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Gender Differences. What a Great Idea!. Based on the Online Lecture found at

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gender differences

Gender Differences

What a Great Idea!

Based on the Online Lecture found at


Group Discussion:.Since men and women were in some ways created profoundlydifferent and all that God creates has a purpose, what purpose do these differences accomplish?

terms to know for next quiz
Terms to know for next Quiz:
  • short story
  • patriarchy
  • negative capability
  • willing suspension of disbelief
  • marginalized
  • antifeminist literature
  • misogynist
works relating to this subject to be covered in the future
Works Relating to this Subject to be Covered in the Future:


  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Short stories:

  • The Wife of Bath’s "Prologue" [e-text] [audio] by Geoffrey Chaucer [Handout] Note: the audio contains both prologue and tale.
  • The Wife of Bath’s Tale" [e-text] [audio] by Geoffrey Chaucer [Handout]
  • "A Jury by Her Peers" [e-text] [audio] by Susan Gadspell(398-408)
  • "Roman Fever" [e-text][audio] by Edith Wharton (409-434)
  • "A Rose for Emily" [e-text] by William Faulkner (556-5640)

Not covered but in text: "Hills Like White Elephants" [e-text] [audio] by Earnest Hemingway (268-272)


  • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare(viewed Oct. 8)


  • "If" by Rudyard Kipling [Handout]
  • "The Wife" by Emily Dickinson [Handout]
  • "The Lady of Shalott" [e-text] by Alfred Lord Tennyson [Handout]
  • "My Last Duchess" [e-text] by Robert Browning (775-777)
some examples appearing in text
Some Examples Appearing in Text

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

Genesis 1: 27 (English-KJV)

". . .neither was man created for woman, but woman for man."

1 Corinthians 11:9 (English NIV)


"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

Genesis 2: 21-13 (English-KJV)

from othello
From Othello:


\'Tisnot a year or two shows us a man:They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;To eat us hungerly, and when they are full,They belch us.


Why did I marry?. . .curse of marriage,That we can call these delicate creatures ours,And not their appetites!


. . . .O, these men, these men!

EMILIAResponding to the Desdemona’s question if there really are women out there who would betray their husbands?(negative capability?)

But I do think it is their husbands\' faultsIf wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,And pour our treasures into foreign laps,Or else break out in peevish jealousies,Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,Or scant our former having in despite;Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands knowTheir wives have sense like them. . .Then let them use us well: else let them know,The ills we do, their ills instruct us so

definition of the problem is there a problem
Definition of the Problem(Is there a Problem?)
  • One of the central reasons why men and women frustrate one another is that in some ways we are just plain different.  For a light-hearted look at this check out Men vs.Women:
for a light hearted look at this check out men vs women by matt groening
For a light-hearted look at this check out Men vs.Women:by Matt Groening


  • Women mature much faster than men. Most 17-year-old females can function as adults. Most 17-year-old males are still trading baseball cards and giving each other wedgies after gym class. This is why high school romances rarely work.

NEWS BULLETIN! - Men and women are NOT alike. Sure, you thought you already knew that. But now we have proof! After countless hours of surveys and studies on the following topics, these facts have emerged:



  • Women look good in hats; men look like dinks.


  • Let\'s say a small group of men and women are in a room, watching television, and an episode of "The Three Stooges" comes on. Immediately, the men will get very excited; they will laugh uproariously, and even try to imitate the actions of Curly, “man\'s favorite stooge.” The women will roll their eyes and groan and wait it out.


  • To their credit, men do not decorate their penmanship. They just chicken-scratch. Women use scented, colored stationary and they dot their "i\'s" with circles and hearts. Women use ridiculously large loops in their "p\'s" and "g\'s". It is a royal pain to read a note from a woman. Even when she\'s dumping you, she\'ll put a smiley face at the end of the note.


  • Women love cats. Men say they love cats, but when women aren\'t looking, men kick cats.


  • Men are vain; they will check themselves out in the mirror. Women are ridiculous; they will check out their reflections in any shiny surface--mirrors, spoons, store windows, toasters, Dr. Rearick\'s bald head.

The Telephone:

  • Men see the telephone as a communications tool. They use the telephone to send short messages to other people. A woman can visit her girlfriend for two weeks, and upon returning home, she will call the same friend and they will talk for three hours.

Low Blows:

  • Let\'s say a man and a woman are watching a boxing match on television. One of the fighters is felled by a low blow. The woman says "Oh, gee, that must hurt." The man doubles over and actually feels pain.


