TED Conversations

Ang Perrier


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How does gender affect formulation of opinion based on perception?

I'd like to kick-start this debate by asking for each person responding, to please describe their personal opinion of their ideal; a) Husband/boyfriend b) Wife/girlfriend.

I'm adding onto this now...

How different do you perceive males and females to be?

Are these differences something that can be phased out through gender neutralizing environments or are they engrained in our nature as a permanent fixture?

If there's a possibility of phasing out the differences would you choose to?
If there's not how do we address our Politically Correct world where we avoid any recognition of differences between genders?

The focus here is on the mental, emotional, and developmental differences, not so much the physical.


Closing Statement from Ang Perrier

Overall it seems as though we are able to accept and recognize that there are differences between males and females. What we are not ready to accept and recognize is that there are differences in the way we learn that should be addressed in early childhood development.

This doesn't mean the end result has to change as far as career capabilities. It means that we need to cater to these developmental differences and teach our boys the way they learn best and teach our girls the way they learn best in order for them to have the opportunity to achieve their desired goals in life.

Right now our education system is failing both genders equally and that is unfortunate. We can say that it's because we don't spend enough money on schooling, or we don't address the specific needs of each individual child. But I think that a reasonable attempt at adapting a school curriculum which incorporates certain gender differences into the lesson plan has proven to be effective and ought to be adopted by more schools and made available to anyone who thinks that their child would benefit from it.

I DO NOT mean that girls should be taught Home Ec. and boys should be taught Shop Class. I'm implying that girls and boys learn subjects such as math and science easier in 2 very different ways. Why not structure a class that is designed to teach girls/boys math the way their brains understand it best? It's not harmful for our society to look at what science can teach us about the brain and use that information in the most effective way possible.

I'd like to take this time to advocate to any parent out there reading this to do some research and decide for yourself if gender specific lesson plans could be a benefit for your child.

Start with Leonard Sax's book "Why Gender Matters" and see if you find yourself agreeing with the statements and research he's done over the past 25 years.

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    Apr 14 2014: Hi, Ang, from a "neighbor" a few hours to the north.

    I'm going to describe an ideal partner, so as to not limit it for anyone. As such, it could be a romantic partner, marriage partner, social partner, business partner, etc...

    A partner (partnership) should be loving - manifesting love in a multitude of ways. Someone once said "the greatest gift we can give someone is the purity of our attention." And attention can be given in a multitude of ways. "Purity" means without any distortions by the ego, such as might be introduced by expectations of any reward: acknowledgement, appreciation, exchange. So, it means giving a gift, which requires completely letting go of that gift as soon as it is given and being completely unattached to what the receiver might do with the gift.

    Other gifts include support, encouragement, prodding, guidance, assistance, enticement for the other to continue evolving into the being s/he was meant to become - even if that might result in a dissolution of the partnership, at least in terms of being physically together in close proximity. That does not necessarily mean an end to the emotional-intellectual partnership that can endure even over great distance. It also means staying out of the way, not hindering the personal evolution of the other in any way, or trying to direct it against the essential nature of the other.

    In general, there needs to be some complementary characteristics in a good relationship because people are generally in need of finding more balance in life. Attributes that are lacking or inadequately developed in one may be found, through example, in another. So this is an important though often unconscious aspect of relationship that draws people together - each may help inspire and encourage the other in evolving to a more balanced way of being.

    Does this actually happen much, or at all? Not really. But, hey, you asked for "ideal" so that's what you get.
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      Apr 15 2014: Hello neighbor :)

      In your personal experience and observations have you noticed any varying degrees of difference between men/women in their ability to give a pure gift or remain open to the encouragement that may help with evolving as you've stated, to a more balanced way of being?
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        Apr 15 2014: No, Ang, I haven't noticed any such differences between men and women.

