Human Diversity: Sex and Gender

Contributions to a discussion:
Lincoln High School, Philadelphia, Fall, 2000

Karen Cohen, who teaches high school English at Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, and Paul Grobstein worked together in summer institutes at Bryn Mawr College during the summer of 2000. Grobstein was creating a freshman seminar course which would include a consideration of female/male differences, and Cohen was interested in further developing that topic for her English classes. Both felt it would be useful to try and connect the two efforts, and in so doing make available a sample of voices/perspectives which would valuably contribute to a broader discussion of this topic.

The following essays were contributed by juniors at Lincoln High School who were asked simply to describe their own feelings about differences between females and males (a comparable set of short comments by freshmen women at Bryn Mawr College will be made available). In reading them, it should be recognized that they are not intended as arguments for one position or another with regard to either the existence or significance of differences between females and males. They are simply responses to an invitation to talk freely about one's own feelings and experiences. As such, they have the same status as things elsewhere on Serendip. The reflect not an effort to "get it right", but rather an effort, engaged in both by authors and readers, to progressively and continuously get it "less wrong". Or, to put it in terms used by one of the Lincoln High students: " in the future we will understand each other more and then arguing about differences being superior or inferior will stop".

Diversity need not (indeed, must not) have, as an unspoken underpinning, a presumption of "superior or inferior". Hopefully, these essays can contribute to the kind of frank and open speaking and listening to one another out of which progressively increasing understanding and mutual respect emerges.


In October of 2000 the following essays were written by English 3/junior students at Abraham Lincoln High School in response to a writing assignment seeking personal perspectives on human gender role differences. These writings were revised once for organization, clarity and mechanics. They remain a "work in progress" which will be revisited during the term for refinement of substantive ideas ... Karen Cohen.

An earlier version of these essays is available here.


Males and Females

Carldin Laventure

I'm writing to anyone who wants to listen to this. Earth is populated with a mixture of humans who are male and female. Although you could say that humans are all basically the same, they have distinct features that make them different from one another. Physically, males are the stronger, faster and more intelligent of the two genders. They are also more muscular. Females are generally built more petite, smaller boned, with fat deposits in chest and hip areas, and are weaker in tasks requiring strength. There are other very obvious physical differences, and it could be that the physical differences between males and females cause their traditional roles and social behavior to differ in many ways.

Males have always been dominant since the beginning of the human race. Men did the hunting and the gathering, while the females stayed at home cooking, cleaning and preparing clothes to wear. More recently in the Information Age, both males and females do the hunting, in a sense. Both want to establish themselves in society in the work they do. Even though they compete for the same careers and equal pay, socially they are still very different. For example, males have been known to be more physically aggressive, more inclined to fight, and more intolerant of others not like themselves. Males are very proud and don't like to be wrong. They also don't like to ask for help, or to look like they are relying on anyone else, especially females. However, men like to be pampered and kissed up to by females. It makes them feel important. Since men like to be at the top, if a woman in the workplace (or wherever) is in a higher position than the man, he feels threatened.

Females, on the other hand, like to rely on a man. They want to find a man who is trustworthy. Yet, when she finds one and he commits to her, he can't do the things he wants to do--like hang out with the guys. Automatically, the female wants to hold on tight, and like an instinct, the female thinks her man is out getting around when he is not with her. It's very tricky trying to understand a female. Everything they say they really mean the opposite. Also, females always argue with you. You can't talk to a girl without her talking back. Even worse, females, being emotional, always want to talk to you, making them annoying and likely to blame you for things. The worst is that they are always in your business. These are only some of the differences between men and women. At the risk of going crazy over this issue, I am going to stop here.


Women and Men: Freaks and Children

Jason DeRosier

I think that there are many differences in men and women; most are plain to see. I'm not even going to mention the fact that we have to urinate in different positions and that we are a little different below the equator. I want to point out the differences in behavior, reactions to different situations, and differences in sense of humor.

Let's first talk about sense of humor. To me, women have a poor sense of humor; most do, I should say. They forget about what was funny to them back when they were little, things that got them cracking up when they were young, things like "snot, boogies, poop, poo, doo doo, farts", loud burping and other of the finer things in life. See, men never get out of touch with their childhood humor. That stuff is just as funny when you are 40 as it was when you were five. Do you want an example? Well, my dad rarely laughs. You could show him something that is funny to any normal human being and he won't crack a smile. One day I put a lighter to my backside and lit a fart. I never saw him laugh harder. I mean that he almost died laughing. Now, you do that in the presence of a girl and what is the reaction? "Ewww, that's sick. That's gross! Don't do that in front of me." My point is proven!!! Girls are no longer connected to that child that lives inside of them. This also might prove that men are too easily amused, but who cares? We are not as uptight as girls.

Now, another problem I have with the women's sense of humor is that most of the time they don't find dirty jokes as funny as men do. I know some girls who will get offended and won't even want to hear any of a "dirty hooker" joke. I guess that they think I'm talking about them or something. The only girls who get a good chuckle from a good dirty hooker joke are girls who happen to be dirty hookers.

