OK, this is a sincere question, which I am going to try to answer in this post myself: I sincerely do not understand what people mean when they say that “men are more logical than women.”
A little bit of background: I am typing this at the tail end of Easter Sunday 2021. As such I have today attended a Zoom meeting of my Christian fellowship. However instead of discussing Easter-related topics such as – you know – Jesus, the empty tomb, the Resurrection, etc; instead a talk was given on “How to be a successful husband.” I found it so humorous as a woman to be subjected to this topic that I shared it on Facebook – I can’t stop laughing even now!
I’m really grateful for my Christian fellowship, and the talk, given by a man was clearly given from a sincere heart. This is clearly a man who has invested a lot into his family and his marriage, and I genuinely learned a lot.
However, inevitably, up came the standard cliches which I have heard so many times in similar church settings: “Men are more logical than women”…”Men are initiators, whereas women are responders.” I definitely understand what the second sentence means – but I completely disagree with it. As a woman, I myself am a huge initiator – I start things; using my initiative and finding courage to plough into an idea is one of my biggest gifts. However I had to train myself in this, but now I am at the stage where it is second nature. If women tend to be “responders” rather than initiators I am sure that it is because “responding” behaviour is conditioned into us, and I am sure that with training and determination most women can become “initiators” just as confidently as I am. One big and obvious example of where women are conditioned to be responders is regarding relationships themselves, that you have to sit and wait for the man to ask you out first, and then you as a woman can “respond” to the lead that he has taken. So you might actually suppress your own tendencies to take the initiative in this situation, just to go along with the rules (Yawn!) I have definitely broken this rule enough times in my life; what I did not realise is that even in doing that I was unknowingly taking the initiative to lay the foundation of an excellent marriage for myself! So if there is any marital excellence in my future, as I hope there will be, it will be precisely because I have disobeyed this societal rule. But there is a difference between disobeying society’s rules and disobeying God’s rules; breaking God’s rules is inherently self-destructive and self-defeating and does not lead to any kind of excellence – why would I ever wilfully do that?!
However regarding the first statement I sincerely do not understand what people actually mean to start with, when they say that “men are more logical.” I honestly wish that people would give examples. And then there is a language issue here too: Do people sincerely mean more logical? I have also heard in this kind of context people say countless times that men are “more rational” than women. Well logical and rational, even though they may be used interchangeably, are not actually the same thing! “Logical” means that each step of an argument or a way of thinking is built solidly on a previous step in a way that is so tight as to be almost mathematical. Whereas “rational” means someone who takes generally sensible and reasonable decisions, perhaps considering different aspects of the situation at hand, seeing the big picture. And yes, it is very possible to be logical but not rational, and vice-versa. For instance, someone who decides to go and conduct a random school shooting on random individuals or some other type of destructive murderous terrorism can never in my opinion be considered to be rational, because the act of wilfully destroying other human beings is in itself deeply irrational. And yet if they were to explain their reasoning, sometimes you can see how one step of reasoning follows on from another in a systematic way: this is logic, but it is flawed logic. It is like when someone uses computer code to write viruses: it is still computer code, so it is still deeply logical and systematic; it is just employed towards an irrational, destructive end. Conversely someone who is rational might not be able to explain their reasoning in a procedural way. And yet, even if they cannot explain themselves logically, they still intuitively understand that it is wrong and depraved etc to go and kill other people or to write malicious computer viruses.
So when people say that “men are more logical than women!” or “men are more rational than women!” I sincerely do not even know what they mean to start with, or how they are using the language in the statements. I am not being wilfully stupid; I sincerely do not understand. It confuses me. And yet this is the kind of thing that I feel I do want to understand and ideally before I get married. But then I was thinking to myself that maybe this is the kind of thing that I can only understand within marriage itself. I don’t know whether these words “logical”…”rational” are examples of people crudely using language to express something that is nevertheless true or has a kernel of truth. I wonder whether this will happen: that as soon as I get married, I will instantly understand what people mean. I was even asking myself earlier today: could it be possible that I myself will get married, and instantly conform to stereotype; allow myself to abandon all attempts at logical thinking, and become all about emotions, while letting my husband make all the effort in analytical thinking?!
Which brings us to another thing: this supposed “logic” or “rationality” of men is constantly contrasted against women’s “emotionality” (if such a word exists – oops!) So when people say “men are more logical/rational than women” is this what they are trying to express “that men are not as emotional as women are emotional in the way that women are emotional?” When they say “emotional” is that just a euphemism for “crying”; basically when people say that “men are more logical/rational than women” are people just saying that men do not cry as much as women – is that simply what it boils down to?! As I say I sincerely do not understand!
