How Masculine or Feminine Are You?

Having lived on a working farm and seen beefy men taken to hospital trying to get bulls into a truck for market I have to say there is still generally a vast difference between the genders when it comes to physical strength and no amount of girls drinking pints or demanding equality is ever going to bridge that gap. Hence why farmers hold gates closed to stop bulls and their wives bake cakes.

Maybe that is where life is changing? Modern life rarely requires us to fulfill our natural gender roles in ever day life (other than the who gives birth issue).

Well, yes, in general men are somewhat better at brute strength than women. But handling large livestock doesn't necessarily require brute strength- depends on how often they are handled, how they are trained, etc. In doing research with ranching families I saw families that kept the women at home and others that the women did exactly what the men did- including roping, branding, herding cattle, breaking horses, etc. They did it just as well. I mean, yes, women on average have slightly less strength, but when you're dealing with an animal that outweighs both the man and the woman by a magnitude of 8-10, it doesn't much matter. My draft horse could just as easily run over my husband as he could me, same goes for the bulls (as you say, men wind up in the hospital too).

I think the original gender division had more to do with pregnancy and rearing young children than anything else. If you look at hunter-gatherers, most of them have the men hunt and women gather. This is not because of more strength on the part of men, or better inherent ability to hunt. It is because the women (without birth control) were more often than not pregnant or nursing. It's hard to quickly run if you're significantly pregnant, and little kids and babies aren't the best hunting companions. They're unpredictable, loud, helpless, and get tired easily. In the absence of weaning foods, women breastfed for 3-4 years on average, so that's a long time to be tied to a little one (and generally, as soon as one was weaned, another one was on the way). Hence, women gathered stuff, which was easier to interrupt if junior needed something and didn't rely on long stretches of silence. (Maybe this is in part why women tend to be more linguistically oriented? The long stretches of male silence on hunts? Just a brief thought...)

At any rate, I think there are some obvious differences, but most are due to evolutionary factors- and the only significant stretch for evolution to take place in humans was in hunter-gatherer times. Agriculture is quite recent and not far back enough to have influenced evolution.

Interestingly, none of that tracks to much of what we think of as gender stereotypes in the US. For example, there are many hunter-gatherer societies in which men are more into their appearance than women and wear elaborate face paint and hair styles, and this is considered manly. Women routinely throughout the world carry heavy loads and work in physically demanding jobs. We assume all our craziness has something to do with evolution, but it doesn't much. It's just cultural arbitrariness. Makes sense with other parts of our own culture, but not necessarily with biology in any way.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents. :D
 
Maybe men are stronger and able to get the bulls to the pen. But then women are smarter because they get them into the pen by simply hiring men to do it for them. :p
 
I agree that they are sheer insanity, but to deny that they aren't tied to gender caricatures? :confused:

Well to me a gender caricature is a deliberate and gross exaggeration of what a man or woman is. The fact that men have largely throughout history been hunters and tied various rituals to their 'manhood' is not a caricature but simply recognising that as the male role until very recent history. The fact that women have been subjected to suppression and oppression by men I think says a lot about the male gender and leaves me with the question of why women have allowed themselves to be treated this way throughout history?

Being able to control any beast isn't what makes a man, it's being able to control the beast within that makes one truly a man. Likewise, it isn't being a submissive, doting wife and mother that makes a real woman, it's helping others with their inner struggle that makes a real woman.

But surely the role of helping others with their inner struggle is linked to being a doting wife and mother? Isn't that the natural role of a woman, to nurture? I don't mean being a simpering idiot ot allowing herself to be walked all over but women have an inner strength and without it we cannot help others.

Those things really aren't necessary for our everyday survival anymore, so we have to look deeper at what makes a real man or a real woman.

I agree completely but I also think that while only females can give birth we will never achieve total equality. I also wonder where this drive for equality is actually taking us. I am old enough to remember when it became illegal to ask a woman during a job interview what her plans were for having a family. It seemed insane to me, it costs thousands to train someone so why shouldn't a company be allowed to employ people they believe will be able to make that investment worthwhile?

