Men and women are different. Saying that feels politically incorrect, like I’m making a huge stand and saying something controversial. It’s a truth that people have known for thousands of years, but our current culture has brought into question a lot of beliefs about gender. I don’t think we’re that different, but I also think it’s disingenuous to say we’re not different at all.
The Sexes Are Different…
The biological differences between men and women are obvious. Some of our parts are different. I’m personally very happy with these different parts and how they work together! But these aren’t the differences I want to focus on today. I do look forward to learning more about hormones and the brain, and how those biological differences impact the sexes, but for now we’ll leave physical differences aside (to whatever extent that’s even possible). The differences I’m curious about exploring are related to how we think, feel, and express ourselves. And those things matter, because they affect our relationships. How we talk to one another, understand each other, and ultimately how we love each other.
Science certainly seems to backup that there are differences between the genders. Women tend to be more caring and better at showing empathy than men. Nursing is a field overwhelmingly dominated by women, and you also contagiously yawn more, which apparently is related to empathy. You also go into primary education more. I don’t know why anyone would want to do that. Men tend to be physically stronger (not me, but other men), and lucky for us, more likely to be psychopaths! Women do a better job of maintaining close relationships (even as they pursue work), while many men focus on their career and let friendships fall to the wayside.
I’m not a psychologist or a scientist, but I find all of these studies fascinating, and I can’t wait to learn more. Science is never settled, and new discoveries are made all the time, but there is good evidence that men and women are different. Blame biology or environment, but the differences still exist. I’m not arguing the differences are good or bad, but we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that they are real.
…But We’re Not That Different
I think the Venn diagram comparing men and women has a lot of overlap. We have more that makes us alike than makes us different. The pursuit of success, love, hope, and happiness are all gender neutral, yet we’re really good at blaming each other. There’s frustration on both sides. Women are marching over injustices and political issues. Men feel stereotyped as buffoons and misogynists. There’s a lot of division between the sexes, and a lot of finger pointing. That’s bad for society, and ultimately for our families and relationships.
Acknowledging our differences doesn’t have to lead to division. Instead, it can be the first step to understanding. We can start a dialogue and express our hurts and confusions. We need to listen to each other, and engage in a way that brings the genders closer together, not further apart.
What are some differences you see in men and women? What are some previously held beliefs you might be grappling with? How do these differences manifest themselves in your relationships, and what difficulties have you had trying to address them?