Men, Women & Directions
Anne Enright writes...
If men are so good at directions then why can they never find anything around the house? I was pulled over to the computer the other night by the man I seem to have married. He was gloating quietly over something he found on the internet. It was about men, and how good they are with maps.
ĎFunny that,í he said.
It was one of those brain-scan studies where they take nice coloured-y pictures of the brain during various Activities. Now it is well known that a manís brain remains completely dead and grey when heís asked to clean the toilet, but it lights up like a christmas tree, apparently, when he is asked to read a map. They took the pictures as people made their way around a 3-D computer maze, and the results show that men navigate with some deep, limbic bit of their brain while women use a shallower, more cortical approach. We just look around us apparently and try to figure things out.
So what does this mean? It means men know the way, while women have to think about it. Does this explain why they never, ever ask for directions? Is this why they refuse - just refuse - I mean stall, balk at, dig their heels in, find themselves incapable of moving in any other direction than the one the have decided, nay intuit, in their deepest, truest self to be the Only Right Way?
They Know, thatís all. Deep down. They can not UnKnow. They canít help it.
I have no particular man in mind here, you understand, I married a paragon of mildness and good sense, who just has to lift his nose and sniff to know where north is. You canít argue with that. No, Iím talking about the more mediocre style of man, the kind other girls marry, who are always stubborn but not always right.
Because, even in this computer test, the men were wrong a good percent of the time. They were wrong in a very deep, very lit-up part of their brains. And whoís to say theyíre not just better at computer simulations, having wasted more time with stupid games, lets face it, than their female counterparts. Though I am quite partial myself, to the occasional lost weekend of Tomb Raider 3.
Hang on. Does this mean Iím a boy really, deep down? Oh, never mind. Iíve always thought that the differences between men and women are much exaggerated Ė the only thing that I have found to be true, and absolutely true, is that men always, but ALWAYS, have more keys on their key rings. The other is that the person who makes the security gate bleep at the airport is ALWAYS a man. If itís a woman holding the line up when youíre running for a flight, believe me, heís in drag. Itís their bits that set it off. Iím convinced of it.
But otherwise I am wary of studies and statistics. The scientists have found that womenís brain have a bigger bit for sadness. Is this why we cry at the pictures? They have found the place where we believe in god Ė itís in our frontal lobes apparently. And a place for laughter, in the motor cortex.
My favourite scientific statistic is that men who help around the house get more sex. Now thatís what I call a good statistic Ė itís true, it makes sense, and it was researched by a woman.
Meanwhile they keep banging on about boy toddlers spatial awareness, how boys learn by running around a lot, how girls learn by doing bloody embroidery. But if men are so spatially aware, if they are so wonderfully 3-D, how come they never know where anything is around the house? Whereís that book? Itís on the third shelf down. Whereís my bag? Itís where you left it. Whereís the saucepan? Itís in my back pocket.
Well yes, says my man, but what about all the time you spend looking for your goddamn keys!! Yeah but thatís just psychological, isnít it? I donít want to find my keys. I know where every book in the house is. I know where the plastic cutlery is for going camping! I know where the hairdryer is, if either of us decided to grow our hair, or sweat the fat off a duck. I know where I put my feather boa. I know where the cleaner is, for suede shoes. Do you know where the cleaner is for suede shoes?
Up a bitÖleft a bitÖright a bitÖdown a bit. Oh, if it was a dog, it would bite you.