Gender differences

The following are bits of writing from many sources such as personal correspondence, posts to on-line discussion groups, notes, and occasionally even some journaling. All of this is informal in nature, but contains some interesting and/or useful information.

Why Men Don't Iron
There was a great documentary series produced by the BBC called "Why Men Don't Iron" that looked at gender differences and examined why guys have trouble with multi-tasking and language-oriented things. It was pretty interesting. I guess the look at where women lack the reverse skills would be a bit unpopular, but ought to be produced as well at some point. In any case, a lot of the problems guys have was attributed to the fact that they have a smaller corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the two halves. That seems to get women using everything together so that they can keep up with more things all at once as well as integrating language function. They didn't do a good job of convincing me that this was the only reason for these differences, but there were a lot of well-done demonstrations of problem areas for guys vs. girls.

A perspective on sex
This is my analogy, but I don't know why no one else has ever advanced this perspective when it's so obvious. To women, sex is enjoyable, but they can generally do without it. Males certainly enjoy sex, but they also have a drive that makes them feel they *have* to do it. This is like eating: You may enjoy eating, but you don't do it because it's a hobby... you will experience a hunger if you do not eat. Women generally fail to understand why men can't just accept a simple "no." Such as drive is the case with me in a lot of situations. Most people do things because they want to; I have to do things because I don't want the feeling of not having done them.

Gender and chromosomes
Consider this: Humans and chimps share about 99% of their DNA. Human males and human females have only 97% of their DNA in common. Explains a lot.

For the record, I've got this weird dichotomy going on. I will likely never ask you about any of your problems that I don't think I can help you with. It isn't that I don't care; it's just that they're your problems, and I assume by default that they are none of my business until you bring them up. This applied in every instance. It doesn't matter if we discussed something previously; I'm just not going to pry unless I have a possible solution.
Yes, I know empathy should factor in, but I'm totally a guy on this one. I may have some empathy, but I'm not so good at applying it constructively. Sorry.

Gender and language
>The lady behind the counter having to tell me to go to the other side several times before I can figure out what she's saying to me
You sound like me. Or any guy, for that matter. I'm really bad about not being able to make out what's going on. One gender-wide reason is a two-fold problem. Guys already have difficulties in processing language. The reason is that the corpus callosum (the region that transmits information between the hemispheres) is significantly smaller in men than in women. It is thought that men can't integrate the components of language from the two sides of the brain, so they're only getting pieces of the message. A second factor is that men lose their high-end hearing more rapidly than women do as they grow older. This just happens to be the range where women are speaking, so this compounds matters of inter-spousal communication. Odds are it isn't that he's ignoring you; he just didn't hear you to begin with.

Teenage girls
Teenage girls are the creepiest things on earth because you have absolutely no idea who you're dealing with from one moment to the next. People have given personality inventories to teenagers just a couple hours apart, and while the boys are fairly consistent, the girls report as though they are completely different people across the course of the day. Whatever innate attraction I had to the Lolita image was killed by being around teenagers as an adult.

Chocolate is better than sex... for some of us
In a recent fMRI study, one incidental finding was that the women had no "saturation point" with chocolate. They would continue eating it as long as it was offered, whereas the male participants eventually asked the researchers to give it a rest.

Boys and Girls
I can't assess the veracity of these generalizations, but this was something interesting to pass through my inbox. I wonder what explanations for these developmental biology and neuroscience could offer:
"Equal" is not always synonymous with "the same." Men and women are created equal, but boys and girls are not born the same.
You throw a little girl a ball, and it will hit her in the nose. You throw a little boy a ball, and he will try to catch it. Then it will hit him in the nose.
You dress your little girl in her Easter Sunday best, and she'll look just as pretty when you finally make it to church an hour later.
You dress a boy in his Easter Sunday best, and he'll somehow find every mud puddle from your home to the church, even if you're driving there.
Boys' rooms are usually messy. Girls' rooms are usually messy, except it's a good smelling mess.
A baby girl will pick up a stick and look in wonderment at what nature has made. A baby boy will pick up a stick and turn it into a gun.
When girls play with Barbie and Ken dolls, they like to dress them up and play house with them. When boys play with Barbie and Ken dolls, they like to tear off their appendages.
Boys couldn't care less if their hair is unruly. If their bangs got cut a quarter-inch too short, girls would rather lock themselves in their room for two weeks than be seen in public.
Baby girls find mommy's makeup and almost instinctively start painting their face. Baby boys find mommy's makeup and almost instinctively start painting the walls.
If a girl accidentally burps, she will be embarrassed. If a boy accidentally burps, he will follow it with a dozen fake belches.
Boys grow their fingernails long because they're too lazy to cut them. Girls grow their fingernails long - not because they look nice - but because they can dig them into a boy's arm.
Girls are attracted to boys, even at an early age. At an early age, boys are attracted to dirt.
By the age of 6, boys will stop giving their dad kisses. By the age of 6, girls will stop giving their dad kisses unless he bribes them with candy.
Most baby girls talk before boys do. Before boys talk, they learn how to make machine-gun noises.
Girls will cry if someone dies in a movie. Boys will cry if you turn off the VCR after they've watched "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie three times in a row.
Girls turn into women. Boys turn into bigger boys

