Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I Know Nothing About Episode 4: The Psychological Differences Between Men and Women

 I was an English major, not a Psych major, and most of my references about the baseline cultural understandings of the difference between men and women come from sitcoms, stand-up comics, and most recently Gossip Girl (this is my example of ways in which popular culture may be misleading when it comes to normal dynamics between men and women.) I am not going to go into things such as the Psychological reasoning behind why men are less monogamous than women. To say that men are designed to spread their seed is A) Completely fucking obvious and not worth thinking about and B)Irrelevant, because it is also completely fucking obvious that the human race has created a world for itself in which evolutionary incentives are meaningless. I will give heed to the excuse that men cheat because they are designed to once someone can explain to me why men find Taylor Momsen attractive.  I am going to talk about what I know and think without doing any research, as usual, and because I am college educated and fond of my own opinions you may be tempted to take some of my assertions as truths...probably because I present them as such. By all means, agree with me. I am a remarkable individual and I am usually right about most things. Just don't quote me in any papers.

I am pretty sure that everyone is crazy but me, but I do occasionally make efforts to empathize with the maladjusted masses. When it comes to gender relations, it so happens that my personal experiences do not substantiate most of the commonly accepted theories about men, women, and their interpersonal relationships. I tend to think that either people are capable of handling relationships in a sensible way or they are not. Anyone who says things like "Chicks are crazy" or "men are pigs" are actually just people who don't pick their company very well. This reflects more on the person willing to make such sweeping generalizations than it does on the gender to which they are assigned. I believe that evolution did not prepare humanity well for the society we have created with our big wonderful brains.  The female minds of the world may trend in congruent patterns as do the mens', but a person capable of recognizing the humanity in the opposite sex should never feel like he or she is dealing with a different species. Occasionally a person of the opposite sex will be completely batshit insane, but it is equally insane to equate one person's actions to an entire gender.
Note: As an English Major I am well acquainted with Feminist  (literary) Theory, Queer (literary) Theory, and the general idea that to acknowledge gender differences in writing is to reinforce stereotypes which is basically equivocal to oppressing every single person on the planet for the rest of their lives. I'm not really on board with that line of thinking but I can respect the delicacy of the matter so I try to be cognizant of it when it occurs to me to do so. So, I understand the potential implications of only discussing heterosexual gender relations and I apologize in advance if anyone out there feels that this post is banishing them into the abyss of Otherness. The thing is that I am a straight, straight up woman and I have never had any confusion over any of that so it really wouldn't be appropriate of me to try to discuss homosexual or transgender psychology, especially since I barely know what I'm talking about in reference to straight people.
 All that being said, I would like to present my ideas in a series of "case studies".

#1 John Mayer

 I don't know John Mayer. I actually haven't bought any of his albums since Continuum and I'm not really sure what he's up to these days other than dating country singers and getting bad haircuts. For whatever reason though, I have formed some distinct opinions about him which I believe to be relevant. Here is what I think I know about John Mayer: He is a good musician and kind of an asshole. He was on Chappelle's show earlier on in his career. He dates women who are notorious for not being able to stay in a relationship. He is pretty tall. 

John Mayer is a good guitar player and a decent song writer. I don't care for him all that much because I find his music to be emotionally manipulative and although I sometimes feel a catch in my throat while listening to "Daughters", I consider his music a guilty pleasure. Obviously some women eat that shit up, though. More surprising is that a number of men eat it up too. Straight men, too. They  tend to be image-conscious amateur musicians who claim to respect his guitar playing. There are plenty of good guitar players, though, and I always get a kick out of a guy who spends hours at the gym and runs home to listen to lyrics aimed at teenage girls. As far as emotionally manipulative pop music goes John Mayer is not so bad, and because he has a reputation that contradicts his sappy lyrics, men are more willing to admit to liking him. My point, I think, is that men and women are equally receptive to emotional manipulation, but women are more willing to admit it in public because it is socially acceptable. I am not saying that all men secretly like John Mayer. I just think what works on ladies who like his style of music works on men who like his style of music too.

