16 August 2010

Whose Side Are You On?

Tonight my cousin asked me an interesting question:  Whose side am I on?
He told me that a female friend is indecisive.  “Typical female,” he sighed.

“Hey, watch it!” I said, only partly in jest.

“Oh, I’m sorry. But you know what I mean…”

I did.  I understand why he would see his friend, or us, as unable to make up our minds.  But, I must admit, I was like that even before I took my first doses of Premarin and Spironolactone.

And I understand how he, or any other male, could see us as indecisive.  I know it’s dangerous to generalize about either gender, but I have come to see that women and men have different perceptions of time and the fixedness of any decision or action.  I also believe that women have more fluid perceptions about time—specifically, about what constitutes the past and present—than men have.

What that means is that a woman’s perceptions—and the conclusions she reaches—about time and events, and about a specific time and event, can change much more quickly and readily than a man’s.  Men tend to hold to whatever view they have or specific incidents or their world generally more steadfastly, and for longer, than women will hold to theirs.  That, I think, is the reason why men have a harder time with the end of, or any unexpected change in, their careers than women have.

I used to think that these differences had to do with the way males and females were acculturated.  Men are inculcated with the idea that changing their minds is indecision, which is a form of weakness.  And, supposedly, women want their men to be strong. On the other hand, women learn that in being confident in their observations and the opinions they form from them, they are being too aggressive and therefore not nurturing—which makes them undesirable to men.

Later, I would come to believe that female “indecisiveness” was bred in their bones—or, at least, a result of their anatomy.  Specifically, I thought it might have to do with women’s menstrual cycles.  After all, when one is at the mercy of a function of one’s body for a few days of each month, I could see how one would see life as dictated by caprice, and would not see much as dependable.

But now I feel that the female conception of the space-time continuum, and of the events within it, is controlled at least somewhat by the big “E”.  Yes, our willingness and sometimes compulsion to change our minds is a biochemical reality.  As to why that might be, I don’t know. 

I have done no formal research into what I’ve just described.  I’m not any sort of scientist, and I am just barely an intellectual of any kind—if indeed I am one.  So, I have nothing to confirm my claims but my own observations and experiences.

But, back to my cousin’s question.  I told him that while I have always felt like a female, and was more willing and able to sympathise with the points of view other women held.  On the other hand, I may still better understand the ways and thought patterns of men, simply because I lived as one for so long.  That is not to say that I agree with men’s views, much less like some of the things they do to each other and to women.  I just understand them a little better, I think—perhaps as a result of my experiences with and as a man.