Forums > Social Chat > What does it mean to be a man, or to be a woman?

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:Okay, Oprah sparked this thread, so blame her.

I was channel flicking today, and caught her show about what it is to be a man. She addressed issues of violence towards women, and of men who have be taught to always be "in control" and non-emotional.

So, I wanted to ask the questions, cos I do want to be equal opportunity here:

1. What does it mean to be a man?
2. What does it mean to be a woman?
3. Does it matter?


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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Itsgottab


member
Location: NZ

Total posts: 244
Posted:where did we get taught to be in control, i have no control what so ever

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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:*very amused*

Actually, here is the interesting part, the theory goes that it is not so much that men are actually "in control", it is just what they are taught they are supposed to be. And so they spend all their lives trying to prove it. "In control" also means in control of situations, and of other people.

So whilst you, Mr Bush, may have no self-control perhaps you are seeking control over others in order to prove your manhood...


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Total posts: 3989
Posted:I think there is no definition of either of those that will not end up belittling or annoying at least one member of the whole huge group...

We are all individuals, who happen to be male or female in addition to our other traits, with some influence from our sex as well.

That's my boring, uninspiriing 2c worth, over to others with more interesting points of view...


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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Ug... I'm gonna obstain on this post so far. I've got too much to say. If I get snowed in anywhere and am stuck with only a computer I'll give my thesis on gender roles but until then... I gotta get to work.

Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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poiaholic22


member


Total posts: 531
Posted:How come no one ever talks about women who abuse men?Or deadbeat moms?Or women who abuse the system just because they can?

I'm not saying men haven't worked hard for the reputation that we have but there are just as many s**tholes that are women.My mom is a foster mother and we've crossed paths with some real classics.

In my opinion one of the human races biggest problems is our need to separate ourselves into different groups.We can't all just be human beings,we have to be man or woman,black or white,homo or hetero,Catholic or Muslim,etc,etc.We are all cut from the same cloth and to say that you can define an entire gender is just preposterous.We are all different in our own ways and should know each other with that in mind but without disregarding the fact that we are all HUMAN BEINGS.

"NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER"-A wise person who's name I don't know


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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:Isn't that part of it?

We are taught from an early age that this is how people "should" be, that women are mothers, nurturers, the more sensitive ones. So whilst we are getting better at acknowledging domestic violence perpetrated by men, we have great difficult with violence perpetrated by women, because it goes against this massive stereotype we have.

Same goes with women who just plain don't want to be mums. We look at them strangely, or make comments about biological clocks.

I guess we are dealing with "shoulds" here rather than "ares". What are some of the other big "shoulds" in the world related to gender, that don't really hold up under scrutiny?


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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poiaholic22


member


Total posts: 531
Posted:That's just it though,none of the "shoulds" hold up.I've met female construction workers and stay at home "Mr.Moms".I've met guys who are emotionally more like the stereotypical woman and vice versa.

I think we both agreed in the past that it is time to start breaking down the stereotypes.We might not see it in our lifetime but this should be a duty of all those who are raising the next generation of people.


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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:sex =! gender

the only innate difference is a few pieces of flesh. everything else is socialized. I am deeply afraid of getting into the socialization (

(quote from a comrade: it's different when five year old girls cry! they're little and sweet. but boys shouldn't be crying at age five. taht's just the way it is!)

gag me!


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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flash fire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2758
Posted:I tend to agree with the whole conditioning issue, but can you honestly say that the only thing separating males and females is physical makeup?

I beg to differ - INSTINCTS. I'm not talking 6th sense kinda stuff, I'm talking about the will to survive - the two sexes are inherently different when it comes down to it. We shun the concept of social conditioning, but in doing so I think we need to realise that our primal instincts will seperate us anyway.


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Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:I have boobs and "inney" parts...
Boys have "outey" parts and cooties!

Other than that, I agree with Flash. We are as we have been raised to be for the most part, but sometimes natural elements creep in. My example is this...and it is messed up!

