Sunday, October 2, 2011

The difference between men and women

It's never so obvious to me that there's a big essential difference between men and women as when we take a family trip to Target.

First, when you're holding a small baby or even an older baby or even a preschooler, you get a lot of attention. People love to look at small babies. And by "people," I mean "women" only. When I walk around with the baby, women are constantly coming up to me to gaze upon her. On at least three separate occasions, old ladies have stopped me and said, "Can I please look at your baby?" And then I held the baby out so they could marvel over her little face for several minutes.

Has a man of any age ever expressed any desire to look at the baby? No, never.

It's not that men don't like babies, I guess, but there's something innate to men that keeps them from gushing about little babies in the aisles at Target. Something beyond just not wanting to look like a pervert.

And then there's the other difference:

When we go through the clothing department, I must look at the clothing. Even if I came to the store for something entirely different, even if I don't need clothes or even really want clothes, I have to look at the clothing. I'm not even really into clothes, but I still feel this compulsion.

And if I see something I like, I have to touch it and maybe check to see if it's in my size. Sometimes I even have to try it on. And it takes huge amounts of willpower for me to drag myself away from an item of clothing that I really like.

I know it's not like that for my husband. If he needs shirts, for example, because every shirt he owns is falling apart at the seams, he goes to the store and buys shirts. If he doesn't need shirts, he doesn't have any interest in looking at shirts. It's like they don't exist. When he sees me eying the women's clothing department, he always laughs and says, "What's wrong with you?"

I was recently reading a post by the very articulate Dr. Whoo about the difference between male and female patients. She says that female patients are more complicated (in a good way), whereas with male patients there is "little extraneous conversation, merely exam, diagnosis, suggestion for treatment." With all due respect to Dr. Whoo, I 100% disagree with this analysis of the male patient. I put in oodles of time at the VA, and I've had men that I could not shut up for anything, who pick apart everything I say, or who are very anxious or batshit insane. I can't honestly say that male patients are in any way simpler than female patients, and I certainly can't say they're less talkative.

However, her post got me wondering if there are specific differences between male and female patients (beyond the obvious anatomical differences). Because we are definitely different, as evidenced by my trip to Target. But I'm really having trouble thinking of any consistent differences I've noticed...


  1. Just like the book, Men are from Mars and women from Venus. So true on the shopping habits. Men rarely try anything on in a store.

  2. You've clearly never spent time in the company of a male pediatrician :)
    I can't go 10 feet in someplace like target without awwwww-ing

  3. Huh. It's my husband that *I* cannot drag away from the clothing section at Target. I also would never ever ever go up to a baby that didn't belong to someone I knew, and in fact if I did know the person would probably talk to them and ignore the baby. My husband is much more into babies and kids than I am. I guess that means my husband is a woman and that I am a hermaphrodite.

  4. How do women feel about strangers like single men stopping and looking at their babies? As a man I don't feel comfortable doing it unless I am with my girlfriend.
    As for clothes, I'm with your hubby. If I don't need it why look at it.

  5. I bet men are much better at not spending 80$ whenever they go to target- I just can't do it.

  6. OMDG: I wouldn't go up to a random baby either, but some women definitely do. My husband definitely wouldn't.

    NP: I would probably be pretty creeped out if a lone youngish male approached me like that. An elderly man, probably not.

    C: My husband hates shopping with me because whenever we go out, I end up buying like ten more things than I meant to.

  7. You have further confirmed my suspicions that my husband and I have switched gender personalities. My husband is the one who is always pointing the babies out to me when we are shopping. (Not that we go up and ask to ogle at them.)

  8. Why would I look at shirts if I don't need any shirts? That makes no sense.

  9. well there is socialisation for one. Language wise, women tend to be more hesitant and less forceful (if they do they are a 'bitch'). Women are trained from little girls onwards to be 'cute and good' whereas 'boys will be boys'. Yeah I think there are differences.

  10. News alert: These so-called "gender specific shopping habits" are not gender specific. We just have a cultural story that insists they must be.

    My household is like Joleyne's (above). I hate shopping and don't give a shit what I wear as long as it's clean. I'm the woman. My partner loves shopping and spends hours in clothing stores and takes approximately forever to get ready before we can go somewhere. He's the man.