I had a completely different post planned for today. I have been ranting a bunch lately and lest you all think I am a bitter curmudgeon, bent on making all of you miserable along with me. Then I decided to post something s bit controversial on Facebook yesterday, and well…
…all heck broke loose.
So being the good blogger that I am, I decided to seize the opportunity and attempt to make a more cogent argument over here.
Here is the background:
I was at a tasting not too long ago headed by a group of winemakers from a particular region. After the very informative tasting, there was a bit of a meet and greet time, which was equally enlightening. At one point, I was talking to one of the winemakers who had spoken about having his daughter eventually take over the winery. Having noticed that the entire panel was both tragically male (as well as white), I asked how a woman winemaker would be received in the region that seemed, at least by appearances, steadfastly male.
The winemaker assured me that there were changes afoot, led by many of the younger generation of winemakers including him.
But he did not stop there.
He went on to indicate that there was an assistant winemaker working for him that, in fact, had a better “nose” and palate then he.
No stopping still….
He added that she was particularly a great taster at certain times of the month, “you know, since she is a woman.”
I looked briefly at another attendee who was talking to the winemaker with me, who happened to be a female. And she cringed. Visibly. And I felt awkward as well.
There are three main issues as I see them:
- Do women have better olfactory abilities than men?
- Do women have heightened sensory abilities during ovulation?
- Should this have been brought up at all by my friendly winemaker?
Here are my responses to the above, I would love to hear yours:
- Personally, I don’t care. I am not trying to be crass (OK, maybe just a little)–it is not that I don’t care, it’s that it is largely irrelevant for me. All that matters to me is my sensory ability–I think it is likely above average and it helps in my appreciation of wine. The fact that the average woman may or may not have a better nose than the average man has absolutely no bearing on anything that I can control. Sure, it is thought-provoking from an intellectual or trivial aspect, but not much more. Interestingly, almost all the information I found concerning this claim stems from one study done for National Geographic, which was based on a voluntary survey. As a researcher, that is, well, worrisome.
- Again, it does not really matter to me, other than from a “well, that is certainly intriguing” point of view. We are done having kids, and we have two boys, so the possibility for any sort of BF Skinner experimentation is extremely remote. From a researcher standpoint, I have yet to see any “hard data” to support this claim. Does it make “sense” that this might be so? Sure—it does not take much of a leap from Darwin’s theory to get to this, but that does not make it true.
- Now here is where it gets interesting in my view—the social aspect. One person on Facebook was adamant that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it at all (in part since she accepted the first two points as accepted “science”). She argued (convincingly) that women in general, and their menstrual cycle in particular, have long been demonized by men and that there actually should be nothing wrong with talking about it. Most others (and I am only talking about female respondents) had a different take—expressing their frustration with yet another man making odd claims about a woman’s menstrual cycle. For me? I long ago learned that as a man, making a statement about a woman’s menstrual cycle and how that relates to the performance of her job is not usually a good idea.
So what are your thoughts? Inappropriate/offensive comment? Blatant sexism? Much ado about nothing?