Sunday, March 24, 2013

Part 13 - Types of 1st comparisons

Comparisons are a form of mental processing that tap onto our schemas and attitudes. The 1st comparison that we make in some situations seems to be connected to how our brains are wired.

I encountered a situation several years back where I made a remark that involved comparing an attribute of one person with another. One person was a friend with while the other was a person who was not in their alliance. Not realising that I had caused offence towards my friend, I repeated it and was promptly told to, "shut up!" to which, I changed the subject.

Fairly recently, a similar incident with a similar response, though involving other people happened that caused me to rethink the circumstances surrounding both that event and the one before. For the latter experience, I had after the fact realised that the remark was accusitory on my part towards my friend as I was making light of the situation, at their expense. I have since apologised to my friend.

Examining both my thoughts and that of my friend, I discovered that there was a marked difference between how the two of us perceived the remark.

The remark went a bit like, "they're putting almost zero effort in...just like you did years back.".  I was comparing behavior and I had inferred that it might be tied to a similar thinking behind the behaviour.

How is this 1st comparison different in the minds of males and females?

With males, if specific behaviours are being compared and relate to us, we'd likely focus on the attributes of the behaviour and perhaps talk about the thinking behind it. In a lot of circumstances, it could be related to a feeling that we might be experiencing at that moment.

With females, there seems to be a tendency to dismiss the behavioural presentation and instead compare the physical attributes of the other female to themselves.

The male perspective wouldn't even consider that as a possibility whereas with the female perspective, it is almost a foregone conclusion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Part 12 - The Gaze

Gazing into the eyes of another person conveys meaning.  However, the male and female brains process, transmit and decode messages differently.  Within groups of males, gazing can sometimes be misconstrued as staring which might then degrade to an assertion of dominance. Then other behaviors are generated as these males try to 'settle things' a.k.a. a fight takes place. 

With females, gazes and glances convey much richer meaning and entire 'conversations' may happen without a single spoken word having to be uttered. Males seem less capable of communicating this way, by comparison.

Let me provide an example. A woman enters a room with a mix of men and women. The women in the room all look at her from top to bottom, then assess her and through a series of glances, nods and eye movements, discuss this women and come to some common agreement.  The men will also look at her from top to bottom but will then get vocal with each other, possibly as they size up their individual chances of engaging the women.

Gazes are viewed as deliberate acts that convey meaning so 'stray gazes' affect people.  Clarification is often sought, when women look at other women 'accidentally' and confrontation results when men look at other men, 'accidentally'.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part 11 - The Extensions of "Me"

The concept of me is all that makes the individual distinct, at least in their own mind.
It is a sense of who they are to themselves and to others.
The concept of me is different for males and females.

With males, there is an unconscious tendency for them to extend it to both animate and inanimate objects. When this is done, the individual doesn't see a distinction between what is actually him and what are the extensions of him as the latter get lumped as him.
Let me give you some examples.

Animate objects here generally refer to people. When a male is in a relationship with say, a female, the female at some point becomes an extension of him and consequently is assumed to have the similar aspirations, thoughts and logic as he does. In a way, this is largely due to cultural projection however the difference here is that he believes she is an extension of him.
This belief persists till the female reprimands the male. At which point, his conscious mind is jolted and he separates himself from her, in his concept of me.

Inanimate objects could refer to things like cars. Shockingly, some males regard their cars or vehicles of mobility as extensions of themselves and their bodies, sometimes like a second skin. Some may even personalize their vehicles to how they feel or how they like to be perceived. If a male's vehicle makes a sound that is different that what is is used to, he is surprisingly very attentive to the sound and will go to great lengths to diagnose and correct the problem. To him, it is almost like a body part is malfunctioning and he is seeking medical help.
If the male is teaching another person to drive a car, he may utter an instruction that makes some sense to a male but serves to confuse a female. One phrase commonly used is "feel the car around you" as it denotes that the car is a part of the individual - which might be true for a male but certainly isn't even remotely true for a female.

The female concept of me extends to inanimate objects such as clothing and fashion accessories. The "me" concept doesn't generally include people as they are separate to the individual and are individually managed as opposed to being extensions of the individual.

The exception being things or people they create as these then are regarded as "me". Mothers, for example, regard their children as extensions of themselves while women in general see work they produce, be it in anything from art to cookery, as parts of themselves. When these things they produce are then subject to close scrutiny and criticism, it is as if a personal attack has been done on their person.

Males can separate themselves and not encompass another into their concept of "me". Women have a much harder time trying to do this.

Why do males have this tendency to categorise more things as "me"? I suspect that it is an adaptation or coping strategy when dealing with a large amount of information and limited cognitive resources.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Part 10 - Alpha interactions

This is where things get complicated, to say the least.  All women learn to be wary when meeting other women because alliance boundaries, alliance membership, the presence of alpha and non-alpha females etc are not easy to make out.

As alphas compete for dominance, there tend to be fights and stalemates. In stalemates, there is no clear winner and it is as if both parties have lowered their weapons and ceased fighting for that round of the battle.

Examples of possible stalemate interactions:
1. Queen versus Queen
2. Mama verses Queen
3. Aunty verses Queen

When alphas fight for dominance, things get heated and are sometimes publicly aired.
In conflicts, alphas who are a queen do not battle themselves.  Instead, they seem to use a similar strategy, in all parts of the conflict.

To exercise dominance, alphas will:
- first increase group size by drawing in non-alpha females and lower standing alpha females,
- resort to recruiting the very clueless, i.e. men, who are nothing more than pawns to be used as well,
- use lower level alphas eg. princesses to duke it out, while they selectively speak,

On the other hand, alpha females do not get drawn in though they may sit on the sidelines and laugh. At the end of the conflict, each goes their separate way and no female crosses the other's boundary or alliance.