Sex differences
There's a great series on psychology, neuroscience, and sex differences that the BBC did, and they compared difference in brain architecture to the behaviors exhibited by those regions, then examined what behaviors those regions convey. Men were not very good at multi-tasking in the ways that motherhood requires (i.e., motherhood means *always* tending to one more more youngsters while trying to keep up with everything else in life). Aggression and lack of attention to detail also made males a poor fit for tending delicate, attention-demanding organisms. There were other things they pointed out, and they did a great job with demonstrating these things with large groups.

Men are from Mars...
You're going to think I'm kidding, but you ought to read that "Men are from Mars..." book. I didn't think it would have anything intelligent to say, but it puts a lot of common sense things in a concise little analogy. See, when women express their problems, guys think they're asking for help... so they give advice, not sympathy. When guys have problems, you're not going to hear about them until *after* he has figured them out for himself. When a guy has a problem, he wants to handle it himself. If you offer to help him, you make him feel inferior, that he can't solve his own problems. No, you're exactly right, that *is* completely irrational and counter-productive... just like neglecting our rational, level-headed advice for emotional coddling that doesn't give you a plan of attack!

Gender and academia
>And then, of course, there are all the same reasons that girls don't go into other math and science field. They're just not good at it.
I'm not entirely convinced on this point. There is a lot of research from separate-sex math/science classes that 1) girls learn differently and 2) girls excel when male classmates are removed from the picture. Explanations are constantly postulated for the latter, but the more important point is that the phenomenon is real (i.e., it has been demonstrated on multiple occasions and in different contexts).
Admittedly, there are some dramatic differences in gender-specific cognitive ability that have been linked to neuroanatomy (e.g., women are better at multi-tasking and processing language due, in part, to a larger, better-developed corpus callosum). But the brain is pretty malleable, so I'm not going to be convinced of female inferiority in this department until there is a physical basis for that conclusion... and maybe not even then.
The single best thing I ever saw on the subject was a series of BBC videos called "Why Men Don't Iron." It was thorough, comprehensive, and entertaining. I got a lot out of it.
>So do I have a man-like brain? Or what?
It's hard to say. See, the thing is that there's a lot going on in any particular ability. You're rarely talking about any singular process at work. Further, there's such a high variance on any measure of ability that you can only speak in terms of population averages. It isn't like the average is really representative of any one individual though.
I can't remember if I sent you a link to this Gladwell article or not, but it addresses some of these issues:
>Have they done any studies that compare the neurological characteristics of both men and women in the same scientific/math-related occupations?
Not that I'm aware of, but I would think that this is still a bit ambitious from where we are right now. The emphasis seems to be on using fMRI to figure out which parts of the brain are active in which processes. Sometimes they find gender differences and/or differential responses for things like occupation or other factors, but that's usually an incidental finding that they follow up on. For example, it was found there there were specific regions that responded specifically and consistently to images of faces and places... but nothing else. However, when presented with other classes of images (e.g., tools, foods, cars, bugs/snakes, etc.), there tended not to be a dramatic or specific response. But then they started thinking, hey, what if we got some mechanics and showed them cars? It turned out that the mechanics *did* respond more strongly to cars than the rest of the population once you partitioned them into a group. Still, the response was only 20% of that of the response to faces and places (yes, everyone though the"places" response was weird as well). Apparently we're wired up to work with data about faces and places.
The funny thing was that I was thinking as they were presenting the findings (this was a lecture at the SFN conference a couple years ago) that I know my brain would probably respond *very* strongly to images of guitars. Just after that they did the subpopulation of mechanics.

