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mollydrew's avatar

Does one's outlook, knowledge, and theories of the world differ depending upon gender?

Asked by mollydrew (641points) August 5th, 2010

I was raised by a military father, my mother died when I was very young and I was taught a “girls place is in the home”. I truly believed a mans ideas and opinion were correct; until my girls came along. I went back to school and I read a lot and formed my own ideas my own opinion. I then taught my girls and boys to think for themselves. Gender was a major part of my outlook and thinking as it was my fathers. Gender still effects my outlook only now it is first of all, educated, flexible and honest then it is female.

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19 Answers

Frenchfry's avatar

Well I am glad that the thinking of woman’s place is in the home is a past time..Well some may feel that still but not as many. I have a little girl I will teach her strive to be anything that she can be. I am sure that being a female certain things maybe be harder for her to accomplish or give her a handicap but to not give up. Women have come along way , baby.

JLeslie's avatar

@mollydrew How old are you that you were raised this way? I am 42 and when I wanted to be a cheerleader my dad said, “why don’t you go out for the football team.” When I said, “I want to marry someone rich,” he said, “you should become rich on your own.” I think women still tend to be the ones who stay home with children, and men still feel a bigger burden of supporting the family financially, but the idea of girls being raised that a woman’s place is in the home is probably pretty rare these days.

I do think that gender still plays a part in how we view the world, but for different reasons. I think women tend to have strong networks of friends, and men generally don’t. And, women have to deal with their health more often generally from a young age. I think generally young woman have better understanding that things can go wrong, and maybe feel more vulnerable than men. And, even though young girls might be told they can be anything, if their moms do not work outside of the house, their model for being an adult woman is still very influenced by what they observe at home I think. That is not a critiicsm of stay at home moms, I think it is wonderful to be home with your children, but I think it is important to keep in mind that children do many times grow up and follow the models demonstrated in their own homes.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Outlooks, knowledge and theories about life can absolutely be based on what gender someone is, but, and this is the important part – not inherently. In most societies, people tend to treat male and female babies differently from the time of birth. This will greatly influence, in one way or another, someone’s outlook on life – and it makes sense. Males who are taught to know the world in very specific ways, will see the world in those ways – and the same thing goes for females. If people raised males and females more similarly, this divide, this imaginary chasm, wouldn’t exist.

tifa's avatar

yeah the whole thing about a girl’s place is in the home is way back in the past… our theories, knowledge and outlook will always differ depending on society and our upbringing, gender should not be looked at for a reason of why these differ… more like what society has created to divide us into groups that we’re separating ourselves in…i honestly think there can be a world out there where females are dominant and males are the weak, look at the animal kingdom female snakes are known to be more vicious as well as spiders the black widow… it only effects your outlook if you decide it to…

polinsteve's avatar

I do have some strong opinions on a parents place in the home, but not entirely dictated by gender. Men and women are equal with many “buts”.

A woman’s place is in the home when she has babies. A Dad will love and care for his baby, but I think the Mother’s bond is special, by nature not nurture. When not caring for a baby, women should have the same rights and responsibilities as men and visa-versa. I am a firm believer in parents caring for the kids rather than child care centres.

What gives me a take on this?

I was a single caring dad from the time my girls were aged 5 and 7. I gave up a good career to get work that fitted in with school times and holidays. Money was always tight and available only for basics, but I was always there for the kids. They were raised knowing the value of money and more importantly, the “value” of people.

They have grown up with good social awareness and high moral, non-judgemental standards. Intolerance of any race, colour, gender and religion are not considered. They are both independent, socially aware confident people.

I thought then and my ideas have not changed, that we are all equal but usually with different strengths which we should use to build satisfying and equal relationships with equal rights and opportunities.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@polinsteve Do you care to explain why you feel that mothers have a special bond, by nature, more than a father would have with his children, by nature?

polinsteve's avatar

Thinking more about comments by DrasticDreamer and tifa, I agree that culture and nurture play a huge part. However, experiments have been performed with babies that seem to prove that nature is as strong. Male babies without being influenced will go for typically male toys while females tend to choose dolls.

