Where Are the Female Shakespeares, Rembrandts, and Einsteins? (The Answer Is “Nowhere”)

There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper. —Camille Paglia

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen (the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice)

     Way back in ancient times, in 2003, a really excellent book written by Charles Murray was published, entitled Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950. The book was based on a multivariate statistical analysis of a huge mass of data, which Dr. Murray extracted from encyclopedias, encyclopedic histories, and other reference works published all over the world. He was endeavoring to show which people have made the most important contributions to world culture, especially within the realm of the arts and sciences, and he based his decisions on whom to include and how to rank them by basing his criteria on the amount and length of mentions in those various reference works. (He stopped his analysis at 1950 because he figured at least fifty years is required to distance us from some famous person so that we can view and judge them dispassionately—for example, some artists make a very big impact on a culture, and are the subject of masses of contemporary criticism and commentary, but fade into obscurity after the fashion trend they initiated has run its course.) Dr. Murray’s analysis, based on Asian reference works as well as western ones, determined that most of the most important or otherwise noteworthy contributions to the arts and sciences were made by European males.

     The predominance of Europe over the rest of the world with regard to lasting cultural contributions and works of genius is something I have no desire to wade into at present. Here I mainly intend to focus on why women have scored so poorly, amounting to only 88 of them, or 2.2% of Murray’s list of the most noteworthy geniuses in human history. They fared best in Japanese literature, in which they amounted to 8.2% of the people who made it on the list for that category. On the other hand, women are not represented at all in the lists of the most important contributors to the fields of Japanese visual arts, earth sciences, technology, and all categories of philosophy—western, Chinese, and Indian. Also there has been only one acknowledged great female musical composer. In the words of the author,

The earliest woman to appear in the inventories is the Greek poet, Sappho of Lesbos, in -6C [that is, the sixth century BCE]. A thousand years later comes the next woman, the natural philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, who lived from about 370 to 415. Another 13 women appear between Hypatia and 1600, but all of them are confined to just one domain, literature. The first woman to qualify as a significant figure in the visual arts is Wen Shu (1595-1634) of Ming China. The first woman to qualify in any of the scientific inventories after Hypatia is astronomer Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), sister and colleague of William Herschel. The first and only woman in the music inventory is French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983). No woman qualified as a significant figure in any of the philosophy inventories.

     Now OF COURSE feminists nowadays blame all of this on white patriarchal oppression. Women have been oppressed and marginalized by evil men, otherwise they might be even more heavily represented on the roster of Übergeniuses than men are. In fact it has become an axiom not to be questioned on the new left that any inequality of outcome between demographic or identity groups must be the result of systemic oppression, mainly through the brutal machinations of evil Whitey, because everyone is necessarily, inherently the same. This is largely if not totally irrational bullshit, but I’ll get back to the irrationality issue later. What I hope to do here is to explain, following Dr. Murray’s conclusions, why so few women have made really great contributions to the arts and sciences anywhere in world culture.

     We may as well start with sexist discrimination, which is clearly a factor. Obviously, for thousands of years women have been discouraged, to say the least, from attending institutions of higher education and from obtaining employment in scientific and technical fields especially. This has been largely rectified only in recent decades, mainly after 1950, which is where Dr. Murray ended his data collection for the study. This would help to explain why the field with the highest female representation with regard to contributions to world culture is literature, where women can simply stay at home and write after learning a literary language at a girls’ school or somewhere else appropriate for young women at the time. By the same token, though, this same principle should have allowed similar proportions of female artists and philosophers to enjoy some route to undying fame, but it didn’t. There is much more to women’s substandard results than systemic societal prejudice.

     Charles Murray ended his statistical survey at 1950, around the time women were starting to get themselves liberated and were participating more and more in the arts and especially the sciences; but in the chapter in which he tries to explain the predominance of European men he also mentions, for purposes of contrast, another group that was repressed up until around the same time; and that group is the Jews. Jews also were prevented from attending secular universities and gaining employment in certain technical fields throughout most of the western world up until fairly recently, say around the second half of the twentieth century. Yet when their repression ceased they skyrocketed into prominence. The following tables demonstrate this with regard to Nobel Prizes in science and literature. During the second half of “20C” the number of Nobel Prizes awarded to women actually decreased, whereas the number awarded to Jews more than doubled. Also, as of the year 2000, Jews, constituting much less than 1% of the earth’s population, had won 39% of the Nobel Prizes in Economics, whereas women (constituting some 51%) had won zero. The only “hard” science in which Jewish scientists have not outperformed Gentiles, going with Murray’s categories, is astronomy.

