I was reading a thread on a different board where posters were sharing experiences of woo-woo* people in their lives, and it became apparent from that limited data set that woo-woo women outnumber woo-woo men by an order of magnitude. Is this an accurate sample? In my own experience I’ve met a number of atheist men, but very few atheist women. It seems that women are much more tuned in to spiritual matters overall.
If this is so, how come?
*Woo-woo: People who believe in horoscopes, healing crystals, fung shui, angels, past lives, Elvis, and depending on your outlook, God. Belief that flowers have feelings. Doubts about the Apollo missions. Use of tarot cards. That sort of thing.
It’s been noted at least for centuries, at least in Western societies, that women tend to be more religious than men, more into religious devotion and prayer, etc. And they’ve also been considered more superstitious. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see those trends carrying over into gender patterns in “woo-woo”.
Certainly, women have traditionally had a lot less access to, and encouragement in, education and careers than men had, particularly in the sciences. So you would expect women to have a lot less of the “anti-superstition” or “anti-mystical” mindset that often comes with scientific training.
Oddly enough, I’m not sure the male tendency to greater rationalism persists among all-male groups. Look at how superstitious pro sports players traditionally are, with their “lucky shirts” and talismans and stuff. And the superstitions and omens of soldiers in the field have been commented on by military leaders at least since the ancient Romans.
Oh, and I’d be inclined to suspect that the gender balance in “woo-woo” beliefs is strongly influenced by the technological or political components of the beliefs in question. Does somebody believe that crystal vibrations can cure their headache? Probably female. Does somebody believe that a new type of fuel-line magnet super-ionizes the gasoline molecules to vastly improve the efficiency of fuel combustion and therefore gas mileage and that Detroit has been successfully suppress this research for years? Probably male.
I know my share of hippies and hippie-types. I’d probably have to do a poll - mental, of course - to get a fix on things, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the proportion of ‘spacy’ women is higher. I also know plenty of atheists and agnostics, and more of those are men for sure.
If I’m listening to someone talk about crystals, horoscopes, or fung shui, the person talking tends to be a woman. But “I can’t possibly do ____ without my lucky hat,” “The moon landing is a hoax,” most overly involved conspiracy theories, or “The tin foil needs to be shiny side out or it doesn’t block the signals” tend to be things I hear from men.
Huh. I have long used that exact term to refer to the type of drunk female teens and twenties at various Spring Break/Mardi Gras/what-have-you events that ride around in the back of pick-ups flashing their boobs and going: “Woo! Woo!”
Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the above :D.
In my experience, I’ve seen about equal proportion, just different ways to go about being a flake. The ladies certainly look good in the fliers doing the lotus position, but I’ve known a couple “shamanists” and/or “ethnobotanists” who were all about tripping their way to the great spirit in the sky or whatever. I’ve learned here on the Dope this practice could be called “researching entheogens”. Uh huh. Initially I wanted to dismiss these guys as pathetically searching for an excuse to do huge amounts of drugs and call it a “vocation”, but I was wrong. They really felt this was their quest, their way to get in touch with the the spirits or whoever.
I’d say the ladies want to medidate and crystalize and commune with the spirits through quiet contemplation. The guys want to hammer their brains with hallucinogens, or otherwise abuse themselves with ritual mortification and “vision questing” types of behavior. It’s like the logical marriage of New Age mysticism with Men are from Mars, etc. They guys are all about spiritual athleticism, if you will, the gals take the gentler approach.
Another point. Surely you have seen the nutty claims for women’s “age-defying” cosmetics? We’re talking a multibillion dollar industry that dwarfs the (highly marginalized) metrosexual craze.
Ever see a 45-year-old woman stuff herself into the latest slimming girdle, pantyhose, and WonderBra thinking they make her look like a hot twentysomething? Add to that all the women-centered diet crazes and exercise videos with preposterous claims.
Suspension of disbelief combined with equal portions of superstitition, ignorance, denial and desperation are powerful drivers indeed.
It almost all comes down to perceived control over your environment
The less control you appear to have over your environment, in terms of predictability and or influence, the more superstitious you become. This is why science has traditionally been a mitigating influence on superstition - it gives you both a mental sense of being more in control, because you understand what’s happening, and that understanding can help you influence what actually happens.
A secondary influence is cultural, as many superstitions are handed down through generations. This has also caused the rift between men and women, because traditionally women were often less in control of their lives (less power). Even when this power is balancing out, it will take a little while before it equals out in terms of superstition - but you can see things changing in societies where education levels are more equal between men and women.
Anyway, that’s how I see it. I’m not sure of course. In fact, I think I need to consult my special lucky dice and cast them for a percentage of likelihood that I was right. Hey, two sixes!
Forgot to mention that in the case of two examples given above, sports charms and the belief in age-defying cosmetics, we have two perfect examples over a situation where people are in an environment that pressures them highly on areas they don’t have full control over: winning a game, in which especially results between closely matched opponents can be influenced a lot by luck, and the aging proces versus the pressure of looking good and young (which women put on themselves more than anyone else if you ask me)