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What's the difference (if any) between a male's mindset vs. a female's mindset? (1 Viewer)

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Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
And at the same time, aren't stereotypes pretty useful to a writer? Or maybe we should call them stock characters? I was just working up an exercise for another project and it's on this topic, the making good use of literary stereotypes or stock characters that have already been created for our use (through other literature). I'm talking about such stock characters as the country bumpkin, the femme fatale, the hypochondriac, the town drunk, the ingénue, the sidekick, or the absent-minded professor, and many more. Some would be limited to females, others to males, and some could be either one. So maybe sometimes for literary effect we need to show differences between male mindset and female mindset. Just sayin'. . . I don't imagine every writer creates a character from scratch. But then again I've never written a novel either.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
There are some stereotypes that can be applied to women depending on society and its effect on person involved. On average, women tend to be more nurturing than men. Women tend to be more thoughtful and willing to cooperate than men. There are a ton of social norms there commonly held between genders. If a person deviates from those norms, they are likely to face blowback. So, if a female character isn't wooed by a baby, people will often ask, why. This also applies to a male character. If they are naturally sensitive and gentle, people will assume they are gay. They would likely have to face ridicule and sometimes greater violence against them from other men.

So, understand the social norms. Then, figure out why your character breaks them and how they break them. Does the character break the norms in subtle ways, or are they performative in their expression? Why? How does this person fit into the larger society? Are they comfortable around those that would look at them with dismay? Do they not care what others think of them? If no, then why?

This is the basics of character creation. We are not divorced from our environment. We have to interact with it on a daily basis. If your character is far and away different than the norm, it would effect how they interaction with that environment and how the environment interacts with them.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
It's a question of what is meant by 'mindset'. It's a volatile phrase because there isn't really such thing. What is any human being's 'mindset'? Well, it depends, right? When you're hungry or tired your 'mindset' changes, for instance.

It's hard enough to generalize a mindset within a single individual person, let alone across a whole gender (a gender among which you aren't taking into account other things that alter 'mindset', such as poverty, education, age, etc.)

If you are hellbent on generalizing, you could rationally say women are less violent than men, based on the fact women commit less violent crime. You could say women are more nurturing, based on the fact women are more likely to enter nurturing professions, such as teaching and healthcare. You could rationally say all sorts of things that 'women do'.

None of it will matter too terribly much, though, because gender is a social construct and biology only goes to far. Social constructs can mean everything and nothing at the same time depending on exactly what we are talking about. For the most part, on an individual level, they are a poor gauge of what people will do. There are differences between individuals in every demographic.

Anybody who believes women are less violent, for instance, has clearly never been inside a women's prison (I have). Anybody who believes women are more nurturing, has never met a woman who abuses children or animals (I have). A thousand hours discussing the topic will most likely end in nothing because generalizing entire genders does nothing for understanding individual people and their quirks.

This is especially true for writers; What is the point of writing if not to consider people on an individual level?
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Anybody who believes women are less violent, for instance, has clearly never been inside a women's prison (I have).
Women prisons are less violent then their male counterparts.

Anybody who believes women are more nurturing, has never met a woman who abuses children or animals (I have).
I think you're talking about the fringes here, not the mainstream. You are more likely to find nurturing women than women who are not nurturing.

A thousand hours discussing the topic will most likely end in nothing because generalizing entire genders does nothing for understanding individual people and their quirks.

This is especially true for writers; What is the point of writing if not to consider people on an individual level?
To properly understand the individual, you have to also understand the environment that helped to shape them. I'm sure you'll agree that people when grew up in a fundamentalist religion would differ greatly from people who grew up atheist, regardless of gender. But, even in that fundamentalist lens, the women would differ from the men and often carry similar behavioral tendencies.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
And at the same time, aren't stereotypes pretty useful to a writer? Or maybe we should call them stock characters? I was just working up an exercise for another project and it's on this topic, the making good use of literary stereotypes or stock characters that have already been created for our use (through other literature). I'm talking about such stock characters as the country bumpkin, the femme fatale, the hypochondriac, the town drunk, the ingénue, the sidekick, or the absent-minded professor, and many more. Some would be limited to females, others to males, and some could be either one. So maybe sometimes for literary effect we need to show differences between male mindset and female mindset. Just sayin'. . . I don't imagine every writer creates a character from scratch. But then again I've never written a novel either.

