The difference between men and women is ......

Australia
March 26, 2009 8:11pm CST
Women look after all the little things in life: paying the bills, deciding which school the kids go to, where to buy a house, and other little practical strategies. Men get to look after all the big things: life, the universe, and everything. What do you think? Sure, there will be many reversals of that, but is it true, do you think, that men are more involved in the abstract things and women the practical? Lash
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5 responses
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
28 Mar 09
I guess I would have to say that in many instances, this IS the case yes. It's not just the practical things that women are more disciplined with, it's the finite details of everything that they seem to be better with. Yes, men tend to focus on the so called "larger" things in life, but they also tend to overlook the finer details on many an occasion as well. I feel that many men do not possess the longer term vision that many women have also. Then there's sensitivity differences, emotional disparities and "gut versus heart" mentalities in play as well. Thank goodness for the balance a partnership creates then! Cultural expectations also affect this scenario in a big way. I feel that in Western societies, there is definitely a shift towards more equality and balance here, but in many other cultures, it's an expectation that the man will handle the bigger things by default. At least on the surface they do anyways! From my own experiences, many women in these supposedly male dominated cultures do play a significant role in all decisions, but they do so from behind the scenes; whereas women in western countries are likely to be more openly aggressive about making clear their influence in a relationship.
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• Australia
29 Mar 09
James. I'll use your response to put s theory (not my own). I agree that cultural trends have an effect, but as I say above, there is more to it. While I was studying gender issues I came across some research on brain physiology and gender, part of the split brain research that is so popular. This research suggests that it is the makeup of the corpus callosum, the "bridge" between the two hemispheres of the brain, which has the greates effect on those trends we label as masculine and feminine. The left hemisphere is seen as being the seat of logic, rationality, and objectivity, and the right hemisphere as being the seat of creativity and intuition, as well as subjectivity. In most women and some men, the corpus callosum is very thick and complex, and this seems to lead to an ability to access the functions of both hemispheres with equal ease. Most men and some women have a thinner, less complex corpus callosum, and appear to have more difficulty in accessing the right brain functions. If this research holds up, and I've seen nothing on it for some years now (I haven't been looking for it), then it would explain both why women tend toward subjectivity and men to objectivity and also why there are exceptions to both trends, and more importantly, why some people seem to be able to balance both forms of thinking equally well. It also means that gender differences can, to a large extent, be seen as inherent, although cultural pressures obviously have an effect as well. Lash
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@James72 (26829)
• Australia
29 Mar 09
Very interesting! I remember reading many years ago about the medula oblongata (I think this is the name) and the varying degrees of aggression in direct relation to it's size. From what I recall, it was found that men had the larger medula oblongata in most instances, which may also contribute to a man's tendency to exhibit higher levels of aggression compared to women. I don't recall the information I read going into the areas you have just shared though, so thanks for sharing it!
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• Australia
10 Apr 09
It's becoming evident that physiology has a much greater effect on our behaviour than we used to think. I like what Jen said above, that being equal does not mean being the same, and we certainly, as a race, need both the practical and abstract thinking to survive and develop, but nature does seem to have given us a form of natural division of labour through these brain structures and differences in hormonal actions. Lash
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@miamilady (4924)
• United States
29 Mar 09
That hasn't been my experience. The men that I've know have not been anymore concerned with the "abstract things" than I have been. In many cases they have been less interested in these things than I have been.
• Australia
29 Mar 09
There are exceptions to every trend, as I point out in my reply to James (above). Indeed, my own experience has included a number of women who could and did have intense interest in abstractions, and my close male friends, few as they have been, have all shown a number of "female" tendencies in the areas of compassion, subjectivity, etc. along with their masculinity. My point is that the trends are so ubiquitous that it can be claimed that there are innate gender differences. Lash
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@miamilady (4924)
• United States
30 Mar 09
I agree. There was a time in my life when I resisted the idea that men and women were different. lol I think it was just so important for me to be considered "equal" that I didn't realize that being "equal" didn't necessarily mean that we were the "same". Oddly, it took me reading a book called Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, to accept that fact that, yep! We're different! After I realized it, I couldn't believe how silly my thoughts had been. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and although I won't clump ALL men or ALL women into using the same behaviors, it is clear that there are things that "most" men are likely to do, just as there are things that "most" women are included to do, say, think feel. etc.
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
28 Mar 09
I do agree that women are more practical but I'm not sure if it's gender or society thing. Men have always been expected to take care of larger things and women to be more detailed and responsible. Just like the misbehaving child..a boy is being a boy wheras a girl is just misbehaving. I do think there are things that define our gender but as far as our way of thinking I wonder if it's mostly taught.