Conclusion: All men who like John Mayer are huge sissies. Just kidding.
 #2: The Year I lived With 5  Boys

I lived with 5 boys my Junior year of college. One of them was/is my boyfriend and none of what I am about to say is based on his behavior. 
Everyone told me that I would hate living with boys, and that definitely turned out to be true, but not for the reasons I was expecting. I knew that boys are smelly and that sticky surfaces don't seem to bother them. I like a good organizational/cleaning spree as much as the next girl but I don't live my life in fear of dirt and errant socks so I was prepared to cope with the mess. The alternative at the time was moving in with a house of girls who I had never met and the potential for disaster seemed a lot higher. What I wasn't expecting from the house of boys was that they felt completely entitled to have parties every weekend even when one or more of the housemates had to work early in the morning and even though the parties almost always invited a noise violation. To them, the noise violation was a sign that the cops were dicks who were looking to make money on violation penalties. To me, the noise violations were a sign that we had neighbors who didn't appreciate the hundreds of college kids screaming and smoking cigarettes in our driveway and maybe that was a concern worth considering. This dynamic was my biggest problem with our living situation, and although some of the offensive behavior was a direct result of a phallocentric thought process, the lack of consideration for others is not a distinctively masculine trait. It is a trait of anyone with their head up their ass and that condition can afflict pretty much anyone at any time.
As a case study, my roommates presented with some interesting patterns. I know enough guys who are nothing like my roommates to know that any conclusions I draw from their behavior are essentially meaningless, but I also know that many of their issues are fairly wide spread.
The most disturbing thing I observed was that several of my roommates seemed incapable of recognizing the humanity in women. Women were an entity that were there to be slept with or maybe even dated, but not necessarily valued for their company. Mind you, I don't think my roommates were sexist, necessarily. I think they were just so used to the idea that women were going to reject their advances that they had come to view women as a challenge that required scheming and fancy tricks rather than, perhaps, normal conversation and the expression of affection. They seemed to replace every female they met with the most basic idea of GIRL, and then complained when this female entity proved to be more complex than previously hoped. A common phrase in our apartment, and this is a cleaner version of what was really said, was "Man we gotta get some chicks in here tonight." Parties would be designed around this goal, the idea being the more girls in the apartment the more likely it would be that one of them might debase themselves. This actually does work. I really can't argue with the numbers. However, it seemed like a pretty exhausting, not to mention expensive, cycle. Here is how it all works based on my observations:
Pre-requisite: You are a man. You live with other men. No one is having any sex with you. This is a problem
1)Plan Party. You might have a friend who is/has a very mediocre dj/band who is willing to play in return for free beer and the potential of women. Call him.

