PAULthinksmusings by a feminist
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or “Things I’ve Learned From Reading Women’s Blogs”

Men don’t understand Women. We’re usually surrounded by examples of how it happens all the time. There were a few very popular self-help books that claimed that we speak Martian and Venusian rather than a common language. There was even a Mel Gibson movie about it! But since we actually can speak the same language, maybe a real extraterrestrial would wonder, “Why don’t you just ask each other questions?”

I like the idea of just asking people for the truth and getting it, but purposefully or not, everybody lies. We’re all trained to hide things from the opposite sex, our own gender, and ourselves.

But when we write down things in blogs, we don’t have to experience the immediate reactions of our audience and I think sometimes we reveal more that way. I’ve probably read a dozen or more different sites written by women, where the target audience is either implicitly or explicitly other women, and it’s a very different world in there. For me, anyway.

My friend “Hilarity In Shoes” asked me if I could write up what I’ve learned along the way. Most of it was just finding out that some things I got out of my college survey psychology classes were accurate. Who knew that stuff would actually be useful? But maybe you haven’t thought of some of these.

“Sometimes, talking about it is the solution.” This is the obvious one, right? I’ve heard it said that when men and women talk about something emotional, the man usually wants to offer up solutions while the woman just wants someone to listen. Blogs seem to prove that true. Not when the post is about a significant problem, but if it’s about general frustration or anxiety or a transient difficulty, just writing about it and getting supportive comments really seem to help the blogger.

“She needs a nudge to get started.” There are bloggers who are great at motivating themselves to move forward to the next thing. But even a woman with great self-esteem may find herself staring at a choice or a point of progression and suddenly doubt whether she should keep going. Even if she thinks it’s the right thing to do! Will I make this career change? Should I call this guy? Do I move to this neighborhood? Whether she’s certain or not, a little feedback on her blog could make her decide either to ignore everyone’s opinions and do what she really wants, or realize she was already on the right track and keep going with those words of support.

“She can’t see the forest for the trees.” You know when you watch a horror flick and you realize the character on screen is going to do something bad but she’s oblivious to the danger? That happens in real life, too. I’ve seen a blogger write about series of dates or series of adventures and seem unaware of any impending doom in each post. But other readers and I start pointing out the possibility of disaster because we’re not in the middle of it. Sometimes it helps to point out the pattern to her, other times it’s not going to make a difference. Either way, it shows women are susceptible to tunnel vision.

“If she believes it, it’s true.” This tends to be the case for both positive and negative ideas. Once a blogger gets her mind set on an interpretation of something, she generally doesn’t waiver. Not in the case of things where the facts can be proven one way or the other, but in matters of opinion, she takes her own as fact. “I think he’s just in it for sex” becomes “He’s just in it for sex.” … “I feel like we’re really connecting” becomes “We’re really connecting.” … “I think I did well on that job interview” becomes “I kicked ass on that job interview!” This elevation of opinion to fact can motivate women to achieve crazy difficult goals or conversely to suffer shock when things don’t turn out as they anticipated.

The more likely a woman is to get emotionally invested in a situation, the more extreme this will appear. It’s just something that’s good to know, because as far as I can tell the only way to counter this pattern is for a woman and her friends to keep her perceptions in check. Yeah, that might keep her from some sadness, but it might also keep her from really enjoying some great adventures, too. I think many women would prefer the excitement over the safety.

“Stereotypes are bullshit.” Clever, responsible, healthy women might blog about having lots of casual sex. Emotional and neurotic women might blog about making smart career choices. Introverts might blog about socializing. Women’s blogs have let me in on the fact that such-and-such people might do and think things you wouldn’t associate with them if you believed in a stereotype.

“Women don’t always pursue what they say they want.” I’ve seen blog posts about being more confident get followed by posts full of timidity. There are bloggers who say they want to date casually but then go on to assess each date for marriage potential. And conversely, I’ve read posts by women who say they want a long-term relationship, but then have one-night stands that’ll obviously go nowhere. Is there anything wrong with that discrepancy? Nope. But it’s there.

And here’s one of the most important things. It’s something that seems ridiculously obvious to me, but plenty of men seem ignorant of it, oblivious to its consequences, or so cocky that they think it won’t affect them:

“WOMEN TALK TO EACH OTHER.” They did it in school, do it over the phone, and do it face-to-face. The advent of the internet saw them doing it in chat rooms, then on livejournal, and now on twitter (just a few of the dozens of methods they use). Women tell each other about their feelings and thoughts and problems. They tell each other about great things to experience and horrible things to avoid. They give each other tips on life, love, politics, fashion, money, food, and anything you could imagine. And they talk about me and you and everybody else.

This isn’t an advice post, it’s just about my opinions and observations. But this brings me to one bit of advice that I think applies to anyone. Treat every woman with care and respect and behave as though anything you say or do to her will travel through a vast network and get to every other woman you meet. Because that actually is pretty likely. And isn’t that a good lesson to learn?

About Paul Roth

A vegetarian, agnostic, lindy-hopping, dog-loving tv-watcher who likes to read his own words.
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4 Responses to If She Believes It, It’s True

  1. SingleDC says:

    I completely agree with the stereotypes are bullshit, because while people do have over arching commonalities, none of us are the exact same in every aspect of everything. We change, we learn, we grow, and putting shy girls or outgoing men into one box automatically makes it more difficult to get to know the real them, because you’re already seeing them through the stereotype lens.

    • Paul Roth says:

      I agree!

      And yet, I’m acutely aware of the irony that my list of “lessons” might sound like declarations of stereotypes themselves. I really don’t mean that these apply to every woman, just that I saw these things here and there and I learned of new possibilities.

      But wishy-washy wording in an article isn’t very fun to read, I find. 😀

  2. Sam says:

    A lesson I’ve learned especially when relating with my spouse is that he is a unique individual. He isn’t like someone else. I don’t group him with “other men.” Every person is his own collection of thoughts, reactions and idiosyncrasies. And I expect to be treated exactly the same. Just be prepared to know absolutely nothing about someone until you do.

    • Paul Roth says:

      Everybody’s different, that’s true.
      But everybody’s also the same. That’s why applied psychology and psychiatry can actually achieve results.

      Like I said at the end, it’s not an advice post. And what I really tried to highlight was stuff I learned by explicit example that would challenge some stereotypes or intuitive notions about people.

      My hope is for two things: A person who’s foolishly thought something was always true about women in general sees what I wrote and reconsiders. Or a woman who’s been the recipient of foolish labeling sees what I wrote and thinks, yes, this would be closer to accurate about me.

      But definitely nothing I wrote is 100% right about anyone because again — everybody is different.

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