Fun to reverse the norms :) The female town drunk, country bumpkin, or the male hypochondriac or homme fatale. The absent minded female professor, some real possibilities there :)
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Women prisons are less violent then their male counterparts.

I think you're talking about the fringes here, not the mainstream. You are more likely to find nurturing women than women who are not nurturing.

To properly understand the individual, you have to also understand the environment that helped to shape them. I'm sure you'll agree that people when grew up in a fundamentalist religion would differ greatly from people who grew up atheist, regardless of gender. But, even in that fundamentalist lens, the women would differ from the men and often carry similar behavioral tendencies.

It somewhat depends on how we measure and define things, I think.

First off, you're right. Certainly men's prisons are far more violent if we're talking beat downs and getting-shanked-in-the-shower-room, no question. I did not mean to say that was not the case.

What I meant to say is, it's really hard to measure, to the point it becomes absurdly tangled up. I think sometimes there's a qualitative element that gets lost when comparing crime rates. One inmate stabbing another is likely going to show up on a report, but tormenting a cellmate through prolonged emotional cruelty and petty cruelty is less likely to. Who has the more violent intent -- a prisoner who punches another prisoner once, or a prisoner who tortures another prisoner in small but constant ways (hair pulling, scratching, shitting on their bed) day in and day out? I think it's really hard to make that comparison.

A hundred men for every one women on Death Row certainly seems, on its face, to support the theory that 'men are more violent', and in purely quantitative terms that's undeniably true. BUT if we consider that a very large number of those 100 men may have simply been part of armed robberies that went wrong and other 'heat of the moment' types of murder, gang shootings or whatever...then consider that the one woman may have, say, strangled their pregnant victim to death with their bare hands and then cut the unborn baby from their uterus (which is the case with the one woman who is currently on Federal Death Row), it starts to become difficult, not least because that seems like a crime that would be far less common among men. It feels like a particularly 'female' form of cruelty.

Yeah, it's an outlier, but we have this problem of qualitative difference constantly: A person who punches another person at a bar fight and a person who punches their spouse over breakfast have committed technically the same act, but nobody would say that those two actions are actually comparable, because we know the circumstances were likely to be so wildly different.

Studies have shown that while men are more likely to be clinically diagnosed as psychopaths, the women who were deemed to have psychopathy were more likely to inflict long-term emotional harm on their victims, frequently without ever being traced. This suggests to me that the 'hostile mindset' (if not actual bloodshed) is pretty well shared among women and men and the main differences between gender lies in outcomes and not intentions.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
I thought one of the big reasons why there are less women on death row is because jurors are far less likely to send a defendant to death row if it's a woman. I didn't think this is entirely because there are less women murderers, unless I am wrong?
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
It somewhat depends on how we measure and define things, I think.

First off, you're right. Certainly men's prisons are far more violent if we're talking beat downs and getting-shanked-in-the-shower-room, no question. I did not mean to say that was not the case.

What I meant to say is, it's really hard to measure, to the point it becomes absurdly tangled up. I think sometimes there's a qualitative element that gets lost when comparing crime rates. One inmate stabbing another is likely going to show up on a report, but tormenting a cellmate through prolonged emotional cruelty and petty cruelty is less likely to. Who has the more violent intent -- a prisoner who punches another prisoner once, or a prisoner who tortures another prisoner in small but constant ways (hair pulling, scratching, shitting on their bed) day in and day out? I think it's really hard to make that comparison.

A hundred men for every one women on Death Row certainly seems, on its face, to support the theory that 'men are more violent', and in purely quantitative terms that's undeniably true. BUT if we consider that a very large number of those 100 men may have simply been part of armed robberies that went wrong and other 'heat of the moment' types of murder, gang shootings or whatever...then consider that the one woman may have, say, strangled their pregnant victim to death with their bare hands and then cut the unborn baby from their uterus (which is the case with the one woman who is currently on Federal Death Row), it starts to become difficult, not least because that seems like a crime that would be far less common among men. It feels like a particularly 'female' form of cruelty.

Yeah, it's an outlier, but we have this problem of qualitative difference constantly: A person who punches another person at a bar fight and a person who punches their spouse over breakfast have committed technically the same act, but nobody would say that those two actions are actually comparable, because we know the circumstances were likely to be so wildly different.

