I am Woman, You are Man

I’ve been lucky over the past couple of years that I’ve been living close enough with my family to see my niece and nephew as regularly as once a week, or more sometimes. I’m sure most people would agree that the early years of a child’s life are the most impressive. You never realize how much an individual can grow and change and learn until you see it happening in those first few years. Of course, over time, our growth process slows.

I’m sure I’ve written about my niece and nephew enough for you to know how much I love and adore them. Living so close allows me to see all the changes in their personalities and learning, as I said, and to see how different they are, as a boy and a girl. Make no mistake about it, girls and boys are different and they develop differently. I’m not saying that that means they’ll always have different interests or limited in their life’s options. It’s just an evolutionary fact, that the two sexes are different.

There are many reasons for it, and I don’t care about the reasons really. I find it fascinating to watch though. Who wouldn’t? Kids are awesome!

The very first book we ever read and discussed in my old book club was “The Female Brain”, by Louann Brizendine, M.D. She’s a neuropsychiatrist and the subject of the book is the basic differences between men and women, from birth to old age. I’m not saying I’m an expert or that I can confirm or deny any of what she’s written, but I found it a very interesting book and study. Brizendine discusses her findings with regards to the patients she’s had over the years – their identities protected of course. As a writer, I found this a useful book in some ways, as well as a good read, period. And you know me, I’m not a fan of non-fiction, so that’s saying something.

It’s not just children I find interesting when thinking of the difference between men and women. As we grow too, the differences remain obvious. I don’t just mean physically. Men and women have different thought processes and reactions to the same events and memories. No, don’t argue with me. It’s true. 😉 I’m not saying all women have the same thoughts or reactions, or all men, but you can’t deny it. I have enough men in my life and enough discussions with them that I can see and hear the differences. I’ve had enough arguments and long talks with all the women in my life to get the same from them.

I know what you might be thinking. Some of that is due to individual personalities, and you’d be right. I never form opinions about men or women simply based on their sex. Actually, I try not to form opinions about anyone, at any time until something settles it for me, in some way. 🙂

As a writer, I love to observe the differences around me, in personalities and the sexes. Speech patterns and turns of phrases are different. The way a man relates a story is different from the way a woman will. Think about the men and women in your life. When you talk to them next time, and I don’t just mean a ‘hi, how are ya’ in passing, just keep it in the back of your mind.

When I write, I try not to rely solely on the stereotypical differences between men and women. I think women can be just as inclined to be commitment-phobics as men, and men can be just as emotional as women. I remember having discussions – or debates, if you like – with a friendly reader at one time about the conversations I wrote between some of my male characters, the hockey players, to be specific. Not only were they all men in this case, but they were athletes, or ‘men’s men’ if you’ll forgive the generalization. I had written them having a certain kind of discussion, about a woman, and the reader – a man – said that conversation would never happen between two men. I had a hard time buying that. He argued endlessly with me over it and I did end up altering the conversation somewhat, to make it more believable that two men were talking about relationships. But I still had a hard time believing men would never discuss relationships with each other. Wrong or not, I disliked pigeon-holing my male characters as the kind that never discussed their relationships with friends. Who else would they talk to about it? Their mothers??? 🙂 I also don’t like to write my female characters in the same manner. I don’t want to make them only emotional basketcases or the ones constantly talking about their feelings. I hope I strike enough balance between my male and female leads to keep them interesting… and believable. What do you think?

As we’re getting ready to sit down to Easter dinner together, and with my 4 year old nephew and 18 month old niece, I wonder how they’re going to turn out in a few years. They’re constantly surprising me, every time I see them. I can’t wait to see how they continue to grow. Then again, I love them and just can’t wait to see them all the time. 😀

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. Take care and happy reading.

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3 Comments

Filed under Writing

3 responses to “I am Woman, You are Man

  1. Myra Nikkol

    Hey, I thought I’d leave a reply because as a psychologist I am very interested in personalities and individual differences. And you are right, men and women are different in so many ways, despite the fact that the underlying neurological circuitry is quite similar (what I mean is that the average male brain is not than distinguishable from the average female brain, except maybe in overall size). You hear people going on about the whole left-brain/right-brain dilemma, and how men are more analytical and better at maths whereas women are more empathic and better at communicating, but scientifically those claims are about as reliable and valid as astrology.

