The Battle of the Sexes: Are We Really As Different As We Think?

by Amanda Timmins

“Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea. Here: Take some of this.” “But that doesn’t help with menstrual cramping!!”

power struggleBabies are born in the world as neutral. They are a genetic combination of their parents, without opinions, perspectives, or biases. However, immediately following that event, we become products of our environments, picking up on the beliefs, values, opinions, perspectives and biases of those that surround us whilst combining them with our personal experiences. This process is merely a fact of life.

But our genetics do, obviously, still play a part in our daily lives. I realized, albeit perhaps a little too late, that there are certain things in life that men and women just cannot agree on. It isn’t anyone’s fault – there are, to put it simply, particular life experiences that women have and men don’t, and vice versa.

This concept dawned on me following a series of events from this past weeks Ideas Developing Ideas event. Kevin Choo, a brilliant man who I’m proud to call a friend, and I got together for warm beverages. We discussed how to gain more interest and involvement in the Social Dynamics Movement, particularly from women. However, my creativity encountered a block when the darling man in my life and I entered into a lover’s quarrel, of sorts.

For me, writing has always been my creative outlet but I’ve had confidence issues when others read my work. But now, for the first time in my life, I’m surrounded by people who know, understand, appreciate and love me for simply being myself. I no longer have to hide my talents or intellect nor do I have to pretend I’m the cold-hearted person I was once believed to be. This kind of freedom is unbelievable. Yet, it comes with its own issues.

I’ve always strongly disliked serious arguments and, even more-so the idea that someone important to me may no longer be there anymore after the argument has ended. Nobody likes uncertainties but as a once seriously insecure woman, I’m the first to admit that no matter how wonderful someone is to me, or how important I am to them, I have a hard time accepting when they don’t just want to fulfill their primal desires. Understanding this about myself has allowed me to overcome a plethora of things as well as understand that multitudes of other women feel the same way. They feel objectified. This leads us back to my discussion with Kevin. Perhaps fewer women are involved in Social Dynamics because of this gender bias. (But understand this: Social Dynamics applies for Women the exact same as Men, it literally changes your life.)

couple fightingWomen believe, for the most part, that men only want to better their “game”, not themselves as a whole. I’m here to tell you that just because you’ve been burned doesn’t mean the world is on fire. Dating coaches and similar coaches in the self-help industry, don’t simply teach people how to up their game; they teach them the fundamental skills of communication and relationships. What woman doesn’t want a man that can openly communicate with them and help build the relationship in more positive ways? I’m fairly certain that’s rhetorical.

People say “you are what you eat.” That sentiment applies to so much more than just caloric intake. You are what you attract as well. Embodied in yourself are all of the positive, and negative qualities that you come to love and hate in those around you. It is for this reason that solely relying on a group of similar people, with similar issues and sticking points cannot help each other as effectively, simply because they share similar perspectives. Having said that, the beauty of people is that perspectives can change thus so can the people you attract. (If you tend to attract crazy people, here’s why.)

Kevin and the rest of the Kingpin Social crew are out to help people who want to help themselves in a judgment-free area with no gender biases. Women are more than welcome to equally benefit from their collective talents as men are. The only difference is this: If everything from men to women is comprehended as sexualized, women immediately get their defenses up. For better or worse. However, the key to understanding the opposite gender is to be comfortable and confident enough to talk to them about things directly. Some might find that a terrifying concept but it is those people that benefit the most from those situations.

The point of the matter is that society emphasizes the differences between men and women. I’m not the first and I certainly will not be the last person to point out that society is flawed. If you honestly evaluate those that are close to you, you’ll find that it is not the gender of a person that determines who that person is; it is his or her character. Gender biases are, primarily, just another defense mechanism that we put in place to protect ourselves. Reality is: Men and Women really aren’t that different. If we understand that we are products of the environment we choose to immerse ourselves in than life gets that much simpler.

take a chance

My challenge is this: Take a chance. Put yourself out there, even if that means leaving your comfort zone. Have meaningful conversations and connect with others. Acknowledge the obstacles in your life and take steps to overcome them. Regardless of what gender you are, change your environment so that it more accurately reflects who you are in the deepest part of your being. By doing this, you make it that much easier to just be yourself.

Live – Learn – Believe.

About Amanda Timmins
Amanda's favorite phrase is Hakuna Matata , as she believes there is nothing in life that cannot be overcome or attained with a little hard work. People are their own worst enemy and life is best lived with a smile. Dancing, rock climbing and primates are her primary loves alongside reading and photography.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kavla April 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

This article was pretty roundabout. Dances around making a point without ever really getting there. First, some stuff about how gender is socialized, then some personal anecdotes, then advice to women about how being insecure is the source of objectification (or something? The point about objectification was really unclear and I don’t think really understands what objectification actually means, past “feeling bad”), then some thing about how like attracts like…

As far as I can tell, this article is saying two things:
1) The differences between men and women are largely manufactured, not natural.
2) It’s up to women to “break out of their comfort zone” and into spaces that are male-oriented, not up to men to make those spaces more neutral or welcoming.

