ARE MEN AND WOMEN TRULY DIFFERENT?
Samar Anand | On 05, Feb 2015
‘The differences between men and women when it comes to sexual behaviour has biological and evolutionary roots, but when we talk about smaller issues such as reading maps, evidence is not so conclusive.’
With the proliferation of content on the internet, I’m sure we’ve all read one or the other article that attempts to explain why men are different to women, and in how many ways. Usually the theory relies on some sort of evolutionary psychology – some call it psychobabble – to describe differences such as why men can’t ask for directions and women can’t read maps, why men prefer blue and women prefer pink, why boys like to play with guns and girls like to play with pink barbie dolls etc.
There have been many books written on the subject too. The most famous one – still appearing in top bestselling lists all over the world today in 2015 – is John Gray’s ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.’
But today we’re asking the question: is there any scientific evidence that suggests that men and women are inherently different to one another?
First of all, when it comes to physical differences, the evidence is conclusive. Not only are we different in ‘visible traits’ such as height, strength, agility and speed, but we’re also different in many ways internally: for example, our hormonal balances are entirely different from each other, we have different amounts of resistance to infectious diseases, our red blood cell count is different etc.
Since much of our behaviour – especially instinctive behaviour – is controlled by hormones and other chemicals in our body, it is a fair hypothesis to assume that all of the differences in our physical makeup will result in some or the other differences in behaviour.
One aspect in which there has been an overwhelming amount of evidence is in the sexual behavior of women and men. While it is impossible to tell for sure how much of the difference is cultural and how much of it is biological, it has been proved conclusively that the human female body reacts to sex physically and emotionally in a different way to the male body. Hence we see the obvious behavioural differences – men’s cavalier attitude to sex, women’s careful choosing of suitors, men’s ability to compartmentalise sex and emotion, women’s propensity to find deep psychological meaning in the act etc.
Having said this, though, much of the evidence for the ‘lesser differences’ – such as spatial awareness and the ability to read maps – is sketchy. Though the differences are present, it’s a much harder job in the case of these differences to separate the cultural from the biological and the evolutionary. Generally, people tend to latch on to the evolutionary reason because it’s simpler than to trace a line back across cultural history.
The most important thing to do, therefore, is to treat your partner as an individual and communicate with them individually. After all, they’re not ‘just a man’ or ‘just a woman’ for you, are they?