Saturday, December the 17th, 2005

Keeping with the sort of back-to-basics drive initiated a few days ago, this post purports to revert to our favourite topic in these here parts—the divide between men and women. Oh joy! In particular, we’re going to be concentrating on a few things that popup frequently, and lead to much hilarity; if you’re the kinds that thinks being yelled at is funny.

While men don’t usually see the difference between being neat and being clean, women clearly do. So there he is, sitting all proud that he’s kept things so tidy (stuffed out-of-sight under the bed), whilst she walks in, declaring his habitat “an uninhabitable dump”. She didn’t even have to peer under the bed; she’s referring to the substantial layer of dust atop the TV, something which our guy is entirely blind to. The trouble here is not from one such specific unpleasant incident, but stems from a basic difference in stance on just what “clean and liveable” means.

This shaky communication pathway between men and women is frequently plagued by many other such instances, when they’re probably using the same words, or superficially referencing the same concepts, but implying entirely different underlying notions. A much-celebrated illustration of this is the implication of the phrase “I have nothing to wear”. When guy says this, what he really means is “I have nothing clean (enough) to wear”, while the same words coming from woman probably mean more along the lines of “I have nothing that I’m in the mood for wearing”, or “nothing that I have the right accessories for”, or something like that.

I could’ve stopped there with this example, but again, this is just symptomatic of something bigger. While women pay careful attention to detail, men often seem to be stuck in a wishy-washy state, where only vague aspects of the grand, sweeping goals are apparent (e.g. “Bragging about this will so maximise my chances of getting into her pants, so I must keep talking.”). So while the woman has painstakingly set something up, be it subtleties in the plans for the evening or fabulously-intricate patterns on her accessory selection, men aren’t going to magically sensitise, make thoughtful observations, and come up with fitting compliments.

They’re just not equipped for this sort of thing.

Hell, we don’t even see more than a few basic colours. Biscuit, cognac, brun? No, they’re all “brown”. Try beating the subtleties over and over into our heads, and they’ll still be “brown”. Noticing that you’ve spent an entire afternoon mixing and matching these in some way, with some hidden special veiled message and deciphering it is not something you ought to expect from us. At best, after much prodding, you might get a “those brown earrings go well with that top, and you” (We fail to notice details; we just need to keep our vague goals in sight. Like, “Maybe a compliment will increase my chances with her. I must compliment her.”).

And during the course of your prodding, you’ve probably hit against another fundamental wall—men don’t want to talk. Men like to do things, like leer. Not talk. Men don’t even like to talk about things they’re obsessed with, like coition. I’ve noticed so many interesting gender-based patterns of responses that I’ve gotten (or not) on different topics via comments and e-mails over these past few years, but I will reserve those observations for another day.

What is “waaaay too much” talk for a man, barely scratches the surface in terms of what a woman decrees as a “healthy norm”. No seriously, what does she want? Does she want me to keep calling her until her cell phone minutes are exhausted (and she gets to pay those wonderful overages?) as a symbol of how lovely our relationship is? I don’t really know. This is something I don’t ever see ending well. From one end, it always feels like it’s too much and therefore something’s wrong, while at the other end, it always seems not nearly enough and therefore something’s seriously wrong! Basically, there’s no hope, and this is just another avenue for much confusion.

I could go on, but most of these things I’ve mentioned are rather deep seated, and aren’t trivial to fix. Before I begin to bring you down however, I’ve realised that the trick is to convince yourself into thinking, “fundamental incompatibilities aren’t bad, they’re just opportunities for much excitement and surprise!”