Which brings me to my next point. GIRLS ARE CONFUSING!! Men are not as complicated as women. It makes me laugh when you are sitting with your girlfriend and the man is just staring into space. Then the woman asks, "What are you thinking?" And the man always replies with, "Nothing." Do you know why men say that? Well, I can tell you. It is the truth that there is NOTHING going on up there. I don't even know where I am half the time, and women think that I have brain activity going on. This is an appropriate time to make a comparison. If you were to ask the question, "What are you thinking?" to a girl, well you'd better not have any plans to go anywhere for the next four to six hours! Which proves that girls don't know when to shut up sometimes. Yeah, the last sentence is harsh, but true. This is very, very true.

I may have covered this subject a little differently than most people, but it is what I thought of the subject. There is so much more that I would like to say, but it would take up a whole book. So, in conclusion, men are children and women are freaks. That sums it up for me.


Differences Between Men and Women: Discrimination and Inequality

Stephanie Cain

The only word I can think of to describe the main difference between men and women is: discrimination. Women are the ones who get discriminated against in many ways. It goes as far back as I can remember, in what I have seen and heard growing up. It has always been a "man's world", so women have had to accept the bad attitudes and behavior of men. We have had to accept all of this, or do without men completely.

Physically, men are built differently than women; it is known that they are physically stronger, and have larger muscles so they can obtain jobs that call for greater strength and endurance. However, many women are starting to do these jobs, like construction, police work, military, sports and even weight lifting. This intimidates men because they feel that women are stepping into their territory and on their manhood and their pride. There are leaders who are still against women fighting in the military. They believe it is fine for women to do desk work or behind the scenes activities, but not to serve on the front line, or be placed in a dangerous position, such as on the USS Cole, the ship that was bombed in the Middle East recently. It's as if these men think that women are not capable of defending themselves or our country, or are too "soft" to serve.

Men are less interested in material things and appearances than women are. Women are known for their love of "shopping" and wanting to look good. These are positive things. We're interested in clothes, jewelry, shoes, and dozens of other accessories. It's not that men are not materialistic. They are concerned about cars and sports, and things like that, things that don't make them look better. Women are definitely more concerned with their appearance. Many men don't care how they look. This can be very annoying, especially when a woman goes out of her way to dress nicely for her man, and the man shows up wearing dirty jeans and a stained sweater or shirt and worn-out sneakers.

Behaviorally, men aren't very compassionate or sensitive. They are certainly not as emotional as women. In fact, they are not very good at dealing with their feelings, period. That's why they are not so good with relationships. Somehow thinking that they are less emotional makes men believe that they are superior to women: that thinking with less emotion makes them stronger. They don't realize that not showing emotion is a weakness. Men think differently in other ways too. Many don't think things through logically. They just act on first instinct, for the moment, without being conscious of the consequences of their actions. They also think with their private parts, which makes them very often dumb and selfish.

Women, on the other hand, are naturally delicate, sensitive, and compassionate ("soft", but in a good way). Part of the reason that women are different from men emotionally is because their bodies go through so many changes in life, from our puberty experience and menstruation, to giving birth and motherhood. Because of this, we have always been considered the "baby-makers", stay at home, cook and clean, "good for nothing else" housewives. Somehow this got defined as an inferior role. The role of the servant wife still exists in some cultures and in some relationships in our own country, but much has changed over time. In recent years so many women have gone out and proved themselves to be skilled, hard working, and capable of doing many of the same jobs men do, for the same pay. We have proved that not only can we be sweet, soft, and understanding, we can also be strong, independent, hard-working, single mothers. We can go to school now and work at the same jobs as some of these sexist men. Now many of the women I know happen to be more sophisticated and more intelligent than their men because of the skills and experience they have obtained in the outside world.

Right now women still have to fight the idea that men think of them as being unequal. It will take time, but in the future we will understand each other more and the arguing about differences being superior or inferior will stop. Basically men wouldn't know what to do without us, and we wouldn't know what to do without them, so we need to understand each other.


Women and Men: Yesterday and Today

Jennifer Shaw

The roles of men and women have definitely changed over the past hundred years or so, since Seneca Falls and the Women's Suffrage movement at the turn of the 20th century gave women the right to vote. The Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements of the 1960's and 1970's also gave women greater opportunities, especially in their choice of colleges, professional training and employment. In the 1970's women also got abortion rights, giving them the freedom to decide if they wanted to bring a life into the world. Now that women can vote, hold government office, own property, work in the same positions men do, decide to give birth or not to give birth, we are moving on up! However, even though we enjoy the same civil rights and freedoms, there is one freedom in which women get an "unfair shake". In matters of sexuality, women are clearly not equal to men.

Sexual freedom is an area that bothers me about the society I live in. I know that I am young, and therefore should not be worried about things of this sort; but I am female, and we worry! For example, let's compare one sixteen-year old male with a sixteen-year old female. Each of them has slept with several partners: for argument's sake, let's say they both have had sex with seven partners. Well, who is likely to be considered a "skank", or "easy"? The female, of course! I suppose this has to do with the traditional roles that females were expected to carry out many years ago, which got turned into the idea that man was the master of the house, the female, his slave. A female, back then, would marry one man, usually for money or support, or, as a last resort, for love (if she were poor), but she was expected to remain faithful to her one mate. However, her husband would often have lovers or mistresses, with the knowledge of friends, family, even his wife!

