Men Are Not Women With Chest Hair, Part 2
In Part 1, I talked about physiological differences in the way males and females are hard wired.
Note: Much of the information in these posts comes from workshops by Eileen Dreyer from a RWA conference, and Tracy Montoya’s presentation at a Southern Lights Conference.
This time, I’ll discuss some of the social differences between men and women. Again, these differences are based on physiological differences in the brain, but there are always going to be individual differences. There’s a basic framework, but there are also individual modifications to the finished product. Think of all those apartment complexes, or housing developments with virtually identical houses. Eventually, the owners put their own touches into their homes giving them some individuality. However, some of the broad, sweeping generalizations we make about men and women does have a basis in the differences in the way their brains work.
In Social Situations:
Men are goal oriented.
Women are community builders.
Men are the lone hunters.
Women are communal.
Men are problem solvers.
Women are problem sharers.
A woman will come home from a day at work and complain about something that happened. To a women, sharing troubles is a friendship ritual. To a man, talking about a problem is asking for advice. Thus, the man will offer suggestions as to how to fix it. The woman really doesn’t want his help, she just wants to vent. Men consider talking about a problem a step down in the hierarchy.
Men are likely to explore an idea through argument. Women will shut down, because they want to keep connections open.
Montoya mentioned a study where two men were brought into a room with two chairs facing the front, and told to wait until they were called for an interview. The men sat and talked. When the subjects were two women, the first thing they did was move the chairs so they faced each other.
This ingrained wiring leads to frequent “discussions” where the woman accuses the man of not listening to her when she’s talking to him because he’s not looking at her.
Men define themselves by achievements.
Woman define themselves by relationships.
In the workplace, our hard-wired brains still see the differences between male and female behaviors. Perhaps the reason men don’t see women as “equals” in the workplace is because they simply can’t. They’re perceived as too emotional to be authority figures. Their wiring does make them emotional. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make the necessary decisions. But a woman is more likely to say, “We’re going to talk about “the” rules,” which is ingrained in the nurturing wiring, whereas a man would say, “We’re going to talk about “my” rules,” which fits his hierarchical wiring. Women soften statements, men give orders.
Men and women have different approaches to problem solving.
Men are linear thinkers.
Women think in clusters.
Women churn things over until the problem is solved
Men are emotionally divorced from problem solving.
Women are emotionally involved in the process.
Men are solitary.
Women are communal.
Men give space.
Women wants a hug.
Men want answers.
Women want support.
For men, help means failure.
Women want to help.
I hope these posts have provided a little insight you can apply when writing characters outside the familiarity of your own gender. If they shed a little light on your own personal relationships, consider that a bonus.
All right, TKZers. The floor is open for discussion.
I’m pleased to announce that my Mystery Romance, Heather’s Chase, is now available at most e-book channels. and in print from Amazon. Note: in honor of my daughter, I’m sharing royalties with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
(If you’d like to see some of the pictures I took on my trip, many of which appear as settings in the book, click on the book cover and scroll down to “Special Features.”)
Terry Odell is an award-winning author of Mystery and Romantic Suspense, although she prefers to think of them all as “Mysteries with Relationships.” Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.