Wednesday, 1 February 2012

This Colourful Battle of the Sexes

[Statutory warning: This blog entry contains HUMOUR. No responsibility is taken for any inadvertent offence caused.]

I recently came across this illustration that was, I believe, ironically intended to demonstrate the superiority of females when it comes to dealing with colours.

The irony that was lost on the woman (of course it was a woman!) posting it is that this serves to demonstrate exactly the opposite! An initial cursory glance may appear to prove that women have a more sophisticated and discriminating vocabulary when it comes to describing colour. But here's why I think the issue of colour perception isn't as, er, black-and-white as it may seem.

In fact, my advice to others of my sex would be that instead of seeing red (or indeed any other colour) at the attempted disparagement, they show sympathy and understanding. It is well known that women lack the capacity for abstract thinking that characterises men, and the ease with which we can conceptually separate concrete objects from their abstract attributes should not cause us to take this ability for granted.

[Not portrayed in this simplistic illustration is our equally enviable ability to refine our descriptions of colours using subcategories like "light" and "dark", and transitional categories such as "greenish-blue", still without requiring recourse to concrete objects that happen to have those properties!]

For example, when we are shown the colour pink, we have no problem in identifying it as the abstract colour pink with no recourse to any physical, concrete object. However, a woman will have trouble doing so, and will tend to blurt out the name of an object she is familiar with, which has that attribute, e.g., "Strawberry!"

In fact, there is a definite and discernible pattern in the substitution of "lime" for green, "eggplant" for purple and "banana" for yellow. Women's historical background in the kitchen, coupled with their incapacity for abstract thinking, leads to their understandable confusion of colours with the fruits and vegetables that happen to display those chromatic characteristics.

Imagine men calling yellow "sulphur" or black "grease", based on our own traditional backgrounds in engineering and industry. That's what this unfortunate condition is like for women.

So once again, I would appeal to my fellow males to show sympathy and refrain from flaunting our intellectual superiority.

And let's be grateful that women have chosen to dip into their background of cooking rather than cleaning to identify colours, otherwise we may have had to suffer descriptions like "dishcloth", "soiled nappy" and "bathroom tile".
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