        However, I tend to not get caught up in differences between men and women because, based on my experience, I don't feel that's a really helpful distinction to make on a practical basis. Yes, there are differences between men and women, but there is also a lot of overlap between them. There are males who are very feminine physically, emotionally and intellectually, and there are females who are very masculine. There are, of course, also the ambiguous examples who are not clearly male or female according to our common standards - and I'm not talking only about physiology.

        So, I'm not impressed by any "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" type presentations that I've seen. In my experience, men are from Earth and so are women.

        I'm more interested in the behaviors of individuals, and of groups of individuals who are either similar or different in behavior, irrespective of gender labeling or identification. It seems to me that a health personality needs to manifest a broad range of attributes; males exhibiting "male" attributes but also with some development of what are traditionally considered "feminine" attributes, and females likewise exhibiting "female" attributes with some development of "masculine" attributes. Some people are naturally inclined to do this to varying degrees, whereas others may need guidance and encouragement to help them become more balanced in this way. But I'm not advocating that people should be forced to do this. Also, I'm not advocating phasing out or neutralizing gender differences. I feel that diversity greatly enriches our mutual experience of life.
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          Apr 15 2014: The societal attitude towards gender differences from a male perspective seems to be to take a "progressive" stance and look at every person individually with a blindness to gender. Or at least that's how it's coming across in all the males I've asked, not just here on TED.

          There are still a group of men who are very open about their ideas of females not being suitable for certain jobs and think that their place is in the home. But more often than not males wants to impress upon others how much of a forward thinker they have become and view males and females as completely equal.

          Females I've talked to generally have no qualms about noticing differences, differences that in no way affect equality, just differences.
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        Apr 15 2014: One of the complications in considering - and embracing or rejecting - equality is that many people tend to think that equality depends upon or leads to bland uniformity. It's not true, but it's definitely common to think it is. And the other issue is the need for some males to feel that they are in control better than females - that men should be free to do as they wish, and that females should do whatever men wish when they wish. And it seems that there are some females who go along with that view, for whatever reasons, although I suspect most would rather feel that they are equal and a few might feel that women should be in control.

        There are many very real differences between *most* men and *most* women. I say "most" because there are exceptions, varying in number according to whatever differences one is considering. Some are physiological, some are emotional, some are intellectual. However, different does not mean better or worse, it just means not the same.

        What we all need is equality of valuation, equality of respect, equality of opportunity for all people, so everyone has the possibility of becoming all they can be.
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          Apr 15 2014: Couldn't agree with you more Carl and thanks.

          Equality of valuation, respect, and opportunity...definitely!!! :)

          If we can all agree as a society that not the same means that there are different ways to help kids achieve their full potential then we can start the discussion about how best to accommodate these differences. Ignoring them and pursuing gender neutralized learning environments does not promote the progress we are aiming to achieve.
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          Apr 15 2014: Carl,
          Regarding your statement....
          " that men should be free to do as they wish, and that females should do whatever men wish when they wish. And it seems that there are some females who go along with that view, for whatever reasons...."

          I suggest that some females go along with this idea to be accepted, because it is one of the old paradigms....females are supposed to make the man happy....do what he wants....then he will love us!

          I wholeheartedly agree....we all need equality of valuation, equality of respect, equality of opportunity for all people, so everyone has the possibility of becoming all they can be.

          The example you use above...."females should do whatever men wish when they wish" sometimes puts the woman's attention and energy totally on the man, rather than giving herself respect and opportunity to become all that she can be.

          This idea is not very good for men either, although at face value it appears to be. I think sometimes, men rely on a woman, or expect a woman to provide everything he may need emotionally. So rather than evolving in themselves, women are trying to please a man, and the man is relying on the woman.....make any sense?
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        Apr 15 2014: Yes, Colleen, that makes sense.

        It's always interesting to consider how things really are, in the face of some group trying to assert dominance over another. Ultimately, we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. A dominant group - males, the super rich for a couple of examples - likes to assert that it is independent while, in reality, it is actually more dependent upon the subjugated group. But the dominant group is always blind to this truth - because they do not want to see the truth.