Let’s concede for the sake of this argument that women do cry more than men, or more easily. And yet crying is not the only emotion or rather expression of emotion. Pride is an emotion. Anger is an emotion. Sadness is an emotion. So just because women might exhibit one particular emotion more than men does not in and of itself mean that “women are more emotional than men”, because there are so many other emotions to consider than “propensity to crying (in public)”. (I’ve written a blog post very similar to this before, making similar points!)
And you know men commit suicide at a far higher rate than women, all over the world, even though women demonstrably have harder lives. Also it is so self-evident that men are overwhelmingly responsible for most of the irrational violent acts and destruction in the world, that I don’t even need to make an attempt to produce any evidence, or make an apology for not having any evidence. So when men say (or rather parrot) “men are more rational than women” clearly the correct answer to that laughable untruth is “Are you mad?!” Perhaps women’s “crying” is an expression of and/or an aid to our rationality, not a contradiction of it.
Or could this be what people mean: that when men make their decisions they do it with more cold unfeeling than women would do; I’m not saying that this is actually true, I’m just wondering whether this is what everyone else thinks. So if this is what people mean, maybe they mean that when a man thinks he needs to say something, he will just say it. If he hurts your feelings, shrug – he just does not care. Once again I’m not saying that this is actually true. However, as usual, I do have a story or two! And you know what, in those cases, I think it is fair to say that where these men were cavalier about my own feelings, apparently they expected me to care about theirs! Imagine that! I can’t help feeling that this is ultimately an expression of male privilege. Perhaps without realising it, regarding my own feelings it seems to me that these men apparently thought that I was less human than they were, so they could casually disregard my own feelings, whereas concerning their own feelings they considered themselves to be more human than me, and consequently they expected their feelings to be acknowledged accordingly.
I don’t know whether it is true that men do act with more cold unfeeling than women do. However I can’t help feeling that ultimately this following is a large aspect of the interaction between men and women: that men perhaps subconsciously generally and simply think that they are more human than women, and expect to be acknowledged as such.
A huge part of the difference between human beings and animals is that animals are largely driven by instinct, whereas we human beings can sit down and consciously make decisions, we can act rationally. I feel that whenever men say that they are “more rational than women”, they are tacitly suggesting that they are more human in that they are more able to make decisions, and therefore further from being animals, than women. Furthermore, it is not just men and women; I have often observed that people in power always arrogate to themselves more rationality or “thinking power” than the people who they have managed to oppress. Sometimes they act as if it is because they are more rational that they have successfully managed to oppress other people, as if the end goal and ultimate expression of being human is to successfully oppress other people. So for instance racism that I have experienced in various quarters often consists of Caucasian people insinuating that they are somehow “more rational” (and thereby more human) than people of African descent. For instance, on this blog I have demonstrated a strong personal commitment to sexual purity. And yet it has happened countless times that some Caucasian person will insinuate that I am somehow living a promiscuous sexual life. And this with absolutely no basis, no proof, no evidence, nothing. And I am not the only African woman to have experienced this from Caucasian people. In fact, women (and men) of African descent are consistently hypersexualised by Caucasian people, so there is a tendency to interpret all our actions with sexual meanings, or to act as if we are defined exclusively by an aggressive sexuality. I believe this is because the sexual drive is a a very strong expression of instinct, and is something that human beings share with animals. By suggesting that we as people of African descent are completely defined by our sexuality and cannot control our sexual urges, then these people making these insinuations are almost relegating us to the status of animals, who are also controlled by their sexual instinct. Thereby they make us less human, they dehumanise us. And we are talking about the most innocent things that will always be construed with sexual interpretations.
Racism consistently finds ways of dehumanising other people, suggesting for instance that we are “aggressive” (like animals) or various other things. Or they will claim that we are less intelligent, or we are less articulate, and less able to understand sophisticated (and so more human) language. It is all ultimately about dehumanising one set of people while elevating themselves to be more fully human. If you are recognising yourself in the racist behaviour that I am describing here, in case you did not realise that dehumanising other people is what you have been doing, then let me be the one to tell you, that is what you have been doing. And if you identify as a Christian and you have been doing this, then do you appreciate why people like me find it hard to take people like you, and the faith you promote, seriously? The Bible says that everyone is made in the image of God, and yes, that “everyone” definitely includes people of African descent. So why then do you as a supposed Christian try to dehumanise our people, and somehow make it out that actually, we are not made in the image of God, we are not fully human – and then claim that you are deeply committed to the Bible?! How do you expect me to take you seriously when you are basically propounding such a confused theory which is one big contradiction?! If you are going to be a Christian, then be a Christian – and that involves submitting your own opinions to the truth of the word of God. If you cannot grasp this simple “logic” then I can’t help wondering what else you may have failed to understand about basic Bible teaching. And then can you believe that these people actually try to make excuses?! Seriously?! What an embarrassment!