One thing you can do is to help encourage people to examine these things closely instead of accepting the status quo without question. It's a natural extension of the woman's role of being a help-mate.

Using a term like help-mate seems to accept the gender differences and is a term that I am very comfortable with. Women are the companions and helpers of men - why can't we be happy with that role?

Maybe men are stronger and able to get the bulls to the pen. But then women are smarter because they get them into the pen by simply hiring men to do it for them. :p

Hee, hee, hee now that gave me a good laugh and there is much truth in it.
 
Well, yes, in general men are somewhat better at brute strength than women. But handling large livestock doesn't necessarily require brute strength- depends on how often they are handled, how they are trained, etc.

I accept that, I have worked with large animals myself and know if the animal wants to get into a competition of strength then you can bet they will win, no matter which gender is working with them. However, there is generally a biological difference between men and women, which makes men physically stronger than women and no amount of demanding equality is going to change that.

I think the original gender division had more to do with pregnancy and rearing young children than anything else.

But has that role ever changed? The rearing may be changing but the pregnancy remains the same as it was at the beginning of our species.

If you look at hunter-gatherers, most of them have the men hunt and women gather. This is not because of more strength on the part of men, or better inherent ability to hunt.

Why do you think it has nothing to do with strength? At a time when people had to physically fight their prey it would be natural for the stronger gender to carry out this function.

A male skull is almost always thicker and stronger than a womans, is that not a natural defence for fighting? Just look at world records for sports. Men and women now receive the same training, food, etc but all records show that men are faster and physically stronger than women.

(Maybe this is in part why women tend to be more linguistically oriented? The long stretches of male silence on hunts? Just a brief thought...)

I think in more recent history women were more secluded than men, so the opposite should by now apply. Maybe it is just another natural difference in how we work biologically?

It's just cultural arbitrariness. Makes sense with other parts of our own culture, but not necessarily with biology in any way.

I am failing to see how a mans inability to get pregnant and give birth or his greater physical strength is cultural arbitrariness. Yes the idea that women are weak and feeble idiots is cultural but we cannot escape biology and it has always been a womans role to get preganant and give birth - without that role the human race has no future.
 
I'll respond in blue. :) That's easier than the quotes.

I accept that, I have worked with large animals myself and know if the animal wants to get into a competition of strength then you can bet they will win, no matter which gender is working with them. However, there is generally a biological difference between men and women, which makes men physically stronger than women and no amount of demanding equality is going to change that.

That is true, but I was pointing out that in the end, it often doesn't matter when it comes to large animals. Women are typically less susceptible to illnesses. But we don't say that it means doctors and nurses should all be women.

But has that role ever changed? The rearing may be changing but the pregnancy remains the same as it was at the beginning of our species.

It has changed in that most occupations now do not threaten pregnancy, unlike the days of more physical labor. But even in those days and places, women often worked in the fields right up to childbirth without any problems. Pregnancy poses a problem for hunting because of the need to move quickly and surely, and advanced pregnancy makes one off-balance and a bit clumsy and slower. But in terms of field labor, pregnancy doesn't matter much. Plenty of women work up to childbirth at fairly physical jobs so long as it doesn't involve threat of falling and such, and in fact if you keep a good exercise regimen from before pregnancy throughout, it makes childbirth much faster and easier.

Why do you think it has nothing to do with strength? At a time when people had to physically fight their prey it would be natural for the stronger gender to carry out this function.

Most hunters did not and do not physically fight their prey (at least not large game). They hunt them with long-range weapons like spears or bows/arrows, often poisoned, shoot them once or twice and then track them down as they slowly die. They eat what they can on the spot and then take back as much of the highest quality meat as possible, leaving the caracass where it fell.

So, no, I don't think it has much to do with strength but rather that women were the food-providers for babies, and it's hard to take a baby on a hunt. There are a few cultures in which women were regular hunters and they got around that issue by having child-care networks with other women. In those cases, the women seemed just as successful as men (or just as unsuccessful; hunting is a risky business in terms of regularly getting food from it).

