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Is woo belief more prevalent among women?

(107 Posts)
CrotchMaven Thu 05-Jun-14 23:55:30

Ya know, faeries, ghosts, feathers and inner essence, soul stuff.

And, if so, is that a STEM problem?

And are woo-men (hahaha) more interested in in hard-core conspiracy theory, libertarianism rocks, government is evil, battle of the cocks stuff?

Or have I been reading too much weird stuff on the net, extrapolating and should go to bed?

And whither, witches. I love witches threads. Am I being witch - finder on woo-ers, of whatever genitalia/born-chromosome configuration?

almondcakes Fri 06-Jun-14 00:28:10

My personal experience would be yes, on both the alternative beliefs you gave and in orgsnised religion.

TheSameBoat Fri 06-Jun-14 07:04:55

I wish I had an answer for you OP, but I don't know what woo stands for!

JapaneseMargaret Fri 06-Jun-14 07:08:16

Thinking about it, yes, it is. I wonder why that is.

I don't know any men into angel readings and tarot cards, and other general woo-ness. I don't know many women either, but the people who are into it, are women.

CoteDAzur Fri 06-Jun-14 07:11:18

Yes, women are more woo-prone.

Men are more conspiracy-prone, ime.

meditrina Fri 06-Jun-14 07:26:22

I agree with CotedAzur, but with a caveat that I think it has changed (and no doubt will continue to change).

The old folk remedies (many of which worked) were the traditional wisdom on women. The shifts in medicine with industrialisation and urbanisation moved away from this lore, and then further scientific developments changed the nature of both medicine and nursing. This set up a dichotomy, which the terminology "complementary" medicine has done little to assuage.

And of course companies realised there was money to be made in all this (really got going late 20th century) and it was all over features/lifestyle mags (primarily aimed at women) to promote sales. Aromatherapy was 'big' then, so had added appeal of "smells nice" (a marketing angle primarily used to appeal to women). It reinforced marketing stereotypes (which are now highly pervasive generally).

I think conspiracy theories (and the higher echelons of cults and eccentric religions) tend to be men.

AskBasil Fri 06-Jun-14 08:39:25

Well if you count patriarchal religion as woo, men look quite as prone to it as women.

Although I suspect historically (and now) they haven't really believed it, they just used it to keep women in their place.

CoteDAzur Fri 06-Jun-14 08:44:46

I think religion is different because of widespread indoctrination from an early age.

There is no such indoctrination for woo, yet seemingly reasonable adults one day decide to believe them. Mostly women, unfortunately.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 06-Jun-14 08:56:18

Yes it is but I certainly don't blame women for it.

I see more women for therapy than men (obviously) as more shit happens to women in society.

They're struggling to find the answers and process just how crap their life is so many of them will look at self soothing woo to cope - which isn't harmful most of the time.

I notice that women who adopt a cause and tap into their inner rage do better emotionally as they get to express their feelings (particularly if they adopt feminist causes) than ones who just take up windcatchers et al

But that's a small pool and only anecdotal

In general it's all ways to cope with the difficulty of being a woman in a patriarchal world

And I hate the idea that other women criticise them for it - no different to witch hunting IMO. Or make them out to be silly air heads.

But I'm a bit of a fan of sisterhood tbh

LaurieFairyCake Fri 06-Jun-14 08:57:14

Shit that last bit sounded snippy

Sorry Sisters grin

VisitTheInfidelWithExplanatory Fri 06-Jun-14 09:06:50

I know quite a few men who are a lot woo - crystal wands, reiki, orgones, power in water and all that stuff. But it does seem to be all the hippy, alt lifestyle stuff. They are a weird bunch! and make a lot of money out of it

SquallyShowers Fri 06-Jun-14 09:13:47

What Laurie said. Spot on.

Funnily enough, the most 'woo' friends I have are both high powered career women and single mums, so both really 'out there on their own' in the world. I think the woo stuff is their way of chilling out and accessing a different pace and focus in life.

One of them is into homeopathy, chakra healing, reiki etc. The other is a white witch. I listen with interest and dont judge. I find it no more or less rational than religion, and I wouldnt dream of telling my Christian/Jewish/Muslim etc friends that their beliefs are a pile of shite.

CoteDAzur Fri 06-Jun-14 09:19:38

Belief in woo is quite different than belief in a deity, though.

Re God, there is no way of knowing one way or another.

Re homeopathy, for example, we know that it can't work (no valid mechanism of action) and it doesn't work (studies, Cochrane reviews, meta-analyses have all shown it doesn't work better than placebo).

