I'm always fascinated by gender differences. While I've personally never fit all that comfortably into the "feminine" world (the subject of an upcoming post, I think), there are still many ways in which I feel distinctly a girl, not a boy. Even if you'd have to threaten me with a lethal weapon to get me to wear false eyelashes or a pair of stiletto heels.
And while exceptions are everywhere, men and women do seem, in many ways, kinda different.
How much of that is how we're wired, and how much of that is because each gender is taught to behave and think differently? The question used to seem really threatening, because any hint of innate difference was seen as a reason to discriminate against women.
Feminism still has a LONG way to go, but we now have at least a little more freedom to wonder about this stuff. I think the main thing that's changed is that it's not as common anymore to assume that the "boy" way of thinking is always better, and the "girl" way is always worse. (People do, however, tend assume that the "boy" way is normal, and the "girl" way is different, even though we are half the freakin' population.)
(There is a book I've been meaning to read called "The Female Brain," which I think explores this subject more thoroughly. Anyone read it yet?).
Anyway, so there's a new study out that suggests women and men remember things differently. In short, "women excelled in verbal episodic memory tasks, such as remembering words, objects, pictures or everyday events, and men outperformed women in remembering symbolic, non-linguistic information, known as visuospatial processing." The example cited is that "a man would be more likely to remember his way out of the woods."
As someone who can barely find my way out of my own bedroom, I've decided to embrace my deficient visuospatial abilities as one of the few ways in which I'm apparently quite feminine. I can always compensate by using my verbal abilities to get someone else to tell me how to get myself where I need to be. Or better yet, I can talk my way out of even having to go anywhere in the first place!
Note: I think individual differences are always more important than overall generalizations, and I know tons of women who can totally kick any guys ass when it comes to finding her way out of the woods. And lets be realistic--which gender usually gets itself lost in the woods in the first place?
So the study also said there were "sex differences favoring women on tasks such as remembering the location of car keys, which requires both verbal and visuospatial processing," and that "women are better than men at remembering faces, especially of females." Overall, they believed "females currently hold the advantage in episodic memory."
It's interesting, then, how often in movies we see women being all flighty and spacey and it's the guys who always remember things. They always get to save the day because they can recognize the terrorist in disguise or remember where the gun was stashed or recall the secret password. Whereas it looks like in real life, it would be the gal who would be more likely to remember that stuff.
There are tons of other ways in which men and women, overall, appear to perhaps function a bit differently; this is just one tiny example. What do you guys think, are these differences significant? Or pretty much imaginary? And if you do see differences, do you think it's mostly because we're born differently or because we're treated differently?