Are Stereotypes About Men and Women True?

Are Stereotypes About Men and Women True?

After reading this post about common stereotypes for American states, I chose to do a similar Google search for stereotypes of men and women.

Without further ado, here’s what happened when I searched “why are men so…” and “why are women so…”

Why are men so….

mean
stubborn
hot
pathetic
cranky
stupid when it comes to women
shallow
lazy
jealous
insecure

Stereotypes exist for a reason. The only problem is when we assume they’re ALWAYS true.

Yep, that sounds about right.

Why are women so…

emotional
crazy
cold
complicated
stuck up
sensitive
weird
self-centered
mean to men
illogical

No comment. :-)

Stereotypes exist for a reason. The only problem is when we assume they’re ALWAYS true.

Come to think of it, maybe the key to relationships is as simple as finding a partner who doesn’t embody the worst stereotypes.

What do YOU think?

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Heather

    @ Julia,

    I totally hear what you’re saying.  I was always “the brain” in school, school came easily to me, and I LOVED to read.  In high school and college, at least where I went anyways, being smart was considered “not cool” or “masculine” so I was friend zoned or ignored totally.  Or if I did date, I got the nasty, mean and abusive ones who could probably sense my insecurities.  So because that had been my experience, of course I saw it as, well guys are abusive, that’s just how they are.  And when I married one, well there ya go.

    The guys I did like, well, they liked talking with me since I liked to read and could hold an intelligent conversation.  But then when that was over, they went over to the bitchy bimbos.  I never could figure it out.

    Once I got therapy, and ditched the ex husband and went on dates with some, gasp, NICE men who weren’t abusive, mean assholes, well I learned that there might be some hope out there.  And now I’m dating a genuinely nice guy who does have balls.  I’ve seen him defend me once or twice when some drunk twit almost knocked me over.

    It’s definitely alot better now, the therapy and self-help and getting away from an abusive partner did wonders for me.  I’m much stronger and confident and am well able to say hey, if my guy leaves me now, I will be OK.  I do not “need” a man, and if I decide to ever date again, I know I can hold out for a nice guy, not an abusive jerk.  And I can stand up for myself.  I’ve told my boyfriend before when he made the big mistake of snapping at me “because he was stressed out”, that it’s unacceptable behavior, I stopped tolerating it in my ex, and I would not tolerate it from him either.  He respected that I wouldn’t tolerate nonsense.

  2. 32
    Lucy

    Evan, I wanted to know your thoughts on something. Do you think how someone’s parents relate to each other has a huge impact on how they conduct romantic relationships later in life? If there is some negative influence, can this be mitigated? 

    As far as reinforcing stereotypes goes, this seems to be a pretty big factor.

    I think being aware of equal roles can hide the subtleties of what actually goes on in a relationship. A couple can play the traditional roles of the man as breadwinner and the woman staying at home but it does not mean that the woman is being oppressed and that the couple don’t respect each other. It’s only what works well for them together. Equally, I don’t think men deserve the bad rep for choosing to be at home with the children. I don’t see people having different ideas of roles as a huge problem unless they are projecting their own expectations onto other people, which unfortunately happens a lot. 

    I have to commend you for your blog because reading it has really empowered me. All this stereotyping just shows how easy it is to blame your own misfortune on what other people are doing. 

  3. 33
    Lauren

    I think it depends on what you believe and focus on.  If you learn from your past about what you don’t want in relationships, then write down what you do want and focus on that.  Believe that an amazing, understanding partner will find you and you find them.  Also looking for the good in others helped too or looking at it from their point of view.  They obviously get upset for a reason too, just like we get upset.  That’s just my thoughts :-)

  4. 34
    Francesca

    The other day I asked my boyfriend this

    “what percentage of the time when I get upset are you confused as to why I am upset”

    The answer was 70%, 70%! I wouldn’t blame him if he thought I was crazy with stats like that. When he’s upset/grumpy I ALWAYS know why, I can usually predict it as well from the events of the day.  

    I don’t think stereotypes are a bad thing, stereotypes by their very nature are intrinsically true. They have helped me understand myself and others so much more. 

    In my case I can’t deny the emotional/moody stereotype. My boyfriend has to deal with it probably once every 4 weeks or so. I used to be worried about getting upset in front of the guys I dated. I was so grateful that I’d found someone who could just hold me when I got upset.  I love him for it.