It looks like "old habits die hard". Unfortunately, the "double standard" is still very much alive, and it is one of the few areas left that prevent women from being equal to men. Why is it that men get praised for all kinds of sexual activities and adventures, yet females get looked down on? Well, once again it has something to do with men thinking they are superior to women, and all these years being able to get away with setting rules for us that we were foolish enough to listen to and believe in, because we needed them, this making us their slaves in a way. We've grown up with the idea that we should have one man, one love, one sexual partner, while they are allowed and even expected to have mistresses, lovers, and in some cultures, many wives and concubines. Of course, not all men think like this, and not all of them want their wives to be their slaves. There are many men who actually want their mate to be their friend and companion. That doesn't mean that the sexual inequality issue isn't still floating around

out there, because it is; it is still a very big issue especially in the lives of young adults trying to make their way through life, and wanting to set values and goals that make them feel important and equal to men. Too many men are still dictating the way women should behave sexually, while keeping the freedom of sexual variety for themselves.

Even though society today still finds ways to put females down, I still would rather be a female than a male, at any time in history, past or present. I happen to think that females are beautiful creatures. We just need to work out our last remaining differences with men. I agree with a recent story I read about women and men. When the first woman on earth asked why she was made after man, the answer was simple: "Even God needs to make rough drafts for a masterpiece."


Women and Men: A Study of Opposites

Hector Cosme

Girls and guys are a study of opposites. In my mind they are very different animals. Guys are more to themselves, and girls are more sociable. Guys tend to be sloppy; girls are very neat and organized. Many girls have "attitudes", and can be bitchy about things. Guys are "laid-back", and are often lazy. Most girls are very sensitive, and most guys think they are "macho" men. Most men think about sex most of the time; girls may not think about it nearly as often (but they are not as innocent as people think they are). Many girls don't have confidence in themselves; most guys have too much confidence in themselves. Girls are likely to study more; guys are more careless and less caring about their studies; most men think they are right about everything; most girls don't care if they are right or wrong, they'll even take the blame for something that wasn't their fault! Most girls read often; most guys glance through a book as quickly as possible. Most girls think that they are fat and shouldn't eat much; most guys like it if they are husky. Most girls like to look in the mirror, every mirror they pass; guys glance at the mirror every once in a while. Most guys drive in a normal way; girls like to drive slow and scared. Many girls go through stress and worry about every little thing; most guys go through a little pain sometimes. Girls live longer than guys; guys don't take care of themselves. Yes, guys and girls are very different.


Male and Female Differences Are Here To Stay

Catherine Espinola

Men and women have so many differences that it's hard to just mention a few. It has been this way for a long time, and will probably always be that way. In addition to having physical differences, there are major differences in the way they view life and how they react to certain things. For instance, women are more emotional than men, taking things more personally. In comparison, men have a difficult time showing how they truly feel. I personally don't have a hard time expressing my emotions, but I've noticed from experience that men tend to keep their feelings inside. Then they try to go on with whatever they have to do, keeping all of their problems locked up inside themselves and not seeking help when they need it.

Another big difference between men and women is social behavior. Men keep their thoughts more to themselves and don't gossip as much as women. I've noticed that the majority of women like to gossip, talk about each other, and judge other women. In fact, women like to talk about anything, and that's why we women get ourselves into trouble with arguments about silly, "he said, she said" stuff. Maybe men are more advanced than we are in this way. They don't try to stir up trouble between themselves and their friends. If they don't like someone, they just stop talking to that person, or they might physically fight a person who is threatening them in some way. In general, they don't look for trouble like women do.

There seems to be a natural tendency for men to be sloppy. Apparently neatness is not a big issue in their lives. There are men out there who are neat and clean, but it has been my experience that they are few and far between; maybe one out of ten men is neat. Most women I know are neat and like to organize things and keep things in order. Also, women are far more neat and clean when it comes to appearance. We have to use many products for good hygiene that men don't have to use because they don't have the same needs that we do. Maybe we are more conscientious about these things because if we allowed ourselves to be sloppy or unclean, we might find ourselves home alone instead of out and popular.

My feeling is that over time much has changed in society, but I don't think the behavior of men and women has or will change dramatically. In the future I think men will still do the things that men do now, and I think women will still gossip to their friends, will still spend much time on their appearance, and will still react emotionally to things. There are no big changes that I can foresee between the two sexes that will make their behavior or their relationships with one another noticeably different.


Women "Weaker"? I Don't Think So!

Jamie Carroll

In our society, women are more equal to men than they have ever been before. However, we are still looked at as the "weaker" gender, in more ways than one. In this short essay I will look upon some of the differences between males and females and question whether these differences are the reason for women being considered "weaker".

