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Lots of talk about how we're different.

(17 Posts)
wicketkeeper Sun 25-Sep-11 09:46:58

In my working life I come across people from many very different cultures, and I have always found the similarities to be much more interesting than the differences.
And that's got me thinking about women and men - we spend a lot of time thinking about the differences, but I would be really interested in what you see as being the same/similar between men and women?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlysWorld Sun 25-Sep-11 11:19:14

We're all human.

HoneyPablo Sun 25-Sep-11 11:22:02

We all make mistakes.
We all have potential.

aliceliddell Sun 25-Sep-11 11:23:23

Cordelia Fine 'Delusions of Gender' is meant to be good on this. Haven't read it so can't comment.

projectbabyweight Sun 25-Sep-11 11:27:02

All my life I've been part of mixed (male and female) friendship groups, and I'd say we've had much more in common with each other than with other people (be they male or female). Sense of humour, taste in music, films, opinions on things, etc.

My male friends who have had dcs are extremely caring and loving, and couldn't imagine life without them. They are also able to show their vulnerability, as I guess a lot of men would in circumstances that allow it without judgement.

Gender differences are MASSIVELY overstated and imposed by society imo. I've had male friends talk about how they've consciously tried to appear masculine, against their instincts (even little things like the way they sit), and my female friends and I feel the pressure to be "feminine".

TrillianAstra Sun 25-Sep-11 11:36:22

Have you read Delusions of Gender? Sounds like you'd enjoy it. Its very well written.

TrillianAstra Sun 25-Sep-11 11:39:23

The analogy I use when people talk about gender differences is this:

Let's imagine that the gender difference you are talking about is real. Let's say that it is just as real as the difference between men and women in height (which is a very strong assertion). If that were the case, then there would be a difference in the average but still lots and lots of overlap, and even at the extremes you wouldn't be able to say "a person who is like this must be a man, or must be a woman".

projectbabyweight Sun 25-Sep-11 11:59:58

I haven't read Delusions of Gender, but it looks interesting. I worry that if I concentrate on the subject I'll get increasingly cross about it!

wicketkeeper Sun 25-Sep-11 12:58:07

I really must read Delusions of Gender - I'll add it to the Christmas list.

The problem with the height analogy is that there are general differences - generally men are taller than women. What I'm trying to get at is the things where, generally, men and women are the same. I know that there are many traits where if all men and all women were put in a line there would be an overlap (height, strength, income) - maybe the best we can do is to say that some women/men are the same as some other men/women. Aaargh, I'm tying myself in knots here - so much easier to see the differences, but there must be some similarities!!!!

Totally agree with project about the overstating of gender differences - I guess that's why it's easier to see the differences than the similarities. But in that case are they just perceived/socially constructed differences, and in fact there are lots of similarities if only we were able to look beneath the surface?

KRITIQ Sun 25-Sep-11 13:12:59

Cordelia Fine's book is fantastic. It basically does demonstrate that what unites us as humans is greater than what divides us. What divides us is the "evidence" of bad / popular science, that supports social, political and economic discrimination and shores up institutions that seek to enforce the status quo.

A few years ago, I also worked within a team of about 25 people with origins on every continent bar Antarctica, speaking over 20 languages between us and representing all the major faiths and none. I was constantly amazed just how much we all had in common rather than the differences.

garlicnutty Sun 25-Sep-11 13:51:30

I've never found it easier to see the differences than the similarities, except when looking at socially-imposed divisions. I wonder if it's because I have brothers and/or we had a relatively un-gendered upbringing. (And am taller than Mr Average grin )
Fine's book looks like a good idea, OP.

fluffles Sun 25-Sep-11 13:56:09

i don't talk about the differences, i have always been quite a gender-neutral person. i do a lot of outdoor and 'extreme' sports so the women i know are all quite similar to me. i also bake, and knit.. i was brought up VERY gender-neutural by my parents in the 70s.

in fact, i came to feminism from the 'there is no difference' angle... though i know that's not entirely true - pregnancy will be the first time i've confronted real, genuine difference between the sexes in my life.

Grumpla Sun 25-Sep-11 14:05:32

I found that once I had DS I was able to see many, many similarities between myself and other mothers. It was quite a humbling and inspiring side effect of having a baby actually!

For example, sitting on a plane next to a woman from Abu Dhabi who had a son the same age as mine - with our babies there we were able to communicate, support & make each other laugh without much in the way of a shared language, and coming from different cultures / religions / races (some of the most obvious "differences" between groups of people I suppose)

I have lots of male friends, I suppose the similarities between me and them is often things like our sense of humour, we've experienced similar things in our lives, interested in same books, strong sense of principle, caring about other people etc. I wouldn't say I 'pick' my male friends using a different set of criteria from those I use when 'picking' my female friends.

Definitely agree that men and women display certain traits on a spectrum, and the 'weighting' of that spectrum is very much influenced / imposed by society. TrillianAstra's example of height difference is excellent and I will steal it next time I get drunk and talk to my FiL about feminism!

Another recommendation for the Cordelia Fine book, by the way!

fluffles Sun 25-Sep-11 14:15:16

even all those awful popular science 'why men can't multitask and women can't read maps' books stress that it is a spectrum with more overlap than distinct regions.

it's just their godawful titles that oversimplify.

garlicnutty Sun 25-Sep-11 15:09:26

Good point, fluffles. When you actually go and read the book, having been drawn by numerous articles yelling "Men's brains ARE different! Fact!!" ... you find it says men's brains grow differently, due to different education and occupation hmm

And that doing the same training as men makes women's brains grow the same grin

Himalaya Sun 25-Sep-11 15:41:28

As Fluffles says most of the differences between men and women are overlapping ranges, rather than complete differences that the 'men are from Mars, women are from Venus' headlines would have you believe.

But I also think the equivilence in the argument that 'people of different races and cultures are more similar than different' and the argument that 'men and women are basically the same apart from their reproductive systems' is spurious. Humans have been evolving as males and females for many millions of years longer than they have been evolving as different ethnic groups. It is just not the same type of thing.

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