        So, yes, domineering men make themselves more dependent upon the women they *think* they dominate. And, of course, they do dominate women in some ways, but it's really only an appearance of domination. And some/many women play along because they don't know any better - they've been culturally conditioned to believe.
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          Apr 15 2014: When discussing aspects of dominance it is important to take into account aspects of physical differences between men and women. Also the hormone testosterone and the differing levels of aggression found. These attributes have a huge impact in female behavior when it comes down to personal relationships.

          Females do not experience aggression the way males do and so in a relationship where a man gets angry the female's natural reaction isn't generally to respond with anger and aggression. She tends to be saddened and hurt, becomes introverted and apologizes taking on a feeling of guilt and shame that she isn't the caring nurturer she thought she was and changes her behavior to better accommodate her mate.

          This is why it is important to teach males and females while they're still young about the differences and how to avoid mistreatment and develop healthy relationships with mutual respect. Young females developing confidence in themselves and understanding what is and is not acceptable is paramount to preventing domestic violence.
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          Apr 15 2014: I agree Carl, that we are all interconnected and interdependent. When we can genuinely understand the interconnectedness and interdependence, we have a better chance of functioning with balance and harmony.

          Your statement, which I agree with...."domineering men make themselves more dependent upon the women they *think* they dominate", reminds me of some of the incarcerated guys I interacted with.

          They were incarcerated for domestic assault, and their story often was....."she made me angry....it is her fault".

          He beat her up because she "made" him angry....part of a cycle...
          He gave up his right to make a more appropriate choice....part of the cycle...
          He certainly dominated with the assault...part of the cycle
          The consequence was jail...part of the cycle

          I also volunteered in a women/childrens shelter....
          Women "play along" because they don't know any better, as you say, there is a cultural conditioning with expected roles and behaviors that support those roles...all part of the cycle....
          Those who dominate with abuse often express remorse, which is part of the cycle
          Women often truly want to believe that things will change...also part of the cycle.
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        Apr 15 2014: Ang, you wrote "Females do not experience aggression the way males do ..." This is just the kind of statement that concerns me because "Females" is typically used and understood to mean "all females" which is definitely not true. It may just be "sloppiness" in communication, but it creates and reinforces erroneous impressions that color our thinking, feelings, actions and discussions in unhelpful ways.

        An alternative would be to say "Most females ..."; "Many females"; "Some females ..."; "Females generally ..." in such statements. The same is true, of course, for statements about males. I think that a little more care in the way we state things would help everyone stay more open to what is being presented. I try to do this. The only unfortunate part of doing that is that it uses up more of our 2000 characters that we're limited to here before we stop to take a breath.

        And what's important to teach *everyone* is that we are all in this together; we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. What we do to one, we do to ourselves, so we ought to treat each other as we ourselves wish to be treated - apply the Golden Rule; the Law of Reciprocity. What this is, is an application of manifesting Love through all we do. If we learn to fully love ourselves, and if we can learn to love (respect, value) others as we love ourselves, that will become the basis for everything we do, and it would result in us making decisions and taking action in ways that would help us equitably and justly deal with all the human-caused issues facing us.

