February 12, 2007



It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that women and men are different. Personally, I appreciate the difference, but this article will delve in to differences that are much more subtle than the obvious physical ones. The value of a human being extends far beyond one's physical appearance. To a student of Geometry, a woman's hour glass figure or a man's V-shaped chest might suggest that women have curves and men have angles (literal definition). To a Romantic, the title of this article might suggest that a man has certain motives or angles that when used successfully, increase his chances of developing a relationship with a woman (figureative definition). To a student of THE THREE-LEGGED STOOL theory, the distinctions between the two genders are far more reaching and meaningful.

Lets review the meaning of the THREE-LEGGED STOOL within the context of "Stooltime Counseling," and for what the stool is a methaphor. THOUGHTS, FEELINGS and BEHAVIORS: three legs to the stool, three ways of experiencing others, the world and ourselves.

Some people would say that women and men think, feel and act differently because of conditioning or socializing. This is the "nurture" theory. Others would say that genetics accounts for the difference. Males have the "Y" chromosome, females have the "X" chromosome. This is the "nature" theory.

Obviously, one big "nature" difference is women can bear children, and men cannot. Men, try to imagine passing a bowling ball while sitting on the toilet. Sounds graphic and painful, but still no comparison to the physical pain felt by a woman at the time of labor.

Is it a stereotype to say that little girls prefer to play with dolls and little boys prefer to play with army men? Would the rock solid, self-confident John Wayne ever be caught playing with a doll? What about the stereotype that women are more in touch with their feelings than men and consequently talk about their emotions more often than men? Is it true that girls demonstrate more manners than boys and say, "Please" and "Thank you," more often? There is a grain of truth to all stereotypes, but it is not rational to generalize what we believe to be true and apply it to everyone we think to whom it should be applied. Everybody is different. We all think, feel and act for ourselves. Additionally, societal norms are cyclical. What is considered to be gender appropriate one generation may not be appropriate the next.

In the early 21st century, boys and men sometimes wear earrings, a custom that was reserved for women in the past. It used to be "cute" for a guy to wear earrings. It is becoming more socially acceptable thanks to the professional athletes who started the new custom. The same goes for girls who have tattoos, a custom historically reserved for service men. Think about all the old ladies running around with tattoos in about 40 years! It's different from how most picture grandma in 2003. I suppose, for some people, their body is a canvas.

Some people get confused as the boundaries that separate the women from the men become more blurred, less black and white and more gray. I, for one, see some benefits, though.

I see our culture teaching more men to be functionally sensitive. This means guys can be men of action, AND have empathy for others. Traditionally, women have been socialized to be more empathic than men, able to listen, understand from a distance and respond to the needs of others. More women are impressed with men who admire them for their minds and brains, not just for their bodies. Women and men are learning from each other, we tend to rely on each other.

A real man is someone who not only mows the lawn, brings home the bacon, shows an emotional presence with his wife and children, and does what he needs to do to get where he needs to go. He is someone who appreciates the differences between women and men and is comfortable being sensitive to the needs of himself and others. This would include a man who insists on helping-out with the housework.

A real woman is someone who can nurture herself as much as she can nurture others, can develop the skills it takes to compete with men in the work force, or who chooses to stay at home and raise a family. It's all about being comfortable with the choices we make. This would include a woman who insists on wanting to mow the lawn.

What is your definition of a REAL man or woman? Whatever it is, let it be known, nature makes girls one way and boys another way. No one can make a boy into a girl or vice versa ... despite the efforts of societal conditioning.

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor

Meteorologist and Legendary Weathercaster, Sonny Eliot, gets credit for the title to this article.


Cher Duncombe said...

I have been enjoying reading your concepts of the Three Legged Stool. I do believe that as society changes, the fundamental differences between men and women remain the same. But in these times the attitudes about roles are changing and at times melding into a form that suits the needs.

I have come to accept that men react differently in their emotions than women. I now see that as a good balance. Once upon a time though, this issue caused me much consternation. Acceptance is good; knowledge is better.

Jotan Muta said...

Different aye, but the amount of difference varies from individual to individual. We are not all equally dimorphic. Take me for example, I'm a man with curves. I mean like an actual hourglass. And there are others like me. More often than that I see women with narrow hips & broad shoulders. And what's shown in the figure can have its own parallels in the mind. At least in my case. It's important that when we tell it 'how it is' we don't end up telling just what we want it to be.

Mark S. Rogers, LPC. said...

Insightful and interesting observations. Thank you!