Females are very emotional people, caring more about family and friends than men. If something dramatic happens, a girl's world may just fall apart. In this situation, most men manage to have a tough front on. Often they will not let us know if something is bothering them. If they do let us know, they reveal their feelings with embarrassment and humiliation. Their friends may even refer to them as "gay" for showing emotion. I think this is ridiculous. Even when something dramatic is not going on, men don't talk about their feelings the way women do. If I have a problem, I discuss it with just about the whole world, just to get a sampling of other people's opinions on the matter. This makes the problem easier to solve for me. A man would rather keep the problem to himself, either solving it alone or pushing it completely out of his mind.

Males always come out on top in sexual matters--their reputations, that is, as well as their status as successful and strong. In particular, teenage boys are given praise if they have sex with many girls, especially if a condom is not involved. They are looked upon as if they are a god or a "master of the game". Yes, most teen guys look at all girls as a game. On the flip side, if a girl has had sex with even one guy, she is a "slut" automatically. If you are female, you NEVER discuss your sex life because you do not want to be looked upon as a "hoe". If you are a woman, this makes things difficult. You never know if a boy likes you, or if he only wants sex. Experience has revealed that since most boys are only after sex, girls end up with broken hearts, and males move on only to create suffering in the lives of other girls. This situation makes women appear "weaker" when men have an unfair advantage.

In conclusion, I am proud to be a woman, even though we have to put up with things that men don't have to, and we have to put up with the things that men do to us. I am glad that I express my feelings freely because it helps me to settle conflicts and move on with my life. I don't think that makes me weaker. I think it makes me stronger. One day we will prove all men wrong about being the "weaker" gender if we keep working at making ourselves strong and confident. Hopefully at that time males will not have the upper hand in sexual matters either. In a relationship, no man can tell me that he is better than me. I feel equal to any man, if not close to perfection.


Hoping That Men and Women Are More Alike Than Different

Tasha Taylor

Sentimental, compatible, giving, able to be loved and trusted, are some characteristics of both males and females. You can see I am not here to say men are evil and women are good, but of course there are differences that are easy to point out.

Although I can only speak for myself, females to me are some of the world's most beautiful creatures. We can love and be loved, hate and be hated, do something wrong and accept blame, be wronged and forgive. Males hate to be done wrong. They have to live with the "fellas", do what the "fellas" do and say. Sometimes they are so concerned about what their friends do and say that they don't control their own minds; they aren't good decision makers. Women are better at making decisions, controlling things and keeping things together: organization is one of the key factors to a woman's personality. Women are also shrewd and resourceful: they can get out of any situation, sometimes without thinking twice.

Women are also appreciative and creative. Men should be the appreciators (of women), but lack the depth to appreciate brains and beauty. Occasionally men come up with creative solutions and decisions.

Love is an area of big differences. Men can love a couple of women at one time, whereas a woman usually loves only one man at a time.

I wish I could say more about the male mind, but I have yet to learn all of the twists and turns I need to figure it out. Right now I want to think that we are more alike than we are different, and that even if we do see some things differently, that we can both show love and respect for one another.


Mars Plus Venus On Earth Equals Fifty Percent Divorce

Amanda Blassingame

If I had to explain the roles of males and females in our society, I would have to say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. However, here on Earth males cannot live without females, and females cannot live without males. Therefore we have some problems right from the start in dealing with the fact that we need each other, but that we don't always get along very well. My focus is on changes that have occurred in the domestic life of men and women and how this may or may not bring them closer together.

Thirty to forty years ago males were the main providers to the household. They brought in the income. They were the ones in charge. Most females stayed at home and cooked, cleaned, cared for the children, and saw to the family needs in general. Today males and females are both providers to the household. They both bring in needed income to run the household. Both share in the cooking, cleaning, child rearing and other domestic activities. In addition, forty years ago men and women did not divorce very often. Today a little over fifty percent of married couples will separate or divorce one another, sometimes early on in the marriage.

In some ways the roles of men and women have gotten more similar. Outside the home they can both be nurses, police officers, or teachers. Inside the home they can both do the role of the former "housewife". This situation should create greater understanding and respect between a man and woman. However, the divorce rate is higher than it has ever been, so it seems that having the same jobs in and out of the home does not solve the "Mars, Venus" problem. It appears that spending more time together does not make us like each other or want to be with each other more. Even the experts are not exactly sure what the problem is between males and females, but it's a shame that we need each other, but too often end up not being able to like each other long enough to stay together in the household.


The Practical Side of Gender Differences

Vito Hatchell

If I had to explain the differences between men and women, I would have to start with the practical, every day things. For example, men don't care where they're at most of the time. They can use a public restroom or go outside. Women like to wait until they're home. They won't use a public restroom if the bathroom isn't right. When women go out they want their hair done; they want to get all "lotioned up" and make sure nothing is wrong with their outfit. Men would go out with no lotion on, wearing the same underwear they had on the day before. Women don't like their environment being dirty. Their house or room has to be neat. Men are lazy and don't like to clean. Men don't care about their environment; it doesn't matter as long as they can find their stuff. Women are picky with their food and always watch what they eat. Men don't care as long as the food tastes good. Men can go for a long time without a new pair of sneakers or boots. Women want to have a different pair every two weeks. Women ask for too much money, even if they only clean and cook. They don't work as hard as men. Men work hard for themselves and then spend their money on girls and bills. I guess that's okay because after all, men only need to spend money on themselves for things like an occasional haircut and something to eat. Who needs money when all you ever do is eat, sleep and watch TV?


