by Greg Allard
Don Henley’s 1989 Grammy-winning album End of the Innocence featured a heart-wrenching song about relationships called “Heart of the Matter,” in which the Eagle star applied his famous knack for social commentary toward the subject of introspectively looking at what really matters in life. One stanza particularly demonstrates the state of the world that we live in today:
These times are so uncertain.
There’s a yearning undefined and
People filled with rage.
We all need a little tenderness,
How can love survive
in such a graceless age?
Ah, the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness,
They’re the very things we kill, I guess.
Oh, pride and competition
Cannot fill these empty arms,
And the work I put between us,
you know it doesn’t keep me warm.
While Henley and his song-writing partners, J.D. Souther and Mike Campbell, probably wrote this song from the male perspective, the line “And the work I put between us, you know it doesn’t keep me warm” can equally apply to today’s young working woman as well.
Unfortunately, today’s career-oriented woman has more to deal with in balancing her work and personal life than the men of the 80s did, or for that matter, the men of today do. Due to an uneven playing field, women make on average less than men in the workplace and often have to work harder or be more qualified to just achieve the same position as a man. These facts often pressure women to put off other aspects of their lives, like love, marriage and children, for fear of falling behind in their careers.
First of all, it is important to point out that as co-members of the human race, women and men have many similarities. Every woman and man in this world wants to be happy, but in a competitive humanity of haves and have not’s, where the playing field often seems to be uneven or unfair, how can one achieve such worldly happiness for oneself and those around them?
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people in general not only want to fulfill their physical needs for food, water, sex, sleep, shelter, security and so on, but because they are social beings, they want to be loved and appreciated by their friends, family and partners. Ideally, they would like to naturally take pride in their work by doing things that make them feel good about themselves and also help others or contribute to society. And if they can get that far, they want to reach their full potential and thrive in this lifetime by having a passion for everything they do — living their lives with joy and being expert in their chosen fields.
Unfortunately, there are still too many misinformed men, who often think members of the male gender are more suited to leadership positions than women because they are more logical and not as emotional. Studies have shown, however, that this couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, IQ tests given by renown authority in the field, James Flynn, an emeritus professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand , found that women’s IQ’s have now surpassed men’s, in part because of the higher variety of important roles that many women play in today’s modern world.
Men influenced by old husbands-tales, often complain that they don’t understand the way women think, as if there’s no logic to it. They roll their eyes and perhaps even ask if the woman is being visited by her monthly friend or some other condescending remark such as that. Perhaps a notion such a befuddled person is not considering is that a woman’s behavior is perfectly logical, just different from his.
For example, a woman may show interest in a man when she is still determining whether he is up to snuff to be her sexual partner, but if he does something that proves himself unworthy in her estimation, she may externally cool off to him to send him a message to back off. Some insensitive men may call that sending mixed messages but for a woman it may just clearly be a survival instinct.
In order for our species to perpetuate itself, women and men have developed different types of logic that has often been the ridicule of its opposite gender. Men, for example, are very visual creatures when it comes to being attracted by the opposite sex. Even from a long distance away, they are sizing up a woman physically and from the get go they pretty much instantly know whether they are attracted to her or not.
When it comes to finding a mate, however, women on average naturally put much more into it than looks and sexual stimulation. They really have to, as they want the best possible situation for themselves and their children, if there are to be any. When a woman wants to settle down and has more choices than just twerpy Earl or not-so-smart Carl from her small hometown, she considers if her suitors are partner material or not. Litmus questions like is he compatible with me, will he help sufficiently to provide for our family, will he respect me, will he cheer me up when I’m down and tolerate my shortcomings, and most importantly, will he stick around to help raise a child after he impregnates me, often both consciously and subconsciously guide her. And this is a good thing because the truth is, after she actually falls in love with a guy, it will be much harder to make such distinctions.
As far as emotions go, a recent study surprisingly found that men are far more likely to want to administrate self-electrical shock than to be alone with own their thoughts than a woman is. Only 25-percent of the women who participated in the study gave themselves available shock therapy during sessions of meditation, compared to a shocking 67 percent of the men. The study rather suggests that women are much better at facing, processing and expressing their thoughts and feelings than men are, probably due to both society’s influence over the centuries and straight up biology.
One reason women in general are more in touch with their emotions than men are is because females generally have more empathy. In the realm of having children, for example, empathy is needed because a baby cannot talk to express his or her needs. That woman’s intuition, if you will, can also be used to judge who would be a worthy father for a woman’s child. Often just by looking at a man, a woman can innately know his abilities, emotions and intentions, if she learns to trust her own inner voice.
This may also be true because women have a narrower middle membrane or septum pellucidum between their left and right hemispheres than men do. Men, with their wider middle membranes, tend to put different areas of their lives into separate compartments, whereas in a women’s brain, the activities of the left and right hemispheres are seen as more interrelated to each other.
This is partly why a man’s sense of identity comes from what he does and what he has, compared to women, who tend to identify themselves more with their important personal relationships, which form a circle around them in their minds. Because men were traditionally the hunter-gatherings and women were physically smaller and weaker, women depended on both their intuition in choosing a mate when possible and their network of family and friends to support them emotionally. And like today, if someone in a women’s close circle was feeling pain, they were much more likely to feel it also than a man was of one of his close friends.
A woman’s added empathy actually indirectly suggests that women may be more advanced emotionally than men and are often better for leadership positions in the workplace because they know how to get along with others better. Men, on the other hand, tend to be problem solvers with their friends than outwardly empathetic. This obviously also has a valuable role in the workplace.
So, today’s young woman, equipped with knowledge and ability, should be much more likely to strike a balance in her life between career and relationships in her progress toward self-actualization than the independent women before her has. Sometimes it has been found that career-oriented women who have ignored their need for personal relationships have started to feel depressed for their lack of social life and inter-personal circle when they have reached their 30s or 40s. Therefore, it may behoove today’s 20-something woman to develop and rely on her natural goddess-intuition earlier in life and forge important interpersonal relationships, or an empathetic support circle, side by side with her career ambitions.
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