Ladies and gentlemen

Ladies and gentlemen

We still hear that at big soirees at the beginning of shows, and when people wearing very good clothes gather to give each other awards.  In some circumstances, you have to say it ironically – say any gathering of science fiction and fantasy people, unless you do something like reverse the genders (and people are sitting in a way you can make that clear) you’re going to get in trouble, because people will take offense at being called that.  (In science fiction and fantasy we’re Odds who are also used to being looked down on by our peers.  We can take offense at pretty much anything.)

I’ll probably get called a gender traitor (again) because of this post.

That we live in an age where you get called a “gender traitor” is in itself a sign that we have entered Heinlein’s crazy years.  No, think about it.  You can be a traitor to a cause, but the fact that I was born with a vagina is not a cause.  It is merely a biological fact, like the fact that I have olive skin, tan rather easily, that my hair went white when I was 28, or that I have a high likelihood – given genetics – of eventually going either via cancer or a heart attack.

Would you call me a traitor of people who grayed early, because I dye my hair?  Would you call me a traitor of people who have heart attacks because I have low blood pressure?  Of course, you might call me a race traitor because I like redheaded men (no, my husband is not, but love transcends mere physical attraction.)  That would be stupid too because olive skin is not a race, but rather a characteristic of the Mediterranean sub-race of Caucasians, broadly identified (but not covalent) with cultures that speak either Portuguese or Spanish.  However stupid is the mark of the day, and our polity seems to have gone insanely howling into the night.

Once upon a time – metaphorically speaking, in a garden far far away – there were men and there were women.  Actually it probably started before that, before our fall into sentience, before our ascent into reason, before we tried to be “like onto gods, knowing good from evil.”  At some point back there – well at all points back there starting with the point at which life on Earth invented genders as a good mechanism of genetic recombination – there were males and females.  There is a fascinating book on sex by Doctor Tatiana something or other.  No, not that type of book on sex.  This is about how males and females of any – and all species – compete with each other to gain the advantage of the other in the reproductive stakes.  The goal is always to pass on your genes with minimal effort and as broadly as possible.

For instance, the male praying mantis is sort of losing at that game, since in most cases (not all females actually do this) he gets eaten while he’s copulating.  (His hind quarters just keep going even as his head is bitten off.)   So he won’t be passing his genes on with any other female.  On the other hand, little appreciated is the fact that he also leaves part of himself in there, preventing the female from copulating with any other males.  He also, incidentally, gives her a nutritious snack, which increases the chances of his offspring being strong.

Humans are not just animals.  In some frameworks, you could consider us animals who have gone thoroughly insane and started defeating instinct with… other things.  On the other hand, since I doubt very much that cars, or even carriages or even the domestication of horses, much less steam and electricity are instinctive (though it could be debated.  No?  Show your work.  There are quite complex instinctive behaviors in other animals. Incidentally, older son and I need to remember not to have these debates in front of normal people, btw.  It tends to make them try to run into the night.  Which is difficult when you’re in a doctor’s waiting room) we’ve done pretty well out of going collectively mad, in that for a tropical animal, we now cover most of the land masses in the world, one way or another.

However we are built on the framework of the animals, back there, through which we emerged.  It’s like when I write a novel, and then rewrite it completely – traces remain of the original framework if only because it’s very hard to re-think everything from first principles.  So, while someone approaching the novel for the first time might not see it, the traces are there, at worst in a scene that doesn’t quite mesh, at best in a line of dialogue that seems oddly out of place, here and there.  Or imagine that you took apart a sweater to make another (in the village of my childhood this was NORMAL.  When a sweater started to go, you unraveled it – sometimes you dyed the thread in between – and then you made it again.  Yes, we do – even I – forget how wealthy we are now, and how people not so long ago had to make and scrape.  And even they were incredibly wealthy compared to most humans throughout history.) By the fourth or fifth time, sweaters acquired this … lumpy and patchy appearance, because the thread had worn unevenly.  It was a new sweater, but you saw traces of the sweaters that it had been.

So, humans, like animals, have evolved strategies requiring the genders to compete, at the same time they cooperate in the passing on genetic characteristics.  The ultimate goal, of course, is to pass on as much of our genes as possible, while the species goes on.

Starting with the pre-humans, if what we see from the great apes translates (it might or might not.  There are… differences)  this meant that our ancestors lived in bands, and within those bands divisions of labor developed, according to the strengths of each gender.

See, the insanity of the sixties (and seventies) was this odd idea that despite all the external differences, despite all the different hormonal brews that course through our veins, gender was a societal construct and that without it men and women would be exactly alike and express in exactly the same way.

There has been a lot of mumbo jumbo developed in favor of this idea and I think in some kindergartens in Sweden children are now officially “it.” Which is … insane.  Because even before puberty, the stuff coursing in a little boy’s veins is quite different from the stuff coursing in a little girl’s and TRUST me, it matters.  More importantly, little boys and little girls are the result of different evolutionary pressures, of different selection processes.

We’ve talked about, before, how women tend to work towards cohesion.  It’s an instinctive thing.  Put most women in a group and they try to maneuver to be just like most other women.

I can only imagine – and it’s hard to, without descending to the level of a just-so story – that throughout most of our pre-civilized stages, women or pre-human females – being weaker and considered somewhat of a “commodity” were often kidnapped by different bands, and that the ones that survived were the ones who were best at adapting – at mimicking the behavior of the new band.

There are other explanations, too.  In a hunter, gatherer culture women tended to gather in bands, and both collect whatever comestibles and watch toddlers.  If you’re “in” with your group your toddlers are more likely to be watched carefully by other females than if you are an iconoclast who just had a big argument with more than half the women and called them all poopy heads.

(So, Sarah, how come we got you?  Recessives, children, recessives.  Same reason two brown eyed parents can, and sometimes do, throw a blue eyed child.  It’s amazing how long the things can stay buried, and how much counterproductive ones – like my temperament – manage to survive.  This is a germane point.  Whenever I talk of males and females and the processes that shaped them and what resulted, I’m talking of “on average.”  There are always weirdos and sports, like myself.  And some women are hairier and stronger than most men [I’ve threatened a male friend with finding him one of these.]  However, to quote Heinlein, “that’s not the way to bet.”)

Anyway, we’re not just animals.  So you take that brew, and you translate it to a highly sophisticated culture – say the early twentieth century – and you get ladies and gentlemen, with the virtues of each clearly defined.

Gentlemen were – for various reasons, among others because women’s lives were often cut short by pregnancy or at least severely handicapped – the motor of civilization.  You can have women’s history day as much as you want to, but almost all the big, public work of civilization and technology, of construction and invention was done by men.  The way people grub in the dirt for things that women – outliers – have done in the public arena, bringing out stuff like Ada Lovelace’s mathematical work and blowing it all out of proportion — is humiliating.  It is also stupid.

Women were as much instrumental in building civilization as men – of course – but their work was of a different kind.  “The hand that rocks the cradle” is a line that people love to mock, but that doesn’t take its power away.  Women formed the very young mind (whether the woman was the mother or a paid servant is a discussion for another day) and instilled both the behaviors and the gender norms into children.  Without them, the gentlemanly virtues wouldn’t exist.

By and large, the roles of each gender in civilized society were the refinement of those things that made men reproduce (and raise offspring) better in pre-historic times: they were strong, determined, innovative and – this is very important – protective.

Women on the other hand were consensus builders, networkers, keepers of knowledge and records, teachers and  diplomats (with the attendant dose of backstabbing.)    For a woman to be a “lady” implied a refinement of the APPEARANCES necessary to evoke gentlemanly behavior in public.  A lady was therefore refined, acted as was viewed as a pattern of perfection by men – that is, demure, quiet, innocent and always “well mannered” (that is fitting within the group.)

To some extent all men aspired to be gentlemen and all women aspired to be ladies.  It was the way to climb socially and therefore get better treatment for your kids.

Yeah, women like me probably couldn’t hack it – though I understand great grandma whom I’m said to resemble both in appearance and mind, managed to walk the line and APPEAR the grand-dame in public.  (The fact that she was also a holy terror who kept her many sons and PARTICULARLY her daughters in law in abject terror, and the fact she ran the family business were backroom things, not to be talked about.)

Yes, the gender order was oppressive.  Yes, people like me and many of you, and a multitude of people who fall on the far ends of the spectrum either way would be out of place (I’m sorry to tell you guys this, but most of us would be out of place anywhere.  I know.  It’s sad) and yeah, I’m glad it broke to an extent.  In a technological age, there is no reason for women not to do public work, the same as most men.  It’s not like we’re required to hold a pig under each arm while leading the horse, something for which men have a physical advantage.

