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Similarities and Differences Between Men and Women
Men and women are different in numerous ways. However, there are also many similarities between them. One way of understanding this phenomenon is by examining how they perform various activities. It is also imperative to examine the views that various authors have expressed regarding this issue, one of them being humorist Dave Barry. In “Batting Clean-Up and Striking Out”, Barry uses humor to explain two ways in which women differ from men: attention to dirt and interest in sports. Barry’s view is that men are inattentive to dirt, but keen on sports, while women have a keen eye for dirt, but a callous attitude towards sports (18). I disagree with this way of explaining differences between men and women because it amounts to stereotyping. There are many women with a dubious distinction for being dirty and disorganized; conversely, there are many men who are very keen on cleanliness and hygiene. Similarly, many women have excelled in sporting activities. At the same time, like women, men must work hard to succeed in various sports.
Firstly, it is worthwhile to elaborate the views that Barry expresses in his article regarding similarities and differences between men and women. Notably, he strives to bring out differences between them using the examples of dirt and sports. Looking at how both deal with the two issues, he argues that women are meticulous in their reaction to dirt. According to him, biological factors have a major role to play in women’s tendency to focus a lot on dirt. He claims that hormonal factors influence women’s reaction to issues like untidiness, dirt, disorder, and unhygienic conditions. Conversely, hormonal factors predispose men to fail to pay attention to such problems until they become a major problem, says Barry (19). The use of the analogy of the Ancient Pompeii helps him illustrate his point regarding men’s inattentiveness to dirt. According to the Pompeii myth, men reacted to falling volcanic ash too late that they were unable to save their families from volcanic eruption. They did not notice that volcanic ash was falling until their children were covered for the most part with ash. The situation in Pompeii unfolded in the way it did because it was the norm for men to perform household chores such as cleaning homes and looking after children.
Moreover, Barry’s view is that men are highly sensitive to sports while women are largely indifferent to the same. He illustrates his argument by narrating an incident in which his friend Maddy invited him, his wife, and several other friends for an interactive session during a World Series game. During the session, men and women behaved differently, in a manner that reflected gender differences in attitudes towards sports. While men were singularly attentive to the unfolding events in the World Series, women were fussing about ways of starting a lively conversation. Ultimately, the men in the room had to devise strategies of going to the family room to watch the “extremely pivotal game” from there.
Unfortunately, Barry fails to look at the broader social context within which differences between men and women are mapped. He limits his views to sports and dirt, yet there are many others issues whose analysis can create a better understanding of similarities between the two sexes. For this reason, his views are based largely on existing gender stereotypes. Moreover, he provides illustrations that justify his view of society instead of highlighting a wide range of cases to provide a basis for a more objective assessment of the issue. For example, it is wrong to argue that men are ignorant of dirt simply because they tend to ignore it until it accumulates to crisis levels. Evidently, Barry’s arguments have a certain degree of bias; thus, I think he did not address the issue properly.
At this point, it is imperative that I express my views regarding differences between men and women. To begin with, there are many discernible differences between them particularly in terms of physique. Men exhibit tremendous muscular strength, have a typically broader upper body, and their physique accords them numerous advantages in sports such as football and rugby. On the other hand, women have broad hips and less masculine bodies that make them easily distinguishable from men. For this reason, most women are unlikely to excel in sporting activities that require tremendous physical exertion, especially if they are competing against men. Nevertheless, there are many female athletes who perform better than men in competitive sporting activities requiring extreme physical exertion such as marathons.
Secondly, the manner in which men and women address challenges reflects underlying differences in terms of their approach to problem-solving. Instead of focusing on how differently a problem gets solved, attention should be directed towards the fact that the efforts that members of both sexes use can ultimately lead to their desired solutions. For example, women are primary concerned with problem identification in order to come up with a lasting solution. They understand that to look attractive to men, they must be neat and orderly. In contrast, men tend to dismiss such activities as trivial because they do not require the use of their masculine energy; instead, they prefer to exhibit their masculine prowess by expressing a lot of interest in sports. This explains why they trivialize issues such as dirt, but glorify sports. To them, sporting activities are of utmost value because they give them a platform to display their masculine abilities, thus making them attractive to women. In spite of these underlying differences, there is a striking resemblance in their quest to gain recognition and acceptance. Barry should have focused primarily on this shared quest for mutual acceptance instead of creating the impression that men and women are always struggling to achieve conflicting goals.
Furthermore, the differences can be explained in terms of the roles that have been assigned to men and women in society. Traditionally, men have been assigned to activities that require intense use of physical energy such as hunting, protecting their homesteads, and going to war. In contrast, women have traditionally been performing lighter duties such as cooking, cleaning homes, and looking after children. In this regard, the situation has not changed much today. However, it is should be noted that in the contemporary workplace, women have demonstrated the ability to do the same type of work that their male counterparts do.
Consequently, despite the gender differences, there are many similarities between men and women. Both have the ability to address issues affecting them particularly in relationships. Moreover, both have tremendous abilities to overcome the challenges associated with their physical and emotional characteristics to achieve the desired goals at home, at the workplace, and in relationships. In conclusion, I find Barry’s article useful in its use of humor to outline differences between men and women. The only problem with his argument is that it reinforces existing stereotypes surrounding gender differences.
Barry, Dave. Batting Clean-Up and Striking Out. London: Routledge, 1998, Print.