Are men from Mars or not?

Barbie_blue_gown_nqal From Loretta:

A recent opinion piece in the Boston Globe Magazine ( "The Difference Myth" by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett , October 28, 2007) told me that my thinking about men and women is completely wrong.

Or maybe not.

In this thought-provoking piece, the authors question the belief that men and women think and learn differently. Rivers and Barnett dismiss a number of books and find fault with the research demonstrating and describing these differences.  GuygalsmThey want us to know, for instance, that the author of MEN ARE FROM MARS AND WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS got his degree from a “diploma mill.”  Well, I wasn’t wild about Gray’s book–maybe because a man had written it and he communicated like a man (oh dear, was I wrong to notice the difference?)–but as they cited all the Bad Research of the 1990s, I was puzzled at Rivers and Barnett’s not mentioning linguist Deborah Tannen’s YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND.  Mary Jo recommended this book to me, and it radically changed the way I thought about men and women.  To an extent, LORD OF SCOUNDRELS (yes, coming soon, again, to your local bookstore! ) was a result of what Tannen helped me understand about the differences between male-think-speak and female-think-speak.

This exchange between my heroine Jessica and her brother Bertie, for example:

      “Marriage is for cowards, fools, and women,” he said.
      She smiled.  “That sounds like the sort of thing some drunken jackass would announce–just before falling into the punch bowl–to a crowd of his fellow drunken jackasses, amid the usual masculine witticisms about fornication and excretory processes.”
Lord_of_scoundrels_07smShe didn’t wait for Bertie to sort through his mind for definitions of the big words.  “I know what men find hilarious,” she said.  “I’ve lived with you and reared ten male cousins.  Drunk or sober, they like jokes about what they do–or want to do–with females, and they are endlessly fascinated with passing wind, water, and–”
“Women don’t have a sense of humor,” Bertie said.  “They don’t need one.  The Almighty made them as a permanent joke on men.  From which one may logically deduce that the Almighty is a female.”

Bertie is quoting his idol, Lord Dain, the hero of the book, who a few pages later points out to his disciple, “Women deal in a higher mathematical realm than men, especially when it comes to gifts.”  If the technology gods are kind, a longer excerpt from this scene, in which Dain first meets Jessica, will be available on my website next week.

Wwinavy Male-female differences are crucial to Dain’s relationship with Jessica.  She’s the one woman in all the world who can understand him, because she understands men so well.  She knows how to “translate” his language and behavior.  When he does weird or stupid guy things, she knows they’re just weird or stupid guy things and doesn’t take them personally…until she has to.  And then she speaks in a language he can understand.

I don’t believe these behaviors are so weird and stupid if one considers biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).

Sage_grouse_in_grand_tetonwki But let’s look at Nature.  It was my husband who called my attention (when he could stop laughing) to this little bit from the Summer 2007 edition of Living Bird, a publication of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology:  Some research on the sage-grouse involves using a robotic female sage-grouse.  This device, which the researcher calls a “fembot,” looks like a bird sitting on the car of a model train.  The wheels are plainly visible.  The researcher moves it via a radio control along model train tracks.  The fembot can’t fly and can only travel on the tracks.  Nonetheless, according to the article, “Males are easily fooled–male sage-grouse will copulate with virtually anything that remotely resembles a female, including piles of cow dung…”

Fishing_rescue To be fair (not that I have to be:  it’s my blog and I’ll be unfair & irrational if I want to), llike Rivers and Barnett, I do question some of the research findings.  For example, I have found it hard to believe that men talk less than women; in my experience, guys can hold forth for hours about all kinds of topics in which I have not the remotest interest (sports, cars, blockbuster action movies, etc.).  As a card-carrying feminist, I also sympathize with the authors concern about certain education trends that exploit the differences between girls and boys.  OTOH, the educational system in this country seems always to be ruled by the latest learning trends in some ways and fossilized in 18th &19th C methods in others. 

Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way.  This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor.  There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.  And to prove it, I’ll leave you with this from a New Yorker article (Burkhard Bilger, A Reporter at Large, "Spider Woman," The New Yorker, March 5, 2007.  An abstract of the article is  here. )

Spider_2 This piece, about a researcher who milks spider venom, includes some wonderful quotations from an earlier researcher, John Crompton.  According to the article, Crompton “envied the crab spider, ‘whose life consists of immobility interspersed with succulent meals,’ but settled on a male labyrinth spider, whose mate treats it kindly after copulation.  For most species, Crompton noted, a husband’s place is ‘in the digestive tract of his wife.’”

Male spiders are still going to go for smoochies with female spiders, even when it means certain Death.

Any analogies to human behavior in Nature?  What do you think?  Are men & women alike or unlike?  Do our brains work differently?  Feel free to give examples.

190 thoughts on “Are men from Mars or not?”

  1. Are men & women alike or unlike? Do our brains work differently? These are two very different questions. Most research has found, as the article points out, that biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently.
    The patterns that John Grey describes make sense if we remember that little boys are more often told not to cry and are given less permission to express feelings in the presence of others. “going into the cave, rather than talking it out” can be seen as a product of socialization. John Grey is describing differences, and I don’t see anything (at least in the initial book which is the one I have) that attributes them to biology. Deborah Tannen discusses socialization– again, not attributing differences to biology.
    The article in the globe magazine is talking about the lack of biological differences. The claim of biological diffences has long been used to justify discrimination.
    In my work as a therapist, I have found John Greys’ concepts useful to couples; it helps each partner not take the other’s patterns as personally.
    More generally, descriptions of difference can help us overcome diffence because we can understand it. Books like– “the gentle art of verbal self defense” (elgin) and “games mother never taught you” were a revelation to me. the fact that books like these can be so helpful, because knowledge can change behavior, – lets us know that there is nothing immutable about these differences.
    Merry

    Reply
  2. Are men & women alike or unlike? Do our brains work differently? These are two very different questions. Most research has found, as the article points out, that biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently.
    The patterns that John Grey describes make sense if we remember that little boys are more often told not to cry and are given less permission to express feelings in the presence of others. “going into the cave, rather than talking it out” can be seen as a product of socialization. John Grey is describing differences, and I don’t see anything (at least in the initial book which is the one I have) that attributes them to biology. Deborah Tannen discusses socialization– again, not attributing differences to biology.
    The article in the globe magazine is talking about the lack of biological differences. The claim of biological diffences has long been used to justify discrimination.
    In my work as a therapist, I have found John Greys’ concepts useful to couples; it helps each partner not take the other’s patterns as personally.
    More generally, descriptions of difference can help us overcome diffence because we can understand it. Books like– “the gentle art of verbal self defense” (elgin) and “games mother never taught you” were a revelation to me. the fact that books like these can be so helpful, because knowledge can change behavior, – lets us know that there is nothing immutable about these differences.
    Merry

    Reply
  3. Are men & women alike or unlike? Do our brains work differently? These are two very different questions. Most research has found, as the article points out, that biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently.
    The patterns that John Grey describes make sense if we remember that little boys are more often told not to cry and are given less permission to express feelings in the presence of others. “going into the cave, rather than talking it out” can be seen as a product of socialization. John Grey is describing differences, and I don’t see anything (at least in the initial book which is the one I have) that attributes them to biology. Deborah Tannen discusses socialization– again, not attributing differences to biology.
    The article in the globe magazine is talking about the lack of biological differences. The claim of biological diffences has long been used to justify discrimination.
    In my work as a therapist, I have found John Greys’ concepts useful to couples; it helps each partner not take the other’s patterns as personally.
    More generally, descriptions of difference can help us overcome diffence because we can understand it. Books like– “the gentle art of verbal self defense” (elgin) and “games mother never taught you” were a revelation to me. the fact that books like these can be so helpful, because knowledge can change behavior, – lets us know that there is nothing immutable about these differences.
    Merry

    Reply
  4. Are men & women alike or unlike? Do our brains work differently? These are two very different questions. Most research has found, as the article points out, that biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently.
    The patterns that John Grey describes make sense if we remember that little boys are more often told not to cry and are given less permission to express feelings in the presence of others. “going into the cave, rather than talking it out” can be seen as a product of socialization. John Grey is describing differences, and I don’t see anything (at least in the initial book which is the one I have) that attributes them to biology. Deborah Tannen discusses socialization– again, not attributing differences to biology.
    The article in the globe magazine is talking about the lack of biological differences. The claim of biological diffences has long been used to justify discrimination.
    In my work as a therapist, I have found John Greys’ concepts useful to couples; it helps each partner not take the other’s patterns as personally.
    More generally, descriptions of difference can help us overcome diffence because we can understand it. Books like– “the gentle art of verbal self defense” (elgin) and “games mother never taught you” were a revelation to me. the fact that books like these can be so helpful, because knowledge can change behavior, – lets us know that there is nothing immutable about these differences.
    Merry

    Reply
  5. Are men & women alike or unlike? Do our brains work differently? These are two very different questions. Most research has found, as the article points out, that biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently.
    The patterns that John Grey describes make sense if we remember that little boys are more often told not to cry and are given less permission to express feelings in the presence of others. “going into the cave, rather than talking it out” can be seen as a product of socialization. John Grey is describing differences, and I don’t see anything (at least in the initial book which is the one I have) that attributes them to biology. Deborah Tannen discusses socialization– again, not attributing differences to biology.
    The article in the globe magazine is talking about the lack of biological differences. The claim of biological diffences has long been used to justify discrimination.
    In my work as a therapist, I have found John Greys’ concepts useful to couples; it helps each partner not take the other’s patterns as personally.
    More generally, descriptions of difference can help us overcome diffence because we can understand it. Books like– “the gentle art of verbal self defense” (elgin) and “games mother never taught you” were a revelation to me. the fact that books like these can be so helpful, because knowledge can change behavior, – lets us know that there is nothing immutable about these differences.
    Merry

    Reply
  6. Deborah Cameron’s book says much the same as the Boston Globe piece (there’s a discussion of her work, and links to excerpts, here: http://www.readforpleasure.com/2007/10/myth-of-mars-and-venus.html )
    I think Merry’s right: “biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently”.
    I also think that because so many of the differences are due to socialisation, much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American. Many of these books come from the US and there are a lot of subtle (and some not so subtle) differences between the US and UK with regards to ideas about masculinity and femininity. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading romances and romance message boards (which, while not the most scientific of sources, do deal a lot with gender and relationships between the sexes). I suspect there are also differences between different generations etc.
    “Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way. This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor. There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.”
    Re the sense of humour, again, there are variations in this. Just because my sense of humour is different doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. I don’t find jokes based on supposed differences between the sexes funny. They don’t speak to my experience and I think the jokes only work if, at some level, you recognise some truth in them. If they’re describing something outwith your experience, they just seem odd/sexist. And a lot of the stereotypes about women don’t describe what I’m like at all. I don’t have many pairs of shoes, for example (and none of my female friends are particularly interested in shoes either).
    “what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes)”
    Again, ideas about this are strongly affected by culture. Theories about female sexuality have changed a lot over the centuries. The idea that women were sexually more voracious was one that was common in the Middle Ages (according to the theory of the humours, sex dried men out, but women, being more watery, needed sex to heat them up).
    As for “Do our brains work differently? Feel free to give examples”, Cameron observes that “Psychologists have found in experimental studies that when interpreting situations people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.” When people describe men’s linguistic skills as being limited, for example, they seem to forget all the literary works written by men. Byron, Tolstoy, Robert Burns etc were hardly inarticulate. Similarly the idea got around that cooking was women’s work (but most of the famous chefs are men) and that men are incapable of cleaning properly (presumably unless they’re sailors keeping things “shipshape and Bristol fashion”) and are uninterested in fashion (except that in the eighteenth century “real men” wore lace, makeup and high heels).

    Reply
  7. Deborah Cameron’s book says much the same as the Boston Globe piece (there’s a discussion of her work, and links to excerpts, here: http://www.readforpleasure.com/2007/10/myth-of-mars-and-venus.html )
    I think Merry’s right: “biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently”.
    I also think that because so many of the differences are due to socialisation, much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American. Many of these books come from the US and there are a lot of subtle (and some not so subtle) differences between the US and UK with regards to ideas about masculinity and femininity. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading romances and romance message boards (which, while not the most scientific of sources, do deal a lot with gender and relationships between the sexes). I suspect there are also differences between different generations etc.
    “Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way. This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor. There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.”
    Re the sense of humour, again, there are variations in this. Just because my sense of humour is different doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. I don’t find jokes based on supposed differences between the sexes funny. They don’t speak to my experience and I think the jokes only work if, at some level, you recognise some truth in them. If they’re describing something outwith your experience, they just seem odd/sexist. And a lot of the stereotypes about women don’t describe what I’m like at all. I don’t have many pairs of shoes, for example (and none of my female friends are particularly interested in shoes either).
    “what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes)”
    Again, ideas about this are strongly affected by culture. Theories about female sexuality have changed a lot over the centuries. The idea that women were sexually more voracious was one that was common in the Middle Ages (according to the theory of the humours, sex dried men out, but women, being more watery, needed sex to heat them up).
    As for “Do our brains work differently? Feel free to give examples”, Cameron observes that “Psychologists have found in experimental studies that when interpreting situations people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.” When people describe men’s linguistic skills as being limited, for example, they seem to forget all the literary works written by men. Byron, Tolstoy, Robert Burns etc were hardly inarticulate. Similarly the idea got around that cooking was women’s work (but most of the famous chefs are men) and that men are incapable of cleaning properly (presumably unless they’re sailors keeping things “shipshape and Bristol fashion”) and are uninterested in fashion (except that in the eighteenth century “real men” wore lace, makeup and high heels).

    Reply
  8. Deborah Cameron’s book says much the same as the Boston Globe piece (there’s a discussion of her work, and links to excerpts, here: http://www.readforpleasure.com/2007/10/myth-of-mars-and-venus.html )
    I think Merry’s right: “biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently”.
    I also think that because so many of the differences are due to socialisation, much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American. Many of these books come from the US and there are a lot of subtle (and some not so subtle) differences between the US and UK with regards to ideas about masculinity and femininity. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading romances and romance message boards (which, while not the most scientific of sources, do deal a lot with gender and relationships between the sexes). I suspect there are also differences between different generations etc.
    “Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way. This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor. There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.”
    Re the sense of humour, again, there are variations in this. Just because my sense of humour is different doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. I don’t find jokes based on supposed differences between the sexes funny. They don’t speak to my experience and I think the jokes only work if, at some level, you recognise some truth in them. If they’re describing something outwith your experience, they just seem odd/sexist. And a lot of the stereotypes about women don’t describe what I’m like at all. I don’t have many pairs of shoes, for example (and none of my female friends are particularly interested in shoes either).
    “what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes)”
    Again, ideas about this are strongly affected by culture. Theories about female sexuality have changed a lot over the centuries. The idea that women were sexually more voracious was one that was common in the Middle Ages (according to the theory of the humours, sex dried men out, but women, being more watery, needed sex to heat them up).
    As for “Do our brains work differently? Feel free to give examples”, Cameron observes that “Psychologists have found in experimental studies that when interpreting situations people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.” When people describe men’s linguistic skills as being limited, for example, they seem to forget all the literary works written by men. Byron, Tolstoy, Robert Burns etc were hardly inarticulate. Similarly the idea got around that cooking was women’s work (but most of the famous chefs are men) and that men are incapable of cleaning properly (presumably unless they’re sailors keeping things “shipshape and Bristol fashion”) and are uninterested in fashion (except that in the eighteenth century “real men” wore lace, makeup and high heels).

    Reply
  9. Deborah Cameron’s book says much the same as the Boston Globe piece (there’s a discussion of her work, and links to excerpts, here: http://www.readforpleasure.com/2007/10/myth-of-mars-and-venus.html )
    I think Merry’s right: “biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently”.
    I also think that because so many of the differences are due to socialisation, much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American. Many of these books come from the US and there are a lot of subtle (and some not so subtle) differences between the US and UK with regards to ideas about masculinity and femininity. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading romances and romance message boards (which, while not the most scientific of sources, do deal a lot with gender and relationships between the sexes). I suspect there are also differences between different generations etc.
    “Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way. This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor. There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.”
    Re the sense of humour, again, there are variations in this. Just because my sense of humour is different doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. I don’t find jokes based on supposed differences between the sexes funny. They don’t speak to my experience and I think the jokes only work if, at some level, you recognise some truth in them. If they’re describing something outwith your experience, they just seem odd/sexist. And a lot of the stereotypes about women don’t describe what I’m like at all. I don’t have many pairs of shoes, for example (and none of my female friends are particularly interested in shoes either).
    “what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes)”
    Again, ideas about this are strongly affected by culture. Theories about female sexuality have changed a lot over the centuries. The idea that women were sexually more voracious was one that was common in the Middle Ages (according to the theory of the humours, sex dried men out, but women, being more watery, needed sex to heat them up).
    As for “Do our brains work differently? Feel free to give examples”, Cameron observes that “Psychologists have found in experimental studies that when interpreting situations people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.” When people describe men’s linguistic skills as being limited, for example, they seem to forget all the literary works written by men. Byron, Tolstoy, Robert Burns etc were hardly inarticulate. Similarly the idea got around that cooking was women’s work (but most of the famous chefs are men) and that men are incapable of cleaning properly (presumably unless they’re sailors keeping things “shipshape and Bristol fashion”) and are uninterested in fashion (except that in the eighteenth century “real men” wore lace, makeup and high heels).

