[Side note: I had to make this a myTake because of character limits, but it also somewhat suits a myTake, as far as topics go, I guess. But I'd really like to hear your suggestions (constructive, please) on what girls and women can do to better handle conflict (especially in today's turbulent and changing society where these gender power struggles seem to be louder than ever.) I am hoping that males and females will both respond and come up with some ideas and suggestions, but as history has shown, I expect much fewer females chiming in. That's just the way it goes, unfortunately.]
It seems to be one immutable truth that females just do not like conflict. Or really even any disagreement or covert aggression. This has both advantages and disadvantages, to society and to the individual.
Some Facts and Stats:
"Females earn more than 57% of undergraduate degrees and 59% of all master’s degrees. 48.5% of all law degrees and 47.5% of all medical degrees. 38% of Master of Business Administration and other generalist degrees and 49% of specialized master’s degrees. 47% of the U.S. labor force and 52.5% of the college-educated workforce. Yet they lag substantially behind men in terms of their representation in leadership positions. Women are just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs—down from a record high of 6% in 2017. 7% of top executives in the Fortune 100 companies. 10% of top management positions in S&P 1500 companies. As of January 2019: only 24% of members of Congress: 24% of the House and 23% of the Senate. 28% of seats in state legislatures. 18% of governors and, as of August 2018, only 23% of the mayors of the 100 largest American cities."
"Neuropsychological evidence suggests that women show heightened amygdala reactivity to threatening stimuli, may be better able to exert prefrontal cortical control over emotional behaviour and may consciously register fear more strongly via anterior cingulate activity."
One way that female brain physiology differs from male is in the number of connections during certain activities, particularly memory recall as it relates to past emotional events. Also, when doing tasks, men's brains are more singularly focused, where less areas of the brain light up and are activated, yet imaging heat maps show high concentrations of activity in these more limited areas. Multitasking is not the name of the game. "One thing at a time, please!" they may say, exasperated if interrupted, or overloaded with too many unnecessary or extraneous details. Female brains shower a wider spread of engagement (memory, emotion, when the individual senses are engaged - a smell, or song, again experienced can bring back a flood of emotion, or symbolic association or meaning, for instance.) So because of this higher intensity of engagement, I believe females tend to avoid certain things that will over-activate their internal system, since their mental/emotional state is so tightly tied to their physical. Of course it is with both sexes, but men tend to be superior at compartmentalizing events.
"Women are often found to be more agreeable than men (Feingold, 1994; Costa et al., 2001). This means that women, on average, are more nurturing, tender-minded, and altruistic more often and to a greater extent than men. However, such a finding does not preclude the fact that men may also experience nurturing, tender-minded, and altruistic states, and that some men may even score higher in these traits than some women."
When females are aggressive, it is more often passive, not active, as with men. (In essence, indirect/hidden vs. direct/overt.)
Here's my basic theory/conclusion (this is just a theory.):
Female brains have a higher-than-men stress response to threats. We humans have been on the planet for ~500,000 years, but in this basic form for ~5,000. So it is a fairly recent state of relative peace (risk of death comparatively low) that we experience, yet fear response originates from the amygdala, and this is one the most powerful and first parts of the brain to form (because it's so vital to our existence and survival), so despite general conditions changing, we are still very much beholden to our biology and physiology, moreso than environmental conditions, which are important but tend to take a back seat to the biological. (We do evolve, but slowly.) The most dangerous situations have historically been handled by men, while females' strengths were of a more psychological nature. Both sexes fulfill many practical responsibilities, but ours were of a more sensitive nature, shall we say. So I think it doesn't so much matter what the threat or aggression is, unfortunately even mild ones can cause a certain level of distress, thus most overt conflict is avoided.
So why does it matter?
* I believe this strong desire for avoidance creates an imbalance online, and in society, where men end up having greater influence. This gives less of a voice to the female population which lessens their impact on culture and change. However, online, much of this avoidance is as a result of the over-sexualized content, and men's hunger for discussion and interaction on this topic. Still, this avoidance spreads to all communication, regardless of subject or environment (whether virtual, as work colleagues, and in-person social.) Females have an equally strong voice when they choose to speak up, but they will more often only do so when they feel entirely 'safe' and comfortable, and able to handle opposition, debate, and judgement.
* It limits the types of roles that females play in society, particularly in professional environments. Certain studies show that females make excellent, sometimes even superior, leaders, as they care more about group cohesion and allowing and encouraging even less dominant voices to be heard, as well as a somewhat less competitive nature within groups. (In large staff meetings, who speaks up more?) Competitiveness in general can be attributed to both hormonal/chemical and cultural preference. Aggression is both more prized and more accepted among males than females. We, as a society, expect females to value and facilitate cohesion and exude an enduring sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others. Some would argue, to their dismay, that this is changing and exists significantly less than in the past, which is probably true. Many wish we could revert back to a time of more clear gender roles, and the classic at-all-costs supportive female, but it doesn't look like this will ever return to the way it was. We now have to find a new 'normal.'
