they do have the same stereotype. And I feel that these stereotypes, not just those against women, but all stereotypes will exist more or less unless we enter a utopian world some day in the future. Act it out or not, say it out or not, differences exit. Don’t get me wrong on this, I am 100 percent sure that we should by no means do everything we need to eliminate discrimination, but, stereotypes are hard to eliminate, if even possible.

Now the question comes: should we do positive intervention in our education to make students not feel these stereotypes to improve their academic performance? Claude M. Steele says yes in his book “Whistling Vivaldi: how stereotypes affect us and we can do.” He thinks it is worth the risk of having these students unprepared for real world stereotypes. I like many of his ideas and appreciate his work on this. But I disagree with him on this specific question. Academic performance is only a part of one’s life. Many people will go through some type of stereotypes in his life and he/she should be prepared for this. Tell them the truth, but teach them to fight against the unfair. Knowing the evil does not mean accepting it. I would prefer that if I have a baby girl, she won’t say anything like “I feel like arguing with a woman” in the future, but she won’t be hurt too much to lose her ration by this kind of sentence either, because she is prepared, and then she can fight back.

11 thoughts on ““I feel like arguing with a woman””

  1. Thank you for the post!
    I totally agree with you that stereotyping is hard to get rid of as most of it stems from some beliefs originated from a special culture. The only way to mitigate stereotyping is through education, but I believe that it is too late if we do so in higher education. This should start from the first day in school. We should strive to build better generations as early in their lives as possible.

  2. Thank you for your post! I agree with you on the fact that we should redesign the educational system so that such stereo does not happen or happens less. I think that this will happen with both educating the teachers and students of various cultures, genders, etc. I am definitely with you on the fact that educational performance is only one aspect of life. For this reason we need to prepare our students for the diverse word that they will be entering… Yes, redesigning the exams to fit all groups of learners is great! But how about familiarizing them with history beyond the USA so that they can learn to be understanding of their fellow workers, friends, and their global society. What do you think?

  3. I like this story. In my view, even if I see women are more emotional, which is again a stereotyping, I know that not all women are the same. However, I see it impolite to use this sentence, it is a pure prejudice against women. If this professor had a bad experience arguing with a woman, he should not use this example as a fact against all women. If it were women arguing and one said “That’s tough you are like a man”, it would again be prejudice as not all men are like this.
    For the classroom, I think if we are inevitably facing stereotyping in our life, let’s make the classroom free of any stereotyping. Let’s make students feel comfortable and safe to just learn and focus only on the class. It’s every teacher’s responsibility to create this type of environment in his classroom.

  4. In reason and logic classes this type of argument is known as ad hominem. This is an argument “to the man”. So rather than address the argument you try to discredit it, by discrediting the person making it. For instance if I argued that UVA has a major problem with parking, and the person I was arguing said “You can’t talk about this subject you’re a Hokie”, he would be attacking me instead of proving that UVA doesn’t have a problem with parking. This is considered fallacious reasoning. As someone who has lost many arguments to women, I can tell you unequivocally that the professor’s argument was not sound.

  5. Interesting post with an equally interesting comment thread. Stereotypes are difficult to combat as they start from a young age. However, that does not mean that we should avoid the fight. In fact, we should do whatever we can to break down stereotypes and our own bias. For me this starts with trying to understand my own bias and catch myself whenever I can to learn to not prejudge based on my own bias. Knowledge is power as they say. This is vital for us as educators so we do not prejudge students. Everyone should get an equal starting ground especially in the classroom.

  6. Thank you for the post. I think most stereotypes come from our childhood. For example, I remember when we were playing football (I mean soccer), some of my friends used to say do not play like a girl! We were around 10 years old and we grow up with these stereotypes.
    I have tried a lot to get rid of these stereotypes. However, sometimes the problem is that you do not know a stereotype exist.
    I agree with we should teach our children that these stereotypes exist and they should fight back facing them.

  7. “I feel like arguing with a child.”
    “I feel like arguing with a Democrat.”
    “I feel like arguing with a philosopher (or a business person).”
    “I feel like arguing with a Brit.”
    etc.

    Do you find any of the above statements offensive? There is nothing wrong with having preferences in a world of diversity. Our distastes are going to mix as much as our preferences and its foolish to think otherwise. I think you’re right that shielding children from stereotypes would do them s a disservice. They should see the world as it is so that they may evaluate it critically.

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