    Reply
  10. Deborah Cameron’s book says much the same as the Boston Globe piece (there’s a discussion of her work, and links to excerpts, here: http://www.readforpleasure.com/2007/10/myth-of-mars-and-venus.html )
    I think Merry’s right: “biological differences are few, and the overlap explains a far greater percent of the variation between genders than the differences. But we continue to be socialized differently”.
    I also think that because so many of the differences are due to socialisation, much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American. Many of these books come from the US and there are a lot of subtle (and some not so subtle) differences between the US and UK with regards to ideas about masculinity and femininity. At least, that’s the impression I get from reading romances and romance message boards (which, while not the most scientific of sources, do deal a lot with gender and relationships between the sexes). I suspect there are also differences between different generations etc.
    “Still, feminist or not, I’m not buying the argument that men and the women think the same way. This is because, contrary to some people’s beliefs, one can be a feminist AND have a sense of humor. There’s no way I’m giving up my He vs She jokes or battle of the sexes stuff.”
    Re the sense of humour, again, there are variations in this. Just because my sense of humour is different doesn’t mean that I don’t have one. I don’t find jokes based on supposed differences between the sexes funny. They don’t speak to my experience and I think the jokes only work if, at some level, you recognise some truth in them. If they’re describing something outwith your experience, they just seem odd/sexist. And a lot of the stereotypes about women don’t describe what I’m like at all. I don’t have many pairs of shoes, for example (and none of my female friends are particularly interested in shoes either).
    “what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes)”
    Again, ideas about this are strongly affected by culture. Theories about female sexuality have changed a lot over the centuries. The idea that women were sexually more voracious was one that was common in the Middle Ages (according to the theory of the humours, sex dried men out, but women, being more watery, needed sex to heat them up).
    As for “Do our brains work differently? Feel free to give examples”, Cameron observes that “Psychologists have found in experimental studies that when interpreting situations people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.” When people describe men’s linguistic skills as being limited, for example, they seem to forget all the literary works written by men. Byron, Tolstoy, Robert Burns etc were hardly inarticulate. Similarly the idea got around that cooking was women’s work (but most of the famous chefs are men) and that men are incapable of cleaning properly (presumably unless they’re sailors keeping things “shipshape and Bristol fashion”) and are uninterested in fashion (except that in the eighteenth century “real men” wore lace, makeup and high heels).

    Reply
  11. I don’t have any psycho-speak to back me up, but
    My question is, what is wrong with having differences between the sexes? Why should we not enjoy the differences, both in biology and in psychology? One of the things I love about my husband is that he is so very different from me, not superior, not inferior, but different. And some of those differences are because he is male and I am female. I’m not sure why feminists feel the need to eradicate any differences between the sexes. The world is wonderfully varied – why can’t we enjoy that? One of the things I like about historical romances (esp. regencies) is that the men are men and the women are women. Maybe that makes me sexist, I don’t know, but as the mother of three boys and a girl, I resent the world telling my boys that they are wrong for being boys and my daughter that she’s wrong for being a girl. Not all girls like pink, that’s for sure, but she loves pink and I’m not going to criticize her because she does. I won’t tell them they’re wrong because they don’t always choose gender neutral colors, activities, preferences. “Vive le difference?”

    Reply
  12. I don’t have any psycho-speak to back me up, but
    My question is, what is wrong with having differences between the sexes? Why should we not enjoy the differences, both in biology and in psychology? One of the things I love about my husband is that he is so very different from me, not superior, not inferior, but different. And some of those differences are because he is male and I am female. I’m not sure why feminists feel the need to eradicate any differences between the sexes. The world is wonderfully varied – why can’t we enjoy that? One of the things I like about historical romances (esp. regencies) is that the men are men and the women are women. Maybe that makes me sexist, I don’t know, but as the mother of three boys and a girl, I resent the world telling my boys that they are wrong for being boys and my daughter that she’s wrong for being a girl. Not all girls like pink, that’s for sure, but she loves pink and I’m not going to criticize her because she does. I won’t tell them they’re wrong because they don’t always choose gender neutral colors, activities, preferences. “Vive le difference?”

    Reply
  13. I don’t have any psycho-speak to back me up, but
    My question is, what is wrong with having differences between the sexes? Why should we not enjoy the differences, both in biology and in psychology? One of the things I love about my husband is that he is so very different from me, not superior, not inferior, but different. And some of those differences are because he is male and I am female. I’m not sure why feminists feel the need to eradicate any differences between the sexes. The world is wonderfully varied – why can’t we enjoy that? One of the things I like about historical romances (esp. regencies) is that the men are men and the women are women. Maybe that makes me sexist, I don’t know, but as the mother of three boys and a girl, I resent the world telling my boys that they are wrong for being boys and my daughter that she’s wrong for being a girl. Not all girls like pink, that’s for sure, but she loves pink and I’m not going to criticize her because she does. I won’t tell them they’re wrong because they don’t always choose gender neutral colors, activities, preferences. “Vive le difference?”

    Reply
  14. I don’t have any psycho-speak to back me up, but
    My question is, what is wrong with having differences between the sexes? Why should we not enjoy the differences, both in biology and in psychology? One of the things I love about my husband is that he is so very different from me, not superior, not inferior, but different. And some of those differences are because he is male and I am female. I’m not sure why feminists feel the need to eradicate any differences between the sexes. The world is wonderfully varied – why can’t we enjoy that? One of the things I like about historical romances (esp. regencies) is that the men are men and the women are women. Maybe that makes me sexist, I don’t know, but as the mother of three boys and a girl, I resent the world telling my boys that they are wrong for being boys and my daughter that she’s wrong for being a girl. Not all girls like pink, that’s for sure, but she loves pink and I’m not going to criticize her because she does. I won’t tell them they’re wrong because they don’t always choose gender neutral colors, activities, preferences. “Vive le difference?”

    Reply
  15. I don’t have any psycho-speak to back me up, but
    My question is, what is wrong with having differences between the sexes? Why should we not enjoy the differences, both in biology and in psychology? One of the things I love about my husband is that he is so very different from me, not superior, not inferior, but different. And some of those differences are because he is male and I am female. I’m not sure why feminists feel the need to eradicate any differences between the sexes. The world is wonderfully varied – why can’t we enjoy that? One of the things I like about historical romances (esp. regencies) is that the men are men and the women are women. Maybe that makes me sexist, I don’t know, but as the mother of three boys and a girl, I resent the world telling my boys that they are wrong for being boys and my daughter that she’s wrong for being a girl. Not all girls like pink, that’s for sure, but she loves pink and I’m not going to criticize her because she does. I won’t tell them they’re wrong because they don’t always choose gender neutral colors, activities, preferences. “Vive le difference?”

    Reply
  16. I agree with Laura and Merry that gender differences are more a product of nurture than nature. Also, my experiences have been the opposite of Anne’s–I’ve never perceived the world as faulting girls for acting girly or boys for acting macho, but there IS a certain stigma against tomboyish girls and a much stronger prejudice against boys who don’t conform to society’s image of masculinity.
    I’ve always had a fairly tomboyish set of interests–baseball, football, military history, etc. The only princess I ever wanted to be growing up was Princess Leia, because she got to fight and have adventures and fall in love with a space pirate. 🙂 And I’ve never much cared for shoe shopping, but that’s mostly because I have strangely shaped, hard-to-fit feet. It’s just not fun when it’s a chore to find even one pair that fits comfortably!
    In general, I believe individual differences are bigger and more important than differences between the genders, and that no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!

    Reply
  17. I agree with Laura and Merry that gender differences are more a product of nurture than nature. Also, my experiences have been the opposite of Anne’s–I’ve never perceived the world as faulting girls for acting girly or boys for acting macho, but there IS a certain stigma against tomboyish girls and a much stronger prejudice against boys who don’t conform to society’s image of masculinity.
    I’ve always had a fairly tomboyish set of interests–baseball, football, military history, etc. The only princess I ever wanted to be growing up was Princess Leia, because she got to fight and have adventures and fall in love with a space pirate. 🙂 And I’ve never much cared for shoe shopping, but that’s mostly because I have strangely shaped, hard-to-fit feet. It’s just not fun when it’s a chore to find even one pair that fits comfortably!
    In general, I believe individual differences are bigger and more important than differences between the genders, and that no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!

    Reply
  18. I agree with Laura and Merry that gender differences are more a product of nurture than nature. Also, my experiences have been the opposite of Anne’s–I’ve never perceived the world as faulting girls for acting girly or boys for acting macho, but there IS a certain stigma against tomboyish girls and a much stronger prejudice against boys who don’t conform to society’s image of masculinity.
    I’ve always had a fairly tomboyish set of interests–baseball, football, military history, etc. The only princess I ever wanted to be growing up was Princess Leia, because she got to fight and have adventures and fall in love with a space pirate. 🙂 And I’ve never much cared for shoe shopping, but that’s mostly because I have strangely shaped, hard-to-fit feet. It’s just not fun when it’s a chore to find even one pair that fits comfortably!
    In general, I believe individual differences are bigger and more important than differences between the genders, and that no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!

    Reply
  19. I agree with Laura and Merry that gender differences are more a product of nurture than nature. Also, my experiences have been the opposite of Anne’s–I’ve never perceived the world as faulting girls for acting girly or boys for acting macho, but there IS a certain stigma against tomboyish girls and a much stronger prejudice against boys who don’t conform to society’s image of masculinity.
    I’ve always had a fairly tomboyish set of interests–baseball, football, military history, etc. The only princess I ever wanted to be growing up was Princess Leia, because she got to fight and have adventures and fall in love with a space pirate. 🙂 And I’ve never much cared for shoe shopping, but that’s mostly because I have strangely shaped, hard-to-fit feet. It’s just not fun when it’s a chore to find even one pair that fits comfortably!
    In general, I believe individual differences are bigger and more important than differences between the genders, and that no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!

    Reply
  20. I agree with Laura and Merry that gender differences are more a product of nurture than nature. Also, my experiences have been the opposite of Anne’s–I’ve never perceived the world as faulting girls for acting girly or boys for acting macho, but there IS a certain stigma against tomboyish girls and a much stronger prejudice against boys who don’t conform to society’s image of masculinity.
    I’ve always had a fairly tomboyish set of interests–baseball, football, military history, etc. The only princess I ever wanted to be growing up was Princess Leia, because she got to fight and have adventures and fall in love with a space pirate. 🙂 And I’ve never much cared for shoe shopping, but that’s mostly because I have strangely shaped, hard-to-fit feet. It’s just not fun when it’s a chore to find even one pair that fits comfortably!
    In general, I believe individual differences are bigger and more important than differences between the genders, and that no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!

    Reply
  21. I don’t think feminists feel a need to eradicate the differences between the sexes, as least none of the ones I know or grew up with do/did. What we do feel a need to eradicate is the decided PREFERENCE for doing things–or behaving–in a masculine way, and the resulting REWARDS of this preference. When a man in my office insists he’s right, yells, or otherwise acts in a dominant fashion, it’s an assertion of manhood. He’s strong. He’s decisive. He’s virile. When I dig my heel in, even in a quiet fashion, I’m a “bitch”, or too “emotional”. As a woman and a feminist, I have a problem with this kind of double standard.
    As “the chick who’s a dude” (my official nickname at the local coffee house), I have to say that I’ve always been more “masculine” in my outlook and behavior than most of the women I know (and all the “brain/personality” tests I’ve taken support this). I ‘get’ men. Most of my friends are men. Maybe this is why girly-girl ingénue heroines just don’t do it for me? I can’t identify with them.

    Reply
  22. I don’t think feminists feel a need to eradicate the differences between the sexes, as least none of the ones I know or grew up with do/did. What we do feel a need to eradicate is the decided PREFERENCE for doing things–or behaving–in a masculine way, and the resulting REWARDS of this preference. When a man in my office insists he’s right, yells, or otherwise acts in a dominant fashion, it’s an assertion of manhood. He’s strong. He’s decisive. He’s virile. When I dig my heel in, even in a quiet fashion, I’m a “bitch”, or too “emotional”. As a woman and a feminist, I have a problem with this kind of double standard.
    As “the chick who’s a dude” (my official nickname at the local coffee house), I have to say that I’ve always been more “masculine” in my outlook and behavior than most of the women I know (and all the “brain/personality” tests I’ve taken support this). I ‘get’ men. Most of my friends are men. Maybe this is why girly-girl ingénue heroines just don’t do it for me? I can’t identify with them.

    Reply
  23. I don’t think feminists feel a need to eradicate the differences between the sexes, as least none of the ones I know or grew up with do/did. What we do feel a need to eradicate is the decided PREFERENCE for doing things–or behaving–in a masculine way, and the resulting REWARDS of this preference. When a man in my office insists he’s right, yells, or otherwise acts in a dominant fashion, it’s an assertion of manhood. He’s strong. He’s decisive. He’s virile. When I dig my heel in, even in a quiet fashion, I’m a “bitch”, or too “emotional”. As a woman and a feminist, I have a problem with this kind of double standard.
    As “the chick who’s a dude” (my official nickname at the local coffee house), I have to say that I’ve always been more “masculine” in my outlook and behavior than most of the women I know (and all the “brain/personality” tests I’ve taken support this). I ‘get’ men. Most of my friends are men. Maybe this is why girly-girl ingénue heroines just don’t do it for me? I can’t identify with them.

    Reply
  24. I don’t think feminists feel a need to eradicate the differences between the sexes, as least none of the ones I know or grew up with do/did. What we do feel a need to eradicate is the decided PREFERENCE for doing things–or behaving–in a masculine way, and the resulting REWARDS of this preference. When a man in my office insists he’s right, yells, or otherwise acts in a dominant fashion, it’s an assertion of manhood. He’s strong. He’s decisive. He’s virile. When I dig my heel in, even in a quiet fashion, I’m a “bitch”, or too “emotional”. As a woman and a feminist, I have a problem with this kind of double standard.
    As “the chick who’s a dude” (my official nickname at the local coffee house), I have to say that I’ve always been more “masculine” in my outlook and behavior than most of the women I know (and all the “brain/personality” tests I’ve taken support this). I ‘get’ men. Most of my friends are men. Maybe this is why girly-girl ingénue heroines just don’t do it for me? I can’t identify with them.

    Reply
  25. I don’t think feminists feel a need to eradicate the differences between the sexes, as least none of the ones I know or grew up with do/did. What we do feel a need to eradicate is the decided PREFERENCE for doing things–or behaving–in a masculine way, and the resulting REWARDS of this preference. When a man in my office insists he’s right, yells, or otherwise acts in a dominant fashion, it’s an assertion of manhood. He’s strong. He’s decisive. He’s virile. When I dig my heel in, even in a quiet fashion, I’m a “bitch”, or too “emotional”. As a woman and a feminist, I have a problem with this kind of double standard.
    As “the chick who’s a dude” (my official nickname at the local coffee house), I have to say that I’ve always been more “masculine” in my outlook and behavior than most of the women I know (and all the “brain/personality” tests I’ve taken support this). I ‘get’ men. Most of my friends are men. Maybe this is why girly-girl ingénue heroines just don’t do it for me? I can’t identify with them.

    Reply
  26. I think Susan W has it right — it’s not that feminists want to erase any differences between males and females, it’s that we (and I count myself a feminist) don’t want assumptions to be made based on stereotypes or for those who fall outside the conventional masculine/feminine gender roles to be stigmatized.
    I’m the mother of three boys and the oldest of three sisters, and I can attest to the fact that — unlike my sons and their friends — my sisters and I did not have belching contests or find poop jokes amusing after the age of 3. OTOH, my sisters and I and each of my sons are so different in so many ways from each other (introvert vs extrovert, reader vs nonreader, organized vs sloppy, fashionista vs Good Will, etc.) that I realized fairly early on that it would be hard to generalize about either gender. I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.

    Reply
  27. I think Susan W has it right — it’s not that feminists want to erase any differences between males and females, it’s that we (and I count myself a feminist) don’t want assumptions to be made based on stereotypes or for those who fall outside the conventional masculine/feminine gender roles to be stigmatized.
    I’m the mother of three boys and the oldest of three sisters, and I can attest to the fact that — unlike my sons and their friends — my sisters and I did not have belching contests or find poop jokes amusing after the age of 3. OTOH, my sisters and I and each of my sons are so different in so many ways from each other (introvert vs extrovert, reader vs nonreader, organized vs sloppy, fashionista vs Good Will, etc.) that I realized fairly early on that it would be hard to generalize about either gender. I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.

    Reply
  28. I think Susan W has it right — it’s not that feminists want to erase any differences between males and females, it’s that we (and I count myself a feminist) don’t want assumptions to be made based on stereotypes or for those who fall outside the conventional masculine/feminine gender roles to be stigmatized.
    I’m the mother of three boys and the oldest of three sisters, and I can attest to the fact that — unlike my sons and their friends — my sisters and I did not have belching contests or find poop jokes amusing after the age of 3. OTOH, my sisters and I and each of my sons are so different in so many ways from each other (introvert vs extrovert, reader vs nonreader, organized vs sloppy, fashionista vs Good Will, etc.) that I realized fairly early on that it would be hard to generalize about either gender. I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.

    Reply
  29. I think Susan W has it right — it’s not that feminists want to erase any differences between males and females, it’s that we (and I count myself a feminist) don’t want assumptions to be made based on stereotypes or for those who fall outside the conventional masculine/feminine gender roles to be stigmatized.
    I’m the mother of three boys and the oldest of three sisters, and I can attest to the fact that — unlike my sons and their friends — my sisters and I did not have belching contests or find poop jokes amusing after the age of 3. OTOH, my sisters and I and each of my sons are so different in so many ways from each other (introvert vs extrovert, reader vs nonreader, organized vs sloppy, fashionista vs Good Will, etc.) that I realized fairly early on that it would be hard to generalize about either gender. I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.

    Reply
  30. I think Susan W has it right — it’s not that feminists want to erase any differences between males and females, it’s that we (and I count myself a feminist) don’t want assumptions to be made based on stereotypes or for those who fall outside the conventional masculine/feminine gender roles to be stigmatized.
    I’m the mother of three boys and the oldest of three sisters, and I can attest to the fact that — unlike my sons and their friends — my sisters and I did not have belching contests or find poop jokes amusing after the age of 3. OTOH, my sisters and I and each of my sons are so different in so many ways from each other (introvert vs extrovert, reader vs nonreader, organized vs sloppy, fashionista vs Good Will, etc.) that I realized fairly early on that it would be hard to generalize about either gender. I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.

    Reply
  31. Merry & Laura, thanks for clarifying. I found the article puzzling, obviously–and now I’m thinking this was because they seemed to be comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other. To me, it just pointed out interesting differences, and, as is being pointed out, these have to do with culture & socialization. Certainly, as a feminist, I absolutely agree that using gender differences for discriminating is the issue. For instance, I keep flying into rages because the media repeatedly focus on things like a woman politician’s figure or clothing choices. The question of culture is extremely important, too. What’s funny isn’t just influenced by whether one is American or English but by one’s social group. So among certain groups, the shoe thing is a joke–while others don’t get it at all, and there are probably some who see it as an obnoxious stereotype. Even in one culture, we don’t all find the same things amusing. Certainly it’s a cruel joke for me, since I, too, have very hard to fit feet. But I love the differences between men and women and think it makes a very interesting world (though it also has a dark side) and I absolutely believe romance is right to celebrate the differences–and, for those of us who write in a comic vein–to poke fun at them, as I did in my last blog, with Jessica’s Trent’s latest-fashion clothes.

