Social Question

seazen's avatar

If men and women are equal, why are we so very, very different in thinking?

Asked by seazen (6113points) October 18th, 2010

Our approach to things, our outlook and our way of thinking seems to have not evolved at all since the hunter/gatherer days, yet women insist we are equal and should be treated as such. I don’t mean wages – which should be, I mean the more hard-core feminism like women in the military issues and even sports etcetera.

Why is that?

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52 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We are? I don’t find that to be true at all. Besides, difference in thinking doesn’t excuse discrimination, systemic or otherwise, and certainly not sexism.

weeveeship's avatar

Equal=equal rights

Everyone, regardless of race, would think differently. Otherwise, we’ll just be a bunch of clones.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Even if not the same, we should have equal rights. I think your statement requires much citation and evidence that it’s anything other than socialization.

seazen's avatar

Let me clarify – before we all (well, not all) get our panties in a knot: I am all for equal rights and equal pay. I am talking about the way we think and approach things – the rule, not the exception. And there certainly are some exceptions here.

ETpro's avatar

When we talk about all people being created equal, or men and women being equal, or blacks and whites; we do not mean they are all exactly the same. We mean they have the right to be treated equally under the law.

Nobody in their right mind would argue that HervĂ© Jean-Pierre Villechaize who played Tattoo on Fantasy Island and Shaquille O’Neal‘Neal were equally tall, or shared equal talents. Nor would we say Sarah Palin and Albert Einstein were equally intellectually gifted. We can be treated equally under the law (equal pay for equal work, for instance) yet have very distinct personal differences.

Men and women often approach problems from different angles, and that is why society is better off having both involved in the decision making process.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Plenty of hunter-gatherer cultures were far more egalitarian than ours.

Unthinking people operate by the gender stereotypes that society has laid out for them. People who question, and allow themselves to become individuals, don’t seem to have as many differences between males and females as they do between individuals.

Nullo's avatar

Strictly speaking, men and women aren’t ten-pennies-and-a-dime equal; rather, we are complementary.

seazen's avatar

@Nullo I loved that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Equal =/= same. Which is the primary difference between capitalism and communism ;)

Pandora's avatar

Because we are equally valuable as people. Not all men think the same nor do all women. To dismiss someone because of the way they think would be foolish. If a woman is doing the same job as a man only her approach is different, she should be viewed equally to any man in the same position. So long as the job objective is met.
If she is doing the same job as a man than her pay should reflect the same that a man would get.

seazen's avatar

^ Yep. That’s pretty much what I said in the OP and the subsequent post. To dismiss someone because of the way they think would be foolish. Want to talk about it? No-one said anything about that – so you must have something on your mind.

Foolaholic's avatar

No, I think get what you mean. Fundamental differences. Politics and culture aside, natural tendencies sort of thing.

Now if I’m right let me put it to you this way; I don’t see equality as a level playing field, but more as a balance. Opposites that compliment one another, in a slightly Taoist sense. Not that I’m not for equality in a more political sense, but that deep down we are different in more ways than we are alike and idealy create harmony in contrast.

Pandora's avatar

Not really. I missed your post. I was just using it as an example. My mind is pretty much about sleep right now and its not because I’m a girl. LOL

rooeytoo's avatar

Firstly let me say that if I am working with 5 men, there are probably 5 different ways of thinking regarding any solution to a problem. Therefore we can safely say that not ALL MEN think alike. The same is true if I am working with 5 women. Therefore we can safely say that not ALL WOMEN think alike. I reckon the safest thing to say is that most people have their own approach/solution to any given problem.

Why oh why does anyone feel the need to keep lumping us all in a catagory that so limits and defines who we are and what we can attain. And what great goal is going to be achieved by insisting that women and men are so different when in reality most all of us, regardless of plumbing, are seeking the same end? That not all people agree on what is a “man’s man” was just proven in a recent question.

But so be it, if you want to sit over there in that corner and say look at me, I think like a man!!! If that makes you somehow feel better or superior or equaler then go ahead but rest assured there is probably some damned woman lurking somewhere who is thinking the same as you, the damned upstart!

seazen's avatar

All men think alike, watch: cars, beer, cigars, fluther, Time magazine, boobs. What were the first 6 things I mentioned? Can’t recall, right?