The Gender Struggle In Our Society

Jennifer Potter

Our human society is made up of two divergent genders, one dominant and the other submissive. Men are the dominant gender; they have controlled literally everything in Western civilization beginning with God, Jesus, and almost all of the books in the Bible, which are devoted to or named after men. Women are the submissive gender, controlled by men. The logical question is, "why weren't women considered equally important as men, back then and even now, so that neither gender controlled the other?" Is it simply because men have more upper body strength, because they can lift heavier things, or because they finish the race faster? Why hasn't human strength been measured by cleverness, creativity, intellect, emotion, and not solely by virtue of physical strength? I say that if humans were judged by other than physical qualities, the women would definitely pulverize the men. Our society is left with the task of amending what history has mandated. A good starting point would be where the gender struggle is more apparent than any other: in the relationships men and women have with one another.

Men may be physically able, but they are mentally feeble. This is demonstrated in the way they handle relationships. For example, they are eminently afraid of rejection. Men are petrified if their authentic feelings are expressed and then not reciprocated. If their feelings are not returned, then this act generates questions of doubt and uncertainty about their adeptness to turn women on to them. Even though many men present a cold-hearted exterior, on the interior they really are emotional. In fact men are so emotional that when they become hurt just one time, they put up a barrier to make themselves immune to hurt the next time, possibly forever. I believe that men do care very much for their women. However, they just do not want to show it because it would make them seem "whipped". Men like to place their women in a vulnerable position and keep them hanging on by a thread. Their theory is to keep the women guessing in order to maintain an aura of mystery and excitement. Somehow this makes them feel more secure, more in control, leading the women in directions of uncertainty about whether the man is really interested in them, a position they like to have their women in, but one that is damaging to the relationship in the long run.

In addition, men continue to be feeble as well as irresponsible in their attitude towards sex. Traditionally, women were considered "whores" when they had many sexual partners, but men were given great acclaim and congratulations for having a long list of women conquests. In today's society, we have facing us the grim reality of sexually transmitted diseases, and neither men nor women has the privilege of being promiscuous. It's almost as if these diseases have been created to punish those who have cheated on their partners by providing indisputable evidence of unfaithfulness. Yet this hasn't stopped many males from continuing to practice "unsafe sex" with multiple partners, and still being socially accepted for it! Not so for the women who subscribe to the same practice. Today those women are persecuted and belittled, just as their predecessors were.

Further, men are also very insecure about things in general. Why, for example, are they so apprehensive about what their friends think? They always need the approval of their male friends before they can make a determination about "this or that". Why can't they just be comfortable with the idea of being unique individuals? They always have to corroborate every single thing. I guess having personality flaws is what "makes the man". All these different characteristics shape what we call a robust and "in fine fettle" male.

Finally, let's consider the women, the submissive gender. They have so much strength to claim and develop, but they continue to manifest certain behavior that irritates men and is self defeating. For example, women always want to rush a commitment in a relationship, with the goal of marriage. Why? Are they missing so much that they can't live without a man? As long as women continue to be instilled with the fairy tale idea that one day a tall, dark, handsome man will come along and sweep them out of poverty, they will continue to be disappointed. Women wonder why men run when the feelings exhibited in a relationship get too intense, but then they repeat the pattern with the next relationship. Apparently women yearn to have a strong sense of security in a relationship, with the idea that they will always have someone to love, to be with. What they don't realize is that men are not the solution to the problem; they are just part of the problem. Women are eminently na´ve and don't see the real picture. They cannot have things entirely their way because men are not capable of fulfilling needs that are too demanding and unrealistic.

Men and women both have flaws that affect their relationships with one another. Compromise, cooperation, and understanding are required in order for time worn ideas like "control" and "security" to fade out. Men have to be more open about their emotions, more willing to experience rejection as a part of growth, and more capable of commitment without fear. Women have to become more independent in their development as individuals, and more realistic about fulfillment of emotional needs. With these changes, amendments to the historical picture can finally take place.


Guys Will Be Guys and Girls Will Be Girls

Antoine Mauldin

The roles of guys and girls have changed a great deal throughout history, but, as the old saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Yes, some things have changed. In today's society females are even taking on the roles of guys, to the extent that the so-called "guy roles" aren't even "guy roles" anymore. Women are playing professional sports like basketball, working at construction sites, serving in the military, and sitting at the heads of boardrooms in major corporations. However, my observations of life situations lead me to believe that there are some important differences in the ways guys and girls carry out their gender roles and in the images that they present to each other and to the world.