I think it falls apart at point #2. Why is it women’s defensiveness that needs to be challenged? Why is it always up to women to do this sort of emotional work? Why would women want to force themselves into spaces where they were obviously not considered important enough to include, rather than make their own, elsewhere?

“If everything from men to women is comprehended as sexualized, women immediately get their defenses up. For better or worse. However, the key to understanding the opposite gender is to be comfortable and confident enough to talk to them about things directly.”
Yes! The conclusion is good. We should be able to talk to each other like human beings. But that is absolutely not the fault of women. It is not women being too defensive. Perhaps there is a reason for that defence? (Hint: It’s rape culture.)

And since you’re wondering why there aren’t many women on this site, here’s some things that I’ve noticed in my three seconds of being here:
Your Sidebar: We’ve got “How to Start Conversations With Beautiful Women,” “The End of the Friend Zone,” and an article marked specifically as a “Female Perspective”, because a female perspective is something special enough to be noted, rather than just something you might be able to expect. These things imply a male-centered perspective!
Meet Kingpin Social: All pictures of dudes.
This Article: Totally does not understand what it is trying to say. I think you started out with good intentions, to say that gender is a social construct, but it got very… muddy, and ended up blaming women for not being interested in things that obviously aren’t welcoming of them.

I think this article was well-intentioned. I also think the author would benefit from some more feminist reading (try the Feminism 101 Blog for starters: before trying to discuss feminist issues.

I suppose the tagline is about how women are complaining that things that aren’t intended to address their issues don’t address their issues? If pepto isn’t for menstrual cramps, why are you complaining that women* aren’t buying it?

*For future reference: There are more than two genders, and gender is not the same as biological sex.

Amanda Timmins April 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Kayla, I utterly adore this comment! Criticism is something that every writer needs and is almost better than the pat on the back that most people provide so I thank you for that. However, I think the purpose of the article is not at all to blame women. I find no purpose in blame placement at all and perhaps that is the biggest issue with this matter – people spend more time trying to figure out who’s fault it is rather than actually trying to overcome the issue itself.
It is not men that sexualize everything, it is women’s perception of what they’re saying that becomes sexualized. That is one of the biggest flaws in how people communicate. Hence the purpose of this article – objectification is something that hundreds of thousands of women feel all the time and it isn’t just “feeling bad” – it is the source of deep seated insecurities and thus why it is discussed in this article. Objectification is a societal factor that people blindly accept without even realizing it. Tons of people look at each other merely as physical beings and that is not the point of meaningful relationships. Again, why objectification was mentioned.
Objectification is usually the source of being deeply insecure, not the other way around.
To say “like attracts like” is a very generalized phrase that minimizes the importance of knowing the types of people that you’re attracting and WHY. Which flows into stepping out of one’s comfort zone in order to gain perspective. and hopefully, remedy some personal issues that any particular person may have.
As far as your gathered points from this article, you are correct on the first but the emphasis, as I said earlier, is not on forcing women to overcome their issues and letting men go on with their lives without changing anything. It merely takes two to tango. The people at Kingpin Social are making an effort to improve themselves, regardless of their gender. The reason there are mostly men involved is because brilliant men started KPS. Men give best advice to men because they do not have to alter their presentation. Women have to open up just as much as men do in order for communication to work properly. KPS is completely open to women as well as men, it merely took a different perspective to make that known more effectively – which involved expanding the KPS crew to involve women who are interested in Social Dynamics.
In this article, my intent is not to pick on women, it is to create an idea that is gender-neutral. Leaving one’s comfort zone is no easy task nor is it up to one gender or the other, or any other gender that is out there. The idea that it is better to make a “women only” space instead of trying to bridge the gap between gender-specific spaces elludes me, as I do not see that as making this issue any better .
The fact that we have a “rape culture” is cause for concern in itself and I must admit that I tend to stray away from things that specifically label themselves as being gender-specific (including feminism).
My only comment on the articles that you mentioned is merely to read them. It is one thing to judge them solely on name, but it is completely different to actualy take the time to read them. Yes, the perspective was male-centered but it is expanding and that is not to imply that women were deemed as “not important enough”, as you stated, but it is merely how it was. All of the concepts of Social Dynamics are completely applicable to men and women, they simply were presented in a way that attracted more men at the time.

The purpose of this article was not to address feminist issues, it was to draw attention to the fact that most of the issues that we encounter in life are not gender-specific at all. The comment that you left me has addressed that in itself because it just goes to show that the misconceptions are bigger than even I had imagined. Perhaps I could have portrayed things swiftly, yes but not nearly as effectively, in my opinion.
The quote at the top is a man talking to a woman and illistrates that there are some things that men and women may never understand about each other – including menstrual cramps – but that that is okay. so long as we take the time to understand what we can THROUGH COMMUNICATION which means overcoming gender biases from both sides as well as every other gender, biological or otherwise.

