6 Things Everyone Knows About Women (That Aren't True)
We previously pointed out how some crude, absurd gender stereotypes are in fact proven true by science. But, in the interest of not letting 60s sitcoms have the last word on the differences between men and women, we should point out how many things "everyone knows" about women just plain aren't true, according to science. Like...
Women Aren't As Aggressive
Remember that nursery rhyme about what little girls and little boys are made of? Boys are made of errant amphibians, mollusks and puppy parts while girls are made of sugar and spice and all that's nice. It'd be an adorable if it didn't also sum up gender expectations for the rest of your life.
Snails and dog tails make you more aggressive.
When we grow up, women are more likely to be penalized for displaying too much aggression, while men are rewarded for the exact same behavior.
Sometimes with millions of dollars.
When actually ...
Women might be the more aggressive of the genders.
Researchers found that when you deindividuate a person--or place the person in a situation where he or she doesn't have an individual identity--aggressive attitudes are amplified. This makes sense. It's probably why Marines are required to wear the same uniform, and hipsters are such pussies. Well, they tested this in the lab by having men and women play an interactive video game that required killing other players by dropping bombs on them.
They found that under normal circumstances, men dropped far more bombs than women. But in the deindividuated groups, women out-attacked the men every time, with an average of about five more bombs dropped per session.
Might as well face it, you're addicted to MASS MURDER.
Putting people, particularly women, in a situation where they are anonymous and don't have to conform to societal expectations is very powerful psychologically. And by very powerful, we mean it turns them into an unfeeling murder machines.
Women Aren't as Horny as Men
When it comes to the topic of sex drive, everyone knows the stereotypes: Men are shameless swine who will nail anything with a pulse, and women are only interested in lovemaking that satisfies them on an emotional level.
Think back on your adolescence, and it seems self-evident, doesn't it? Boys are so sex-driven that they literally have to hide their protruding penises (penii?) with baggy jeans and Trapper Keepers. Girls rarely have that problem. And as adults, we all know that it's mostly men, not women, populating the porn-viewing public. The Kinsey Institute even says so. Obviously, men are much more interested in sex. Case closed.
When actually ...
Women are probably just as horny as men--they just don't want you to know it.
The "fan and demure smile" look is just a more elegant "hard-on poking through the jeans."
A recent study asked a large group of test subjects about their sexual behavior but put some clever controls in place. One group of respondents gave their answers while connected to a polygraph machine, and a second group was put in a with a researcher and told that their answers would be monitored. A control group was told their answers would remain completely anonymous.
It turns out that when women were faced with the chance of someone seeing their answers (the group with the researcher in the room) they all suddenly became contestants in a Miss Chastity pageant, reporting only half the number of sexual partners that the group connected to the lie detector claimed. But the women connected to the polygraph actually reported more sexual partners than the men in the same control group.
"Well, there's the weekly foursome, the monthly "Lezz-In" and the occasional anonymous stall sex."
Experts interpreted this as women feeling "pressure to adhere to sex role expectations that indicate (they) should be more relationship-oriented and should avoid being seen as promiscuous." Just like with the bombing experiment, take away what society expects of us, and our true colors show.
Most of those colors are shades of pink.
On a related note...
Only Men Like Porn
The pimps who make up the advertising world have known for decades that the best way to catch a man's eye (and money) is with copious amounts of T&A. Men will line up to buy a large-caliber gunshot to the face as long as there's a scantily clad woman in a submissive pose somewhere telling them how awesome it's going to be.
But what about women? It's been widely believed that the fairer sex isn't affected by erotic imagery to the same degree that men are. And not just in advertising, but in movies, magazines or any other forms in which it might appear. Which is why you don't see half-naked beefcake flanking bottles of hair conditioner.
When actually ...
According to this study, women's brains react just as quickly to erotic images as men's do--and in fact the reaction may even be stronger.
They even use different "circuits" to process them as opposed to the pathways that are reserved for everyday images. Using EEG electrodes to monitor brain activity, researchers showed a group of female subjects pictures that ranged from pleasant to disturbing. Everything was cool until they got to photos that showed couples engaged in sensual poses.
Erotic images elicited neurons to fire at 160 milliseconds, which was 20 percent faster than even the quickest reactions to the non-erotic pictures--even if those pictures depicted immediate danger, like a snarling animal.
Above: less interesting than a penis.
If you've heard that stuff about how erotica turns women on only if there's some kind of deep backstory or emotional connection to what's going on, keep this in mind: 160 milliseconds means the women's brains were lighting up in response to the naked people well before they even consciously registered what they were seeing. Way before the thinking part of their brains could warm up, they already had an immediate, knee-jerk animal response that screamed, "LOOK! A BONER!"
Only Women Suffer from Media-Perpetuated Body Issues
Women have been complaining forever about the impossibility of living up to the female body image that is presented in media. There are like eight billion periodicals marketed to women, and every one of them has some thin teenager with perfect teeth, huge boobs and no blemishes staring out from the cover--not just Martha Stewart Living. It's no wonder the grocery store checkout line is known as the "boner chute."