Of course, there is another good evolutionary reason for having men be the hunters, since there is risk that one would get trampled or attacked. Women are the bottleneck in species survival, since men can impregnate many women but women can only bear a limited number of children. So men are more expendable population-wise and this is arguably a big reason why they have consistently done the more risky jobs (war, hunting, etc.).

A male skull is almost always thicker and stronger than a womans, is that not a natural defence for fighting? Just look at world records for sports. Men and women now receive the same training, food, etc but all records show that men are faster and physically stronger than women.

Well, the evolutionary response would be that this is probably more of a vestigial holdover from pre-human ancestors than a result of the parameters of human evolution. Many social primates show sexual dimorphism, and there are a variety of theories why this is so, but it seems to be most common when males compete over females, so due to sexual selection.

Modern humans, even early ones, did not appear to have this sort of direct competition between males, and indeed hunter-gatherers are some of the most peaceful groups out there. Additionally, the difference in size and strength in human males and females is quite small compared to most sexually dimorphic species (think of gorillas and orangutans). It is unlikely that it would make much of a difference when facing big game or predators in terms of survival, and certainly doesn't seem to matter much these days, since I've seen just as many men die or become seriously injured from such causes as women. While men may be stronger, they are still little contest for a bear, or cougar, or moose. Overall, humans are fairly puny animals, quite slow and clumsy, and pretty easy to harm, whether male or female.

I think in more recent history women were more secluded than men, so the opposite should by now apply. Maybe it is just another natural difference in how we work biologically?

Maybe, but recent history is far too short to matter for evolution anyway. 10,000 years (since the birth of agriculture) is far too recent to have much of an effect. Humans are still adapted to be hunter-gatherers, not to our modern lifestyle, and this is evidenced by the many health problems we have with our modern sedentary lifestyle.

Additionally, women have hardly ever been secluded from each other. They may be secluded in some cases from wider society, but they almost always are living in groups with other women and children.

I am failing to see how a mans inability to get pregnant and give birth or his greater physical strength is cultural arbitrariness.

I wasn't saying that. I was saying that our assumptions of what is masculine and feminine is culturally arbitrary and has virtually nothing to do with pregnancy and childbirth. For example, thinking women care about their appearance and like to dress up has nothing to do with pregnancy, and is not cross-culturally universal. Most of our assumptions about gender have not much to do with biology.

Yes the idea that women are weak and feeble idiots is cultural but we cannot escape biology and it has always been a womans role to get preganant and give birth - without that role the human race has no future.

Well, of course. I think it's more that we have an awful lot of ideas now about the effects of that biological role, which have little or no evidence when we look at the biology and behavior of other mammalian species or even across cultures.
 
Pregnancy poses a problem for hunting because of the need to move quickly and surely, and advanced pregnancy makes one off-balance and a bit clumsy and slower.

But this suggests men took the role of hunters because of womens propensity for being preganant and does not take into account a mans natural superior physical strength. When thinking about the spear throwing hunter, a man can naturally run faster, throw a spear faster and further. Are these biological differences significantly different in males and females, no but they could be the difference between a family eating or starving.

So, no, I don't think it has much to do with strength but rather that women were the food-providers for babies, and it's hard to take a baby on a hunt.

But this is where I struggle with this whole issue. I do not see sex as purely biological and gender as a social construct. Gender is determined by sex, by our natural roles (hence why males and females have different hormones and physical capabilities). To then say in the past few decades we have developed baby formula and day care, so gender roles are no longer required seems to go against our biological imperative.

Of course, there is another good evolutionary reason for having men be the hunters, since there is risk that one would get trampled or attacked. Women are the bottleneck in species survival, since men can impregnate many women but women can only bear a limited number of children. So men are more expendable population-wise and this is arguably a big reason why they have consistently done the more risky jobs (war, hunting, etc.).

This seems to me to suggest men and women sat and decided who should take on which roles. Clearly they didn't, each gender naturally took on the role that best suited their biological makeup.

vestigial holdover Well, the evolutionary response would be that this is probably more of a vestigial holdover from pre-human ancestors than a result of the parameters of human evolution.