Yeah, right, if being yelled at excites you.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “The ever-widening gap” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

20 Responses to “The ever-widening gap”

  1. Well, this is very simple: The unilook and likeness of the genders in the (nineteen)seventies are followed for decades by ‘men are from mars, women from somewhere else’ and really, men and women are mostly human and very alike. This will be the next wave…
    If you’re with someone, you see their faults instead of your own.
    Remember Chris Rock: Married and booooored, single and looooonely. *lol*

  2. wahgnube says:


    That’s a most interesting observation, and probably what’s really going on. Unfortunately, however self-realised people think they are (as I often pat myself on the back for), almost everything we perceive about the world around us is a function of social conditioning. I happen to have been born in and have lived only in the ‘men are from mars, women aren’t’ decades, so that is how I am predisposed to see things.

    Plus, it’s much more interesting to write about differences, and blame personal-stupidity on them, rather than focus on the commonalities. :)

  3. Joni says:

    I think it comes down to expectations. Of course, you should set your sights high. But you should never try to change a person into whatever you want him or her to be. It’s a waste of time and two precious hearts. Resentment will ensue. The relationship will self-destruct. I finally figured out one thing, tho: Men like to “work for it.” They are hunter/gatherers. They want to “go in for the kill” so to speak. They aren’t used to the lion walking up to them and throwing itself on their spear (bad analogy, but keep your naughty thoughts to yourself, it’s late, and I’m tired and hungry!). Once I figured out that I should STOP chasing the guy and let the guy find me (because a man will always do what he wants to do, if he wants to do it bad enough).

    Robert and I have been together since 1980, but there were a lot of rocky times, with me unhappy with who he was, unhappy with who I was and both of us generally miserable. Plus we’d changed roles and I became the mother and he the child. This doomed us. We reunited, a bit wiser and more tolerant this time. And much happier. I know it sounds trite, but when you quit actively seeking it, it will find you. Whether you want it to or not.

    But this whole men/women difference has sure kept food on a lot of stand-up comics’ tables, hasn’t it?

  4. wahgnube says:

    But this whole men/women difference has sure kept food on a lot of stand-up comics’ tables, hasn’t it?

    That is exactly my take on matters. If it amuses me or I can use it to amuse other people, I will flog it to death. I haven’t reached the confidence-level to step up on a proper stage yet, but I do spend a lot of time trying out material—almost all centered on women, and relationships. That is the only reason I bring it up often so often (cite1, cite2, cite3… and something like a hundred times more says a search for “women”).

    But I have to say, I am man—agewise—and a little spoilt kid in terms of (emotional) maturity. But I don’t actively “hunt”. I don’t seek anything out, and sort of exist in a state where I believe “if I do my bit and bring my half of the puzzle, the other half has to fall in place naturally”. I am not going to work toward it, because working toward it sort of seems contrived and quite forced.

    Now here’s the kicker.

    Contrary to what you’ve just said, it is exactly this that has made the women I know feel like I “don’t want it enough”. In a sort of, “if he doesn’t actively hunt for me, or work hard at it, how much could he really want us to work?” way.

    And now for my spin on things, by force of habit. :)

    So basically, women don’t know what they want. Women want us to be the hunters we’re supposed to be and “work for it”, while expecting us to quit actively seeking things out and allow them to fall in place naturally. They set you up for a lose-lose situation, and then chide you for it!

  5. J says:

    Hmm… i’m learning a lot from the comments here.
    I dont have much to say… except that I’m single and happy, I think men are miserable. Well, most of them. I think my life would be gr8 without men. Yeah, that’s what I think right now! *pat on my back* I’m just awesome!

  6. pUl| says:

    Hmm… i’m learning a lot from the comments here.

    I dont have much to say… except that I’m single and happy, I think women are miserable. Well, most of them. I think my life would be gr8 without women. Yeah, that’s what I think right now! *pat on my back* I’m just awesome!

  7. anonymiss says:

    || “fundamental incompatibilities aren’t bad, they’re just opportunities for much excitement and surprise!”||
    I agree with that. (AND I don’t like being yelled at!)
    While women do want men to be more ‘understanding’ and what not…I don’t think they’d be particularly pleased if they(men) did become that way.
    I for one, don’t mind if a guy doesn’t know chrome from lemon…but that’s just me :)

  8. J says:

    @ pUl|

    Ha ha ha! Very funny! To hell with u men!