  5. 35
    RW

    LOL, Francesca!  I’m pretty sure the statistic would apply to my husband as well.  I haven’t asked him yet but I’m certain of the answer.  On the other hand, when he’s upset I know the cause 90% of the time.  The other 10% is easily guessed.  I’m not sure whether I should flatter myself by thinking I’m better at reading him or if he should flatter himself by thinking that he communicates more clearly.  It’s probably a bit of both!

    To your point about learning from stereotypes, completely agreed.  I want him to read my mind and respond accordingly without my having to fly a big, red “I’m upset flag.”  He says I’m not clear in the lead up to my anger and I send mixed signals.  Classic embodiment of stereotypes, I guess even though otherwise we are not very stereotypical at all.

  6. 36
    Michael17

    I used the expression “not in touch with masculinity/femininity” to get at a concept that frankly, I am having a tough time getting words around.

    There are a lot of great guys who don’t really have what some might call the “problem” characteristics that many men tend to have. They are emotionally literate, great conversationalists, considerate, clean up after themselves, not avid sports-watchers, and on top of that, smart, financially secure, reasonably “confident” (whatever that means) and good-looking too. And yet these men struggle to get second dates–they seem to hear “you’re a great guy but no chemistry” way too often. 

    I was thinking of guys such as these when I used the phrase “not in touch with his masculinity”. But that’s not really fair. He might be very much in touch with his masculinity. But women are quick to write this guy off, even with all he has going for him. What is going on?

  7. 37
    Michael17

    Analogously, there are a lot of wonderful girls who don’t have a lot of the “problem” characteristics that many women have. They are low-maintenance, even-keel, logical, say what they mean and mean what they say (when they say “nothing” they really mean “nothing”!), like watching sports, and even could be good-looking. And yet these girls rarely get asked out–guys seem to always overlook them.

    I was thinking about girls such as these when I used the phrase “not in touch with her femininity”. But that’s not really fair either. Who knows what her inner world is like or what she is actually like in a relationship?

    It’s different from girl to girl, but this is my take as what is going on. I like it when a woman has a feminine fashion sense about her. Across the coffee shop from me there is this girl in black workout tights and flip-flops, with freshly-painted toe-nails. I also like it when a woman giggles a lot and has a voice full of emotion. She knows how to lower it to draw you in. 

    I’m sure some people reading this blog are going to be offended. I do try to tell it as I see it, even if it pisses some people off.

  8. 38
    runnergirl

    Okay I’ll bite, although I usually just read and don’t post. I’m just overwhelmed by the stereotypes. How about the fireman who posts that he has a fire down below. Shouldn’t he know how to put it out since he is a fireman? He expects me to deal with his fire down below? I teach anthropology, I don’t no nothing about fires. How about the guy who tells me that the aliens built the pyramids? He doesn’t just “tell me”, he TELLS ME! Then there’s the guy who insists that we evolved from chimps. I try to explain that if we evolved from chimps, they wouldn’t still exist. To no avail. The specific guys I’ve encountered know everything about everything. This is the first time I’ve ventured out of my little ivory tower and I’m aghast. I’m totally in awe. I’ve been lectured to and told the way it is by too many guys to count and I’ve only been online for 90 days. Maybe I shouldn’t reveal that I teach Anthropology? Maybe I shouldn’t reveal that I’m an attorney? Maybe I should get off-line? I make a concerted effort not to be challenging but I get nothing but defensive males who need to put me in my place…where ever that is! Sheesh. Even when their online profiles say they are looking for an intelligent woman, they slam me.

  9. 40
    Clare

    Michael # 37

    It’s an interesting point that you make. My best friend is probably the coolest person I’ve ever met – bright, sweet, no drama whatsoever, completely straight down the line, self-sufficient and independent with many of her own interests, yet very caring. She’s pretty too. Guys and girls alike adore her, but she is always passed over for girlfriend status.

    My theory about this is that she is actually too independent. Whilst you love spending time with her, you don’t get the feeling like she needs you at all. She just seems so self-contained, and whilst she says she longs for a relationship, she seems perfectly happy with her life as is.