Gender and ideologies
Unfortunately, gender is a hot topic for people who aren't qualified to be talking about it. For example, the extreme leftist groups are formulating all these theories about the basis of gender and what it all means... and never consult any actual biology to see if there is any validity to their ideas. Very often they're just making it up and trying to convince themselves as much as everyone else. I actually dealt with some of these types when I was in my M.Ed. program. They're pretty far out there and dogmatic on top of it.
>Do you think there is an evolutionary reason why less variance in women would be a good thing?
I hadn't until you asked, but, yes. Women carry the reproductive burden. Guys are just seed dispensers. A lot can be wrong with a guy and he can still produce offspring. For example, look at Stephen Hawking. And I'm just talking about the physical side of things where guys are concerned. Women have to raise their young, so they have to be mentally attuned to the signals a child is giving off about his/her needs. Women who "aren't right in the head" don't get to keep their kids. They usually end up drowning them in a bathtub (as has been the case with probably far more mothers with post partum depression than are ever reported). Guys who are like that just disappear to California. Unfortunately, they passed on their genes before they split town on their motorcycle.

I think there's a parallel here with depression. The way it manifests with women fits the classic definition: lethargy, apathy, etc. Women typically seem out of character. By contrast, male depression is characterized by irritability and flying into rages... exactly the traits that epitomize maleness. With self esteem, males often will work counter to what they're feeling. For example, when do women buy a big car to compensate for anything? You aren't seeing it, but males have a lot of self-esteem issues.
There is a lot of research that indicate (no surprise here!) that men will make an effort even if they don't know the answer. In fact, this was confirmed (again) in an interesting study: “I'll Take Gender Differences for $1000!” Domain-Specific Intellectual Success on “Jeopardy” in the journal "Sex Roles." It's a good article. Believe it or not, I wanted to write a version of this study, but the author did a much better job than I could have.

Men and Women
[From a questionnaire Dani and I exchanged by email]
>What do you think is the biggest mistake that men tend to make in relationships? How about women?
Probably the root of both of these is the failure to understand and acknowledge gender, both of self and partner. Many of the behaviors that are contentious in a relationship (e.g., he checks out other girls, she gets emotional, etc.) have less to do with individual character than with hardwiring. Since we are wired up differently, we're going to lack empathy if we just think in terms of, "why do you have to do that? I wouldn't do that!" Well, of course you wouldn't... you aren't a (wo)man!
>Do you think that men tend to be too macho or too sensitive?
To take them separately, rather than too "macho," the problem is more one of dishonesty to one's "self." If a guy really is macho, then if he can be himself that way, there probably won't be any problem. However, if it's a lot of bravado, things are sure to crumble. One problem is that the male agenda is more seriously conflicted than that of the female version. Guys have to look for a lifetime partner while trying to have sex with as many women as possible. Those things are at odds, so eventually a conflict will arise.

Intergender communication
There is a lot of research on intergender communication. If isn't just that you need to be "assertive." You have to actively talk and project yourself like a man, cut people off mid-sentence, don't allow yourself to be cut off, and give the impression that you will physically harm someone who does *anything* to you that you find the least bit irritating. For a start, read "Men are from Mars..." It doesn't address this adequately, but it's about how men and women interact in romantic relationships (there's a version for the bedroom too, but that's almost too weird... I've read it too). However, it's an easy delineator or behavior you always took for granted without a theoretical framework. Granted, the framework supplied is a little too general and sparse on supporting research, but it is easy to acquire (as is the book).

More about communication
I just watched a psychology video about inter-gender communication, the areas where males and females miss cues and/or operate from different paradigms. One staged conversation used to illustrate some of the points covered was between a guy and girl where she had returned from a job interview that she felt she did poorly on and was expressing exasperation at her entire job search. The guy offered advice throughout the exchange, but it was clear that the girl was looking for emotional reassurance and empathy.
In the reverse situation, where I am the one with the problems, the stereotyped paradigm still applies; Advice might be helpful, I don't want emotional reassurance. I usually know what needs to be done and there isn't much you could help with intellectually because you don't know enough about the situation. You see the reverse (the parallel of the staged conversation) when someone else has the problem. I try to offer general advise and don't spend a lot of time empathizing.

