Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Men & Women: Knowing the Differences

{This post is collection of research conclusions and observations which I have witnessed over the past 30 years that not only might be helpful, but more importantly stimulate discussions. The real purposes is to increase the awareness between men and women, and to help them set aside issues that are not personal but are merely manifestations of nature. To my way of thinking, it is important to honor and rejoice in both our nature and our individuality.}
The Light-hearted Scenario:

First of all, a man does not call a relationship a relationship - he refers to it as "that time when me and Suzie was doing it on a semi-regular basis". When a relationship ends, a woman will cry and pour her heart out to her girlfriends, and she will write a poem titled "All Men Are Idiots". Then she will get on with her life.

A man has a little more trouble letting go. Six months after the break-up, at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday night, he will call and say, "I just wanted to let you know you ruined my life, and I'll never forgive you, and I hate you, and you're a total floozy. But I want you to know there's always a chance for us". This is known as the "I Hate You/I Love You" drunken phone call, that 99% of all men have made at least once. There are community colleges that offer courses to help men get over this need; alas, these classes rarely prove effective.


Women prefer 30 - 45 minutes of foreplay. Men prefer 30 - 45 seconds of foreplay. Men consider driving back to her place as part of the foreplay.


Women mature much faster than men. Most 17-year-old females can function as adults. Most 17-year-old males are still trading baseball cards and giving each other wedgies after gym class. This is why high school romances rarely work.


Women look good in hats; men look like dinks.


Let's say a small group of men and women are in a room, watching television, and an episode of "The Three Stooges" comes on. Immediately, the men will get very excited; they will laugh uproariously, and even try to imitate the actions of Curly, man's favorite stooge. The women will roll their eys and groan and wait it out.


To their credit, men do not decorate their penmanship. They just chicken-scratch. Women use scented, colored stationary and they dot their "i's" with circles and hearts. Women use ridiculously large loops in their "p's" and "g's". It is a royal pain to read a note from a woman. Even when she's dumping you, she'll put a smiley face at the end of the note.


A man has at most six items in his bathroom - a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of Dial soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in a typical woman's bathroom is 437. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.


Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked ladies. Women's magazine also feature pictures of naked ladies. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is hairy and lumpy and should not be seen by the light of day.


A woman makes a list of things she needs and then goes to the store and buys these things. A man waits till the only items left in his fridge are half a lemon and something turning green. Then he goes grocery shopping. He buys everything that looks good. By the time a man reaches the checkout counter, his cart is packed tighter that the Clampett's car on Beverly Hillbillies. Of course, this will not stop him from going to the 10-items-or-less lane.

Going out:

When a man says he is ready to go out, it means he is ready to go out. When a woman says she is ready to go out, it means she will be ready to go out, as soon as she finds her other earring, finishes putting on her makeup...


When preparing for work, a woman will put on a Mondi wool suit, and then slip into Reebok sneakers. She wil carry her dress shoes in a plastic bag from Saks. When a woman gets to work, she will put on her dress shoes. Five minutes later, she will kick them off because her feet are under her desk. A man will wear one pair of shoes for the entire day.

Leg warmers:

Leg warmers are sexy. A woman, even if she's walking the dog or doing the dishes, is allowed to wear leg warmers. She can wear them any time she wants.

A man can only wear leg warmers if he is auditioning for the "Gimme the Ball" number in "A Chorus Line".


Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.


Men are vain; they will check themselves out in the mirror. Women are ridiculous; they will check out their reflections in any shiny surface--mirrors, spoons, store windows, toasters, Joe Garagiola's head.


Women use garages to park their cars and to store their lawnmowers. Men use garages for many things. They hang license plates in garages, and they watch TV in garages, and they build useless lopsided benches in garages.


For women, their favorite movie scene is when Clark Gable kisses Vivien Leigh for the first time in "Gone With The Wind". For men, it's when Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit in Mae Clark's face in "Public Enemy".


Women look nice when they wear jewelry. A man can get away with wearing one ring, and that's it. Any more than that, and he will look like a lounge singer named Vic.


When a woman reaches menopause, she goes through a variety of complicated emotional, psychological, and biological changes. The nature and degree of the changes varies with the individual. Menopause in a man provokes a uniform reaction--he buys aviator glasses, a snazzy French cap and leather driving gloves, and goes shopping for a Porsche.

