Friday, 10 December 2010

Unfashionable to be Intelligent?

A news feature about a certain Gail Trimble, a student from the Corpus Christi College really left me flabbergasted. What was the reason? Simply because she displayed her cleverness by amassing an unusually large amount of points on the BBC Quiz Program, University Challenge. Here is the news story.

For those who can't be bothered to read the story, here is the summary:
A 26 year old girl called Gail Trimble participated in the University Challenge Quiz show as part of a team of 4. She dazzled the audience with her astoundingly large bank of general knowledge and thoroughly impressed the quizmaster, Jeremy Paxman. Don't take my word for it. Watch her mindblowing performance here:

Although she received a lot of praise, within a few days unbelievebly cruel comments were being circulated about her in social networking sites and all over the internet. I quote from the article:
However, despite Miss Trimble's success, many viewers have subjected her to vicious abuse. Some experts say this behaviour exposes the sinister hostility to brainpower in our dumbed-down, celebrity-obsessed age.
While some have praised the 26-year-old as 'very sexy with a gorgeous smile', others call her 'a hateful know-it-all' and an ' annoying bitch'.
They have taken particular exception to her saying 'Oh, well done', 'Of course' and 'Quite' to her teammates.
One said she was a 'horse-toothed snob' who 'ruins University Challenge every time she is on it with her "better than thou" attitude'.
Another said Miss Trimble was 'so brain-rupturingly irritating and smug' that they hoped science would come up with 'a screen that you can reach through and punch those inside'.
'She could easily win University Challenge on her own, but I get the feeling she may well celebrate alone as well.'

She is qite well educated. 
Miss Trimble achieved 11 GCSEs - including 10 A*s and one A at the fee-paying Lady Eleanor Holles school in Hampton, South-West London.(HA HA HA Kian Seng!!!)
She then took four grade As in Latin, Greek, English literature and maths at A level, followed by a first in Latin at Corpus Christi in 2004. She is now studying for a doctorate in Latin literature.

I bet I got you interested. I encourage you to read the article.

There are two things that this response shows about the world in general.

Firstly, the obvious discrimination against women. It seems that society still struggles with the concept of intelligent women. In fact the Youtube video I linked above discusses the issue. I completely agree that as a species that has reached such a level of technological development we should be moving towards a society where everybody has equal opportunities. We're in the 21st Century for God's Sake!! Gender discrimination is for the Dark Ages.

Secondly, the "uncool" nature of intelligence. In many places intelligence is being viewed with distaste. In fact there is an increasing amount of brilliant children being forced to "slow down" and disguise their intelligence for the sake of avoiding ridicule and teasing from peers. I can connect with this because I experienced this kind of ridicule when I moved to my new school in Year 9. To put it in the words of my self proclaimed "cool" classmates, Trying hard in school makes you "gay". Books are also "gay".Getting good grades makes you a nerd. Trying new things and cultures makes you a freak. New well-founded ideas are "radical" and "un-cool".

 Why are we moving towards a society where we celebrate intellectual mediocrity? Why is it wrong for a woman to be intelligent? Why is it unfashionable to be intelligent? 
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