    Reply
  32. Merry & Laura, thanks for clarifying. I found the article puzzling, obviously–and now I’m thinking this was because they seemed to be comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other. To me, it just pointed out interesting differences, and, as is being pointed out, these have to do with culture & socialization. Certainly, as a feminist, I absolutely agree that using gender differences for discriminating is the issue. For instance, I keep flying into rages because the media repeatedly focus on things like a woman politician’s figure or clothing choices. The question of culture is extremely important, too. What’s funny isn’t just influenced by whether one is American or English but by one’s social group. So among certain groups, the shoe thing is a joke–while others don’t get it at all, and there are probably some who see it as an obnoxious stereotype. Even in one culture, we don’t all find the same things amusing. Certainly it’s a cruel joke for me, since I, too, have very hard to fit feet. But I love the differences between men and women and think it makes a very interesting world (though it also has a dark side) and I absolutely believe romance is right to celebrate the differences–and, for those of us who write in a comic vein–to poke fun at them, as I did in my last blog, with Jessica’s Trent’s latest-fashion clothes.

    Reply
  33. Merry & Laura, thanks for clarifying. I found the article puzzling, obviously–and now I’m thinking this was because they seemed to be comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other. To me, it just pointed out interesting differences, and, as is being pointed out, these have to do with culture & socialization. Certainly, as a feminist, I absolutely agree that using gender differences for discriminating is the issue. For instance, I keep flying into rages because the media repeatedly focus on things like a woman politician’s figure or clothing choices. The question of culture is extremely important, too. What’s funny isn’t just influenced by whether one is American or English but by one’s social group. So among certain groups, the shoe thing is a joke–while others don’t get it at all, and there are probably some who see it as an obnoxious stereotype. Even in one culture, we don’t all find the same things amusing. Certainly it’s a cruel joke for me, since I, too, have very hard to fit feet. But I love the differences between men and women and think it makes a very interesting world (though it also has a dark side) and I absolutely believe romance is right to celebrate the differences–and, for those of us who write in a comic vein–to poke fun at them, as I did in my last blog, with Jessica’s Trent’s latest-fashion clothes.

    Reply
  34. Merry & Laura, thanks for clarifying. I found the article puzzling, obviously–and now I’m thinking this was because they seemed to be comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other. To me, it just pointed out interesting differences, and, as is being pointed out, these have to do with culture & socialization. Certainly, as a feminist, I absolutely agree that using gender differences for discriminating is the issue. For instance, I keep flying into rages because the media repeatedly focus on things like a woman politician’s figure or clothing choices. The question of culture is extremely important, too. What’s funny isn’t just influenced by whether one is American or English but by one’s social group. So among certain groups, the shoe thing is a joke–while others don’t get it at all, and there are probably some who see it as an obnoxious stereotype. Even in one culture, we don’t all find the same things amusing. Certainly it’s a cruel joke for me, since I, too, have very hard to fit feet. But I love the differences between men and women and think it makes a very interesting world (though it also has a dark side) and I absolutely believe romance is right to celebrate the differences–and, for those of us who write in a comic vein–to poke fun at them, as I did in my last blog, with Jessica’s Trent’s latest-fashion clothes.

    Reply
  35. Merry & Laura, thanks for clarifying. I found the article puzzling, obviously–and now I’m thinking this was because they seemed to be comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other. To me, it just pointed out interesting differences, and, as is being pointed out, these have to do with culture & socialization. Certainly, as a feminist, I absolutely agree that using gender differences for discriminating is the issue. For instance, I keep flying into rages because the media repeatedly focus on things like a woman politician’s figure or clothing choices. The question of culture is extremely important, too. What’s funny isn’t just influenced by whether one is American or English but by one’s social group. So among certain groups, the shoe thing is a joke–while others don’t get it at all, and there are probably some who see it as an obnoxious stereotype. Even in one culture, we don’t all find the same things amusing. Certainly it’s a cruel joke for me, since I, too, have very hard to fit feet. But I love the differences between men and women and think it makes a very interesting world (though it also has a dark side) and I absolutely believe romance is right to celebrate the differences–and, for those of us who write in a comic vein–to poke fun at them, as I did in my last blog, with Jessica’s Trent’s latest-fashion clothes.

    Reply
  36. “I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.”
    Good point, Susan D/C. BTW, I too grew up with three sisters & no brothers, so the belching and other gross stuff was something I learned about only when my sisters & friends had sons. Maybe this is why those books in the 1990s had such an impact on me. Revelation!

    Reply
  37. “I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.”
    Good point, Susan D/C. BTW, I too grew up with three sisters & no brothers, so the belching and other gross stuff was something I learned about only when my sisters & friends had sons. Maybe this is why those books in the 1990s had such an impact on me. Revelation!

    Reply
  38. “I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.”
    Good point, Susan D/C. BTW, I too grew up with three sisters & no brothers, so the belching and other gross stuff was something I learned about only when my sisters & friends had sons. Maybe this is why those books in the 1990s had such an impact on me. Revelation!

    Reply
  39. “I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.”
    Good point, Susan D/C. BTW, I too grew up with three sisters & no brothers, so the belching and other gross stuff was something I learned about only when my sisters & friends had sons. Maybe this is why those books in the 1990s had such an impact on me. Revelation!

    Reply
  40. “I love men and I do think there are some differences, but the outliers in each group are far more different from each other (think the Rock vs David Sedaris) than the average man is from the average woman.”
    Good point, Susan D/C. BTW, I too grew up with three sisters & no brothers, so the belching and other gross stuff was something I learned about only when my sisters & friends had sons. Maybe this is why those books in the 1990s had such an impact on me. Revelation!

    Reply
  41. I’ll agree with most of the above: the claim that differences are biological has been used in some very unfortunate ways. It’s critical to acknowledge the role of socialization in creating gender roles.
    In the link Laura posted, I mention that women used to be thought “too delicate” to run marathons, but in the last 30 years women’s marathon times have closed the gap with men’s. And the Globe article says the gender gap in SAT scores is closing. I’m not arguing that the sexes are “the same”, but our ideas of what women “can” do (and men too) appear to be creating gender differences.
    biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).
    I have to model feminism with humor and laugh at this, right? 😉
    Olivia Judson’s Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation says that for the animal kingdom, “males must spread their seed around” is no longer at all the prevailing view among evolutionary biologists: that idea was based on cultural assumptions rather than data. It’s often the female that’s evolutionarily motivated to be promiscuous, while the male is often the one decorating his shell, fluttering his mandibles, and wanting to snuggle.
    In terms of romance, I like to read characters who think, act, and speak with their own distinct personalities. I don’t think I require that those differences be based on gender differences. If anything, I get tired of easy gender classifications. I’ve put down many romances because the characters seemed based on gender roles, rather than being well developed as individuals. Is that poor writing or over-reliance on gender roles? Some of each, I think.
    “much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American.”
    I don’t see much cultural correspondence between the people I know in the US and what I see portrayed in romances and romance message boards. Nor do I relate to the Mars/Venus message. Mars/Venus also strikes me as dated, so it’s tempting to say it’s generational, but I polled my parents’ friends on Deborah Cameron, and they said they’d never bought in to Mars/Venus. But… we all tend to think (usually wrongly) the larger culture is similar to our experience from our social circles.
    Of course there are different cultures! But again I think there’s often more variation within each than between (at least in the US, UK, and Canada, which have a lot of common history and language–and far-flung populations). E.g. a new poll in The Economist says “Euro-types” are “stopped in their tracks” (as am I) by how many Americans believe homosexuality is wrong. However, a poll last year (in Le Monde?) reported similar numbers in several European countries. As with the gender issues, the big story isn’t the inter-country differences but how those attitudes come to be.

    Reply
  42. I’ll agree with most of the above: the claim that differences are biological has been used in some very unfortunate ways. It’s critical to acknowledge the role of socialization in creating gender roles.
    In the link Laura posted, I mention that women used to be thought “too delicate” to run marathons, but in the last 30 years women’s marathon times have closed the gap with men’s. And the Globe article says the gender gap in SAT scores is closing. I’m not arguing that the sexes are “the same”, but our ideas of what women “can” do (and men too) appear to be creating gender differences.
    biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).
    I have to model feminism with humor and laugh at this, right? 😉
    Olivia Judson’s Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation says that for the animal kingdom, “males must spread their seed around” is no longer at all the prevailing view among evolutionary biologists: that idea was based on cultural assumptions rather than data. It’s often the female that’s evolutionarily motivated to be promiscuous, while the male is often the one decorating his shell, fluttering his mandibles, and wanting to snuggle.
    In terms of romance, I like to read characters who think, act, and speak with their own distinct personalities. I don’t think I require that those differences be based on gender differences. If anything, I get tired of easy gender classifications. I’ve put down many romances because the characters seemed based on gender roles, rather than being well developed as individuals. Is that poor writing or over-reliance on gender roles? Some of each, I think.
    “much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American.”
    I don’t see much cultural correspondence between the people I know in the US and what I see portrayed in romances and romance message boards. Nor do I relate to the Mars/Venus message. Mars/Venus also strikes me as dated, so it’s tempting to say it’s generational, but I polled my parents’ friends on Deborah Cameron, and they said they’d never bought in to Mars/Venus. But… we all tend to think (usually wrongly) the larger culture is similar to our experience from our social circles.
    Of course there are different cultures! But again I think there’s often more variation within each than between (at least in the US, UK, and Canada, which have a lot of common history and language–and far-flung populations). E.g. a new poll in The Economist says “Euro-types” are “stopped in their tracks” (as am I) by how many Americans believe homosexuality is wrong. However, a poll last year (in Le Monde?) reported similar numbers in several European countries. As with the gender issues, the big story isn’t the inter-country differences but how those attitudes come to be.

    Reply
  43. I’ll agree with most of the above: the claim that differences are biological has been used in some very unfortunate ways. It’s critical to acknowledge the role of socialization in creating gender roles.
    In the link Laura posted, I mention that women used to be thought “too delicate” to run marathons, but in the last 30 years women’s marathon times have closed the gap with men’s. And the Globe article says the gender gap in SAT scores is closing. I’m not arguing that the sexes are “the same”, but our ideas of what women “can” do (and men too) appear to be creating gender differences.
    biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).
    I have to model feminism with humor and laugh at this, right? 😉
    Olivia Judson’s Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation says that for the animal kingdom, “males must spread their seed around” is no longer at all the prevailing view among evolutionary biologists: that idea was based on cultural assumptions rather than data. It’s often the female that’s evolutionarily motivated to be promiscuous, while the male is often the one decorating his shell, fluttering his mandibles, and wanting to snuggle.
    In terms of romance, I like to read characters who think, act, and speak with their own distinct personalities. I don’t think I require that those differences be based on gender differences. If anything, I get tired of easy gender classifications. I’ve put down many romances because the characters seemed based on gender roles, rather than being well developed as individuals. Is that poor writing or over-reliance on gender roles? Some of each, I think.
    “much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American.”
    I don’t see much cultural correspondence between the people I know in the US and what I see portrayed in romances and romance message boards. Nor do I relate to the Mars/Venus message. Mars/Venus also strikes me as dated, so it’s tempting to say it’s generational, but I polled my parents’ friends on Deborah Cameron, and they said they’d never bought in to Mars/Venus. But… we all tend to think (usually wrongly) the larger culture is similar to our experience from our social circles.
    Of course there are different cultures! But again I think there’s often more variation within each than between (at least in the US, UK, and Canada, which have a lot of common history and language–and far-flung populations). E.g. a new poll in The Economist says “Euro-types” are “stopped in their tracks” (as am I) by how many Americans believe homosexuality is wrong. However, a poll last year (in Le Monde?) reported similar numbers in several European countries. As with the gender issues, the big story isn’t the inter-country differences but how those attitudes come to be.

    Reply
  44. I’ll agree with most of the above: the claim that differences are biological has been used in some very unfortunate ways. It’s critical to acknowledge the role of socialization in creating gender roles.
    In the link Laura posted, I mention that women used to be thought “too delicate” to run marathons, but in the last 30 years women’s marathon times have closed the gap with men’s. And the Globe article says the gender gap in SAT scores is closing. I’m not arguing that the sexes are “the same”, but our ideas of what women “can” do (and men too) appear to be creating gender differences.
    biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).
    I have to model feminism with humor and laugh at this, right? 😉
    Olivia Judson’s Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation says that for the animal kingdom, “males must spread their seed around” is no longer at all the prevailing view among evolutionary biologists: that idea was based on cultural assumptions rather than data. It’s often the female that’s evolutionarily motivated to be promiscuous, while the male is often the one decorating his shell, fluttering his mandibles, and wanting to snuggle.
    In terms of romance, I like to read characters who think, act, and speak with their own distinct personalities. I don’t think I require that those differences be based on gender differences. If anything, I get tired of easy gender classifications. I’ve put down many romances because the characters seemed based on gender roles, rather than being well developed as individuals. Is that poor writing or over-reliance on gender roles? Some of each, I think.
    “much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American.”
    I don’t see much cultural correspondence between the people I know in the US and what I see portrayed in romances and romance message boards. Nor do I relate to the Mars/Venus message. Mars/Venus also strikes me as dated, so it’s tempting to say it’s generational, but I polled my parents’ friends on Deborah Cameron, and they said they’d never bought in to Mars/Venus. But… we all tend to think (usually wrongly) the larger culture is similar to our experience from our social circles.
    Of course there are different cultures! But again I think there’s often more variation within each than between (at least in the US, UK, and Canada, which have a lot of common history and language–and far-flung populations). E.g. a new poll in The Economist says “Euro-types” are “stopped in their tracks” (as am I) by how many Americans believe homosexuality is wrong. However, a poll last year (in Le Monde?) reported similar numbers in several European countries. As with the gender issues, the big story isn’t the inter-country differences but how those attitudes come to be.

    Reply
  45. I’ll agree with most of the above: the claim that differences are biological has been used in some very unfortunate ways. It’s critical to acknowledge the role of socialization in creating gender roles.
    In the link Laura posted, I mention that women used to be thought “too delicate” to run marathons, but in the last 30 years women’s marathon times have closed the gap with men’s. And the Globe article says the gender gap in SAT scores is closing. I’m not arguing that the sexes are “the same”, but our ideas of what women “can” do (and men too) appear to be creating gender differences.
    biology and evolution and what the male, generally, needs to do (copulate) vs. what the female, generally, needs to do (buy shoes).
    I have to model feminism with humor and laugh at this, right? 😉
    Olivia Judson’s Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation says that for the animal kingdom, “males must spread their seed around” is no longer at all the prevailing view among evolutionary biologists: that idea was based on cultural assumptions rather than data. It’s often the female that’s evolutionarily motivated to be promiscuous, while the male is often the one decorating his shell, fluttering his mandibles, and wanting to snuggle.
    In terms of romance, I like to read characters who think, act, and speak with their own distinct personalities. I don’t think I require that those differences be based on gender differences. If anything, I get tired of easy gender classifications. I’ve put down many romances because the characters seemed based on gender roles, rather than being well developed as individuals. Is that poor writing or over-reliance on gender roles? Some of each, I think.
    “much of the literature about Men being from Mars doesn’t resonate with me at all, because I’m not American.”
    I don’t see much cultural correspondence between the people I know in the US and what I see portrayed in romances and romance message boards. Nor do I relate to the Mars/Venus message. Mars/Venus also strikes me as dated, so it’s tempting to say it’s generational, but I polled my parents’ friends on Deborah Cameron, and they said they’d never bought in to Mars/Venus. But… we all tend to think (usually wrongly) the larger culture is similar to our experience from our social circles.
    Of course there are different cultures! But again I think there’s often more variation within each than between (at least in the US, UK, and Canada, which have a lot of common history and language–and far-flung populations). E.g. a new poll in The Economist says “Euro-types” are “stopped in their tracks” (as am I) by how many Americans believe homosexuality is wrong. However, a poll last year (in Le Monde?) reported similar numbers in several European countries. As with the gender issues, the big story isn’t the inter-country differences but how those attitudes come to be.

    Reply
  46. “I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other.”
    Now I’ve read this comment, I think I see where you’re coming from. I agree, the fact that (some) men and women are different doesn’t have to mean any of:
    – One sex is superior
    – Those differences are innate or universal
    – Those differences are good or bad
    What bothers me is the rush to claim a biological basis for gender differences. E.g. Deborah Cameron shows how biological determinism has been used to belittle *both* men and women (she talks too much, he’s inarticulate), and that it’s been used as a cop-out (she couldn’t understand math even if she tried, he didn’t understand that when she said no she really meant it).
    Again, this doesn’t mean there are *no* gender differences, or that gender differences are bad. The problem is limiting people through hard-and-fast expectations.

    Reply
  47. “I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other.”
    Now I’ve read this comment, I think I see where you’re coming from. I agree, the fact that (some) men and women are different doesn’t have to mean any of:
    – One sex is superior
    – Those differences are innate or universal
    – Those differences are good or bad
    What bothers me is the rush to claim a biological basis for gender differences. E.g. Deborah Cameron shows how biological determinism has been used to belittle *both* men and women (she talks too much, he’s inarticulate), and that it’s been used as a cop-out (she couldn’t understand math even if she tried, he didn’t understand that when she said no she really meant it).
    Again, this doesn’t mean there are *no* gender differences, or that gender differences are bad. The problem is limiting people through hard-and-fast expectations.

    Reply
  48. “I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other.”
    Now I’ve read this comment, I think I see where you’re coming from. I agree, the fact that (some) men and women are different doesn’t have to mean any of:
    – One sex is superior
    – Those differences are innate or universal
    – Those differences are good or bad
    What bothers me is the rush to claim a biological basis for gender differences. E.g. Deborah Cameron shows how biological determinism has been used to belittle *both* men and women (she talks too much, he’s inarticulate), and that it’s been used as a cop-out (she couldn’t understand math even if she tried, he didn’t understand that when she said no she really meant it).
    Again, this doesn’t mean there are *no* gender differences, or that gender differences are bad. The problem is limiting people through hard-and-fast expectations.

