Men are primitive. Women are complex. Origin of this reasoning?

Do women really believe this nonsense? Where do you get it?
Salaam. A

I’ve often wondered about this myself. I’d guess that the shibboleth of “men are simple, women impossible to understand” gained traction sometime in the twentieth century. Before that, wasn’t it more common to argue that women were shallow and superficial and weren’t capable of grasping the high ideas that motivated men?

In any case, the “men simple, women complicated” theme in my experience is invoked at least as much by men as by women. If I were cynical, I might think that there was some strategy in this: a man who says that women are too complex for men to understand is a man who has just excused himself from having to try to understand them.

Testosterone poisoning. We can’t help it, its just the way the Goddess made us. We would be happiest running through the forest naked, peeing on trees. And the world might well be a better place.

There are two words that mark the advancement of a male from dangerous child to tamed adult: “Yes, dear.”

luc: Testosterone poisoning. We can’t help it, its just the way the Goddess made us. We would be happiest running through the forest naked, peeing on trees.

See? See? It’s the guys who seem to dig this peculiar idea that men are basically simple primitive critters and women are some kind of more highly organized life-form. (Unless luc is whooshing us here.) I really have no idea why or when some men started to think this way.

Personally, I think I’d be happiest running through the forest naked, picking the fruits and berries and swimming under the waterfalls. But I’ve never tried to extrapolate from that a generalization that women are just simple primitive critters much easier to understand than those complicated men.

I think you may be on to something here, Kimstu :eek: .

Aldebaran, I have know lots of complex, multi-layered women, but I’ve know plenty of men who fit that description, too. On the other side of the coin, I have known loads of shallow, uncomplicated women. I think the attitude you’re questioning is just another snarky comment that was made somewhere in time (possibly by a comedian or day-time self-help guru) and stuck.

So…no. I am a woman, and I do not believe such reasoning has a universal application.

I just made a post in GD! Save me!

I don’t know, I can see a connection between the idea that men are simple brutes and women are complex relating back to ideas about “the fairer sex” that are much older.

A lot of people believe that nonsense and it starts at a young age. The prevailing wisdom is that girls mature faster then boys. I don’t personally believe this to be true because in my experience teenage girls are just as likely to make boneheaded decisions as teenage boys. “He loves me!”


How old is the nursery rhyme What little boys are made of / What littel girls are made of? Remember that boys are made of 3 specific things? Girls on the other hand are made of “Everything nice!” I think it goes back a bit farther than the 20th century.

Myself, I never believed it. Until my daughter was born, that is. My world view was rocked so foundationally that I was not sure of anything for a while. I still don’t buy that girls are complex while boys are simple. But I think it is true enough that there are sufficient differences that from a certain point of view it might seem that way.

Technology isn’t magic, but a sufficient technological difference is indistinguishable from the difference between magic and reality.

It’s anyone who finds it appealing. The fact that you can find plenty of men who espouse that particular view, does not mean there aren’t as many women. I wonder if you’re not drawing conclusions from a questionable data set. I’ve certainly encountered it from women a number of times, and in fact, I seem to recall hearing it from women more often than men. Clearly, at least one of us is wrong, and it wouldn’t particularly surprise me if we’re both suffering from confirmation bias :).

Oh sure, the “girls sweet and dainty/boys rough and dirty” theme has been around a long time, but I’m not sure that’s the same as the idea that women are fundamentally more complex than men.

Sofis: * The fact that you can find plenty of men who espouse that particular view, does not mean there aren’t as many women. *

Quite right, I wasn’t seriously trying to argue from a sample space of 1 that we can conclude that this is more of a guy thing.

In fact, from a little bit of googling on “men are simple”, I came across a number of connections between this idea and contemporary “postfeminism” or antifeminism. The theme seems to be especially strong in Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s advice manual The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands:

At least one male reviewer differs:

I’m gonna guess that this “men are simple, women are complex” theme, though it doubtless has roots in older ideas (“what do women want?”, etc.), is actually a quite recent development, perhaps originating in anti-feminist thinking.

The human heart is a dark, dark forest (to quote some gloomy Russian dude ,and he wasn’t referring exclusively to one sex). Things can get awfully murky on both sides, even if the foliage differs substantially.

Be forewarned, I’ve got an electric fence.

