Reader discretion is advised.
Recalling the several times that I listened to the Dr. Laura (Schlesinger) radio show (back when it was on the air a few years ago), it appears that there is a perpetual conflict or tension within the thinking of many women. Why do I say this? To female caller after female caller, Dr. Laura would give sound, rational, principled, constructive advice on their interpersonal relationships, their issues with their children, conflicts with in-laws, etc. She could do this as she was not emotionally invested in the problems that the callers were asking her about. The reaction to the advice from a woman caller typically went like this “Yes, but . . . .” or “Yes, I see that, but . . . .”. Then the caller would essentially make excuses for why she would find it difficult to follow Dr. Laura’s suggestions. The “yes” was acknowledging that the woman caller could rationally see the good sense of the advice and insights offered to her. The “but” indicated that the emotional side of the caller’s thinking was kicking in and was not so comfortable with the rational suggestions received.
This internal conflict between the reason and the emotions also is apparent in many men, but seems to be significantly more prevalent among women. It is not just cultural conditioning. In fact, I dare say that culture has little to do with it. We wrote much earlier about a book (Brain Sex) that argues that the differences between the sexes (in their thinking and respective strengths and weaknesses) lie in the differences in the structures and the interconnections within the respective female and male brains. The hormones, those very powerful mind altering bio-chemicals, also play a key role in explaining the differences in thinking. Thus, there is a biological/physiological basis for the differences we observe in the thinking of women and the thinking of men.
Recognizing that there are inherent differences in thinking and respective aptitudes, and understanding and appreciating these differences, can actually help foster mutual understanding and respect between the sexes (and reduce unnecessary and destructive tensions and animosities).
Politically incorrect or insensitive, you say? The truth may not be politically correct, but we need more truth these days.
It does seem that our society (in the US) does not value authentic feminine characteristics in women and authentic masculine characteristics in men these days. In competing in the areas of career and other pursuits, women have in effect had to imitate men in various ways. Yet, it is still possible for a woman to succeed in the business world or the professions and still retain her inherent femininity. Men, who are masculine, can be sensitive to, and understanding of, women’s needs.
We do not look favorably on those individuals and groups that seek to turn women and men against each other. Rather, it is better to foster and encourage understanding and mutual respect among women and men. (We see such divisive individuals and organizations in the area of race relations here in the US as well, sorry to say.)
Being somewhat fair-minded by nature, I made up my mind while an undergraduate (in the late 1970s) that I had no patience with those young women who had a chip on their shoulder and insisted on preferential treatment. Thus, I never dated a “feminist”.
I eventually married a woman who was born overseas and had come to this country in her early teens. So, the challenge for me was to interact constructively with a woman from another culture (non-Western). This presented many challenges.
For me, there is no denying that men and women think differently. It is amazing just how differently my wife and I think. We share values (social, moral, etc.) yet we do not have the same priorities. We do not approach challenges and problems from the same perspective. We did not achieve a very good goal congruence over the years and that did, at times, lead to some serious friction within our marriage. (Some of this was due to the difference in culture and upbringing. But, independent of culture, our thinking is still very different.) But, as they say, love conquers all.
Here are 2 quotes from an earlier essay of ours on feminism that are apropos here.
Women and men need not be perpetual adversaries locked in a continual zero sum game of conflict and competition. Men and women complement each other as each has strengths the other needs!
And, from the same essay:
The truth, as unpopular or “politically incorrect” as it may be, is that women are not somehow more angelic or pure of spirit, or of superior character than men are. Women and men are of equal human dignity. But, both men and women have equally flawed human natures. Women can be, and are at times, every bit as selfish (or self-absorbed, if you prefer) as men can be and are. Women can engage in self-destructive behavior as men do. (They abuse drugs, contract STIs through promiscuous sex, etc. just as men do.)
Just food for thought.
We will now direct our efforts to finishing up our essay on organized religion and the spiritual impulse in humans.
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