    Reply
  49. “I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other.”
    Now I’ve read this comment, I think I see where you’re coming from. I agree, the fact that (some) men and women are different doesn’t have to mean any of:
    – One sex is superior
    – Those differences are innate or universal
    – Those differences are good or bad
    What bothers me is the rush to claim a biological basis for gender differences. E.g. Deborah Cameron shows how biological determinism has been used to belittle *both* men and women (she talks too much, he’s inarticulate), and that it’s been used as a cop-out (she couldn’t understand math even if she tried, he didn’t understand that when she said no she really meant it).
    Again, this doesn’t mean there are *no* gender differences, or that gender differences are bad. The problem is limiting people through hard-and-fast expectations.

    Reply
  50. “I didn’t get what the Mars-Venus thing had to do with ability or how it said that one sex was smarter or more capable than the other.”
    Now I’ve read this comment, I think I see where you’re coming from. I agree, the fact that (some) men and women are different doesn’t have to mean any of:
    – One sex is superior
    – Those differences are innate or universal
    – Those differences are good or bad
    What bothers me is the rush to claim a biological basis for gender differences. E.g. Deborah Cameron shows how biological determinism has been used to belittle *both* men and women (she talks too much, he’s inarticulate), and that it’s been used as a cop-out (she couldn’t understand math even if she tried, he didn’t understand that when she said no she really meant it).
    Again, this doesn’t mean there are *no* gender differences, or that gender differences are bad. The problem is limiting people through hard-and-fast expectations.

    Reply
  51. I just taught a kindergarten class in which the children could add extra items to a coloring book page of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles. The girls added slippers, toy boxes, and teddy bears. The boys added cell phones and whoopie cushions. Both sexes added televisions…. I don’t know what this says about the difference between male and female. But hey, Loretta, I love the way your characters have different points of view- whether they were born that way or not, they do have differences by the time they are adult and it makes the story more fun. I loved the way Daphne was portrayed as female and intellectual in Mr. Impossible and of course Dane is one of my favorite heroes of all time. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!

    Reply
  52. I just taught a kindergarten class in which the children could add extra items to a coloring book page of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles. The girls added slippers, toy boxes, and teddy bears. The boys added cell phones and whoopie cushions. Both sexes added televisions…. I don’t know what this says about the difference between male and female. But hey, Loretta, I love the way your characters have different points of view- whether they were born that way or not, they do have differences by the time they are adult and it makes the story more fun. I loved the way Daphne was portrayed as female and intellectual in Mr. Impossible and of course Dane is one of my favorite heroes of all time. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!

    Reply
  53. I just taught a kindergarten class in which the children could add extra items to a coloring book page of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles. The girls added slippers, toy boxes, and teddy bears. The boys added cell phones and whoopie cushions. Both sexes added televisions…. I don’t know what this says about the difference between male and female. But hey, Loretta, I love the way your characters have different points of view- whether they were born that way or not, they do have differences by the time they are adult and it makes the story more fun. I loved the way Daphne was portrayed as female and intellectual in Mr. Impossible and of course Dane is one of my favorite heroes of all time. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!

    Reply
  54. I just taught a kindergarten class in which the children could add extra items to a coloring book page of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles. The girls added slippers, toy boxes, and teddy bears. The boys added cell phones and whoopie cushions. Both sexes added televisions…. I don’t know what this says about the difference between male and female. But hey, Loretta, I love the way your characters have different points of view- whether they were born that way or not, they do have differences by the time they are adult and it makes the story more fun. I loved the way Daphne was portrayed as female and intellectual in Mr. Impossible and of course Dane is one of my favorite heroes of all time. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!

    Reply
  55. I just taught a kindergarten class in which the children could add extra items to a coloring book page of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles. The girls added slippers, toy boxes, and teddy bears. The boys added cell phones and whoopie cushions. Both sexes added televisions…. I don’t know what this says about the difference between male and female. But hey, Loretta, I love the way your characters have different points of view- whether they were born that way or not, they do have differences by the time they are adult and it makes the story more fun. I loved the way Daphne was portrayed as female and intellectual in Mr. Impossible and of course Dane is one of my favorite heroes of all time. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!

    Reply
  56. This discussion is even more thought-provoking than the original article. I have to keep going back and thinking about what you all have to say.
    Merry, I do believe there was an apples & oranges aspect here. What I got from those books in the 90s is what you’re talking about: they offered additional ways to understand and communicate. They showed another point of view, other ways of interpreting what, in my case, men said and did. And that, I thought, broadened my horizons, rather than narrowed them.
    “people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.”
    Laura, I think we humans do like to pigeonhole and stereotype, because seeing too much individuality is chaotic. To me, some of the sorting into categories we do is like astrology and other “systems.” We want patterns and order, so we impose them. Harmless, often. Other times, very much NOT harmless.

    Reply
  57. This discussion is even more thought-provoking than the original article. I have to keep going back and thinking about what you all have to say.
    Merry, I do believe there was an apples & oranges aspect here. What I got from those books in the 90s is what you’re talking about: they offered additional ways to understand and communicate. They showed another point of view, other ways of interpreting what, in my case, men said and did. And that, I thought, broadened my horizons, rather than narrowed them.
    “people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.”
    Laura, I think we humans do like to pigeonhole and stereotype, because seeing too much individuality is chaotic. To me, some of the sorting into categories we do is like astrology and other “systems.” We want patterns and order, so we impose them. Harmless, often. Other times, very much NOT harmless.

    Reply
  58. This discussion is even more thought-provoking than the original article. I have to keep going back and thinking about what you all have to say.
    Merry, I do believe there was an apples & oranges aspect here. What I got from those books in the 90s is what you’re talking about: they offered additional ways to understand and communicate. They showed another point of view, other ways of interpreting what, in my case, men said and did. And that, I thought, broadened my horizons, rather than narrowed them.
    “people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.”
    Laura, I think we humans do like to pigeonhole and stereotype, because seeing too much individuality is chaotic. To me, some of the sorting into categories we do is like astrology and other “systems.” We want patterns and order, so we impose them. Harmless, often. Other times, very much NOT harmless.

    Reply
  59. This discussion is even more thought-provoking than the original article. I have to keep going back and thinking about what you all have to say.
    Merry, I do believe there was an apples & oranges aspect here. What I got from those books in the 90s is what you’re talking about: they offered additional ways to understand and communicate. They showed another point of view, other ways of interpreting what, in my case, men said and did. And that, I thought, broadened my horizons, rather than narrowed them.
    “people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.”
    Laura, I think we humans do like to pigeonhole and stereotype, because seeing too much individuality is chaotic. To me, some of the sorting into categories we do is like astrology and other “systems.” We want patterns and order, so we impose them. Harmless, often. Other times, very much NOT harmless.

    Reply
  60. This discussion is even more thought-provoking than the original article. I have to keep going back and thinking about what you all have to say.
    Merry, I do believe there was an apples & oranges aspect here. What I got from those books in the 90s is what you’re talking about: they offered additional ways to understand and communicate. They showed another point of view, other ways of interpreting what, in my case, men said and did. And that, I thought, broadened my horizons, rather than narrowed them.
    “people typically pay most attention to things that match their expectations, and often fail to register counter-examples.”
    Laura, I think we humans do like to pigeonhole and stereotype, because seeing too much individuality is chaotic. To me, some of the sorting into categories we do is like astrology and other “systems.” We want patterns and order, so we impose them. Harmless, often. Other times, very much NOT harmless.

    Reply
  61. Just for the record, the “copulate” & “shoes” thing was poking fun at a stereotype. It’s definitely not one of my core beliefs about human nature. So I’m wondering if I should have used emoticons? The trouble is, I don’t understand them, really. I learned to write back in ancient times when we had no emoticons and scraped our words on pieces of rock with other pieces of rock. In those days, words sufficed. So I must fault myself as a writer for communicating badly.

    Reply
  62. Just for the record, the “copulate” & “shoes” thing was poking fun at a stereotype. It’s definitely not one of my core beliefs about human nature. So I’m wondering if I should have used emoticons? The trouble is, I don’t understand them, really. I learned to write back in ancient times when we had no emoticons and scraped our words on pieces of rock with other pieces of rock. In those days, words sufficed. So I must fault myself as a writer for communicating badly.

    Reply
  63. Just for the record, the “copulate” & “shoes” thing was poking fun at a stereotype. It’s definitely not one of my core beliefs about human nature. So I’m wondering if I should have used emoticons? The trouble is, I don’t understand them, really. I learned to write back in ancient times when we had no emoticons and scraped our words on pieces of rock with other pieces of rock. In those days, words sufficed. So I must fault myself as a writer for communicating badly.

    Reply
  64. Just for the record, the “copulate” & “shoes” thing was poking fun at a stereotype. It’s definitely not one of my core beliefs about human nature. So I’m wondering if I should have used emoticons? The trouble is, I don’t understand them, really. I learned to write back in ancient times when we had no emoticons and scraped our words on pieces of rock with other pieces of rock. In those days, words sufficed. So I must fault myself as a writer for communicating badly.

    Reply
  65. Just for the record, the “copulate” & “shoes” thing was poking fun at a stereotype. It’s definitely not one of my core beliefs about human nature. So I’m wondering if I should have used emoticons? The trouble is, I don’t understand them, really. I learned to write back in ancient times when we had no emoticons and scraped our words on pieces of rock with other pieces of rock. In those days, words sufficed. So I must fault myself as a writer for communicating badly.

    Reply
  66. Anne, you asked what’s wrong with men and women being different. That’s what I want to know. I, too, like that my husband doesn’t approach things the same way I do. And I like having my heroes and heroines see the world in different ways. I guess the point is respect. If we’re laughing equally at ourselves & the opposite sex, that’s OK. But if we’re equating “different” with “inferior,” it’s not OK. And I think this is where the article threw me, because it seemed that the authors picked several odd targets to make what was otherwise a reasonable point.
    Susan Wilbanks said: “no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!”
    This is the point of many of my stories. My heroines, often, are not conforming to social expectations. In the real world, that’s still a problem. In the HEA of the romance, though, the hero, at least, accepts and loves this about the heroine. This is one of the ways in which the stereotypes are useful in fiction. They start the “What if?” process. What if I turn this stereotype on its head? What if the hard-headed intellectual in the relationship is the woman? What if the hypersensitive, high-strung one is the man?

    Reply
  67. Anne, you asked what’s wrong with men and women being different. That’s what I want to know. I, too, like that my husband doesn’t approach things the same way I do. And I like having my heroes and heroines see the world in different ways. I guess the point is respect. If we’re laughing equally at ourselves & the opposite sex, that’s OK. But if we’re equating “different” with “inferior,” it’s not OK. And I think this is where the article threw me, because it seemed that the authors picked several odd targets to make what was otherwise a reasonable point.
    Susan Wilbanks said: “no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!”
    This is the point of many of my stories. My heroines, often, are not conforming to social expectations. In the real world, that’s still a problem. In the HEA of the romance, though, the hero, at least, accepts and loves this about the heroine. This is one of the ways in which the stereotypes are useful in fiction. They start the “What if?” process. What if I turn this stereotype on its head? What if the hard-headed intellectual in the relationship is the woman? What if the hypersensitive, high-strung one is the man?

    Reply
  68. Anne, you asked what’s wrong with men and women being different. That’s what I want to know. I, too, like that my husband doesn’t approach things the same way I do. And I like having my heroes and heroines see the world in different ways. I guess the point is respect. If we’re laughing equally at ourselves & the opposite sex, that’s OK. But if we’re equating “different” with “inferior,” it’s not OK. And I think this is where the article threw me, because it seemed that the authors picked several odd targets to make what was otherwise a reasonable point.
    Susan Wilbanks said: “no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!”
    This is the point of many of my stories. My heroines, often, are not conforming to social expectations. In the real world, that’s still a problem. In the HEA of the romance, though, the hero, at least, accepts and loves this about the heroine. This is one of the ways in which the stereotypes are useful in fiction. They start the “What if?” process. What if I turn this stereotype on its head? What if the hard-headed intellectual in the relationship is the woman? What if the hypersensitive, high-strung one is the man?

    Reply
  69. Anne, you asked what’s wrong with men and women being different. That’s what I want to know. I, too, like that my husband doesn’t approach things the same way I do. And I like having my heroes and heroines see the world in different ways. I guess the point is respect. If we’re laughing equally at ourselves & the opposite sex, that’s OK. But if we’re equating “different” with “inferior,” it’s not OK. And I think this is where the article threw me, because it seemed that the authors picked several odd targets to make what was otherwise a reasonable point.
    Susan Wilbanks said: “no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!”
    This is the point of many of my stories. My heroines, often, are not conforming to social expectations. In the real world, that’s still a problem. In the HEA of the romance, though, the hero, at least, accepts and loves this about the heroine. This is one of the ways in which the stereotypes are useful in fiction. They start the “What if?” process. What if I turn this stereotype on its head? What if the hard-headed intellectual in the relationship is the woman? What if the hypersensitive, high-strung one is the man?

    Reply
  70. Anne, you asked what’s wrong with men and women being different. That’s what I want to know. I, too, like that my husband doesn’t approach things the same way I do. And I like having my heroes and heroines see the world in different ways. I guess the point is respect. If we’re laughing equally at ourselves & the opposite sex, that’s OK. But if we’re equating “different” with “inferior,” it’s not OK. And I think this is where the article threw me, because it seemed that the authors picked several odd targets to make what was otherwise a reasonable point.
    Susan Wilbanks said: “no one should be treated as less of a man or a woman for conforming or not conforming to social expectations. Not that I think the world is going to change that way anytime soon!”
    This is the point of many of my stories. My heroines, often, are not conforming to social expectations. In the real world, that’s still a problem. In the HEA of the romance, though, the hero, at least, accepts and loves this about the heroine. This is one of the ways in which the stereotypes are useful in fiction. They start the “What if?” process. What if I turn this stereotype on its head? What if the hard-headed intellectual in the relationship is the woman? What if the hypersensitive, high-strung one is the man?

    Reply
  71. “Just for the record, the ‘copulate’ & ‘shoes’ thing was poking fun at a stereotype.”
    That’s how I read it. I too underuse emoticons–I often come across more serious than I intended. I tell myself it’s better to underuse than overuse emoticons.

    Reply
  72. “Just for the record, the ‘copulate’ & ‘shoes’ thing was poking fun at a stereotype.”
    That’s how I read it. I too underuse emoticons–I often come across more serious than I intended. I tell myself it’s better to underuse than overuse emoticons.

    Reply
  73. “Just for the record, the ‘copulate’ & ‘shoes’ thing was poking fun at a stereotype.”
    That’s how I read it. I too underuse emoticons–I often come across more serious than I intended. I tell myself it’s better to underuse than overuse emoticons.

    Reply
  74. “Just for the record, the ‘copulate’ & ‘shoes’ thing was poking fun at a stereotype.”
    That’s how I read it. I too underuse emoticons–I often come across more serious than I intended. I tell myself it’s better to underuse than overuse emoticons.

    Reply
  75. “Just for the record, the ‘copulate’ & ‘shoes’ thing was poking fun at a stereotype.”
    That’s how I read it. I too underuse emoticons–I often come across more serious than I intended. I tell myself it’s better to underuse than overuse emoticons.

    Reply
  76. RfP, I was actually picturing the lady spider thinking about shoes–you know, because of all those spider legs. And the thing with the male sage-grouse wooing cow dung did create an indelible image…and conjured memories of a certain Lenny Bruce bit about men on desert islands. It’s my cartoon mind. I guess that needed more than emoticons.

    Reply
  77. RfP, I was actually picturing the lady spider thinking about shoes–you know, because of all those spider legs. And the thing with the male sage-grouse wooing cow dung did create an indelible image…and conjured memories of a certain Lenny Bruce bit about men on desert islands. It’s my cartoon mind. I guess that needed more than emoticons.

    Reply
  78. RfP, I was actually picturing the lady spider thinking about shoes–you know, because of all those spider legs. And the thing with the male sage-grouse wooing cow dung did create an indelible image…and conjured memories of a certain Lenny Bruce bit about men on desert islands. It’s my cartoon mind. I guess that needed more than emoticons.

    Reply
  79. RfP, I was actually picturing the lady spider thinking about shoes–you know, because of all those spider legs. And the thing with the male sage-grouse wooing cow dung did create an indelible image…and conjured memories of a certain Lenny Bruce bit about men on desert islands. It’s my cartoon mind. I guess that needed more than emoticons.

    Reply
  80. RfP, I was actually picturing the lady spider thinking about shoes–you know, because of all those spider legs. And the thing with the male sage-grouse wooing cow dung did create an indelible image…and conjured memories of a certain Lenny Bruce bit about men on desert islands. It’s my cartoon mind. I guess that needed more than emoticons.

    Reply
  81. Have to admit I tossed Mars & Venus after a few pages. But I also tossed Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m an equal opportunity tosser.
    A book I find extremely useful is:
    King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette. They’re two Jungian guys associated with Bly’s masculine reclamation stuff.
    But I’ve also learned much about myself from that book. What does that say about me? Who knows.
    So much of behavior for either sex is dictated by cultural pressure and expectation. For instance, my dh loathes sports, but makes certain he knows enough about the big games to be conversant with “the guys” at work.

    Reply
  82. Have to admit I tossed Mars & Venus after a few pages. But I also tossed Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m an equal opportunity tosser.
    A book I find extremely useful is:
    King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette. They’re two Jungian guys associated with Bly’s masculine reclamation stuff.
    But I’ve also learned much about myself from that book. What does that say about me? Who knows.
    So much of behavior for either sex is dictated by cultural pressure and expectation. For instance, my dh loathes sports, but makes certain he knows enough about the big games to be conversant with “the guys” at work.

    Reply
  83. Have to admit I tossed Mars & Venus after a few pages. But I also tossed Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m an equal opportunity tosser.
    A book I find extremely useful is:
    King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette. They’re two Jungian guys associated with Bly’s masculine reclamation stuff.
    But I’ve also learned much about myself from that book. What does that say about me? Who knows.
    So much of behavior for either sex is dictated by cultural pressure and expectation. For instance, my dh loathes sports, but makes certain he knows enough about the big games to be conversant with “the guys” at work.