    What I tend to find in my practice and my personal life is that the tremendous differences between men and women often come down to upbringing and self-fulfilling prophecies. One example that has been proven plenty of times in many scientific studies is the whole “women perform worse at mathematics than men” myth. In school, for instance, young women struggle with maths as much as young men. However, instead of realising that mathematical ability is influenced by how much effort you put into it, not by gender, a lot of young women will just give up because “women are bad at maths”. This is encouraged – sometimes but not always explicitly – by teachers, parents and societal stereotypes: women shalt study humanities in university and leave the hard sciences to men, men shalt not be emotionally open and vulnerable in front of others etc.

    You mention your niece and nephew and how differently they are developing. Have you thought about how much of that is due to upbringing? Parents often treat their male and female children differently. And it starts with the “girl” and “boy” toys, the cuddling of girls and roughhousing with boys and so on, but when does it stop? For example, I know a woman (about 24 now) whose parents insist that she stays at home and takes care of her 3 brothers by doing the cooking, washing, cleaning and so on. And she is happy being that person, whether it is for her brothers or for her husband later on. In contrast, a different young woman (who is also a close friend) was raised without gender stereotypes and encouraged to pursue her interest in engineering. She is on the verge of a very successful career with NASA, and is also happy to be who she is.

    My point is that you are definitely right by saying men and women are different in their thought processes, life choices, reactions and so on. But the big question is to what extent are those differences due to the way we are brought up and the expectations bestowed on us by society. Are we a blank slate at the start? Because evidence points that we are born with similar potential to be emotional, analytical, empathic and essentially whatever we want to be. I believe how we are raised is a major part of what shapes who we end up to be. What do you think?

    • Lady Falcon

      So if it all depends on how we are raised then how come some men grow up feeling odd and prefer to be a woman and vise versa? I am asking because I don’t know and am curious. I am a big believer of letting people live how ever they choose so no judgements here just wondering how the psychology works in those cases?

      Happy Easter by the way! 🙂

    • That’s a good point you make, about how you’re raised. A lot of it has to do with societal and familial influences. And yet, there are people constantly bucking the trend, if you want to call it that.
      For my niece and nephew, the differences at this point are largely developmental. For example, my nephew didn’t learn to speak for over two years. He was taught and used ‘baby signs’, which is just ASL, and communicated in other ways. The family just went along with it until he opened his mouth and hasn’t shut up since. 😉 My niece is 18 months now, and we already can’t plug her up. My brother, her father, calls her the word-a-day-calendar because she’s breaking out a new word every day. Physically, my nephew learned to walk and run earlier, and my niece is just now mastering a steady walk – on flat ground. Outside, in the hilly yard, she still stumbles around like a drunken sailor.
      As for how I, or the rest of the family, treat them, it’s the same. No one pushes all the dolls or girlie clothes on my niece, and my nephew seemed to naturally develop a liking for construction vehicles and woodworking – though a lot of the building stuff came from a desire to be like Daddy and Popi (grandpa). My niece has a liking for big trucks already, probably because she worships her big brother. But, she also prefers quality cuddle time while reading about eighty books in an afternoon. My nephew, when he’s feeling so inclined to sit next to someone, can be the same way. Is it because we’re all big readers? Or because they are each at different times, desiring close contact? Who knows?
      Personally, I grew up as a tomboy, most likely because I had a big brother and my mother never pushed ‘girly’ things on me. I ran, played street hockey, football, and soccer. I kept up with my big brother and his friends and all through school, I excelled at mathematics. I always have had a head for numbers and though I’ve forgotten most of the more complex stuff, the basics are easily recalled. In fact, my full time job is about 80% mathematical. However, as an adult, I feel more that I’m a sensitive and romantic person by nature. Not necessarily more feminine, mind you. Though I do cry at strange moments (I’m currently getting a little misty-eyed at the ending of “Tangled”) and giggle like a schoolgirl whenever my guy tells me I’m beautiful. I’m a writer and I write primarily romance, as most followers of my blog know. What does that say about my psychology or upbringing? Who knows? What does it say about any men or women? I’m not sure. It’s a fun debate though and I find it interesting enough to write about over and over again. 😉

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