Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

London Mayor wades into #DistractinglySexy debate, saying women do cry more than men

rexfeatures_4457020a.jpg

London Mayor Boris Johnson has waded into the #DistractinglySexy debate, defending Professor Tim Hunt, who quit his job as honorary professor at University College London after his comments on female scientists sparked a national outcry.

Speaking at a conference in South Korea last week, self-confessed “chauvinist” Professor Hunt first thanked female journalists for “making lunch”, and then said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

The comments were met with anger online, sparking the #DistractinglySexy campaign, in which established female scientists posted photos of themselves at work, whether in the lab or at archaeological dig sites, with comments such as “I took a break from crying and falling in love with my male colleagues to get a few samples done.”

Meanwhile, Sir Tim Hunt has declared himself “finished”, saying his career was at an end and that he has been “hung out to dry”, while his wife Professor Mary Collins, herself a distinguished scientist, said that University College London has behaved in an “utterly unacceptable” way, and reiterated that she did not consider her husband to be sexist.

“He just says silly things now and again,” she pointed out. “I am a feminist, and I would not have put up with him if he were sexist.”

Tim Hunt

Sir Tim Hunt

Writing in the Telegraph today, Johnson defended Nobel prize-winner Professor Hunt, claiming he was merely “pointing out a natural phenomenon” and that his opinion was purely scientific.

Johnson wrote: “[Hunt’s] first two observations are surely uncontentious. Men fall in love with women, women fall in love with men. It’s been going on a long time, and thank goodness, because otherwise our species would die out. It is the third point – about crying – that has earned him the wrath of the Twittersphere, and the most venomous hatred.

“Is there any foundation to this casual assertion that women cry more readily than men?” he added. “Well, yes, there is.”

Going on to name and shame famous male criers, Johnson wrote: “Some men cry at the drop of a hat: Churchill was famously lacrimose. But the world’s leading expert on crying, Professor Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University, has shown that women on average cry 30-64 times a year, while men cry only between six and 17 times a year; and the Dutchman also claims that women cry for an average of six minutes, while men cry for only two to three minutes.”

Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson

“All sorts of biological explanations are offered,” he went on. “Men are said to have differently shaped tear ducts, for instance, and can therefore retain the tears for longer before they splash down the cheek. Women are said to have more prolactin, a hormone associated with weeping. I would have thought that all this stuff could be filed as the latest stunning discovery from the University of the Bleeding Obvious.

“Whether you say it is a function of biology or social expectation, it is a fact that – on the whole – men and women express emotion differently. There is, in other words, a gender difference, and it should not be an offence to say that,” Johnson added.

Lastly, Johnson appealed for the education system to recognise that males and females operate differently, and to cater appropriately to these differences.

“At the moment we are failing to unlock the talents of both sexes because we are failing to grasp that they are intellectually equal but in some ways emotionally different,” he wrote. “The first step is to recognise that these emotional differences do indeed exist, and to be honest about them. Sir Tim Hunt was doing what he has done all his life – pointing out a natural phenomenon he had observed. He did not deserve to be pilloried, and should be reinstated forthwith to his academic positions.”

See more #DistractinglySexy posts below...

Related

mad men.jpg

'I’m being discriminated against at work and my boss doesn’t care'

princess-in-pink.jpg

'My daughter wants to be a princess. What have I done wrong?'

bey.jpg

'Who has the right to talk about feminism?'

mean-girls-where-now.jpg

'Is it acceptable to bitch about other women?'

ross-poldark-aiden-turner-in-poldark.jpg

'Is it OK to objectify Poldark?'

nicola.jpg

'What makes a good or bad female role model?'

Comments

More

Helen Mirren on lacking confidence and self-esteem

“I thought I looked stupid when I smiled”

by Amy Swales
24 Feb 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Reese Witherspoon's Southern roots to Beyoncé's mother-daughter selfie

by Nicola Colyer
24 Feb 2017

Why Emma Thompson won’t do Love Actually 2 without Alan Rickman

“There isn’t much comic relief in the loss of our dear friend”

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Caitlyn Jenner calls out Trump for failing to protect trans rights

“This is a disaster. You can still fix it.”

by Moya Crockett
24 Feb 2017

Oprah Winfrey nails the problem with the term “childless woman”

Winfrey is no less a mother for not having given birth or changed nappies

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Feb 2017

Martine McCutcheon reveals what’s next for Natalie in Love Actually 2

So… are they still together in the sequel?

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

Louis Theroux targets Donald Trump in new documentary

Because he’s the hero we deserve

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

Katy Perry takes down Theresa May and Donald Trump at the Brits 2017

Her politically charged performance did not go unnoticed

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

“Access to civil partnership is a feminist issue”

Katie Russell explains why the institution of marriage does not serve women

by The Stylist web team
22 Feb 2017

Katy Perry’s “best friend” Sia helped her beat the Donald Trump blues

Hey, what are friends for?

by Moya Crockett
22 Feb 2017