    Reply
  84. Have to admit I tossed Mars & Venus after a few pages. But I also tossed Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m an equal opportunity tosser.
    A book I find extremely useful is:
    King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette. They’re two Jungian guys associated with Bly’s masculine reclamation stuff.
    But I’ve also learned much about myself from that book. What does that say about me? Who knows.
    So much of behavior for either sex is dictated by cultural pressure and expectation. For instance, my dh loathes sports, but makes certain he knows enough about the big games to be conversant with “the guys” at work.

    Reply
  85. Have to admit I tossed Mars & Venus after a few pages. But I also tossed Goddesses in Everywoman. I’m an equal opportunity tosser.
    A book I find extremely useful is:
    King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette. They’re two Jungian guys associated with Bly’s masculine reclamation stuff.
    But I’ve also learned much about myself from that book. What does that say about me? Who knows.
    So much of behavior for either sex is dictated by cultural pressure and expectation. For instance, my dh loathes sports, but makes certain he knows enough about the big games to be conversant with “the guys” at work.

    Reply
  86. I’ve always found any study claiming to show how men and women think, speak, act differently to be filled with problems. For one thing, every one of those studies is a product of a culture with certain prejudices in place. In the 19th century there was loads of “science” claiming that men were more intelligent than women. And that women were hysterical basket cases. They had evidence then, too. Were they right? Or were they products of the time?
    These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture. It’s also doesn’t work to apply any other form of animal behavior to how humans behave. They don’t correlate. There are differences between men and women, but they are all acculturated differences. Frankly, I’m sick of constantly seeing these studies in the New York Times/Washington Post wherever. I hate being told what I am. We’re all part of the same species and we’re more alike than different.

    Reply
  87. I’ve always found any study claiming to show how men and women think, speak, act differently to be filled with problems. For one thing, every one of those studies is a product of a culture with certain prejudices in place. In the 19th century there was loads of “science” claiming that men were more intelligent than women. And that women were hysterical basket cases. They had evidence then, too. Were they right? Or were they products of the time?
    These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture. It’s also doesn’t work to apply any other form of animal behavior to how humans behave. They don’t correlate. There are differences between men and women, but they are all acculturated differences. Frankly, I’m sick of constantly seeing these studies in the New York Times/Washington Post wherever. I hate being told what I am. We’re all part of the same species and we’re more alike than different.

    Reply
  88. I’ve always found any study claiming to show how men and women think, speak, act differently to be filled with problems. For one thing, every one of those studies is a product of a culture with certain prejudices in place. In the 19th century there was loads of “science” claiming that men were more intelligent than women. And that women were hysterical basket cases. They had evidence then, too. Were they right? Or were they products of the time?
    These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture. It’s also doesn’t work to apply any other form of animal behavior to how humans behave. They don’t correlate. There are differences between men and women, but they are all acculturated differences. Frankly, I’m sick of constantly seeing these studies in the New York Times/Washington Post wherever. I hate being told what I am. We’re all part of the same species and we’re more alike than different.

    Reply
  89. I’ve always found any study claiming to show how men and women think, speak, act differently to be filled with problems. For one thing, every one of those studies is a product of a culture with certain prejudices in place. In the 19th century there was loads of “science” claiming that men were more intelligent than women. And that women were hysterical basket cases. They had evidence then, too. Were they right? Or were they products of the time?
    These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture. It’s also doesn’t work to apply any other form of animal behavior to how humans behave. They don’t correlate. There are differences between men and women, but they are all acculturated differences. Frankly, I’m sick of constantly seeing these studies in the New York Times/Washington Post wherever. I hate being told what I am. We’re all part of the same species and we’re more alike than different.

    Reply
  90. I’ve always found any study claiming to show how men and women think, speak, act differently to be filled with problems. For one thing, every one of those studies is a product of a culture with certain prejudices in place. In the 19th century there was loads of “science” claiming that men were more intelligent than women. And that women were hysterical basket cases. They had evidence then, too. Were they right? Or were they products of the time?
    These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture. It’s also doesn’t work to apply any other form of animal behavior to how humans behave. They don’t correlate. There are differences between men and women, but they are all acculturated differences. Frankly, I’m sick of constantly seeing these studies in the New York Times/Washington Post wherever. I hate being told what I am. We’re all part of the same species and we’re more alike than different.

    Reply
  91. “These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture.”
    Alice_confetti, the recent articles mostly agree with you that culture is the key.
    At the beginning of this article on the Cameron book, there’s an example of a culture that reverses the Mars/Venus hypothesis. In Papua New Guinea, women are from Mars and men are from Venus. That’s socialization, not genetics.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2587988.ece

    Reply
  92. “These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture.”
    Alice_confetti, the recent articles mostly agree with you that culture is the key.
    At the beginning of this article on the Cameron book, there’s an example of a culture that reverses the Mars/Venus hypothesis. In Papua New Guinea, women are from Mars and men are from Venus. That’s socialization, not genetics.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2587988.ece

    Reply
  93. “These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture.”
    Alice_confetti, the recent articles mostly agree with you that culture is the key.
    At the beginning of this article on the Cameron book, there’s an example of a culture that reverses the Mars/Venus hypothesis. In Papua New Guinea, women are from Mars and men are from Venus. That’s socialization, not genetics.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2587988.ece

    Reply
  94. “These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture.”
    Alice_confetti, the recent articles mostly agree with you that culture is the key.
    At the beginning of this article on the Cameron book, there’s an example of a culture that reverses the Mars/Venus hypothesis. In Papua New Guinea, women are from Mars and men are from Venus. That’s socialization, not genetics.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2587988.ece

    Reply
  95. “These studies look at adult men and adult women (who’ve been raised in this culture) and claim to know about biology and about in born genetic responses. It doesn’t work, you can’t escape culture.”
    Alice_confetti, the recent articles mostly agree with you that culture is the key.
    At the beginning of this article on the Cameron book, there’s an example of a culture that reverses the Mars/Venus hypothesis. In Papua New Guinea, women are from Mars and men are from Venus. That’s socialization, not genetics.
    http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article2587988.ece

    Reply
  96. Loretta, thanks for a thought-provoking post and for the link to the Boston Globe Magazine article.
    I guess I’m in general agreement with the article (i.e.,lots of gender-related “science” is bunk, let’s not make assumptions about learning ability based on gender, etc). But the article failed to make the case for me that the consequences of so-called”gender-friendly” teaching/learning techniques are dire and terrible.
    For example, single-sex classrooms–the horror! Actually, as a graduate of a women’s college whose daughter is now at an all-girls high school, I know that single-sex education can be a very positive and empowering thing for girls, especially in math, science, and leadership skills.
    And if girls are able to analyze cosmetics for chem class, and boys to read action books for English class, what’s the problem with that? Aren’t the objectives for learning being met and isn’t the child’s interest being stimulated? Isn’t that what good education is?

    Reply
  97. Loretta, thanks for a thought-provoking post and for the link to the Boston Globe Magazine article.
    I guess I’m in general agreement with the article (i.e.,lots of gender-related “science” is bunk, let’s not make assumptions about learning ability based on gender, etc). But the article failed to make the case for me that the consequences of so-called”gender-friendly” teaching/learning techniques are dire and terrible.
    For example, single-sex classrooms–the horror! Actually, as a graduate of a women’s college whose daughter is now at an all-girls high school, I know that single-sex education can be a very positive and empowering thing for girls, especially in math, science, and leadership skills.
    And if girls are able to analyze cosmetics for chem class, and boys to read action books for English class, what’s the problem with that? Aren’t the objectives for learning being met and isn’t the child’s interest being stimulated? Isn’t that what good education is?

    Reply
  98. Loretta, thanks for a thought-provoking post and for the link to the Boston Globe Magazine article.
    I guess I’m in general agreement with the article (i.e.,lots of gender-related “science” is bunk, let’s not make assumptions about learning ability based on gender, etc). But the article failed to make the case for me that the consequences of so-called”gender-friendly” teaching/learning techniques are dire and terrible.
    For example, single-sex classrooms–the horror! Actually, as a graduate of a women’s college whose daughter is now at an all-girls high school, I know that single-sex education can be a very positive and empowering thing for girls, especially in math, science, and leadership skills.
    And if girls are able to analyze cosmetics for chem class, and boys to read action books for English class, what’s the problem with that? Aren’t the objectives for learning being met and isn’t the child’s interest being stimulated? Isn’t that what good education is?

    Reply
  99. Loretta, thanks for a thought-provoking post and for the link to the Boston Globe Magazine article.
    I guess I’m in general agreement with the article (i.e.,lots of gender-related “science” is bunk, let’s not make assumptions about learning ability based on gender, etc). But the article failed to make the case for me that the consequences of so-called”gender-friendly” teaching/learning techniques are dire and terrible.
    For example, single-sex classrooms–the horror! Actually, as a graduate of a women’s college whose daughter is now at an all-girls high school, I know that single-sex education can be a very positive and empowering thing for girls, especially in math, science, and leadership skills.
    And if girls are able to analyze cosmetics for chem class, and boys to read action books for English class, what’s the problem with that? Aren’t the objectives for learning being met and isn’t the child’s interest being stimulated? Isn’t that what good education is?

    Reply
  100. Loretta, thanks for a thought-provoking post and for the link to the Boston Globe Magazine article.
    I guess I’m in general agreement with the article (i.e.,lots of gender-related “science” is bunk, let’s not make assumptions about learning ability based on gender, etc). But the article failed to make the case for me that the consequences of so-called”gender-friendly” teaching/learning techniques are dire and terrible.
    For example, single-sex classrooms–the horror! Actually, as a graduate of a women’s college whose daughter is now at an all-girls high school, I know that single-sex education can be a very positive and empowering thing for girls, especially in math, science, and leadership skills.
    And if girls are able to analyze cosmetics for chem class, and boys to read action books for English class, what’s the problem with that? Aren’t the objectives for learning being met and isn’t the child’s interest being stimulated? Isn’t that what good education is?

    Reply
  101. (continuing after a mall run)
    Perhap one could see this as widening opportunities/options/concepts for boys and girls instead of narrowing them? For example, summer chemistry classes at the science museum routinely feature cooking now as a way to understand chemical reactions and concepts. However my dad, 75 and a professional chemist, claims that he can’t cook and read recipes. HUH? I guess his generation (unlike that of my kids) didn’t get a chance to see that it’s all the same thing, just a different setting (put on lab coat/apron; combine measured solids and liquids/flour and eggs; apply heat for a certain length of time; observe changes/eat brownies). For him, a woman making cookies in a kitchen and a man in a lab making compounds are different; for my kids, not so much.

    Reply
  102. (continuing after a mall run)
    Perhap one could see this as widening opportunities/options/concepts for boys and girls instead of narrowing them? For example, summer chemistry classes at the science museum routinely feature cooking now as a way to understand chemical reactions and concepts. However my dad, 75 and a professional chemist, claims that he can’t cook and read recipes. HUH? I guess his generation (unlike that of my kids) didn’t get a chance to see that it’s all the same thing, just a different setting (put on lab coat/apron; combine measured solids and liquids/flour and eggs; apply heat for a certain length of time; observe changes/eat brownies). For him, a woman making cookies in a kitchen and a man in a lab making compounds are different; for my kids, not so much.

    Reply
  103. (continuing after a mall run)
    Perhap one could see this as widening opportunities/options/concepts for boys and girls instead of narrowing them? For example, summer chemistry classes at the science museum routinely feature cooking now as a way to understand chemical reactions and concepts. However my dad, 75 and a professional chemist, claims that he can’t cook and read recipes. HUH? I guess his generation (unlike that of my kids) didn’t get a chance to see that it’s all the same thing, just a different setting (put on lab coat/apron; combine measured solids and liquids/flour and eggs; apply heat for a certain length of time; observe changes/eat brownies). For him, a woman making cookies in a kitchen and a man in a lab making compounds are different; for my kids, not so much.

    Reply
  104. (continuing after a mall run)
    Perhap one could see this as widening opportunities/options/concepts for boys and girls instead of narrowing them? For example, summer chemistry classes at the science museum routinely feature cooking now as a way to understand chemical reactions and concepts. However my dad, 75 and a professional chemist, claims that he can’t cook and read recipes. HUH? I guess his generation (unlike that of my kids) didn’t get a chance to see that it’s all the same thing, just a different setting (put on lab coat/apron; combine measured solids and liquids/flour and eggs; apply heat for a certain length of time; observe changes/eat brownies). For him, a woman making cookies in a kitchen and a man in a lab making compounds are different; for my kids, not so much.

    Reply
  105. (continuing after a mall run)
    Perhap one could see this as widening opportunities/options/concepts for boys and girls instead of narrowing them? For example, summer chemistry classes at the science museum routinely feature cooking now as a way to understand chemical reactions and concepts. However my dad, 75 and a professional chemist, claims that he can’t cook and read recipes. HUH? I guess his generation (unlike that of my kids) didn’t get a chance to see that it’s all the same thing, just a different setting (put on lab coat/apron; combine measured solids and liquids/flour and eggs; apply heat for a certain length of time; observe changes/eat brownies). For him, a woman making cookies in a kitchen and a man in a lab making compounds are different; for my kids, not so much.

    Reply
  106. I have kept out of this debate, because there is so much to say that it felt daunted, but I have to comment on single-sex education. Like many Brits of my generation, I went to a mixed primary school (up to age 11) and a single-sex secondary school (11-18). I am absolutely convinced that I should have had far greater intellectual difficulty in a co-educational environment.
    Adolescents behave very differently in single-sex communities and in groups of both sexes, and many of the typical forms of behaviour in the latter are inimical to concentration on learning. By removing the opportunity for courtship behaviour and competition during school hours, a great deal of social pressure is removed, which enables the individuals to think a bit more about their work. I am always horrified when I read descriptions of the atmosphere of US high-schools in novels; the social pressures seem to be relentless and very strong. The idea of any girl caring or even thinking about how ‘popular’ she is seems completely alien to me. We wore uniform at secondary school, too – another thing that removes, at one stroke, a major source of distraction and competition.
    Even though I had had little experience of males of my own age by the time I went to college, I had no difficulty in adjusting rapidly to working and socialising with them, because by the age of 18, most of us can handle social pressures far better than we can at 14 or 16.
    None of these things has anything to do with different learning styles or academic abilities of males and females (though a girls’ school gives the pupils the experience of seeing women in charge). Nor do they prevent teenage girls from dressing up and going out with boys in their free time. What they do is to help the pupil to focus on learning rather than social interaction during the school day.
    I am a very strong supporter of single-sex education for that age-group – and it helps boys as much as girls, academically – and can only regret that now, mixed schools have become the norm here. It is never mentioned as a possible reason for a fall in our general educational standards in the UK, but I have no doubt whatever that it is a significant factor.
    Even if the reasons cited are irrelevant, I think the US should welcome a return in some quarters to segregating the sexes in school during adolescence.

    Reply
  107. I have kept out of this debate, because there is so much to say that it felt daunted, but I have to comment on single-sex education. Like many Brits of my generation, I went to a mixed primary school (up to age 11) and a single-sex secondary school (11-18). I am absolutely convinced that I should have had far greater intellectual difficulty in a co-educational environment.
    Adolescents behave very differently in single-sex communities and in groups of both sexes, and many of the typical forms of behaviour in the latter are inimical to concentration on learning. By removing the opportunity for courtship behaviour and competition during school hours, a great deal of social pressure is removed, which enables the individuals to think a bit more about their work. I am always horrified when I read descriptions of the atmosphere of US high-schools in novels; the social pressures seem to be relentless and very strong. The idea of any girl caring or even thinking about how ‘popular’ she is seems completely alien to me. We wore uniform at secondary school, too – another thing that removes, at one stroke, a major source of distraction and competition.
    Even though I had had little experience of males of my own age by the time I went to college, I had no difficulty in adjusting rapidly to working and socialising with them, because by the age of 18, most of us can handle social pressures far better than we can at 14 or 16.
    None of these things has anything to do with different learning styles or academic abilities of males and females (though a girls’ school gives the pupils the experience of seeing women in charge). Nor do they prevent teenage girls from dressing up and going out with boys in their free time. What they do is to help the pupil to focus on learning rather than social interaction during the school day.
    I am a very strong supporter of single-sex education for that age-group – and it helps boys as much as girls, academically – and can only regret that now, mixed schools have become the norm here. It is never mentioned as a possible reason for a fall in our general educational standards in the UK, but I have no doubt whatever that it is a significant factor.
    Even if the reasons cited are irrelevant, I think the US should welcome a return in some quarters to segregating the sexes in school during adolescence.

    Reply
  108. I have kept out of this debate, because there is so much to say that it felt daunted, but I have to comment on single-sex education. Like many Brits of my generation, I went to a mixed primary school (up to age 11) and a single-sex secondary school (11-18). I am absolutely convinced that I should have had far greater intellectual difficulty in a co-educational environment.
    Adolescents behave very differently in single-sex communities and in groups of both sexes, and many of the typical forms of behaviour in the latter are inimical to concentration on learning. By removing the opportunity for courtship behaviour and competition during school hours, a great deal of social pressure is removed, which enables the individuals to think a bit more about their work. I am always horrified when I read descriptions of the atmosphere of US high-schools in novels; the social pressures seem to be relentless and very strong. The idea of any girl caring or even thinking about how ‘popular’ she is seems completely alien to me. We wore uniform at secondary school, too – another thing that removes, at one stroke, a major source of distraction and competition.
    Even though I had had little experience of males of my own age by the time I went to college, I had no difficulty in adjusting rapidly to working and socialising with them, because by the age of 18, most of us can handle social pressures far better than we can at 14 or 16.
    None of these things has anything to do with different learning styles or academic abilities of males and females (though a girls’ school gives the pupils the experience of seeing women in charge). Nor do they prevent teenage girls from dressing up and going out with boys in their free time. What they do is to help the pupil to focus on learning rather than social interaction during the school day.
    I am a very strong supporter of single-sex education for that age-group – and it helps boys as much as girls, academically – and can only regret that now, mixed schools have become the norm here. It is never mentioned as a possible reason for a fall in our general educational standards in the UK, but I have no doubt whatever that it is a significant factor.
    Even if the reasons cited are irrelevant, I think the US should welcome a return in some quarters to segregating the sexes in school during adolescence.