First, my observations show that guys tend to have a hard time expressing their feelings, which they would rather keep to themselves than be considered "unmanly". Whether it is because guys are ruled by the presence of testosterone or have been conditioned to be tough, "male pride" still plays a big part in the life of a guy and keeps his emotions from surfacing. In fact, guys will go to great lengths to maintain their dignity. This is particularly true in situations where social rejection is possible. For instance, let's say a guy approaches a girl he's attracted to and attempts to get her number; however, the girl turns him down in front of all of his male peers. In order to appear 'manly' though, the guy would probably act like he doesn't even care, even if he were really hurt by the turn down. Then he probably would try to talk about the girl by stating all of her flaws (of which he was completely ignorant just moments before); this way he doesn't get teased as much because he diverted all or most of the negative attention from himself to the girl.

In addition, within their male peer groups, guys will often fight or argue when their pride is threatened or damaged: like say, if a guy bumps into another guy while he is out with some of his friends. Let's say Andre is the guy who is with some of his male friends. The guy who bumps into him is Troy. Andre would be enticed by his "male pride" to confront Troy in a rude manner by staring angrily at him-this is known as "grinting". As a result of Andre doing this, Troy might respond in an ignorant manner (aggressively) because Andre "grinted" on him. This would create enough tension between the two that Andre probably would feel that if he failed to act, that is, make it clear to everyone else that he is the tougher guy, Troy as well as Andre's fellow peers would think he was a "punk". Andre would have to prove himself a "tough guy" by either making Troy walk away after being physically threatened--this would have the desired effect of making everyone think that Troy was afraid of Andre, just because it would appear that Troy did not want to fight Andre-- or, if challenged by Troy, Andre would have to actually fight Troy. If they ended up fighting, the victor would be proclaimed the much-desired "tough guy", and the loser would be teased and tormented for a while, at least until he beat up someone else. Who would ever think that this level of complexity occurs in the thoughts of the typical adolescent male mind in such a brief time-seconds maybe?

Physically keeping an emotional distance is also part of the "manly" image guys like to project. Male "bonding" is something I don't observe very often among guys. Since I'm on the football team, I notice that a typical time for a guy to bond with another guy is most likely at a sports event. Things that you would never see among guys out on the street can be observed in this arena. There you might see guys actually hug each other when an athlete does something really good or when the game is going in the favor of their favorite team. Most of the time the closest thing to a hug or something "mushy" between guys is a handshake or a verbal "What's up"?

Further, guys rarely shed tears. Unlike girls, who are more emotionally outspoken-- girls cry easily, hug, or talk about the way they feel as soon as they experience something-- guys will rarely shed tears. And forget about "boo-hooing"! That practically never happens. In order for guys to be manly, they must not reveal a sense of compassion and sensitivity. In fact it is the "tough guy" image with which they subdue and mask their so-called "feminine side". Since guys hate to be called anything that would label them "feminine", they stay reluctant to show their feelings.

It is obvious that guys have their image "hang ups". However, "skin deep" or surface appearances are not only important to the guys. Although girls do not have a "tough guy" image to keep up, they have a different, yet similar problem: the "beauty" standard. Girls are ruled by the fear of not being pretty enough, and, as a result, they are often insecure. They are continuously exposed to standards of beauty presented by their favorite movie stars and role models. As a result, they will go to great lengths to buy the clothes, make up and even cosmetic surgery to obtain the beauty standard that is popular. They want to know they can be successful in competing to get a man, and that they look good to one another as well, in order to "fit in".

The careers that guys and girls have acquired may have changed their roles to some extent. However, in other ways the roles they play are heavily influenced by the images they present to society. In our determination to keep these images alive, girls and guys are very similar. At all costs guys want to keep their male dignity and pride, and women want to maintain confidence in their ability to be beautiful. Will these images always be important to guys and girls? My observations lead me to believe that they will.


Men Definitely Should Not Wear Women's Clothing In Public

Linda Nguyen

Whether you are considering the obvious physical differences between males and females, or the inner workings of their minds, you will find that no two males are exactly alike, and no two females are exactly alike. It is difficult to generalize about gender groups, because I can think of several exceptions to almost every argument that has come up about males and females. However, for the sake of this exercise, I'll give some thought to some differences that one could say exist in most, many, or some cases. I'll even throw in a thought or two about things females should take seriously.

Here are some of the differences: Physically, females mature faster than males do. If females are proven wrong, they will admit to their mistakes far more readily than males. Females care a great deal about their appearance and are far more emotional than males. Men get praised for sleeping with many different women, but women get put to shame when they sleep with numerous men. There are some jobs that women cannot be hired for because they are not considered physically strong enough. Some men would like to see women confined to that "place is in the kitchen" because when women make more money than they do, the men get all insecure. Some men even think that it's their job to support us!

Now for a serious thought: I sure don't need a man to support me. I can take care of my own self! If I were to have a child and the baby's father didn't want to have anything to do with me or the baby, I would not care; I would raise and support that baby on my own. I've already seen this happen more than once, and feel confident that I could be a single parent. People have to stop referring to women as the "weaker" sex, because this statement just is not true. I know many females who are stronger than males.

In general, I would agree that there are definite differences between males and females, and that some make us appear to be complete opposites. However, you really cannot stereotype males and females, just as you cannot stereotype race. There are way too many exceptions to any general rule. However, one thing is for certain: if a female wanted to, she could wear men's clothing and society would accept that. On the other hand, if a male were caught in public wearing women's clothing, he would be the butt of society's jokes. There's no question about that.