The Telephone:

Men see the telephone as a communications tool. They use the telephone to send short messages to other people. A woman can visit her girlfriend for two weeks, and upon returning home, she will call the same friend and they will talk for three hours.

Low Blows:

Let's say a man and a woman are watching a boxing match on television. One of the fighters is felled by a low blow. The woman says "Oh, gee, that must hurt." The man doubles over and actually feels pain.


If a woman is out driving and she finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings, she will stop at a gas station and ask for directions. Men consider this to be a sign of weakness. Men will never stop and ask for directions. Men will drive in a circle for hours, all the while saying things like, "Looks like I've found a new way to get there", and, "I know I'm in the neighborhood. I recognize that White Hen store".

Admitting Mistakes:

Women will sometimes admit making a mistake. The last man who admitted that he was wrong was Gen. George Custer.

Richard Gere:

Women like Richard Gere because he is sexy in a dangerous way. Men hate Richard Gere because he reminds them of that slick guy who works at the health club and dates only married women.


Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and soccer games and romances and best friends and favorite foods and secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Dressing up:

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage answer the phone, read a book, get the mail. A man will dress up for: weddings, funerals.

Nudity in Movies:

Every actress in the history of movies has had to do a nude scene. This is because every movie in the history of movies has been produced by a man. The only actor who has ever appeared nude in the movies is Richard Gere. This is another reason why men hate him.

David Letterman:

Men think David Letterman is the funniest man on the face of the Earth. Women think he is a mean, semi-dorky guy who always has a bad haircut.


Men take photography very seriously. They'll shell out $4,000 for state-of-the-art equipment, and build darkrooms, and take photography classes. Women purchase Kodak Instamatics. Of course, women always end up taking better pictures.


Men love to talk politics, but often they forget to do political things such as voting. Women are very happy that another generation of Kennedys is growing up and getting into politics, because they will be able to campaign for them and cry on election night.

Locker Rooms:

In the locker room, men talk about three things: money, football, and women. They exaggerate about money, they don't know football nearly as well as they think they do, and they fabricate stories about women. Women talk about one thing in the locker room--sex. And not in abstract terms, either. They are extremely graphic and technical, and they never lie.


Women do laundry every couple of days. A man will wear every article of clothing he owns, including his surgical pants that were hip about eight years ago, before he will do the laundry. When he is finally out of clothes, he will wear a dirty sweatshirt inside out, rent a U-Haul and take his mountain of clothes to the laundromat. Men always expect to meet beautiful women at the laundromat. This is a myth.


When reminiscing about weddings, women talk about "the ceremony". Men talk about "the bachelor party".


Female cheerleaders are cute, sexy, fresh, and all-American. Male cheerleaders are scary.


Men wear sensible socks. They wear standard white sweatsocks. Women wear strange socks. They are cut way below the ankles, have pictues of clouds on them, and have a big fuzzy ball on the back.


Little girls love to play with toys. Then, when they reach the age of 11 or 12, they lose interest. Men never grow out of their obsession wih toys. As they older, their toys simply become more expensive and impractical. Examples of men's toys: little miniature TV's, car phones, complicated juicers and blenders, graphic equalizers, small robots that serve cocktails on command, video games, anything that blinks, beeps, and requires at least six "D" batteries to operate.


A woman asks a man to water her plants while she is on vacation. The man waters the plants. The woman comes home five days later, to an apartment full of dead plants. No one knows why this happens.


Some men look good with mustaches. Those men are Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds. There are no women who look good with mustaches.


With the exception of female body-builders, who call each other names like "Ultimate Pecs" and "Big Turk", women eschew the use of nicknames. If Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah and Michelle get together for lunch, they will call each other Gloria, Suzanne, Deborah and Michelle. But if Mike, Dave, Rob and Jack go out for a brewsky and a smoke, they will affectionately refer to each other as Bullet-Head, Godzilla, Peanut Brain and Useless.

The More Serious Scenario:

For centuries, the differences between men and women were socially defined and distorted through a lens of sexism in which men assumed superiority over women and maintained it through domination. As the goal of equality between men and women now grows closer we are also losing our awareness of important differences. In some circles of society, politically correct thinking is obliterating important discussion as well as our awareness of the similarities and differences between men and women. The vision of equality between the sexes has narrowed the possibilities for discovery of what truly exists within a man and within a woman. The world is less interesting when everything is same.