    I believe that a big part of someone falling in love with you and committing to you has to do with them being able to picture their life with you in it, and of how you would compliment one another’s lives. No matter how independent you are, people get into relationships to get what they cannot provide for themselves and to provide that for the other person. The idea of “not needing” anyone is a bit of a myth… and if it really is true for you, don’t be surprised if other people keep a little bit of a distance ;)

  10. 41
    Heather

    @ Clare,

    Well that could be a good point there.  I became VERY independent over the last few years and I made it clear, without bashing a fellow over the head, that I have a good life and don’t need anyone to “complete me” to quote from a famous film.  I’ve become very happy with my life, my friends, my books, and I recently adopted a kitten.  I’m busy with my buddies, helping my family and dealing with a seriously ill parent.  So it’s not like I “need” a guy.

    Plus, unfortunately, there are a number of guys, NOT all, but a number of them, who say they like to help a woman in distress but as soon as she starts to lean on him in her time of need, he vanishes or gets resentful, and it’s happened to me with my ex husband, and with an ex boyfriend, so I just learned not to lean on any man I had a relationship with.

    I may have come across as “too” independent to some guys, but hey, I wasn’t going to chance having that thrown right back in my face, leaning on a guy in a bad time and then hearing……”You’re too needy.”

  11. 42
    Michael17

    Clare #40:

    I feel for your best friend. Just as I can relate to those guys who have all these things going for them and yet can’t hold a woman’s interest (I’ve been that type of guy and TBH I still feel that I am that way sometimes).

    Dating is in many ways more painful for them. That they have all these things going for them and yet they STILL can’t keep a woman’s or man’s interest despite all that, actually hurts more than getting passed over because you’re not tall enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, in shape enough, or rich enough. That you have all these great things going for you and yet you STILL struggle in dating tends to get you to think that there is something deeply, fundamentally wrong with YOU.

  12. 43
    Julia

    @Clare and @Michael The thing about someone who supports themselves is that, by a certain point in your life, you kinda have to be able to support yourself. I am 31 and I’ve never even lived with a partner, I have to support myself, there really isn’t another option. Would a man rather be with a 31 year old woman who still lives at home and allows her parents to support her? I should hope not. Just because I don’t need a man to pay my rent or call a mechanic when my car needs repairs doesn’t mean I don’t want and need men for other things, like companionship, to father my children, etc.

  13. 44
    Erinlee

    Someone commented that insecure men suppress their feminine qualities, I’m going to have to disagree with that.  Men suppress their feminine qualities, because that’s what society has raised us to believe is proper.  Even as children boys are tought to be tough, not cry, etc., while girls are are treated more tenderly and encouraged to share their feelings.  The lists overall are pretty accurate as far as how many and women are perceived but every person is going to be different, more of this less of that.  I view it with humor, there is not a list in the world that could accurately describe every man, and every woman.

  14. 45
    Mia

    Michael – given how many people I see all the time who are fat, ugly, eccentric, awkward, or whatever who have found love, I doubt there is anything really wrong with the people you describe. The problem is that they may be on the wrong track. There are several mating tracks – on one, people who are  simple, average looking, and look for nice mates who share their values often get married by their 20s and never played the field much. The other track is filled with picky people who like games, strategies, drama, looks, and wealth. Sometimes the simple, normal people do not want to get married right away after college, though, and they unwittingly wind up on the second track filled with people who crave dysfunction and can never be happy. 

  15. 46
    miskwa

    Evan
    You forgot a couple; men cannot multitask to save their lives, women cannot stick to doing one thing at a time. Men tend to be sloppy, women, anal retentively neat, men are visual and spatial, women verbal. A lot of steroetyping is just that but some is because male/female brains are wired differently. Together, we complement each other but we must understand how the other works. In addition to that, all of these traits are on a continuum (well maybe not the multitasking part). I know lots of men who are great empathizers (my ex was one), and some women who don’t wanna hear about it. The “rebound” thing has always been a BIG problem. Yep, men are designed to “get over it, forget her” and move on fast. Women aren’t, period. we tend to grieve, process the loss, figure out what went wrong, maybe move on which, in the case of a really bad breakup, years. The problem w/ rebounding is that the guy often hasn’t dealt with or processed his loss and being used as a rebound aint fun.

  16. 47
    Clare

    @ Heather and Julia

    Yeah, I know. I happen to be a particularly independent woman myself. I’ve looked after myself for the majority of my life and it’s comfortable for me to be that way. Guys who want to coddle me and make all my decisions for me tend to have me cringeing in horror! ;)

    Some guys are not comfortable with that, and that’s ok. Rather than trying to change myself I found a guy who let me have all the independence I desired, but was still there for me.

