debbie millman

Friday, May 05, 2006

Commentary: Balls Said The Queen

boys and girls
Originally uploaded by debbiemillman.
In 2003, scientists decoding the human genome discovered that only 78 genes separated men from women, the pesky little Y chromosome that divides the men from us girls. But since the beginning of recorded time, humans have been trying to figure out not only why men and women are different but how. Plato defined love as passion aroused by beauty. Plato believed the pathway to metaphysical ideas was a road that took him deep into the heart and depths of sensuousness. For Plato, love was essentially spiritual. In love, one entered a heavenly existence he referred to as "full sensuousness." In his "Symposium," Plato explained that love was the fundamental power that led the soul from the physical love of the body all the way up to the intellectual love of everlasting ideas. According to Plato, men and women were originally two equal halves of a spherical superior being. A more modern day philosopher of sorts, Chris Rock, sees it differently. Asking the audience in the 1999 HBO special Bigger and Blacker, “What do women want?” he answers his own question with this: “Women want compliments and lots of shoes.” And to the question, “What do men want?” he puts it rather bluntly. “Men,” he says, want this: “Feed me, fuck me and shut the fuck up.”

According to psychologist Michael Conner, “None of us would argue the fact that men and women are physically different. The physical differences are obvious and most of these can be seen and easily measured. Weight, shape, size and anatomy are not political opinions but rather tangible and easily measured. The physical differences between men and women provide functional advantages and have survival value. Men usually have greater upper body strength, build muscle easily, have thicker skin, bruise less easily and have a lower threshold of awareness of injuries to their extremities. Men are essentially built for physical confrontation and the use of force. Women on the other hand have four times as many brain cells connecting the right and left side of their brain. This physical evidence supports the observation that men rely easily and more heavily on the left brain to solve one problem, one step at a time. Women have more efficient access to both sides of their brain and therefore greater use of their right brain.”

However, a 2005 study by American Psychologist magazine found, that most intellectual differences between men and women have been vastly overstated. The publication examined 120 traits including personality, communication skills, thinking power and leadership potential and found that while there were some differences, they were mostly so small as to be statistically irrelevant.

The study found significant differences in only 22% of traits. These included sexual behavior, where men were less willing to show commitment, and in aggression — men were more prone to anger. Janet Shibley Hyde, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, who led the study, said: “Popular media has portrayed men and women as psychologically different as two planets — Mars and Venus — but these differences are vastly overestimated. The two sexes are more similar in personality, communication cognitive ability and leadership than realized.” One of the biggest and most intriguing finding was that while there were differences in sexual behavior, when it came down to love, there were actually very few differences. Men and women both wanted to be loved equally.

In researching the differences between men and women I came across a study that asked a group of children ranging 4-8 years old "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined and for the most part, they were gender agnostic. I’ll share ten of the best responses with you today:

"Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way."

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs."

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.”

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."

"Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."

And the most hopeful and optimistic response:

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

Other than the obvious exclusion of the importance of shoes and compliments, I think the children describe love rather well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great and heartfelt post Debbie! :)

Ragnar Freyr

5/05/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tania Rochelle said...

Ah, beautiful. Made my day.

5/10/2006 01:02:00 PM  

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