    Reply
  109. I have kept out of this debate, because there is so much to say that it felt daunted, but I have to comment on single-sex education. Like many Brits of my generation, I went to a mixed primary school (up to age 11) and a single-sex secondary school (11-18). I am absolutely convinced that I should have had far greater intellectual difficulty in a co-educational environment.
    Adolescents behave very differently in single-sex communities and in groups of both sexes, and many of the typical forms of behaviour in the latter are inimical to concentration on learning. By removing the opportunity for courtship behaviour and competition during school hours, a great deal of social pressure is removed, which enables the individuals to think a bit more about their work. I am always horrified when I read descriptions of the atmosphere of US high-schools in novels; the social pressures seem to be relentless and very strong. The idea of any girl caring or even thinking about how ‘popular’ she is seems completely alien to me. We wore uniform at secondary school, too – another thing that removes, at one stroke, a major source of distraction and competition.
    Even though I had had little experience of males of my own age by the time I went to college, I had no difficulty in adjusting rapidly to working and socialising with them, because by the age of 18, most of us can handle social pressures far better than we can at 14 or 16.
    None of these things has anything to do with different learning styles or academic abilities of males and females (though a girls’ school gives the pupils the experience of seeing women in charge). Nor do they prevent teenage girls from dressing up and going out with boys in their free time. What they do is to help the pupil to focus on learning rather than social interaction during the school day.
    I am a very strong supporter of single-sex education for that age-group – and it helps boys as much as girls, academically – and can only regret that now, mixed schools have become the norm here. It is never mentioned as a possible reason for a fall in our general educational standards in the UK, but I have no doubt whatever that it is a significant factor.
    Even if the reasons cited are irrelevant, I think the US should welcome a return in some quarters to segregating the sexes in school during adolescence.

    Reply
  110. I have kept out of this debate, because there is so much to say that it felt daunted, but I have to comment on single-sex education. Like many Brits of my generation, I went to a mixed primary school (up to age 11) and a single-sex secondary school (11-18). I am absolutely convinced that I should have had far greater intellectual difficulty in a co-educational environment.
    Adolescents behave very differently in single-sex communities and in groups of both sexes, and many of the typical forms of behaviour in the latter are inimical to concentration on learning. By removing the opportunity for courtship behaviour and competition during school hours, a great deal of social pressure is removed, which enables the individuals to think a bit more about their work. I am always horrified when I read descriptions of the atmosphere of US high-schools in novels; the social pressures seem to be relentless and very strong. The idea of any girl caring or even thinking about how ‘popular’ she is seems completely alien to me. We wore uniform at secondary school, too – another thing that removes, at one stroke, a major source of distraction and competition.
    Even though I had had little experience of males of my own age by the time I went to college, I had no difficulty in adjusting rapidly to working and socialising with them, because by the age of 18, most of us can handle social pressures far better than we can at 14 or 16.
    None of these things has anything to do with different learning styles or academic abilities of males and females (though a girls’ school gives the pupils the experience of seeing women in charge). Nor do they prevent teenage girls from dressing up and going out with boys in their free time. What they do is to help the pupil to focus on learning rather than social interaction during the school day.
    I am a very strong supporter of single-sex education for that age-group – and it helps boys as much as girls, academically – and can only regret that now, mixed schools have become the norm here. It is never mentioned as a possible reason for a fall in our general educational standards in the UK, but I have no doubt whatever that it is a significant factor.
    Even if the reasons cited are irrelevant, I think the US should welcome a return in some quarters to segregating the sexes in school during adolescence.

    Reply
  111. AgTirgress, I had a completely different experience with single sex schools. I attended a “mixed” school but as all the boys left for some reason or other, I was in a single sex class for four or five years. The experience was not a nice one. My female classmates were extremely competitve, catish, and bullying. Having a boyfriend was the only thing that counted, if you had none, you were bullied until you wanted to die. I’ve never been gladder in my life than when I left secondary school and was able to return to the more relaxed atmosphere of a university! I also felt that growing up in an all-female environement screwed up my relations with guys/men later on, as I had no clue how to deal with them… took me years to figure it out. Now, I am not saying my experience is more significant than yours, or anything like that. I think it just goes to show that there is no “one solution fits them all”. Some girls thrive in an all female environement. Some don’t. That takes me back to the original topic – I was never able to believe in the inborn difference between men and women. I think it is cultural to a very large extend. Men are inarticulate? Too bad that about 99% of the world’s literature has been written by men, including love poems, letters, and diaries!
    Women are not competitive? I do not believe it. I think male and female are social constructs and depending on the times/mores we select certain features as “masculine and feminine”. An example? Around 1900, men and women were convinced that women were far more sexual than men. (Freud also bought into this). Basically women were seen as sexual predators who needed (guess what) a men to control them but who were unable to controle their urges themselves. Ring a bell? Similar arguments are being made about men these days…
    As for the Mars/Venus thing, I never got beyond the first few pages as it made me so angry. It seemed like another over simplistic view of the world to me…. sorry to ramble on like that!

    Reply
  112. AgTirgress, I had a completely different experience with single sex schools. I attended a “mixed” school but as all the boys left for some reason or other, I was in a single sex class for four or five years. The experience was not a nice one. My female classmates were extremely competitve, catish, and bullying. Having a boyfriend was the only thing that counted, if you had none, you were bullied until you wanted to die. I’ve never been gladder in my life than when I left secondary school and was able to return to the more relaxed atmosphere of a university! I also felt that growing up in an all-female environement screwed up my relations with guys/men later on, as I had no clue how to deal with them… took me years to figure it out. Now, I am not saying my experience is more significant than yours, or anything like that. I think it just goes to show that there is no “one solution fits them all”. Some girls thrive in an all female environement. Some don’t. That takes me back to the original topic – I was never able to believe in the inborn difference between men and women. I think it is cultural to a very large extend. Men are inarticulate? Too bad that about 99% of the world’s literature has been written by men, including love poems, letters, and diaries!
    Women are not competitive? I do not believe it. I think male and female are social constructs and depending on the times/mores we select certain features as “masculine and feminine”. An example? Around 1900, men and women were convinced that women were far more sexual than men. (Freud also bought into this). Basically women were seen as sexual predators who needed (guess what) a men to control them but who were unable to controle their urges themselves. Ring a bell? Similar arguments are being made about men these days…
    As for the Mars/Venus thing, I never got beyond the first few pages as it made me so angry. It seemed like another over simplistic view of the world to me…. sorry to ramble on like that!

    Reply
  113. AgTirgress, I had a completely different experience with single sex schools. I attended a “mixed” school but as all the boys left for some reason or other, I was in a single sex class for four or five years. The experience was not a nice one. My female classmates were extremely competitve, catish, and bullying. Having a boyfriend was the only thing that counted, if you had none, you were bullied until you wanted to die. I’ve never been gladder in my life than when I left secondary school and was able to return to the more relaxed atmosphere of a university! I also felt that growing up in an all-female environement screwed up my relations with guys/men later on, as I had no clue how to deal with them… took me years to figure it out. Now, I am not saying my experience is more significant than yours, or anything like that. I think it just goes to show that there is no “one solution fits them all”. Some girls thrive in an all female environement. Some don’t. That takes me back to the original topic – I was never able to believe in the inborn difference between men and women. I think it is cultural to a very large extend. Men are inarticulate? Too bad that about 99% of the world’s literature has been written by men, including love poems, letters, and diaries!
    Women are not competitive? I do not believe it. I think male and female are social constructs and depending on the times/mores we select certain features as “masculine and feminine”. An example? Around 1900, men and women were convinced that women were far more sexual than men. (Freud also bought into this). Basically women were seen as sexual predators who needed (guess what) a men to control them but who were unable to controle their urges themselves. Ring a bell? Similar arguments are being made about men these days…
    As for the Mars/Venus thing, I never got beyond the first few pages as it made me so angry. It seemed like another over simplistic view of the world to me…. sorry to ramble on like that!

    Reply
  114. AgTirgress, I had a completely different experience with single sex schools. I attended a “mixed” school but as all the boys left for some reason or other, I was in a single sex class for four or five years. The experience was not a nice one. My female classmates were extremely competitve, catish, and bullying. Having a boyfriend was the only thing that counted, if you had none, you were bullied until you wanted to die. I’ve never been gladder in my life than when I left secondary school and was able to return to the more relaxed atmosphere of a university! I also felt that growing up in an all-female environement screwed up my relations with guys/men later on, as I had no clue how to deal with them… took me years to figure it out. Now, I am not saying my experience is more significant than yours, or anything like that. I think it just goes to show that there is no “one solution fits them all”. Some girls thrive in an all female environement. Some don’t. That takes me back to the original topic – I was never able to believe in the inborn difference between men and women. I think it is cultural to a very large extend. Men are inarticulate? Too bad that about 99% of the world’s literature has been written by men, including love poems, letters, and diaries!
    Women are not competitive? I do not believe it. I think male and female are social constructs and depending on the times/mores we select certain features as “masculine and feminine”. An example? Around 1900, men and women were convinced that women were far more sexual than men. (Freud also bought into this). Basically women were seen as sexual predators who needed (guess what) a men to control them but who were unable to controle their urges themselves. Ring a bell? Similar arguments are being made about men these days…
    As for the Mars/Venus thing, I never got beyond the first few pages as it made me so angry. It seemed like another over simplistic view of the world to me…. sorry to ramble on like that!

    Reply
  115. AgTirgress, I had a completely different experience with single sex schools. I attended a “mixed” school but as all the boys left for some reason or other, I was in a single sex class for four or five years. The experience was not a nice one. My female classmates were extremely competitve, catish, and bullying. Having a boyfriend was the only thing that counted, if you had none, you were bullied until you wanted to die. I’ve never been gladder in my life than when I left secondary school and was able to return to the more relaxed atmosphere of a university! I also felt that growing up in an all-female environement screwed up my relations with guys/men later on, as I had no clue how to deal with them… took me years to figure it out. Now, I am not saying my experience is more significant than yours, or anything like that. I think it just goes to show that there is no “one solution fits them all”. Some girls thrive in an all female environement. Some don’t. That takes me back to the original topic – I was never able to believe in the inborn difference between men and women. I think it is cultural to a very large extend. Men are inarticulate? Too bad that about 99% of the world’s literature has been written by men, including love poems, letters, and diaries!
    Women are not competitive? I do not believe it. I think male and female are social constructs and depending on the times/mores we select certain features as “masculine and feminine”. An example? Around 1900, men and women were convinced that women were far more sexual than men. (Freud also bought into this). Basically women were seen as sexual predators who needed (guess what) a men to control them but who were unable to controle their urges themselves. Ring a bell? Similar arguments are being made about men these days…
    As for the Mars/Venus thing, I never got beyond the first few pages as it made me so angry. It seemed like another over simplistic view of the world to me…. sorry to ramble on like that!

    Reply
  116. LizA: how amazing! That picture of a single-sex learning environment is *totally* alien to me. Different cultural backgrounds, and probably different generations, may have much to do with it, possibly together with the fact that the kind of school I attended was also selected according to academic ability, so that the range of personal interests and ambitions represented was much narrower than in one of today’s huge, mixed ‘comprehensive’ schools.
    You say that ‘growing up in an all-female environment’ adversely affected your relations with males later. Was it a boarding school, then? If not, I don’t see that you were in an all-female environment at all: the hours spent in the school building need not affect one’s life outside it. I had no brothers, but even so, I did meet and converse with various males in addition to my father quite often during my teenage years! And anyway, if you believe that men and women are ultimately NOT significantly different (I am not opining on that issue), I don’t see why you had a hard time with them later. That would be likely only if they actually ARE fundamentally and immutably different!
    🙂

    Reply
  117. LizA: how amazing! That picture of a single-sex learning environment is *totally* alien to me. Different cultural backgrounds, and probably different generations, may have much to do with it, possibly together with the fact that the kind of school I attended was also selected according to academic ability, so that the range of personal interests and ambitions represented was much narrower than in one of today’s huge, mixed ‘comprehensive’ schools.
    You say that ‘growing up in an all-female environment’ adversely affected your relations with males later. Was it a boarding school, then? If not, I don’t see that you were in an all-female environment at all: the hours spent in the school building need not affect one’s life outside it. I had no brothers, but even so, I did meet and converse with various males in addition to my father quite often during my teenage years! And anyway, if you believe that men and women are ultimately NOT significantly different (I am not opining on that issue), I don’t see why you had a hard time with them later. That would be likely only if they actually ARE fundamentally and immutably different!
    🙂

    Reply
  118. LizA: how amazing! That picture of a single-sex learning environment is *totally* alien to me. Different cultural backgrounds, and probably different generations, may have much to do with it, possibly together with the fact that the kind of school I attended was also selected according to academic ability, so that the range of personal interests and ambitions represented was much narrower than in one of today’s huge, mixed ‘comprehensive’ schools.
    You say that ‘growing up in an all-female environment’ adversely affected your relations with males later. Was it a boarding school, then? If not, I don’t see that you were in an all-female environment at all: the hours spent in the school building need not affect one’s life outside it. I had no brothers, but even so, I did meet and converse with various males in addition to my father quite often during my teenage years! And anyway, if you believe that men and women are ultimately NOT significantly different (I am not opining on that issue), I don’t see why you had a hard time with them later. That would be likely only if they actually ARE fundamentally and immutably different!
    🙂

    Reply
  119. LizA: how amazing! That picture of a single-sex learning environment is *totally* alien to me. Different cultural backgrounds, and probably different generations, may have much to do with it, possibly together with the fact that the kind of school I attended was also selected according to academic ability, so that the range of personal interests and ambitions represented was much narrower than in one of today’s huge, mixed ‘comprehensive’ schools.
    You say that ‘growing up in an all-female environment’ adversely affected your relations with males later. Was it a boarding school, then? If not, I don’t see that you were in an all-female environment at all: the hours spent in the school building need not affect one’s life outside it. I had no brothers, but even so, I did meet and converse with various males in addition to my father quite often during my teenage years! And anyway, if you believe that men and women are ultimately NOT significantly different (I am not opining on that issue), I don’t see why you had a hard time with them later. That would be likely only if they actually ARE fundamentally and immutably different!
    🙂

    Reply
  120. LizA: how amazing! That picture of a single-sex learning environment is *totally* alien to me. Different cultural backgrounds, and probably different generations, may have much to do with it, possibly together with the fact that the kind of school I attended was also selected according to academic ability, so that the range of personal interests and ambitions represented was much narrower than in one of today’s huge, mixed ‘comprehensive’ schools.
    You say that ‘growing up in an all-female environment’ adversely affected your relations with males later. Was it a boarding school, then? If not, I don’t see that you were in an all-female environment at all: the hours spent in the school building need not affect one’s life outside it. I had no brothers, but even so, I did meet and converse with various males in addition to my father quite often during my teenage years! And anyway, if you believe that men and women are ultimately NOT significantly different (I am not opining on that issue), I don’t see why you had a hard time with them later. That would be likely only if they actually ARE fundamentally and immutably different!
    🙂

    Reply
  121. Might I ask a question, here, of everyone who knows domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, well?
    Would you say that there are typically masculine and feminine behaviour patterns in these animals, over and above their individual personalities, and which are not affected even if they have been surgically de-sexed?
    Just asking.
    The fact that behaviour and social roles imposed by cultural factors and by individual personalities may be immensely significant does not, in itself, mean that innate gender-based behaviour does not also exist.

    Reply
  122. Might I ask a question, here, of everyone who knows domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, well?
    Would you say that there are typically masculine and feminine behaviour patterns in these animals, over and above their individual personalities, and which are not affected even if they have been surgically de-sexed?
    Just asking.
    The fact that behaviour and social roles imposed by cultural factors and by individual personalities may be immensely significant does not, in itself, mean that innate gender-based behaviour does not also exist.

    Reply
  123. Might I ask a question, here, of everyone who knows domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, well?
    Would you say that there are typically masculine and feminine behaviour patterns in these animals, over and above their individual personalities, and which are not affected even if they have been surgically de-sexed?
    Just asking.
    The fact that behaviour and social roles imposed by cultural factors and by individual personalities may be immensely significant does not, in itself, mean that innate gender-based behaviour does not also exist.

    Reply
  124. Might I ask a question, here, of everyone who knows domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, well?
    Would you say that there are typically masculine and feminine behaviour patterns in these animals, over and above their individual personalities, and which are not affected even if they have been surgically de-sexed?
    Just asking.
    The fact that behaviour and social roles imposed by cultural factors and by individual personalities may be immensely significant does not, in itself, mean that innate gender-based behaviour does not also exist.

    Reply
  125. Might I ask a question, here, of everyone who knows domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, well?
    Would you say that there are typically masculine and feminine behaviour patterns in these animals, over and above their individual personalities, and which are not affected even if they have been surgically de-sexed?
    Just asking.
    The fact that behaviour and social roles imposed by cultural factors and by individual personalities may be immensely significant does not, in itself, mean that innate gender-based behaviour does not also exist.

    Reply
  126. AgTigress, we’ve only ever had male dogs, so my observation of female dogs is only anecdotal. I have always been amused that our male dogs need to “mark” every tree, flower, and bush, constantly, all the time. It’s my impression that females don’t do this?

    Reply
  127. AgTigress, we’ve only ever had male dogs, so my observation of female dogs is only anecdotal. I have always been amused that our male dogs need to “mark” every tree, flower, and bush, constantly, all the time. It’s my impression that females don’t do this?

    Reply
  128. AgTigress, we’ve only ever had male dogs, so my observation of female dogs is only anecdotal. I have always been amused that our male dogs need to “mark” every tree, flower, and bush, constantly, all the time. It’s my impression that females don’t do this?

    Reply
  129. AgTigress, we’ve only ever had male dogs, so my observation of female dogs is only anecdotal. I have always been amused that our male dogs need to “mark” every tree, flower, and bush, constantly, all the time. It’s my impression that females don’t do this?