But though I’m glad that women can enter the labor force and that women with excellent minds can use them for other than infant games (though please DO let’s talk about creating in intelligent women the idea that it’s noble and right to raise your own kids.  The fact we’re outsourcing this to – largely, though not always – infantile brains will break the back of our society.) However – did it have to come about in the sixties and seventies?  Did it have to come about when people were so eager to deny biological differences and to reject everything western, instead of analyzing what worked where and why?

Because western civilization was built on a division of labor – because the initial division of labor was simply male-female – because the public virtues were always “manly” and the private ones “womanly” when women first washed onto the public sphere they decided they needed to be more like men.  So far so good.  (I’m talking here of the VERY EARLY women’s work pioneers.) Because most of these women were ladies, they tried to be gentlemen.

This works well, because gentlemanly virtues is what Western Civlization in its public sphere is based on: fair work for fair pay; honoring your commitments; remembering those who helped you on the way up (which my dad taught me as “There are debts that aren’t monetary and that can NEVER be repaid.  There are people who, when they call favors, you do the favors, and you don’t question it.”); and most of all fighting fair.

The problem is that the sixties and seventies while talking (flapping lips) endlessly about social construction forgot the basis on which the social constructions are built.

Women are not men.  Some of us are – or try to be – gentlemen, but it’s a fine line, even for an outlier like me.  Women were chosen by an entirely different process.

Most of the lady-like virtues were DESIGNED to be appearance-only.  Women are VERY good at giving an appearance of respecting all the male virtues (when they understand them.  These days they’re more likely to imitate the male vices.)  In fact, they’re often better than men.  The rub is that they’re not good at HAVING them – not without a conscious effort, and not without the virtues being held up to them as something to be/do.

Do I mean every woman is a sneaky back stabber?  Oh.  My.  No.  Of course not.  But I mean that in a pinch our lines on that are more blurry than man’s.  Consensus must be built, and we must look out for our offspring.

Women IOW don’t fight fair.  We’re not meant to.  Women who fought fair – being smaller and weaker than men – left no descendants.

All that is fine and dandy while you’re using it in the private sphere and keeping the men in the family in protective mode, even while you cajole, manipulate and generally run the place with an iron hand.

In business and in politics on the other hand… it sucks.  It means that we slowly but surely push marriage laws so that they’re a trap for the man and a consequence free experiment for women.  It means we make use of affirmative action even when there is no logical reason to.  It means that we – even in fields like university attendance and novel writing – become the majority while steadily screaming that we’re being discriminated against.

It means we dismantle those very same western modes of behavior that made our civilization.

It also means that the gloves come off.  The war of the genders becomes overt.  Worse, instead of leading to more offspring, it leads to no offspring at all, as each is taught to hate and/or despise the other.

Do I want women to go back to the home and the kitchen?  Well, if they want to.  I think each individual should do what suits him, regardless of gender. Individuals aren’t statistics.

But I don’t think that women – or men – are tabula rasa.

If we’re to save what remains of our culture, we MUST establish modes of behavior.  If you don’t want to be sexist, call them public and private.

In private anyone should feel free to act like a lady – we could use a bit more of not airing private laundry in public, and that’s a very lady like virtue.  But in the public sphere, where we transact politics and business and the public decisions, everyone should be a gentleman.  Contracts should be honored; each should take responsibility for himself; backstabbing, betrayal and unfair advantage should justly be reviled, no matter who does it.

Ladies – I know this will cut out much of your advantage, but – you must learn to be gentlemen in public.  To be ladies, manipulative, deceptive and contriving, does give you an individual advantage, but it is destroying our culture.

And if it destroys our culture, the one that WILL replace it IS one in which women will be held in subjection.  I don’t want that for any female descendants I might have.  I don’t want it for anyone’s female descendants.

Ladies, be gentlemen.  Play fair.  Gentlemen, relearn the gentlemanly virtues.

In the home be what you very well want,  but in public, dry your tears and stop your flashing of leg.  In public life, we must all be gentlemen. Gentlemen play fair.

UPDATE: And today I’m Guest Blogging at Anthony Pacheco’s another member of the great Portuguese conspiracy in SF/F

240 thoughts on “Ladies and gentlemen

  1. If it hadn’t been for Eve and that damned (literally) apple, we would still be a bunch of guys in the Garden playing naked beach volleyball with angels. Don’t look at me like that. We wouldn’t have a CLUE that it’s gay.

    1. This sounds very like Gaudy Night – in romance, women should pick a line and stick to it, and either be very womanly and emotion-driven, or very gentlemanly and logic-driven. But not both in the same woman if she can help it, because it will drive both the man and the woman crazy trying to deal with behavior that’s all over the place.

      This isn’t to say that you cut off part of your personality, but it is to say that you can’t tell a man you judge him in manner X and then magically expect him to understand that you are now judging him in manner Y instead.

      That said, it’s not necessarily cohesion when it comes to women. It’s often a lot more like competition to become the Exemplar of the Ideal. If the Ideal Mother is wanted, many women snooty and backstab their way to making sure they specifically are the Exemplar and other women are somewhat less exemplary than themselves. Others decide that supporting some one woman as the Exemplar will allow them to be securely close to the exemplary standard, while still others fight to create a different but superior Exemplar version which will overcome the other. (And you know, I’m pretty sure that Odd women like myself are often doing this, whether or not they think they’re trying to stay out of the game.) Others are happy to stay out of the fray by just achieving a normal but unassailable level of exemplar-ness. Et cetera.

      1. Oh, of course — the variations are infinite. My problem is the porting of a … uh… female mode of social precedence to business where we’re playing with men. A) they don’t know what hit them. B) because the rules of that game are male, we dismantle the game without noticing.

          1. Part of this problem is that many women in such situations want to have their cake and eat it, too. Back in the Nineties Hillary Clinton constantly prompted thoughts in me of the little girl back in my playground days who would haul off and smack a boy and then, when he tried to retaliate, would loudly declare that “you can’t hit a girl.”

            That is the kind of thing that creates (exacerbates for those inclined to think it innate) psychosis.

      2. I suspect it’s caused by women modelling themselves on their mothers. Every mother is like a goddess queen to her kids, in a way, and so a woman who grows up is also determined to create and rule her own domain and be admired by all her beloved children and subjects. (My mom is actually kind of bothered by the fact that the latest family dog picked Dad as her #1 human, instead of being like all the other dogs and picking her. She knows it’s silly, but somehow it does make a difference.)

        A queendom’s pretty easy if you can have kids and a home and a beloved king-husband; but a lot of modern women have to create their secure queendom some other way, and often in a counterproductive way. I think that’s why some professional women are so flaky; they don’t have anywhere they really feel secure; or they think their job is their queendom and not just a job, however favored a job.

        1. .I think that’s why some professional women are so flaky; they don’t have anywhere they really feel secure; or they think their job is their queendom and not just a job, however favored a job.

          The single-mom yuppies I’ve known have never been able to sit still and just breathe. They constantly have to be moving, doing something, even if it’s only hovering helicopter-style over their kids. My observations of these women, and yes, they are flaky, is that they are striving against something external, some perceived judgement the world is placing on them.

          They will never measure up because their psyche amplifies the demand for self-actualization with every achievement the woman accomplishes. She’ll never be good enough and her own mind is the slave-driver.

          1. Um… that applies to every writer I know, though — you race yourself. BUT I think it’s different. It might also be why artists are usually unhappy/neurotic, at least in stereotype.

          2. Regards the single-mom yuppies — all the various voice around then have whispered that they really can do it all if they just do it properly. That if they get the educational certification, obtain the job, exercise three times a week and see to their kids then their world will be sunshine and lollipops. And, being girls — are by nature inclined to try and conform to the role they are told they are supposed to fulfill — they are destroying themselves trying to find that perfect balance.

            If you want to hang someone from the lamp posts I would suggest the idiots who told women that they could ‘have it all.’

            1. I’ll bring the rope and hold jackets.

              And that’s only partly because I have to put up with both the @#$@ they pulled at work and now with the @#%@# they heap on a failure like me who’s actually raising her own kids. Because I’m “lucky” enough to get to stay home– and why aren’t you (fill in expensive BS that we don’t need but they “need”) yet?”

