From Jenn

Venus vs. Mars: Isn’t It Time We Drop the Gender Bias?

It’s an FBG blog takeover! For Fit Bottomed Dudes’ Week each of the FBG’s husbands are taking over his wife’s blog for a post on, well, anything they’d like. Today, Ryan takes over Jenn’s blog with a thoughtful piece on gender differences — or lack thereof. May the dudeness begin!

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Are gender differences really valid or useful any more? Fit Bottomed Dude Ryan ponders …

Hey! Here’s a news flash: men are different than women! Or, if you prefer, women are different than men.

This is the result of the slightest difference in the configuration of chromosomes in our cells. And, somehow this miniscule variation between our cell structure results in the production of a different cocktail of neurotransmitters by our brains, which in turn, affects differences in our bodies and minds.

Stay with me dear reader; I’m going somewhere with this. I have no intention to subject anyone to an unnecessary biology lesson.

Back to our gender differences: Beyond the physical differences, psychologists and neuroscientists have worked together and proven that the difference in hormone (neurotransmitter) management is actually a strong contributor to behavioral differences as well. Men tend to be more aggressive and are more likely to take risks. Women tend to be more empathetic and better collaborators.

There have been millions of words written about the differences between men and women. Most of those words try to determine how we are different and why. And, while many of them are true and just as many false, the point is, we as individuals are often distracted by these differences. Our society has focused so intently on the differences between the sexes that we have forgotten the overwhelming similarities. Yes, the genders have differences. But, I’ll argue, those differences are a heck of a lot less relevant today than they were 30,000 years ago. Of all of the actions humans are capable of, there are only a small few in which men and women have different capabilities, and almost all of those few boil down to physical activities.

So, why do we focus so intently on these differences?

This blog, which is the brainchild of my wife Jenn and her friend Erin, is about healthy lifestyles. It is about finding your true self and loving that authentic truth. It is about discovering who you are and seeking to realize your fullest potential. Fit Bottomed Girls is a wonderful message and a beautiful vision of our potential as people.

Except …

I am a man. My brain works differently than my wife’s. I have grown up in an environment that reinforces the differences between the genders. And, this site is called Fit Bottomed Girls. All around me there are subtle clues that FBG is not for me. That I cannot benefit from a site that appears to be for women. Our collective obsession with the differences in our gender, stemming from that one little variation in our chromosomes, has taught me to limit myself to messages that appear to be tailored to my maleness.

And you know what? That’s a real bummer. Because I believe in the core of my identity that the mission of Fit Bottomed Girls is completely in line with my personal view of the world. That we are — all of us — unique, special, beautiful and worthy. And, that our purpose is to seek out the best we can be in celebration of the gift of this beauty and potential. Too bad I’m a man; I might really enjoy this incredible creation of two silly, simple friends.

Let’s go back to that whole gender difference thing.

Are the gender differences? Without a doubt.

Should I understand and study them? Absolutely. G.I. Joe taught me knowing is half the battle.

Should I use the knowledge of gender differences inform my day to day actions? This is the year 2014, not 28,000 B.C. There is rarely anything I do that depends on my maleness.

So then, why should I adhere to gender stereotypes as often as I do? Why do I limit my search for inspiration and guidance to those that appear to align with my gender?

Hello, reader! Are you still with me? We are getting to the point … right … now.

In our quest to find ourselves, accept ourselves and ultimately to fully realize our greatest potential, we too often allow stereotypes and cultural norms to blindly and silently stand in our way. Take a week or so and observe your actions, preferences and interests. Are they overtly influenced or tied to your gender? If you find that an ancient and instinctual bias is present, is it holding you back? Is your gender dictating the way you work out? The way you eat? The hobbies you enjoy? The jobs you pursue?

I have learned from Jenn and the Fit Bottomed Girls — despite my gender bias — that moderation in everything can help us stay happy, healthy and balanced. Try taking that strategy and applying it to your actions when it comes to gender stereotypes. Adhering strongly to a gender archetype will sometimes help you in your pursuit of happiness. Other times, it will also almost certainly limit you as well.

Practice moderation in your acceptance of gender stereotypes and you may find yourself closer to your own personal ideal. —Ryan Walters



Comments

  1. Stephanie says

    Good post, Ryan. I just finished reading Lean In which talked a little bit about the subtle ways that we (men and women) have gender stereotypes, make different choices, etc. It’s fascinating to me to see how one can go through the day thinking everything is cool and equal, not even noticing these slight ways that we differentiate ourselves. It’s just so baked into EVERYTHING.

  2. Pam Neumeyer says

    Great blog! I am sorry to admit that I find it refreshing to hear such thoughts from a man. It does make me think -I’ve always been a tomboy but have had to admit there are things that a man does better – but I’ve also found physical things a woman does better (kayaking and horsebackriding – we have a lower center of gravity). Living in Montana, there are things that you just can’t do that men have to help with (dressing an elk – roping that bull). Growing up in the South and living in the West, there are definite difference in treatment by gender. It was hard to accept that but in the end it is nice to appreciate the differences. I will go through the week noticing decisions made on this bias. Moderation is great advice. Thank you for the post!

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