Yes, but specifically, men are compose of 2 or 3 specific things while girls are composed of “Everything nice”. I emphasize the everything.

I would be very interested in your proof of this. The only context I have every heard this meme in is definately not an anti feminist context. I admit I am somewhat sheltered and twisted, so this may just be my perceptions.

Some men at least do think that they do know best, and that in a **christian ** marriage women should be obedient to their husbands - even to the point of giving up work outside the home if their husbands asked them. I heard Jerry Falwell and one of his mates spouting on about this on TV today. It reminded me of guys I used to hear talking nostalgically of the days when ‘a woman knew her place’ , and that this place was ‘barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen’. A friend of mine in the late 1980’s still had to ask her husband for the money to buy a new pair of panties - so I think some men want ownership, not partnership, in a marriage. I don’t know if that makes them more simple than women - maybe they act dominant at home to make up for feeling inferior in other parts of their lives.

Women are physically weaker than men so one tries to find an area where they are “superior” to reconcile the innate gender imbalance. And since they arent smarter than males, they’re given some murkily defined attribute like emotional complexity.

But don’t some women feel this way as well? I don’t mean in the barefoot in the kitchen way, but in the I’m the most important thing in the world way?

I’m not sure that wanting to have power over one’s SO is a particularly male or female trait. It is simply human. I can agree that men and women will tend to go about it differently. Perhaps differently enough that there is some qualitative characteristic I am missing.

Seriously, dude - I wouldn’t try to make any generalizations about men based on anything Jerry Falwell said. Why don’t you pick someone a little less controversial, like…Hitler or Stalin? And no, saying “some” doesn’t mitigate your poor choice.

I’m sure with a bit of work you could trace this idea back a very long way, but I think you can look to the nineteenth century for our inheritance of this idea.

The Industrial Revolution “invented” the of the middle class. One of the things that came along with that was the wife who neither worked, as the wives or farmers or tradesmen did or were members of the upper classes. So developed a peculiarly middle class ideal of women as the “Angel of the Home”. Woman as a superior moral force to correct and ameliorate the rigours and corruption of the outside world (public sphere), to act as moral guides and civilise their families through their special “womanly gifts”.

The Victorians spent a lot of time convincing women that their their very specialness rendered them too fragile to work, get an education, live independently, or do anything outside the home. So by stressing women’s “special by virtue of being a woman” moral character, which would be corrupted if women stepped outside the private sphere of home, society neatly managed to cut women out of economic and political power, not to mention making women responsible for such things as managing male sexuality.

You can see the same thread in some of the early suffragette movements, where the female vote was marketed as a way of reforming society with the superior moral force of women. Some early female politicians campaigned on the basis that the superior moral character of women was necessary in government.

And some parts of the feminist movements have bought into this by the argument that more women in the workforce would “civilise” it.

This is a pretty rough characterisation of a much more complex subject, but if you’re interested you might look at John Ruskin for a contemporary (i.e. nineteenth centry) articulation this idea.

pervert replied to me: *“I’m gonna guess that this ‘men are simple, women are complex’ theme […] is actually a quite recent development, perhaps originating in anti-feminist thinking.”
I would be very interested in your proof of this. *

You’ll wait a long time for a proof of a guess, you simple boy, you. :wink:

I think most of us grew up being told that the American frontier was a wild and crazy frat party until the wives and mothers showed up and civilization flowed across the prairies. The implication was that no matter how strong, intelligent, brave, resourceful or creative the men were, they would happily live in anarchy and debauchery until forced to grow up and behave responsibly. So as we grew up, we women looked around and saw that, yes, many guys acted like total boys until they finally fell in love and got married and settled down. And since settling down made them even more productive and creative and resourceful, we women felt we had done a good thing for society. Therefore we began to think, rightly or wrongly, that we were a bit more complex than the guys because we had figured this out and the guys hadn’t. And every woman married to a captain of industry knew the secret boy inside her husband, and wondered how he had gotten himself up and dressed before she came along. And she passed that knowledge down to her daughters…the guys need us. And we need them. Seemed like a pretty good system.

I’d be interested in that proof too, specifically because the ‘men are simple/women are complex’ view is one that I’ve seen from so many feminist sources, such as NOW and Ms. Magazine.