Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When I was a teenager, my girlfriend's mother once asked me conversationally who I thought was more imaginative and who more practical -- men or women. I said I thought women were more imaginative and men more practical. "That's funny," she said without any insisting investment, "I think the opposite." These days, in a beer-drinking or intellectual forum, I think I would have to agree with her.

Not that it matters much or provides much insight, but it is an interesting bias or generalization. In fact, I think, men and women are imaginative and practical as the need arises. But for broad-brush purposes, I wonder where anyone ever got the notion that women were somehow 'weaker' or more kindly. Perhaps it comes from the experience of nurturing: Women nurture the young in direct ways (food) that men cannot. And from that premise, the notion of non-judgmental love arises (mind you this is all speculative bs). Men romp and imagine and make fortunes and wars and then, when times get tough, remember fondly the safety and warmth they once experienced in a mothering home.

Men are from Mars in a sense wider than simply war and women are from Venus in a sense wider than caring and nourishing. Imagination moves things forward but requires an element of stupidity. Practicality is more settled and serene, but lacks poetry. Together, these two dance with each other in wonderful and horrifying ways and neither is absent in any man or woman. To say that men are men and women are women is true in one sense and utterly false in another.

My mother used to wonder, with a practical wit, why, if women newspaper reporters were called "news hens," why male reporters were not referred to as "news cocks." Yin and yang -- a hen without a cock loses its meaning; a cock without a hen loses its meaning. Cocks are cocks, hens are hens and yet there is a dancing that goes on within every cock and hen.

Male and female. Imaginative and practical. Wise and idiotic. Isn't everyone like this? Or not?


1 comment:

  1. Just read any of Emily Dickinson....such as
    A TOAD can die of light!
    Death is the common right
    Of toads and men,—
    Of earl and midge
    The privilege.
    Why swagger then?
    The gnat’s supremacy
    Is large as thine.

    "Perhaps it comes from the experience of nurturing" Emily only had her art to nurture and did she ever do a great job!!