Men, women, Iraq, creationism and all that heavy stuff

by Bill McClellan

The following article by Bill McClellan appeared in the October 22, 2003 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It is reprinted here with the permission of Mr. McClellan and the Post-Dispatch.
Long ago, I recognized that women were smarter than men, and not just smarter, but superior. Still, there is one area in which men surpass women. We are more in touch with our past. I mean our distant past, our days in the caves. Have you ever noticed that most of the great paleoanthropologists are men?

I thought about this the other day when I saw an article in the new edition of Scientific American. We have now discovered hominid bones in the Republic of Georgia, and these bones are 1.7 million years old. This is stunning news. Prior to this discovery, most scientists figured that our ancestors did not leave the Mother Continent until about 1 million years ago. Incidentally, the Mother Continent is Africa. Yes, if we go back far enough, we are all Africans. Trent Lott is an African-American. This is heavy stuff, but if you believe in evolution - and I know that some folks don't - this is what you believe.

By the way, if you don't believe in evolution, you probably believe in creationism. Most Biblical scholars think the Garden of Eden was located in what is now Iraq. So if you believe in creationism, we are all Iraqis. This, too, is heavy stuff.

At any rate, the new discovery in the Republic of Georgia has restarted an old debate about the first bands of hominids to leave Africa. The debate boils down to this question: Why did they leave? This is the sort of question men love to argue about because there is no way of knowing the correct answer. Maybe those first bands were following herds of animals. Maybe they simply wanted to see what was beyond the next hill.

If women dominated the field of paleoanthropology, the operative theory about the African exodus would be: "The leader was lost and wouldn't ask for directions. Next thing you know, he's got his band in Asia."

I have already mentioned that men are more in touch with our hominid roots. You see this often in day-to-day living. My wife will notice a tiny spot of water in the corner of the basement. "The basement's leaking!" she'll scream. "That's OK, honey. The couch is still high and dry," I will say, at one with my ancestors, content to move my animal skins to a dry section of the cave.

As you can tell from my complexion, I am descended from hominids who eventually settled in Europe. It was cold in the winter. You couldn't do much gathering in the snow, and the hunting wasn't easy, either. That thought was in my mind when I read a very strange e-mail from Matt C.

Matt was unhappy with a column I wrote about Rush Limbaugh. He was hardly alone, but his note was unusual."Showing your true colors as always," he wrote. "I think you're probably just jealous that he's in rehab and you're not. You don't have the courage to get help for your cheeseburger addiction. Instead, you continue to bust at the seams. Enjoy your Krispy Kreme."

I don't know Matt, but perhaps he's seen me spouting off on television about this or that. And the television camera puts a few pounds on a person. But whether or not I'm busting at the seams is not the point. This was a very odd note to get from a man. Most of us understand that a little extra padding is a good thing to have as winter approaches, when the hunting and gathering becomes difficult. Women don't get this.

If you don't believe me, try this: Tell a guy, "Looks like you're putting on a little padding for the winter." He'll probably say something like, "Am I? I hadn't noticed." But if you say the same thing to a woman, you will create a hostile work environment.

So it was unsettling to read this note from Matt. It's enough to make me think we're losing our connection with the past, and that is what makes us men. And, of course, never admitting we're lost. At least, not until we get to the Republic of Georgia.

Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 22, 2003.

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