But anyway! All this is not actually what I meant to write today!
What I did mean to write is this: that if women do genuinely come across as being “less rational”, then what I am about to describe could be a big factor in it all:
in short men exert a huge amount of power over women in relationships, and consequently the behaviour that women exhibit might not be their natural behaviour if they were not subject to so much power from men, so it might not seem “rational”; however if those power dynamics were changed or relieved, then women might be seen to act in far more “rational” ways.
As a woman, regarding relationships, my life can roughly be divided into two segments. The second is the time following the decision that I am about to describe; that actually I was only going to get married if my husband was utterly outstanding – so there! If he was not utterly outstanding then I was going to live a life of excellent singleness – so ultimately, all told, I don’t actually need to get married. The first segment is the time before I came to that realisation/made that decision. Coming to that decision has given me a lot of freedom because the simple fact is that I don’t need to get married; I’m not holding it as the be all and end all of my life any more – so I can afford to tell you what I really think. I can tell you what I really think of men. I can tell you what I really think of certain male behaviours. I can tell you that there is no way I am going to let myself be subject to a glass ceiling for the rest of my life in the form of my husband. And yet prior to making that decision, I did not feel the same freedom to say what I really thought, because frankly, I still bought into The Big Lie so marriage was still at that point the be all and the end all of my life and I wanted a man to choose me! So obviously I could not afford to offend men en-masse. That said, to be candid I was still outspoken back then – ha ha ha! But now I feel as if I genuinely have nothing to lose.
This is a very obvious analogy that nevertheless only just occurred to me literally just before I started typing this post. It is like when you need a job, and you are absolutely desperate, and you basically need a job, any job because you need to pay the bills. And you finally get a job. And frankly while it it may not be hell on earth, it is still far from your dreams. The office politics are terrible, you are overworked, the management is clueless. And yet, because you need this job so badly, you are never going to voice any of these things out, are you?! As awful as it may be, you are going to stay there and persevere until you get something better, aren’t you – unless your life is actually in danger – yes Amazon, I’m looking at you!
And yet, if you had a means of self-sufficiency, of comfortably paying your bills without having to look towards any of those poor jobs, then you can instantly afford to be a lot more candid about those types of jobs. You can freely express yourself on social media “I would hate to be working in one of those jobs!” – without worrying about whether one of their recruitment managers might ever be checking out your profile. So it is with men. You might think that men generally are awful, but you would never voice it out while you are trying to catch a man, one of the better ones – as long as you think you need the relationship. It is when you realise that actually, you don’t need the relationship as you thought, or you’ve managed to reconstrue your life in a way that is not dependent on getting married after all; it is then that you can afford to be truly candid about what you truly think without worrying about what any one individual man might think, and truly give vent to your opinions.
(Actually, perhaps this analogy is not so good as there is no way I would ever have stayed in a bad relationship, even at the worst of times. That said, I guess I can say that now, ultimately we will never know!!!)
I believe that if more women were to be liberated in this way – realising that they do not have to get married, then lots more women would express the same sentiments that I do; it is certainly true that when women are more educated (and thereby more able to support themselves financially and therefore less in need of getting married for sheer financial survival) then the rate of marriage goes down. And then I believe that when you are in that situation, when you can say what you genuinely think and do what you feel is best then men’s comments about logic and rationality suddenly magically end. No-one can deny, no-one has ever tried to deny that many of the conclusions I come to on this blog are perfectly logical and rational, perhaps because I am allowing myself to work in my own unapologetic self-interest as most men are apparently allowed and encouraged to do; I am trying to find a truly outstanding husband for myself. If no such husband exists, then I will remain single. And in that case I will invest my thousand percent efforts into my own endeavours. I am checking out potential marital candidates before I marry them, just to make sure that they would truly be excellent. What could be more rational than that?! (Ah, perhaps that is what people mean when they say that men are more “rational”: that men coldly act in their own self-interests?! As if there is anything inherently more “rational” about being self-centred – don’t you understand that life can only work when we all care about one another?!)
What I am trying to say here is that I suspect that men might be surprised when women free themselves from the relationship power that men have over them, to see just how capable these women are of acting “rationally”, whether we are talking about individual women freeing themselves from individual men, or of women collectively freeing themselves from relationship power dynamics. Perhaps then men might realise, to their amazement, that it is actually the inequitable power dynamics of relationships that have twisted women’s behaviour to make it seem “illogical” or “irrational”.