              1. So you know the scornful snipes and observations too? I don’t know how you can stay at home with the kids all day without going out of your mind? Why aren’t you out there using your skills to contribute to society? Don’t you have better ambitions than to be a house frau? Why are you, an intelligent woman, being so lazy and letting down the cause of womanhood? What kind of example are you setting for your children?

                Women are creature of the flock. How dare you challenge the new flock.

                (BTW: I dare because The Spouse and I are going to do what we think is best for our child.)

                1. What is best for that child is to be raised under the aegis of the enlightened state, tutored in all the ways of the good and noble and true so that the child may take a rightful place as a disposable cog in the machinery that is even now grinding to a jarring halt.

                2. Agreed with on all counts. I GOT so tired of this. For me it was worse, possibly, because I was working very hard to improve my writing/get published and I kept being told I was “playing” at it, and that this was my “cover” for being a “Housewife.” — so many wrong assumptions built into this!

                  1. *grin* I used your last story about that over on Ricochet to illustrate how offensive and wrong somebody’s mindset was….

                    (Uuuuh….really, Chrome? “Ilustrate” looks more like “strategic” than “illustrate”? Not even lustrous?)

      3. When I was last in the biological game, there was info that men and women’s brains were slightly different. The reason men could cut off their emotions easily while making decisions was because the bridge between (I can’t remember the real word) the right and left hemispheres of the brain had less connections than the woman’s brain. Men had a single road between the two sides, while women had a virtual highway. Consequently, a man could reason with X or Y easily, but the woman reasoned with X and Y. So every decision a woman makes is colored with emotion no matter how hard she cuts off the emotion–

        In another study I read (this was over ten years ago before chemo), women could identify hundreds of more facial expressions than men. It had something to do with taking care of children (or that was the reasoning).

        Anyway, a woman could actually think she is reasoning clearly when she is all over the place.

        1. In case you are interested, the term you were looking for is corpus callosum.

          The thing that makes me most angry with some women, especially in the workplace, is when they see every disagreement with their opinion as an attack on their character or intelligence. Makes me crazy.

          1. The broader corpus callosum is also why women recover from strokes more readily (and may be more likely to have strokes go undiagnosed.) Like most things, it is one of nature’s trade-offs.

            It has long been recognized informally that women are more prone than men to take criticism as personal attacks; look at comedies since whenever for confirmation.

            1. … trying to remember the men I’ve known over the years who’ve taken criticism graciously, with an alert air of “Oh thank you for correcting me, kind sir.”

              Wait a bit, it will come to me …

              1. What part of the comparative “more” confused you? Although I do appreciate your demonstration of the behavioural pattern.

                1. I think Kali what they mean is that men tend to try to “fix” things and because women tend to empathize instead, when you go to someone and say “I just can’t do this” and they come in trying to fix it, you understand them to mean “you’re a fargin idiot.”
                  My husband and I — to the extent we argue — argue about this sort of stuff all the time. Goes like this “Dan, my computer isn’t getting on the internet.” “Have you rebooted.” “Of course, I’m not a fargin idiot.” “I wasn’t saying you were!”

                  1. Oh yea– I don’t tell the hubby a problem unless I want it fixed. If I want some empathy, I talk to a friend of mine. I wish I had realized this when I was younger. lol

                    1. I have just finished editing a book by a friend that goes into some detail about this very issue. The book having grown out of his most recent dissertation exploring the differences between men’s and women’s handling of conflict and emotional intimacy. (I’ve lost track of his post-grad degrees, generally collected in his spare time between work, marriage and raising a family. The rest of us look like slugs in comparison.)

                      There was a lot of “Oh. Right. Would have been nice to know this 40 years ago when I got married…” while I was doing the edit, even knowing from the beginning that guys and girls are different.

                      I spent 30+ years writing technical manuals of various sorts; pretty much all the really important stuff in life doesn’t come with a manual, which seem unfair.

                    2. My husband and I have developed a complex system that mostly works for us.

                      When I need to vent, I call him and say “I really need to rant for a while; there’s nothing you can do to fix it, except to listen to me for a while.”

                      When he needs to blow off steam, he says “I need to blow off steam; I already know most of the emotional baggage that they have that’s causing it, but I need to get this junk off my chest before I break another bulkhead.”

                      I really, really, REALLY hate female bosses; only partly because they make it hard to be a woman who just wants to do the freaking job.

                    3. To be honest, I don’t rant too much. Plus the hubby is getting deaf so sometimes he has learned to turn off what I say and nod his head nicely. I feel better. He doesn’t have to listen (I know it and am not offended). 😉

                    4. Qualifier: I rarely rant to my single female “face-to-face” friend. Plus I would never rant to my mother or sisters– it would be a disaster. And, the entire family would know in 24 hours.

                    5. It took quite a few years for my wife to learn that if she described a problem to me, I’d go fix it — even if she did not want a fix at all.

                      Uh, quite a few years …

                    6. My dad still does that frequently.

                      It’s super annoying when I thought I was just telling a joke.

                      On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 8:14 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > SPQR commented: “It took quite a few years for my wife to learn that if > she described a problem to me, I’d go fix it — even if she did not want a > fix at all. Uh, quite a few years …” >

                    7. My dad gets reference books, explains how it all goes back to Roman/Ancient Greek history and slips into Latin halfway through. Yes, you guessed it, my dad is Victor Davis Hanson. (Of course I’m joking but the weird thing is that there is an “air of family” to his look, and that he and my dad would probably hit it off like a house on fire.)

                  2. Very often it’s a matter of a gap in perceptions: When a woman is talking about an existing problem, quite often she is just looking for validation of her feelings about the problem. The man assumes that she is looking for a solution to the problem, and suggests a solution. Which wasn’t what she really wanted, and so she is annoyed. And then he gets exasperated, because all she seems to want to do (he thinks) is talk about the problem without ever actually do anything about it.

                  3. Actually, what I meant was, when you tell a woman in the workplace that she has done something wrong, she is more likely to interpret it as being told, “You’re worthless and you will never amount to anything”, than simply, “That sucks. Fix it.” One is a demeaning attack on the person, the other is an observation of the action. Unfortunately, I know some who can’t distinguish the difference even when it’s been explained.

                    1. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in the military was how to handle female subordinates AND superiors. It’s totally different than the way you deal with men.

                      There are many jobs that women are better at then men, and imagery intelligence is one of them. However, they don’t do a lot of innovating. Most of that comes from the men. I’ve had lots of men tell me “I think we can do this better by doing X: I’ve had very few women do that.

                    2. So, I’m weird? I turned the last office I worked in upside down and changed the workflow to actually WORK. Years after I left, they were still using it. (Mind you my impetus was a sucky memory and not wanting to be distracted from the translations I was having to do because my boss was counting out the time to retirement.)

                    3. Not Weird, just Odd. [Wink]

                      Of course, as has been pointed out, differences between men and women are “on the average” so there will always be exceptions.

                      On “differences between men and women”, I remember reading an article about a woman executive who said that one group of her co-workers consider her a good member of the team while a second group of her co-workers considered her “pushy and arrogant”. The first group was her male co-workers while the second group was her female co-workers. [Evil Grin]

                    4. At our local amusement park, we’ve noticed that on some rides, if there is at least one girl among all the boys loading the ride, it is quick and organized, while if it’s all boys, it is slower and more disorganized. (OTOH, if there is a man there, it is frequently also quick and organized).

                      Just coincidence, I’m sure.

                  4. I go for the “fix” solution myself. Then, I’m trying to fix MY problem, which is generally a person thinking herself entitled to interrupt me, regardless of what I’m doing, and vampirize me for sympathy.

                    1. I see this– I call these type of women emotional vampires. Sadly they try to take away the attention from individuals who actually need the empathy.

                1. Well, also most men criticized by a woman go into “You are not my mother” mode. It’s instinctive and makes it odd to interact. Again we must remember we didn’t come from nothing. We are built on an “animal” base.

                  1. This is another indication of how unusual I am. I have NEVER thought that way. Of course, I didn’t have a particularly domineering sort of mother, but then again, I never had the “You’re not the boss of me” reaction, either. If someone is my boss, then I take it that way. If they aren’t, then it’s just their opinion.

                    1. It generally depends on the type and nature of the criticism and the manner of its delivery.

                      Criticism which assumes a priori that the standards of the critic are natural law … eh, I got progressives to do that. It is the assertion of inherent superiority that evokes the reaction, not the criticism in itself.

