Funny or Insulting, the Stephen Hawking interview

This week, perhaps the most brilliant mind of our time, Professor Stephen Hawking gave a short interview to New Scientist magazine. See the interview here  In it he talks about String Theory (or M Theory), the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), quantum gravity and his thoughts on black holes. The last question of the interview was “What do you think most about during the day?” Professor Hawking’s response was, “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

Every online news outlet picked up this story and gave it headlines like, Women are a mystery to British physicist Hawking and What mystifies Dr. Hawking? Women. Now I understand that news outlets have to create the most interesting headline in order to get the most jaded of us to read the story, so I really don’t blame them for taking the answer to that last question and turning it into a headline. That being said, his response reads to me as a cute, funny reply. Likely meant as a joke. Dare I say HOPEFULLY meant as a joke.

If it wasn’t a joke, the implication here is, the smartest of men is still stymied by women, so what hope does the rest of the male population have in figuring them out. Even if it was a joke, the same implication is there. Women are a mystery so impossible that no man will ever solve them… so why bother trying?

This implication is insulting because it diminishes women as a gender. It’s akin to saying, “Don’t worry your pretty little head”  or “Shhh, men are speaking.”

Let me give you a small bit of wisdom, men. I’d ask if you were listening, but we know that not listening is the problem. If you really want to figure out and solve women, all you have to do is LISTEN TO US. Let me go one further, listen and really HEAR what we are saying. I know that this seems like a lot of effort when you could just build cities, fast cars with cool technology, explore the earth, explore space and spend your time thinking up new and clever pick up lines to impress us. Women are always saying they want a man who is a good listener, yet all men hear when we speak is their own voice, saying ‘I hope she shuts up soon so I can get some food/sex/sleep’. How many fights do you have with your partner where she says, “YOU NEVER LISTEN”? You expect women to listen so closely to you that we can read your minds and cater to your every whim and you can’t afford us the same respect? Understanding that women are PEOPLE same as you, and not a Rubik’s cube to be solved will go a long way in achieving a peaceful end to the battle of the sexes.

So until men get the message, I guess women will remain the world’s most unsolvable puzzle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in the arrogance of men.

10 thoughts on “Funny or Insulting, the Stephen Hawking interview

  1. It do have a slight ring of unspoken additions, don’t it. “I don’t understand how to get what I want from them.” A resource with a mind of its own. Shocking!

    That said, I suppose the person we want to understand us most in the world is likely to be the one we’re most perplexed by when they don’t. And for the vast majority, that does mean someone of the opposite gender.

  2. Good point. But why not take the time to be understood or to understand, instead of just being perplexed or frustrated? It seems worth the effort to me to communicate. Isn’t that why we have language in the first place?

    1. Ah, but communication doesn’t always confer agreement…

      For the most part, I suspect it’s just a silly cliché, like man-flu or women being able to remember details of long-gone arguments better than men, etc. When it’s meant seriously, I stand by my first paragraph, previous comment.

      (Hmm, man-flu—just remembered a David Mitchell video that’d make an easy quick post. That’s twice that’s happened commenting here. I should pay you…)

  3. Glad I can be of some inspiration. I have never heard the term Man flu before. What is it supposed to mean?
    Understanding someone doesn’t mean you have to agree with them either.

    1. Man-flu is the cliché about men being big babies and turning any slight sniffle into ‘I’m dying!’ while women struggle on, erm… manfully :-\

      True, but sometimes the bridge of communication crashes into the estuary of misunderstanding, causing the victims to fall into the murky waters of escalated “you said…” “No I didn’t…” and all is lost; what follows is no longer communication (thankfully for me at the moment, as the metaphor was getting stretched waaaaay out of shape).

  4. Yes, but that is proving my point about giving in to frustration and quitting before you’re understood. I never got why people can’t explain themselves without getting ego all mixed up in the conversation… maybe that’s just me, I’m like Spock that way. Ego = Illogical (my nerd slip is showing)

    1. Ah, but look what happens when Spock loses it! (And what’s wrong with nerdiness? You’re talking to a SF reader; doesn’t get much more nerdy than that.)

      I don’t think it’s so much ego, when it’s between partners, as misunderstanding and emotional upset. We do seem to have strayed a tad from the topic though… 🙂

  5. I’m a guy and I have to admit, I really don’t understand women.

    That being said, I don’t understand men either…

    worst of all is kids… I REALLY don’t understand them… I mean, what language are they talking in? Ancient Phoenecian?

    don’t get me started on cats…

    but now my dog… him I understand. 😀

  6. Men aren’t the best at listening, but women often don’t say exactly what they mean either.

    I see it all the time. A woman says something to a man, and you know he’s taking what she said literally. But you know she means something else, and trouble is soon to follow.

    Talking isn’t enough, real communication needs to happen… and most men need it to hear things literally… and then they can decide to ignore them. ;~p

    You know, I have no trouble understanding my dogs either… Dogs are the best.


  7. Why are we so consumed with solving, in the first place? What would we get if we solved the other sex? Would that make us happy?

    When we’re ‘interested’ in someone, that’s when we’re attracted. There’s something that makes us want to know more. But as soon as we feel like we’ve, ‘figured it all out,’ that’s when we move one. We follow the allure elsewhere.

    The proudest moment academically comes when when we know the answer in class. Conversely, our ego is threatened when we don’t have an answer, because not having an answer makes us feel inadequate and stupid.

    Instead, Rodney Smith and Eckhart Tolle have asked us to, ‘[Become comfortable without an answer. Live the question.].’

    Relating to the opposite sex is not about solving a puzzle; it’s about enjoying the interaction with the puzzle itself.

    Sorry, WUMS…went on a rant there…been kinda amped after writing about how I actually respect Kim Kardashian

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