General Question

dopeguru's avatar

Why is there such a strict division between genders? Aren't we all just human?

Asked by dopeguru (1894points) September 25th, 2016

I don’t want to hate men but I’m beginning to, because of what the world advertises what a man ‘is’ or ‘should’ be like. Tough, bossy, sexist, cheating, powerful. What-have-you. All those generalizations.

Women gossip, are loud, and wear make-up and talk about boys.
Again, the hasty generalizations.
But they do mean something…

Why is there even a gender division? Wouldn’t it be better if the norms became more fluid and intertwined?

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48 Answers

Seek's avatar

The norms were more fluid, for a glorious time in the late 70s and early 80s. At least it was if you look at advertising in the day.

Compare the girl in This Lego ad to this modern Lego ad from France

One is all about how kids can use Lego to encourage their own imagination – as a parent, having a toy in the first ad shown to me, I could say, “So cool! Tell me a story about it!” so even if I had no clue what she built, I could encourage her and also demonstrate my pride in her thought process.

If she made a flower, out of a flower-making kit… well.. yay?

But this is of course all “our own” fault. That is, people buy super-gendered toys for their kids, and instill in their kids the idea of rigid gender definitions.

If people simply stopped teaching their kids that boys don’t like pink and girls hate getting dirty, this would all stop pretty quickly.

janbb's avatar

I’m wishin’ and a hopin’ we’re heading into a more gender fluid age again but I don’t know if we are.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think there is such a division. Sure, it’s still not an ideal situation, but I really feel on many fronts men and women are treated equally, and often gender is irrelevant.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I can’t think of another time in history when men and women can do whatever the hell they want as much as they can now. Now is a good time. @dopeguru jesus don’t hate men, hate the generalizations sure but don’t hate half the the population.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would love to see what it is like being a house husband , like in the cartoon committed.

elbanditoroso's avatar

As long as men have penii and women don’t, there will be a gender division. And I don’t see that changing for a couple billion years of evolution.

Now, can we reduce the social effects of gender division? maybe, But you’re going up against a half million years of anthropology.

Seek's avatar

Gender and biological sex are not the same thing. For the eleventy kabillionth time.

ibstubro's avatar

Men and women fundevelopmentally think differently.

Whites think differently from Blacks.
Muslims think differently from Christians.
As long as people are willing to kill for beliefs instead of laws, humans will remain divided. Or perish.

kritiper's avatar

Yes, but “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.” Read the book!

JoyousLove's avatar

As far as I’m concerned, gender division currently exists because it has existed for a long time and we humans have a difficult time with change. That being said, there have been periods of time with greater and lesser discernment between different genders.

The need to differentiate between sexes and genders may be a fairly fundamental thing for humans, though… The desire to classify all things. We enjoy conveying details to each other, some more efficiently than others. Let’s say… I wanted to tell someone about the human with breasts and a vagina, who entered the room. It would be easier to simply tell them about the woman who entered the room. Unfortunately, though, this is also an over simplification… After all, perhaps the woman entering the room is a non-op transgender woman and doesn’t have a vagina and possibly doesn’t have breasts either. I suppose I lost track of where I was going with this… But it does seem to me that it conveys more information if I were to say that the non-op transgender woman entered the room, rather than telling someone that the human with breasts and a penis entered the room.

All of this being said… There is definitely a movement toward accepting people who do not conform to gender stereotypes. So hopefully we’re approaching a day when the norms are indeed more fluid and intertwined.

@elbanditoroso: Some women have penii… And some men don’t.

@Seek: Precisely.

@ibstubro: I’m curious about a couple of your statements… Whites think differently from Blacks and Muslims think differently from Christians are of a particular curiosity for me. Especially when compared with the initial statement that men and women “fundeelopmentally” think differently. (I assume you mean fundamentally?) Anyways, it’s sometimes true that the brains of men and women simply behave differently… But research has shown that most brains demonstrate a mixture of characteristics that are “typically” reserved for one sex or another. The research I’m referring to found that, “maybe 6 in every 100 of the brains they studied were consistently a single sex. Many others had a patchwork quilt of masculine and feminine features that varied widely from person to person.” So I assume you must be talking about something besides the fundamental brain functions of the two sexes… So I must ask, in what way do men and women fundamentally differ in the way they think? Apply the same question to the other two comparisons you made.

cazzie's avatar

@ibstubro “Men and women fundevelopmentally think differently.
Whites think differently from Blacks.
Muslims think differently from Christians.”
That is one of the most blatantly wrong, sexist and racist comments I’ve seen on Fluther. And that’s saying something. (and you spelled fundamentally wrong)

Please answer @JoyousLove‘s question. I’m very curious as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro You don’t think there are white Christian men out there killing for their beliefs? Rogue militant types and men in our army?

I’m usually ok with generalizations and saying there are cultural differences between groups, but throwing in the word fundamental makes it sound like you think people are actually born a certain way and it’s locked in. That is my definition of racism and bigotry. I’m sure you don’t mean that. Do you?