But why would a vestigal holdover only apply to males of our species?
 
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But this suggests men took the role of hunters because of womens propensity for being preganant and does not take into account a mans natural superior physical strength. When thinking about the spear throwing hunter, a man can naturally run faster, throw a spear faster and further. Are these biological differences significantly different in males and females, no but they could be the difference between a family eating or starving.

Not really. 70-90% of a family's food supply came from vegetable, fruit, and grain that women gathered. Women are traditionally the food providers, particularly in the cradle of human evolution, Africa. Hunting is irregular at best and is often unsuccessful, and rarely provides more than 30% of the food available except in extremely cold/snowy environments. Occasional protein is important to avoid malnutrition, but it is women who have, in the vast majority of cultures and for most of human evolution, made sure the family didn't starve. Also, women are generally just as often *small* game hunters as men, so they also provide protein for their families. It is just that men were typically the *large* game hunters, which provided the occasional glut of protein everyone needed to be healthy, but didn't provide a lot of the overall caloric intake.

Overall, men's strength had little to do with the family eating or starving- that was based on whether or not plants were available to eat. Unless you were from the Arctic or were a Neanderthal. But many anthropologists don't even think the Neanderthals were the same species as modern humans, so it's questionable how much they contributed to our genetic inheritance.

Men may be able to throw a spear farther, but it doesn't seem to be a substantial issue when you consider the array of weapons humans came up with, even early on- spear-throwers (that increased distance), bows and arrows, poisoned dart guns... Most of these rely more on accuracy and the ability to sneak up on prey than to run quickly or be strong.

But this is where I struggle with this whole issue. I do not see sex as purely biological and gender as a social construct. Gender is determined by sex, by our natural roles (hence why males and females have different hormones and physical capabilities).

Perhaps this is where we branch from each other most fundamentally. By definition for most anthropologists, sex is defined by biology and gender is defined by culture. This is why some societies have more than two genders. Of course, culture is responding to biology- people are conceptualizing the genders based on their perception of sexual differences. But this perception can be a far cry from reality, which has been amply evidenced in animal behavior studies and how changes in cultures changed how people perceived other mammals' behaviors (I'm thinking particularly of studies of baboons, chimps, and wild horses).

To then say in the past few decades we have developed baby formula and day care, so gender roles are no longer required seems to go against our biological imperative.

Gender roles are likely to always be present, whether required or not. But they vary greatly culture to culture, evidence that they are plastic and not rigidly tied to biology.

This seems to me to suggest men and women sat and decided who should take on which roles. Clearly they didn't, each gender naturally took on the role that best suited their biological makeup.

It's more like I think evolution has, long before the arrival of modern humans, had the natural occurance of women being the procreation bottleneck, which affected early human evolution long before we were capable of sitting around and thinking or talking like this. It is an emergent property of a long history of evolution, and apparent in many other mammalian species (and even non-mammalian species), and is a good reason why in most species males are heavily decorated and females are not (just think of peacocks). Females are necessary for the young to survive far more than the males, so when it comes to someone defending the family and taking the risk of dying, in nearly all species it comes down to the male. The female can always find another male, but young without a female don't live long.

But why would a vestigal holdover only apply to males of our species

But it doesn't. Sexual dimorphism as a trait (that males are bigger, stronger than females) is a vestigial holdover that we see in more extreme forms among other primates and also in extinct species that walked upright and are considered our own pre-modern-human ancestors (australopithecines, for example). Further, it generally tracks to social structure in primates. Heavily dimorphic species are typically in a structure that is polygynous- one breeding male with several females (gorillas, orangutans before hunting made them go solitary). Slightly dimorphic species like us are typically in a structure of several males with several females (chimps, for example). Completely monogamous species of primates tend to have no dimorphism whatsoever. It seems to track best to sexual selection- how females come to have mates, by choice and male competition.
 
Not really. 70-90% of a family's food supply came from vegetable, fruit, and grain that women gathered.

Thank you for your posts, I am really learning from them. Sort of makes you wonder if men were ever useful other than supplying the necessary sperm count ;)

Of course, culture is responding to biology- people are conceptualizing the genders based on their perception of sexual differences.

This is where my brain gets really stuck (it doesn't take much :D). You have used italics to highlight the word perception but I just cannot get away from the fact that only women can carry and give birth to a child. That to me is not a perceived sexual difference but is a simple reality of our biological makeup. The fact that women then produce milk for the child would naturally lead women to be the carer of her children. I really fail to see how this natural process can have anything to do with culture.

Gender roles are likely to always be present, whether required or not. But they vary greatly culture to culture, evidence that they are plastic and not rigidly tied to biology.

I understand that gender roles are elastic and vary but there must be a stage in the human process (ie pregnancy and early years) where these roles are constant throughout cultures?

It seems to track best to sexual selection- how females come to have mates, by choice and male competition.

So as humans do we go against this trend in cultures where women do not get to select but are in fact selected? It is quite interesting when you consider the issue of polygamy and that often it is women who choose to be a multiple wife.
 
Women and men need to get the hell away from each other. If this separation doesn't happen there's no peace. I don't put much stock in deifying the particular roles men and women have fallen into, but I do observe the necessity for separation and gender specific group activities. That's what makes the tribe work.

Chris
 
Thank you for your posts, I am really learning from them. Sort of makes you wonder if men were ever useful other than supplying the necessary sperm count ;)


(For the color-blind. LOL)

It's kind of fun to chat about anthro stuff again, so it's my pleasure. Not that I specialize in gender issues or anything. But I have some background in the literature on it.

I find men useful for lots of things, but mostly to be good friends. I do think they had a number of uses traditionally speaking, particularly being the defender of the family, the protector, and the protein-ensurer. LOL I find it interesting that most men, once they hit their mid-20s, need far less sleep than most women per night. And as you say, they are a bit bigger and stronger and faster. If not for hunting, why?

There wasn't much war or violence among hunter-gatherers, but you can imagine that early on we were fairly puny, didn't live in groups much bigger than an extended family (maybe 20 people was a big group), and there were some enormous predators. I'd wager that early on, one of men's primary roles (and a very good reason for much of the differences between the sexes) was to defend the family. If he died, but the mother survived with the young, another male from the family could always defend them another day. But if the mother died, the youngest (kids under about 4 years of age) would die of starvation, wiping out much more of the group at a time and two generations rather than one. So it kind of makes sense that men would be the primary line of defense.

This is where my brain gets really stuck (it doesn't take much :D). You have used italics to highlight the word perception but I just cannot get away from the fact that only women can carry and give birth to a child. That to me is not a perceived sexual difference but is a simple reality of our biological makeup. The fact that women then produce milk for the child would naturally lead women to be the carer of her children. I really fail to see how this natural process can have anything to do with culture.

I'm not saying we don't accurately perceive the biggest sexual differences, but rather culture builds on these facts all sorts of assumptions that are not biologically correct. For example, in the US, women are often seen as more emotional than men and more concerned about their appearances than men. Neither of those traits is universal cross-culturally, so it's unlikely they are biological differences. And neither of those traits has much to do with pregnancy and lactation. Most of the assumptions we make about gender roles, behaviors, etc. is like that- mostly arbitrary and making sense within the structure of that culture, but not universal and so not a fundamental human trait that defines the sexes from each other. These traits can typically be shown to be socialized into children when they are quite young, so they become "natural" without ever having been innately biological. Of course, there are some differences between the sexes that are universal. Just not very many.

I understand that gender roles are elastic and vary but there must be a stage in the human process (ie pregnancy and early years) where these roles are constant throughout cultures?

Not really. There are so many ways to handle pregnancy and the early years. In many cultures, this means the baby stays with mom, but there are exceptions. In quite a few cultures, the baby stays all day with grandma or an aunt, who caretakes for all the children while the moms work. Some cultures don't care about breastfeeding another person's newborn, and in many mom can work a bit, stop by and breastfeed, and then head out to work again. In other cultures, the baby is strapped to a cradleboard or other restraining device and hung in a nearby tree or propped up next to where mom is working. In most cultures where the baby stays with mom, mom still goes out and works a full day, generally with baby strapped to her in a sling. The constant is that women in almost all traditional cultures (and through most of human history) had the youngest children with them, because of the necessity of breastfeeding them. But the rest of it varies quite a bit.