This colloquialism was submitted by Gertrude Weinbauer, Food Lion #1557.
Complaints and checkout erections aside, it's not our fault the media is presenting this airbrushed picture of what women should look like, or that real-world women are buying into it. If you ladies don't have the sense to know that it's all a sham, then maybe you deserve your crippling body image diseases.
When actually ...
Men are starting to feel the exact same pressures to look perfect. A recent study commissioned by Harvard found that a full 25 percent of people with eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia are men.
Look at that asshole, just brushing his teeth all the live-long day. How can a real man compete with that?
The effect that these media portrayals have is real and the body image problem has jumped the gender barrier, so stick that in your overly tanned, sharply chiseled faces, men. Surveys show that a growing percentage of dudes believe that the only attractive male physique is an extremely muscular one, and they are going to great lengths to attain it.
Typically, that means consuming large amounts of protein, obsessing about their weight and working out so much it interferes with other parts of their lives. It doesn't even matter that in the media, the dudes who have chiseled bodies tend to be douchebags.
They were right! We were just jealous this whole time!
Women Aren't as Good at Math
This stereotype isn't as in-your-face as the others on the list, but it's there. If you look around at the people who hold most of the science, technology and engineering jobs in the world today, you'll quickly be tempted to ask, "Hey, where are all the chicks?" Anyone who's ever spent time around a college math lab, a corporate IT department or an engineering firm will notice a preponderance of dudes with skinny arms, ironic T-shirts and Tron collectibles.
And very few women.
This shortage of women in science and technology fields has given birth to the idea that maybe women just aren't as talented or as interested in those areas as men. Or more specifically, that they aren't as good at math, which is kind of the underpinning of the whole shebang. If you're not good at math, you're going to make a crappy scientist, right? And if women aren't well represented in the sciences, doesn't it follow that they're just not as skilled at mathematics?
When actually ...
Janet Hyde from the University of Wisconsin-Madison compiled math test scores and SAT results from more than seven million students, and found absolutely no difference in scores between males and females. So if girls have a mathematical aptitude equal to that of their testicled counterparts at the end of high school, why aren't they moving forward into scientific careers in greater numbers?
Why the hell not?
Well, the answer is nobody really knows. But right now, most researchers are leaning toward causes with social and environmental origins. One recent study found that teachers in grade school can impart their own anxieties about math to their female students, engendering a belief that boys will always be better at math than girls.
Another potential environmental explanation is social identity threat. This is a phenomenon in which knowledge of a stereotype actually makes you fail--thereby validating the stereotype. It's like a Catch-22, but with breasts. In either case, the next time you're trying to impress some girl with your knowledge of isotopes and quadratic equations, just remember that there's an even chance that she's actually better at that shit than you are. Calculate that, Poindexter.
Most Victims of Domestic Violence Are Women
Making jokes about domestic violence is about as awesome as making jokes about genocide. So we'll skip the hilarity and go straight to the stereotype about spouse abuse: If you're talking about one person beating up another in the home, you're probably talking about the man beating up the woman. That's why everyone believes that bullshit statistic about spousal abuse skyrocketing on Super Bowl Sunday. Men are bigger, women are weaker. Men are more aggressive, more violent, more prone to jealousy, and women are their usual victims.
When actually ...
Women are more likely to abuse, stalk and attack their partners than men are.
And there are literally hundreds of scientific studies with sample sizes in the thousands to back up this assertion. In the world of gender research, domestic violence is a subject that has been studied over and over again. The evidence is clear: When couples resort to physical violence, more often than not it's the woman who attacks the man first.
Hey Internet, what's the name for this fetish?
Consider this write-up from a study by Straus and Ramirez: "When only one partner was violent it was twice as likely to be the female than the male. Moreover, in terms of severe aggression females were twice as likely to be violent than men." Holy shit, ladies. Time to chill the fuck out.
If you're wondering why you've never heard these stats before, there's the obvious fact that men are bigger and therefore more likely to hurt women, and deserve to get raped in prison. But it's probably also because men are less likely to report physical attacks to the authorities than women are. And for some reason, men are really really less likely to report having a foot broken off in their ass by a 110-pound woman.
"It was a Hitler. No, three Hitlers."
It's the same old story: The stereotype persists because we're ashamed that we don't conform to it. Whew, that's depressing. How about before we end the article and we all go crazy in the comments, we join together and look at this adorable little kitty who broke his little leg:
For more things you were sure of but shouldn't be, check out The 5 Most Statistically Full of Shit National Stereotypes and The 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions.
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Angels are real, and they are bad frickin' news. Robert Brockway's Vicious Circuit series is a punk rock, dark fantasy full of horror and humor. Check out the first two books, and pre-order the third, Kill All Angels, available December 26th.