* A unilateral avoidance of dissonance, friction, etc. tends to not resolve issues. Time can be an effective healer. But it can also create scar tissue. We all know that emotions, tempers, can run hot, and sometimes a refractory, cooling off period can be extremely beneficial, and deflate many issues before they flare up to an untenable state. A low flame is always better than a flamethrower. However feelings can fester, and a continual policy of sweeping things under the rug can just create a lumpy floor. And that's not a good foundation to build upon.
I don't want women to be men and men to be women. Far from it. But I do think we need to be less rigid in our expectations and demands of gender roles and behaviour. In my world and thinking, men are just as free to show pain or vulnerability, and should not have to feel as though they must muster the strength and inner fight to solely be responsible for the world's problems, or most difficult or dangerous situations. At the same time, women should be just as free to exert influence, and state their opinions even in times of philosophical opposition (in a calm, unemotional, reasonable, productive manner, of course), and show strength without being reprimanded for not being nice enough, a bitch, or a feminist. There must be a balance, an equilibrium to all this. I believe some of this is at the root of the cultural discord we are experiencing right now.
I used to be a fairly quiet person. Quiet is often a euphemism for shy, passive, lacking confidence, etc. And that would also not be untrue. It was a mistake, not speaking up more. I don't feel this way anymore. I am still very feminine, and one who abides by a pretty strong moral code of conduct, I guess you could say, yet I now have confidence that my many years of observing, listening, exploring, questioning, soul-searching, and exploration inward have, in part and collectively, resulted in me having a competent understanding of myself and the world. Particularly, culture and society (anyone who knows me knows that I bring up these concept often, especially the sea changes, which I find most interesting.)
I must be reasonable and say that I did not entirely or so strongly feel or act this way twenty years ago, in my early twenties, which is the common age of many users here and I guess on the internet or social media in general. So I say this only as a suggestion - learning to express oneself in a calm, reasonable, rational manner is one of the keys and necessities of life. Many are asking things like, "What happened to logic?" "What happened to truth?" "What happened to critical thinking?" "Where is the examined life?"
I see a lot of angry male voices here, and a lot of muted females voices. However there are many men who are wonderful people, and who have much wisdom to share, and I do honestly respect their questioning nature. And there are many females who are the same. They tend to speak much, much less often, and on unfortunately far fewer topics, but when they do speak, particularly some of the great females that I follow, I am impressed with the thoughtfulness and depth of their responses (just as with the men.) I just often wish there were more of them, who were bold enough to express their opinions as well. Because you can't develop your ideas, your thinking, if you never take them out for a test drive. Some people will challenge you, some people will attack you (and I don't agree with the unprovoked attacks, at all, but I've spoken on that already at length in other myTakes etc.), but it is honestly the only legitimate way to strengthen your world view, or to expand it, as it were.
We are not islands. We cannot close ourselves down and expect to grow. Speak to each other. Many people are sharing many things here - it is what everyone enjoys about this site, and it is quite rare, maybe even unique, I believe, online. I know, ladies, most of you don't want to be accosted, or be pm'd lewd remarks and get all sorts of nudes sent your way (men, please hear this, pass it around... very few females want unsolicited pics, or to be relentlessly hit on), and this has a huge impact on your reservation and behaviour online. But to be fair to them, you're not as involved in all the other questions not of a sexual or political or contentious nature either. See the theories why on my question What do you think is the reason (s) females answer less questions here than males? Perhaps you are more discerning, more particular, and quite frankly more bored. But you are here. You are 56% of users (thereabouts or a bit less, if you take into account false accounts that are really male pretending to be female.) So as [aversion to conflict] being one of the many reasons why you comment in much smaller numbers, I humbly recommend that you start talking more, and in that I hope you will find some more methods to deal with the inevitable conflict that will arise.
I can tell you that I initially wrote off quite a few people here, based on a few pretty heinous comments or behaviour, but I have learned that entirely disengaging is not the answer. Not the complete answer, anyway. Shield yourself (men, you are included in that as well), perhaps, from whatever you need to to retain your sanity. But don't forget that not all that challenges you is wrong or should be avoided. The act of interacting with others is sometimes unpleasant, but it is not without importance. And some people do and can change, get better, grow. I've seen it. I swear to you. Men, I hope some of you attempt to relax some, on your antagonism, to help facilitate this conversation, which you actually do want, whether it is vocalized or admitted or not. You all have the desire to share this space, to share the planet, and some of you to share your lives. As the Beatles say, "Come together." And be kind to each other. You have more in common than you are different, and recognizing the similarities and appreciating the differences is integral to sharing this space - be that GAG, or the world at large. It's a big place, and there's lots of us. Let's just try and get along, and have some fun together. Sex is great, but we have more to offer each other than just that. Right?
And if you made it to the end, through all my ramblings, here's the final thought...
Don't forget what could be.
A couple of references: