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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Caveman Vs. Cavewomen

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People the world over like to talk about the differences between men and women. We've all heard it in movies, emails, conversations, etc. and largely it's one side complaining about the other. "My wife buys things we don't need just because they're on sale," or "My husband wont stop for directions!" and so on.

It was explained to me by someone who's references I've never checked, that we are what we are because of the way things were in the caveman days. Men went out and hunted, women stayed home and foraged and took care of the babies.

Now, neither one of us are experts in sociology or paleontology or anything really, so this could all just be wrong. I haven't done any research on it, or looked it up on the interweb, nor have I talked about it with anyone who may have more of a clue than us. This whole post could just be full of bologna (which my mind wants to spell as bullony, by the way. If you see it spelled that way, just move on. My mind doesn't always listen to my brain.)

I am, however, a staunch believer in logic, and if it makes enough sense, I'm perfectly happy to move along in life giving suggestions like the caveman explanation at least some credit, somewhere on par with the credit we give to rules of thumb.

This caveman explanation is at very least a convenient way for us all to look at the opposite sex and say "See? It's not my fault, it's because of cavemen!".

Some of these stereotypes are either unfair or just plain wrong, but many of them are founded in truth, I think. For instance, when I go to a store, I have some idea of what I'm looking for, I find something that suits my needs, and I buy it and go.

Cave men were similar. Assuming it's true that the cave men were the hunters, they weren't exactly given the opportunity to be picky about what they were going out for. They suited up, got their spears, and went off with an objective in mind. Kill to feed the family, or die trying. When approaching their kill, they didn't have opportunity to squeeze it, turn it over, inspect it's lining, rub it on their faces, smell it, and try to find a better specimen. That would get them eaten.

I imagine the event would have gone something like this for caveman-me:
"Need food for family. Want meat. Must go where meat-food is." I grab my spear, put on my furs and head out to the fields. I find the fields where I know the mammoths graze. I'm in luck, there's a small one nearby, and he's looking the other way. I and my crew could easily jump out and take this one down.

Clearly, we see the other larger mammoth a little further away, and while we could probably take that one down instead, it would be more difficult, and the little one would feed us for just as long before the left overs start to spoil. Prudently, we go with the one that's good enough to suit our needs.

This is exactly how I approach shopping for gifts.

"Need gift for kid. Want toy. Must go where toy-gift is." I grab my keys and wallet, put on my jacket and head out to the mall. I'm in luck, there are toys. I come to the nearest one, and while I can see that there are toys all over the freakin place, this one is closest, and it will suit my needs. Done deal.

The cave women on the other hand, get things done differently. They're saddled with the kids, so they're limited to safer forms of food procurement. They and their fellow cave women get together and forage for nuts and berries, and because the chances of their prey fighting back and killing them are low, they get to talk and make noise.

They pick the largest, ripest, berries. They turn each berry over in their hands, inspecting it for imperfections, discarding the yucky ones.

This contrast perfectly explains those situations where the couple are seen together in the mall, the women chatting and rifling through rack of clothes while the guy stares off annoyed. They're both on the same mission to get things, but the process is changed. She's still looking for the best version of what's available, and he's just looking for the quick and easy "good enough", and neither are getting the experience they prefer. The male likes the quiet "get in and get done" and the female likes the social interaction and the procurement of the best of what's available.

There are countless other comparisons, like men preferring rooms darker than women. Light blows the caveman's cover, whereas it helps the cave women to identify flawed berries. Men prefer not to talk as much cause talking at all could blow their cover. Men resort to violence faster than women, cause violence was their job, etc.

Again, I have no idea of the validity of these thoughts, and haven't even looked into it to see if it wasn't completely cooked up by this friend of mine, but a lot of it does stand to reason, and is at least convenient if not completely logical. Have you heard this before? Can you apply this explanation to any other real life man vs. women stereotypes?