Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are Women Intimidating?

To talk to the other sex is a cross-cultural experience, like talking to someone from another country. We can be attracted to the other person, but we know that they are fundamentally different. I think that this is what God intended all along. For us to understand what it means to love beyond ourselves, we must be attracted to those who are foundationaly unlike ourselves. Sexual attraction and falling in love is the basis for us to understand The Other, the Stranger.

So how does one understand the other sex? By open communication, by talking about the differences, by really listening. My wife and I understood each other much more by reading the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. This is not because the book understands people so well-- in fact, he's somewhat off the target with women-- but because we read it together and used it as a basis to understand each other's experience. From that time we understood how we needed to communicate our own perspective, and how different our thinking was than our partner's. So we've been working on it ever since.

There are many differences between Diane and I in general, and some of them are related to differences in our sex, and some not:

-I tend to think categorically, while she thinks holistically. This means easy retrieval of information for me, but she can make unique connections.

-She uses talking as purging, as a way to process, while I think of talking as just communication. This is why many women (and men) keep talking when it seems there is nothing they are saying, because they are actually thinking aloud. Many men (and women) keep silent until they've finished their processing.

-Women are not more "emotional" than men, they just express it more openly in close relationships.

And like any cultural differences, women and men have different social mores and ethics. This is why many women find men to be "disgusting" or "horrible", because they were taught different ethics by their peers. We tend to learn what is right and wrong as much from our peers as from our parents or authority figures. And since, in our early years, our peers are segregated sexually, then there is a "female" culture and a "male" culture.

The different kinds of thinking come from how we develop differently. Men, during puberty, receive an acid bath in their brain, which severes some of the connections between the sides of the brain. I suspect this is why most men are categorical thinkers and most women holistic.

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