I went to high school with two siblings, Charles and Val, who are 4 years apart in age. Their mom was a bit messed up, and wanted a girl more than anything when Charles (the elder) was born. She put him in frilly dresses and really did him up. In high school he was beat up by jerks constantly by idiots who didn't understand that he was a product of his environment in many ways, but he is also genuinely gay. He is now an amazing interior decorator, and finishing his "change" operation. Val, on the other hand, was really left to her own devices, and more to be with her father. She worn men's t-shirt, sneakers and jeans. Her hair was always cut short and she was the apitamy of a tomboy...but...she was really into guys though none would date her. She liked make-up, and was taught how to apply it by her brother. I think if her mom had spent time with her she would have been much more "girly", because she really did enjoy doing girl things. She is now the mother of two and every time I see her she is in a dress.
Part of their experience is environment and very obviously some of it is, admittedly piss-poor, parenting.

I think we all have a bit of both in us. Some more than others, and the reasons can be slotted to nature vs. nurturing all we like.

In society overall, sure men are/were taught that they are the bread winners, the protectors, the big, the strong...the women are then taught to be the homemakers, the caregivers, the meek and sweet. Only recently have these tables turned, and not because of the system wanting them too but because of people needing to express their individuality and pressing for the system to change.
In the end...we are who we are....no gender bending needed.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Paddy


back from the dead...sort of
Location: 4341'N 7938'W

Total posts: 884
Posted:What make you a man or a woman? The wiring of your brain.

The wiring of your brain is highly related to your genetic gender, and it controls and defines your instincts (as Flash said), hence most boys look and act like boys, and most girls look and act like girls.

However, your brain is also affected by environmental and cultural experience (as Pele, Kyri and a few others have said). Hence, you can have people who look one as though they are one gender but are actually wired as the other.

Gender used to be a one-or-the-other kind of trait. Now it seems to be measured more on a continuum between msculinity and femininity. I think the next thing we'll see is that gender is totally abstract, and that the term simply refers to patterns of tendency and instinct. There's no reason why you couldn't wire up a third sex whose qualities cannot be described as a simple mix of female and male.


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Raphael96
SILVER Member since Sep 2002

old hand
Location: New York City, USA

Total posts: 899
Posted:It all comes down to genes, conditioning and the evolution of both over time.

Thats really all that makes us what we are; male, female or David Bowie.

Raph


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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:I bet if you set up a totally neqw society (with no members that had been in any on this earth) the norms would be a lot differnet tho. prolly about what you made them. On the other hand, some people will always be different (themselves) no question. There are societies where females are dominant and the warriors. I doubt we'll ever get a chance to solve nature/nuture perfectly thoughs..... especially cause people are differnet from each other.

sociology holds that behaviour is completly a product of society. arguably, evolution brought about society, but still....

ok, head hurts. back to physics?


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13921
Posted:So I used to think that men and women were essentially the same and that the only difference was social conditioning. I was willing to accept that sexual orientation might be biological in nature, but I felt that gender roles and such were pretty much constructs.

Then I met Ben Barres.

Ben Barres, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of neurobiology and medicine at Stanford University of Medicine. What is interesting about Ben is that when I first got to Stanford in 1996, Ben had a different name: Barbara. Ben underwent gender reassignment surgery and today, if you met him, you would have no idea that when he was a child, he was a girl.

In fact, a number of studies have been done on boys who suffered botched circumcisions and were "reassigned" to be girls. The boys were never really adusted to their roles.

It occurred to me that an M.D., Ph.D. and professor at Stanford probably wasn't some wacko who ran off and got a sex-change, but that this was a careful choice. Especially since at almost the same time, Professor John Roughgarden, an ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, became Joan Roughgarden.

So I got online and found websites put up by people who were transgendered, transsexual, etc. I talked a to a number of folks were at various points in the process of making the female to male transition (because I felt I could relate to this better).

