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High-IQ schoolgirl gets to go to the ball. Great

2013 October 21
by Zoe Strimpel

There is much to irritate as well as to trouble about the story of Lauren Marbe, the A-level schoolgirl from Essex, who is apparently the cleverest girl ever and now gets to go to a ball in Paris. First, there is the assumption that “an IQ higher than Einstein” – put about by every outlet  reporting this story, including Au Feminin, The Daily Mail and the Telegraph – is a meaningful fact.

Lauren Marbe is cleverer than Einstein? Her innovation and promise in the field of quantum physics is greater? Or she’s better at identifying that, for instance, the statement that two ducks and two dogs have a total of fourteen legs is false? Then again, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) indicates a person’s mental abilities relative to others of approximately the same age – does this mean that Lauren Marbe is cleverer than Einstein at 16? Certainly, at 16, or just 17, Einstein had only entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to train as a teacher in mathematics and physics. But by his 20s, Einstein realised the inadequacies of Newtonian mechanics and attempted to reconcile these laws with the laws of the electromagnetic field; hello special theory of relativity. Or maybe it means that at his PEAK, if only “the test had been around when he was alive” (to quote the Telegraph), Marbe would have still outdone him – Einstein may have written Special Theory of Relativity (1905), General Theory of Relativity (1916),  Investigations on Theory of Brownian Movement (1926), and The Evolution of Physics (1938) as well as the non-scientific works, About Zionism (1930) and Why War? (1933) – but perhaps he’d have struggled with the number of slices to be got out of a pie cut four ways.

Clever girl = misogynistic fantasy. It wasn't hard to find this picture.

Clever girl = misogynistic fantasy. It wasn’t hard to find this picture.

So that’s one thing. An annoying example of press release meaninglessness brushed up and welded with seeming fact. I might have been guilty of such things in my day.

The main thing about this story that gets me, though, is what it says about women and smarts.

Lauren Marbe is brainy – no doubt. She did well in her GCSEs and does maths and physics A-levels (like Einstein would have, had it been around) and then there’s the “gruelling” IQ test she ass-kicked.

Does it then follow, and would it follow for a boy/man, to be invited to a DEBUTANTE BALL in Paris?

The ball is not at all like Davos, the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize ceremonies, nor the Booker, or Wolf Prize for physics. Its guests include the likes of the Ecclestone sisters (Bernie’s daughters; probably not Einstein material) and Bruce Willis’s daughter.

At the ball, young Marbe, whose father is a taxi driver, will also have the chance to feel upper class for the day: “she will be escorted by a dashing French “cavalier” (knight), and spend the evening surrounded by princesses and heiresses in the elegant ballroom of the Automobile Club on Place de la Concorde”.

On the surface, the process by which the organisers of Le Bal got from: “clever Essex girl” to “girl whose extraordinary talent for solving puzzles quickly deserves a brush with Tamara Ecclestone, a lingerie model and ex-wife of sex-tape extortionist, and Lady Amelia Windsor”, seems mysterious.

But on second thought, it’s not mysterious at all. It’s blindingly obvious that Marbe’s reward is to put on a fancy gown and be offered every girl’s dream – to be a princess for a night – rather than, say, an all-expenses paid visit to Davos or an Oval Office meeting, or an internship at Apple or Google or – as she wants to be a lawyer – at a top firm.

This is because raw brains in women – apparently considered scarce – are fetishised (likewise the seeming absence of brains, and indeed pretty much everything else associated with the sexual axis of submissiveness on one hand and domination on the other). That is, any irregularity in a woman’s  presentation, especially to do with power, intelligence, toughness and so on, quickly gets filed into the sex–>porn category. Lauren Marbe, a blonde working class schoolgirl with a big brain? Queue immediate images of the sexy spy chief, the dorky-sexy maths genius, the sexy-powerful policewoman; the naughty-sexy schoolgirl, an intelligent Britney Spears, a clever Cinderella….Or spiteful pictures that both sexualise and nastily reduce, make stupid, punish the girl/woman for not knowing her place, like the one pictured in this post.

For the less intelligent schoolgirl, there’s the under-age French maid, the corruptible innocent, and so on. In short, when it comes to females, so long as there’s a person there’s a fetish and a an open pathway for objectification. It’s worth noting that when the woman gets older and attains real power and no longer fits with the classic porn-lite avenues – there’s hate: Hilary, Angela, Margaret….

It is a shame that intelligence and ambition in girls – the precise group that needs the most cheering on in physics and maths – is immediately sexualised (for a similar example, see the Apprentice’s last winner, Leah Totton aka “Dr Totty”). Ok, Marbe isn’t starring in a porn film, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a sex tape or more likely, a lingerie ad emerged soon, featuring her with glasses, a calculator, pencil and a killer balcony bra.

Bras would shift, but would more girls pursue maths? I don’t think so. Plus, I think, ca change.

One Response leave one →
  1. October 21, 2013

    I hadn’t heard about this girl but I have heard of this ball, which sounds very bizarre. I understand why French society would have this type of ball, but the inclusion of Bruce Willis’s daughter leaves me scratching my head (although I have to lift up my tiara to do so).

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