    Reply
  130. AgTigress, we’ve only ever had male dogs, so my observation of female dogs is only anecdotal. I have always been amused that our male dogs need to “mark” every tree, flower, and bush, constantly, all the time. It’s my impression that females don’t do this?

    Reply
  131. I’m completely in favour of mixed-sex schooling because I feel that education is about socialisation as much as achieving scores in specific subjects.
    I’d never have lasted at a single-sex school. Girly girls drive me mad, and at that age most of them are girlish to the nth degree. Being the only girl in a Woodwork class of boys was a haven of comparative sanity. Or at least a different type of insanity!

    Reply
  132. I’m completely in favour of mixed-sex schooling because I feel that education is about socialisation as much as achieving scores in specific subjects.
    I’d never have lasted at a single-sex school. Girly girls drive me mad, and at that age most of them are girlish to the nth degree. Being the only girl in a Woodwork class of boys was a haven of comparative sanity. Or at least a different type of insanity!

    Reply
  133. I’m completely in favour of mixed-sex schooling because I feel that education is about socialisation as much as achieving scores in specific subjects.
    I’d never have lasted at a single-sex school. Girly girls drive me mad, and at that age most of them are girlish to the nth degree. Being the only girl in a Woodwork class of boys was a haven of comparative sanity. Or at least a different type of insanity!

    Reply
  134. I’m completely in favour of mixed-sex schooling because I feel that education is about socialisation as much as achieving scores in specific subjects.
    I’d never have lasted at a single-sex school. Girly girls drive me mad, and at that age most of them are girlish to the nth degree. Being the only girl in a Woodwork class of boys was a haven of comparative sanity. Or at least a different type of insanity!

    Reply
  135. I’m completely in favour of mixed-sex schooling because I feel that education is about socialisation as much as achieving scores in specific subjects.
    I’d never have lasted at a single-sex school. Girly girls drive me mad, and at that age most of them are girlish to the nth degree. Being the only girl in a Woodwork class of boys was a haven of comparative sanity. Or at least a different type of insanity!

    Reply
  136. AgTigress: I seem to have expressed myself badly in my post, but what I was trying to say was that I do not think the differences between men and women are inborn and valid for all, but culturally determined. So I do believe there are differences but not in the universal way the mars/venus people seem to say. My problem has always been with gender roles as such. Even though I did not go to a boarding school, I had no (male) friends outside of school. That is not at all unusual in Austria, I think. So I was shy and a bit geeky (or is it nerdy?) and did not make friends easily in general, like many other girls. Activities outside of school were also very likely to be girls only – gymnastics for girls and football for boys, the local church groups did separate girls and boys etc. In fact the only men I knew as a teenager were in my family! That changes once I went to university, but my self esteem had been quite erroded by years of barbs and slurs against my appearance, my interests and my whole person, that it took me years to recover. I guess I was very unlucky in my experiences but I am still in touch with some of my former class mates (those who were bullied along with me) and they reported similar things. I guess it is cultural too… I always thought all boys and all girls environements were breeding grounds for undesirable behaviour as gender roles and stereotypes are acted out unchecked. I am not saying this well, sorry!

    Reply
  137. AgTigress: I seem to have expressed myself badly in my post, but what I was trying to say was that I do not think the differences between men and women are inborn and valid for all, but culturally determined. So I do believe there are differences but not in the universal way the mars/venus people seem to say. My problem has always been with gender roles as such. Even though I did not go to a boarding school, I had no (male) friends outside of school. That is not at all unusual in Austria, I think. So I was shy and a bit geeky (or is it nerdy?) and did not make friends easily in general, like many other girls. Activities outside of school were also very likely to be girls only – gymnastics for girls and football for boys, the local church groups did separate girls and boys etc. In fact the only men I knew as a teenager were in my family! That changes once I went to university, but my self esteem had been quite erroded by years of barbs and slurs against my appearance, my interests and my whole person, that it took me years to recover. I guess I was very unlucky in my experiences but I am still in touch with some of my former class mates (those who were bullied along with me) and they reported similar things. I guess it is cultural too… I always thought all boys and all girls environements were breeding grounds for undesirable behaviour as gender roles and stereotypes are acted out unchecked. I am not saying this well, sorry!

    Reply
  138. AgTigress: I seem to have expressed myself badly in my post, but what I was trying to say was that I do not think the differences between men and women are inborn and valid for all, but culturally determined. So I do believe there are differences but not in the universal way the mars/venus people seem to say. My problem has always been with gender roles as such. Even though I did not go to a boarding school, I had no (male) friends outside of school. That is not at all unusual in Austria, I think. So I was shy and a bit geeky (or is it nerdy?) and did not make friends easily in general, like many other girls. Activities outside of school were also very likely to be girls only – gymnastics for girls and football for boys, the local church groups did separate girls and boys etc. In fact the only men I knew as a teenager were in my family! That changes once I went to university, but my self esteem had been quite erroded by years of barbs and slurs against my appearance, my interests and my whole person, that it took me years to recover. I guess I was very unlucky in my experiences but I am still in touch with some of my former class mates (those who were bullied along with me) and they reported similar things. I guess it is cultural too… I always thought all boys and all girls environements were breeding grounds for undesirable behaviour as gender roles and stereotypes are acted out unchecked. I am not saying this well, sorry!

    Reply
  139. AgTigress: I seem to have expressed myself badly in my post, but what I was trying to say was that I do not think the differences between men and women are inborn and valid for all, but culturally determined. So I do believe there are differences but not in the universal way the mars/venus people seem to say. My problem has always been with gender roles as such. Even though I did not go to a boarding school, I had no (male) friends outside of school. That is not at all unusual in Austria, I think. So I was shy and a bit geeky (or is it nerdy?) and did not make friends easily in general, like many other girls. Activities outside of school were also very likely to be girls only – gymnastics for girls and football for boys, the local church groups did separate girls and boys etc. In fact the only men I knew as a teenager were in my family! That changes once I went to university, but my self esteem had been quite erroded by years of barbs and slurs against my appearance, my interests and my whole person, that it took me years to recover. I guess I was very unlucky in my experiences but I am still in touch with some of my former class mates (those who were bullied along with me) and they reported similar things. I guess it is cultural too… I always thought all boys and all girls environements were breeding grounds for undesirable behaviour as gender roles and stereotypes are acted out unchecked. I am not saying this well, sorry!

    Reply
  140. AgTigress: I seem to have expressed myself badly in my post, but what I was trying to say was that I do not think the differences between men and women are inborn and valid for all, but culturally determined. So I do believe there are differences but not in the universal way the mars/venus people seem to say. My problem has always been with gender roles as such. Even though I did not go to a boarding school, I had no (male) friends outside of school. That is not at all unusual in Austria, I think. So I was shy and a bit geeky (or is it nerdy?) and did not make friends easily in general, like many other girls. Activities outside of school were also very likely to be girls only – gymnastics for girls and football for boys, the local church groups did separate girls and boys etc. In fact the only men I knew as a teenager were in my family! That changes once I went to university, but my self esteem had been quite erroded by years of barbs and slurs against my appearance, my interests and my whole person, that it took me years to recover. I guess I was very unlucky in my experiences but I am still in touch with some of my former class mates (those who were bullied along with me) and they reported similar things. I guess it is cultural too… I always thought all boys and all girls environements were breeding grounds for undesirable behaviour as gender roles and stereotypes are acted out unchecked. I am not saying this well, sorry!

    Reply
  141. Such interesting observations! Perhaps we must attribute my markedly different educational experiences to my age – which is to say, to a cultural framework that was different in many respects from those that exist today.
    To Francois (I always thought you were male, because of the spelling!): I, too, am irritated by unduly ‘girly’ girls, but have observed that the proximity of boys of the same age is one of the factors that tends to accentuate girly behaviour.
    LizA: I didn’t have any male friends of my own age between the ages of 11-18, either, but I don’t remember being particularly shy with males, and I adjusted to the co-educational situation at University in, oh, about 2 days… I think the thing I find shocking is what you say about bullying. This is now, it seems, a HUGE problem in schools in the UK. I can honestly say that I never saw it in my own schooldays. In primary school, I was a short-sighted, fat child who seemed slow on the uptake (I had had to switch languages at the age of about 6, which kind of slows one down), but, while the other kids certainly assumed I was stupid and boring, they did not torment me. And in secondary school, no longer fat, I was still HOPELESS at games, which is an unpopular thing to be. Nevertheless, nobody bullied me about that, either.
    I think the cultural change may be this: in the 1940s and 1950s, children were far more overtly and strictly disciplined by both parents and teachers than they are today – and one of the rules that was very fiercely imposed concerned Good Manners. We have lost that, and the consequences are not good.
    😉

    Reply
  142. Such interesting observations! Perhaps we must attribute my markedly different educational experiences to my age – which is to say, to a cultural framework that was different in many respects from those that exist today.
    To Francois (I always thought you were male, because of the spelling!): I, too, am irritated by unduly ‘girly’ girls, but have observed that the proximity of boys of the same age is one of the factors that tends to accentuate girly behaviour.
    LizA: I didn’t have any male friends of my own age between the ages of 11-18, either, but I don’t remember being particularly shy with males, and I adjusted to the co-educational situation at University in, oh, about 2 days… I think the thing I find shocking is what you say about bullying. This is now, it seems, a HUGE problem in schools in the UK. I can honestly say that I never saw it in my own schooldays. In primary school, I was a short-sighted, fat child who seemed slow on the uptake (I had had to switch languages at the age of about 6, which kind of slows one down), but, while the other kids certainly assumed I was stupid and boring, they did not torment me. And in secondary school, no longer fat, I was still HOPELESS at games, which is an unpopular thing to be. Nevertheless, nobody bullied me about that, either.
    I think the cultural change may be this: in the 1940s and 1950s, children were far more overtly and strictly disciplined by both parents and teachers than they are today – and one of the rules that was very fiercely imposed concerned Good Manners. We have lost that, and the consequences are not good.
    😉

    Reply
  143. Such interesting observations! Perhaps we must attribute my markedly different educational experiences to my age – which is to say, to a cultural framework that was different in many respects from those that exist today.
    To Francois (I always thought you were male, because of the spelling!): I, too, am irritated by unduly ‘girly’ girls, but have observed that the proximity of boys of the same age is one of the factors that tends to accentuate girly behaviour.
    LizA: I didn’t have any male friends of my own age between the ages of 11-18, either, but I don’t remember being particularly shy with males, and I adjusted to the co-educational situation at University in, oh, about 2 days… I think the thing I find shocking is what you say about bullying. This is now, it seems, a HUGE problem in schools in the UK. I can honestly say that I never saw it in my own schooldays. In primary school, I was a short-sighted, fat child who seemed slow on the uptake (I had had to switch languages at the age of about 6, which kind of slows one down), but, while the other kids certainly assumed I was stupid and boring, they did not torment me. And in secondary school, no longer fat, I was still HOPELESS at games, which is an unpopular thing to be. Nevertheless, nobody bullied me about that, either.
    I think the cultural change may be this: in the 1940s and 1950s, children were far more overtly and strictly disciplined by both parents and teachers than they are today – and one of the rules that was very fiercely imposed concerned Good Manners. We have lost that, and the consequences are not good.
    😉

    Reply
  144. Such interesting observations! Perhaps we must attribute my markedly different educational experiences to my age – which is to say, to a cultural framework that was different in many respects from those that exist today.
    To Francois (I always thought you were male, because of the spelling!): I, too, am irritated by unduly ‘girly’ girls, but have observed that the proximity of boys of the same age is one of the factors that tends to accentuate girly behaviour.
    LizA: I didn’t have any male friends of my own age between the ages of 11-18, either, but I don’t remember being particularly shy with males, and I adjusted to the co-educational situation at University in, oh, about 2 days… I think the thing I find shocking is what you say about bullying. This is now, it seems, a HUGE problem in schools in the UK. I can honestly say that I never saw it in my own schooldays. In primary school, I was a short-sighted, fat child who seemed slow on the uptake (I had had to switch languages at the age of about 6, which kind of slows one down), but, while the other kids certainly assumed I was stupid and boring, they did not torment me. And in secondary school, no longer fat, I was still HOPELESS at games, which is an unpopular thing to be. Nevertheless, nobody bullied me about that, either.
    I think the cultural change may be this: in the 1940s and 1950s, children were far more overtly and strictly disciplined by both parents and teachers than they are today – and one of the rules that was very fiercely imposed concerned Good Manners. We have lost that, and the consequences are not good.
    😉

    Reply
  145. Such interesting observations! Perhaps we must attribute my markedly different educational experiences to my age – which is to say, to a cultural framework that was different in many respects from those that exist today.
    To Francois (I always thought you were male, because of the spelling!): I, too, am irritated by unduly ‘girly’ girls, but have observed that the proximity of boys of the same age is one of the factors that tends to accentuate girly behaviour.
    LizA: I didn’t have any male friends of my own age between the ages of 11-18, either, but I don’t remember being particularly shy with males, and I adjusted to the co-educational situation at University in, oh, about 2 days… I think the thing I find shocking is what you say about bullying. This is now, it seems, a HUGE problem in schools in the UK. I can honestly say that I never saw it in my own schooldays. In primary school, I was a short-sighted, fat child who seemed slow on the uptake (I had had to switch languages at the age of about 6, which kind of slows one down), but, while the other kids certainly assumed I was stupid and boring, they did not torment me. And in secondary school, no longer fat, I was still HOPELESS at games, which is an unpopular thing to be. Nevertheless, nobody bullied me about that, either.
    I think the cultural change may be this: in the 1940s and 1950s, children were far more overtly and strictly disciplined by both parents and teachers than they are today – and one of the rules that was very fiercely imposed concerned Good Manners. We have lost that, and the consequences are not good.
    😉

    Reply
  146. “Francois” is just an online name chosen in haste and now I’m stuck with it! I’d change back, but then I’d have to change my email address too. Not that it should matter anyway which sex I am, so I half stick with it just for that reason.
    It is difficult to express any views on education without drawing on our own experiences isn’t it? The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.
    For my part, I sometimes see stereotypical male/female characteristics in people of either sex. What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance. Whether those differences are based in statistically correct studies of human behaviour I DO NOT CARE, as long as they are funny or touching.

    Reply
  147. “Francois” is just an online name chosen in haste and now I’m stuck with it! I’d change back, but then I’d have to change my email address too. Not that it should matter anyway which sex I am, so I half stick with it just for that reason.
    It is difficult to express any views on education without drawing on our own experiences isn’t it? The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.
    For my part, I sometimes see stereotypical male/female characteristics in people of either sex. What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance. Whether those differences are based in statistically correct studies of human behaviour I DO NOT CARE, as long as they are funny or touching.

    Reply
  148. “Francois” is just an online name chosen in haste and now I’m stuck with it! I’d change back, but then I’d have to change my email address too. Not that it should matter anyway which sex I am, so I half stick with it just for that reason.
    It is difficult to express any views on education without drawing on our own experiences isn’t it? The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.
    For my part, I sometimes see stereotypical male/female characteristics in people of either sex. What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance. Whether those differences are based in statistically correct studies of human behaviour I DO NOT CARE, as long as they are funny or touching.

    Reply
  149. “Francois” is just an online name chosen in haste and now I’m stuck with it! I’d change back, but then I’d have to change my email address too. Not that it should matter anyway which sex I am, so I half stick with it just for that reason.
    It is difficult to express any views on education without drawing on our own experiences isn’t it? The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.
    For my part, I sometimes see stereotypical male/female characteristics in people of either sex. What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance. Whether those differences are based in statistically correct studies of human behaviour I DO NOT CARE, as long as they are funny or touching.

    Reply
  150. “Francois” is just an online name chosen in haste and now I’m stuck with it! I’d change back, but then I’d have to change my email address too. Not that it should matter anyway which sex I am, so I half stick with it just for that reason.
    It is difficult to express any views on education without drawing on our own experiences isn’t it? The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.
    For my part, I sometimes see stereotypical male/female characteristics in people of either sex. What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance. Whether those differences are based in statistically correct studies of human behaviour I DO NOT CARE, as long as they are funny or touching.