Slave Days Must End

Tiffany O'Brien

On the domestic side, the differences between males and females are extremely noticeable. There is no question that females are more concerned with neatness and cleanliness than most males. It is also true that males believe it is the female's job to make the home environment neat and clean, and to attend to the basic needs of the male. Part of this has to do with males wanting to be in control. By setting up an environment where women obey them like slaves, they can keep up the idea that they are masterful. Males would stay in a dirty, odor-filled room and wear dirty clothes without a care about what other people thought or said. This is not so for the girls. Most girls I know have clean rooms, clean clothes, and concern for their appearance. How do I know all this? Well, I am a female in a household of four females (including my mom), and we live with four brothers and a dad who have provided enough evidence to last a lifetime.

My two older brothers set up residence in the basement where they stay for "24/7". They take food and drink to their room and leave cups and plates for weeks at a time. They actually wait until my mom or I notice that all the dishes are missing from the kitchen before acknowledging that they have them. My two younger brothers are even worse. Their room has a strange odor all the time that I cannot begin to describe. Let's just say that they hardly ever do laundry, so that means that clothes stay dirty for a long time. They do also. I have one brother who actually doesn't like to shower! I'll let you use your imagination about how bad this can be. On the other hand, the girls in our house do laundry two days a week and shower every day.

Most males I know think females should wait on them "hand and foot". They don't realize that we've just entered a new century where most people do for themselves. Slavery days have been over for a long time, but not in my house! The males there are lazy and act like they are helpless. If it weren't for me, nothing in that house would ever get done. I guess this pattern started with my parents because it is apparent that my mom waits on my dad. He actually has a doorbell hooked up in the living room, as well as other paging devices in the house to alert the females that there is something that needs attending to! He truly believes that the males in the home are not responsible for domestic chores. My mom does all of the cooking, and I do most of the cleaning. When I'm out, the boys actually wait for me to clean up. It never dawns on them that they can do anything for themselves.

Lately I have been attempting to change the pattern that has been set in my house by refusing to tend to or care for the males there. I realize that females have to be strong and make the males aware that we are not here to feed them, clean up after them, or obey their every command. This may be one way that they can still feel they are in control and have control over us, but their behavior and actions are clearly way out of control. It is up to the females to teach them some important lessons about living in the modern world.


Gender Differences: More Than What Is Right Under Our Noses

Tara Christine Jackson

In the world we live in today there is a great deal of talk about the so-called "battle of the sexes". This is something that some people take very seriously, but something others don't worry about at all. It is important to take a serious look at what it is exactly that separates the men from the ladies, the obvious and less obvious character traits, behaviors and attitudes. Many of us only note the differences that are right under our noses: women are more emotional, or women take longer in the bathroom. I have even heard men say things like "girls are crazy" or "all women are bitches". There are many women who have a problem with this negative view of their general character. However, all of the arguments about PMS, menstrual cycles, and hormones will not change the views that many men have of women. Besides, the differences go much deeper than moods and length of time in bathrooms. Many women fail to realize that since the beginning of time there has been a definite dominance of males over females in everything from religion to everyday living. It is long ago and far away that the battle got started. Did "body" create "destiny", or was there another reason for male dominance?

In earlier centuries women were looked at as beneath men in both physical strength and intellect, providing a basis for male authority in society. Women were not allowed to work, vote, or even voice their true opinion in the presence of their father or their spouse. They were often subject to the will of the male authority in the home, whether the home was a feudal farm or a lordly manor. In fact, a woman's husband was considered an extension of her relationship with her father. Typically it was the father who negotiated the monetary exchange and dowry in order to "trade" his daughter to the husband. The woman was really nothing more than "chattel", without a voice and without personal value. The adage, "Women should be seen and not heard" was the operative model in many cultures. In other cultures, men were the "sun", enlightened with knowledge, energy, and strength. Women were the "moon", confined to darkness much of the time, without independent energy, only made strong by the "sun" (the male influence).

The situation of many women remained similar into contemporary life. No longer subject to arranged marriages, women arranged themselves into empty corners in unhappy marriages, not taking it upon themselves to create their own destinies. The subservient, unfulfilled role of women is beautifully described by the poet, Nikki Giovanni, in her poem entitled, "Introspection". In this poem, the wants and needs of a woman are sacrificed to those around her by the way society is run. In this prison world, woman serves or caters to others, not doing for herself but for everyone else, this taking away all of her energy to live and enjoy her own life.

