March | 2017 | | JustToThePoint

Men and women: Are we the same or different?

I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life, Oprah Winfrey.

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition,
Timothy Leary.

Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance,
Kofi Annan.

There is a current cultural trend of “political correctness” which claims that significant gender differences do not exist. Therefore, it is believed that pretending there are no important gender differences, we will achieve more equality and prevent discrimination, and even violence.

Let me tell you, I don’t think this is true. However, it is very important to avoid sexist language and behaviour:

  1. Don’t tell sexist jokes: “Why do women make better soldiers? Because they can bleed for a week and not die,” “Why did the women cross the road? I don’t know, but what is she doing out of the kitchen?”
  2. Avoid sexist proverbs: “Boys will be boys,” “One tongue is enough for a woman,” “Women have got long hair and short sense.”

    If you use sexist jokes, proverbs or remarks, pin up sexually explicit photos in your workplace or have them as your desktop and phone background, you are not only being distasteful, but you are making your female friends, employees or colleagues feel uncomfortable. You are creating a hostile environment for women, you are complicating your communication and hindering your personal, social and professional relationships with them. Consequently, be aware of the importance of language and try to avoid gender pitfalls.

  3. Mass media and publicity help to perpetuate gender inequality. Men are usually depicted as more active, competent, and valued than women in a number of activities. On the contrary, women are shown in passive or supporting roles.

  4. Use “inclusive” or “nonsexist” language, that is, gender neutral language. Avoid exclusive forms, such as: “If a student studies hard, he will succeed,” “The average student is worried about his grades,” etc., and choose inclusive alternatives: “If a student studies hard, he or she will succeed,” “If a student studies hard, s/he will succeed,” “The average student is worried about grades,” NCTE, Guidelines for Gender-Fair Use of Language.
  5. Avoid terms that are inherently sexist: “mankind,” “policeman,” “waiter,” “fireman,” etc. You must find alternative terms for those that are sexist: mankind (“humankind”, “human beings”), policeman (“police officer”), the common man (“the average person”), cavemen (“prehistoric people”), etc., Avoiding Sexist Language by Jennifer Klein, Hamilton Colleage.
  6. Use courtesy titles that promote gender equity. Miss and Mrs can be replaced by Ms. which is a form of addressing women regardless of marital status. “To whom it corresponds” or Mr./Ms. can be used when the gender of the addressee is unknown.

Many argue that the use of gender-neutral language is nonsense, which leads us to using awkward constructions, vague language, and ugly neologisms. As one comment in the What’s wrong with the world? blog affirmed: It was hard not to wince today during the Gospel reading appointed for Mass: “One does not live by bread alone…” (Matt. 4:4) which is our Lord’s paraphrase of Deuteronomy. 8:3. Thus, the magnificent declamation: “Man does not live by bread alone…” […] is shattered. The translation makes Christ sound like the Prince of Wales who often refers to himself as “one” presumably to distinguish himself from his mother’s royal “we,” Against Gender-Neutral Language.

I do strongly think that there is a middle ground of neutral writing and speaking which avoids sexual bias, awkward constructions, ugly neologisms, etc., and which also communicates without using sexist language.

However, “it is ironic that this long-overdue “gender neutrality” comes just as scientists are recognising more and more the actual physiological and psychological differences between men and women,” Vive la Diférence? by Michael Henry. As Allan Pease puts it: “We are different because our brain is wired differently. This causes us to perceive the world in different ways and have different values and priorities. Not better or worse ― different.”

The fight against gender inequality and discrimination should not be confused with recognising, valuing, and celebrating our differences. These allow us to grow and learn from one another.

For example, men are more violent than women. “In 2011, the United States Department of Justice compiled homicide statistics in the United States between 1980 and 2008. Males committed the vast majority of homicides in the United States at that time, representing 90% of the total number of offenders.” Wikipedia, Sex differences in crime.

Worldwide, men are more likely to be literate, about two-thirds of illiterate adults are women. However, “women have overtaken men at every level of education in developed countries around the world,” (BBC News, Girls top of the class worldwide). For instance, in the UK: “The disparity between boys and girls has become a regular feature of GCSE and A-level results. While 72.3% of girls got A*-C grades, only 63.7% of boys did,” The guardian. The USA Today 10/19/2005 affirmed: “Last year for the first time, women earned more than half the degrees granted statewide in every category, be it associate, bachelor, master, doctoral or professional. […] There are more men than women ages 18-24 in the USA — 15 million vs. 14.2 million […] But nationally, the male/female ratio on campus today is 43/57,” USAToday.com, College gender gap widens: 57% are women.