2) Call your female friends( if you have any) and tell them to tell their friends about the party. Tell them there will be booze and it will be free for girls even if you haven't discussed any of this with your roommates, are not 21, and have no money.
3) Ask you roommates to "throw down" for a keg and/or liquor. If you are not 21, go ahead and assume that someone will be willing and able to pick this up. Don't ask them yet. Wait until the last minute and then accuse them of ruining the weekend if they try to refuse.
4) Once you feel like at least 3  girls might be coming, go ahead and tell some guys. Say something like "Hey man it's $5 at the door but it'll be wall to wall chicks!".
5) Argue with your roommates for several hours about who will be in charge of manning the door/watching the keg/mixing drinks. Try asking your female roommate who hates all of your parties. She won't do it. Assume that things will work themselves out and worry about it later.
6) Procure alcohol. Convince whoever you tricked into helping you do this that you will pay them back with the profits from the party.
7) Help the dj/band set up. This will be difficult because they will already be completely drunk.
8) Wait for the first wave of people, which will always be a herd of really ugly dudes. Be nice to them. They're doing the best they can.
9) Eventually a girl will show up. Bother her until she is so uncomfortable that she calls her friends and tells them not to come.
10) Drink away your sorrows. Forget that you are supposed to be getting money from people at the door and making sure not too many dudes get in.
11) Too many dudes have gotten into your party. No one has paid. Everyone is upset. Everyone is drunk. No one has any sex.
This isn't all based off my roommates. They were actually pretty good about money but I've seen this dynamic at work elsewhere. It is a distinctly male dynamic because women do not usually have problems filling their apartment with men if they need to. The only girls I have ever known who are willing to throw keggers where they live have been pretty skanky. Not that I have a problem with that. I have found that promiscuous women, at least the ones you find at college, are usually pretty smart and funny. Just don't go drinking with them unless you have a backup plan. They will usually abandon you with very little notice.
Sex motivates both men and women but failure can really mess with a persons morals. Because men have a higher rate of failure in their efforts then they quickly spiral downward into the realm of skeezyness. Or they were there to begin with. But most guys who start out skeezy just skip the middle man and join a frat. Women, on the other hand, knowing about this spiral effect, will sometimes use sex to manipulate and torture men who don't have many other options. I am willing to make statements about why men do the icky things that they do because I am not a man and I know that my attempts to empathize will never be dead on. Because I am a woman I really can't say why some women treat relationships like a military coup. My best guess is they are under the impression that men and women can never really have a healthy, reciprocal relationship so they figure they might as well have the upper hand. Bitches, man. I just don't know.

#3 Other People's Failed Relationships

I am the product of an unbroken home. I guess that's not so common these days. No one in my house ever stomps around saying horrible things about entire genders. All insults hurled in my house are directed at the individual and carefully tailored to his or her many shortcomings. That is the way it should be. Expressed animosity is the cornerstone to a happy home as long as that animosity is specifically articulated and appropriately directed. So you'll have to excuse me if my understanding of why relationships fail is a little sketchy. By failure I mean ending on bad terms. If you date a person who wasn't a good fit but you end up friends then I consider that a successful relationship. I have remained on good terms with all of the people I've dated.Although, a boy I went on two dates with when I was 16 recently unfriended me on facebook. We hadn't spoken in quite some time, so I can only assume he has a girlfriend who finds my beauty threatening and demanded that he unfriend me. I also assume that everyone I've ever dated talks about me all the time. I might have an ego problem.


When people are in a relationship and have supposedly been in love, and then breakup and hate each other, there are usually a few things going on given that no one cheated on the other person or purposefully killed the other's pet or turned out to be a Russian spy. The first condition tends to be that the couple is into really gross PDA. I only say this because I don't like to pry into people's love lives so if I knew the couple was "in love" it was probably because they were trying really hard to make that obvious. Secondly, both people have jealousy issues and a fear of being alone. These are people who make people come with them to the bathroom or can't get a burrito without some backup. Lastly, they hate each other's friends and therefor get mad whenever the other person wants to spend time with their friends. 2 or more of these conditions in a relationship is an almost unavoidable recipe for combustion. If you yourself have any of these issues then I would really suggest that you seek therapy. 
Here is what I have observed (meaning assumed) are the differences between the way men and women handle themselves in these kinds of relationships:

-The man will refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem while the woman will start making up problems that aren't related. Man: "I don't see what the big deal is. Get off my back." Woman:"You never kiss me goodnight anymore!"

-The man will see his friends out of spite without telling the other where he is while the woman will see her friends out of spite and keep calling/texting the man to purposefully rub it in his face.

-The man will suspect every man in the woman's life wants to sleep with her. The woman will assume that the man is attracted to every woman in his life.

-Both people will claim to have sacrificed for the other but neither one actually has.

My conclusion is that men and woman are different but it doesn't matter if you are a crazy person. It makes no sense to blame your relationship problems on the other person's gender traits unless you are thinking about switching teams.

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