    Because I’m an independent person in a relationship though, I still find I have to consciously give myself reminders to “be part of the team” – make decisions as a couple, allow him to do things for me, show vulnerability. It’s something I have to consciously remind myself of.

  17. 48
    Kurt

    Clare (#40), I have heard that “too independent” argument mentioned as to why certain women get passed over for relationships.  However, I suspect that the women who claim to be very independent go on dates and behave aloof or somewhat disinterested and the men who date them simply give up because they think that the woman either isn’t putting forth enough effort or they assume that the woman isn’t interested in them. 
    From a man’s perspective I can tell you that sometimes women will go out on dates with men whom they either don’t like or don’t like that much and no man wants to waste his time and money on a woman who isn’t that into him.  So for me personally if I get the feeling that a woman isn’t putting forth enough effort or doesn’t seem interested enough, I will stop asking the woman out. 

  18. 49
    Fusee

    @ Clare #40/47 and Heather #41:
     
    Interesting developement of this thread! As an independant woman myself and yet relatively easily attracting LTR-minded men, I can confirm that finding a balance between independance and interdependence is crucial when interested in growing a harmonious, solid, and happy long-term relationship.
     
    Re: independence: I’m 33 and I’ve lived by myself for ten years (through graduate school and a few non-cohabiting LTRs), purchased a condo at 26 on my own, spent the last ten years in two different foreign countries, traveled the world alone including stints in Australia, Guatemala, and a long one in India, trained myself in various skills from martial arts to social dancing, from foreign languages to Asian massage techniques, have been volunteering in the health care field for the last four years, and I could go on and on. When I really want to do it, I go for it and do not wait for a man to make it happen for me, or for a female friend to give me company. My emotional support system is made of family members and female friends who are dependable, truthful, and loyal.
     
    And yet I can yield. When single I support myself 100%. When starting a relationship, I allow the new partner to fullfil a progressively increasing % of my ongoing needs + a part of the new needs that the relationship creates. I show my vulnerabilities. I talk about my regrets and dreams. I express my gratitude for help and support I do not receive when single. And I start all of this early. On date #1. A relationship requires sharing vulnerabilities. And we are all vulnerable about something.
     
    However the % of needs that I let my partner progressively cover will never exceed 20-33% depending on the needs. Intellectually I am still independent and the guy “knows” it, but emotionally and logistically as I become part of a team and start to actively cultivate an interdependent relationship, the guy “feels” the reality – and the pleasure – of fulfilling some of my needs without experiencing pressure of facing unresonnable expectations. He is needed and appreciated, but he has not become the rescuer of a lost soul and knows that I’ll be fine if he chooses to walk away. I’ll just take my 20-33% back and take care of those myself again.
     
    And this balance works great!

  19. 50
    Mia

    I agree that independence is not a problem for women in attracting relationships, but it depends how you come off. There are certain women who come off as materialistic, too busy to see a guy more than once a week, who come off as boasting of their accomplishments and intelligence, and seem a little cold. Showing vulnerability is really important, and so is being soft and welcoming and appreciative. None of that means you have to play dumb and dependent. 

  20. 51
    Clare

    Hey Fusee

    I agree very much with your approach. I do the same thing myself. I know I’m *able* to take care of myself, but I listen out for the things he likes to do as a team and I do those. And I accept (and appreciate!) the support that I get, enjoying that it makes my life a bit easier.

    I do think as an independent woman it’s important to be with the right person. A man who respects and likes that independent quality. It has been for me anyway. It’s never going to completely gel with some men, and I’ve no doubt there are some men who might find me a little aloof or cool or independent for their taste. That’s ok.

    I do think as an independent woman, even with an independent man, it’s important to make a conscious effort to make the guy feel valued and as though you are interested, and to show affection, warmth and vulnerability.

  21. 52
    Michael17

    When I made my comments, I wasn’t talking about how “independent” a woman is per se. I know some very independent women who come across as both strong AND feminine.

    Just as Nice Guys have trouble creating attraction, so do Women Who Are Too Logical. I don’t think I’d want to date a girl where I’d be the emotional one in the relationship.

    The book “Way Of The Superior Man” by David Deida illustrates what I am getting at here. Some of his writing is a tad woo-woo, but he explains masculinity, femininity, and the polarity between the two quite well.  

  22. 53
    Lelya

    So why can’t we understand each other? Why can’t we hear each other when we speak the same language? How do we lead our discussions and take part in the dialogs? Are we really so different?

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