In general terms, boys are less attentive to classroom tasks and more disruptive (they lose more classroom learning time because they are sent out of the classroom or sent home), they also read less and later (and so they value reading less), and talk less.

Sex is a big difference between men and women: “How do you know if a man is ready for sex? He’s breathing […] A woman wants lots of sex with the man she loves. A man wants lots of sex,” Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps: How We’re Different and What, Allan Pease, Barbara Pease. As Billy Crystal put it, “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.”

The average man tends to be much more sexually driven than the average women is. This can be observed in prostitution. The oldest profession is mostly exercised by women. Male prostitution is less frequent, and male prostitution services predominantly male clients.

In a classical but very revealing study conducted by Russel D. Clark and Elaine Hatfiel in 1978 and 1982, male and female confederates of average attractiveness approached potential partners with one of these requests: “Would you go out toning?,” “Will you come over to my apartment?” or “Would you go to bed with me?” “The great majority of men were willing to have a sexual liaison with the women who approached them. Women were not. Not one woman agreed to a sexual liaison. The men that said “No” even gave apologies, i.e., “I’m married” or “I’m going with someone,” Gender Differences in Receptivity to Sexual Offers, Rusell D. Clark y Elaine Hatfield, 1989.

In general, men are better at gross motor skills while women are better at fine motor skills. Men are found to have greater spatial skills and better mathematical reasoning ability (this last one is a very controversial topic in which there is no consensus), while women show greater verbal skills. All these differences are logical from an evolutionary point of view, men used to perform more physically demanding tasks, such as hunting, defending territory, and obtaining food while women were engaged in housekeeping and child care, Kimura D., Human sex differences in cognition, fact, not predicament.

Men take more risks. On average, men have more sexual partners and are less than enthusiastic about condom use. Obviously, this is not a good idea. However, this attitude may come in handy within professional contexts and sports. Being capable of making decisions and assuming calculated risks despite the limited facts and great uncertainty is also fundamental in entrepreneurs, executives, and policy makers.

Women are better at active listening, non-verbal communication, and empathy, making them more effective at interpersonal communication. When a women is talking to her boyfriend or husband about a problem, she usually describes it in great detail. She longs for empathetic listening. On the contrary, men get confused and annoyed with so many words, they try to reduce the peripheral (or noise), focus on the problem, and provide a solution. And by doing so, they are missing the point completely, she only wanted his attention and empathy!, so she could feel just how much he cares for her. As John Gray put it:

When a man can listen to a woman’s feelings without getting angry and frustrated, he gives her a wonderful gift. He makes it safe for her to express herself. The more she is able to express herself, the more she feels heard and understood, and the more she is able to give a man the loving trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement that he needs.

Men can learn from women to develop a better style of communication, so they can build more meaningful relationships together. They need to listen patiently and actively, use non-verbal communication (eye contact amongst others), and show understanding and empathy.

Many are wondering whether it is possible or not in this crazy and hedonistic world to maintain a stable relationship when there are so many differences between men and women. Perhaps, the best answer is found in the classic book “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” by John Gray: “when men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.”

To maintain a healthy and stable relationship, men should learn to listen more, talk less, and show more empathy and understanding. On the other hand, women should understand men’s need for retreat, to be appreciated, and also have more sex with their partners (we are talking about sex in marriage or in very stable relationships, not casual sex) in order to let them express how much they love them.

Accept your partner for who they are

Do not choose only one part, take me as I am, whole and such as I am, so you don’t make any mistakes. Sincerely yours, Joan Manuel Serrat.

Benjamin Flanklin said: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.” It states that before you begin a serious and stable relationship with someone ― marriage, kids, moving together, etc. ―, you should really know him/her very well. Then, you should consider and meditate hard because there is a lot at stake. Do not fool yourself into believing that he or she will be different, better, or you will make him/her change.

If you want to be happy and wholesome, you have to accept her/him for who s/he is.

Active and constructive response

Such responses are not just for romantic relationships, they should also be used in parent-child communication, in the workplace, etc. But, what do we mean by active and constructive responses?

Imagine that he or she tells us a positive outcome or event, for example, he climbed the job ladder, her salary rose 5.7%, he/she passed an important exam, etc.

