Over the past several weeks, I’ve found I can change the conversation at any social gathering by mentioning Louann Brizendine’s book, “The Female Brain.” Brizendine is a neuropsychiatrist and the founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic in San Francisco. She’s written a breezy — maybe too breezy — summary of hundreds of studies on the neurological differences between men and women
All human beings, she writes, start out with a brain that looks female. But around the eighth week in the womb, testosterone surges through male brains, killing cells in some regions (communications) and growing cells in others (sex and aggression).
During adolescence, the female brain is washed in estrogen. Female teenagers, in general, experience an intense desire for social connection, which releases near-orgasmic rushes of oxytocin in the brain. They are, on average, more sensitive to stress (by age 15, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression). The male brain, meanwhile, is producing 10 times more testosterone than the female brain, meaning the male sex drive is, on average, much greater.
The problem is that both the feminist movement Clinton rides and the civil rights rhetoric Obama uses were constructed at a time when the enemy was the reactionary white male establishment. Today, they are not facing the white male establishment. They are facing each other.
The interesting split is not between the feminist and civil rights Old Bulls, it’s between the establishments of both movements, who emphasize top-down change, and the younger dissenters, who don’t.