Monday 4 November 2013

It's Not About the Nail - Men and women are different: very different


If you haven't watched the (brilliant, acute, witty) short video "It's Not About the Nail" - then watch it:


The above video captures a truth about women, from the perspective of men; and beyond this is the idea that men and women may be a lot more different, psychologically, than is currently assumed.


In fact, the null hypothesis is currently assumed - that men and women are the same unless proven different.

In practice this means that there is never-enough-evidence to prove, for sure, and without any possibility of alternative explanations - that men and women are different.

But they are: we know this! It is inbuilt, spontaneous, common sense knowledge.


What would be interesting to know is more about these differences.

In other words we should assume (because it is true) that men and women really are psychologically different, and then explore the nature of these differences.


For instance, why could it make sense for women to have that attitude caricatured in 'It's not about the nail'?

The way I would summarize this attitude is accepting that things-are-the-way-they-are (not trying to 'fix' them) and therefore focusing upon how people feel about things. Indeed, just summarizing it like that makes clear that this is a rational attitude in many circumstances - because often/ usually things cannot be 'fixed' but we must just make the best of them.

Also, in the social world we humans inhabit, many of our most pressing problems are indeed social; therefore one of the best ways of 'fixing' a problem is to harmonize the peer group: to decide what we think about it.


Thus women will (I think) generally talk together to reach a consensus of the proper attitude to a situation; whether somebody (especially another woman) behaved well or badly - or perhaps whether they are a nice or nasty person; and will then create considerable social pressure to impose this collective view on other members of the group (especially other women).

If so, then this is an extremely important approach to social life, and a vital mechanism of behavioural regulation.


On the other hand; if things can be fixed, and need to be fixed...

When it is acknowledged that there are real differences, then a strength in one circumstance becomes a weakness in another - hence the (on average) functionality of complementarity.



Adam G. said...

The Book of Mormon has a scripture that promises that for the penitent, their strengths will be made into weaknesses. It's a Christian commonplace--C.S. Lewis says the same thing in the Great Divorce when the sinner's lizard turns into the saint's stallion. In my own marriage I have observed that my wife's strengths and weaknesses are very often the exact same traits. Same with my strengths and weaknesses.

Perhaps this is a reason for mortality? It takes a lot of fine discernment to know when one of your traits is a strength and when it isn't. That kind of discernment can only come from experience and from interaction. At the same time, if you were just granted an already finely adjusted balance of traits, you wouldn't be able to develop the individual traits enough for them to be strengths.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - Slightly off topic - but related to the need for mortality. I find it hard to make sense of the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ unless I assume that the experience was essential to Him (*as well as* to us). I think that He must have *needed* this experience, in order to do what He did and does.

But I think this would probably be regarded as heresy in Mainstream Christianity, since for Classical Theology, God (being omnipotent) needs absolutely nothing from anything - and therefore the incarnation etc of Christ was only for our good, and completely unnecessary for Him.

I think I got the clue for this two-sided view of the incarnation from Terryl Givens - but I know he is something of a radical among Mormons (and that you have reservations about him).

What is the usual LDS understanding on this, and what do you personally think about it?

Adam G. said...

I absolutely agree. I believe that most Mormons would also.

dearieme said...

There must surely be an advantage to evolving so that M and F are different but complementary in their thinking?

Maximo Macaroni said...

Just watched a BBC production of Balzac's "Cousine Bette" this weekend. What a lesson on the differences between women and men! Balzac was a bit of a dramatist, but maybe that's what it takes. Extraordinary individual characters can epitomize the strengths and weaknesses of the sexes as the masses cannot.

Wm Jas said...

Adam, I think you mean their weaknesses will be made into strengths, right?

Adam G. said...

Oh dear, Wm. Jas. You are absolutely right.

as said...

I didn't like the movie. It's too one-sided. The woman just comes across as oblivious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@as - Oh no, it's a brilliant microcosm of the truth.

I never properly learned this lesson until after I was married, a few months after (I have a feeling my wife actually had to spell-it-out - i.e. that I should not respond to her every moan or complaint about everyday life with a comprehensive, bullet-pointed action plan); and it has been a sort of running joke since then; something my wife and I have often laughed about.