Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Men and Women - Same but Different

Much has been written on communication and the difference in the way that men and women relate and how they are in the world. If you'd caught me a few years ago I would have been talking about socialisation and how women had been disadvantaged in a patriarchal society - but that was then and this is now. John Gray made his name with his much quoted book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus in the '90's. Then he went on to write a series of books using the same premise including Mars & Venus in Love in which he banged on about how women want to to be listened to and are emotional and how men are logical and want to go away and think about 'the problem'. My response at the time was that's ok BUT it's more complex than that and my opinion hasn't really changed since then. My belief is that in western society whilst  there is a cultural norm as to how men and women should be - that is only part of it. What happens to us and what we see in the home when we are growing up  has much to do with the person we eventually become. If we are brought up in a family where communication is good we are more likely to share who we are. If we grow up in a home where to talk about how we feel creates conflict then we're likely to learn that it's not a good thing to say what we think.                                         

I do not want to be disingenuous or invite rancour but I come across men who can talk about their emotions & women who cannot and women who are very logical and men who are not. What I'm suggesting is that we are all individuals. That's not to say that I don't come across people who fit the stereotypes because I do and frankly they are quite easy to work with because it becomes just about understanding the communication style. I think both men and women have the ability to think and feel and that thinking promotes feelings and feelings promote thought. I get quite hot under the collar when someone suggests I behave or respond in a particular way because I'm a woman. It feels reductive in some way? Also to suggest that because I don't like shopping or don't have a fetish for shoes I'm not a proper woman is insulting. I want to be me - a thinking, feeling person. I want to have choices and I want the people who come into contact with me to have choices. I don't want people to assume things about me from the get go based on whether I'm female? I don't want to be a finished product and I don't want you to be either. I want hope and possibility. I want to use my logic and feel good about being able to do so. I want you to have the same.

It feels as if psychologists have done lots of work on what separates men and women and less on their similarities. Both sexes appear to want to have good relationships. Both want to love and be loved. Both want to be good parents. Both are equally assertive and as adults have equal verbal skills despite the myths to the contrary. Finally it seems to me that men do want to have conversations on a emotional and philosophical level and don't just want to talk about football and to suggest otherwise seems to do them a disservice.

I think men and women are different but that we have more in common than separates us. I think we could free ourselves by stopping thinking in gender stereotypes and instead we could treat people as individuals and with respect. If we can do that then it seems to me that we really have equality.


  1. Gawd, I so identify with the what makes a proper women thing. Me, I dont dye my hair, or wear make up either - people tell me I am letting myself go. Me - I just see it as being me, not putting on a mask, or pretending to be someone/thing I am not. Plan to grow old disgracefully.

    I have to say I have wondered in recent months whether I still qualify as a women at all having had so much of my female anatomy removed.

  2. I think growing old gracefully is a fantastic plan and you'll not be surprised to know that's it part of my own. Sod the Botox etc it's too much like hardwork and ultimately self defeating. That's my argument and I'm sticking to it!

  3. I thought 'gender stereotypes' had vanished with post modernism, but I think they can be liberating too.

    It's just as easy to try to force yourself into a 'gender free' attitude as the reverse and sometimes it's just great to get together with some women friends and share those things which somehow, for some reason,our male partners don't seem to share..

  4. I wish that were the case Anne but in my experience gender stereotypes unfortunately still exist. I'm not really in favour in forcing anyone into anything I much prefer the idea of choice? I do so agree a natter with a friend who understands your point of view can be great. Thank you so much for taking time to comment :)