Studies have shown that while men are more likely to be clinically diagnosed as psychopaths, the women who were deemed to have psychopathy were more likely to inflict long-term emotional harm on their victims, frequently without ever being traced. This suggests to me that the 'hostile mindset' (if not actual bloodshed) is pretty well shared among women and men and the main differences between gender lies in outcomes and not intentions.
I agree with what you're saying Luckyscars.

My point is, men and women are often socialized in very different ways. This socialization breeds different general stereotypes of behavior for each gender dependent on the social norms. We should take into account these norms of behavior and play off of them. For a woman to be extremely violent in the same manner as would a man, there has to be some overriding reason. Even if that's the person's normal state of being, we would have to address how her society would view her and react to this behavioral anomaly.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
It's interesting to me that discussion of possible stereotyping or assumptions often leaves out the idea of age. People can differ so much from when they're young to when they're middle-aged to when they're older. This comes with its own stereotyping, maybe, but I think it's interesting that the woman who starts out as a 'mean girl' who's not nurturing in the slightest can have a personal arc that leads them to have a much more caring personality...or not! But people do change over time and it's a good thing because stories turn on change.

Also, it's nurturing to give someone milk and cookies but it's also nurturing to straighten someone out pretty harshly if their actions are taking them in a dangerous direction. Be nurtured at your own risk!
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
First - I'm father to two daughters, and grandfather to two granddaughters and a grandson.
Second - my wife loves all those murder TV programs... like Snapped, and other horrific programs.
Third - as a life long martial artist, I've trained with several male and female world champion fighters.
Fourth - during my misspent youth I hung with an outlaw biker crowd - and there are both male and female clubs.

Ok - with that in mind, this is what I've observed.

Men and women are both capable of violence, but how they go about it differs.

Women tend to be more manipulative than men. They often do not commit the actual crime, but instead coerce a man into doing it for them. When women fight among themselves it often with words, or social manipulation that isolates the woman they want to hurt. It's been my experience that they hold grudges longer.

OTOH, men become physical easier/faster than women do. Disputes lead to arguments and quickly escalate to an altercation. However, once the fight is over and the issue settled, men either cut the other out of their life completely, or they just get over it and move on.

Disclaimer: these are just my observations - the truth of them lies only within my experience, and is not universal.

ETA: women more frequently use poison to kill someone than men do.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
the one woman may have, say, strangled their pregnant victim to death with their bare hands and then cut the unborn baby from their uterus (which is the case with the one woman who is currently on Federal Death Row), it starts to become difficult, not least because that seems like a crime that would be far less common among men

I don't know about the latter part of cutting her up, but of murders where the perp and victim know each other the norm in this country is that men strangle women and women stab men. Makes sense when you think about it, he shuts her up, she has a knife handy. Take care round the kitchen.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Second - my wife loves all those murder TV programs... like Snapped, and other horrific programs.

That's actually a really interesting point. I can't lay my hands on the data immediately, but studies have shown that women actually dominate the viewership of true crime documentaries in general. If you watch channels like Investigation Discovery and stuff, you'll find a weirdly large proportion of female-targeted advertising.

True crime generally is more popular with women. 70 percent of Amazon reviews of true-crime books are by women, for instance. But this is obviously balanced out with the fact that 82 percent of books about war are by men. So, again, we have a qualitative not quantitive difference when it comes to gender and violence -- women as a whole aren't less or more interested in violence than men but they are interested in different forms of it.

This isn't totally surprising given the number of incarcerated serial killers who somehow find women who are very enthusiastic about marrying them (you don't hear about many female inmates who have enamored male pen pals...) but it is kind of interesting that while men tend to be more likely to become serial killers, women tend to be a bit more fascinated with the idea of serial killers more generally.

I don't know about the latter part of cutting her up, but of murders where the perp and victim know each other the norm in this country is that men strangle women and women stab men. Makes sense when you think about it, he shuts her up, she has a knife handy. Take care round the kitchen.

That's interesting. The most common stereotype I heard is women are poisoners.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
That's actually a really interesting point. I can't lay my hands on the data immediately, but studies have shown that women actually dominate the viewership of true crime documentaries in general. If you watch channels like Investigation Discovery and stuff, you'll find a weirdly large proportion of female-targeted advertising.

True crime generally is more popular with women. 70 percent of Amazon reviews of true-crime books are by women, for instance. But this is obviously balanced out with the fact that 82 percent of books about war are by men. So, again, we have a qualitative not quantitive difference when it comes to gender and violence -- women as a whole aren't less or more interested in violence than men but they are interested in different forms of it.