LostInParadise's avatar

As the French say, Vive la difference! I like the idea of having two separate poles, a yin and a yang. There is nothing wrong with someone choosing to be somewhere in the middle, but what a shame it would be if we ever got to the point where there was no overall difference between men and women apart from sexual organs.

Seek's avatar

Why, precisely, would it be a “shame”?

Stinley's avatar

@ibstubro the evidence is not there to support your assertion that men and women fundamentally think differently.

I found a meta-analysis (a systematic review and mathematical analysis) of studies into gender and cognition. Highlight from the review:
Stereotypes hold that males excel in math and spatial skills, and females excel on verbal tests. However Meta-analyses contradict these stereotypes, for example, females equal males in math skills. Meta-analyses of gender differences across a wide array of psychological qualities support the Gender Similarities Hypothesis, which states that males and females are quite similar on most — but not all — psychological variables.

So, some small differences, yes. But men and women are far from being fundamentally different in their thinking.

cazzie's avatar

Some behavioural differences are explained but that is far from saying we think fundamentally different and doesn’t explain your comment about why a black man’s thinking fundamentally different than a white man’s or a Christian and a Muslim or why not throw in a Jew as well?

JoyousLove's avatar

Men and Women: No Big Difference

Your article describes how chimps behave a certain way in their social structure and that there seems to be a relationships between the sex of the chimps and their behaviors.

My article describes how the differences in behavior between human men and women seem to be based largely on gender roles and social context. What this means is that men and women do not in fact think a certain way based on their sex… But they do behave a certain way because of the expectations placed on them by society.

I would also point out that my article cites extensive sources, while your article has no form of bibliography.

JoyousLove's avatar

@ibstubro: It also occurs to me that my article is published in the “Research in Action” section of Psychological Science by the American Psychology Association… While your article is published in the “Commentary” section of Cosmos and Cluture by National Public Radio.

olivier5's avatar

There must be some amount of biological determinism (plus some amount of cultural determinism) in gender relations. It would be very surprising if there wasn’t, since we ARE animals, not free spirits detached from biology. We’re very close to chimps. But similarly, it wouldn’t surprise me if chimps had some form of culture, and why not some cultural gender norms. I see no reason to exclude that possibility, which is not considered in @ibstubro ‘s linked article.

ibstubro's avatar

I engaged in a bit of hyperbole in my answer, but I stand by the answer.
Humans group and re-group according to popular similarities.

“Why is there such a strict division between genders? Aren’t we all just human?”

We are not, all just human.
Or there would be no war or strife.

JoyousLove's avatar

@ibstubro: I find it difficult to believe that you were engaged in hyperbole in your initial response, simply because your reaction to our questioning said response was to try to offer supporting evidence. Once that evidence was countered, you then backpedalled and claimed that it was hyperbole.

I also have to wonder if your most recent reply is hyperbole? It seems to me that the following statement could be considered a truism: “All humans are just human.” Yes, being human involves having different characteristics, which are what lead to the war and strife that you mention (partially… Sometimes these issues arise from different reasons, like distribution of resources). However, just because we humans have differences does not make us not just humans.

cazzie's avatar

‘I was just kidding.’ (after a person insulted another person) ‘I was using sarcasm.’ ‘I was being flippant.’ ‘I was being hyperbolic.’ All of these answers I’ve seen the past few days to justify some sort of comment that gets questioned. What ever happened to, ‘I’m sorry, that came across wrong, what I actually meant to say was ‘this’........

People, you realise we can’t see your facial expressions or hear your tone of voice when you write things, right? So, how about we be more thoughtful and avoid so much of this confusion by actually writing more succinct so you don’t have to keep defending your flippant, hyperbolic, sarcastic, joking-around answers.

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olivier5's avatar

Coming back to the OP, there’s some pretty extraordinary statement in it:

I don’t want to hate men but I’m beginning to, because of what the world advertises what a man ‘is’ or ‘should’ be like. Tough, bossy, sexist, cheating, powerful. What-have-you. All those generalizations.

Not a single post took issue with that statement?!?... I bet ya that if a man had said something like ”I don’t want to hate women but I’m beginning to, because of what the world advertises what a woman ‘is’ or ‘should’ be like <insert stupid stereotypes>”, someone would have taken issue with it.

That says a lot about how casual misandry is worse than tolerated: it’s not even noticed…

olivier5's avatar

Correction: @ARE_you_kidding_me took issue with the OP’s men hate statement. Thanks for that.

cazzie's avatar

The OP also says stupid generalisations about women too. But she isn’t saying she believes them. Sounds like she is trying to get to why they exist, if they are real and why we buy into them. But that would give you less space to whine and you would have had to have read the question.

olivier5's avatar

Yeah but she doesn’t say she started to hate women… That’s the odious part, and it’s said as if it’s no big deal.