Considering all this, there are evidently other factors contributing to women’s relative scarcity among the ranks of cultural giants in the arts and sciences, if not quite so much in other fields like performance arts or religion.

     One should bear in mind that with regard to the greatest geniuses to contribute to world culture, we’re talking about a minuscule fraction of the top 1% of the human race—people who are not only excellent at what they do, but are phenomenally, abnormally excellent. This isn’t a simple matter of men doing some things somewhat better than women do them on average, but rather a matter of most of the outrageous extremes being represented by men. To be a towering master of some art or science like music composition or astronomical research requires not only great talent and presumably intellectual brilliance, but also relentless drive and unflinching, obsessive determination to achieve perfection, or as close to perfection as is humanly possible. Consequently there are multiple factors which favor men, because, unlike what indoctrinated leftists might tell you, men and women are not only physically different, but psychologically different as well.

     Women, for example, are naturally less inclined to obsess on a career, or an ideal, or any other abstraction, at the expense of all else. This contributes not only to fewer phenomenally successful towering masters among the female sex, but also contributes to the quasi-mythical wage gap. Women are more inclined to take time off for other things, like interpersonal interactions or just relaxation and some semblance of comfort. They have less aggressiveness and “drive,” less competitiveness, a weaker sense of determination, less inclination towards austerity, and a greater desire for and preoccupation with children. I remember hearing Charles Murray giving an example of this last point in an interview he did with Stefan Molyneux some years ago: He said that his wife told him one time that if one of their children had a cold, nothing dangerous but still somewhat of an illness, Charles himself could still go to work and get his job done without much difficulty; but his wife, the mother, couldn’t do that. She’d be ruminating and worrying over the sick child all day, even though she knew the kid wasn’t in any real danger. Women are more like this than men are. For some reason I am reminded of a story involving Charles Darwin (easily the highest-ranking biologist in the world on Murray’s scale), who would poke his small children with his finger until they started to cry and would then carefully observe and record the facial muscles that contracted, in the proper sequence, as the child began howling. He would also have them look towards the sun, and then record the facial muscles they contracted while squinting. Whether feminists like it or not, or accept it or not, women are naturally more subjective and people-oriented, while men are more objective and task-oriented. And even if the differences are very small on average, when it comes to the phenomenal extremes (like Mozart, say, or Isaac Newton) they are much more likely to be a significant factor.

     One key consideration involves statistics and the notorious bell-shaped curve. Although men and women have pretty much the exact same average IQ, the bell-shaped curves for each group are different: men’s curve is broader. It’s like this not only with regard to general cognitive skills but also with regard to lots of other qualities, like musical talent. Consequently the greatest geniuses and also the greatest misfits and imbeciles are most likely to be male. (Some feminists may accept the greater extension of the lower end in males with some complacent smugness, but flare up with indignation at the other end of the same curve, but this simply indicates the irrationality of some feminists.) This broader statistical range for males is common to species of animal in which males compete for females in such a way that, sometimes at least, some males wind up with several mates while others get none. This does make evolutionary sense, since there will be more outstandingly excellent or “gifted” children born, whereas in a species like ours in which almost all females can find a mate, the broader range for them also would not provide the same benefits. So, evolutionarily, radical extremism has been favored more in males than in females, along with a bit of polygamy—which also helps to explain why the extreme geniuses, and the most talented creators and leaders, tend to be male in our species. It may sound horrible to egalitarians, and it might be nice if it weren’t true, but the evidence does indicate that it doesn’t care how horrible it sounds and is true regardless of all the feelings in the world.

     There used to be a family symbiosis, in the west as elsewhere, in which the nuclear or extended family was the basic social unit, and not the alienated individual. Women were not so much repressed as assimilated into a family unit, in which they traditionally and naturally functioned as the mother figure and the emotional center of the home. The men, it is true, called most of the shots, especially outside the house, and they occasionally fought and died for the sake of the safety of the women and children. Now alienated and bitter feminists demand an equality they can’t have, and never will have, barring genetic engineering, because equality of outcome is simply not compatible with reality. Only an authoritarian state with armed thought police could enforce such an artificial false equality, hence some of the trends in leftist politics in general.