  9. pUl| says:

    Why, thank you J. I still wonder why there can’t be a guy out there who feels the exact opposite of what you do?

  10. wahgnube says:

    I will get to your individual responses shortly, but now I’m in the process of avoiding a major crisis in acads land. So play nice, people.

    Note: Random potential arguments in which women may potentially be annoyed will be terminated with extreme prejudice. Life for me is hard enough as it is, and I can do without anyone inciting “to hell with u men!” cries on my premises. I won’t even claim to be fair. You have cautioned.

    I’ve been known to club baby seals. The really cute kinds.

  11. Joni says:

    I think things can be summed up nicely with a tagline I’m fond of using from time to time:

    Women and cats will do as they please; men and dogs should just relax and get used to the idea.

    Heaven knows I’ve been in enough relationships. Bad ones at that. And each one that failed failed because I stupidly tried to mold myself into what I thought he wanted me to be. Instead of just being me. And of course when there were lapses and I was not being the perfect princess/arm trinket, I heard about it. Do you know how tiring all that is. And how refreshing it is to be loved for exactly who you are, faults, moles, warts, and the whole nine yards? If you are lucky enough to find it, hold onto it. If you find yourself becoming tired of trying to keep all those balls up in the air (I know, I should stop trying to make analogies so late at night!), then you probably need to find someone else to be with. Short, sweet, simple.

    I happen to agree with David. He cut right through all the baloney and laid it out on the table. If done properly, it just shouldn’t BE all that hard.

  12. pundit says:

    J: Yes, some of these comments are downright insightful. I don’t have much to say either. I’m single too, and pretty fine with it all. But there is this (naïve?) part of me that likes to cling on to notions of extreme bliss associated with not being single.

    Not that I’d know anything about it.

    Plus yes, men are basically quite miserable, and the world would be a better place without them. And yes, you’re awesome.

    (And I apologise on behalf of the other commenter.)

  13. pundit says:

    pUl|: (And no, no one is going to get up in arms about being apologised for. I like to maintain peace in my neck of the woods.)

    Simple rules. Only sorts of humour allowed in these here parts are the kinds that are deprecating toward men (as they should be). Anything else will be looked at very carefully before being OKed.

  14. pundit says:

    anonymiss: I don’t like being yelled at! Honestly, I didn’t even realise chrome was a colour. :) I thought it was the shiny thing to do with polished metals.

    Anyway, I agree with most of what you’ve said (and I sort of think you are much more forgiving than most), but I am not certain there is this
    threshold for “understanding”, which if men cross, women won’t like the monster they’ve created anymore.

  15. pundit says:

    Joni: It’s not that I don’t agree with David, or anything you’ve said. I find both your opinions experienced, rational and probably all true. And I agree most with the fact that it shouldn’t be hard.

    But I am not looking at things (and I don’t) from the point of of someone trying to “cut right through all the baloney and lay it out on the table”. I use much irrationality and silliness to stoke these fires in an attempt to amuse myself, or other people. There is nothing like taking a slightly-off point of view, and warping it way out of proportion for a good chuckle. Not all of this is supposed to be serious, though the seeds for most of these things are from real life insecurities and incidents.

  16. J says:

    Thanks pundit. u r such a sweetheart! Muuuwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaah!

  17. pUl| says:

    *cough* *cough* And you sure as hell picked a really cool name. You sure did!

  18. J says:

    pUl|, pundit sure is cool, but wahgnube was coooooooler

  19. pUl| says:

    What say thee pundit o_O

  20. pundit says:

    pUl|: I’m sort of ambivalent on the matter. Since none of these changes are irreversible, I can switch everything back (there is really nothing to do but revert to how I signed my comments) if the general consensus is that these changes suck.

    An equal amount of love and thought went into picking wahgnube and pundit, so it’s like you’re asking me to pick between my babies or something.

8,941,148 people conned into wasting their bandwidth.