Despite a non-standard upbringing for my girls where they were exposed to unusual circumstances, they have both developed into normal well adjusted women.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am halfway between @DrasticDreamer and @polinsteve – I too believe that if boys and girls were raised similarly the differences would be very much less. I had a major disagreement with the current interviewee who stated that a girl who liked race cars was not “normal” and that made me sad. If any young girl in fluther read that and wanted to be a race car driver, what message did that give to her.

I agree that once a child is brought into this world, it is the job of the mother to be a mother until the child is in school. Guess that is a sign of my age and up bringing. (I should add however @JLeslie – I have proved your theory incorrect, my mother was a stay at home mom all of my life but it never appealed to me, I never wanted children or to be what my mom was so I opted for a completely different lifestyle). But I really intensely dislike the idea
that “that we are all equal but usually with different strengths which we should use to build satisfying and equal relationships with equal rights and opportunities” as @polinsteve says. I think it should be an individual assessment. I have many strengths that are often attributed to males but I am female and I resent being made to feel “different” because of that. I also know men who have strengths usually attributed to females but are definitely males.

I think generalizations are so unfair and limiting. Let everyone be who they want to be is my motto.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@polinsteve How old were the “babies” in said experiments?

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Zyx's avatar

You can actually see the differences if you look at history after the women’s rights movement. Men ran the world trying to do just as much good as women would, but after women gained power the approach changed drastically (as a man I believe for the worse). I can’t summarize it, read history books.

polinsteve's avatar

I can’t find the report, but I remember it was very early months. When I trace it I will post it for you. However, I did find this info:

The latter part is the bit that pertains to this discussion. Despite the title, it has nothing to do with fly fishing!

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo Yeah, I don’t think it is a hard fast rule that moms who stay at home raise girls who will wind up at home. I think example does count though. I have a relative on my husband’s side, she dislikes how “domestic” her mother is, hates do any house work, generally seems aloof about being a mother, not unloving, but there is an air of not wanting to sacrifice and deal with the burden of being a parent. Anyway, she always talks about how she wanted to have a great career, travel, but in the end she wound up barely working and running around to three different grocery stores to get all of the ingredients she needed in the brands her husband preferred to cook a meal. Eventually they divorced. She kind of became her mother, and it took her years to finally marry her second husband (they dated for something like 10 years) because she was afraid once married she would fall into that role again. It was an incidious thing, I don’t think at first she realized she was repeating her mothers behavior, the very thing she did not want to do. Some of it had to do with the husband she married of course.

About what @polinsteve said, I generally say the first year is the mothers year. It’s not that men can’t care for an infant, but realistically, especially if the mother is breast feeding, it feels natural to me that the bond of mother and child is possibly more intense. I don’t judge mothers who go back to work at all (Someone mentioned staying home with the child til school age) but I have a hard time imagining. I don’t have children, but I just cannot imagine, for me personally, turning over my 3 month old baby to someone else all day, I think I would be horribly distraught letting that baby out of my arms. Of course, I am only guessing how I would feel, maybe I would be happy to get out of the house? And, of course part of it is socialization I think. Woman generally are given an expecation by society to be the primary parent taking care of the children, and men are raised to care for the family by keeping a roof over everyones head.

There have been studies that show that male babies typically are attracted to “boy” toys, and females to “girl” toys from the age of nothing it seems. I think it is a little bit of nature and nurture that influences the differences between men and women. Women’s brains are wired differently literally. Think about the young childen who are transexual, firmly feel they are in the wrong body. This was probably not caused by environment, but some genetic congenital thing. If they can so strongly identify against societal norms, most likely when we do identify with societal norms there is a function of preprogrammed genetic influence going on there, not just expectations of how a specific gender should behave.

wundayatta's avatar

A study looking at women’s aptitude for public relations work concluded:

Female undergraduates and particularly those majoring in public relations are shown to have the aptitudes and most of the requisite attitudes needed to become public relations managers. In addition, women were more interested in symmetrical communication than men, offering more versatility and sophistication for the field. However, they appear disinclined to take on the managerial role, envisioning a less-focused career than men envision and opting for technician over managerial positions.

