Gender Differentiation

Voice Card  -  Volume 3  -  Larry Card Number 7  -  Sat, Dec 3, 1988 8:33 PM

This is ONE OF 4 responses to volume 2, John Card Number 34 ("Battle of the Sexes")...

Just a few rambling comments to both Dionne's and John's voice cards concerning gender differences.

ESPRESSIONS OF INTIMACY AND/OR ANY OTHER FEELINGS: Expressions of feelings, as with any other human behavior, is driven strongly by an individual's experiences. Therefore, these behaviors will be determined primarily by cultural factors. Male and female represent two different (but not always distinct) cultures, much as Black and White or deaf and hearing do. Within each of these groups there are behaviors that are not appropriate (socially or culturally) within the other group of that dichotomy.

Another key feature of the three cultural group dichotomies (male-female, Black-White, deaf-hearing) is that one member of each dichotomy is considered to be the minority cultural group. Whether we like it or not, and considering just our six listed groups, men, Whites, and hearing people are the majority culture while women, Blacks, and deaf people are the minorities.

I believe that members of the minority culture function much better in the majority culture than do members of the majority culture within the minority culture. The reason for this is experience. Minority culture members have more opportunities to interact within the majority culture. Assuming that all Ponarvians are White and hearing, when is the last time any Ponarvian spent a considerable chunk of time in a Black or deaf community or at a Black or deaf function. I would wager that most Whites would be uncomfortable and/or not sure of how to respond in a Black community or at a Black function. However, most Blacks respond quite appropriately in a White community. Why? Because the White culture is the majority culture, and there are more experiences available within that culture for members of a minority culture than there are for members of the majority culture within the minority culture. What I've been trying to say throughout this long-winded, rambling thought, is that, generally speaking, minority group members are more adaptable than majority group members.

Where is all this leading us, especially when we're talking about the differences between the way males and females express their feelings? Well, I believe that males are very comfortable when expressing themselves to other males (This is borne out somewhat by John's comments-Vol. 2, John 34- that most of his best conversations are with other men). Similarly, females are quite comfortable when discussing feelings with other females. However, what happens when men or women attempt to interact with members of the other gender culture? The minority culture is much more comfortable in expressing their feelings to members of the majority culture. On the other hand, males, I believe, are somewhat ill at ease when interacting with females (I think this is very similar to the feelings most Whites have when interacting with members of another cultural group).

Of course, all of the above is broad generalization (which I generally abhor doing) and individual differences will abound. [Note to John - I've been trying to use the Black-White analogy as much as possible because you said, in Vol. 2, John 34, that "Clearly this is not a black and white issue." What I'm saying is that it is a Black and White (or cultural) issue. Ha-ha - I'm trying for a funny play on words here - Oh well! Onwards.]

In response to John's last question (Vol. 2, John 34), I don't think that there is much difference in what men and women talk about, but there is a difference in to whom they talk about it.

ANATOMICAL BRAIN DIFFERENCES? - I'm not at all familiar with this research, but........? I don't believe that brain size or brain hardware makes a lot of difference unless the individual makes use of it. And I think usage is determined, to a large degree, culturally. Without reading the research, I would think that there is much potential for confounding the effects of culture and the effects of sex hormones.