male and female
Shutterstock/Valery Sidelnykov

Difference between male and female brain?

By Steve Korver Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 11:30
Are the differences between men and women hardwired into our brains? Or do they derive more from Bollywood? Or do they arise from a magic mingling very much like sex? And how does bitchiness and regret fit in?

Hardware vs softwareThe hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are “better at map reading”’ is one of countless recent headlines heralding a study trying to explain why women are supposedly crap at using corkscrews and men are supposedly crap at feelings.

But countless scientists are saying the conclusions being drawn from the study are speculative poppycock.

“It is biological determinism at its silly, trivial worst,” writes the UK’s science writer of the year Robin McKie in ‘Why it's time for brain science to ditch the “Venus and Mars” cliché’.

Brains are just too freakishly complex, variable and plastic to be typically male or female, according to McKie. Any differences between male and female brains are more a result of cultural factors – because boys and girls are “expected and encouraged” to do different things.

“The longer we live, the more our intellectual biases are exaggerated and intensified by our culture, with cumulative effects on our neurons. In other words, the intellectual differences we observe between the sexes are not the result of different genetic birthrights but are a consequence of what we expect a boy or a girl to be.”

Indirect aggression (bitchiness)Not only scientists, but also women are known for their bitchiness.

“The clinical term for women’s bitchiness is ‘indirect aggression’— essentially, aggression we don’t want to get caught for,” writes ‘The Evolution of Bitchiness’, an alluring investigation into the roots of slut-shaming.

In a recent Canadian study, female participants were confronted with different types of women – from primly conservative to over-the-top provocative. The participants were then observed for such behaviour as eye-rolling and sarcasm.

“In one case, a participant said the sexy confederate was dressed to have sex with the professor. One didn’t wait for the sexy woman to leave the room before exclaiming, “What the fuck is that?!”

“That was 10 out of 10 as far as bitchiness,” a researcher dryly notes. And such bitchiness only seemed to get harsher when participants were with a friend instead of strangers.

Some researchers theorise that such indirect aggression evolved as a way for women to suppress each other’s sexualities as they competed for limited resources: men.


Women seem to bitch about their potential rivals based on two main approaches: “the slut factor” (“That ‘ho is easy!”) and physical appearance (“Look at the size of her thighs!”).

Happily, such bullying – which can sometimes end fatally – seems to mellow with age.

Men can also be bitchy. But their tendency is more towards ‘directaggression’, which they have to learn to control to avoid jail time as an adult – unless, of course, they are being groomed for war…

How’s that for bitchy?

Regrets, we all have a few millionMen regret missed sexual opportunities while women regret attained but amiss opportunities, according to ‘Men and women take home different regrets after sex : study

“The three main regrets for men: being too timid to approach a possible partner, not being more sexually adventurous when young and not being more sexually adventurous in their single days.

“The main regrets for women include losing their virginity to the wrong partner, cheating on a present or past partner and moving too fast sexually.”

It could be that these differing regrets evolved from men having the option to reproduce and run, and women seeing advantage in having a steady partner to share the load of raising a family. Or it could be that these regrets evolved more from watching them endlessly expressed in Bollywood movies.

Regardless, shouldn’t we just spend more time regretting our acts of direct and indirect aggression?

Or does that sound too bitchy?

Are you – and your regrets – a product of evolution or your society? Or both? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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