I remember reading some article in a women's magazine (I must have been at the dentist) that talked about how women are too open about their lives, such as telling everyone whether they've had a hysterectomy, etc. Who's business is that? While a certain degree of openness is good to allow conversation (e.g., as with the topic of STD as we mentioned last time), there ought to be parameters.
For example, one of the main issues why my ex and I split up was that I really didn't want kids at the time, whereas that was her primary focus in life. We didn't make this point of contention open to anyone outside of our relationship, but people felt it was perfectly all right to ask about what I thought was obviously a very personal matter. "So when are you two having kids?" Think about what all is involved in that question: sexual/medical/biological issues (e.g., impotence, inter-sexed/infertile individuals, etc.) as well as personal finances. Maybe we have money problems? How is this any of *your* business?! They didn't have a clue.
I don't think I would have been terribly nosey in this area before, but I'm ultra-conscientious about it now. Dani's friend had IVF with her first kid and again for the one she's carrying now. I'm curious how she's doing, but I am really careful about what I ask, and I try to offer only the most general information so that I'm not asking about something especially personal.
On a related front, I'm all for avoiding repressive "morality" in conversation about what goes on in people's bedrooms, but so far I haven't figured out where's a good line. Can you talk about things you do? What about things you like if it's something you don't do? Can you talk about things you did with your exes? Almost anything you say about your history means you're talking about someone else's history as well. Where's the line?
One policy I came up with is to never answer any questions with numbers. Those always lead to comparisons and competition. How many [inches, orgasms, partners, threesomes, etc.]? Even when the answer might be flattering, it depends on who your audience is, and word is going to get around to people who will then view you negatively.
And there's the whole mental health stigma thing with talking about anything that deviates from normal. I guess the really good thing to come out of the "Prozac nation" is a mini-paradigm shift in which people can say, "You need help... and let me tell you how *I* got it for myself." A lot of minor things are being addressed, which ultimately changes the landscape from "crazy" vs. "normal" to more of a spectrum. There's no more "us" and "them." And that's a very good thing.

I'm not phobic, but one thing I am kind of bad at is showing physical signs of affection to people I'm not close to, and this includes other people's kids. I just talk to them, but I'm not very touchy-feely. I should point out that I'm completely the opposite with Dani, but with strangers or even most of my friends, I'm not too physical.
People (well, women mostly) sort of expect a hug of something, but I'm usually just there with a wave or a nod. I guess I look like Rain Man to them or something, but I usually won't initiate something unless I really feel like approaching them like that. I know I confused a friend a couple weeks ago because I was leaving her place and just kind of walked out. I was more physical with her dogs than I was with her, and she was like, "huh?" Of course, it's doubly awkward to back up and try to make up for a missed cue. Now I've got her wondering what she did wrong, when I'm the idiot.
In fact, I did it just this afternoon with this same friend. I hugged her when I saw her last week, but then I didn't this time when I was leaving. I realized too late that she was sort of moving in for one, but it didn't dawn on me until after I had started to move away. I was heading for the door and I just thought she was following me. Maybe I really am Rain Man.

The one criticism I have of women is that they don't take the initiative. Guys will try things that might look insane or stupid or should have no conceivable payoff... but sometimes these things actually turn out to be something worthwhile. That's *very* important in advancing the culture. Women do the practical thing. They don't end up making shows like "Jackass," but they don't end up with Nobel-worthy research or winning business strategies as often either. That's a very sexist statement, I know, and I would agree that not only is it an over-generalization, but that you could implicate culture in the equation as well. However, I think genetics is a big part of it.
You may have read recently about the president of Harvard getting in trouble for saying something to this effect. The irony isn't lost that this is one of the most liberal institutions in American (okay, so it isn't Berkeley), but the media had to acknowledge that his position (and mine, I guess; although I don't know specifically how similar the two are) happens to be backed up by a lot of research. I follow a lot of that type of research, as does a female professor at UNT that I feel pretty close to (i.e., I forward her a lot of interesting bits of research I find that she might be interested in). In her undergrad neuroscience class she starts one of the lectures on development by asking the students if they agree with a statement to the effect of "males and females are essentially the same at birth and only differ through the influence of culture." Naturally, most raise their hands. She then says, "Let me see if I can convince you otherwise." This actually runs counter to her politics (and mine), but she's there to present science.

