Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter Nine - Part Three

Today's post covers the Botkin Sisters' views on women's intelligence.  To no one's surprise who has managed to read this far, the Botkin view of women's intelligence is determined entirely how she makes a man feel.

I find this entire section gross, FYI.

Overarching Theme: Girls don’t have to pretend they aren’t smart.   Girls only need to seem less smart than the guy they are talking to.
“So, at this point the $64,000 question is this: Do men actually dislike smart women?  We’ve asked a number of real men this question, and they’ve all delivered the same answer with great force: Of course not!  They just dislike women who think they’re smarter than everyone else.
Women who want to force others to acknowledge their cerebral superiority, or to beat people over the heads with all that they know, give truly intelligent women a bad rap.  Good men appreciate intelligence, but they also often come to dread the type of woman who defines herself by her smarts (as though it were the only important quality) and the arrogance, hardness, pushiness, and self-focus that too often go with it.” (pg. 170)
  • There's a difference between intelligence and social skills. Having a conversation with someone who is showing off is annoying as hell.  I know of no data, though, that shows that smart women are more likely to show off than smart men, dumb men or dumb women.
  • Yet again, the Botkin Sisters drive home that women are supposed to be humble, soft, yielding and willing to care for others by defining the negative categories for women of arrogance, hardness, pushy and self-focused.
  • I can't help but believe the Botkin Children would be in a better place if they did apply some self-focus or even self-centeredness to their lives.  Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have been raised by Geoffrey & Victoria to be wives and mothers in their own homes; this come up in each of the Sisters' books and in the family podcasts.  Neither of the girls are married or mothers at ages of 28 and 30.  Since both have been of marriageable age for over a decade each, they would be better off thinking about how much effort Geoffrey and Victoria are really putting into finding them husbands.
“For those of us who take pride in being hardboiled eggheads, this thought should scramble our brains: Truly smart people are humbled by the extent of what they don’t know, not anxious to show off the little that they do.” (pg. 171)
  • That's a different take on the Dunning-Kruger effect.  This effect occurs when people self-assess their skill level compared to others. 
    •  People who are unskilled or poorly skilled in an area tend to overestimate their competence compared to people at large. 
    • People who are at average competency levels generally estimate their competence accurately.
    • People who are at advanced competency levels tend to underestimate their competence compared the group.
  • The problem is that the Botkin Sisters are applying the Dunning-Kruger effect WAY too broadly.  Intelligent people do genuinely know a lot of knowledge and often want to talk about these fascinating topics.  The part that I have enjoyed the most about graduate school is being around people who are very intelligent and passionate about a given topic.  Listening to a fellow students discussing their project was heart-warming.  
  • Again, does this set of rules apply to men or just women in BotkinLand?  In the quotes from the boys, several of the commentators are quite willing to spout off about their ideas regardless of how little they know about the topics. 
  • The fact that Anna Sofia and/or Elizabeth view themselves as "eggheads" makes me cringe.  I don't doubt that the two of them have natural intelligence, but they have been so heavily sheltered that their education has massive gaps as has been evidenced throughout this book.  
“One thing that men really do appreciate in a girl is a desire to learn things from them, a willingness to be taught, and an eagerness to hear their opinions.  To them this communicates intelligence and a real thirst for knowledge; a girl who has to know better and be right does not.  It also draws out their knowledge and wisdom better than shaming, criticizing, or competing with them. “ (pg. 172)
  • Eww.  According to the Botkin Sisters and allied "men", intelligent women are distinguished by their blank slate qualities.   Women are ready to be molded and taught by the much more intelligent men of their ilk.
  • Notice the implication that real women don't correct men who are wrong.  If a man is wrong, correcting him is a sign that a woman is pushy, competitive, and not intelligent.  Boy, you know a system is messed up when the "kinder" thing to do when a guy is spouting something that is clearly wrong is to smile and nod appreciatively.  
  • This section (ok...the whole book) makes me question the intelligence of the men the Botkin Sisters know.  The vast majority of intelligent men I know have no problem with a woman correcting them when the guy is wrong.  A man (or woman) who can't handle constructive criticism no adult is.
  • Again, even in a section on intelligence in women we can't get away from having to coax out the knowledge and wisdom of men.  Are guys that incapable of speaking without a girl mirror who helps them talk?
Next up: A post (or two posts) on what the boys think about obeying parents and how girls should talk to boys.


  1. "A man (or woman) who can't handle constructive criticism no adult is."

    I suspect that the Christian Patriarchy subculture is brimming with men like that.

    1. I suspect you are right on that point. The main goal of women in CP seems to be to protect men from having any negative feelings ever. That's going to be very attractive to men who don't want to deal with the headaches of growing as part of a family.

  2. Like you say, these ladies might be naturally intelligent. It might also be that they are just average in intelligence, but their upbringing and sphere of interaction in life provides them so few opportunities to distinguish themselves, that they've grasped one acceptable way. Being well-read (at least well-read in the topics and books their parents say are acceptable) and speaking down to others seems to be the avenue they've chosen to set themselves apart.
    I do wonder if they were exposed to other acceptable spheres, what they would discover about themselves.
    Maybe they would be great gymnasts, or really good gamers, or enjoy wine-making, or tour-guides on grass-roots tours of 3rd world countries, or a host of other things they don't appear to be allowed to try.

  3. From reading your critiques of the Gothard materials, I am led to believe that the Botkins and other families in the CPM are uneducated, or undereducated. I mean they didn't get a real education. I've always suspected this, as you've seen in posts on NLQ. They seem to have a middle school education that they pass off as a Ph.D.

    The Botkin girls (they might be in their late 20s/early 30s, but they're still girls) trying to insist that they're intelligent makes me cringe, and the way they showcase their "intelligence" (remember the things they said that Cinderella should have talked about in the ballroom? that comes off as pompous) is really irritating.