Certainly if she had said ”I don’t want to hate Jews but I’m beginning to, because of what the world advertises what a Jew ‘is’ or ‘should’ be like”, even you would understand how shocking that sentence is.

cazzie's avatar

She has an odd stream of consciousness but that isn’t her question. Her question is about how those generalisations are wrong and shouldn’t be. Reading the whole question rather than taking part of what she wrote and reacting to it out of context was my choice, but ok.

olivier5's avatar

You chose to ignore an expression of hatred for half of humanity, and now you tell me it’s fine and she didn’t really mean it and she’s not really sexist.

Now compare this to the way you rushed to judgement about my alledged sexism. Did i say “i’m begining to hate women”? No! I just said “it’d be real gender equality when women chase men” (aka court men). And that’s enough in your book to call me sexist…

You’re Ms. Double Standard indeed.

cazzie's avatar

She did not say she hated men. She stated she hated the generalisations and expectations society has of men. Don’t you hate having those sexist generalisations to live up to? I’m sure they don’t define you as a person but she feels she is starting to confuse men with the expectation society puts on them. Her first and last actual questions show that she wishes for a less defined and more fluid roll for the sexes. In real life, of course there are. When you are young and haven’t met that many people in your life things can feel very black and white.

olivier5's avatar

I have no problem with her question, which is in fact excellent. Why are there gender roles in every single human society, and would we be better off without them, is a question that has bothered me for some time. I don’t have an answer but suspect gender roles DO serve a purpose, and we should be careful not to dispose of them before we know what purpose they serve.

My issue is simply with the fact that expressing hatred for men, as done in the OP where it’s presented as almost mainstream, if not expected of any woman, is NOT considered shocking. And i suspect she IS right: men hatred is not considered a problem by you for instance. You’d rather trivialise it and call ME sexist than confront it.

cazzie's avatar

Why don’t you pose a question yourself about men hatred and we can discuss that there, because this question was about gender rolls and the dislike of generalised expectations. I do hope the OP comes back to clarify some of these points. Most people say ‘hate’ when they men dislike and @dopeguru can sometimes be a big confusing and vague in her questions, but they are almost always very good ‘wonderings’.

olivier5's avatar

There’s no question in my mind about that.

The present thread might have been triggered by another, in which I took issue with the casual hatred of men vehiculed by some of what passes for feminism these days, and tried to explain to some other jelly that men and women are not essentially different in their thinking. Somehow that came as a shock to her… She just could not accept it, because she had only contempt for men, as a demographic. And even MEN on that thread have stated similarly ridiculous clichés about men being incapable of X or Y… They have internalized society’s prejudices against them.

Sexism has deeper roots than most people think, and we’re pretty much all guilty of it, women included.

olivier5's avatar

Oh ‘dislike’ huh? As in: ”I dislike black people but don’t call me racist”... That’s okay in your book, then?

How hard is it for you to call a woman sexist, Carrie? And how facile is it for you to call a man misogynist?

cazzie's avatar

I react badly to flippant remarks, especially on threads that are marked ‘general’ because we are meant to take those more seriously. I will call out remarks that I think sound sexist or dismissive of a fellow jelly when I know they are based on gender. I don’t apologise for that. By the time I get the topics. there are usually so many responses I want to give, I feel like I only get superficially to the worst of them. Like in @ibstubro ‘s response here. I mean… that was pretty bad.

My name isn’t Carrie. And no, I don’t have problems calling out women for misconceptions, just ask @JLeslie. Your comparison is strawman. I do hope the OP gets back to this thread and clarifies. I have the benefit of knowing her posts better than you. You are rather new here.

olivier5's avatar

It’s no use to call out something sexist if you don’t explain WHY you find it sexist. Then it’s just name calling, and it trivializes your cause.

Seek's avatar

Black people are not here to teach you how not to be racist, and women are not here to teach you how not to be sexist.

It is up to you to learn how to function in polite society.

olivier5's avatar

Sorry about mangling your name, Cazzie. No offense intended.

I don’t have problems calling out women for misconceptions

But you can’t call them or even see them as sexist, even when they say they are begining to hate men… That in itself is already a form of discrimination. I rest my case.

cazzie's avatar

I discriminate all the time. I will discriminate now by keeping away from your posts.

olivier5's avatar

Thank you.

cazzie's avatar

@Seek he put me in a corner because I didn’t jump on an assumption about what the OP said in her question! Brrwwwaaaaaaaah!!!!

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

We are just shaking off the old cave man division or hunting and gathering.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think the divide IS becoming more fluid, less strict, with each successive generation. There will always be differences, but hopefully we can continue to lose the assumptions and stereotypes that are applied across the board.
Sometimes, after talking to a person, getting to know them, you find the stereotypes do apply. It’s usually older generations. I grew up hearing “Boys are smarter than girls!” on the playground, and was firmly believed by the boys and many of the girls, there are those who believe it to this day. My husband used to be one of them.

I was told to “act nice,” “don’t do that, boys can see up your dress.” So why the hell did they make us wear dresses?? “Sit down. Act like a lady.” “Oh, he punched you because he likes you.” I grew up with all of that.

But there are some really wonderful guys here to whom the stereotypes don’t apply.

And I really, really miss Addie.

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