    Reply
  151. Francois said: “The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.”
    Oh no, no! I never said I ENJOYED school! I most emphatically do NOT regard my schooldays as having been a happy time. But I am certain that things would have been very much worse had I gone to a co-ed establishment, because I should have been no happier, and I should also have failed to make the grade for entering university and ultimately embarking on a career that has brought me great satisfaction. School was no fun, but it was effective, as far as I was concerned. It *worked*.
    Of past decades, I can tell you that in my experience the 1940s were no bowl of cherries even for a child, the 50s were okay for (British) society as a whole, the 60s were *great*, the 70s so-so, and the 80s utter crap. Haven’t decided about the 90s yet, but mostly better than the 80s. The 1980s was a decade in which most of us were financially secure, but the whole fabric of society was being re-woven in a new and ugly pattern.
    In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired. It takes around a century, usually, for them to be appreciated after they have first gone out of fashion.
    In scholarship, 30- to 50-year-old approaches tend to be utterly rejected – old-fashioned, but not yet integrated into the historiography of the subject. Just passé, in fact.
    And I’m afraid that some of us remember the bad stuff all too clearly for our own comfort.
    😀

    Reply
  152. Francois said: “The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.”
    Oh no, no! I never said I ENJOYED school! I most emphatically do NOT regard my schooldays as having been a happy time. But I am certain that things would have been very much worse had I gone to a co-ed establishment, because I should have been no happier, and I should also have failed to make the grade for entering university and ultimately embarking on a career that has brought me great satisfaction. School was no fun, but it was effective, as far as I was concerned. It *worked*.
    Of past decades, I can tell you that in my experience the 1940s were no bowl of cherries even for a child, the 50s were okay for (British) society as a whole, the 60s were *great*, the 70s so-so, and the 80s utter crap. Haven’t decided about the 90s yet, but mostly better than the 80s. The 1980s was a decade in which most of us were financially secure, but the whole fabric of society was being re-woven in a new and ugly pattern.
    In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired. It takes around a century, usually, for them to be appreciated after they have first gone out of fashion.
    In scholarship, 30- to 50-year-old approaches tend to be utterly rejected – old-fashioned, but not yet integrated into the historiography of the subject. Just passé, in fact.
    And I’m afraid that some of us remember the bad stuff all too clearly for our own comfort.
    😀

    Reply
  153. Francois said: “The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.”
    Oh no, no! I never said I ENJOYED school! I most emphatically do NOT regard my schooldays as having been a happy time. But I am certain that things would have been very much worse had I gone to a co-ed establishment, because I should have been no happier, and I should also have failed to make the grade for entering university and ultimately embarking on a career that has brought me great satisfaction. School was no fun, but it was effective, as far as I was concerned. It *worked*.
    Of past decades, I can tell you that in my experience the 1940s were no bowl of cherries even for a child, the 50s were okay for (British) society as a whole, the 60s were *great*, the 70s so-so, and the 80s utter crap. Haven’t decided about the 90s yet, but mostly better than the 80s. The 1980s was a decade in which most of us were financially secure, but the whole fabric of society was being re-woven in a new and ugly pattern.
    In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired. It takes around a century, usually, for them to be appreciated after they have first gone out of fashion.
    In scholarship, 30- to 50-year-old approaches tend to be utterly rejected – old-fashioned, but not yet integrated into the historiography of the subject. Just passé, in fact.
    And I’m afraid that some of us remember the bad stuff all too clearly for our own comfort.
    😀

    Reply
  154. Francois said: “The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.”
    Oh no, no! I never said I ENJOYED school! I most emphatically do NOT regard my schooldays as having been a happy time. But I am certain that things would have been very much worse had I gone to a co-ed establishment, because I should have been no happier, and I should also have failed to make the grade for entering university and ultimately embarking on a career that has brought me great satisfaction. School was no fun, but it was effective, as far as I was concerned. It *worked*.
    Of past decades, I can tell you that in my experience the 1940s were no bowl of cherries even for a child, the 50s were okay for (British) society as a whole, the 60s were *great*, the 70s so-so, and the 80s utter crap. Haven’t decided about the 90s yet, but mostly better than the 80s. The 1980s was a decade in which most of us were financially secure, but the whole fabric of society was being re-woven in a new and ugly pattern.
    In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired. It takes around a century, usually, for them to be appreciated after they have first gone out of fashion.
    In scholarship, 30- to 50-year-old approaches tend to be utterly rejected – old-fashioned, but not yet integrated into the historiography of the subject. Just passé, in fact.
    And I’m afraid that some of us remember the bad stuff all too clearly for our own comfort.
    😀

    Reply
  155. Francois said: “The only thing I can say for sure is that things are always better about 30+ years ago, due to nostalgia. Apparently, it is human nature to only remember the good things.”
    Oh no, no! I never said I ENJOYED school! I most emphatically do NOT regard my schooldays as having been a happy time. But I am certain that things would have been very much worse had I gone to a co-ed establishment, because I should have been no happier, and I should also have failed to make the grade for entering university and ultimately embarking on a career that has brought me great satisfaction. School was no fun, but it was effective, as far as I was concerned. It *worked*.
    Of past decades, I can tell you that in my experience the 1940s were no bowl of cherries even for a child, the 50s were okay for (British) society as a whole, the 60s were *great*, the 70s so-so, and the 80s utter crap. Haven’t decided about the 90s yet, but mostly better than the 80s. The 1980s was a decade in which most of us were financially secure, but the whole fabric of society was being re-woven in a new and ugly pattern.
    In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired. It takes around a century, usually, for them to be appreciated after they have first gone out of fashion.
    In scholarship, 30- to 50-year-old approaches tend to be utterly rejected – old-fashioned, but not yet integrated into the historiography of the subject. Just passé, in fact.
    And I’m afraid that some of us remember the bad stuff all too clearly for our own comfort.
    😀

    Reply
  156. AgTigress said “In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired.”
    Actually the 80s are really in right now. Sorry to disillusion you about that one! Both the high street and high fashion are 80s obsessed. Its all about volume, neons, power suit shoulders and Alezedine Aleaia (I cannot spell the name but if you know you can guess). And ugh Bat wing sleeves. Fashion is moving faster than it used to.

    Reply
  157. AgTigress said “In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired.”
    Actually the 80s are really in right now. Sorry to disillusion you about that one! Both the high street and high fashion are 80s obsessed. Its all about volume, neons, power suit shoulders and Alezedine Aleaia (I cannot spell the name but if you know you can guess). And ugh Bat wing sleeves. Fashion is moving faster than it used to.

    Reply
  158. AgTigress said “In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired.”
    Actually the 80s are really in right now. Sorry to disillusion you about that one! Both the high street and high fashion are 80s obsessed. Its all about volume, neons, power suit shoulders and Alezedine Aleaia (I cannot spell the name but if you know you can guess). And ugh Bat wing sleeves. Fashion is moving faster than it used to.

    Reply
  159. AgTigress said “In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired.”
    Actually the 80s are really in right now. Sorry to disillusion you about that one! Both the high street and high fashion are 80s obsessed. Its all about volume, neons, power suit shoulders and Alezedine Aleaia (I cannot spell the name but if you know you can guess). And ugh Bat wing sleeves. Fashion is moving faster than it used to.

    Reply
  160. AgTigress said “In matters such as art and design, you will find that the styles and approaches of one generation (30 years) ago are widely *despised* rather than admired.”
    Actually the 80s are really in right now. Sorry to disillusion you about that one! Both the high street and high fashion are 80s obsessed. Its all about volume, neons, power suit shoulders and Alezedine Aleaia (I cannot spell the name but if you know you can guess). And ugh Bat wing sleeves. Fashion is moving faster than it used to.

    Reply
  161. “What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance.”
    This is what appeals to me, too. Stereotypes, patterns, cultural differences, etc.–whether they come from 1810 or 1991–can elicit all kinds of reactions in me, amusement, rage, boredom, doubt, etc. I may agree or disagree or be ambivalent. But they’re all grist for the mill. School bullying, for instance, plays a role in the formation of Lord Dain’s character in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’ve always wondered if I’d have done better in an all-girl’s school. Adolescence is very difficult for many of us, and I think I might have learned more and done better without the added confusion of male adolescents in the classroom. OTOH, maybe that craziness helped me in terms of developing fictional characters and situations. Who knows?

    Reply
  162. “What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance.”
    This is what appeals to me, too. Stereotypes, patterns, cultural differences, etc.–whether they come from 1810 or 1991–can elicit all kinds of reactions in me, amusement, rage, boredom, doubt, etc. I may agree or disagree or be ambivalent. But they’re all grist for the mill. School bullying, for instance, plays a role in the formation of Lord Dain’s character in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’ve always wondered if I’d have done better in an all-girl’s school. Adolescence is very difficult for many of us, and I think I might have learned more and done better without the added confusion of male adolescents in the classroom. OTOH, maybe that craziness helped me in terms of developing fictional characters and situations. Who knows?

    Reply
  163. “What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance.”
    This is what appeals to me, too. Stereotypes, patterns, cultural differences, etc.–whether they come from 1810 or 1991–can elicit all kinds of reactions in me, amusement, rage, boredom, doubt, etc. I may agree or disagree or be ambivalent. But they’re all grist for the mill. School bullying, for instance, plays a role in the formation of Lord Dain’s character in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’ve always wondered if I’d have done better in an all-girl’s school. Adolescence is very difficult for many of us, and I think I might have learned more and done better without the added confusion of male adolescents in the classroom. OTOH, maybe that craziness helped me in terms of developing fictional characters and situations. Who knows?

    Reply
  164. “What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance.”
    This is what appeals to me, too. Stereotypes, patterns, cultural differences, etc.–whether they come from 1810 or 1991–can elicit all kinds of reactions in me, amusement, rage, boredom, doubt, etc. I may agree or disagree or be ambivalent. But they’re all grist for the mill. School bullying, for instance, plays a role in the formation of Lord Dain’s character in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’ve always wondered if I’d have done better in an all-girl’s school. Adolescence is very difficult for many of us, and I think I might have learned more and done better without the added confusion of male adolescents in the classroom. OTOH, maybe that craziness helped me in terms of developing fictional characters and situations. Who knows?

    Reply
  165. “What amuses me in a book is to see two radically different people with big characters coming together and finding common ground or some sort of balance.”
    This is what appeals to me, too. Stereotypes, patterns, cultural differences, etc.–whether they come from 1810 or 1991–can elicit all kinds of reactions in me, amusement, rage, boredom, doubt, etc. I may agree or disagree or be ambivalent. But they’re all grist for the mill. School bullying, for instance, plays a role in the formation of Lord Dain’s character in LORD OF SCOUNDRELS. I’ve always wondered if I’d have done better in an all-girl’s school. Adolescence is very difficult for many of us, and I think I might have learned more and done better without the added confusion of male adolescents in the classroom. OTOH, maybe that craziness helped me in terms of developing fictional characters and situations. Who knows?

    Reply
  166. Francois, to my eyes, fashions in clothing at the moment are simply a complete jumble of different influences from many periods from the 1940s onwards (I have seen the occasional 40s hairstyle, and quite a lot of 1940s-influenced shoes). These may well include influences from the 1980s amongst them, though I haven’t noticed them particularly. Bat-wing sleeves, eh? I don’t remember them in the 80s, I have to say, but I certainly remember them in the 50s! Remember that 1980s design (not just in clothing) was shockingly derivative in itself, so that elements that remind some current young designers of the 1980s may remind older people of the *earlier* occurrences on which the 1980s designers were basing their ideas! I see many stiletto-heeled pointed-toed shoes around that are virtually identical to those that we wore habitually in 1959-62, so a whole new generation will acquire bunions. Fun for them. 😉
    Have those ridiculous puff-ball skirts reappeared (forget whether they were 80s or 90s)? I think if one surveyed all the females aged between 18 and 35 in a standard London Underground tube carriage, one could easily find costume elements that show influences from ALL of the last six decades. It is this, the sheer eclecticism, not the speed of style ‘recycling’ that is different from the past. For a long time, there have been no really rigid fashion rules (‘hemlines will be one inch longer this year’), and that, in itself, is something that is alien to the thinking of the past.
    🙂

    Reply
  167. Francois, to my eyes, fashions in clothing at the moment are simply a complete jumble of different influences from many periods from the 1940s onwards (I have seen the occasional 40s hairstyle, and quite a lot of 1940s-influenced shoes). These may well include influences from the 1980s amongst them, though I haven’t noticed them particularly. Bat-wing sleeves, eh? I don’t remember them in the 80s, I have to say, but I certainly remember them in the 50s! Remember that 1980s design (not just in clothing) was shockingly derivative in itself, so that elements that remind some current young designers of the 1980s may remind older people of the *earlier* occurrences on which the 1980s designers were basing their ideas! I see many stiletto-heeled pointed-toed shoes around that are virtually identical to those that we wore habitually in 1959-62, so a whole new generation will acquire bunions. Fun for them. 😉
    Have those ridiculous puff-ball skirts reappeared (forget whether they were 80s or 90s)? I think if one surveyed all the females aged between 18 and 35 in a standard London Underground tube carriage, one could easily find costume elements that show influences from ALL of the last six decades. It is this, the sheer eclecticism, not the speed of style ‘recycling’ that is different from the past. For a long time, there have been no really rigid fashion rules (‘hemlines will be one inch longer this year’), and that, in itself, is something that is alien to the thinking of the past.
    🙂

    Reply
  168. Francois, to my eyes, fashions in clothing at the moment are simply a complete jumble of different influences from many periods from the 1940s onwards (I have seen the occasional 40s hairstyle, and quite a lot of 1940s-influenced shoes). These may well include influences from the 1980s amongst them, though I haven’t noticed them particularly. Bat-wing sleeves, eh? I don’t remember them in the 80s, I have to say, but I certainly remember them in the 50s! Remember that 1980s design (not just in clothing) was shockingly derivative in itself, so that elements that remind some current young designers of the 1980s may remind older people of the *earlier* occurrences on which the 1980s designers were basing their ideas! I see many stiletto-heeled pointed-toed shoes around that are virtually identical to those that we wore habitually in 1959-62, so a whole new generation will acquire bunions. Fun for them. 😉
    Have those ridiculous puff-ball skirts reappeared (forget whether they were 80s or 90s)? I think if one surveyed all the females aged between 18 and 35 in a standard London Underground tube carriage, one could easily find costume elements that show influences from ALL of the last six decades. It is this, the sheer eclecticism, not the speed of style ‘recycling’ that is different from the past. For a long time, there have been no really rigid fashion rules (‘hemlines will be one inch longer this year’), and that, in itself, is something that is alien to the thinking of the past.
    🙂

    Reply
  169. Francois, to my eyes, fashions in clothing at the moment are simply a complete jumble of different influences from many periods from the 1940s onwards (I have seen the occasional 40s hairstyle, and quite a lot of 1940s-influenced shoes). These may well include influences from the 1980s amongst them, though I haven’t noticed them particularly. Bat-wing sleeves, eh? I don’t remember them in the 80s, I have to say, but I certainly remember them in the 50s! Remember that 1980s design (not just in clothing) was shockingly derivative in itself, so that elements that remind some current young designers of the 1980s may remind older people of the *earlier* occurrences on which the 1980s designers were basing their ideas! I see many stiletto-heeled pointed-toed shoes around that are virtually identical to those that we wore habitually in 1959-62, so a whole new generation will acquire bunions. Fun for them. 😉
    Have those ridiculous puff-ball skirts reappeared (forget whether they were 80s or 90s)? I think if one surveyed all the females aged between 18 and 35 in a standard London Underground tube carriage, one could easily find costume elements that show influences from ALL of the last six decades. It is this, the sheer eclecticism, not the speed of style ‘recycling’ that is different from the past. For a long time, there have been no really rigid fashion rules (‘hemlines will be one inch longer this year’), and that, in itself, is something that is alien to the thinking of the past.
    🙂

    Reply
  170. Francois, to my eyes, fashions in clothing at the moment are simply a complete jumble of different influences from many periods from the 1940s onwards (I have seen the occasional 40s hairstyle, and quite a lot of 1940s-influenced shoes). These may well include influences from the 1980s amongst them, though I haven’t noticed them particularly. Bat-wing sleeves, eh? I don’t remember them in the 80s, I have to say, but I certainly remember them in the 50s! Remember that 1980s design (not just in clothing) was shockingly derivative in itself, so that elements that remind some current young designers of the 1980s may remind older people of the *earlier* occurrences on which the 1980s designers were basing their ideas! I see many stiletto-heeled pointed-toed shoes around that are virtually identical to those that we wore habitually in 1959-62, so a whole new generation will acquire bunions. Fun for them. 😉
    Have those ridiculous puff-ball skirts reappeared (forget whether they were 80s or 90s)? I think if one surveyed all the females aged between 18 and 35 in a standard London Underground tube carriage, one could easily find costume elements that show influences from ALL of the last six decades. It is this, the sheer eclecticism, not the speed of style ‘recycling’ that is different from the past. For a long time, there have been no really rigid fashion rules (‘hemlines will be one inch longer this year’), and that, in itself, is something that is alien to the thinking of the past.
    🙂

    Reply
  171. AgTigress, I have seen those puffball skirts on the fashion runways. What I noticed recently was a lot of that Baby Doll look that was popular in the 60s. So I do believe style is much more eclectic than in earlier decades. Hemlines went up during WWII then down afterward. The New Look was quite new. But since the 60s, the changes seem harder to pin down. I know what looks “now”–but I can’t quite explain why it’s not, say, late 1990s style. Too many variables. Before the 60s, though, the fashion cycles are easier for me to see. They are very apparent when one looks at books dealing with historical fashion/costume. And in movies, certainly. Even costume dramas tend to show historical fashion filtered through a contemporary lens–though perhaps more so in U.S.-made movies.

    Reply
  172. AgTigress, I have seen those puffball skirts on the fashion runways. What I noticed recently was a lot of that Baby Doll look that was popular in the 60s. So I do believe style is much more eclectic than in earlier decades. Hemlines went up during WWII then down afterward. The New Look was quite new. But since the 60s, the changes seem harder to pin down. I know what looks “now”–but I can’t quite explain why it’s not, say, late 1990s style. Too many variables. Before the 60s, though, the fashion cycles are easier for me to see. They are very apparent when one looks at books dealing with historical fashion/costume. And in movies, certainly. Even costume dramas tend to show historical fashion filtered through a contemporary lens–though perhaps more so in U.S.-made movies.

    Reply
  173. AgTigress, I have seen those puffball skirts on the fashion runways. What I noticed recently was a lot of that Baby Doll look that was popular in the 60s. So I do believe style is much more eclectic than in earlier decades. Hemlines went up during WWII then down afterward. The New Look was quite new. But since the 60s, the changes seem harder to pin down. I know what looks “now”–but I can’t quite explain why it’s not, say, late 1990s style. Too many variables. Before the 60s, though, the fashion cycles are easier for me to see. They are very apparent when one looks at books dealing with historical fashion/costume. And in movies, certainly. Even costume dramas tend to show historical fashion filtered through a contemporary lens–though perhaps more so in U.S.-made movies.

    Reply
  174. AgTigress, I have seen those puffball skirts on the fashion runways. What I noticed recently was a lot of that Baby Doll look that was popular in the 60s. So I do believe style is much more eclectic than in earlier decades. Hemlines went up during WWII then down afterward. The New Look was quite new. But since the 60s, the changes seem harder to pin down. I know what looks “now”–but I can’t quite explain why it’s not, say, late 1990s style. Too many variables. Before the 60s, though, the fashion cycles are easier for me to see. They are very apparent when one looks at books dealing with historical fashion/costume. And in movies, certainly. Even costume dramas tend to show historical fashion filtered through a contemporary lens–though perhaps more so in U.S.-made movies.

    Reply
  175. AgTigress, I have seen those puffball skirts on the fashion runways. What I noticed recently was a lot of that Baby Doll look that was popular in the 60s. So I do believe style is much more eclectic than in earlier decades. Hemlines went up during WWII then down afterward. The New Look was quite new. But since the 60s, the changes seem harder to pin down. I know what looks “now”–but I can’t quite explain why it’s not, say, late 1990s style. Too many variables. Before the 60s, though, the fashion cycles are easier for me to see. They are very apparent when one looks at books dealing with historical fashion/costume. And in movies, certainly. Even costume dramas tend to show historical fashion filtered through a contemporary lens–though perhaps more so in U.S.-made movies.

    Reply

Leave a Comment