It varies even more after a child is weaned, ranging from all children staying with mom until they marry, to separating the sexes (girls stay with mom, boys live with dad), to having all adolescent children live out on their own in a group house. A lot depends on marriage rules, and how much premarital children are considered a problem, how inheritance works, etc.

So as humans do we go against this trend in cultures where women do not get to select but are in fact selected? It is quite interesting when you consider the issue of polygamy and that often it is women who choose to be a multiple wife.

In many cases, it is more like parents do the selecting and the husband/wife deal with whatever union is most advantageous to both families. In most cases, a husband cannot simply choose a wife, he must convince her family to select him from a number of potential suitors (or he is selected without his consent, in a deal struck between all the parents). It is true that the first wife in a polygamous marriage often has a bit of say over subsequent wives as well (usually an advantageous thing for a husband to do, considering he probably wishes for a decently peaceful household).

The idea that there is sexual dimorphism as a result of sexual selection is relegated to the earliest years of human evolution (at least in my opinion), since for much of our recorded history was not really an issue, since once humans became fully human in the sense of language, society, politics, art, philosophy, religion, etc. a pleathora of social concerns became the factors of sexual selection (parents wanting a good politician, a rich person, an ethical person, etc. rather than looking for strength or size). Interestingly, I think sexual selection is more of an issue in the modern first world today than it was for many thousands of years, since with the rise of equality and women's mostly equal earning power, many women choose mates solely on compatibility, sentiment, and attraction. And attraction has been shown, in part, to track to certain physical characteristics- height and strength in men, symmetry of features, and even the scent of sweat (ew, I know) being somehow indicative of a male that is genetically different from oneself (and thus more likely to yield healthy children). Fortunately, a good number of women still seem to care about wealth, power, and fame, so I don't think we'll see a return to big strong males battling it out any time soon! LOL:D
 
I use to say to guys at work who wouldnt let me lift things at work was..." WHAT.......BECAUSE I HAVENT GOT A PENIS MEANS I CANT LIFT THIS?????" Now , Im older and I wish they would offer to help. LOLOLOLOLOL. that will teach me to open my big mouth.
 
im 57% bloke. aaarrrrggggghhhh. I think Im gonna go scatch my nads(if I had any) and go to the pub and tell me mates. LOLOLOLOLOL. i have been accused before of having b-lls, now its official. LOL
 
Women and men need to get the hell away from each other. If this separation doesn't happen there's no peace. I don't put much stock in deifying the particular roles men and women have fallen into, but I do observe the necessity for separation and gender specific group activities. That's what makes the tribe work.

Chris

This has been one of my main issues with womens fight for equality over the past decade or so. Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to be told I have a dysfunctional brain and should be bare foot and pregnant in the kitchen. However, this issue of having men only clubs banned gets right up my nose. The same women demand the privacy of women only gyms and single sex days at the swimming pool but if men want a men only day the feminists are up in arms. Gentlemens clubs in London were targetted as a remnant of an unacceptable bygone era but why? Why should men not have these clubs, were women afraid of missing something? I post regularly on a business forum and often hear of Women in Business days but woe betide if men were to organise the same thing for them. I just don't get it.

I am sorry but I communicate with women in an entirely different way to men, I can relax more with women and no matter how much we try we cannot 'know' what it is like to be of the opposite sex. What do men really think, feel or want? I only know if they tell me but that is a knowledge not an understanding.

[/color]There wasn't much war or violence among hunter-gatherers, but you can imagine that early on we were fairly puny, didn't live in groups much bigger than an extended family (maybe 20 people was a big group), and there were some enormous predators. I'd wager that early on, one of men's primary roles (and a very good reason for much of the differences between the sexes) was to defend the family.

