Men are Different

December 9, 2007    By: Kristen J @ 7:35 pm   Category: Life

Men and women are not the same. I know this on many levels. I have a father, a brother, a husband, a son, and yes, even guys that are my friends. You would think after 37 years I would have a better understanding about what makes them tick, what drives them, and what they are really all about. Most of the time I think (naively) I do understand men pretty well. Then every once in a while a guy will say or do something that makes me think, you and I are not the same.

Let me give you an example. Last night Geoff and I attended a stake Christmas Ball. It was a very nice affair. The decorations were beautiful, the food was wonderful, and everyone was dressed in their best.

For the first part of the evening the DJ played music that would appeal to people who knew how to do dances that actually have names. Dances like the Foxtrot, the Cha Cha, and the Waltz. Geoff and I joined in when we felt it was ok to sway slowly around in a circle since we are severely lacking in ballroom dancing knowledge.

A lot of the men acted like you would expect them to; holding the wall up with their backs, standing in front of the refreshment table, or telling their wives that there was no way they were going to dance. To their credit there were a few gentlemen who very good dancers and were really enjoying themselves on the dance floor.

The second hour of the ball began with a short program. The first to perform was a jazz quartet featuring Geoff J on the saxophone. He did a very lovely job if I do say so myself. After Geoff was finished he joined me in watching the rest of the performances.

A few of the performers were dancers. One, a boy probably about 18 years old, tap danced his little heart out. It was cute, he did a good job, but I didn’t really think much about it after the performance was over.

The next person to dance was a girl who was probably about 18 years old too. She was dressed very modestly in black slacks and a nice shirt. The girl did a jazz routine and I remember thinking that it was a nice performance. There was a shimmy or two, and some high kicks, nothing that was really very wild, and nothing that I would really call risqué.

After the girl finished her dance one of my friend’s husbands jokingly said, “I think the spirit just left the room!” A few other men made similar comments and as I was listening to them I cocked my head to the side and thought, men really are from Mars!

I guess I was just surprised at how different the perspectives were of the men’s from the women’s while watching the dancers perform. Clearly the men found the dancing interesting in a very different way then the women did. While I was watching the teenage boy dance I wasn’t thinking to myself, Hubba! Hubba! (Of course I don’t know anyone who would say that while watching a tap dance) Still, I don’t think I would have felt uncomfortable if the boy had chosen to do a jazz number instead of a tap dance.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that men are somehow inferior for thinking like this. It’s just different than the way women think. Every once in a while I’ll have an experience that will really drive this home to me.

Of course we women never do anything to confound you men, right?

[Associated Radio Thang song: Kings of Convenience - I'd Rather Dance With You]

43 Comments »

  1. Ummmm… If the girl would have tap danced none of the dudes would have felt uncomfortable out about the performance either.

    If the tap dancing boy would have done those jazz dance moves you would have felt plenty uncomfortable. Y’all would have been making the “thank heavens his pants didn’t split” cracks too.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  2. Ummmm…no I wouldn’t.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  3. Ewww! You want his pants to split!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  4. You know it!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  5. snort!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

  6. Jacob, what happened to your comment? Geoff is busily responding to your comment right now.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  7. Hehe, once I saw my comment got beat by 5 comments while I was typing, I deleted it at once. I’ll try to reproduce now.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  8. Okay, we need Geoff to mediate on this one. Was the dance suggestive? Was the girl incredibly hot? Or were you just as surprised by the comments by the other guys as your Kristen was?

    Comment by Jacob J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  9. The girl that did the dance number was a very wholesome looking girl. She had on black slacks and a feminine looking button up shirt. She was thin, but not voluptuous. She was very cute.

    I guess the move that made the men uncomfortable is when she grabbed her calf and pulled her leg straight up to her ear and held that pose for a few seconds.

    You see dancers do it all the time. Personally it doesn’t really bother me, but men seemed to be creeped out by that move. I don’t know, maybe I was just standing in the middle of a bunch of perves!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  10. The girl was not the problem Jacob… it’s just that jazz/contemporary dancing seems to always involve crotches in your face in one way or another. Our group just happened to be front and center for this thing and jazz dance can just be a bit much at times is all.

    (Reminds me of the time we were on a cruise ship and sat too close to the front on some of the dance-y shows… Way too many crotches is all I’m sayin’. It’s kinda creepy is all…)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  11. maybe I was just standing in the middle of a bunch of perves!

    Well, yea. You already said you were standing in the middle of a bunch of men.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

  12. So, you’ve made my point. All guys seem to get fixated on are the crotches when it comes to dancing. I personally tend to say, “Wow, they are very flexible!” Then I move on with my life.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  13. This post needs an associated blog song.

