Style is a state of mind.
I overheard this the other day…
MAN: So what do you do with your girlfriends when you meet up?
MAN: So, you chat?
WOMAN: blah, blah, yadda yadda, bLAH
MAN: But. OK. So, you don’t actually DO anything together?
WOMAN: QUACK, chirrup, yaddayaddayadda, bLAH!
MAN: …yeah, but football, videogames, this is actually stuff. We do stuff. Participate in activities to wind down, play, or do things for self improvement, sometimes.. if it’s things like sport…
I have to admit, I totally heard it from MAN’s point of view. I felt bad hearing the cackle-waffle spewing out from the girl about chatting and caring about one another and being there, etc… Of course, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trivialising the value of the way women make friends and socialise. Some of my most meaningful relationships have developed out of these instances of bLAH, but… He was right. Men DO actually seem to DO more together in groups with their mates, than girls do. My question is, why?
A good friend of mine said the other day that she didn’t want a gym buddy, but really wanted to get fit. Is that ok? Should I accept that? Are women maybe missing a trick when it comes to group activities by choosing solitary perfectionism over healthy play and competition?
In all honesty I now gain very little chatting over brunches except perhaps a few inches round the waist and… sure… some really meaningful things are discussed, and yes there’s always banter and camaraderie… But besides that, what about the things MAN was talking about, like… winding down, play and self improvement?
Why do we not go to the gym in pairs, play games together, do physical activities? Is it because we are competitive, or lazy? Or loners?
A study published by the European Commission back in 2004 found that men and women spend their free time in completely different ways and especially when it comes to active sports. On average, men across Europe are more active than women, spending between 23 and 42 minutes on exercise where women spend just 15 to 35 minutes on an average day. Note that neither of these stats include walking or cycling to work or the shops, and so on. That’s just getting from A to B. This study was talking about choosing to be active in our free time.
So, intuitively, the claim that women are perfectionists rings true. We seem to be less inclined to do stuff we won’t be the best at. This also goes some way to explaining the theory about women not wanting a gym buddy to show us up while we waddle and heave in our lumpy lycra. I’m not going to go into the whole image (mis)awareness syndrome women suffer here…
But the study also showed that, on an average day, women in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Slovenia and Norway spend more time on sports and exercise than women in other European countries. Interesting to note that levels of depression among women are proportionately lower in these counties too. Again – subject of another blog…
This EC study isn’t the only one out there that pays some tribute to such sexism (that men are outdoorsy whereas women are at-home-communitarian types). A more recent American study by from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Lachman Associates from May 2013 that focussed on millennials (18-35 year olds) also showed the same result. Men and women display really different priorities when it comes to their preferred pastimes. And that’s whether or not they have children.
So the evidence is out there. The reason could be a kind of counter-instructive perfectionism that leads us to do less rather than more by choosing to go it alone with no-one to motivate us but our lenient and disproportionately understanding female selves (yes, yes, sexist I know, but whose fault is that?!)
Don’t complain. Just stop perpetuating these statistics and the sexism will stop with it.
After all, isn’t it just a bit dull that we women are (on average) choosing not to have as much fun in our spare time as men? And isn’t it also a bit dull that we spend more time on average than men grooming ourselves? If we spent less time on grooming and more on doing a bit of oh-so-humiliating flailing on a cross trainer at the gym with our mate on a regular basis, we could engineer better skin, muscle tone, memory, lower stress levels and better mental health. Meaning less time doing make up because, frankly you don’t need it if you’re a gym goer. Your skin does all the work for you by it’s own-some. What evidence do I have? Men don’t wear foundation. No. Not even the metrosexuals. Not even gay men (although I have heard about concealer… yes, that is for another blog too).
And you save money on salons and expensive skin treatments… But this doesn’t apply to smokers though. If you smoke your skin is just going to need pampering to look better. Simple as. I plan to quit tomorrow. Again, the subject of another blog.
Let’s just stop feeling afraid of not being good enough at working out. It’s not about looking good doing it. Not at the start anyway. It’s about play, or strength, or health, or all of these things. Let’s break the pattern already, and change the way we think to live fuller lives. Or at least as full as the lives of our other halves. Why should they have all the fun?
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