              2. I certainly wouldn’t expect someone to take criticism like that. At best, I would expect “graciously accepting” criticism to be in the form of, “Oh. Sorry.” I’ve known both men and women who will do that. Sadly, it’s not that common in younger people.

                1. As I have never, to my knowledge, corrected a problem I did not know existed, I have learned to welcome appropriate* and well-expressed* criticism.

                  I have not learned to always accept such criticism as valid, however. Much of what is passed off as criticism is actually mere difference in preferences, with the implicit assumption that your preference is superior to mine.

                  In my experience, even fewer people learn how to effectively express criticism than accept it.

                  *Note weasel words and take them into account in any objection to my claim.

                2. At best, I would expect “graciously accepting” criticism to be in the form of, “Oh. Sorry.”

                  Well, that makes me feel better… that’s usually how I respond to (valid) criticism.

                  Then again, I’m apparently really good at pissing folks off– when I ask for something more solid than “that sucks,” the elaboration is usually in adding cursewords, rather than information on what the heck is wrong.

                  1. Agh. That’s a giant hot button for me, too. Or else thinking that you apparently didn’t understand what they said, so they just repeat what they said the first time.

              3. Excuse — if women are the ones who have to fit into the society for best survival, would not criticism therefore be taken as a more personal threat?

                Social pressures to conform are doled out and taken differently. Boys are more likely grow up with a culture of team sports where you are taught to take criticism (usually objective), suck it up and go out an play. Girls get heathered.

          2. “The thing that makes me most angry with some women, especially in the workplace, is when they see every disagreement with their opinion as an attack on their character or intelligence. ”

            Ho-boy, does this one strike close to home. The team got a lecture from our manager today; apparently we did SOMETHING wrong last week, at least in the estimate of the team’s female member. The lecture wasn’t specific enough to make it clear what happened, or what was done wrong, or…

            (And how did we know it was based on her complaint? Because none of the guys would take a problem to the manager. We’d turn it into a pointed joke.)

            1. This is an interesting sub-plot of a mildly amusing little comedy — Just One of the Guys — the kind of thing you watch because it is on TV and you’re doing things that want some slight distraction and there is nothing else on, While posing as a boy the heroine has to learn how to properly interpret male/male (non-gay) interactions and see the War Between The Sexes from the opposition side, learning that all is not as it seems across the trenches.

              I wouldn’t recommend buying it, but if the Netflix queue is empty or it turns up while you’re nursing a cold, there are far worse ways to burn two hours.

              Of course, I often find deeper meaning in the most trivial confections, so beware: it might actually be nothing more than a jejune juvenile sex comedy with feminist (girls can too play soccer*!) theme. But even mediocre artists sometimes catch the deeper truths of life (albeit without realizing it.)

              *Out of deference to Athena Hera Sinistra’s favourite target, I eschew the obvious gag.

      4. Samwise.

        Pick a role where being an exemplar won’t hurt anybody, and where it will work with your personality– I picked Samwise. Try to always be the person that’s got that in their bag, be the steady support-staff, only step up to lead if there’s absolutely no other option. It fits my existing personality, and it’s hard to poison.

  2. In public I strive to be an old-fashioned Lady. I don’t use language (although I know it, and if hard-pressed…) I always keep my word, and I treat those weaker than I with compassion. In private, I am much the same way. I grew up reading books that featured a certain chivalry, although it wasn’t stated as such. I expect to be treated as I treat others, and that’s bitten me from time to time… I’m going to make my daughters read this, though. They are the next generation of Ladies.

  3. In my family I am Odd because of the women I am the only one that has a strong sense of “fair play.” Even my hubby who has met my mother and sisters has wondered why I was so different than the rest of the women in my family (sisters and cousins). I am very like my great-grandmother– and her mother apparently. They were very strong-willed women.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with women believing in emergency powers to cut the BS and do what needs to be done — except that for some women, life is an emergency, and everything’s a crisis that can’t be wasted.

      I believe in fair play, but mostly that’s because I grew up in a family with brothers close to my own age. For a while we were obsessed with legal fairness levels of everything, and our parents had to join us in our obsession to get us anywhere. (Every toy had to be identical but in our own particular colors, for example. That way it could clearly be seen that anything yellow was mine.)

      1. Being the oldest child, I turned into the protector, care-giver, and etc. I think that is what subtly changed my patterns and behaviors. Plus I was a rabid reader.

      1. When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
        He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
        But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
        For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

        When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
        He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
        But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
        For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

        When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
        They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
        ‘Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
        For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

        Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
        For the Woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away;
        But when hunter meets with husband, each confirms the other’s tale —
        The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

        Man, a bear in most relations-worm and savage otherwise, —
        Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
        Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
        To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

        Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
        To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
        Mirth obscene diverts his anger — Doubt and Pity oft perplex
        Him in dealing with an issue — to the scandal of The Sex!

        But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
        Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
        And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
        The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

        She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
        May not deal in doubt or pity — must not swerve for fact or jest.
        These be purely male diversions — not in these her honour dwells.
        She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

        She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
        As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
        And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
        Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

        She is wedded to convictions — in default of grosser ties;
        Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies! —
        He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
        Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

        Unprovoked and awful charges — even so the she-bear fights,
        Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons — even so the cobra bites,
        Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
        And the victim writhes in anguish — like the Jesuit with the squaw!

        So it cames that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
        With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
        Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
        To some God of Abstract Justice — which no woman understands.

        And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
        Must command but may not govern — shall enthral but not enslave him.
        And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
        That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

        1. And the moment I meet one who actually is that way (besides my mother, who could easily have been the model for “Rosie The Riveter”), I’ll let you know.

  4. There are tales I recall, when maudlin and in my cups, from my days in Academia where you would swear the faculty (all male) were one giant PMSing harem. (As the joke goes, the infighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small.) I think the common factor is “never learned power structure mechanics” and so much flailing and emotion is produced –not inherent to one gender or another. Scientists, being Aspergers-rich, rarely cope well with power hierarchies–and this was a US institution. I don’t even want to think about the Machiavellian drama in European universities, where there IS a much more hierarchical structure.

    Ah, I can remember two full professors running up and down a corridor SCREAMING at each other, probably about funding. I didn’t hear it all because a senior graduate student, seeing me out there about to be run over, grabbed me by the collar and yanked me into a lab with a lockable door, thus saving my life 😉 Not to mention the dark mutterings at the research seminars over who got the last chocolate chip cookie, or the underhanded con job one professor pulled trying to get me to sign on as a grad student in his lab, or…but you get the picture. “Bunch of pissy little girls”, as the man says.

    1. Well, yes, the scientists often don’t often learn the “manly” virtues, but the reasons are too long to go into here.

      And Sabrina, as someone who has worked in Academia, I’ve been accused of making up these stories.

      1. I’d believe you! Do you also have the “two yard stare”, with occasional flashbacks to Times of Trauma? Do you always keep your back to the wall when approaching the seminar refreshment area?

        Strangely enough, I figured out some of the Manly Habits on my own, despite being an ordinary introverted misanthropic female, e.g. the (godlike) guys in the Machine Shop would in fact do a rush job for me not because I was female, but a) I could draft a machinists diagram correctly, making their job easier and b) I had a solid reputation for telling the truth and not abusing their trust. If I said it was an emergency, it WAS. My advisor could not figure out how I did it. 😉

      2. Who needs air conditioning when a professor of the Old Guard (or in this case Ancien Regime is more appropriate) has to be in the same room as a professor of the Revolution. The lockers in the Meat Science Department felt tropical compared to History Hall Room 666 on those rare occasions when all the faculty met.

        You can’t make up academic stories, because the truth is too far-fetched already.

  5. I always thought of myself as a small ‘f’ feminist – that is, someone who wanted the same education, the same opportunities, and the same pay for doing the same job; everything else – and I mean everything else (like child-rearing and who does the laundry) is up for grabs as the individual decided on what worked best for themselves and their offspring. I also noticed that most men will have a tendency for this or that interest or skill, and most women will have another; altough there are overlaps and outliers all along the spectrum. Pretending that men and women are completely %100 interchangeable in all aspects is not helpful. Alas, this is where PC large F feminism has put us, insisting that there is ONLY ONE WAY to organize your life, and that the female is superior in ALL THINGS.

    1. I’m pretty much in the same space with you. For the Feminists, when they go about female being superior it means that female is superior when doing the traditionally male things. Lots of traditionally female is what a True Feminist will not touch with a ten feet pole.