It is my position that men and women are equal but different. When I say equal, I mean that men and women have a right to equal opportunity and protection under the law. The fact that people in this country are assured these rights does not negate my observation that men and women are at least as different psychologically as they are physically.

None of us would argue the fact that men and women are physically different. The physical differences are rather obvious and most of these can be seen and easily measured. Weight, shape, size and anatomy are not political opinions but rather tangible and easily measured. The physical differences between men and women provide functional advantages and have survival value. Men usually have greater upper body strength, build muscle easily, have thicker skin, bruise less easily and have a lower threshold of awareness of injuries to their extremities. Men are essentially built for physical confrontation and the use of force. Their joints are well suited for throwing objects. A man’s skull is almost always thicker and stronger than a women’s. The stereotype that men are more "thick-headed" than women is not far fetched. A man’s "thick headedness", and other anatomical differences have been associated with a uniquely male attraction to high speed activities and reckless behavior that usually involve collisions with other males or automobiles. Men invented the game "chicken", not women. Men, and a number of other male species of animal seem to charge and crash into each other a great deal in their spare time.

Women on the other hand have four times as many brain cells (neurons) connecting the right and left side of their brain. This latter finding provides physical evidence that supports the observation that men rely easily and more heavily on their left brain to solve one problem one step at a time. Women have more efficient access to both sides of their brain and therefore greater use of their right brain. Women can focus on more than one problem at one time and frequently prefer to solve problems through multiple activities at a time. Nearly every parent has observed how young girls find the conversations of young boys "boring". Young boys express confusion and would rather play sports than participate actively in a conversation between 5 girls who are discussing as many as three subjects at once!

The psychological differences between man and women are less obvious. They can be difficult to describe. Yet these differences can profoundly influence how we form and maintain relationships that can range from work and friendships to marriage and parenting.

Recognizing, understanding, discussing as well as acting skillfully in light of the differences between men and women can be difficult. Our failure to recognize and appreciate these differences can become a life long source of disappointment, frustration, tension and eventually our downfall in a relationship. Not only can these differences destroy a promising relationship, but most people will grudgingly accept or learn to live with the consequences. Eventually they find some compromise or way to cope. Few people ever work past these difficulties. People tend to accept what they don’t understand when they feel powerless to change it.

Relationships between men and women are not impossible or necessarily difficult. Problems simply arise when we expect or assume the opposite sex should think, feel or act the way we do. It’s not that men and women live in completely different realities. Rather, our lack of knowledge and mutual experience gives rise to our difficulties.

Despite great strides in this country toward equality, modern society hasn’t made relationships between men and women any easier. Today’s society has taught us and has imposed on us the expectation that men and women should live together continuously, in communion, and in harmony. These expectations are not only unrealistic but ultimately they leave people feeling unloved, inadequate, cynical, apathetic or ashamed.

The challenge facing men and women is to become aware of their identities, to accept their differences, and to live their lives fully and as skillfully as possible. To do this we must first understand in what ways we are different. We must avoid trying to change others to suit our needs. The following illustrates some important differences between men and women. These differences are not absolute. They describe how men and women are in most situations most of the time.


Men and women approach problems with similar goals but with different considerations. While men and women can solve problems equally well, their approach and their process are often quit different. For most women, sharing and discussing a problem presents an opportunity to explore, deepen or strengthen the relationship with the person they are talking with. Woman are usually more concerned about how problems are solved than merely solving the problem itself. For women, solving a problem can profoundly impact whether they feel closer and less alone or whether they feel distant and less connected. The process of solving a problem can strengthen or weaken a relationship. Most men are less concerned and do not feel the same as women when solving a problem.

Men approach problems in a very different manner than women. For most men, solving a problem presents an opportunity to demonstrate their competence, their strength of resolve, and their commitment to a relationship. How the problem is solved is not nearly as important as solving it effectively and in the best possible manner. Men have a tendency to dominate and to assume authority in a problem solving process. They set aside their feelings provided the dominance hierarchy was agreed upon in advance and respected. They are often distracted and do not attend well to the quality of the relationship while solving problems.