Biology neglected
The biology issue I was thinking of last time (though it wasn't clear from the context) was with ultra-feminists (just to pick one group of radicals; there are plenty more on the right). In their case, let me begin by saying that I believe 100% in equal *rights,* but not everyone is equal in terms of their biology. This goes for everything from upper body strength to aggression to the ability to multi-task and so on. The issue I have is when feminists try to, for example, lower the requirements to be a fire fighter simply to allow women on the force. Said requirements include things like being able to carry an unconscious 200 lb. individual out of a burning building. That requirement is there for a reason and it has nothing to do with getting anyone under their thumb. What to get rid of that rule? Guess what? That's stupid.

[Posted to the Robert Anton Wilson group on]
RAW himself admits he has all but given up on the semantics component of the quest for non-Aristotelian (read: binary) logic given how cumbersome it would be to supplant "is" with "seems to me like..." or "may possibly represent..." and so on. The English language seems almost streamlined for this prejudice.
On a related note, various philosophers have said in a number of ways that there's no such thing as a complete answer. I sometimes try to overcompensate by including in my communications (whether written or spoken) parenthetical asides that serve as qualifiers and/or numerous examples in order to constrain meaning.
Academic writings (I'm in science research) are full of this "squirmy" language. My statistics professor used to call them "weasel words," not because you don't want to commit to an "is" but more out of an acknowledgment that there really "is" (oops!) no such thing as an absolute. For example, here's the closing paragraph of the M.S. thesis of a labmate of mine on the effects of alcohol on the spontaneous electrical activity of cultured neuronal networks:
"The [cell] cultures used in this research had different ages, seeding dates, cell densities, percentage of active channels and signal-to-noise ratios. The control of experimental environment, such as pH, osmolarity and temperature, is critical to reduce the intracultural and intercultural variability. However, small fluctuations are unavoidable and contribute to the variability of network responses. Errors resulting from drug mixing and concentration calculation also added to experimental variability. A higher stability of neuronal network could have been achieved if the experimental variables that may affect neuronal responses could be limited. Before improvement can be made, numerous studies have to be conducted to demonstrate that networks in culture are pharmacologically histiotypic. This research has contributed to this important effort."
To paraphrase what the cast of Star Wars used to say about George Lucas' early attempts at dialog, You can type it, but you couldn't very easily speak it. Even then, it's still a drag to read it. Think of all the trees and bandwidth we've spared by using "is" up to this point. And now I've squandered it all with this massive missive!
For further reading: RAW has some great examples and additional elaboration on the role of "is" in general semantics in this article:

Semantics cont'd
[Posted to the Robert Anton Wilson group on]
>I couldn't tell how you took my comment.
No, I got that you were just joshing in making a valid point. I considered using a smiley, but I'm against that on principle.
We face similarly clumsy language when we try to eradicate gendered references in order to be accurate and all-inclusive. Like anyone else trying to be politically correct (or at least relatively conscious), RAW won't say "chairman," but he won't say "chairperson" either, as that would discriminate against non-humans. He resorts to "chair-entity," odd as that may sound for the present.
I keep toying around with the gender-neutral language myself, but you can only be so inventive with things like "if (s)he says..." where you leave things open to contingencies, but then you have to fall back on "him/her" and "his/hers" within a couple sentences. Pretty soon you end up with an impossible to keep track of scenario with all these hypothetical entities running around in it. Ultimately, we all just start saying "they," even when the subject of the sentence was obviously singular (e.g., "The husband or wife can sign *their* name..."), and we develop multiple personalities as a consequence. But that's okay because I read somewhere that there are 27 dimensions, so it all evens out.
>I do think that the use of is truncation has a time and a place. And I usually only attempt to remove it with formal speak.
It's good to make the effort, but you will only be compelled to do so under conditions when you might get called on it. Hence we end up with a parallel to legal language ("legalese") where we avoid the heavy stuff except when conditions tend to be binding... as with contracts and other documents.
> is what it is.
Que sera sera. Or "whatever will be may not be as it appears, but we will accept it as our senses perceive it for the time being... at least until contrary evidence is forthcoming."

