January 02, 2006

Are women from Venus, and does that make us less rational?

Someone said, I think in response to Lorna's entry about learning to debate properly, that he thought women are more likely to jump to conclusions in a discussion. This got me thinking…

I will be the first to admit that, on certain subjects that are close to my heart, I do become somewhat defensive. But is this widespread among women or, indeed, a solely female trait? And if it is, even to only a small extent, why do we do it? Is it because we are, historically, the underdogs and as such we have learnt to be defensive of our perceived weaknesses? Is this also true for other groups in society that have been similarly viewed?


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  1. No no. I think men are much more likely to jump to conlusions and have fixed ideas than women are. Look at them in debates – they're so good (sometimes) because they cannot see the other point of view.

    What's the stereotype – a bigotted old man, or a bigotted old woman?

    03 Jan 2006, 10:39

  2. We're not bigotted, we're cynical… there is a difference!

    03 Jan 2006, 10:46

  3. But Lorna's point was that it's not beneficial to be completely inflexible in a debate. I guess that's an important question in itself: to what extent is it important in a discussion to be able to take on the views of others? Is it not slightly irrational to discredit the reasonable views of another without consideration?

    Is it more about the behaviour of men and women in debates that makes their arguments seem more or less rational?

    And Rich, how do you know if you're not yet an old man… you may become bigoted!

    03 Jan 2006, 11:02

  4. aww nutsack, did just have a reply all written out then managed to close instead of posting.

    was something about the semantics of debate vs. discussion. Debate is the protection of your argument and the attack of the oponent's point requiring a unwavering dedication to your point. At the end of the exchange a third party sums up the merits of each side.

    Discussion is the exchange of ideas resulting in compromise which naturally needs some flexibility in your defence of a topic.

    Without thinking too hard about this I believe that both men and women can be quite irrational about topics. But in my experience men will fight a silly battle about something like football, whereas women go millitant about equal oppertunites.

    I can't say whether this makes men more flexible when it comes to politics or women fickle about fashion, that needs a psycologist's input…

    Oh, and I've been a cynical old bugger since the age of 15. I got in with a bad crowd at school.

    03 Jan 2006, 11:47

  5. I stand corrected: it is, indeed, important to address the difference between debate and discussion.

    I was talking more about relaxed discussion, maybe between a group of friends. In this case the conversation is not regulated by the rules and conventions of a debate. Lorna was saying that in these situations she was too inflexible and thus found it difficult to present an argument that was relevent to her opponent. This, surely, can be a disadvantage.

    03 Jan 2006, 11:52

  6. Yes

    03 Jan 2006, 20:12

  7. Justin

    The art of a debate surely is to understand the oppenents point fully but always to have a counter-argument to nullify what they say in favour of their point of view. Also to see where they will do this to you and have a strong enough argument to combat this. So I think a good debater is someone who does listen to and understand the other persons point of view while simultaneously sticking unwaveringly to your own point of view. The only thing you alter is the way you put your points across not the fundamental points themselves.

    07 Jan 2006, 20:26


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