    [Ask and ye shall receive. See the new song added at the bottom of the post. Ed]

    Comment by Jacob J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  14. As I said — if the tap-dancing young man would have busted that move in your mug you would have been a little creeped out too. (If it makes you feel any better I would have been equally creeped out if that happened too…)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  15. I don’t know Geoff, I think I am more creeped out by the male ballet dancers with their ultra “form fitting” tights than my wife is (think of the movie Top Secret). I attribute that to her being oblivious. So, Kristen might be onto something with the fixation theory.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  16. Ok, I will confess that when I see men in ballet tights I get a little creeped out. I don’t turn to my friends and make a comment like, “Check out the one in the purple tights!” I just try to take my focus from the dancers crotches and put it on their movements instead.

    In other words, I guess I’m oblivious too.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  17. Yeah baby! A confession. You are a little creeped out by the crotch-fest that sometimes accompanies dance performances.

    Anyway, dudes are usually making such cracks for the comedy-effect-only.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  18. the guys you were sitting with are stupid. Find new friends.

    Comment by rrc — December 9, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  19. Actually, Dudes make those comments as a way to relieve the stress that the sexually based instincts are pushing around in their heads. I think it’s because a man’s chemical reaction to visual stimulation is like a light switch, while a woman needs more of a total package deal, kong term deal.

    In other words, A man sees a woman do something provacative, and he’s “all systems go”. A woman sees a man do something provacative, and she ponders “I wonder if he mops and likes toddlers? Does he change diapers? Hmm… diapers, there was a sale on diapers this week at the store, diapers are in the aisle by the orange juice. I need to get some juice for…”

    Comment by Matt W. — December 9, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

  20. er that’s meant to be long, not kong, but I guess some women do look for the “Kong” deal..

    Comment by Matt W. — December 9, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  21. It’s creepy to me that married guys are making those sorts of comments about a teenage girl. It’s one thing to have a thought like that float into your head–and quite another to validate the thought by expressing it.

    Although maybe I’m just reading it wrong. Were the comments (and the tone of voice) just saying that they felt the dance was not appropriate, or where they saying it was attractive to them in a sexual way? I guess I was assuming the latter. If it’s the former, then I can understand their concern as even something that seems mildly suggestive to adults is often magnified in the adolescent mind. If there were 18-year-old boys in the audience, then who knows where their thoughts were during the mildly suggestive dance move in question. Still, if I were really concerned it probably would have been best to express the concern privately to the coordinator of the event rather than as a public comment. Think of the embarrassment if these comments get back to the poor girl.

    Comment by Horebite — December 9, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  22. I just realized it might not be clear that am I am man, by the way. If that makes any difference on how my comment is read.

    Although apparently since I agree that it’s creepy, I must think like a woman. Although I least I admitted that I can understand how such thoughts could “float” into the mind. I just think married men should have a bit more self control.

    Comment by Horebite — December 9, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  23. Oh good grief. Nobody was attracted to anyone Horebite, I can assure you of that. The private cracks were made because watching jazz dancing up close can be a little uncomfortable (and they were made for comedic effect too of course). Please don’t try to make it something it wasn’t. That’s truly creeping me out.

    This whole subject has nothing to do with the nice performance at all. Rather it has to do with viewing jazz/contemporary dancing in general. My general opinion is that, like cheerleading dance routines, some kinds of dancing are best viewed from a distance. Too close ain’t a good thing.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 9, 2007 @ 10:21 pm

  24. Sorry, Goeff, but I don’t buy it.

    The only way I can interpret the statement, “I think the spirit just left the room” is if the person felt the dance was sexually inappropriate, with or without his own feelings of attraction. I can’t see someone saying that if they felt the dance was non-sexual but they were “just too close up”. A doctor wouldn’t say that the spirit leaves when they are “too close up” to certain sensitive parts of the body. Being uncomfortable is different than saying the spirit has left. But maybe I just had to be there to know what you’re talking about.

    Anyway, I agree that it’s not really that big of a deal. It just surprises me that those comments were said, that’s all. I’m not saying we should take their temple recommends away.

    Comment by Horebite — December 10, 2007 @ 6:01 am

  25. I think Matt just stated my point. He just did it a little more clearly than I did. Thanks Matt. I just found the whole scene interesting as an arm chair sociologist.

    Also, the guy who initially made the joke is just a funny guy who always has a humorous take on things. His comment was meant to be funny and not lascivious.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 10, 2007 @ 6:06 am

  26. Ok, since Kristen agrees that the comments were not what I thought (and she’s the only other witness), then I’ll agree that my comment was an over-reaction, and agree with Geoff. I guess I read too much into the original post.