Relationship advice
[Posted to the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory group on]
>Are we doomed because of our personality types?
There's more to you than your personality type. Of course, I don't know that this is mutually exclusive from your MBTI, but you also have an agenda and a sense of what's right for you. By that, I mean that you have goals. Is your life plan compatible with him? Are you heading in different directions with respect to career, children, etc.? It doesn't sound like life is exactly harmonious between you two now, but if your plan diverges in the future, what's left then?
>how have we managed to stay together for 5 years as Shadow types?
Only you can answer that, unless you want a lot of speculation from complete strangers. Ask yourself this: What do you get out of your relationship? What would you lose if you weren't with one another? Could get you that and more elsewhere without the baggage?
I don't know that this will be much help, but I will offer my own abbreviated history in this department.
I'm am an ENTP. My ex-wife tested as an ENFJ, although I suspect she was more of an "I" than she acknowledged in her responses on the questionnaire. We had a lot of overlapping areas in terms of music, movies, books, etc., so we always had something to talk about. However, we had problems in the personality department. I tended to ignore a lot of her flaws and try to maintain the relationship instead of confronting problem areas. Being an "Idealist," she focused in my imperfections (and, admittedly, I have many), although she didn't seek to address them constructively either.
Perhaps worse yet, we had different life goals (which is why I made this point above). For example, I wasn't sure I wanted children, whereas that was her primary focus for her future. Further, she wanted to settle into a job, build a nest egg, and start a family. On the other hand, I wanted to return to school and get several (probably too many) advanced degrees and end up in academia... not a quick and easy plan. As is obvious from this, we ultimately split up after a four year marriage and a total of eight and a half years together.
I dated a few other people in the meantime, and I guess I could write volumes on why those relationships (and the ones before my marriage) couldn't have worked out, but I finally ended up with an ISFJ... my complete and utter opposite in the M-B sense. For that matter, while we share similar politics and religion (i.e., a complete lack thereof), our interests don't particularly overlap either, yet, ironically, this is the healthiest and consistently the happiest relationship I have heard of, let alone been in.
We communicate, we push one other to be better people, etc. We're far from perfect (e.g., I procrastinate too much; she owns cats), but we're very happy together and when we aren't, we talk about it and try to compromise. I can't say why we "work" exactly, but I know that a big part of it is communication. Over the last couple of years we have sent countless megabytes of email to one another to talk about everything from the most superficial to the serious hot-button issues that we couldn't help but get worked up about in person.
You touched on this problem in your post, so I optimistically submit that maybe this is the impasse in your relationship, not the issues themselves. Men and women communicate differently, and that's only compounded by dissimilar personality types and how language and perception filters through them. If the relationship is deemed worth saving by you (and hopefully your guy), then start there. If it isn't, start there anyway so you can at least figure out how to say "goodbye."
Then again, maybe I should have let my girlfriend write this. She's the empathic Feeler. You're probably going to think this advice is too cold and prescriptive. But your boyfriend won't. He'll say, "Hey, who asked you?" And then I'll have to point at you. Shit. Now I've only made things worse.

I'm surprised by how women feel that they need to be "the bottom" or somehow dominated, no matter how sure of themselves they might seem in other ways. It runs counter to their stated agenda in other areas that women become submissive in the bedroom (i.e., "Take me now!"). I have been personally surprised by this with a couple girls. For example, a friend of mine was taunting me and acting like she wanted to play rough. I took her up on it and pinned her down by her arms. She immediately went limp. I thought she would have struggled, but she acted like she wanted me to jump her. She became completely docile and receptive to anything else I wanted to do to her at that point, even though we weren't even being overtly sexual.
Similarly, a former girlfriend of mine used to act really tough. She was sort of the Lita Ford type (personality-wise) in that she could talk trash back at someone and would even pick a fight. She held grudges more like a guy does (i.e., openly antagonizing them). She was very physical and initiated things sexually between us far more often than not. Yet when I got a hold of her, she switched to the same docility as I described above. It was only if I didn't act aggressive that she reverted to the aggressor.
There's a term in biology called lordosis, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as the "mating posture of some sexually receptive female mammals (as rats) in which the head and rump are raised and the back is arched downward." That's what this reminds me of. It's the physical manifestation of the "take me" sentiment. Guys never do this. Even when they're passive, it's more like, "Serve me."
The related issue I mentioned earlier [though not posted here] was the idea that women should be smaller, shorter, younger, make less money, etc. than their male partner. I have trouble understanding why that is. I can understand the male desire to me muscular, more domineering, richer, etc. because that just sounds like basic ambition. By extension, doesn't this make women unambitious in a broad sense?

