Monday, December 26, 2011

Learn the Person You Are With

This is the kind of simplistic gender narratives that drive me nuts. Well, not really, but still, why do people continue to believe in such easy explanations?

Women’s brains are wired for detail. Men, on the other hand, have brains that are wired for the big picture – they like to scan.

Take these example:

How was your day? Typically, men will answer it was OK; women will go into paragraphs of explanation
They had a baby. What was it? Men will reply it was a baby; women want the details – the sex, the weight, method of delivery etc
Women usually don’t give an abridged version of events; they relive it in detail (if it was good enough the first time to go through, it is good enough to relive in detail)

Bottom line: men want the bottom line not the details. Perhaps they even operate on a need to know basis. If it doesn’t affect them they probably don’t need to know.

So, in order words, men are basically self-focused creatures, while women are other-focused creatures.

I would argue that even in times when gender conditioning has been at it's most fierce, you could find plenty of within group variation, despite the social pressure to conform to acting certain ways. Furthermore, the idea that we are "wired" in such and such a way across gender is an excellent way of minimizing and denying socialization patterns. Like several thousand years of patriarchal norms that continue to place men above women, and in the process, also undermine the personhood of folks across the GLBTQ spectrum.

Now, that was a heady paragraph, wasn't it? And you're probably asking, "What does this have to do with my relationship or how I date?

An excellent question.

First off, I'm not one who tends to give heavy handed advice, but please, please don't believe these kinds of simple stories about people. They only contain a grain of truth, and they won't really help you interact better with your dates or partners.

Secondly, if you are someone who desires to be liberated from the old gender norms, this is exactly the kind of thinking to jettison.

And finally, remember this: we date and fall in love with individuals, not generalizations. So, while knowing something about gender norms might be helpful in some senses, in the end, the only way to develop a healthy, conscious relationship is to learn the person you are with.

1 comment:

  1. Yet again, I fall into the "Oh, I guess that makes me a woman, then?" category.

    One woman I dated for a while was the opposite: I'd ask about her day or how she was and get a "ok, I guess" as an answer and, when nothing further came, assume that was all there was; but when she asked about my day, I'd tell everything! Then she'd come back and wonder why I hadn't asked about the "I guess" part (we talked this out, and I said "but I did - I asked how your day was!" - I got the hang of probing deeper before moving on to my stuff after that chat)