Thanks again for commenting Kayla, as well as taking the time to read my article. It means a lot that even when people disagree, they bring it to my attention : )

Kavla April 30, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Objectification is not a matter of interpretation. Objectification is a systematic dehumanization of a group of people. This includes media images, societal attitudes and individual action; it is not simply an insecure person taking something the wrong way (That can happen, but it is not objectification). People can be presented either as acting subjects or passive objects. Acting subjects have motivations and full, complete characters. Passive objects are people whose desires, motivations, and humanity are not presented as important or existent. Being objectified is being reduced to a passive object (usually a decorative one, in the case of women) through words or visuals. It’s really, really, really not a matter of individual interpretation, and not something that can really happen in any individual conversation. It’s a culture, not an event. I don’t blame men, as a group, for that culture existing.

I don’t think you had any sexist or otherwise unpleasant intentions when writing this article; I just think it got a little confused. Likewise, the “like attracts like” was not intended as a criticism of the idea, just of why it was included in the article at all. There doesn’t seem to be a specific focus, and it was just a summary of the ideas that seemed disconnected.

“The idea that it is better to make a “women only” space instead of trying to bridge the gap between gender-specific spaces elludes me, as I do not see that as making this issue any better .”
I didn’t mean to suggest gender segregation; I was asking why women should be expected to force their way into groups that are obviously not welcoming of them, rather than expect those spaces to become more welcoming to them. If you are advocating everyone leaving their comfort zone, why do you focus solely on women, rather than encouraging those spaces to reach out and broaden their appeal?

Feminism is not gender specific. It supports men, women, trans and non-binary people in their attempts to define themselves outside a system that punishes them for breaking gender norms (among other things). Feminism fights things like “men shouldn’t cry” or “men should pay for dates”… basically anything that says “A gender must x” or “A gender is y” is something feminism challenges. There are male feminists.

Issues about gender are feminist issues, even if you don’t think you like feminism. Eliminating restrictive gender roles and advocating for bias-free communication are kind of a cornerstone of feminist movements.

You’re right that I should read articles before judging their content; I wasn’t judging their content. I’m saying that as a user on the internet, who can go to one of many thousands of other similar sites, I might see male-centered headlines and go “eh, that isn’t about me, I’ll go somewhere else.” It’s not hard.

I agree that open communication is paramount in personal relationships. I agree that being able to listen to others without stereotypes is a good thing. I just don’t understand where that ties into “objectification is up to personal interpretation” (which is wrong) or “you may send signals which attract certain types” (which is not wrong, but really irrelevant) or any of this “men and women may never truly understand each other” stuff. And, primarily, just wanting a more neutral space or more neutral interactions isn’t enough to actually create them. Saying a community is welcoming does not make it so (although I have no idea about this one in particular). You have to be aware of how everyone is socialized and how some benefit over others because of that. There is a lot of thinking that goes into creating a truly neutral space, not just good intentions.

Amanda Timmins April 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Once again, there is very little of what you’re saying that I can dispute besides the idea that I’m putting the emphasis on women, this article isn’t just meant for women, it is meant for everyone.
The focus for me, is never just on one group of people. If I came across as solely directing my comments to female viewers, my apologizes but I discussed these ideas with a number of women and merely wrote about those conversations and ideas in a way that best fit my train of thought. The idea behind leaving your comfort zone is to broaden your horizons, metaphorically and sometimes literally. Again, these concepts are not gender specific and were not aimed solely at women but at everyone who is up to the challenge. I just didn’t state it as eloquently as you did.
I’m not suggesting men or women force their way into anything, I’m merely seeking people to widen their perspectives a little and understand that as individuals, we have a plethora of problems that are shared by others.

The reason I included attractions is because it is paramount to creating the environments that are desired. The necessity is determining why those attractions exist and perhaps whether or not they are beneficial. All of it is relevant to comfort zones because our relations with others influence who we are as people as well as the types of environments we put ourselves in.

Objectification isnt simply personal interpretation, you are correct. There are tons of contributing factors, however understanding those factors and the role that objectification plays in daily life as well as personal perspectives is important in relationship building and communication. I agree that objectification isn’t an event, it is certainly something that could be considered a culture but it is bringing that to the attention of people that I’ve come to feel as important. Plenty of my friends as well as myself have blindly accepted objectification as a fact of life when it doesn’t have to be. Again, leading back to the kinds of people that we attract and so on. A lot of people, men and women alike, objectify themselves as much as other people objectify them. by knowing that about yourself, you can thus change your perspectives and your environment. It is, essentially, an interconnected web if choices.

Thank you for thoroughly enlightening me on my bias about feminism. I was unaware of it until reading your comment and will take this into consideration (through research, of course). Part of why I write is to learn more about myself and those around me. Comments and opinions from others are a distinct part of that learning process and I must concede that much of what you say, I agree with. It is merely a difference in our presentations that is in question.

Thanks again : )

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