I never understood why women are so freaked out by the sight of blood. Don't they see it all too often on a monthly basis?

Love or Maybe Not
[From an email with a friend]
>In at least 75% of all the men I've dated they have all told me that they loved me within the first week
That's about all it takes. It was about that long with my ex and only three days with Dani. It could probably happen again, although I found out when I was dating after my divorce and before I met my ex that it isn't a given. There *does* have to be something there. It was kind of sad because I have been in several relationships where someone was in love with me and I was just too honest to pretend to reciprocate. I would even feel guilty about staying with them at that point. With my last girlfriend right before I met Dani, it was really awkward because she would get very physical, and I just couldn't return it honestly. By contrast, I'm all about the PDAs with Dani, although she would be happy if we reserved that for when we were alone.
A girl I dated for about one year around the time I started college put me in an awkward position. She was very nice but just plain ditzy. She would say, "Do you love me now?" And I would be left going, "Um, I *guess.*" I was just trying to be diplomatic about things, but she always thought I was playing it coy or that it was some kind of game to get her to be more affectionate... which only made matters worse.
Brei says that girls fall stupider and harder That's definitely true. They aren't just "stickier" in that they'll tough it out, they also get just plain goofy. This is more on the subject of sex than love, but there was an enlightening (for me anyway) bit in Cosmo that I read years ago that talked about how, when a guy gets laid, the next day at work he's clear-headed and is at the top of his form. The opposite is how women are much dreamier and get that far-away look in their eyes.

Men Are From Mars...
In "Men Are From Mars..." there's a good section in there about how guys will not share their troubles and why that is. There are some major communications issues that aren't easily resolved when it comes down to one-on-one interaction. As for male depression, guys respond violently because that's what has worked for the last few million years. It may be an "evolved consciousness" that keeps a guy from hitting something when he is annoyed, but I don't necessarily think it is great for him physiologically.

PDAs again
I always thought it was funny that high school kids (girls in particular) would see one another all week long in class, then on Friday night at the mall, they run into one another exactly where they would expect to, and they scream and run up to one another for this huge embrace. What happened between 3:30pm when they left school and 6:30pm when they happened to cross paths in front of the Gap?

Thinking about womanhood
I have a female friend who is very much a Thinker (e.g., she's a computer programmer who worked in neuroscience). She HATES the fact that she's a female because she can get very emotional, especially due to PMS. She recognizes what the emotions are, but she hates herself and women in general. Actually, "hates" is the wrong word. She sees herself and women as flawed creatures, and that *really* annoys her because she can't fix a problem she is very aware of.

Guys will never understand this. For all the criticism that males view females as sex objects, we (males) view ourselves the same way. We don't assume you (women) will become emotionally involved with your vibrator(s). So why is it you (collectively) automatically have an emotional connection with a guy who sees himself as nothing more than your sex-toy?

And the winner is...
There is a lot of research in the social sciences about how younger women are valued more highly than older women. For example, there was a study in the journal "Sex Roles" where they looked at the ages of Academy Award nominees/winners for Best Actor/ess and the Supporting Actor/ess categories. The average age of the guys was a lot higher, and there was a higher variance as well. The women who were nominated (and especially the ones who won) was typically lower and was constrained to a much tighter range (i.e., post-pubescent, pre-menopausal). I wish I had a copy of that study. It was really interesting.

Men and women are different, and that complicates the definition of equality. For example, women are okay with other women in bed, but the reverse is rarely true. So that means that a threesome is shifted to a guy's "advantage." That isn't equal, but it's agreeable to both parties more often than the reverse. Also, a guy will more likely want to have multiple partners whereas women are happy with one. Thus a guy will never be content either single or in a relationship. If a woman settles down, she's content. So it isn't equal when a man and woman settle down with one other even though they've ostensibly made the same commitment.

I don't know if a woman can ever understand how it feels to constantly be wanting to sleep with other people. This is absolutely no reflection on a guy's partner. I could have a million girls and would still want "just one more." I think it's worse even for me more than most guys because I have a combination of the testosterone and the obsessiveness. Maybe both of these things will change in time. It isn't any fun for me either. It's like the disruptive blasts of sound from the helmets in Vonnegut's story "Harrison Bergeron."