Whatever it is that makes men men and women women, it's not just environment. These people honestly felt as if they were born into the wrong bodies. It was a nagging feeling that had them all their lives. As comfortable as I am in a male role and as wierd as I would ever find it to be a woman, that's how they felt. If you woke up tomorrow in the body of the other gender, you would almost certainly want to change back as quickly as possible, and that's what it's been like for these folks all their lives.

Some people say they're "crazy" or "just rebelling" or "making it up" or "insecure," but having talked to them, I know that gender dysphoria is as real is homosexuality. And I can only conclude that gender is much more of a biological construct than we like to think it is.

I strongly encourage you to contact some transgendered folks and take the time to learn from them if you don't believe me.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Itsgottab


member
Location: NZ

Total posts: 244
Posted:we are different things relating to each other because of our needs, because of physical diferences in the physical, all these ideas aren`t physical and while they are possiblities (sp?) are they possible in reality?

it just look to you people in t.v. land that i`m in control, what you can`t see is what i have up my arse.


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Jimba


member


Total posts: 131
Posted:Hey Rozi

Interesting subject - good one!

There is a very interesting book that you may be interested in reading. Its called "Why men don't listen, and women can't read roadmaps" Its written by a couple called Allan and Barbara Pease.

I will try to give you an overview. If I get any details wrong - Im sure Dr Mike can correct my mistakes, as I am trying to remember this from three years ago.

Mens and womens brains are different. The communication section of a womans brain is located in the front right and left parts of the gray matter, whereas its only on one side of the male brain (apparently men use 7 thousand words per day, and women use 21 thousand on average), the other side of the male brain is where the spacial stuff happens. A womans spacial section is somewhere in the centre of her noggin, and is generally smaller.

So if a bloke gets hit in the head on the communication side, he can't talk, but a woman will still retain the ability. Its also why (and please don't get offended girls, this is very generalised) men are usually better at parallel parking - because their spacial area is bigger.

The proportions of the different sections in your brain, according to the Pease's, are determined in your sixth week of life. The baby recieves a dose of both testosterone and eostrogen from the mother, which initiate the growth of genitals, and the development of the brain.

The more eostrogen a male or female child will get will give the reciepient a larger communication centre, emotional centre and other things I can't remember!

The more testosterone the child gets, the better spacial ability, problem solving ability, and other physical things, for example these people are generally hairy-er and have broader shoulders.

So we have a very broad spectrum here. A male who recieves a whopping great big dose of testosterone from mummy can walk into a room with all the curtians closed and still point in the direction of south/south east, and be exactly right, he can park a mac truck to within an inch of its life, but he turns up at a date wearing three different shades of brown, and the high point of his dinner conversation is him asking you what you're going to order!

At the other end of the scale little Lucy is bestowed with a kilo of eostrogen - she can talk the hind leg off a mule, and back on again, if she is giften in art she will be very good at it, she cries in the emotional bits in Die Hard and Mission Impossible and gives directions something like this..... "turn after the blue house with the really nice old trimming, which is a bit like the trimming on the house in Fried Green Tomatoes, don't you think? Oh and after that there will be a really big tree on the other side of the road, don't turn there, keep going, I saw a guy walking his dog near that tree last week, you should have seen the dog, so cute....."

Everyone else is somewhere in between. Females can be great at parallel parking and Males can be motor mouths, apparently it all depends on the hormones we recieved in the womb!


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Raymund Phule (Fireproof)


Raymund Phule (Fireproof)

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Location: San Diego California

Total posts: 2905
Posted:In order to be a man you must have a certain chromizone, or dont have one.... I forget.... damnit where is Mike when you need his medical knowlege?

I bet he is slacking off somewhere on vacation.


Some Jarhead last night: "this dumb a$$ thinks hes fireproof"

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Jimba


member


Total posts: 131
Posted:Y?

