We hate stereotypes, but we use them all the time. There are all sorts of stereotypes out there – racial, gender, class…there are even stereotypes based on your leisure activities. We live with them every day, but how many are true? If we take a look at some of the gender stereotypes out there, we find that there is some scientific evidence to support them, but (more importantly?) there is some cinematic evidence that is, if not irrefutable, fun to examine. Without further ado, here are the 10 gender stereotypes – some that have some scientific validity, some that don’t – as explained through scenes from famous films.
10. Men Are No Good at Picking Up on Non-Verbal Clues
In the simplest terms imaginable, pretty much any non-verbal clue a woman gives a man is interpreted by said man as an invitation for sex. To make it even more complicated, a man who lacks healthy self-confidence will mistake a sexual come-on by a woman for sheer friendliness. Poor fellas. They are not hard-wired to pick up on behavioral clues like facial expressions, body language, and the like. Studies conducted by smart college students have concluded that a man is less intuitive than a woman when it comes to guessing another person’s emotions. Hey, it’s science. Plus, we learned it in 10 Things I Hate About You, when Bianca wants Cameron to ask her out and he doesn’t get it.
You can stop watching after 0:38. If you want to.
9. Men are Less Sensitive to Variances in Color
More men are color blind than women. That’s the first thing. Also, women see more of a color spectrum than men, dating back to when women gathered the food for the family. Lots of plants look similar, and subtle variances in color can mean the difference between a poisonous plant and a safe one. Plus, we learned about this in Steel Magnolias, except for Sally Field seems to be playing man advocate with her refusal to make a distinction between “blush” and “bashful.”
8. Men are Less Emotional than Women
Technically, men and women are on the same level emotionally when it comes to sadness, happiness, excitement, etc. The real difference is how men and women express emotions. They do it differently. Women are more susceptible to a stress hormone that can amplify their emotional state, and men have cultural constructs around how they are “allowed” to express emotion. Of course, these two video montages say differently, so maybe this is a cultural stereotype that is disproved. How can so many movies be wrong?
Seeing Mr. Miagi cry makes me cry every time. But then, I AM a girl.
Some duplicates, different music, if you’re put off by the cover of Melissa Manchester. I know I was.
7. Men are Less Talkative Than Women
Studies of the male and female brain show that the section of the brain that produces verbal ability and processes language is actually bigger in the female brain than in the male brain. Studies have also shown that women use 7000 more words per day on average than men do, and that women get more satisfaction out of verbalization than men do. Men can be talkers too, but there is something to be said for the strong, silent type.
Well, you get my meaning. Though it’s not a movie, The Sopranos addressed this subject rather nicely. Here you go:
6. Men Can Hold Their Liquor Better Than Women
Men’s bodies have more water, which makes them able to metabolize and dilute alcohol faster than women. So this is about how alcohol affects the body. Women have more fat (usually) than men, and alcohol tends to linger around longer. Plus, women have less of the enzyme in their livers that breaks down alcohol, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to a game of A**hole or beer pong. They do say, however that practice makes perfect, as we learned in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This is the exception, not the rule, according to science. The depiction of how girls handle alcohol in movies, however, is not overly flattering.
5. Men Have a Higher Sex Drive Than Women
This is a sticky wicket, and no, I did not mean that in a gross way. Men and women are both sexual beings. They are simply different sexual beings. Generally, men have a high libido and straightforward sexual wants and needs. Meaning, they just need it and want it. Women require CONTEXTUAL support for their libidinous cravings in the form of environmental comfort, emotional connections, and other factors. This is, I think, aptly demonstrated in When Harry Met Sally.
Harry’s dream includes a world where the act of sex is a foregone conclusion – to the point that he’s actually being judged for it. Sally’s dream involves a faceless stranger, and no sex actually takes place. Harry’s “fantasy” involved a lot of sex at a high level of intensity. Sally’s dream involves a mysterious stranger who rips off her clothes, and that’s where the dream ends.
4. Men are More Aggressive Than Women
This is not always the case. It’s sort of like a lot of these “facts.” You can’t make sweeping generalizations. You can talk about tendencies, etc., but it really comes down to some nurture along with the nature. Both men and women get angry. Men happen to have less control over how they express anger (biologically speaking) because the portion of their brain that moderates how one reacts to angry feelings is smaller in men than it is in women. There are actually genes that cause anger and aggression, and in some cases, women can be every bit as aggressive as an aggressive man. In all cases, people who were brought up in loving homes are often less aggressive, even when they carry those two uber-aggressive genes. HOWEVER, you notice how they never made a movie about a female Hulk…
3. Men Have a Higher Pain Threshold Than Women
Women actually have more pain processors than men. Women also lack the same level of a certain protein that helps the human body deal with pain. So, the million dollar question is, how do women go through childbirth, being that they have a lower pain threshold? If men are able to handle pain better (so the scientists say, but they’ve never met any man I’ve ever known when they get hurt) why aren’t they the ones who have the babies? The female body produces a sort of natural painkiller, along with a truckload of endorphins, while in labor, so she becomes like a super woman, and though it hurts, it doesn’t hurt her as badly as it would if it weren’t for the natural endorphin mojo that happens. There are tons of movies that showcase how much it hurts to be in labor, so I’ll spare you that, and give you this nice montage of movie fight scenes. Because it takes a high pain threshold to be in a fight.
2. Men are Slobs, at Least Bigger Slobs Than Most Women
Studies show that a man’s sense of smell is less keen than that of a woman. The brains of men and women process smells differently. Technically, there is no scientific explanation for why a man might be personally messier or less clean than a woman. There are societal explanations as to why some men and women think a woman should do the cleaning (this is not the case in my house), and lazy people (men and women alike) are not as clean or neat. We can leave it to Bill Murray to explain more:
1. Men are Better Drivers than Women
There may be some scientific evidence to support the idea that men react better to aggression from other drivers because of that lack of stress hormone I talked about way back in #8. On the other hand, as discussed in #4, men have a harder time holding back their anger (supposedly). So, how does an angry, yet collected person make a better driver? Men also have the advantage of being a little better at spacial relations, which means that they understand where they are geographically a bit better, and they have a better sense of the cars around them. HOWEVER, because of that pesky diminished ability to control anger, men are more likely to take risks on the road, which is why it costs more to insure a man than it does a woman. And today, with cell phones, coffee cups, and iPods, it’s a surprise ANYBODY can drive a block without getting into an accident. As for whether or not a man is a better driver than a woman, I firmly think it depends on the person. Woody Allen tends to agree:
Annie’s a bad driver, but Alvie won’t even try it.
Do you think gender stereotypes are accurate? Can you think of better video clips for these topics? Bring ‘em on!