Such a situation happened in Singapore in 2009 involving the women's group AWARE ( Try a google seach with "aware saga" to read articles written by various people. The gist was that one group of women tried to outmatch another group but both employed the same strategy during the conflict and after.

For the AWARE group:
- membership stagnant for many years at 300 people swelled to 3000 people in a month,
- women took to speaking out and challenging each other, issues unrelated to the struggle were aired,
- a few men spoke out about the unrelated issues, believing they could help and all the time remaining clueless about the alliance feud that was really going on.

Alpha females who could see the "true" reasons of the conflict, steered clear of it.

After the episode, the victors paid some lip service to reconciliation with the losers but it only that.
Had this been a group of men, post conflict, the victors might likely taken their spoils by subsuming some of the losers on their side if they saw a possibility of exploiting the talents of those people.

As this was women, really, there would be NO reconciliation AND, each side (and all the members) would be dead to the other.

Part 9 - Non-Alpha females

This comprises the general population of females.  Ages range from the very young to the very old.
All females seem to start out as non-alphas. Other women have described such people as chicks, like the young of chickens. While some will dominate others even from an early age, the alpha tendencies do not seem to appear till early adulthood. A combination of family of origin, the presence of other alphas in the immediate family, testing scenarios or a trial by fire seems to give the non-alpha the confidence to move into an alpha role.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Part 8 - Alpha females

The term "alpha" is used to distinguish a person that is at a higher level than another in a group - like an authorithy figure. With groups of men, the alpha male may generally be the loud and boisterous person in the group.  Being loud tends to scare and intimidate the competition (other males).

In groups of women however, there are 2 distinct paths that alpha females seem to take.
Based on descriptions and labels that women that I've talked to have used, I call these two paths as:
1) The Royal Line and,
2) The Family Line

In groups or alliances, there will generally be alpha females in them. A group's advantage over another seems to also depend on the types of alpha females in them and the size of the alliance.

The Royal line is comprised of princesses and queens.  In a sense, they chase power much like alpha males do and they may step on others who are in their way as they aim for the coveted top position.
The queens are on top of their game and have immense control within their alliance.  Women are always cautious when approaching a queen, even if they are a queen themselves.
Lower down we have the princesses who are sometimes queens in training and other times, forever in a transition state as they don't seem to be able to master all there is to master, to be a queen.

The Family line is comprised of Mamas and Aunties.  They seem to strive for group harmony.
While Mamas hold a coveted spot in the family line, unlike the Royal line where the princesses are queens in training, Aunties are not necessarily Mamas in training.

Mamas seem to be females where the maternal role has been switched on and cannot be switched off.  They derive their power from the number of people they can influence and protect.
Protection is offered to their alliances and even to males who technically do not have voting rights in female alliances.

Aunties are different as they do not actively seek to expand the number of people under them.  Sometimes, they are seen as isolates or islands while other times, they may be in charge of a few people. When there is a need, they may temporarily step into the top role, be it a Mama role or a Queen role.
However, as this is not necessarily their element, they seem ill suited to occupy the role for long periods without suffering health breakdown.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Part 7 - The empty room

Up to now, you have been presented with this picture:
Women multi-task and men don't.  In multi-tasking individuals, communication is spread between the different levels - like the levels of a house; some happen at ground level and some happen below or above ground level.

With women, it seems to be that there is active control of how much communication effort is spread across each of the different levels.  All the time, all levels are active.
When the situation calls for it, they have the ability to channel more effort on one level and less effort on the other levels.  This situation might be for an instance where they have to focus intently on a particular task.  While this seems like a good mental structure to have, the limitation is that they cannot switch off a communication layer.  At best, they can only minimize it for it will still be in their active thoughts.

With men, we operate in single storey houses and are oblivious to the fact that other levels even exist.
Then one fine day, we see what looks to be an outline of a door in the kitchen and wonder if it had always been there.  The curiosity gives way to action and we turn the handle, open the door and see that it leads to a room in the basement.  We walk down to the basement, turn on a light and see an empty room.  At this point, we have become aware of another level of communication in our mind.

What causes this awareness of this room?  I don't know.  For me, it happened around the time I turned 40 when I had the epiphany about how male and female communication patterns were culturally different.  Age certainly seems to be a factor but it's not the only variable as I have observed and interviewed older guys who still don't see anything.

Being guys, we start to fill this room with stuff.  First goes in the six pack - as it's cool in the basement, then comes the pool table and the entertainment unit and couch and before very long, the room is packed with stuff.

You're now wondering where I'm going with this.  Well, consider the guy who's just married and has his mother on one side and his wife on the other.  Both women are using multiple communication channels and are sending messages back and forth to each other all the time.  However, much of the communication is unseen and not felt by the guy and the women may also not realize this.

Consequently, guys feel nothing of the subterranean shock waves that one women is sending the other and vice-versa.  From the guy's perspective, you're both women [and he doesn't understand either] so if you have a problem, talk it out and settle it.  Yeah.  That isn't going to happen.

Younger guys don't see the door and aren't aware of the empty room as they are just discovering parts of the house, on the surface.  When a usually more mature guy has just discovered the empty room but it is still empty, his reaction is understandably the same as the shock wave sent by one woman to the other, doesn't cause anything to vibrate.

With a six-pack in the room, the same shock wave now causes some rattling and him discomfort and he starts to build a connection between this new feeling and the presence of his mother and wife in proximity of each other. 

When the room is now packed with stuff, that same shock wave feels like an earth-quake as things rattle around, fall on the floor and this causes him major discomfort!  His reaction?  Flee!
He flees as he's in great discomfort and while he now knows what's causing it, that's his only viable strategy.