Do What?


Today, I would like to offer a little experiment. If you fancy it, I’d like you to just read through this list of pairs, and carefully consider your own feelings, your own responses, to each one of each pair.

There are no prizes, and I don’t propose that anyone share their responses, unless they really feel inclined to. I am more interested in whether you think that your responses tell you anything about yourself, or the society you were brought up in, or, indeed, any other set of circumstances that you think may colour your responses.

The pairs:

1) He is well-built / She is well-built.

2) He is easily moved to tears / She is easily moved to tears.

3) He knows what he wants and how to get it / She knows what she wants and how to get it.

4) He intends to have fun playing the field before settling down / She intends to have fun playing the field before settling down.

5) There is nothing mechanical he cannot fix / There is nothing mechanical she cannot fix.

That’s it.

32 thoughts on “Do What?

  1. It really is interesting to compare your ‘automatic’ response versus a well thought out response. We are of a generation programmed to think a certain way. Although change is slow to come, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As usual, this makes me extremely grateful for my parents who in the late 70s and 80s manages to bring me up in a totally liberal, non-judgmental manner which leads me to say, “ok, so what” to all of those pairs of things.
    I genuinely believe these are just traits some people have which may or may not apply to anyone regardless of gender.

    I am aware of the societal stereotypes and “typical responses” attached to each but I have to consciously think of those because they mean nothing to me.

    The one about people being well built, momentarily made me think they were robots mind you…then I remembered not everything is completely literal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You clearly have brilliant parents, Sam. We did the same with our children, and are grateful they have turned out pretty nonjudgmental, but there are many who aren’t – sadly, I suspect the majority. Being in my sixties, I grew up with a fair few prejudices surrounding me and instilled, even though my parents were both kind and tolerably nonjudgmental themselves. Unfortunately, you absorb the prejudices of the times, and sometimes have to work hard to overcome them.

      Perhaps I ought to do a separate post for human / robot pairs…in a few years it might be appropriate…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting experiment in social tagging. We are conditioned with terrible responses (as the general consensus). It will take a real revolution that includes the gender non-specific to change our thinking to a more acceptable level based purely on achievement (or not).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We’ve a long way to go. When people (sorry, that’s a meaningless term, I know) say we’ve made progress in how we see the roles, etc, of men and women, what they really mean is a small proportion of people have. It will take a long time for attitudes to reach the point where roles and opportunities are seen as equal, if they ever are, as we never completely outgrow the attitudes we absorb as children.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Mick –
    As I’m sure you expected, and the comments begin to confirm, the results will vary by generation, but I think it’ll also matter if it’s U.S. vs British. As far as I remember, in the U.S., I’ve only heard “well-built” as a reference to cars or buildings, but not to people. Based on seeing it in books from years ago, I guess back in the day, it often meant “muscular” for men, and “buxom” for women, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it used in reference to a man, in a U.S. novel. I reminded me of “well-set-up” which I probably learned from reading Sherlock Holmes stories, or maybe histories of the 19th c. I read in college. “Playing the field” is another phrase I only know from novels that were written before I was born, and don’t think I’ve ever heard in conversation. #5 puzzles me – unless there’s a British double entendre, my response would be exactly the same, “Oh good, he/she can help me reassemble this thing, and this time, with all the parts.” So maybe we’ve actually made some progress in attitudes! This is an interesting and fun experiment you’ve created.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Robert. I admit I gave no thought to the possibility that there would be such a disconnect between US and UK with those phrases – possibly another post there, somewhere!

      ‘Well-built’ does indeed tend to mean muscular for men, although it can be used the same way for women as well as meaning buxom. ‘Playing the field’ is used commonly over here – synonymous with ‘sowing their wild oats’, which is used only for men. ‘Playing the field’ would be used for either men or women sleeping around. As for #5, no double entendres there, just the perception, perhaps, that many still consider jobs such as mechanic to be the preserve of men.

      I’m sure we have made some progress in attitudes, but I’m equally sure we have a long way to go. And the real purpose of this little experiment, as I’m sure you’ve realised, is for each of us to see how many subconscious prejudices we still have in there somewhere.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. maryplumbago

    My own quick responses summed up to “finally women are beginning to be treated as equals..and statements that use to divide or be viewed differently are now start to gel the same

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, people aren’t built, moving often causes tears, women generally know how to get what they want more than men, I’m not sure if playing the field is ever fun, and things don’t need to be fixed unless they’re broken. I’m not sure what that says about me!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting Mick. This sounds like something I often ‘bang on’ about. Different aspects of life are acceptable to men and not to women and vice versa and it’s so weird. Why is it okay for guys to play the field but looked down on if women do the same? All the result of upbringing and social status I suppose. Changing slowly but probably never will entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. To me they are all equal. I can’t blame that attitude on my parents who were both very different from each other in attitudes, but on my need – and frequently my ability – to have centred opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can see where the response would reveal our attitudes on gender roles and norms! For me, my response was equal on almost all of them. Although I admit that the “well built” sounded sexist to me in reference to a woman, but not to a man. Not a fair thing, but that was my gut response.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a fair thing, as you say, Ann. But just that one response, I think, demonstrates my point. Saying or thinking that phrase ‘well-built’ brings associations to mind, both consciously and unconsciously, that influence how we respond.

      Liked by 1 person

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