It seems like were making vast generalizations here, so I want to state the obvious: there are going to be many individuals who are different from the generalizations. So assume that when I make a generalization, there is also variation in behavior.

Culturally speaking, I think that women tend to be more inclusive of others and they are more likely to help everyone have their say. Men want to take up as much space for themselves as they can get. The implications of these ways of interacting with others and with the world are pretty huge. But I’m not writing a PhD, so I won’t go into it here.

Even though my quote is about the public relations field, I have found it true almost everywhere. My wife, although more talented than everyone else at her job, doesn’t want to do managerial work. She says she’s bad at managing people, which is bullshit, or maybe not. Perhaps she is bad at male-style management. She would be a different kind of manager, but we don’t see those so much.

Anyway, I think women often don’t take promotions to management. They may not see themselves as managers, or they may not want to devote that much of their time to work, leaving more for family, or who knows what. But I do think it is part of the feminine outlook on life.

This idea of being less career-focused and preferring technical work over managerial work fits, I think, with the hunter/gatherer paradigm. Hunting requires a strong knowledge of what you are going for, and a complete focus on that. Gathering requires more openness and a generalized awareness so that you don’t miss something that may be important.

I believe that if we were to look, we would see hunting behavior and gathering behavior everywhere we look, and men doing the hunting and women doing the gathering (with, as I said above, variation). I do not think this is a bad thing, so long as there is opportunity for people of each gender to engage in stereotypical behavior of the other gender without being scorned. Further, I think it does not help us to believe that men and women are just the same in all things except, perhaps, physical capabilities. And even with physical capabilities, for the most part, form has enormous influence over function.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think my major objection to the theory that the difference in thinking, in likes and dislikes, and on and on is that it is often the precursor to a separate but equal policy in education, etc. And we know from experience, or ask most any non white person, that it rarely works equally.

And truly I agree with the theory that there are extremes at both ends, but most of us gravitate towards the middle where the differences are less marked.

Either that or I am a freakin weirdo, and actually that is probably the truth of the matter! I hate most domesticity except I am a good cook, I love car racing, raced my own car for a while actually, wouldn’t dream of painting my toenails, what a waste, but do slather lotion all over my tan taut little old body so my skin stays smooth. I am completely hetero but prefer tailored clothes in neutral colors, often buy my clothes in the kids department, for dress the look of Jill is my go. hehehe, oh well, I really shouldn’t much care anymore, but I do and I do feel sorry for the kids who will come along and not fit the mold that this is what a girl or a boy should like or how they should act or what toy they choose, and if they don’t, they are made to feel like outcasts.

zophu's avatar

Cultures treat the genders differently, that effects world views much more than Y-chromosomes do.

MaryW's avatar

I believe even though you taught your kids to think for themselves (Good for you) they will still sex orientate on some things. Following our hormones does encourage certain traits.
Your kids will be happier given a wider view of goals and expectations. But on average the gender traits are an influence in our choices.

polinsteve's avatar

“Do you care to explain why you feel that mothers have a special bond, by nature, more than a father would have with his children, by nature?”

Yes. I think it is evolution. The mum carries her baby for 9 months and in that time a bond gradually grows. The mother would have found it difficult to hunt with a new baby strapped to her, so, as survival of the fittest comes to the forefront, those mothers who nurtured their children would survive with healthy babies and the less caring would be more likely to injure theirs and suffer a higher infant mortality rate.

Studies show that women respond to a babies cry in a different way to males and can often identify their own child by it’s cry even if it is with many others. It would have been vital for the mother so suckle her young, a procedure that men were not equipped to deal with, so throughout evolution the females had to be the carers.

In my life, I love my kids as most dads love their offspring. I saw the wonder of birth and I bonded with them, but it was mum who got the special look from them, who bonded every feeding time. Our love is equal but different so I believe that the bond is equal but different.

Throughout history the fittest man would impregnate the “best” women, every war leading to the raping of women which although totally unacceptable by modern standards, was a natural way for the stronger, better equipped males to ensure survival of mankind.

Women by necessity stayed at home. Men by necessity would be away for long periods, so again, evolution favoured the stereotypes for the required tasks.

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