CoteDAzur Fri 06-Jun-14 09:20:58

For every financially independent woman in a high-power job you know who is a woo fan, I can show you 20 SAHMs.

SquallyShowers Fri 06-Jun-14 10:22:37

Well I suppose homeopathy can be disproved, but believing in fairies, angels, Goddesses etc - all big woo business - is no different (to me) than believing in God.

Different point to the OP, though, I guess.

exexpat Fri 06-Jun-14 10:30:18

Men perhaps go for a different kind of woo - not so much fairies/crystals/guardian angels, more conspiracy stuff (the guy fixing my drains has been telling me about evil chemtrails…), lucky socks to make sure their team wins, completely useless (but very high tech-looking) gadgets which supposedly detect bombs or cancer etc.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Fri 06-Jun-14 10:52:18

I know you are talking about women generally, rather than feminists but...

I think there are certain alliances between some "branches" of feminism (especially second wave) and between "woo". Wicca, herbalism, alternative medicine, natural childbirth, spiritual beliefs etc have been taken up in opposition to patriarchal institutions such as the church, science, medicine and law. In much woo, "feminine" values are praised and women are often leaders (the wise woman trope).

It is ultimately a false dichotomy but I can see the attraction and I think there is attraction, particularly coming from the point of view as a sceptic AND a feminist who has witnessed the misogyny erupt in the atheist and skeptic community.

Some of the criticism directed at antivaccine campaigners is quite misogynist in tone for example. So I can understand why woo-ish organisations offer a welcome environment for women. I don't like it and the science community needs to get its house in order regarding STEM education, inclusivity and promoting women.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Fri 06-Jun-14 10:54:15

Sorry, I'm BF and on iPad at the same time so that isn't very well written, excuse the syntax!

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 06-Jun-14 10:56:41

The pope is still a man right?

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 06-Jun-14 11:01:43

For every financially independent woman in a high-power job you know who is a woo fan, I can show you 20 SAHMs.


almondcakes Fri 06-Jun-14 11:03:10

The woo takes on different forms, whether organised or not.

Female Christians are more likely to be having a personal relationship with God or seeing visions of or talking to the Virgin Mary. Men are more likely to be coming up with a vast explanation as to why their denomination is superior to others, why some other denomination is in a conspiracy out to get there. So the most popular ideas traditionally will be things like the devil - various forces are conspiring against you with the active participation of various evil doing humans and there is a supernatural elements. It has a broad appeal combining both elements of woo - caring and power conspiracy.

The same with non-organised woo like the paranormal. Aliens and werewolves are equally implausible, but men are far more interested in seeing aliens because there is a whole conspiracy theory around them.

The irrationality is the same in both. The difference is that using woo to heal people or develop a relationship with God is about caring, while conspiracies are about power.

The other issue is that women don't need to imagine that there is system in place that operates to keep them in a subordinate position.

CoteDAzur Fri 06-Jun-14 11:04:29

And I can. What's with the hmm face?

Someone said it is the pressure of high-powered jobs etc making women turn to woo but I know loads of SAHMs into woo.

Should I have lied because this is the FWR topic?

ReallyFuckingFedUp Fri 06-Jun-14 11:04:44

I know lots of men who belvie in ghosts and in aliens visiting earth (but that's just science) hmm

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 06-Jun-14 11:07:42

I think it's just one of those 'socially acceptable' things. Conspiracy theory sounds all masculine, man-against-the-system. Woo, I associate with pretty colours and tinkly music and so on. I think they're just neatly gender-delineated versions of bullshit.

Something that really bothers me is that women (including some feminists) tend to believe that they're recovering ancient female knowledge, or traditional female folk wisdom. I know that some aspects of healing or medicine have probably always been female dominated (eg., nursing) and others often (midwifery). But herbal medicine is something that, back when it was non-alternative, was taken seriously by men, and studied by men. I know people who're very invested in claiming they're reconnecting with women's closeness to nature or women's ancient herb lore ... it really pisses me off. Not that they believe it, but that they're using a myth to make themselves feel better about being female.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 06-Jun-14 11:08:58

almond - but then, that's historically subject to change. There are fashions in these things. I think that's how you can tell it's not intrinsic to one or other gender to respond a particular way - it's just that sometimes, having visions of the Virgin Mary dovetails neatly with society's idea of what is 'feminine' and sometimes it dovetails with what is 'masculine'.

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