This is where I started and I don't think the human race has moved on as much as some would like to think. I have been in the military and been to war and one thing I know through bitter experience is that women do not belong on the front line. Not because we cannot fight or are the weaker sex but because of the added stress it adds to our male colleagues. Gender roles may have been watered down over the centuries but men still grow up with a natural urge to protect women and children. How then can we expect them to just ignore that urge during times of war? Simply, they cannot and if captured men have enough to worry about without hearing the screams of their female colleagues being raped next door (which is a normal practice even within our own military and has little to do with sexual urges and more to do with breaking down the male prisoners).

If we hear a bump in the night it is usually the male in a relationship that goes to investigate. I just think women are pushing men out of their natural role too much in their desire to attain equality. Why can't we fight for equality of respect and legal rights without trying to take over male roles in society?

I'm not saying we don't accurately perceive the biggest sexual differences, but rather culture builds on these facts all sorts of assumptions that are not biologically correct. For example, in the US, women are often seen as more emotional than men and more concerned about their appearances than men. Neither of those traits is universal cross-culturally, so it's unlikely they are biological differences.

I have never come across a society where men are more emotional than women but certainly here the men are the peacocks. They are also more publicly affectionate with each other than women are and do not see holding hands with their friends as a sign of weakness, which I find refreshing.

Has anyone ever done a study on crying to see if women do in fact cry more easily than men or if it is a learnt condition caused by the 'real men don't cry' thing?

Certainly all the cultures I have visited the women tend to be more emotional than men and I have certainly stood there with my lip wobbling, determined not to cry but the tears still come.

[/Not really. There are so many ways to handle pregnancy and the early years. In many cultures, this means the baby stays with mom, but there are exceptions. In quite a few cultures, the baby stays all day with grandma or an aunt, who caretakes for all the children while the moms work. Some cultures don't care about breastfeeding another person's newborn, and in many mom can work a bit, stop by and breastfeed, and then head out to work again. In other cultures, the baby is strapped to a cradleboard or other restraining device and hung in a nearby tree or propped up next to where mom is working. In most cultures where the baby stays with mom, mom still goes out and works a full day, generally with baby strapped to her in a sling. The constant is that women in almost all traditional cultures (and through most of human history) had the youngest children with them, because of the necessity of breastfeeding them. But the rest of it varies quite a bit.

What I am seeing here is the many references to women and the lack of references to men, so to me it indicates that even across cultures this is a constant. Yes women in some cultures work all day with a newborn strapped to them or nearby and yes other women in the family are used as carers but they are all women. This is a females natural role an no amount of sexual equality can move that role to males imo.

Do you know of any cultures where the men take care of infants while the women work (prior to baby formula of course)?

It is true that the first wife in a polygamous marriage often has a bit of say over subsequent wives as well (usually an advantageous thing for a husband to do, considering he probably wishes for a decently peaceful household).

One of the things that has surprised the hell out of me since converting to Islam is how many young women I speak to that WANT to be in a polygamous marriage - i tends to be the men that are rejecting that way of life now largely due to economic restraints. I can't get my head round it but they state that they would enjoy the community of being with other women and children and to be honest the man seems to come across as almost irrelevant other than to provide the necessary food, clothing and sperm.

And attraction has been shown, in part, to track to certain physical characteristics- height and strength in men, symmetry of features, and even the scent of sweat (ew, I know) being somehow indicative of a male that is genetically different from oneself (and thus more likely to yield healthy children).

But doesn't that demonstrate that biology plays a bigger part in all this male/female stuff than we care to admit? The fact that we are attracted by the scent of another human being and even in this 'enlightened' day and age women tend to look for strong providers would suggest to me that all this 'gender role' information is largely us trying to kid ourselves and deny our natural roles.

im 57% bloke. aaarrrrggggghhhh. I think Im gonna go scatch my nads(if I had any) and go to the pub and tell me mates. LOLOLOLOLOL. i have been accused before of having b-lls, now its official. LOL

Me too Grey. I once had a Director that came to introduce me to my new staff (all of whom were male) and he said "she has bigger b-lls than any man I have ever met" - talk about wanting the ground to open up and swallow you.

So do you fancy a farting competition? :p
 
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