This isn't totally surprising given the number of incarcerated serial killers who somehow find women who are very enthusiastic about marrying them (you don't hear about many female inmates who have enamored male pen pals...) but it is kind of interesting that while men tend to be more likely to become serial killers, women tend to be a bit more fascinated with the idea of serial killers more generally.

That's interesting. The most common stereotype I heard is women are poisoners.

My grandfather, who had immigrated from Ireland (Tralee, Co Kerry), fought in WW1 - trench warfare. When the movie 1917 came out I wanted to see it, but my wife didn't. (By the way - awesome movie with great cinematography) Yet, she'll watch programs about Jeffery Dahmer or the Green River killer all night long.

When she watches Snapped, I (jokingly) ask if she's taking notes.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
My WIP has two MC's, one male a brutal assassin on one side of a conflict, and on the other side a female that runs the (not so) secret police that is fashioned after Stalin's NKVD. Both flawed people.

The male is consumed by tactics and killing methods, and doesn't take any interest in his normal appearance. So a lot of what is written about him are about technique, combat, and murder; clothing is rarely mentioned. He has a casual relationship with one of his students.

The female uses her attributes to manipulate and get ahead, and is a clothes horse, so she pays a lot of attention to appearance. I've asked questions about women's clothing here, because that what's running around in her head. She's cheated on her husband many times, and he finally leaves her.

Now, I could quite easily swap the roles.

I've trained with a lot of very tough female fighters. Seriously, I pity anyone that tries anything with them - their skills are such that only pieces of the poor guy would be found.

Over the course of my engineering career I've encountered a lot of marketing guys wearing tailored suits (aka. Marketing Weenies), and salon haircuts.

People matter. Gender is part of who we are, but not the sum total.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I've trained with a lot of very tough female fighters. Seriously, I pity anyone that tries anything with them - their skills are such that only pieces of the poor guy would be found.

Wasn't there a time, within the last 25 years or so, that women in the U.S. military were not allowed in hand-to-hand fighting because they didn't know or honor the understood "rules" when having to kill someone? They were said to be too brutal so were kept out for a long period. (Wish I could call the title of the book I read on that topic . . .)
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Wasn't there a time, within the last 25 years or so, that women in the U.S. military were not allowed in hand-to-hand fighting because they didn't know or honor the understood "rules" when having to kill someone? They were said to be too brutal so were kept out for a long period. (Wish I could call the title of the book I read on that topic . . .)

A friend from my outlaw days met the woman he would marry in a bar. She was a member of a female outlaw biker club called the Devil Dolls. Anyway - my friend and I walked into a bar in Reno NV during a bike rally called Street Vibrations. We were having a beer together when he spotted her. She's a beautiful woman, so he went up and put his arm around her - probably about to use a corny pick up line - and she turned and punched him. He's a big guy, but she caught him just right and knocked him on his butt. He got up, complemented her on the punch, and bought her a beer.

Years later I was training in a full contact karate dojo. Marsha Hall trained there - she was the first woman to win Gold in Korea, as did Victor Tapson, who was a US nationally ranked fighter at the time. Marsha is about 5'10" and maybe 140 pounds, and Victor is roughly 6'3" and 230 pounds. I watched them spar one night - and Marsha knocked Victor out cold... I mean, he hit the floor flat on his back and bounced.
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Very true. Yes, I agree that women tend to deal with more unwanted sexual advance as you suggest. They must know how to defend themselves in that regard. I have a bunch of female friends who are pretty much tomboys, they are really into guy stuff and love hanging out with their male friends (like me). They don't seem any different than my male friends. I would say my female friends are more detailed-oriented and more alert to their surroundings than my male friends. A fair number of my female friends are physically stronger than me and have more guts than I do; as you say, people vary. Many women can outshine men in combat, and that depends on things outside of strength. There is no limitation as to how strong, badass, brave, etc., a woman or man can be, either in real life or in a work of fiction.
 

JackSlater28

Senior Member
Well. I think a lot of it depends on culture. And also regional as well. Women are different in Los Angeles compared to San Francisco. Women are different in Reno compared to Vegas.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
He's a big guy, but she caught him just right and knocked him on his butt.

I had to read that twice, thinking she must have been tiny.

... ...

Certainly my own tribe of badass badasses will all perish in the first chapter. I can see no other solution.
 
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