     Rather than accept empirical reality or objective fact, idealist “progressives” try to weaken men so women can compete with them in traditionally male pursuits more effectively, and thereby drag civilization into a ditch, with its strongest members socially castrated, and weaker members thrust into positions for which they are not the best qualified—and all for the sake of diversity and idealistic feelings. But enough bashing of third wave feminism for today, or at least for now.

     Getting back to Charles Murray, can you guess who is the most culturally important and significant woman in the world in the realm of the arts and sciences? Guess. No c’mon, guess. Unless you are Japanese, or have read Murray’s book, you probably wouldn’t know that the highest ranking female on the lists by far is Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote a novel called The Tale of Genji in the early 11th century. A distant second was the chemist and physicist Marie Curie, who nevertheless scored lower on the lists than did her husband Pierre.

     All of this is not implying that there are no great female geniuses in human history. I am sure that Lady Murasaki and Madame Curie were both outstandingly talented and brilliant. Also, the only novel I have read by Jane Austen (also on Murray’s lists of significant figures), Pride and Prejudice, was clearly a work of literary genius, even though I tend not to have much interest in romance novels. But still she was nowhere near to being the most important and commented-upon novelist in the English language, which honor goes to Sir Walter Scott. (As a parenthetical aside I will observe, as I’ve observed before, that there appear to be two main themes on which female authors of fiction write: interpersonal relationships between ordinary people living ordinary lives in an ordinary environment, and interpersonal relationships between glamorous people living glamorous lives in a glamorous environment. Again, women tend to be people-oriented, and less preoccupied with abstract ideas, including great ones.)

     Therefore, ergo, the most towering geniuses of world culture are always or almost always male, and it will always be this way, again barring some kind of politically correct genetic engineering, no matter how loudly hysterical feminists howl against it, or how vehemently and shrilly they deny it, accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being sexist. Their own irrational ideology is just further evidence that they’re not in the same league with objective empiricists, except with regard to what women have evolved to specialize in since the Stone Age.

     What women have evolved for since prehistoric times is what they are naturally best at doing, such as: creating new people (which of course is rejected by idiot feminists as demeaning); caring for the young, the very old, and the sick; compassion in general; and also, women are generally better than men at language skills, which helps to explain why literature is one of the arts in which women have performed the best. (Some time ago I published a theory which could account for why women are somewhat more skillful at learning languages than men, which can be found here.)

     All of this really shouldn’t be a problem, or viewed as a problem. It’s nature, completely natural for our species, just the way we humans are designed—by evolution, karma, or God, take your pick. Even so, lack of perfect equality of outcome between men and women is perceived as a serious problem (and falsely blamed on patriarchal Whitey) because the new left, in its feminine emotionality, are too simple-minded to grasp the idea that equality as humans does not require UNIFORMITY.

     Vive la différence.

Jane Austen


  1. Respected and much beloved Pannobhaso Bhikkhu,

    what would be your final (nuanced) take on the Iddhi Suttas (supernatural powers) of the Pali Canon? and hand on heart, which are the specific tracts of the Pali Canon you can vouch as authentic (or as authentic as it can get) and are ready to die by your claims?

    Which religious texts do you feel racially closest to?

    The Rig Veda
    The Avesta
    Other 3 Vedas
    The Principle 12 Upanishads
    The first two Upanishads (Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka)
    The Eddas
    Holy Quran

    anything else

    I left out many Greek and Roman and Egyptian texts like Book of the Dead

    1. First off, comments sections are not the place for nuanced takes. Reality doesn't work that way.

      With regard to supernatural powers, I consider just about anything that can be imagined to be possible. Although I'm very skeptical of the presumed power of reaching out and stroking with one's hand the sun and moon.

      As for the Pali texts most likely to be authentic, or at least the oldest ones, I'd say: Atthakavagga of the Sutta Nipāta, some of the other suttas of the same book, the Dighanakha Sutta of the MN, the central portion of the Sakka-pañha Sutta, some scattered suttas in the SN, including the very first sutta, some suttas in the Udāna including the Bāhiya Sutta, etc.

      I can't say that I feel "racially" close to any scripture, although I do feel an affinity with the ascetic and even martial spirit of, say, the Sutta Nipāta and also the Mahabharata. I am drawn to texts like the Upanishads, although I don't see it as a matter of race.


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