We're wired up to have certain attractions. My ideal woman would be older and have small breasts, but somehow if you show me a young girl with cleavage, I'm going to gawk. I haven't figured that out. The only thing I can think of that would be analogous would be how woman can't help but coo at babies and want to pick them up. Strangely, no one ever feels that this is a mental faculty that is out of control.

Insane... or just female
>Well, we have these horrible hormones. I never realized how much of an impact hormones have on the way you think until I tried a couple of different kinds of birth control. On one of them, there were several days when I couldn't leave my bedroom or talk to anyone. On another kind, I *hated* everyone and everything all the time. Both cases were debilitating. Emotions that you can't control are debilitating. You know, you sit there and the emotions just come at you, over and over. It's like hearing voices that you can't make go away, only you're feeling them and they're emotions, and technically you're not insane, just female.
I had a lot of issues with this when I was with my ex. Most of the girls I've dated have been pretty stable, but my ex would flip out periodically... no pun intended. In fact, she didn't have PMS, but if she didn't get enough sleep, she would completely lose it and would be crying and accusing me of things I didn't do (e.g., being mean to her, thinking bad thoughts about her, etc.). I usually tried to avoid her during those times.
The worst was this one girl I used to date who was a really sweet future kindergarten teacher. Because she was so extreme at one end, she was frightening when she was PMSing and went to the opposite end because she was effectively the opposite person from before. I literally walked out on her one night and just went home. She knew when it was PMS, but she couldn't stop herself.
The thing that scares me is exactly what you're talking about: what's insane and what's "female"? And what's the appropriate way to treat someone at a given time? I used to just go into avoidance mode in these cases. That was the best approach as far as I was concerned, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more reasonable (and safer) to just lock up women few a days a month with a box of chocolates and all the chick flicks they could stand?

>Do you believe that men and women are ever truly equal?
I used to be extremely liberal in this area (and most others), but I've slipped back to a more traditional view. Specifically, I recognize that men and women are different (be it due to nature and/or nurture; I'm leaning nature), and one of those differences seems to be that women will naturally default to this role. I've always been surprised by how women always want to be shorter, younger, physically weaker, more emotional, make less money, etc. than anyone they're involved with. Why? I never got the name change with marriage thing either. I wouldn't let my ex. She can thank me for that at least.

>The whole thing seems flawed. Why do men peak sexually when they are not yet adults?
A lot of things like this have an evolutionary basis. Here's a guess in this case: If only older guys had the virility, then they would have all the advantage because they would get harems of young and older females. By contrast, you divide the male population by dividing the advantages across two age brackets. As a result, you have a more diverse breeding population.
Here's a similar example: Females of many species will synchronize their menstrual/estrus cycles. This wouldn't seem to have much of an effect on sexual behavior (since it only takes "two to tango"), but what happens is all the females are receptive at the same time. Now all the males have a chance. By contrast, if there's one powerful, dominant male and there's only one or two females in heat/fertile at a given time, guess who gets her/them?

Gender roles
I'm still coming to terms with this. This is another issue where a complex framework is the only way to go. You can't throw in the towel and say, "I'm a subservient sex object/mother figure as guys want to view me," but you can't resolve it into "Don't see me as a woman." I tend to think of each person as a bunch of competing brain regions. You may be talking to a guy's frontal cortex and have him thinking, "Wow, she's really smart," but his limbic system is saying, "Whoa, baby!" (Note: the limbic system isn't very articulate).

Gender, language, and senses
[Posted to the neuroscience group on]
In addition to the acoustic properties there are (at least) two additional factors that complicate males' ability to listen to women:
1) Women tend to have more emotionally complex communication. Thus, what they are saying will have an emotional component in addition to the linguistic component (and anyone who has been romantically involved with a female knows these two things do not necessarily line up). Males have a smaller corpus callosum, thus they have greater difficulty integrating the meaning of messages that require processing by both hemispheres.
2) As humans grow older, they preferentially lose their higher frequency hearing first, and this includes the range in which the female voice projects. Since this loss occurs earlier in males, this discrepancy is even further magnified.
The original article was from ABC News:

Copyright Alexplorer.

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