  1. Active and constructive response. You need to show him/her sincere enthusiasm and interest for the event being described, as well as, happiness for him/her. “Wow! That’s great! Fantastic! You deserve it! Tell me more! I’m all ears! Tell me all the details! I’m so proud of you. I know how important this promotion/exam/job was to you. Your effort and sacrifice have borne real fruit! Let’s get out and celebrate.”
    An absolutely essential part of effective communication is non-verbal communication. The active and constructive response is not complete without these non-verbal cues: maintain eye contact, appear cheerful and delighted, smile, laugh, give him/her a kiss or a hug, etc.
  2. Passive and constructive response. The answer is short and concise, it does not give rise to a new question in itself. “Well. That’s good news. That’s nice.” This response is not matched with the essential non-verbal cues: joy and happiness are not displayed, rather apathy and lack of interest is manifested. Typically, there will be no visual contact or the message is said in a flat demeanour.
  3. Passive and destructive response. This is by far the most destructive. It is literally a punch in the gut and just deflates you. It is completely ignoring what has just been said, a good news such as “I have passed all my exams! I got the job!, etc.” is met with “Shall we go? Shall we eat now? I’m so tired today because I worked a lot this morning. What’s on TV tonight?” By changing the subject quickly, you’re showing you don’t care much about her/him.
  4. Active and destructive response. The responder is not supportive of his/her partner. On the contrary, s/he is focusing on the negative side, and ignoring the positive aspects: “And that’s the last straw that broke the camel’s back. This promotion will come with more responsibility and you will be more stressed out. In addition, you’ll need to work long hours and see our children even less than now. Both of us will work now, who will take care of our kids?”

We are not always in a good mood or attitude. We’re often busy, tired, and ― to put it mildly ― not very eager to listen to our partners. This is especially true after a long day at work. However, a healthy relationship requires effective and constant communication where both partners listen and provide active and constructive responses to each other.

Forgiveness

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her, John 8:7.

Forgive your partner, especially when s/he is sincerely sorry, willing to change her/himself, and fix the problem.

We all have flaws, imperfections, and weaknesses. We all make mistakes and screw up at one time or another. We hurt each other. Thus, we need to forgive with compassion and generosity, move on, and be happy.

Forgiveness is also the best gift you can ever give yourself. You should always forgive or, at least, forget; even when something has been very painful, when you have been mocked, offended, ridiculed, betrayed, etc. This is the only way, because all revenge, retribution, and violence give rise to further revenge, hatred, and violence. Forgiveness brings inner peace, happiness, and healing even though the scars and wounds of our emotional experiences can linger in our hearts for the rest of our lives!

Let these experiences and negative emotions go; it is the right time to let bitterness, hatred, and anger go because holding on is just useless struggle. It is hurting you! It is killing you! Let them go!

Don’t give up on love

If you fall in love with the wrong person, do not regret it bitterly forever. Overcome adversity with generosity, optimism, and joy.

Who knows what the future will bring us? Nobody does. Not even a president or a king with all his power, a rich guy with all his money or even the most famous model with all her beauty and glamour, no one really knows what is going to happen, what the future holds, so it’s up to us to shape it.

Destiny is not a bitch, “it is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to wait for, it is a thing to be achieved,” William Jennings Bryan.

Who can deny that social status, job, wealth, beauty, educational accomplishments, and age determine the possibilities of finding a romantic partner and influence social relationships? However, except on rare occasions, being happy, fulfilled, and experiencing new and meaningful relationships only depends on us.

Give the best of yourself every single day

Keep the relationship fresh, value it, and show your affection every day. The more time you are together, the more reasons there are for you to show him/her that you care. Praise him/her, compliment your partner, thank him/her, listen to him/her actively and empathetically, write poems and love letters, date him/her, take a trip together, hold hands, kiss and hug each other, make love with passion…

Love is blind but not stupid

blind

Before problems arise, it is important to be rational and weigh up the relationship and see if you think it’s worth the trouble.

For example, before getting into a serious relationship, if you are both on vacation, but live in two cities 300 kilometers apart, it will be very difficult to maintain that relationship. Meditate and consider it, because it may be desirable to stop a relationship before things go too far when the distance between both of you is a very objective problem.

vacation

The same consideration can be made about relationships where someone works in a distant city, they have different religious beliefs or come from different cultural backgrounds, one has serious health problems, etc.