• Australia
28 Mar 09
Clearly gender politics and upbringing based on them have an effect on gender behaviour, but I believe there is more to it than that. Gender politics could not have developed the way they have if there weren't some inherent behavioural tendencies in the genders that allow them. See my reply to James (below) for more on this belief. Lash
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@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
29 Mar 09
Very interesting research...There are a lot of reasons why this could be true to the difference in men and women. We could also contribute to some degree hormones for that matter. Women are "wired" in this way because of their childrearing needs as well. I read once that women have the ability to learn different languages faster than men because of their need to communicate. I also read that their lifespans are usually longer because they are needed to help in the care of their grandchildren. I think it must be a mixture of the two. Gender and society.
@sharra1 (6342)
• Australia
28 Mar 09
Interesting. My first reaction was to deny this but I think it is probably true. I do think about life, the universe and everything but my main focus in life is on the little things of day to day life. I remember I missed out on a job once because they thought I was unable to see the bigger picture. They were wrong as I can see it but I do not live in that thought zone and did not even realise that was what they were looking for. I think women are more practical and down to earth but I am not sure if it is a gender thing as such. I think that some people are detail minded and some people are not. I am a detail minded person, I can see the big picture but the details all have to be dealt with as well. Some people never care about details, they just ignore them and only see things on the larger scale. Such people often need someone to look after them as they rarely ever eat properly. Maybe it has something to do with being the nurturer, the mother. We need those skills to raise our young. I wonder if it is instinct or taught? If it was instinct then there would not have been so many cases of young mothers not knowing what to do to raise and care for their children.
• Australia
29 Mar 09
I sort of meant this thread as a semi-joke, but it has obviously tapped into what has been one of the great debates in the social sciences ever since gender studies became so important. There are three schools of thought. The first is genetic determinism, which states that all gender differences are inborn. The problem with this view is that, if held inflexibly as it so often is, its supporters try to insist that all men and all women should behave in the way nature "meant" them to, and the many, many exceptions to the statistical norm are attacked as either "unnatural" females or effeminate men. I suspect all the respondents to this thread would consider such an inflexible approach as ludicrous. The second view is cultural determinism, and many of the feminist writers on gender issues fall into this category, which holds that all gender differences are culturally determined; that what we see as feminine and masculine traits are simply conditioned responses to social training. This approach is no less inflexible than the genetic determinist approach, and I believe, in the face of considerable physiological and psychological evidence, is just as ludicrous. The third response is to see that there are, indeed, some innate patterns of behaviour that are gender specific, but that there are many individual exceptions to the patterns, that the patterns are only patterns, not straitjackets, and that there is a considerable cultural element involved. It seems to me a much more balanced approach. Lash
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@sharra1 (6342)
• Australia
30 Mar 09
Very interesting. I suspect that the third school is most likely to be the correct one. I used to believe in the second view but I have had to change my views to fit reality. Culture is certainly partly to blame for some conditioning but that conditioning can be broken. There are other traits that are there for life and these we are born with. At the same time I have never gone with theories that are rigid, like the first two, as every human is an individual. I believe it is wrong to condemn people's differences as abnormal in any way, they are just individuals. Unfortunately proponents of the first view try and force people to follow a set pattern which is wrong for many and crushes some or causes them to rebel. I would like to believe that everyone is a true individual and that there is no set pattern that can be tied down to gender. I have never liked the idea that people are born in moulds. I see moulds as things to break away from. Unfortunately this belief has caused me trouble over the years as I have tried to crush any pattern of behaviour that I thought was supposedly female according to the first theory even when it was something I recognised as desirable for me. I seem to have reverse conditioned myself. At least I did and I found it hard to break my own feminist conditioning and allow myself to actually enjoy the lifestyle that makes me happy.
• China
28 Mar 09
Hello grandpa_lash ,I come from China ! From a traditional viewpoint ,the female seem more tender and depent ,while the male appear more ambitious and independent ! However, it makes a difference because of the culture . In western countries ,the male and female are pretty much the same , the only difference is their personalities . The distinction in personality reat a lot with their different experiences in their childhood ! You know the parents raise a boy or a girl up in absolutely different ways . One thing for sure ,they foster us depend on what the society tend to believe what a boy and a girl should like ! Although there is no denying that the power of gense can not be neglected ,but I still prefer the experience slong with our growin up is far overweigh the inherent factors! Nice knowing you !
• Australia
29 Mar 09
All cultures have the same traditional viewpoint, so despite the obvious evidence that a lot of gender behaviour is taught, it seems unlikely that virtually every culture has the same viewpoint unless there were also a "natural" tendency to that attitude. See my response to James (below) for a possible answer to this attitudinal similarity. Lash
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