Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Boys and Girls

FEMALES: “Be Careful!” “Take a rest!” “You should drink more water!” “Where is your umbrella?” The sun is so hot, it is imperative in their opinion that I should be shielded from it, as they shield themselves. They will go so far as to hold their own umbrella over my head, even if it means walking on tiptoe and stretching their little arms up to the point of shoulder strain. They constantly admonish me about one thing or another. Heaven help me if I should want to do something so carefree as splashing in a puddle.

Females are likely to pull me, tug me, take physical possession of any number of my limbs or my bag and not surrender it. They tell me when and how to cross the street. They zip my bag and my coat for me. If the weather is hot, they will hold a beverage to my mouth and force me to drink. If it has been a while since we’ve eaten they will attempt to force feed me. There is no end to the care administered to me when in company of females of any age. Once, one young lady thought my fingernails were too long and endeavored to cut them while we were eating dinner. 

MADDENING!!! Compare female protective behavior with:

MALES: “Do you want water?” “No, I have, thank you.” End of discussion. “Are you hungry?” “Yeah, a little/no, not at all.” Either way, their response, usually an action, matches my assertion. Guys feel no need to take physical possession of me, although they will carry my bag. As far as they’re concerned, if I get hit by a car while crossing the street, I should have been more careful.

Well, that’s not exactly true. The guys show just as much concern, but they feel no need to overpower me with care or duty. Note John and his friends’ reaction to my total soaking, as mentioned in the Swimming entry a few posts back.  

Years ago I read, from my Fav Lady of Irony/Comedy Erma Bombeck something about the difference between boys and girls. If girls are playing upstairs and suddenly get quiet, you would ask them: “What are you doing?” They’ll get all secretive and sweetly float: “nothing” with a lilt at the end that makes you feel you should either head upstairs to see for yourself, or head to your closest fallout shelter and wait for the air to clear.

Same question launched at sons: “Yeah, we flushed the cat down the toilet and it was cool!!!” 

As with females in America up to the mid – to late ‘60s, females in China are aggressively trained to be care takers. Or would that be care givers? Males on the other hand… are also trained to be care givers.

Other ways that males and females behave differently in similar situations:

Females are overeager to assure proper care of a body as long as situations are familiar. Should the script deviate from caring for and protecting, they get muddled and lost, figuratively flapping their hands and wondering what to do.

Males will tend to get blustery, clear their throat a lot, divert attention from themselves all in an attempt to give themselves time to find a solution.

Going places is a good example. When I invited Jinkey to Hanyang with me, she took over route planning and directed us onto the wrong bus, headed in the wrong direction. After asking several passengers and eventually the bus driver, she finally capitulated and conceded we should be on a bus headed in the other direction, as I had said from the outset.

Why is it so hard for people, especially females to believe I can navigate this city?

While at the bus stop one day, I met Tulip, who expressed her surprise that I was heading out. Did I know where I was going, and how to get there? I whipped out my pocket guide of bus itineraries. She snatched it away, and then thumbed through it. “It is all in Chinese!” she remarked, accusingly.

It was beyond my ability to explain to her in any way that assuaged her that, as long as I can find my way to the train station I can find my way home. She scrapped her plans and accompanied me to make sure I got to my destination and returned safely to school. What was maddening about that trip is that I had planned to shop a little, and then lollygag around town. I even had a book in my purse to help me while a few hours away at some café.

Guys also try to take command of the situation, but not of my person or of my time.

One evening, heading home from a relaxing meal spent in mixed company, my friends felt obligated to see me to a bus stop with a bus line that will take me directly home, and then watch me board that bus before they made their way home. We walked past several bus stops, all from which I could have ridden a bus and made connections to another line that would take me back to campus. According to George, the male of the duo I had spent the evening with, that was not good enough. Even though I asserted I was capable of making the connections unsupervised we ended up tramping around the neighborhood until a bus line that passed directly in front of my school was found.

In another instance, I was directed by my male outing companion to board one bus. After paying my fare, he shouted at me that that was actually not the right bus to take, yelled at me to get off the bus and then instructed me to board another bus.

Now you know why I do my best to be invisible when leaving campus.  

“We can help you!”

My girls are always offering help. I’ve already talked about all the ‘help’ I get when out and about so I will gear this segment to domestic help: cleaning, shopping and the like.

My definition of ‘clean’ is substantially different than that of any Chinese. To the Chinese, house cleaning generally involves splashing a great deal of cold water about, flicking a mop or a rag here and there, leaving everything soaking wet and calling it good. You know this from the Seven Pony Tailed Heads experiment back in June 2011, and more recently after the Great Rat Party, when the school hired two women to clean my apartment for me. Usually, if any extended cleaning is called for I do not announce or advertise it for fear of having anywhere from 3 to 10 girls descend unannounced on my apartment, ready to ‘help’.

The irony is, when people do come over, they can’t believe how clean my house is.

Guys like to volunteer their help with domestic chores too, but it is more in the sense of supervising than actual doing. For instance, when some students came over to help me decorate the house for Christmas, the girls did most of the work while Martin, the lone male in the bunch mostly sat on the couch and directed their efforts. He did rouse himself to hang the lights from the curtain rod, saying he was qualified to do so because his father is an electrician.

After they all left I rehung the lights so that the plugs could reach an outlet.


Both males and females have a good sense of worth when shopping, although again, females tend to work smarter and men work harder.

Females will price compare and do the math to calculate value for the money, presenting me with their conclusions and suggestions. Usually their suggestions are valid. Should I choose brand loyalty over economic value, they will sigh but allow me my choice.

Males will snatch my selections out of my hands, declaring them a bad choice. Regardless of my reasons for selecting the product – familiarity, brand loyalty, a specific reason one brand is selected over any other, they will replace my selection with the item they would prefer I buy. Usually their reason is economic rather than qualitative, although sometimes their choice is predicated on what their mother has always bought. Even Sam and Gary are guilty of this action.


Both genders are appalled that I live alone, go out alone, do things alone. It is simply not natural in Chinese culture to have any measure of personal space or live an isolated life. However, it seems to affect females much more than males. My girl friends are much quicker to express sorrow and disbelief, and advance their company. I daresay the guys appreciate my ability to stand alone.

Not that I would normally make a big deal of gender difference. It is just that over here, the difference is so remarkable. Besides, I had posted a while back in Blurry Lines some of my thoughts with regard to global gender differences. I thought I should make a deeper study into the subject.

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