        It's a challenge, of course, because we have hoards of "wounded" and "distorted" personalities running the world, our economy, our politics, our societies, etc., and raising families who commonly inherit those old "wounds" and "distortions" that have been perpetuated for millennia. We can only change our selves - becoming the change we want to see - and try to inspire, encourage and help others change themselves.
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          Apr 16 2014: As small children both experience emotion in the same section of the brain which is the amygdala but at around age 10ish for girls that changes and shifts to the cerebral cortex. This is a change that never happens in males. Therefore males and females do experience emotions, or at least what would be considered negative emotions, differently.
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      Apr 15 2014: What do you perceive would be the reasoning behind females committing murder in the 1st degree more often than the other degrees of murder??
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        Apr 15 2014: 1st degree? Premeditated? They have probably thought about it long and hard. I don't think women generally react with the "knee jerk" reaction, as men often do?
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        Apr 15 2014: I'll second Colleen's reply. When it comes to "fight or flight" I would expect that most males would be inclined towards an immediate "fight" in whatever way that might manifest for an individual. I would also expect that most females would be more inclined towards "flight" even if it often manifests as fearfully retreating into their feelings and thoughts as well as their "safe place" where they might eventually, through desperation, hatch and formulate a plan to relieve themselves of their tormentor. So, the time factor gives them an opportunity to plan their move, whereas most males wouldn't give themselves that luxury; they would be more inclined to impulsively act.

        That said, more effeminate males might tend to respond and act more like most females, whereas more masculine females might tend to act more impulsively in self-defense, because they might feel less intimidated, more self-confident and more capable of physically defending themselves.
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          Apr 16 2014: A woman may be more inclined towards flight until it comes down to her children, then it's fight to the death. :) At least it would be for me.

          "even if it often manifests as fearfully retreating into their feelings and thoughts..." I like the way you phrased that.

          I spoke with a woman at a battered women's shelter once who told me that based on what she's heard and experienced she believes every woman who has endured domestic abuse for a duration of time over a year has a plan of how they would murder their tormentor. And we're not just talking about a simple plan and a fleeting thought but and elaborate set-up that she would consider acting out should the opportunity arise.
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          Apr 16 2014: Carl and Ang,
          I volunteered at a shelter for a couple years, answered the hot line, and I can tell you that it is common for quite a few women who have been repeatedly assaulted, to think of ways to end the assaults, and start making plans. A women will typically leave and go back to an abusive relationship an average of 7 times before she will actually leave. So it seems apparent, that women are generally thinking about it, feeling it, and seeking alternatives for quite some time.

          We encouraged a plan...try to set up a support network with friends and family (abuse and violence thrives in isolation), have an escape plan.....where to go.....who to contact, etc., if that is needed. Sometimes, the plan causes more abuse....if an abuser is keeping someone isolated, and the abused person reaches out to friends and family for help for example, the abuser will often abuse the person more to "keep them in line".....all part of the patterns and cycles of abuse.

          To reinforce Carl's statement regarding how females or males might behave.....
          There is sometimes abuse with same sex partners, and there is sometimes abuse by a dominant woman, toward a man. So when we talk about abusive relationships, I like to talk about "people", rather than stereotype males and females. Even though the dominant male seems to be the most common scenario, it is not the only scenario.
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          Apr 16 2014: I'm not a big fan of feeding into stereotypes either but when it comes down to it, in order to find a solution that solves the biggest chunk of the problem you have to consider where the biggest part of the problem lies.

          Take the state of NV with the highest number of domestic violence cases of abused women and also the highest number of murdered women each year where their male domestic partner was charged.
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          Apr 16 2014: I agree Ang....it's important to evaluate all information and explore the biggest part of the challenge. Which is why I wrote..." Even though the dominant male seems to be the most common scenario, it is not the only scenario."

          I have observed that sometimes when this topic is addressed, some people seem to think that ALL men have some of the traits we are talking about, and that is certainly not true.

          I realized where the biggest part of the challenge lies years ago while volunteering in the shelter. We can educate, encourage and support women who are often the victims of violence and abuse. AND, we also need to address the underlying causes with abusers, which is why I volunteered with the dept. of corrections for 6 years:>)

          We (Vermont) also have a high number of women's deaths, caused by their partners.
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        Apr 16 2014: Ang and Carl,
        I mention the cycles of violence and abuse.......

        I notice your additions to the topic Ang.....