      That was the part I had problems with when I started to think about it. Yep, same pay for same work, good idea. The chance to do what you are good with, regardless of gender, good idea. But shouldn’t that last include letting those women who are, say, good being wives and mothers be wives and mothers, just make sure that being a wife and mother was seen as something valuable instead of seeing it as something she did because she couldn’t do anything else well – but raising the next generation well is important, isn’t it? If female is so darn good, why try to make all of us turn into men, instead of trying to uplift the value of the traditionally female, like raising kids? And I was not a particularly feminine girl, I don’t seem to have much in the way of maternal instincts for one thing, it just didn’t seem logical when the Feminists seemed to think every girl should aspire to become an engineer or the CEO of some big firm and derided the ones who wanted to be nurses or kindergarten teachers, because that mostly seemed to say that the traditionally male was still the only actually valuable thing, and in order for the females to prove their value they should take that role over and abandon most things traditionally female.

      1. Certainly – stay home and care for the children and house; I’ve no problem with that, if it is what a woman truly wants. Or to work part-time, when the children are a little older, or have a home-based business, or whatever. There is one thing though – a woman will likely spend just a quarter of her life being a hands-on mom. (Unless she has more than one or two or three, or spaces them very far apart!) For the last half of your life, best have something else to do, some useful interests and skills to pursue.
        Myself – I’d have adored staying home with my daughter, when she was little.
        I guess what I am trying to say is – do what you want to do, are interested in and have the skills. And don’t whine, and don’t b*tch out other women for making a different set of choices … which is about all that the Big Letter Feminists seem to do, these days.

        1. Hey, I’m completely fine with that. I nearly answered a personal ad way back when from a woman looking for a “house-husband”. I figured I could easily run a house, even though I’m not all that fond of a lot of housework, but I like cooking, cleaned up nice at the time, and would have had no trouble with entertaining business guests (I was assuming she was a busy professional). And I would likely have enough time for hobbies that would keep me from going out of my mind.

          I often wonder how things would have been different…

      2. Like the way nuns and sisters became “liberated” from evil oppressive men stuff in the Seventies, and promptly dismantled the society and customs of their orders. Even though they were societies that women had been building for hundreds of years.

        Sometimes I think it was just the ultimate Heathers move….

      1. One of the oldest jokes in my repertory addresses this:

        “It takes a real MAN to drive in Italy! With the right hand you pound the horn and with the left you pinch the pretty ladies as you go by!”

        “But how do you steer?”

        “It takes a REAL man to drive in Italy!”

      2. Really? I would have probably been in the corner, holding mine to make sure it wasn’t going to fall off if I had asked my mother that. And she was normally a very easygoing person.

  6. I’ve been blessed to know several strong women who nevertheless retained their essential femininity. I’ve also known some who, for whatever reason, chose to be men in their actions. That is, they chose to exhibit male characteristics beyond what a man would have done, and often at times when it was both embarrassing as well as inappropriate.

    I wish the world had more of the former than the latter. Doesn’t look like it’s possible, tho. The pendulum swings from side to side; it never rests in the middle.

  7. “For instance, the male praying mantis is sort of losing at that game, since in most cases (not all females actually do this) he gets eaten while he’s copulating. ”

    Getting your head bit off once as opposed to once a day may not be a losing proposition.

    1. Just YFI, sexual cannibalism in mantids seems to be much more common in captivity than in the wild. I’m not sure if anyone knows why yet.

      1. You do realize you’re going to disappoint a lot of Google users when they come to this page……on the other hand that might be a good thing.

        1. Actually now that I think about it….it reminds me of the Meat Loaf song –
          I’d do anything for love but I won’t do that……Maybe an animation of a lot of Praying Mantises in business suits, work clothes, different male outfits…. singing….

  8. This is close to a theory I’ve been groping to over the years–as a woman, I don’t fit in among male or female groups, so of course, I turned to analyzing both types..

    To me, all our modern difficulties come from denying hierarchy. Men have a linear hierarchy where they know within seconds of meeting someone who’s above and who’s below, or they fight it out with precise, ritualistic moves. Women’s hierarchy is diffuse, deriving from the number of connections, measuring newcomers by whether you’re in or out of the group.

    So when men and women deal with each other, they need a specialized behavior set so 1) men don’t thwack women over the head for sex and 2) women don’t trade sex–or more precisely, the promise of sex–for favors. By assuming both sides are noble and idealistic, exemplars of what is best in male and female, we get more of the outcomes we want–children raised in stable units.

    And in case anyone starts talking about the cruelty of women’s groups, queen bees, etc, you can tell a woman’s group that has a good heart by the nature of the woman at the center. A good female alpha will see a stray and try to bring it in for its protection. A bad one will use a stray as a team-building exercise.

    Eh, I think I’ve skipped over too many logical connectors, but I hope it still makes sense.

    1. No, you didn’t skip connections for me at least. I also don’t fit in either group, but I CAN fit into either. Naturally (and weirdly, because I’m an outlier) I “get” men better. A Freudian would go into the nature of my relationships with my parents and blah. I think it’s just who I am.

      So I studied them both, so I could pass. And yep, you’re right, to a great extent.

      1. It’s only been recently that I have had any female friends. I had a female co-worker in the military tell me once that I was aloof and expected good things to come to me. It hurt because I have worked hard for everything I have gained whether it is rank (in the Navy), education, or anything else. Even though I worked hard (we were in the same work section), she thought I was getting by on my looks. –Considering I have never gone into the puff of femaleness (makeup etc) I had no clue what she was talking about.

        Nowadays, I understand the menopausal woman, but still have no clue about why a woman does what she does. (Under 30 crowd) even though I am interested in the biology of it. I am still an outlier, but have been accepted into our group through my hubby. Even with his history, he is the more sociable of the two of us.

        My mother is a queen bee without bees.

        1. Cyn, I’m aloof as well. And cold and hostile. And weird–all accusations I’ve heard over the years. None of which mean anything more than insecurity of the average ape faced with an outlier.

          1. Not to say that I’m not actually aloof, cold, hostile and weird–there are times (most times) I’d rather daydream than deal with my fellow apes.

            But reality intrudes, and jobs are necessary, and I’ve learned to fake being sweet and sociable 🙂

              1. Heh, nobody ever even bothers to tell me what’s wrong with me. I am an such a female geek that I am the awe and despair of all. Highly emotional and not terribly empathetic! Highly logical and yet totally blind to the obvious! Nitpicky and yet really into synthesis! I get along with most people okay, these days, but mostly because adult people are nicer than gradeschoolers, and because I have learned that strange thing called “small talk.”

                1. Being on chemo for ten years changed me a lot– still I miss the obvious sometimes. Plus I live totally in my head. There are times when I talk to the hubby in my head and forget to give him the conversation in reality. *snort

                  1. Oh, I never end up finding myself on the other end of an imaginary conversation in my wife’s head …
                    ** rolls eyes **

                    1. I wouldn’t mind it so much if my wife didn’t get angry with me for the things I say in her head.

                    2. Your wife and my mom would become bosom buddies. I still remember my dad looking bewildered at the breakfast table and going “But how can I be to blame for what I did in your dream?” while my mom went “Well, if it weren’t likely I wouldn’t dream it.” “But sweetheart, I’d NEVER bury you in the backyard.” “You might if you had a chance.”

                      Mind you they’ve been married a geological age, and it’s clear they love each other, but my mom has seriously powerful nuttiness.

                    3. The conversation you describe would make lovely dialogue in a proper screwball comedy. I can imagine Charles Ruggles and Billie Burke, or William Powell and Carole Lombard… I wonder what kind of home lives the people who wrote those things had?

                    4. Okay, a show of hands — how many women here yell at their husbands/complain for things they did in THEIR dreams? I mostly do it as a joke, but my mom used to do it in dead earnest.

                    5. At least once a year, my sister or I will call up a family member specifically because we had a dream where Bad Stuff Happened.

                      What mother hasn’t sprinted into the kids’ room after a nightmare?

                      Growling (or hugging) the husband because of a dream seems to fit right in there….

                      (since my dear husband is awesome, though, I usually am trying to make him laugh by sharing the story or am terrified out of my mind that it was real on some level)

                    6. well, when one of my favorite people in the world got himself killed by going off into a sewer in my dream, I did send him a message in the morning saying “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”
                      It probably shows something that instead of saying “Sarah, it was YOUR dream, you dimwitted broad.” He said “I don’t know. I guess I didn’t notice it was the entrance to a sewer. Probably looked like something else.”

