*By now, you’ve probably heard the news: Women are smarter than men. Yep. That’s the most dramatic way to say it. According to professor James R. Flynn out of New Zealand, who specializes in such things, the IQ of women has steadily risen over the years until today, when they now score higher than men. Or something like that. I didn’t read the whole article.
Flynn isn’t the only one with a handle on research. I did some of my own and learned that he was born in Washington D.C. and for a time lived in Chicago, where he was educated, before moving to New Zealand in 1963–which means he’s at least smart enough to know that when he makes such a declaration, he needs to be in a place like New Zealand instead of Chi-town.
In any case, if Flynn is considered such a smart guy, then I must have been a child genius. Because what he’s ballyhooing about–the remarkable IQ of women–I’ve known since I was a kid.
I figured it out in grade school. Noticed that whenever I copied off the papers of boys, I ended up with Cs and Ds, while my “concentrated glances” at the papers of girls I sat next to yielded me As and Bs.
It wasn’t a fluke. In Mr. Holmes’ sixth grade class, I did time in the dreaded Group 3 (do schools still do this to kids?), which happened to consist of all boys. With no girl papers to cheat from, I was forced to make my way out of Group 3 by truly applying myself. Meaning, I took one of the other dumb kids hostage at gunpoint.
In the schools I attended, there were plenty smart guys, no question. But generally, it just always felt like the girls were smarter. This perception was helped along by the fact that when you’re young, for all kinds of reasons, your mind can build certain beliefs on rickety foundation.
For example, when I was a kid, I equated quiet for smart. Cats are assumed smarter than dogs, partly because they’re quiet and don’t make a lot of fuss. I don’t know if cats truly are smarter than dogs; I know they try to act like they are.
And because girls were mostly quiet–quieter than boys, anyway–I figured they were smarter. Girls were always whispering and giggling; going to the restroom together. It was as if they knew something boys didn’t and weren’t sharing. Is it just like a man to assume that when girls weren’t gossiping about one another, they were talking about us? Later, you grow up and learn that a female’s silence can mean a lot of things.
But why wouldn’t women surveyed now score a higher IQ than men? Like every other body of people who are or have been oppressed–and that’s the word here–women know that to free themselves from man’s subjugation, they must educate themselves.
Thus, for all these centuries, while men have been busy with wars and sporting events and refusing to stop and ask for directions until we are damn near out of gas, women, even while being told that certain stations of life, such as science and the boardroom, simply aren’t places for a lady, have been quietly (and not so quietly) about the business of education–and systematically reaching back to see that females coming behind them also realize the power of education.
So, it figures that women are now scoring higher on IQ tests. What doesn’t make sense is that they still earn less than their male counterparts doing the same job. Or that in many parts of the world, women aren’t allowed to read. Or drive a car. Or run their own lives.
I’m not intimidated by the smarts of women. Without them, I’d have never made it out of fifth grade. Be smart, ladies, be very smart. You don’t have to guess who I’ll be sitting next to and “glancing” over the shoulder of in this life.
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].