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Raymund Phule (Fireproof)


Raymund Phule (Fireproof)

Enter a "Title" here:
Location: San Diego California

Total posts: 2905
Posted:Y ask Y? Try bud dry.

hehe or maybe not hehe


Some Jarhead last night: "this dumb a$$ thinks hes fireproof"

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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:Yes Mike.. thank you... you actually played into what i said a little bit! Now, I can;t prove this, and i'm not gonna try, I'm not sure it's provable. But... they felt like they were born into the wrong body.... but there are also a lot of things associated with each body, and it's not beyond the realm of reasonsing that atht had something to do with it. Honestly, I'm not sure we are ever gonna know teh answer to that one, because it would involve resources we don't have (like a lot.) But even the thoughts of what body you should and shouldn't have relates back to social conditioning. To at least an extent. And mebbe i (and whoever else) am wrong and there are very major and specific gender differences. wouldn't go very far as to explaining the variety each gender shows though.... (btw, forive me if it's supposwed to be sex and i am saying gender. i think it is.)

Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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NickC


Monkey Wrangler
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Total posts: 183
Posted:"Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina."

Guess the movie, get a cookie. It's an easy one.


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Dio


Dio

HoP Mechanical Engineer
Location: OK, USA

Total posts: 729
Posted:Kindergarten Cop! Where's my cookie?

There was a study done on monkeys recently that may shed some light on this issue, I'll share the link and give a brief summary...

Toy Choice Among Boys, Girls A Matter Of Monkey Business

Basically (for those who don't click the link) it says that a bunch of primates were given a bunch of toys. Males tended to pick up the toys that "could be used actively and propelled through space," or the more action-oriented sort of toys. Females gravitated toward objects that "elicit female behaviors toward infants that enhance infant survival, such as contact." Toys considered gender-neutral were given equal favor by both sexes.

The current gender stereotypes may just be a manifestation of these tendencies, according to the study.


What hits the fan is not evenly distributed.

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dromepixie


dromepixie

veteran
Location: Florida

Total posts: 1463
Posted:You cant really generalise this as many have already said or hinted at!

Mike:
quote: In fact, a number of studies have been done on boys who suffered botched circumcisions and were "reassigned" to be girls. The boys were never really adusted to their roles.
I once watched a very interesting documentary about a man. Well he was a boy at birth and when he was taken to have a 'routine' circumcision (done with a current at the time) his penis was 'accidentaly' anhialated. So they decided it would be a good idea to turn him into a girl. He wasn't told until he was older though. Funny though his whole life he felt like a man... So based on reasearch done regarding his and others cases as well as those of homosexual and transgendered individuals scientists found that within men and womens brains there is apparently a big difference... I cant remeber the exact method that showed the diffrence when they tested the sections of brain. I do know that they began tests on lab rats and then some scientists from the Netherlands began getting human brain donations (posthumously of course) which they then tested using various methods in line with that which they had reasearched about rats

There is a 'SDN' Sexualy Dimorfic Nucleus (SP??) which differs in size, happarently.
Soudz quite stupid this label for the area that they found to be different, no?! It was quite interesting and weird to watch. I am unsure of the reasearch done and the conclusions drawn as I saw the documentary over three yrs ago. I will try to find out more about it and then post about it later.

Much love to all,
drome


JUGGLEwithyourmind!

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FireSpirit
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

FireSpirit

Classic 90's Fire Dancer... Poi, Staff, Doubles, and Breathing
Location: South Lake Tahoe, USA

Total posts: 743
Posted:Well All Guys Can Be: Selfcentered, Arrogant Assholes.

And All Girls Can be: Vendictive, Screamming Bitches.

Does it matter? ~No because Hormones are Hormones, and we are Attracted to eachother anyways.


FIRE IS ALIVE!
IT LIVES AND BREATHS!
IT CONSUMES, AND DISTROYS!
BUT WE CONTROL IT,
AND DANCE WITH FIRE!!

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