    Comment by Horebite — December 10, 2007 @ 6:37 am

  27. Horebite: If you’re mortified that a guy might be sexually aroused or tempted to be aroused by a young girl undulating in a jazzy dance, then I think you have an assumption about guys that may benefit from education about guys. First, most women never come close to grasping what the body of a female, even fully clothed, can arouse in a male. Second, the basic instincts built into our bodies don’t change just because we’re married. It takes about a nanosecond, before we can even think about it, to have a sexual attraction. The pure in heart don’t allow the bare thought to move beyond that — but no guy is always pure in heart all of the time. When we talk about modesty to young girls in church, a part of what we’re doing is attempting to protect them from what they cannot understand and grasp about guys. If young women had any clue what a low cut dress or tight shirt does to a young male they would think twice and three times about wearing some of the things they do. But they don’t and can’t get it because they don’t know and cannot experience what it is like to be a guy.

    It is different for older guys than younger guys. Being a teenage guy is a real challenge to control and master the natural urges of the male body. It is a challenging task that requires a lot of commitment and a lot of guys don’t even try. The simple animal desire lessens with age in my experience, but thank goodness it doesn’t go away. In fact, it becomes a sort of maturity to appreciate of beauty rather than sexual arousal in my experience. I can appreciate the beauty of art and dance and the sheer beauty of woman without being aroused, but that takes experience and maturity by making thousands upon thousands of small choices over a life-time. And I’m still working on it.

    Guys will never get how women have relationship with everything in the room and so it matters that there is a doily and flowers and beauty in the relief society room. We’re incapable of that kind of global relationship in part because we’re wired differently (in most guys our corpus colossum is too small to convey the neural information between hemispheres in the brain). But most women will never have a clue what is hard wired into guys to be attracted to and yes, even tempted by, women just because they are women. An undulating dancing woman in tight clothes is going to be a challenge for the best of us.

    Comment by Blake — December 10, 2007 @ 7:38 am

  28. Very well said Blake. I think I just learned something about women too!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 10, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  29. For (almost all) men, the physicality is foundational.
    For (almost all) women, the physicality is capstone. Women want “everything in the room” to be right. Men, needless to say, do not.
    One of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had was with a long-time female friend who needed to take testosterone as a treatment for her medical condition. It was quite an eye-opener for her. Her most funny line to me: “Now I know why teenage boys even have trouble with cracks in the sidewalk.”
    We are wired AND fueled differently.

    Comment by mondo cool — December 10, 2007 @ 10:28 am

  30. The pure in heart don’t allow the bare thought to move beyond that…

    Excellent use of double entendre.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 10, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  31. Hee hee

    Comment by Kristen J — December 10, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  32. Blake,

    I am a guy and understand and agree with all of what you said. In fact I made the point about teenage boys toward the end of my comment. I did not say that I did not understand how they could have such a thought–in fact I said the opposite. My problem was that they validated the thought by expressing it in public, without shame. Although I’ve since been corrected in #25 that apparently the comments weren’t motivated by any feelings of attraction on the part of the speaker, which I accept since it’s the opinion of both witnesses.

    Although, to respond to #25. If it really was just a joke, it’s a joke I still think was in bad taste, regardless of the gender of the joke-teller, if only for the fact that it was disrespectful to the girl who was just trying to share her talents. But that’s not relevant to the conversation.

    I agree with most most people are saying here that clearly there are differences between men and women in this regard.

    Comment by Horebite — December 10, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  33. See, this is all just a ghettoization of dance (says the guy married to a dancer). Comments of sexual arousal/attraction/whatever in reference to classical painting and sculpture would be laughed off the blogosphere by intelligent people. But bring dance in and, for whatever reason, it’s not art. (I realize people make dumb comments about art they don’t understand, too, but I call people on that, too–I called my FiL when he made his obligatory “a six-year-old could do that” comment at the MoMA a couple years ago.)

    It’s okay not to like dance; just because you don’t like it or get it, though, doesn’t mean it (even jokingly) drives the Spirit out, any more than literature, art, or music do.

    Comment by Sam B. — December 10, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  34. I guess ultimately what bothers me is that somebody said, albeit in jest, that the Spirit had left the room. Unless that’s clearly the case, that’s offensive and degrading both to the person performing and to what he or she is performing. And if it’s clearly the case, it’s probably unnecessary to state, because, if the Spirit has left the room, everybody in the room should be aware of it.

