Men and women are different. How’s that for insight?! But how and why are men and women different in various behavioral manifestations? Some differences are more obvious and understandable, others are more mysterious. I present one stereotypical stylistic oddity to give food for thought.
I’ve been involved in various sports all my life. I have enjoyed participating, coaching and being a spectator. Typically boys/men and girls/women approach sports with significant differences in style and mannerisms. The emphasis here is how each sex responds to his or her own mistake or error while playing the sport.
I remember well watching the girls on my daughter Brittany’s softball team. If one of the girls missed a ball or threw to the wrong base, she would immediately giggle and say “sorry!” Not the same reality when observing my son Kris’ baseball team! If one of them made an error he usually would growl and cuss. Often, this would be followed by some attempt to blame someone else for his error.
So, too, does this style often persist into adulthood. I see the same behaviors in most men and women not only in sports but also in various other challenging situations. This stereotype does not hold for all men and women. Usually the male ballet dancer or alto singer is not cussing, nor does the woman college basketball player or professional boxer giggle.
Stereotypes do exist. To what extent are gender differences genetically or culturally based? Were boys taught to cuss and blame? Were girls taught to giggle and apologize? It is a challenge to try and understand why people behave the way they do. To what extent do genetics and environment effect the outcome? To what extent does choice exist?
Too many people are ignorant of the complexity of these issues and stay stuck in stereotypical prototypes learned early in life. The reason for this article is to ask you to look at each individual as a unique person who has a certain genetic input and orientation, acculturated by the environment in which s/he lives. May all of us see and enjoy the uniqueness of each person and not be too quick to lock someone into a stereotype, especially one that is negative.
One of the privileges of my profession has been the opportunity to see the person beneath the obvious presentation. Sometimes we may have to dig a little deeper to find the goodness and positive qualities that each person possesses. May you be open minded and scratch below the surface to connect with people that you may not be inclined to want to know.
Such openness will allow our community to get beyond separating differences and bond with our common strengths.
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates