Friday, June 12, 2009

The "Battle" Of The Sexes

Room in New York
Edward Hopper
1932

I was raised with two older brothers, and I have always been more comfortable in the company of men than in the company of women. Instinctively, I have a better rapport with men. This has puzzled me over the years -- why should there be a difference between women and men, and what is the difference betwen them that I am unable to define? Yesterday it occurred to me. There are two types of people -- those who like everyone when they first meet them, until they are proven otherwise, and those who are suspicious of everyone when they first meet them. I'm probably over-generalizing here, but it seems to me that women fall into the first category, and men into the second. Men, somehow, seem to be more laid-back, less guarded, whereas women generally are a bit apprehensive about new people. With men, there is always less "drama" about everything. As I said, I may be over-generalizing, but that has been my experience. No matter how you slice it, it's true that women can sometimes form cliques, which seem to form a protective barrier against "new" people.

A clique is an exclusive group of people who share interests, views, purposes, patterns of behavior, or ethnicity. A clique as a reference group can be either normative or comparative. Membership in a clique is often, but not necessarily, exclusive, and qualifications for membership may be social or essential to the nature of the clique. The term 'clique' may be used pejoratively. A normative clique or reference group is often the primary source of social interaction for the members of the clique, which can affect the values and beliefs of an individual. The comparative clique or reference group is a standard of comparison in which a clique can exist in the workplace, in a community, in the classroom, in a business, or any other area of social interaction.

Cliques tend to form within the boundaries of a larger group where opportunities to interact are great. Cliques are often associated with children and teenagers in a classroom setting. Schools are a prime place where peer networks exist and can easily be accentuated through the differentiation of various cliques, and through the processes of inclusion and exclusion that characterize a clique. ... Wikipedia

Men rarely form cliques, women almost always do. So this made me wonder, is there some genetic, socialogical or biological reason for this? Does it have something to do with men being the "hunter / gatherers" while women stayed at home and tended the fires? Is it a sexual thing? Is it an instinct for the protection of children? It would be interesting to know. But, ask any woman -- there is nothing more threatening to a woman than a group of women to which we do not belong. The thought of it can actually make the hairs on the backs of our necks stand on end.

I am one of those people who instinctively likes everyone until they have done something to change my opinion of them -- but once they have, there is no going back. I can say, however, that I have never belonged to a clique, even when I was in school. The very thought of it is an anathema to me.

There is a new council in my building, consisting of seven women. Individually, they are all lovely people, and all of them are good friends of mine. We socialize, and as neighbors, we help each other. As a group -- well, let's just say I will be keeping a low profile for the next year.

28 comments:

The Bug said...

I was never in a clique either. When I was in school there was a part of me that wanted to have friends, but another larger part that wanted to be left alone so I could read. I was both shy & genuinely stand-offish - just leave me alone! And a nerd too. And you know - I don't really feel any regret for that because the kids around me were apparently kind - I don't have negative memories of being picked on.

I still don't have a ton of really good friends - four or five maybe. I'm still standoffish - but the cool thing about the internet is that when I'm in the mood, someone is always there!

Jo said...

The Bug (BTW ... you don't seem like a bug to me *heh*), I could not agree more. There is something about "gaggles fo women" that truly frightens me, and I avoid them.

Mean Mama said...

You said it all Jo. I study sociology and from what I have been taught and the research I have done, you are right on target for the explainations of why human beings do what they do. Often times people think that these behaviors are unique to their locale or their experience when it is actually just the way humans behave. Many reasons why men are more accepting is because of mating behavior,(you don't threaten their mating opportunities and you could BE a mating opportunity) and women are exclusive to other women because of mating opportunities and competition for resources. Just as you said: gathering behavior. So your group at work is working to gather and another female gatherer would be competition to the tribe. It is more than genetic coding though.We are a product of our environments as well. I can relate to your aversion to cliques. There are many mothers cliques in my area, and it makes it difficult to make friends or find playmates for the children.

Alissa said...

That's an interesting observation, Jo. I am always looking for explanations for otherwise inexplicable behavior. I have to agree with The Bug on the whole cliques thing. I was something of an outsider that marched to the beat of my own drummer in school (I guess I am still something of an outsider) but it wasn't that I didn't get along with people and have friends. I tend to be more casual and accepting in my relations with others, but in terms of whether I am more comfortable with a group of men or women, I would have to say I am most comfortable with a mixed group. I was somewhat involved in sports in school and quit basketball because it was an all girls team, but I loved track and cross country because we always practiced together as a mixed group and it was a much more pleasant experience that a segregated group of all girls. Good thing I went to public school.

Deedee said...

Good post, Jo. I grew up amongst 5brothers and I agree that men are generally more open and less dramatic than women. I never liked or understood the cliques that girls have, and consequently, I was an outcast. Men have usually been kinder and more accepting of me than women. It's interesting to think about the reasons we all evolved in these ways.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have found too, that men like Drama less than women. Not sure why.

pranksygang said...

interesting post!! And to be honest i am more comfortable with guys.. and i dunno why i have less girlfriends.This is the only thought that my mind battles with..

And i am not a clique...

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I haven't had any formal training in sociology; but from experience. My son could have a whole gang of friends around with no problems; but put more than two girls in a room and one of the three will be an outsider within the day. Just an observation from a mom. I have always found it easier to have a casual friendship with a man. Women tend to overthink every thing you say and then you start to edit all your words. It is tiresome. I have a few close female friends with whom I can speak my mind and I treasure those relationships and realize how very special they are.

Jo said...

Mean Mama, "(you don't threaten their mating opportunities and you could BE a mating opportunity)" That made me laugh right out loud. I love it! And it's so true, isn't it?

Alissa, yes, mixed groups are preferable, but even then, sometimes the women can "squeeze" someone out, and I don't quite understand why they do it. I'm like you -- I walk to the beat of my own drummer too. :-)

DeeDee, yes, men and women really are two different animals, aren't they? I feel much more comfortable with men, simply because there is MUCH less drama and angst.

Charles, men just couldn't care less about all the "crap" that women obsess over.

Pranksygang, I don't think you are alone in that aspect. I think most women -- truth be told -- feel more comfortable with men.

Kathy "Women tend to overthink every thing you say and then you start to edit all your words." Omigawd, yes! I can be myself around men, but I am always wary around women.

Marguerite said...

Very interesting post, Jo. I have always gotten along well with members of both sexes. However, some of the closest friendships I have are with men. Nothing like a good guy friend when you have car trouble or want to dance all night without worrying about him making advances. And I love the way they offer to pay for dinner, too!

Brenda said...

I also wonder about cliques and people who just follow whatever the current trend or fad might be. I grew up the only girl in the middle of 4 brothers, and like you I have always related much better with men. I don't actually need all that many people around me very often, too feel comfortable. I kind of like being alone most of the time. I once tried to work in an office with only 5 women. It was not pretty. Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog. I really enjoy your posts!

cat said...

I was never in a clique in school, the 2 or 3 girls I was close friends with I am still close friends with. I grew up with an older and a younger brother and feel much more comfortable around men than women. Girls have too much drama, generally speaking, and I have other things in my life I would rather foucs on than who did this and that.
I relate a lot to what The Bug said.

PhilipH said...

I have to point out that women are usually the stronger of the sexes in so many ways especially when it comes to saying what you mean and mean what you say. My dear wife will frequently express her thoughts in a way that I could never dare do.

One thing is certain: the ladies are tops at being 'catty'.

A tv programme once did an experiment where a pretty female reporter approached men at random in the street and asked "Would you sleep with me tonight?" whilst a goodlooking youngish male reporter asked female passers-by the same question. Can't recall the exact results but the female reporter got about 80% "yes I would" from the guys but only about 10% from the girls. Of course the girls had more to risk ...

Lorna said...

Interesting. :-)


~Lorna

~Brittainy said...

Beautiful post!! I much prefer men to women, although the older I get the more I wind up around women (Must be the kid thing) I actually do not want to have any girls. Boys are pretty straight forward, I don't know I would do with a girl, although I find myself keeping two of them this summer

jeannette stgermain said...

Oh my goodness, Jo, I also grew up with 2 brothers, and their friends were my friends! Not surprizingly, at my job there are 2 male collegues. They're a lot easier to work with in dealing with feelings, women are often moody, or catty.
I very much dislike cligues. And that's why I never go to women's groups in the church - I don't get anything out of it, because I have a different opinion on anything (almost:)).
But there are men's cligues too: certain golf clubs, etc.

Marcella said...

I didn't have the pleasure of having any brothers but nevertheless I still prefer the company of males than females. Although it may not appear so from my blogs I like stimulating, interesting dialogue and this I don't seem to get from other women. It's not that I don't ever enjoy the company of women it's just that they tend to stick to superficial topics. Probably one of the reasons I like reading your blogs is that I find them stimulating.

Adventure girl wanna be said...

Hey darlin! Long time no talk. It still just makes me smile since I witnessed you say you were going to stop blogging and to see all your followers. Hope life has been good to you the last several months;) I will have to take several hours and catch up with you sometime;)

DUTA said...

Women leave me sometimes with a 'venom stinger' (you know like the female bees do). Men like to think They are God and demand recognition of their 'Deity'.

I believe both conditions are treatable. All it reqiuires is some imaginitive, creative approach on my part and then I can feel good with both women and men. I must however admit, men are kinder.

I love that picture of Hopper. It depicts a real life scene in very nice colors.

the walking man said...

I vote for sociological training, men are taught from birth to be the more independent and to be the fighter alone if necessary and in a group only if it's war or sports.

deandean said...

I felt that way too...and often times, men friends are protective and you can feel safe with them..

PhilipH said...

BTW, I love that Hopper painting of a Room in NY. It reminds me of the style of Jack Vettriano, a Scottish artist who tends to favour women as his main subjects. I have to canvas repros of his and one of them is "In thoughts of you" which depicts a woman sitting by a window, just musing ...

Vettriano is pooh-poohed by the majority of art critics but mayhap this is just snobbish jealousy? I like his style, even though they may be too "precise" for some.

Adventure girl wanna be said...

Weird! What were you thinking about me:):):):):)

Pouty Lips said...

My education was in social psychology so I could write a dissertation. Basically, according to male-female self-reports women describe themselves as more trusting (your example), anxious, gregarious, and nurturing than men. Men describe themselves as more assertive than women. The areas where there were no differences reported are very interesting and include: impulsiveness, activity level, creativity, and orderliness. Add in the fact that what people say about themselves is often not the same as how we are perceived by others coupled with the fact that behavior often depends on the gender of the audience, and things get complicated very quickly.

Jo said...

Marguerite, I get along well with both sexes too, but I prefer the company of men. :-)

Brenda, oh goodness, working with women is like being in the ninth circle of h*ll. Oh, yes... :-)

Cat, oh yes, drama. I think even I can sometimes be guilty of that. *sigh*

PhilipH, I have heard of that TV experiment. Interesting, hey? And yes, unfortunately I often say what I mean, too, and it gets me into trouble. *heh* And yes, Vettriano and Hopper are very much alike, and I like them both very much. I did not now Vettriano was Scottish!

Lorna, yes... :-)

Brittainy, I think most women prefer the company of men. BTW, I have tried to post on your site, but your comments box won't allow comments. Did you know about that?

Jeanette, oh, yes, men have their Old Boys' Clubs, for sure. But for some reason, women in groups can be very frightening. I never understand why.

Marcella, yes! Not to generalize, but men definitely discuss more stimulating topics, don't they!? Yes!

AdventureGirl, I think it must have been mental telepathy, because I was thinking about you not more than 15 minutes before you commented here. It just crossed my mind -- I wonder what AdventureGirl is doing these days! Weird!

DUTA, "Women leave me sometimes with a 'venom stinger' (you know like the female bees do). Men like to think They are God and demand recognition of their 'Deity'." Oh, goodness, you hit the nail on the head! And yes, men generally are kinder, oddly enough.

Mark, yes, and even though men go to war, oddly enough they are the gentler sex, definitely!

Deandean, oh, gosh yes, men can make you feel safe, but somehow women can make you feel -- nervous -- somehow.

PoutyLip, how interesting! My goodness! I guess it would all depend on individual experience, wouldn't it? My experience is that I feel uncomfortable with groups of women, but comfortable with groups of men. Strange, hey?

Paula Slade said...

Interesting post, but I'm not sure I can relate as I always approach women or men on a one-to-one level, and avoid being drawn into a clique or any kind of 'group think.'But, it is an interesting thought.

The Promiscuous Reader said...

You know, Jo, there are two kinds of people: those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who don't.

I disagree that males don't form cliques, having been shut out of some and observed others. There's a whole literature on males in groups, from childhood to adulthood, and I've seen it claimed that men form cliques and women don't.

I'm baffled by Mean Mama's remark that "men are more accepting (you don't threaten their mating opportunities and you could BE a mating opportunity)" ... I thought that men compete with each other for mating opportunities, and don't consider each other to BE mating opportunities, at least officially.

From the research I've seen, some men and some women form cliques or ingroups, and others don't. Researchers tend to study the structures of the ingroups 1) because they're visible and have a clear structure, and 2) because they hope that some of the ingroupness will rub off on them.

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