  • When preparing for work, a woman will put on a Mondi wool suit, and then slip into Reebok sneakers. She wil carry her dress shoes in a plastic bag from Saks. When a woman gets to work, she will put on her dress shoes. Five minutes later, she will kick them off because her feet are under her desk. A man will wear one pair of shoes for the entire day.


  • Little girls love to play with toys. Then, when they reach the age of 11 or 12, they lose interest. Men never grow out of their obsession with toys. As they older, their toys simply become more expensive and impractical. Examples of men\'s toys: little miniature TV\'s, car phones, complicated juicers and blenders, graphic equalizers, small robots that serve cocktails on command, video games, anything that blinks, beeps, and requires at least six "D" batteries to operate.
what students say
What Students Say


Abstract (Transcendent or Nebulous)

Empathetic – feels others

Uneven (cycles)

Communication Addicted

Physically weaker (but able to handle pain better)

Able to engage in Simultaneous Multiple Perspectives on Tasks

Primarily interested in the emotional nest (romance) needed to maintain the products of procreation (children).

  • Rational  
  • Practical (Concrete or “Bone headed”)
  • Insensitive
  • Even--Steady
  • Communicatively Challenged
  • Physically stronger but less able to handle pain.
  • Single Minded and Hierarchical in tasks
  • Primarily interested in act of procreation (sex).
a statement of disclosure
A Statement of Disclosure
  • I do not stand behind this list as an absolute definition.  At best these are but generalities. 
    • My blond mother is a former math teacher whose rational skills have navigated us through many a map and have left me checkmated more often than not. 
    • In my own marriage my wife is far better with math (and money) than I am. 
    • And when we were joined, she was the one who brought all the practical power tools to the marriage.  I brought books. 
    • I’m the talker and communicator—I am also the one who is aware of children at night.
  • What this list does do is show at least the perceptions of differences between the sexes.
  • Differences appear real and if so lead to tensions.

The question which often confounds scholars is how much of this difference is artificially created by culture and how much is biological innate to our beings. The debate is pretty heated about this. 

  • The only true biological differences with which most agree is that women have the equipment to bear children and men, in general, have more upper body strength. 
  • These differences are enough to lead into the next question of abuse since lack of strength and the connection to domestic work has left women often at the mercy of men.
abused power breakdown in communication
Abused Power = Breakdown in Communication
  • It is a sad fact that among humans whenever there is an imbalance of power there is the potential for abuse.  It happens between grownups and children.  But historically it has especially occurred between men and women.
  • When such abuse takes place communication and understanding break down. 
    • (One does not usually want to understand those whom one subjugates.)  So in many households there have been two adults living under the same roof with two different agendas.   
  • How the weaker has achieved her ends has caused for an even greater division between the genders.

Some may claim that the subservience of women is God\'s Law.  This is a debatable point with Christians arguing on either side.  However, what some might call God\'s ranking system--which never condoned the abuse of women--can not explain the world-wide existence of female inequality. 

  • There are so many social expectations around the world which violate Judeo-Christian expectations. Why then should this one quality be nearly universal? It is based on organic reality.

Let\'s face it, if all women were as strong as this young lady (Shelley Beattie) above appears to be, the number of domestic disturbances would probably go waaaay down


Thus, to claim God\'s law is responsible for male female inequality ignores the simple fact that even in places where God\'s will is barely known, women are still kept at a lower station then men.  Thus I conclude that since Male dominance is not based in the obedience to God\'s will: the cause must the be the reality of physical power and from this comes use or abuse of power.

  • But most women are matched with men who are physically stronger than they.
  • Thus, historically women have lacked the power to achieve their goals directly.  When conflict interests occurs they have found other means to reach their ends than via direct conflict.
in the face of a patriarchy what do women do
In the Face of a PatriarchyWhat Do Women Do?
  • They can confront directly—however since they lack the physical strength to force a male to act, their direct actions usually takes on the form of verbal force (which may explain why women value communication so very much).
    • There is the power of Reason – convince the male that a different approach is better than his while also also attempting to help him not feel that he is an idiot.
    • There is the power of vocal rage – scolding, nagging, yelling, making the male uncomfortable to achieve the said goal.
  • However Often Women who do this are call shrews (or among some evangelicals “feminists” 
verbal force is limited
Verbal Force is Limited

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,A scullion!Fie upon’t! foh!