                    7. ROFL– I only realized I was an introvert when I read (Meyer’s and Briggs) that introverts had intense inner lives. Yep– I used to hallucinate the worlds that I read. I have very colorful dreams– It scared me that two weeks before I ended up in the hospital that I quit dreaming.

                    8. Is anybody noticing a trend here?

                      Womyn’s Studies Professor: It is obvious that contemporary American society has become so phallocentric that the inherent power imbalance of the system has resulted in men, unsatisfied with raping their “wives (chattel, actually) in their marital beds that they are resorting to invading the sleep of their slaves in order to perform their atrocities.

                      Men’s Studies Professor: What can I say? She’s right, we’re guilty and we should apologise profusely and go sleep on the couch.

                    9. “I did send him a message in the morning saying ‘WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?'”

                      Well…you’re a writer, and he knows that. So, perhaps, rather than mentally adding “you moron” to “what were you thinking” and taking it as a personal attack, he took it as a request for information regarding the mental state of the _character_ in your head that was _modeled_ on him, and tried to give you useful advice about the motivation and actions of said character. 🙂

                    10. I’m not married but my brother-in-law occasionally gets in trouble for things he does in my sister’s dreams.

                2. “Obvious” depends on where you’re standing, and what’s between you and that “obvious” thing.

                  Not phrasing it very well, but it really is possible to not realize you’re in a forest because there are too many big trees right next to you.

                  1. Small talk is easy. It consists of discussions of things like:

                    0 The potential for Zero-G manufacturing in an L5 orbit
                    0 Asteroid mining
                    0 Laser excitation of atomic nuclei
                    0 Whether superconductivity is attainable at near normal temperatures
                    0 Best ways to survive the Zombie Holocaust
                    0 Likely plotlines of a sequel to the Avengers film, assuming Thanos is indeed the villain
                    0 Discussion of comparative merits of Whedon’s Firefly and Buffy, and whether River could take down Buffy if they were fighting in a ring of lime Jello
                    0 Whether Honor would defeat the winner
                    0 Whether you would be better off with Miles organizing your revolution or the trio of Prof, Manny & Mycroft

                    1. Yes, I eschewed the obvious gag of listing topics like:
                      0 Nanotechnology
                      0 Atom vs Antman — whose would be the cooler movie
                      0 Whether the Tunguska Event was a micro black hole

                    2. Aha! That I might manage. Although when it comes to lime Jello how about Jayne and Angel (if we will stick to Whedon’s characters)? Okay, maybe not vampire against man… I have to think about this.

                    3. Oh, pish-tosh. Asbestos fiber paper. If you’re already dead, you hardly have to worry about cancer.

                    4. Truth be told — I’d keep them in the skin tight black cotton T-shirt and well worn jeans. How about adding Captain Jack Harkness to the mix?

                    5. Only if said chocolate comes out of your share when we take over the world. Me I believe in the medicinal properties of good dark chocolate and would not wish to waste it, even upon such a sight.

                    6. I don’t know how much more of this tasty imagery I can take. I’ll be right there with you ladies, in hell. *nods as she wipes off the drool*

                    7. If you want double teaming them why not two James Marsters — one Spike (with Angel) and one Captain John Hart (with Harkness). I know a pair of sister who might lower themselves to watch that…

                    8. Well of course the pit would be lower than the observer’s seats. I mean this is pit wrestling we are talking. (I didn’t notice anyone suggest setting it up a giant glass cube.)

                    9. … up in a giant …

                      I have yet to finish my first morning coffee, that is my excuse, and I am sticking to it.

                    10. This is why the prefered viscous material for glass cube fighting is lemon jello, it is more transparent.

                    11. Don’t know about the people you know, but when *I* start talking about such things, people tend to shy away.

                    12. “Whether you would be better off with Miles organizing your revolution or the trio of Prof, Manny & Mycroft”

                      Hmmm, depends on how you rate collateral damage. I think that Miles works faster but leaves more devastation.

                    13. [i]Whether you would be better off with Miles organizing your revolution or the trio of Prof, Manny & Mycroft[/i]

                      Do we have to stick with those two, or can we offer others?
                      I’d shoot for Ricimer and Gregg.

                      I started dating a lady once and all my friends apparently thought we spent our evenings discussing organic chemistry.
                      Pfui. Organic chem is for afternoons.

                    14. Named individuals were for illustration purpose only; alternate entries may be substituted.

                      For example, instead of Buffy and River in lime Jello, it would be acceptable to match Angel vs Jayne in baby oil.

                      Freedom to introduce alternatives and variants rather than adhere to strict criteria is what makes it small talk.

        2. Cyn, I’m not sure I understand your last line. Are you referring to a different kind of “Queen Bee”? Because I assure you I’ve seen the classic “queen bee” syndrome in work environments many times.

          1. Let’s say she is a “classic queen bee,” but her family moved as far away from her as they could. She has only one child in the same area (everyone else is hundreds of miles away. I was thousands at one time) who is a Down Syndrome child. No one wants to be drones or worker bees in her nest. (I haven’t heard of a Queen Bee syndrome–so I could be talking at cross-purposes).

            1. I just looked it up– it is pretty thin on specifics… but, from the description, I would say there is a good possibility that she is classic. I was thinking of Queen Bee in the same sense as the bees. I have watched bees (we had hives when I was a child). My mother was like that– too.

              1. I found that explanation, I find it interesting that they explain that the “syndrome” (ironic quotes) may be a product of “cultural differences” i.e. women not getting the same pay as men.

                I just think it has nothing to do with “cultural differences.” Some women are just that way–

        3. …it is depressingly reassuring to find out that other women had to deal with being told that the results of their hard work were all because they were trading on their feminine charms.

          (looking back, I can see it was usually by women who had or were doing so…but that’s a horrible assumption to make when you don’t have enough data to go on, since it’ll prevent course corrections)

    2. It does, and it coincides with my own experience in leadership styles – generally men tend to have a hierarchy, and women tend to network when it comes to getting the job done. Someone explained this at NCO leadership school as the difference between the original Star Trek (top down, leader crisply snapping orders) and Star Trek-Next Generation, with the leader absorbing input from the team and often allowing them the initiative.

  9. Feminists display the worst attributes of women dismissing male rituals and values as childish and unimportant, while also themselves demanding that their rituals and values be accorded respect as the important activities they are. Sexocentrism is as obnoxious as any other form of self-regard.

    For further reading, I recommend James Taranto’s Valentine’s Day column:

    In one ingenious study, published in 2011 in the journal Biodemography and Social Biology, McClintock explored sex differences in “revealed sexual preferences.” That is, she wanted to know if, as evolutionary psychology suggests, men and women diverge in their sexual or romantic goals. Just asking them doesn’t necessarily yield reliable answers because people may mistake what they think they should want for their actual desires. (That’s known as social acceptability bias.)

    Even studying actual behavior is not entirely straightforward, because, as a sage once observed, “You can’t always get what you want.” That is, since each sex needs the other to realize its sexual and romantic goals, actual behavior reflects not only one’s own preferences but also the constraints imposed by the other sex’s. Few men date supermodels, but that doesn’t mean supermodels are undesirable. Rather, because they are desirable and in short supply, they have the luxury of being superselective.

    McClintock employed that insight in an effort to untangle the question of differential sex preferences. She made the plausible assumption that the most attractive members of each sex are the ones with the widest range of options, and therefore that their behavior more closely reflects each sex’s actual preferences. The corollary is that because less attractive individuals have fewer options, they are under more pressure to compromise and thus their behavior more closely matches the opposite sex’s preferences.

    Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, a massive and detailed database covering 27,000 teens and young adults, she found that physical attractiveness (as rated by the person conducting the survey interview) does indeed correlate with sexual behavior–and in opposite ways for the opposite sexes:
    [MORE: ]

  10. Another aspect of the physiological difference between males and females is their different responses to visual stimuli. Ladies don’t display extreme cleavage and then complain they aren’t being taken seriously and that men don’t look them in the eye.

    A gentlemen doesn’t let his gaze dwell on a lady’s cleavage no matter how much it is pushed in his face. For one thing, there is probably a reason she is attempting to distract you with a shiny object.

    1. Heh. When I’m concentrating on something in my head, I’ve found that my eyes often stray to some nearby woman’s cleavage. I then get jolted out of what I was thinking when they either cover up or say something about it. Trying to explain just makes it worse (try telling a woman that you didn’t even know they were there), and I didn’t even get the benefit of seeing what my eyes were pointed at, because I was looking at something else at the time.