        How different do you perceive males and females to be?
        My perception is that we are very different in some respects, and in some respects the same. We are all people trying to figure out how to cohabitate on this earth, and it often starts with our cohabitation practices as individuals.

        Are these differences something that can be phased out through gender neutralizing environments or are they engrained in our nature as a permanent fixture?

        I think/feel that recognizing the differences is a more practical plan, rather than trying to "phase out" differences. The idea of phasing out, feels like it sends the message that someone has to give up characteristics that may feel very much a part of who and what s/he is. I think/feel that when we understand some of the underlying cause of behaviors, the manifestations of those behaviors don't have to be destructive. For example, when a person learns some of the underlying elements of abuse and violence, s/he has the opportunity to change the behaviors...."cognitive self change".....make sense?

        How do we address...recognition of differences between genders?
        Recognize, understand, acknowledge, appreciate and respect those qualities that are beneficial, while discouraging behaviors that are NOT beneficial to an individual OR to the whole.
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          Apr 16 2014: Figuring out how to cohabitate starts with the individual. I completely agree.

          Respect those qualities that are beneficial and discourage behaviors that are not beneficial.
          Again I agree with you but society doesn't do that. We show our girls that looks are most important to the outside world not brains and we neglect to give our boys a clear view of what manhood is really about.

          Changing how we view gender from childhood on could lead to a positive change in advertisement and entertainment. At least I hope it would.
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        Apr 16 2014: I agree Ang, that society doesn't do what I am suggesting, and I also agree that changing how we view gender from childhood on could lead to positive changes in our societies.....let us begin.....each journey starts with a single step:>)
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          Apr 16 2014: One of the reasons behind this topic of discussion is that I'm hoping to find convincing arguments for making changes in my kids' school.

          He's having a difficult time sitting still and focusing. He's incredibly smart and can read at a higher grade level but the test questions they have been giving him on the material are stumping him. He's supposed to relate how he thinks the character is feeling and what is driving their decisions.

          My daughter is having some difficulty in math at school but when she gets home and we go over the problems in words instead of numbers she gets it right away.

          I have 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls, they're different.
          We're also a blended family so we have the added difficulty of 2 fathers and 3 mothers involved in their upbringing.

          I need solid answers to make sure these kids all do the best they can with what they've got. Each one is already statistically in a pre-disposition to have difficulties, and some of those behavioral issues are presenting themselves.
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        Apr 16 2014: Ang,
        Have you discussed your concern with your son's teacher, school councilor or other interested parties who might be able to contribute something toward a solution?

        I had a similar situation with my son years ago. He was reading "Hardy Boys" going into the first grade, and punished because he was not paying attention when the class was reading "See Dick Run" type books. Unfortunately, he was bored, so entertained himself and the class quite a lot rather than paying attention in class. He was finally tested in the forth grade and determined to be in the top 1% of the country intellectually.....labeled "gifted", although I do not like that label.

        Regarding the test questions which ask your son to imagine how a character might feel, and/or what is driving their decisions.....

        This might be an opportunity for you to introduce and encourage compassion? Ask him to think about how HE might feel in certain situations....what decision might HE make.....

        My daughter didn't have difficulty in school because she did what she was "supposed" to do....like a good little girl... no matter if it made sense or not. She was also reading quite well going into first grade (they both started reading at about 3), and rather than cause a commotion about reading "see Dick run", she simply did it....over and over again without complaint. You understand what I mean by "a good little girl" huh? She followed the expected pattern without complaint. She did however, break out of the mold very quickly, and now is an EE and manager in a major company:>)

        Kudos to you Ang, for your involvement with your kids education and development!
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          Apr 16 2014: Attempts have been made, conversations have been had, lessons are learned in the home, but these kids are being exposed to things and experiencing things that are in direct opposition to what I'm trying to promote.

          I'd like the school to consider teaching boys and girls separately, at least in a couple subjects to be able to better identify common behavioral traits displayed when in coed company as opposed to single-sex situations.

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