Why is it that women, in general, are more interesting than men, in general? Why is it that women tend to be unafraid of being silly and emotional, whereas men tend to avoid being silly for fear of looking silly? Men hide their insecurities behind façades of bravado. Women admit their insecurities and, in fact, celebrate them more than occasionally. Again, I’m speaking in generalities, not in absolutes. But generalities tend largely to be descriptive of reality.
The genesis of these thoughts and this rant was a conversation I heard on Saturday afternoon at a reception following a celebration of life memorial service for a church member who died recently. A woman sitting at my table mentioned that she and a group of her women friends had organized an obituary-writing party. They gathered at a group member’s home, sat in comfortable chairs, and broke out bottles of wine. Then, they commenced to writing one another’s obituaries. Though I didn’t hear full details, I gathered that their objectives were to write fun, funny, memorable obituaries that described the personalities of their friends—peculiarities, warts, glitches, and all. The obituaries, as I understood it, were to celebrate the lives of the people about whom they were written. The real lives, not the after-the-fact, cosmetically altered lives.
As I thought about this obituary-writing party, I considered how different an all-male event of this type might be. The men, to start, would not partake of wine. Instead, the drink of choice would be Scotch or bourbon or beer. A few of them would abstain and, instead, would drink coffee. And the men, I supposed, would recall their friends’ pratfalls, golf blunders, and hunting accidents. On the more serious side, they would attribute to their friends attributes such as bravery, gallantry, grit, determination, and protectorship of the family. If they allowed themselves to be even remotely maudlin, they might recall a loving spouse, loving father, and steadfast friend; they likely would go no farther, no deeper. Allowing one’s emotions to go on display endangers one’s masculinity.
The women, on the other hand, might recall characteristics that revealed a carefree, light-hearted person who embraced life and lived it to the fullest. They might remember a gentle person who got the most joy from helping her friends in their times of need. They might recall a fun-loving person who thrived on laughter and whimsy. Stories would abound about uninhibited and delightfully inappropriate peals of laughter in somber environments. Recollections of tender moments, interspersed with memories of fierce determination, would describe not the consummate woman but a real human being whose life touched everyone around her.
Perhaps I’m drawing too great a distinction between men and women, but I think it’s necessary to accentuate the differences between them to understand why I find women more interesting. Their conversations seem broader in scope and they delve deeper into matters that…matter. That is not to say I do not find conversations with men interesting. Yet for some reason that I can’t quite pin down, I’m more comfortable engaging in conversation with women. I don’t feel the need to be as careful of what I say, lest I be silently but obviously judged as insufficiently masculine. I suppose part of the disconnect is that I have almost no interest in the go-to conversation for men—sports. “How ’bout them Cowboys?” My disinterest generally results in my exclusion from the conversation; which is, I’ll admit, better than being included.
Insecurities. Sometimes they can be endearing. But sometimes they can be debilitating. It all depends on context. Use those sentence fragments as a conversation-starter with a woman and then do the same with a man. I’ll take odds that the woman will find the subject fascinating and will readily engage in conversation. The man, though, will awkwardly attempt to change the subject to a topic that is safer; that is, one that doesn’t risk emotional revelation.
I think it’s obvious that I am opinionated about the dimensions of maleness-femaleness. If I allow myself to think more deeply about the matter and force myself to look at the issue rationally, I have to admit I tend to focus on relatively minor things that bother me. “Bother me” doesn’t quite describe the sense I feel; it’s more like “make me realize I do not fully understand the situation.” A lack of understanding, though, doesn’t always keep me from having an unwavering opinion. That’s what opinionated is all about.