Edit: @rooeytoo – I used to understand you. I no longer do. You get more and more personal in your attacks, and you never seem to prove a point – just sorta of rant and try to put me down, not really answering anything – or trying to discuss. Why not simply take a break from my questions, and either post your own or answer others’ – lotsa space here. You’re starting to really bring me down and piss me off.

ratboy's avatar

Obviously women have but one head producing thought, men two.

rooeytoo's avatar

@seazen – And here I thought my answer was completely relevant to your question. Not all men are hunters nor all women gatherers. And it was directed at the question, you asked the question so yes that makes it personal but not to you personally. Every other day there is a question in Fluther regarding female/male equality and I answer them all with approximately the same response altering it only slightly to suit the nuance of that particular question.

Now as far as I know I am allowed to answer any question I so desire. And you often seem to hit on topics that are of interest to me as this female/male differences thing is. You know what they say, if you have a problem with someone, it is your problem. Or if you think my answers are irrelevant and/or personal attacks, flag them and let the mods decide.

downtide's avatar

Equal doesn’t mean identical. Also I think the range of thinking varies as much within either gender as it does between the genders.

And then you get people like me, who mess the results up royally.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. No need to make it personal.

Response moderated
meiosis's avatar

As far as I understand it, the demand for equality is for the equality of opportunity. That is, someone should be refused a position, not because of their gender, but because of their abilities or lack thereof. The fact that, stereotypically, there are differences between men and women is immaterial, as we are all somewhere on the spectrum between extreme masculinity and extreme femininity, and our place on that spectrum is not rigidly determined by our gender.

iamthemob's avatar

Generally, let’s be honest…men enjoy certain things, women enjoy others. Men think a certain way, women another. This isn’t stating that you can assume anything outright, but it’s true. No one should state all men think one way, all women another – but generally men will think a while women think b in given situations. Whether or not this is natural or because we are raised with certain expectations differently as men and women even today is up for debate. An interesting thing I’d like to point out is that FTM transexuals, when discussing their transition, will often comment that when they got on their hormone cocktails, they thought they were going insane. I’ve heard multiple stories about the quick and senseless anger they’d feel about nothing as well as walking down the street, looking at women, and thinking “I’d do that one, and that one” like they never had before. Of course, this doesn’t mean they think exactly like men, but it’s an interesting piece of evidence that we might think much, much more differently and react differently than we even believe that we do now.

@meiosis I think says it best – equality is about the right to equal opportunity, as much as possible. Sometimes it isn’t, but 99% of the time it is. If you want to be in the army, and you’re a woman – you have barriers men don’t have because of physical requirements. This may change in the future (not because of the requirements, but because women may develop in a manner keeping them physically more equivalent to men in terms of height, strength, etc.), but for now it’s the case and it very well should be. But there should be no unnecessary barriers.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob I’d steer clear of hormonal experiences of FTMs as proof of what hormones do in a person that have always had that hormonal trajectory from birth aka cisgendered people with a biological sex that they feel matches their gender. Introducing hormones is always sketchy and their consequences are diverse, no conclusions can be made.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – no conclusions drawn, and no statements of evidence as proof of those conclusions. Hormones do, of course, have an effect on how we think, and men and women generally vary in how their endocrine systems work…this is an interesting example of crossover, and I mentioned it specifically and only as counter-evidence to any proposal that we should assume men and women think alike.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob How well versed are you on the topic of hormonal effects on our thinking? Just asking, ‘cause I’m busy at work, and have no energy to get into something if you don’t have some kind of rudimentary knowledge about this particular connection..and I want anything I talk to you about to be solid, you know?