    1. What she didn’t mention is that many teachers suggest that parents drug their boys into submission (ritalin and other drugs), which causes untold damage to the boys when they reach their majority. Many of these drugs are unnecessary. It used to be when the class got the wiggles, the teacher would take everyone out to the playground for five or ten minutes so they could run and shout. Then they would bring the kids back in and the schooling began again. Today there are no (or very few) recesses. Also the main thing I wanted to mention is that drugs at this young of an age doesn’t allow the brain to mature. It might be why we are seeing more immaturity in the boys.

      1. I dream of being able to take the small herd of 12 year-olds occasionally in my care and running them around the building. I’ve come very close to it at least twice, and probably would if it weren’t for 1) the girls shoes and 2) explaining to the door dragon (aka secretary) why I’m chasing students around the parking lot when none of them are on fire.

        1. You could set a couple on fire. (giggle.) IF it weren’t for school’s stupid codes I’d suggest nerf guns and something about reenacting a battle. I once ran a marathon in pumps. Get me drunk and I’ll expound.

          1. You once ran a gas station????? Mechanics overalls and pumps sorta pushes the kink meter in ways I’d rather not contemplate.

          2. I used to be able to run in stiletto heels or something like high wedges, but that was when I was a lot younger and used them most of the time. Now, not a chance.

        2. Ooh! Emergency preparedness!
          Assign tasks, goals and parameters, and let them score themselves when they get back. Remember, you have to have 100% to consider it done correctly, and practice makes perfect.

          And stock up on baby wipes for the shoes.

          1. Good thinking – the running is to accustom them to handling crises while under the influence of adrenalin and elevated heart rates.

        3. I wish I could tell the story of the day I “substitute” taught a community college geology class, of high school kids, as a favor to the department head.

          Hmmm, come to think of it, I was never asked to substitute again …

      2. They try to force you to drug them into submission. Those of you who have met my driven, focused elder son would never believe the fights I had to keep him off ritalin (the charge seemed to be “asks questions I can’t answer”) And the younger boy (mostly because of auditory issues that meant he had to work five times as hard just to HEAR something) before hearing apparatus (now thankfully retired) used to fall asleep and be disengaged. They ALSO wanted to give him… ritalin.

        1. Ritalin is the all purpose answer, just as letting more of society’s decisions be made by experts is their all purpose decision for economic and social problems. A body might suspect they are not so nuanced and skilled at handling complexity as they think they are, given that no matter the problem they always reach for the same hammer: shut up, do what you’re told, stop asking so many questions.

          1. It is a nasty drug as well. I have seen what happens to a five year old who has been on it for a year or so. Plus I have a friend who took her boys out of school when the teacher started to push for drugs for her four boys. She actually had to decompress and deprogram her boys for a long time. They are now adults and involved in a wide-variety of projects. –They have all had turns at being junior lifeguards.

            1. Not to mention how dosing everyone with drugs like Ritalin will end up leading to a pushback, then denying it to the people who could genuinely benefit from it. I’m starting to see people claiming that AD(H)D* is a made-up disorder, to which I’d say “Try living in my brain for a few months!”

              Personally, I think the “hunter in a farmer’s world” theory gets it pretty much right. These traits that make up AD(H)D — distractability, inpulsivity, and a need for high-stimulus/high-adrenaline activies — were the traits that made for successful hunters. Distractability: you’re walking along a forest trail and something rustles in the bushes. If your brain immediately snaps to that rustle without a wasted moment, you’re more likely to catch that rabbit and have dinner that evening than the person who has to make a conscious decision to switch mental gears. In the modern world, however, a brain that switches mental gears without conscious decision has become a liability — in MOST jobs. Impulsivity: if you’re pursuing that rabbit and a deer crosses your trail, you want your brain to make an instant, snap judgment that the deer, while harder to catch, will provide a better meal. If you take a few seconds to stop and ponder the pros and cons of each decision, the deer AND the rabbit will probably get away from you. In the modern world, though, impulsivity again becomes a liability — in MOST jobs. And the need for high-stimulus activities is what pushes a hunter-type person to go out and hunt every day, even though there are things in the forest that might want to eat him, because that adrenaline rush is FUN. In modern times, adrenaline addiction tends to be a problem… in MOST situations.

              Which is why AD(H)D people tend to do better in certain jobs and not others, and the best coping technique for someone with those ADD traits is to find a job or lifestyle that matches how his (and sometimes her, but more often his) brain works. The military is a remarkably good fit for many ADDers, for example: as long as they’ve learned to cope well enough to get through boot camp, being on patrol is remarkably like being a hunter way back when, and ADD traits are a huge advantage in a combat environment. Many other jobs work well for ADDers too.

              Speaking of Ritalin, though: it helped me immensely for a while, as it toned down my brain’s constant need for stimulus and allowed me to learn some life techniques (with a calmer brain, so that they were easier to learn) to cope with how my brain worked and how it’s slightly misadapted to the modern world. Now that I’ve found some techniques that work will in keeping me focused (playing classical music through headphones works wonders, for example, since it gives my brain something else to do when I do that involuntary “switch attention to something else” thing that’s the hallmark of ADD), I no longer need the Ritalin. But I hate to see a complete backlash against these drugs, because for certain people they’re of immense value.

              But while Ritalin shouldn’t be abandoned entirely, neither should it be pushed in the quantities it’s normally pushed. The best estimates I’ve seen put it at somewhere between 3% and 7% of the U.S. population, which has much higher percentages than the rest of the world. (Because the kind of person who would pack up and go to a brand-new continent voluntarily is quite likely to carry some of those “hunter” genes.) But if boys are being “diagnosed” with AD(H)D in numbers much more than that, there’s clearly a lot of misdiagnosis going around.

              … Okay, that’s probably enough rambling about AD(H)D from me. Time to stop distracting myself and get back to the (slightly boring) work I’m currently avoiding. Hmm, which traits was I just talking about, again? 🙂

              * The H is in parentheses because the hyperactivity component may or may not be present, and AD(H)D makes more sense to me than the now-common AD/HD spelling.

              1. Well, I was going to say something about how the over-prescription of drugs such as Ritalin will produce a backlash, and how a related drug, Adderall, has helped #2 son immensely, but Robin did a much better and more complete job of it, so I’ll settle for seconding his comment.

              2. What worries me is the young brain and not the adult who is using it to cope. I also think that it is over pushed as a way to control boys. Not every boy etc. etc. should be on that drug. Also I think it is not letting the brains mature when they are used to young. my personal opinion. I see your meaning Robin. I am a lot different– I don’t like distractions and I fall into one task until it is done, which is why I really dislike phones when I am working. lol

                It means that I am very good at sitting still and waiting (I used to fish with only a hook, string, and willow.)

                1. Fishing is something that both types can do, though. One type will put out the line and pay attention to it the whole time. The other will put out the – SQUIRREL! – line and then be distr – BIRD! -acted by other things, but will keep the pole in sight, so they can react to OMG THE POLE IS BENDING!

                  1. I become one with the rock I am sitting on, and kind of nap– not really. I have been so still that sometimes animals don’t see me ;-). I see them though. I need that sometimes. This world is too busy for me.

              3. distractability, impulsivity and adrenaline are also the traits for really good investigators and researchers, you just need to channel it to the needs fo the work: organizing crayon coloring competitions and rubberband fightswith the support staff does not make management happy. You have to figure out how to overcome the need for physical movement and activity while living in a cube-farm.

    2. That’s just ridiculous. I was a smart, smart girl, but I never had the impression that the boys in my class were any less bright than the girls. Of course, if I’d ever had that impression, my brothers would probably have taught me the error of underestimating them in some painful or embarrassing way….

      1. Refer to the average SAT scores of the people matriculating through schools of education. Those are a) decidedly not “smart, smart girls” nor b) interested in investing much effort in educating kids so much as in lasting until they can collect their pensions (and BOY, are they in for a surprise there.)

        There are many people sincerely interested in educating children, in providing an environment which nurtures the intellects of boys and girls alike. These people are generally known as “former teachers.”

  11. I changed careers in my late ’30’s, from writing software and managing software projects to law. As first a law clerk and later a green associate at a large law firm’s entertainment law / intellectual property group, I always got along better with the female support staff than did the female lawyers. In fact, one female lawyer was hated by the female support staff (she went through one secretary about every other month during the time I was there).

    But then, I had come from an industry that had no status other than what you could accomplish. Law, especially Big Law, wasn’t like that. I didn’t play the corporate political games, I just focused on treating people like people and respecting good work.