Some of the more important differences can be illustrated by observing groups of young teenage boys and groups of young teenage girls when they attempt to find their way out of a maze. A group of boys generally establish a hierarchy or chain of command with a leader who emerges on his own or through demonstrations of ability and power. Boys explore the maze using scouts while remaining in distant proximity to each other. Groups of girls tend to explore the maze together as a group without establishing a clear or dominant leader. Relationships tends to be co-equal. Girls tend to elicit discussion and employ "collective intelligence" to the task of discovering a way out. Girls tend to work their way through the maze as a group. Boys tend to search and explore using structured links and a chain of command.


While men and women can reach similar conclusions and make similar decisions, the process they use can be quit different and in some cases can lead to entirely different outcomes. In general, men and women consider and process information differently.

Women tend to be intuitive global thinkers. They consider multiple sources of information within a process that can be described as simultaneous, global in perspective and will view elements in the task in terms of their interconnectedness. Women come to understand and consider problems all at once. They take a broad or "collective" perspective, and they view elements in a task as interconnected and interdependent. Women are prone to become overwhelmed with complexities that "exist", or may exist, and may have difficulty separating their personal experience from problems.

Men tend to focus on one problem at a time or a limited number of problems at a time. They have an enhanced ability to separate themselves from problems and minimize the complexity that may exist. Men come to understand and consider problems one piece at a time. They take a linear or sequential perspective, and view elements in a task as less interconnected and more independent. Men are prone to minimize and fail to appreciate subtleties that can be crucial to successful solutions. A male may work through a problem repeatedly, talking about the same thing over and over, rather than trying to address the the problem all at once.

While there are differences in the ways that men and women think, it must be emphasized that they can and do solve problems in a similar manner. There are no absolutes, only tendencies.


Women have an enhanced ability to recall memories that have strong emotional components. They can also recall events or experiences that have similar emotions in common. Women are very adept at recalling information, events or experiences in which there is a common emotional theme. Men tend to recall events using strategies that rely on reconstructing the experience in terms of elements, tasks or activities that took place. Profound experiences that are associated with competition or physical activities are more easily recalled. There appears to be a structural and chemical basis for observed memory differences. For instance, the hypocampus, the area in the brain primarily responsible for memory, reacts differently to testosterone in men and it reacts differently to changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in women. Women tend to remember or be reminded of different "emotional memories" and content to some extent as part of their menstrual cycle.


There is evidence to suggest that a great deal of the sensitivity that exists within men and women has a physiological basis. It has been observed that is many cases, women have an enhanced physical alarm response to danger or threat. Their autonomic and sympathetic systems have a lower threshold of arousal and greater reactivity than men. In both men and women, higher levels of testosterone directly affect the aggressive response and behavior centers of the brain. Increasing estrogen and progesterone in men has a "feminizing" effect. Sexually aggressive males become less focused on sexual aggressive behavior and content when they are given female hormones. On the other hand, changing estrogen and progesterone levels in women during menstrual cycles can produce a "flood" of memories as well as strong emotions. Increasing or high levels of testosterone can produce an emotional insensitivity, empathic block and increased indifference to the distress others.

At the heart of sensitivity is our capacity to form, appreciate and maintain relationships that are rewarding. Even here there are important differences. For men, what demonstrates a solid relationship is quit different from that of most women. Men feel closer and validated through shared activities. Such activities include sports, competition, outdoor activities or sexual activities that are decidedly active and physical. While both men and women can appreciate and engage in these activities they often have preferential differences. Women, on the other hand, feel closer and validated through communication, dialogue and intimate sharing of experience, emotional content and personal perspectives. Many men tend to find such sharing and involvement uncomfortable, if not, overwhelming.

The Task Of Relationship Facing Men and Women

The task that faces men and women is to learn to accept their differences, avoid taking their differences as personal attempts to frustrate each other, and to compromise whenever possible. The idea that one gender can think and feel like the other if they truly loved each is rather absurd. Sure, a man or women could act in consideration of the other’s needs, but this would not necessarily be rewarding and honest. Holding the benefit of another above our own is rewarding. But from time to time, and more often for most of us, it is important to be our self and to be accepted, and not to be the source of distress and disappointment in the lives of people we love.


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