She didn't like to think in abstracts
Sadness, happiness taking giving ... all abstracts
She much preferred waxing the furniture
Cleaning the shelves putting the plates away
Something concrete to put her hands on
A job well done in a specific time span

Her eyes were two bright shiny six guns
Already cocked
Prepared to go off at a moment's indiscretion
Had she been a victim of a Vietnam soldier or a mercenary
For Ian Smith ... all the children and dogs and goodly
Portions of great old trees would have been demolished

She had lived both long and completely enough
Not to be chained to truth
She was not pretty
She had no objections to the lies
Lies were better than the silence that abounded
Nice comfortable lies like I need you
Or gosh you look pretty this morning
The lies that make the lie of life real
Or the lies that make real life livable

She lived on the edge of an emotional abyss
Or perhaps she lived in the well of a void
There were always things she wanted
Like arms to hold her
Eyes that understood
A friend to relax with
Someone to touch
Always someone to touch
Her life was a puzzle, broken
Into a hundred thousand little pieces
She didn't mind being emotionally disheveled
She was forever fascinated by putting the pieces
Together, though most time the center was empty

She never slept well
There wasn't a time
Actually
When sleep refreshed her
Perhaps it could have
But there were always dreams or nightmares
And mostly her own acknowledgment
That she was meant to be tired

She lived
Because she didn't know any better
She stayed alive
Among the tired and lonely
Not waiting
Always wanting
A good night's rest

That brings us back to today. There are still those who would rather see women taking care of the children and the home on a full-time basis. There are also those who would like to promote the idea that women are too emotional to take positions of leadership in society. Economic necessity and the strength and determination of women have finally combined to enable women to achieve fulfillment at home and in society. Whether men want to acknowledge it, women have proved themselves equal in intelligence, versatility, endurance, and even physical strength, in some cases, in their careers in society. Yet women have not given up their former roles. They still do the homemaker routines of ironing, cooking, and cleaning, and, most importantly, the family roles of mothering and nurturing. The best part of this is that women's former silence and surrender to domination has given them a unique voice that says, "We've proved that we count." Basically, women are doing it "all", and have proved that "body" is definitely not "destiny".


A Sentimental Look at the Gender Issue

Jenny Jones Haus

In viewing the male and female genders, I have observed that we have many different qualities and ways of doing things, yet still remain drawn to each other by the love we give one another. As far as I am concerned, without this love, there would be no point in living. Our differences are not nearly as important as our ability to create lasting relationships.

Women are usually more self conscious and insecure about themselves, worrying about their looks and how they measure up in comparison with one another. Woman will pick at each other and themselves about many body areas: facial features, weight, height, skin, chest size, leg size and firmness. Men don't seem to care as much and have more confidence in their looks. Except for size of "sex organ" (and even that is not discussed as openly as women discuss their bodily parts), I have never heard a man once compare himself to another man in the way that woman compare themselves to one another. The insecurity of women can really reach extremes. In fact, women can be very cruel and insensitive to other women due to jealousy and low self-esteem. Often a group of women who do not like another woman will find something to pick at about that woman or create gossip about them. I confess that I have found myself doing this at times, especially when I see my boyfriend checking out other girls or complimenting them. At those times I automatically say something negative; I don't actually create a lie, but I will exaggerate things: for example, my boyfriend will say, "Check out that blonde," and I'll respond by saying, "She's got bleached hair." It is the more mature woman who keeps her thoughts to herself and hides her jealousy. This kind of woman is good at saying how much she admires everyone's diversity, or something kind like that. Men either come naturally equipped to keep their jealous thoughts to themselves, or they learn early in life how to keep their mouths shut.

Men have a difficult time in another area: that is, in their inability or refusal to discuss issues when they are upset, mad or angry, or to listen well to a woman when she needs someone to tell her problems to. Men will actually say that it is a waste of time to dwell on problems, emotions, or feelings, even when they are experiencing the blues or a bad mood. Women have a different way of dealing with problems: they talk about them, with the goal of solving them, at least most of the time. Sometimes they just like to "vent". This "talking out" of issues can take hours, and tends to aggravate the men. If the man gives in and takes part in a deep discussion of issues, he wants the woman to get her points across as quickly as possible, get it over with, or leave it be. A typical example of this occurs often at my house. My mom will complain about the "mess" in the house or bring up an important problem while my dad is watching television. He won't stop watching to listen to her and ends up "blanking her out" and "zoning" into the television. She then gets madder and a full battle will take place.

Intellectually, males and females are equal and each is capable of learning and developing the same skills and knowledge. Physically, however, men are proven stronger. Women have to work really hard to develop muscle strength and endurance. Women wrestlers like Chyna from the WWF are rare, even "freakish" to some. She deserves credit for achieving her body building goals and being accomplished in an area traditionally reserved for men. Women have a greater endurance for pain as exhibited in the activity of labor and childbirth.

Despite the differences between men and women, we need each other even though we sometimes drive each other crazy. The benefits of togetherness far outweigh the problems. There's a saying, "Boys or girls come and go, but friends are there forever." I disagree with the idea that a friend is more important than a mate. Once you find the one you love and want to spend the rest of your life with that person, they are the most important person in your world. How often do you hear of adults reminiscing about their school friendships? Where are most of these friends now? They are most likely not in touch with each other any longer; they probably stopped communicating years ago. It is different with your mate. Yes, you will experience differences; you will have arguments, and find yourself frustrated about things, but look at the rewards you will gain. Through the years you will develop a deep understanding of another human being through the sharing of important life events. You will know that person like no other, and that person will know you as well as you know yourself. This is worth all of the patience, tolerance, and appreciation needed to accept our differences.