    Comment by Sam B. — December 10, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

  35. Sam B.,

    How do you feel about ballet tights? I don’t think it is a matter of being unable to appreciate dance as an art form. As Geoff put it above: “some kinds of dancing are best viewed from a distance.” Similar to the way those 3D pictures that look like static until you focus correctly are best viewed close up.

    I love the Olympics, and I love the swimming events, and I appreciate swimming as a legitimate sport, but it would be a lie to say I have never been creeped out by a speedo from time to time.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 10, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

  36. Just so you know Sam — I have season tickets to Ballet West, Dancing Repertoire and faithfully attend dance productions at both BYU and the UofU. I love dance! I love the beauty of the dancers. But if you believe for two seconds that a good deal of dance isn’t aimed at being sexually provocative, you’ve missed the point! I don’t see anything wrong with such sexually suggestive and provocative dancing unless it’s in a church. In fact, I rather like it. It isn’t demeaning to her that someone would suggest that perhaps the activity was out of place in the venue. I’m not saying it was — I’m just saying there are definitely dances that could be. I dance the tango and rumba all of the time and they’re supposed to be provocative — I just don’t dance that way in church.

    Comment by Blake — December 10, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

  37. The dance was fine for the church gym and the girl was very cute and she was a great dancer.

    I guess I was just surprised at how different a man and woman’s perspective can be.

    It’s like looking at that picture where some people see the old lady and others see the young lady.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 10, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  38. This talk of driving away the spirit in Church reminds me of something that happened when I was a teenager (completely non-sexual, don’t worry). My ward had a Christmas party and was asking for volunteers for musical numbers. I volunteered to do an acoustic guitar and vocal duet with my brother (who was less active at the time, and a very good guitarist, so this was an excuse to get him to church as well as show off our mad skills). We jazzed up “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and I thought it was pretty good. Of course we assumed, since it was a “party”, that it would be in the cultural hall. No, it was in the chapel. Apparently we didn’t get the memo that they wanted to make it a bit more spiritual that year. After all the hymns and bell choirs and harp solos, came us two bozos with guitars. I considered just not doing it at the last minute but I felt we should since we had put so much into preparing. It was the most embarrassing thing I have ever done in church, and yes, the spirit did leave. At least I can look back on it now and laugh. And at least we got to show off our mad skills.

    Sorry, that’s not really related. I just couldn’t resist.

    Comment by Horebite — December 10, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  39. Blake,
    I agree with you that there are definitely dances that could be out of place at church; I would just be surprised if this were one of those dances.

    In spite of our talk, we don’t have a real worship-dance tradition in our LDS heritage. At best we have an uneasy truce with dance (Givens to the contrary). Largely it’s because we read so much sexual provocation into the body, and dance is one of very few art forms that can’t (without difficulty) be separated from the body.

    Some dance is deliberately sexually provocative; in all art, some artists are out to push buttons. But I would assert that a lot of dance is corporal, but not sexual, that is, it’s in celebration of the physical body, but not of sex. (Which, I’ll repeat, is not to say that some isn’t a celebration of sex.) If we can only see sex when we see the body, we’re a pretty depraved and adolescent society (which, minus the sex part, David Foster Wallace argued we were in Harper’s back five or ten years ago). I just think it’s sad that we’re stuck in such an adolescent mindset for something that (under Kirsten’s telling, at least) is a result of discomfort with dance and body, not sex.

    And Jacob, I don’t personally have any desire to wear ballet tights (and few people would have a whole lot of desire to see me in them), and I don’t appreciate them in the same way someone who really understands dance (my wife and, as likely as not, Blake, as he seems to see more dance than I have in the last year or so) does. But when I watch dance with my wife, she looks at the dancers’ muscles, and is awed by the strength they show. If the dancers wore baggy pants, she couldn’t see their muscles, couldn’t appreciate the art (and body), and would miss out on part of what she appreciates. If I really put in the time to learn and appreciate dance, I understand why tights (or, for some modern dance, nudity) is both necessary and is not necessarily sexual.

    Comment by Sam B. — December 10, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  40. Horebite: and yes, the spirit did leave

    Hehe. I doubt it. Don’t you know that they totally rock out in the celestial kingdom? I’d say you were just living a higher law that night…

    Comment by Geoff J — December 10, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  41. It’s like looking at that picture where some people see the old lady and others see the young lady.

    I don’t know Kristen, I think I’d be equally creeped out if an old lady pulled her leg straight up to her ear and held that pose for a few seconds.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 10, 2007 @ 11:13 pm

  42. Har!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 11, 2007 @ 12:07 am

  43. Funny! Actually, I’d probably be even more creeped out if an old lady did that.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 11, 2007 @ 8:05 am

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