Thursday, 11 December 2008

Gender stereotypes, being a miserable bastard (purportedly), and love (lack thereof)

I suppose it isn't surprising - since it makes perfect biological sense - but it is nevertheless a source of continual amazement to me how, when it comes to the world of human attraction, that even in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, we are still stuck in an apparent pattern of very rigid gender typing.

And at the risk of igniting a cultural veritable hot potato, it does seem to be accentuated in the North vs. South thing, here in England.

As soon as you start talking about Northerners or Southerners one is immediately on shaky ground. But irrespective, it is rather a hobby of pretty much every English person, so why not ;-)

The generalisation I have personally observed - insert disclaimer here - is that people in the North tend to be more overtly gender typed than in the South. On average.

So, basically, what I'm saying is that the men up here tend to be very bloke-ish - so lots of bravado, braggadocio,  machismo, and the portrayal, in general, of a thick skin and a habit to simply laugh things up and, wherever possible, to take the piss [out of each other].

The more "feminine" qualities of empathy, support, and well, refinement, for want of a better word, are less cherished.

Now, this obviously occurs in the South too. But in my circle of acquaintances "down there" (e.g. Woking, Surrey), in comparison with up here (e.g. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne), it was noticeably less, well, overtly gender stereotyped.

There does seem to be more of a hard-drinking background up here too. I suppose it is perhaps a case of the historical working class background "dying hard".

So, to put all of the above into an example, if I'm feeling low then my circle of (male, and yes, also straight) friends down South were more inclined to try to cheer me up and offer sympathy, engage me in conversation; up here they are more likely to make jokes about my misfortunes and perhaps try to cheer me up by getting me to laugh it off.

But anyway, pointless comparisons between North and South aside, and still generally applicable to both equally, and probably the UK as a whole, this gender stereotyping reveals itself more starkly than anywhere else on a night out.

Boys have to be boys, girls have to be girls, so to speak.

What I find ironic, is that the qualities that women seem to want in terms of their behaviour - at least when they're out on a night - from their men are not what they actually seem to want when they describe what they want during (sober) conversation.

I suppose a man who espouses "alpha" qualities is perceived as having more sexual prowess and power, and of possessing more of the masculine principle; therefore they are more attractive, in general. At least initially. In terms of actually having a relationship with someone, if they are orientated towards the extreme pole of their particular gender, then this will make them more difficult in terms of compatibility for a successful stable partnership; they would probably need to be counterbalanced by someone equally as extremely orientated towards the other pole.

Still.

I'm not personally into heavy drinking, bragging, showmanship, and overt "laddishness". (And I'm not claiming that I've never done any of this in my life either, since that would be a lie).

But it is a shame that it seems to be assumed that if you don't have these characteristics, then you are less masculine (and viz., less attractive). That seems to be the common cultural gender archetype over here [in the UK].

To give an example: my idea of a good night out is a nice meal with friends and good conversation. I'd much rather have a intimate meal over a bottle of wine with a lovely woman than go on a binge drinking pub crawl getting plastered with her. Etc.

I suppose I would like to identify myself with a more "continental" archetype; slightly quiet, relatively serious, somewhat intense, philosophical, and passionate. Perhaps I am overbearing - what can I say. My favourite writers include such luminaries as Arthur Schopanhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant...

Pah. I'm probably doomed. Just because I'm a serious type doesn't mean I'm not fun. Or at least, I hope that is the case. Besides, I don't see fun and seriousness as two diametrically opposing concepts. One can have fun... seriously, surely ;-)

8 comments:

Vesper de Vil said...

I absolutely detest the alpha male type. Positively hate...can't stand.

Aren O. Týr said...

'Tis a shame there aren't more ladies that feel as you do over here then... <sigh>

Still, it is good to know that not all hope is lost for me!

Triana said...

Funny that you mention the difference between North & South. Here it is very much the opposite! South is much more... well exactly as how you describe your North, and vice versa in our North. Also, ditto with the shaky ground! I much prefer to not observe the social, racial, or geographical differences amongst people, but that certainly does not mean they don't exist.

I completely disagree with the "alpha" male syndrome. Having some confidence is attractive, but macho alpha males are NOT on my list, nor most of my friends'.

While I cannot say that I don't enjoy my own nights out on a binge drinking pub crawl, because I most certainly have misbehaved in the funnest of ways, I would not like to do such a thing with a serious suitor. I do have specific friends for just such occasions though, so that I don't get into too much trouble ;)

In my experience, men that partake in genuine conversation, or intelligence of any manner, have no personality or humor. Is there a solid balance between the two? Yes, I know there is, but very few. I have personally met 2 in my lifetime, thus far. Sadly, I apparently don't measure up to anything that may keep their attention.

Once again, we are in the same boat. Good luck in your endeavors! :)~

Aren O. Týr said...

"Sadly, I apparently don't measure up to anything that may keep their attention."

Indeed - every time I think I might have potentially met someone for something (which in itself is a very rare occurrence - perhaps once a year if I'm lucky), after things having gone so apparently well, I seem to then meet a deafening silence.

And so it tails (silently) off to nothing, all the while I'm scratching my head wondering why.

So as you say, I'm obviously also similarly unable to "keep their attention".

*sigh*

The Crow said...

Women don't know what they want.
They let people like Gorila Steinem decide for them.
My wife and I go out of our way to embody "gender stereotypes". She is a woman. I am a man. She does woman stuff. I do man stuff. She loves being a woman. I love being a man.
We find it helps a lot. We aren't neurotic and tentative. We are honest with each other. We admire each other's qualities.
Novel concept, eh?

As for detesting and hating alpha males:
That's fine in a nice, safe, protected environment.
Come a real emergency, an alpha male is extraordinarily useful.
As long as he is not actually a beta male, pretending to be alpha.

Most people seem to have completely forgotten who and what they are.
Then they wonder why nothing works as they imagine it should.

Taking responsibility for one's gender might be a good start to engineering a workable life.
Be what you are, to the max!

Aren O. Týr said...

Crow comment on old post - interesting to see how things have developed over last couple of years for me.

Whilst I'm not sure I'd go as far as to "embody gender stereotypes", I do agree that there is a definite need for gender polarities to exist.

One of the many problems of today is that the polarities have been so completely eroded that any attempt to "embody" one of the clear gender types ends up often pidgeon holing yourself in terms of other's perceptions.

I suppose the ultimate reality is that modern man has no idea how he should really "be" since everything is so diffuse and complex these days, and the advice so contradictory. Probably the same difficulties apply just as much to modern woman. The catcheism "just be yourself" is all good and well, but being yourself is a continual learning process.

Emanicipation is still a relatively new historic current so we're all figuring it out as a whole.

On the plus side, I do have a much greater confidence in who I am these days than I did (even though it also seems to get more complex, too): but what is still lacking is that all critical confidence around the opposite sex that only comes with definite success - and it has been a very long time by my reckoning. I keep getting "close", but I always seem to end up going for the ones that I subsequently discover are already taken. As the dictum goes, "all the good ones are already taken...".

Triana said...

Disagreed. Not all of the good ones are already taken.

Aren O. Týr said...

In which case there is still hope...


Now Triana, where are those pithy blog posts of yours that continually make so much intuitive sense to me - and all the more remarkable since they cross the gender divide! And I'm still waiting on that e-mail from when you're in a more "attentive state of mind" :-)