I caught the very end of an episode of Keeping the Faith
] on Hope Channel [link
]. They had a guest speaker, Alison Armstrong, who was discussing some of the differences between men and women, how each gender processes information, and she had some advice for women on how to better communicate with men. The only reason I did not turn off the program is because the topic discussed would be considered part of Sociology, and my younger sister is searching for a topic for her sociology paper.
Then Alison said something that caught my attention: men typically are "Single Focused" while women typically have "Diffused Awareness" (aka multi-tasking). This is one reason, she explained, why women can walk into a room, scan it, see everything that is out of place, and will multitask to do everything that she sees needs to get done. Men, on the other hand, will walk right passed the overturned pillows, random shoe, and stack of newspapers on his way to the one specific item he is looking forward.
Though, to be completely honest, it seems to me more like the results of bad habits and behaviors that the individuals are taught from early childhood. In today's society, many still hold to the belief that "housework" is a woman's job so women are more likely to see a messy house and clean it while men, who have always had a woman do their cleaning for them (mom, girlfriend, wife) will simply not clean up. This is a horrific social custom that people need to stop excusing and perpetuating under the guise of "gender differences", and it is insulting to men and women. How this twisted ideology is put into practice today is not even compatible with history. Even relatively shallow research into life in late 1800s will uncover just how fastidious, organized, and methodical men and
women used to be in comparison to today's society. I do not think "single focused" or "diffuse awareness" are traits dependent upon gender, but a combination of personality traits and habits learned from one's environment.
The more I read articles or hear about the so-called gender differences between typical men and typical women, the more I realize that I am NOT
what is considered a typical woman for today's American society. Certainly, there are others, men and women, who feel the same way I do, that you do not fit into the stereotype of what our society claims a man or woman is or should be.
In many areas, I have more in common with the way men think then the way women do, and this explains why for the most of my childhood and teen years, I had more male friends than female. Not that I was a tomboy, but I connected better with guys. In fact, in elementary school, my closest friend (excluding my two sisters) was a boy, Jason, who lived in our neighborhood. My first real female friend was Laura M. in sixth grade, and to be completely honest, I did not feel like I had another close female friend until 11th grade when I met Laura H. We ended up graduating together and even attended the same two-year college. The rest of my close friends were guys, and even in high school, I would often hang out with a group of guys before school and during lunch. To be completely honest, I felt more comfortable around guys than I did girls, because I had nothing in common with girls, could not stand their girl talk and girly behavior, and many times I cannot understand the way a typical girl thinks.
Everything about my personality and my likes/dislikes say that I should have pursued a career in a complex and challenging field, such as science, military, law, medicine, administration/management, or computer science. Ironically, my first career choice was marine biology, then I contemplated military service, then I considered international affairs and languages. Areas, when you think about it, typically male-dominated fields. Now I am working towards a degree in Web Design and Development, which is a unique combination of logic (development = HTML, CSS, scripting languages, etc.) and creativity (design = art, graphics, etc.) and also a male-dominated field.
I guess the point of this entry is that I have never fit in the typical woman mold. My mother instilled in me a sense of decorum, of appropriate "lady-like" behavior, yet at the same time she did not raise me to be a girly-girl with a damsel-in-distress mentality. In middle school, I was the girl who caught the frog terrorizing the girls' bathroom and took it outside while the other girls squealed. In high school, I was the one who climbed on to a desk in the JROTC room to kill the spider dangling from the ceiling while the other girls acted like wimpy idiots and the guys simply ignored it. While studying abroad, I was the one that tracked down one of the girls who had wandered off from our group, found her being pressured by two rather aggressive Russian souvenir vendors into buying things she didn't want, and I forcibly dragged her out of there while telling the Russian guys to back off or else.
In many things, I feel like I have more in common with men, and interestingly, I do not see myself as "a woman", but as a person. I also do not see others as "men" or "women", but as people. Simply put: I do not see nor understand the need for a gender distinction or traditional gender roles in today's society. I value intellect, knowledge, clarity, authenticity, self-confidence, and responsibility, in myself and others. I know what I know, and I know what I do not know. My brain soaks up an enormous amount of information, which it sorts and then I can retrieve it in the future, often to the amazement of those around me. I expect to be treated with respect by others just as I treat others with respect, no matter my/their age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, or education. I have never tried to change myself to fit in with the crowd or a group or even to fit within a stereotype, nor will I ever do so. However, comparing who I was when I was eighteen to who I am today, in many areas I have matured and grown. I can better empathize with others (which was not a strong trait, believe me), I am more patient (though I have a long way to go still), and I can be a follower/supporter (though it takes a great deal of effort on my part to suppress my tendency to usurp leadership while remaining in the background). I feel most comfortable in a position of leadership and authority, which does not really bode well in the romance department.
Actually, it seems almost everything about me does not bode well for a successful romantic relationship. It is no wonder I have never dated. What man in his right mind would want a partner like me? Colleague, sure. Friend, no problem. Lover, not so much. Though underneath my intellectual, rational exterior, I admit that I am a hopeless romantic at heart and want some heroic knight to sweep me off my feet. That probably explains the characters of Martindale and Bethany in my Healer's Quest
novels. Even though I had no intention of doing so, Martindale has come to embody my ideal hero, albeit with a tormented past and unhappy childhood (mean author that I am), and Bethany is, in some ways, a reflection of me.
So, bringing this train of thought to a close, I am anything but a typical woman, and when the topic of gender differences comes up, I often find myself irritated because I do not fit into the "typical woman" category nor do I want to. Every person is different, and to try to fit every single human being into small boxes built out of ignorance, antiquated prejudice, and social stereotypes is a dis-serve to everyone.