iamthemob's avatar

I haven’t made a strong enough statement, or I don’t mean to, in order to have it be something I need to be well versed in. There’s no need to spend energy to get into it, unless you have evidence that (1) hormones do not have an effect on the way we think, and (2) there is no difference between hormone production in men and women generally. Otherwise, I did state that the FTM transexual example may show we think much more differently than even we think we do, and wouldn’t that be neat, but am not making any assertions about the significance of that difference or the significance that hormones play in that difference.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob I want to mention that I believe (given my research into this matter) hormones play a lesser role than people think in affecting behavior and that the exact mechanism by which hormones affect our thoughts (though I know they affect people’s emotions, sometimes..but that, to me, isn’t necessarily the same as thoughts) is unclear and has never been elucidated. The rest of your comment, I get.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – that may be where the divide is a little. I consider that, generally, men and women think differently. That’s not really the same as thoughts, either…but closely related. Our emotional states have, I believe, a fairly powerful affect on how we interpret information as it comes in. That in turn affects how we react to the information, and how we consider problems, solutions, etc. Hormones play a role in this to some extent – but again, I don’t claim they’re “a reason why or why not.”

Further, there’s no reason to claim that hormones aren’t a cause but a reinforcer, in a way, and that the cause is absolutely more socially derived and constructed. Men and women are clearly brought up in different ways, and are expected to react differently because of that. When you start falling in line with those behaviors, this may very well trigger your endocrine system to release certain hormones responsible for regulating your body to respond to those reactions. When the body experiences sensations associated with that, it reinforces the reaction. In this case, hormonal release is in many ways the product of certain social reactions and not the cause or a cause of them.

partyparty's avatar

If you read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus it will explain exactly why we think differently.

This is a summary of the book

Very interesting reading

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@partyparty I recommend getting the book mentioned here.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob I think that social influence like socialization into ‘appropriate’ gender norms interacts with the biological landscape of each person (in a way that few care to research into) resulting in these seemingly innate differences exhibited by people later in life, as adults. So I agree, to a degree. People start out having different amount of hormones (though sometimes, the difference is greater within one sex than between sexes), then they’re raised according to different social constructs and this, in turn, might reinforce some biological differences which may or may not play themselves out on the level or hormones.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – I actually can’t wait until we aren’t so obsessed with making “boys” and “girls”

Nullo's avatar

I, on the other hand, feel that we ought to encourage masculine behavior in boys, and feminine behavior in girls.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo Plenty of people already do that.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Nullo – and just out of curiosity, what do you mean by that, what is feminine behavior? And what is masculine behavior. Does it mean there should be no male nurses or teachers because that has always been considered a feminine occupation, although carrying around those heavy old bedpans doesn’t seem real feminine to me. And does it mean there should be no female doctors or mailmen or fishermen or tennis players? Because again it isn’t really feminine to sweat and grunt. Where do you draw the line about which is which??? And what would you do to correct the unfeminine or unmasculine behavior of those children who deviate from the standard you are setting?

meiosis's avatar

@Nullo What do you think will be gained by such a course of action?

Nullo's avatar

@rooeytoo Mostly it means that I think that the metrosexual thing has got to go. Less-than-entirely-feminine girls don’t really bug me. Maybe if I were a girl. Correction? By being an example (or where appropriate, offering an example) of what you want them to emulate, like all the rest of the behaviors.

@meiosis Nothing that we don’t already have. This is maintenance, not creation.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo If it’s not creation, why does it need maintenance. That’s what I don’t get: if you think feminine/masculine behaviors are innate, why teach your children to do or not do something based on their gender? Because these norms are arbitrary and not innate and your kids disprove you every time (not you you but society in general).

iamthemob's avatar

@Nullo – You just argued “it’s okay for girls to ask masculine, but men shouldn’t act in a way that’s considered feminine.”

You do realize how that can be interpreted as misogynistic.

rooeytoo's avatar

Thank you @iamthemob for pointing that out to our friend @Nullo. If that isn’t one of the most sexist damned things I have ever heard! Why is it not just as okay for a boy to not conform to society’s definition of masculine as it is for a girl?

And is it my imagination that it is usually males who want to insist upon this innate difference between the way females and males, act, think, behave, etc? Could it be they are intimidated by the notion of a woman being their equal in all ways? Do they feel they have to preserve some segment where they can reign supreme without female competition, who heaven forbid, might actually surpass them in some area? Seriously, why is this?

Nullo's avatar

@iamthemob, @rooeytoo I am aware of the apparent inconsistency, thank you. I was explaining my own, personal reaction, not a philosophy—the attentive eye will note that the blurb in question was set apart from the rest of the sentence using the “whisper” tags. In that same segment, I hypothesized that perhaps if I were a girl, I would take greater issue with women dressing inappropriately.
The philosophy – that we ought to conform to gender norms – is consistent. My gut reaction does not conflict with the philosophy. But philosophy and gut reactions cross paths, but do not define one another. Unless your philosophy is to go with your gut reaction.

@iamthemob How in blazes did you conclude misogyny of all things from my post?

@Simone_De_Beauvoir In fact, I do not think that feminine and masculine behaviors are innate, beyond a certain point – moderate awareness of history, or anthropology, or heck, a National Geographic now and then, will show that they vary by culture. All the same, I feel that they need conforming-to. All the more, in fact; just because a thing can be doesn’t mean that it must.

In short, let the culture be.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo So first you say one must conform to it just because…then you say ‘let culture be’ which is contradictory, because, to me, that means letting people be…but I guess, to you, it means ‘making a culture what you want it to be.’

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You can’t say that it’s contradictory simply because you hold odd definitions for words.

Culture is defined as the shared beliefs, norms, values, and traditions of a group of people. Those within a culture will, left to their own devices, instill that culture in their youth, and so on. It is part of what defines a person, but it is not the same thing as ‘people’.

meiosis's avatar

@Nullo Why would another man behaving in a less than masculine way bother you? What do you think will be the effect of his behaviour on you and wider society? What are the standards of masculinity that you feel all men should strive to attain?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo – no no, this has nothing to do with my definitions (which aren’t odd, btw, but whatever)...I say it’s contradictory when you try to understand what you’re actually saying (only using logic)...it is, however, possible that we view culture in different ways. I suppose we’ll just instill different ideas in our youth.

Nullo's avatar

@meiosis Likely for the same reason that I don’t like modern art, if that helps. I don’t expect to be more than bothered by his behavior, but there is a chance that he might encourage others to behave similarly.
At present, masculinity exists in my mind in an ‘is/is not’ sort of state; I’ll work on a concise definition, but it may be a while.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir No, I really don’t think that I’m being contradictory here. I say that we ought to conform to the cultural standards instead of trying to change them. Hence, let them be.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo You ”...say that we ought to conform to the cultural standards instead of trying to change them. Hence, let them be.” I strongly disagree with that idea. Perhaps that is what Franklin Delano Roosevelt was getting at when he defined a Conservative (and you are a self described conservative) as follows: “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.”

If we just maintained cultural norms, we would still be stuck at the point in history where we decided to begin doing that. It could be the stone age, with us living in caves, or the age of the Vikings pillaging and raping, or the old South with its slavery. All cultural progress has occurred because we did NOT just accept things as they always have been. Granted some of the “imrovements” backfire. Communism would be a good example. But we keep on trying, and come of the changes actually work, so we keep them.

rooeytoo's avatar

So @Nullo – Does that mean that you subscribe to every last minute detail of being what the stereotypical male is supposed to be? You do not deviate in the least but “let them be?” If so, then that is great for you, but I would guess for a lot of women and men that would not be true. Most drift over the cultural lines so often. I personally am very unlike the stereotypical female, I am taking a welding class, I am a wood carver, love power tools, have my own chain saw that my husband is not allowed to touch, I ride a motor scooter only because I feel I am now too old to straddle a motorcycle, it is easier to put my leg through instead of over. I do like to cook and I like to do the wash but those are the only domestic chores I even come close to enjoying, the rest I hate, although I am an excellent seamstress.

So if you want to be a cartoon man as @Simone_De_Beauvoir so eloquently put it in another question, go to it, but don’t expect similar behavior from the likes of me.

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro I was, naturally, referring to gender roles.

I guess that what I’m saying is that we shouldn’t try to force a change. Hence, let them be.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo I was just at an event in preparation to help write a book about transgender communities – there were hundreds of people there spilling out of doors that want a change.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo I totally agree that I shouldn’t try to force someone else to change their conception of their gender identity. But I wonder if you are really saying “Let them be”? I sense that is code for “Let them be like @Nullo thinks they should be.” which is the exact opposite of a libertarian approach.

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