    Same deal when I worked the IP dept of the General Counsel in a very large corporate HQ – where I got along with the paralegals better than anyone else in the department.

    1. “I just focused on treating people like people and respecting good work”

      That’s just crazy talk.

        1. Of course, one suspects that “I just focused on treating people like people and respecting good work” might be viewed as crazy talk in many professions. The question is: Can you carry it out with the aplomb and (more importantly) the effect of Carrot Ironfoundersson?

  12. It’s worth remembering that “always fight fair” is the gentleman’s standard for a fight with another gentleman. That is, a relative equal, and one who is a rival (or else why fight at all?) but not an _enemy_.

    If the female side of the conflict keeps on persistently signalling that it wants total war, unremitting and without mercy or quarter…well, eventually they’ll end up getting it. It’s a safe bet they won’t enjoy it.

  13. It’s amazing how long the things can stay buried, and how much counterproductive ones – like my temperament – manage to survive.

    Because once in a blue moon the women who are not like the others have what it takes to survive the catastrophe which has befallen the tribe … Moreover anyone who knows, for example, in the south, will explain that there is a niche for them — the family grand dame.

    1. I could easily see the Dowager (from Downton Abbey) preparing the place for siege or directing fire fighting efforts and the post-fire recovery.

      There’s a magnificent picture of three Victorian women branding cattle — all three in proper women’s attire, including hats, with the calf roped and stretched out between them. I suspect the gentlemen treated those ladies very well. 🙂

      1. Oh, yes – I have that very picture in one of my books; the ladies are actually teenage girls; they were the daughters of a 1890’s Colorado rancher who had no sons. He wanted his daughters to carry on with managing the ranch after his death, and so he trained the girls in all the neccessary cattle-ranching skills. Two of them are holding lariats, on the calf’s fore and hind lengs, and the third is preparing to apply the hot branding iron. And yes, I think the ladies were probably accorded a great deal of respect!

      2. My husband’s grandmother knew how to do (and did) all the farm chores because her husband was a welder working out of town. During WWII he worked in Mobile, AL in ship construction.

  14. Ladies, be gentlemen. Play fair. Gentlemen, relearn the gentlemanly virtues.

    Instead, we get the “manosphere” acting like back-stabbing witches…because, hey, it worked for the feminists. *retch*

    Well, I managed to find an old-fashioned guy, and though I’m not a conventional old-fashioned lady, I keep with the rules– including letting him lead, publicly, and not airing dirty laundry. (I try to keep a handle on my own manipulative tendencies– which, thank goodness, aren’t that strong; they were never nurtured.)
    I wouldn’t even notice I do that if my sister in law wasn’t always complaining about how I “act like we’ve never had sex.” (Usually when I decline to discuss it at high volume on a public walk, actually. Gee, how coy of me….)

    1. The Daughter commented that she often wished to tell people she had just met that she really did not care what they did with who. Really. In fact, she would just rather not know anything about it AT ALL.

      1. This brings me to my favorite convention story: First Fantasy convention. Me nervous as heck. Berkley table. This nice, motherly woman leans across the table, stretches her hand and says “Hi, I’m Gay.” I get all “What? Why do I need to do that” but fortunately before I open my mouth, I see her name tag. It as Gay Haldeman, Joe Haldeman’s wife.

    2. Hey! Everything one needs to know about business management for women can be learned by watching Dynasty and Falcon Crest. 😉

      1. Nonsense – back before the production code the sex in movies was so hot they had to air condition theatres.

        Just because there were no close-ups of Tab A going into Slot B doesn’t mean you didn’t know what they were up to. Only the deaf and blind didn’t grasp what Lola Lola was singing about at Der blaue Engel.

  15. Got about four hours of sleep, so unfortunately not reading the comments today… But I will link to an example of complex impulses in animals. Linking to the Reddit thread rather than the wiki because in the comments, there were some interesting things scattered amongst the jokes.

          1. If you do, I will too. I’m 5 ft 1 in on a good day. Be nice or I’ll jump up and down and bite your kneecaps!

            1. I wouldn’t mind. Being taller, that is. One reason I was addicted to high heels when young. Having to look up all the time is bad for your neck. 🙂

              1. Tallness is relative — for instance I have four brothers over six feet tall (tallest around 6ft 4″) so I get a crick in my neck too when I am around them.

                1. Yep, but the shorter you are the more people you have to look up to. On the other hand, I do have one friend who is just barely 5 feet, possibly a bit shorter, so maybe I shouldn’t complain that much. She did have some benefit from that though, I think she managed to travel in buses for a kid fee well into the middle of her 20’s. 😀

                  1. My grandmother swore up and down she was five feet tall. LOL I am pretty sure she may have been an inch or so shorter. Her hubby was six feet.

                    1. I used to be five seven. The pregnancy with Robert, and water-in-the-bones plus the sheer weight must have done something… So I got to be really tall in Portugal and really short here…

                      I’m still by far the shortest in my birth family, possibly (POSSIBLY) due to being premature and to health issues growing up. Kids are six one and six three. they dwarf Dan and I, and the younger one — moans — is STILL GROWING.

                    2. I’m from a short family on my father’s side, but taller on mom’s side. Before my nephew, I was the tallest, being six one, give or take a half inch, at family reunions. Now mine are six five and six two, and yes, younger one is still growing here, too.

                      Oh, truly I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost height so young. Both my mother and father lost height, but not so soon. Dad’s probably gone from five eight down to about five three now.

  16. Taking Amtrak down to the L.A. Basin, I ran across a couple who were helping a third person to arrange a ride from the Burbank train stop (an open platform just off the south side of Bob Hope Airport). The couple not only allowed her to borrow one of their cellphones, but escorted her to the corner where her ride was waiting. When the third party, as is so often the case these days, responded to their kindness with “I’m sorry” (for being a bother), the male replied with a smile, “I prefer ‘Thank you’ to ‘I’m sorry'”. The third party looked like she had no idea it was OK to actually ask people for help.

    Oh, the couple? SCAdians.

    Some of us understand why the Old Forms existed — and why they need to come back. >:)

  17. Working on working my way up the blog posts.

    On to the new. My plan is to adress the posts not the commenters (Hopefully this reduce tension.).

    FYI, I like to paraphrase and put things into my own words to test for comprehension? So, if I don’t get something quite write, it’s not that trying to misrepresent your position it’s that is my understaning of it.

    Because western civilization was built on a division of labor – because the initial division of labor was simply male-female – because the public virtues were always “manly” and the private ones “womanly” when women first washed onto the public sphere they decided they needed to be more like men.

    This get’s into the idea of roles, labor & things that have to happen. I look at it this way, within any community, family or group all the roles need to be filled for the group to function in a healthy way.
    I see women as being more predisposed to those roles that keep a group together. I see men as being more predisposed to those roles that allow the group to continue. We can call these the nurturing and providing roles, they have to be in ballance for any group to survive and prosper.
    Men and women have developed different stratigies for dealing with two different kinds of conflict; conflict within the group and conflict outside the group. How do you get what you want or what you think the group needs? For women this has traditional been through comunication, and at the extreme end is done by manipulating the desires & emotions. Men, traditionally, only have to deal with conflicts outside the group or with other men. Their strategies are based in force. Someone threatens you, you stop them. Need food, you hunt it or take it. You want someone to do something you “communicate” to them that the consequence of not doing it will be severe to the point that they “want” to do it.

    All that is fine and dandy while you’re using it in the private sphere and keeping the men in the family in protective mode, even while you cajole, manipulate and generally run the place with an iron hand.

    Question. Is it then ok for me, in the private sphere, to try to keep the woman in the role of nurturer?

    In business and in politics on the other hand… it sucks.  It means that we slowly but surely push marriage laws so that they’re a trap for the man and a consequence free experiment for women.  It means we make use of affirmative action even when there is no logical reason to.  It means that we – even in fields like university attendance and novel writing – become the majority while steadily screaming that we’re being discriminated against.

    This to me is just the swinging of the pendulum to the other extreme; wherein, men forced the balence to favor them now women are doing the same.

    The ansewer as I see it is balance. That as long as all the roles are filled for a group to thrive it doesn’t mater who fills them.

    As to being a gentleman, it is a social construct. It’s a social understanding that any power I might have over you will be used fairly. It is purely there to make those around us, that might be at a disadvantage, feel comfortable.

    One of my faviorite movies dealing with this is Mr. Mom.

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