Hamlet Act II Scene 2

in the face of a patriarchy what do women do1
In the Face of a PatriarchyWhat Do Women Do?
  • They can maneuver covertly—Many women by necessity in culture have become adept at manipulation.
    • There is again the power of Reason – convince the male that a different approach is better and even suggest somehow that this idea was his originally. -- did anyone remember seeing My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
    • There is the power of Sexual Appeal– “You don’t know how hard it is to be a woman looking the way I do. . .I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Jessica Rabbit
  • However Often Women who do this are call sneaks, basically being feminine means being dishonest
from my big fat greek wedding
From my Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • ToulaPortokalos: “Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. `Ah, the man is the head of the house!’”
  • Maria Portokalos: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.
the battle of the lamp from a christmas story
The Battle of the Lamp from A Christmas Story
  • Much of the action within A Christmas Story has to do with power manipulation.
  • The “Battle of the Lamp” is classic gender conflict.
  • In this culture she doesn’t feel comfortable telling her husband she hates that lamp. Instead she at first turns it off to “save electricity” He doesn’t cat on.
  • So eventually she destroys it “by accident”– acceptable.
with the dynamics in place what next
With the Dynamics in Place What Next?
  • Literature reveals the importance of the tension between genders. 
  • Unfortunately until recently most of the canon has been determined and created by men. 
  • So there are few female voices through literary history to help give alternative perspectives about the nature of, forgive the cliché, "the battle of the sexes.“
  • Some true artists, however, have tried even when culture has stood in the way.
the antifeminist tradition
The Antifeminist Tradition
  • Medieval literature abounds especially with antifeminist themes which they based on certain scriptures.
  • In a civilization which looked to scriptural narrative to explain who the world worked as it did, women were often blamed for the fall of humanity because Eve first gave in to the serpent.
  • Again because they are weaker, women are often portrayed as using guile and deceit to bring about the ruin of their opponents.
  • In some of the Arthur legends they play the role of enchantress and temptress. And it is no small matter that Queen Guinevere love for Lancelot eventually brings Camelot down.
stock character the shrew
Stock Character – The Shrew
  • There exists also a long tradition negatively portraying women who contradict their husbands directly.
  • These developed into a "stock character" often called a shrew. Such characters usually were only two dimensional and lacked development beyond just a joke.

One of the most famous examples of this appears in medieval mystery plays involving Noah\'s wife who insisting on her right to gossip with her friends even while poor Noah is attempting to get her safely on the ark.

  • These shrews also are portrayed as sexually overt. Thus in The Roman De La Rose (the Romance of the Rose) there is an old woman who gives advice to a young bride on how to abuse her husband sexually.
the wife of bath in the anti feminist tradition
The Wife of Bath in the Anti-Feminist Tradition

Chaucer\'s Wife of Bath is both an affirmation of the medieval concept of the shrew as well as a rebuttal of it

The the poet engages in a tour de force of the male imagination in "negative capability“ (a term by Keats describing the artist emptying him or herself of personal agenda to create a true character)

shakespeare s view in taming of the shrew
Shakespeare\'s View in Taming of the Shrew
  • Meanwhile, in Shakespeare\'s play The Taming of the Shrew he presents a wonderful study in contrast between two types of women (two sisters) with two different ways to deal with a oppressive patriarchy.
  • Bianca is all sweetness and all the men love her. However, as the play progresses she is shown to be manipulative and not nearly so honest as her older sister.
  • Katrina meanwhile, confronts directly the male dominated society she finds herself in, but she also finds herself trapped in the cage of rage. She is branded a Shrew and in fact fulfills that nature.
the modern feminist tradition
The Modern Feminist Tradition
  • Writers within this tradition embrace a wide variety of approaches to the question of women\'s place and power in culture and society. 
  • Most of these approaches are allied by their critical analysis of patriarchal (male-dominated) and phallocentric (male-centered) institutions and practices. 
  • Furthermore works may be analyzed by their interests in promoting women\'s issues and concerns. 
  • These concerns rise to the forefront of literary concerns with the late 18th and early 19th century and have continued on to the present. 
modern works
Modern Works
  • Among our readings the short story "A Jury by Her Peers" (written in the first part of the 20th century) is especially notable since it was written by a woman (Susan Gadspell). responding in a subversive way to the domineering and condescending attitudes of men
  • The social parameters clearly shape the course of action that Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters. At first glance "Roman Fever" written by another woman, Edith Wharton, a little later than the first (1934) does not at first seem to fit the Feminist tradition.

However, part of the difficulties these two women share is that in their world, affluent New Yorkers, they are defined by only their roles as wives and mothers.

  • In "A Rose for Emily" this same gender tension (complicated still further by the roles of a daughter to a domineering father) is at the root of the problems Faulkner depicts the aristocratic Emily Grierson.
  • Finally although not covered overtly in the class—you can only read so much—consider the struggle between sexes over what will happen to a woman\'s body finds a critical analysis in "Hills Like White Elephants" by Earnest Hemingway