Gender generalizations - Like 'em or Loathe 'em

I see this in some places, occasionally on the Dope, and I wondered if there was a gender divide in discussing gender generalizations.

I’ll admit it, I loathe 'em. I don’t think there is anything to learn from generalizations, other than how to reinforce stereotypes and prejudices. There’s just so much variability between people in such a large group, especially a group that is not chosen, that it seems pointless.

[li]Women are great empathizers - not me. [/li][li]Women talk during tv shows - that’s my husband, not me.[/li][li]Men don’t notice when women change their hair style/cut/color - that’s me, not the husband.[/li][li]Men can’t remember special dates (bday, anniversary, etc) - again that’s me, not the husband.[/li][li]I could go on all day, especially if I widened the anecdotes to include more people.[/li][/ul]

So ladies and gentlemen of the Dope, do you like/dislike/don’t care about generalizations?

I don’t think any gender generalizations are valid. Only women think such things.

I know there are only a handful of votes but it is breaking down exactly how I thought. Women don’t like them, men don’t care. You apathetic men. :slight_smile:

Apathetic? Me? I’ll have you know that I’m the opposite: completely pathetic, like most men.

If there were no gender generalizations, whatever would happen to comic strips, TV shows, and movies?

I think some generalizations are basically true. Studies do show that there are differences in brain structure, that women are better, generally, at X, while men are better, generally, at Y, etc. However, I don’t like it when men* or* women use those differences to claim superiority, or even when people imply that *all women are like this or that all *men are like that.

So far its shaking out the way I expected it. Not sure if I am amused or annoyed. :wink:

I think they can be useful to a degree, and I am someone who most certainly doesn’t fit any kind of male generalization:

*I have no interest in sports. I don’t care about football, March Madness, baseball, hockey, rugby, cricket, curling, …

*I am not interested in fixing things around the house that I know I don’t have the expertise for.

*I will ask for directions when I’m lost and without my TomTom

*I don’t have any interest in cars beyond making sure mine works properly. I don’t change my own oil, or read hot rod magazines, or wish to build my own car someday

*I don’t really care about audio systems

*I don’t adore red meat.


*I am most definitely attracted to women…mmmm…women

*I love action/adventure video games

*I enjoy thrillers and psychological horror flicks

As a statistician, I’ve become comfortable with using generalizations appropriately. It’s difficult to predict single cases, but there are most certainly aggregate trends that can be useful.

Useful at times, and I can’t think of anyone who really doesn’t use them. (Example: a guy who truly “loathes 'em” would give the same strength of handshake to men and women, something nobody does.)

The self-righteous, usually hypocritical claim that there are no differences between men and women, on the other hand, does piss me off.

So, your gender stereotype that women don’t like gender stereotypes, while men don’t care, is being confirmed here :slight_smile:

I guess some gender generalizations do have predictive power, eh? :smiley:

My take about generalizations re categories of people is that - love them or hate them - pretty well everyone uses them at one time or another.

I like 'em and find them useful.

I think to vote otherwise is to use too narrow a definition of generalizations. Your OP jumps straight to the minutia or gender like “talking during TV shows” but skips over the huge, almost universal generalizations that actually are valid. OK, so a lot of men don’t like sports…but I bet almost all of them don’t wear skirts. And I’ve never heard of a woman proposing marriage to a man. Generalizations like that allow us to predict behavior of others in our society. If we lacked these broad constructs for behavior, it’d be like living in a foreign country without any social awareness at all.

How are they useful, though? Well, think of a host of a party. He knows that 10 men are coming and only 3 women. He’ll buy mostly beer for the party and maybe a bottle of something else, because generally, men like beer. The party happens and for the most part, the generalization works out. The men drink the beer while the women drink their mixed drinks.

And what happens to the guy that doesn’t like beer, because he wasn’t ever socialized in that way? Contrary to what some anti-gender people would say, he’s not mocked and shunned. He’s not ostracized from the rest of the males. He’s just thirsty.
Now I realize my example isn’t the best, but you can see my point, right? Saying “The host should just ask what everyone wants!” means you’ve missed the point.

Female, dislike. Possibly because I tend to fall outside a lot of the typical female ones. Yes, you can make observations about where men or women tend to fall on a particular bell curve, but that will never tell you what a specific person is like. So when you say “women are like this,” and I’m not, in a way, it’s like you’re saying I’m not really a woman because I’d rather play WoW with a beer in hand then watch Lifetime while I cry into a Sea Breeze.

Hey, what a shock–someone made up a hypothetical that supports their position! Personally, I’d much rather have a good beer or a glass of wine than some sweet, sticky mixed drink, and I know a lot of other women who feel the same way. If you had to choose between taking my friend Emmy to a martini bar or on a brewery tour for her birthday, based on the fact that she’s female, you’d have guess wrong. Guess what kinds of things we’ve done the past two years? Hint: it’s not the martini bar.

Actually I would say that my suspicion that there is a gender divide in our like vs. dislike is being confirmed, but there are enough differences that I still think that talking about gender generalizations is pretty useless.

In my mind, there is a big difference between these two questions:
Why don’t women like gender generalizations?
Do you like gender generalizations (please identify your gender)?

One is a blanket assumption couched as a question. The other is a legitimate question in order to understand. More of the latter and less of the former would please me to no end.

The results of this poll suggest to me that most women would prefer it if men acted more like women. It’s like the Doper women are going “If only they’d just drop the macho facade and just act like a real person (aka woman)”.

Not an assertion, just a suspicion.

No! you are completely missing the point. The point is to quit generalizing.

Chessic sense should act like Chessic Sense and expect otternell to act like otternell. If you don’t know otternell enough to know how otternell should act then don’t make assumptions. Enough men answered that way to make it a gender neutral expectation.

Don’t care.

Other aspects of my identity are generalised or stereotyped all the time (nationality, upbringing, age, lifestyle etc). I often find these generalisations silly and/or unhelpful but rarely harmful or worth troubling myself over.

I agree with Chessic Sense’s and I basically feel like like generalizations get blamed for a lot of things because people use them badly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. The main thing is that there are a lot of useful generalizations that usually hold true over a fair number of individuals but may fail on just a few.

A simple example is that men are taller/bigger than women, and I don’t think that anyone will dispute that. Obviously, there are countless examples of women that are tall or short and skinny men, but they’re exceptions, and as the number of samples go up, the less those examples matter. This information is useful in many ways. For instance, imagine we’re hosting a charity event for Breast Cancer, I’d probably order more t-shirts in the smaller sizes than if I were hosting a charity event for Prostate Cancer. OTOH, if I’m meeting just a handful of people, assuming that the women will necessarily fit into the smaller sizes and the men will fit in larger sizes and order accordingly could easily leave a couple people without a good fit.

These sorts of things carry for other examples too. If I’m around a lot of guys, chances are sports or technology are a pretty safe things to discuss that will likely interest most of them. If I’m in the company of a lot of women, I’ll probably avoid sports unless they’re somehow relevant.

And beyond that, these sorts of things are an integral part of our culture. Consider, even for men that do well with dates, aren’t afraid to ask for directions, or are comfortable with expressing their emotions, because the generalizations are the opposite, anyone will still get a joke or story that references those generalizations.

The only way I see them being annoying or bad is if someone says that because I’m a man I must automatically be or not be something, and even then, it really only bothers me if it’s something I’d consider bad.

I think the generalizations are true and useful. And finding the exceptions to the rules is fun.

I loathe gender generalizations so much that I’m not going to answer a public poll asking my gender.