For women, this current world has become a world of opportunity almost without limit. “Women want to be wanted. Men need to be needed.” To understand this, though, we need to go way back and consider Mister and Missus Caveman… Please bear with me:
Mr. caveman, with his group or on his own, has gone hunting. His instincts have been developed and his brain is hardwired to focus on one objective: to catch and kill the beast. All other considerations are extraneous and set aside so he can stubbornly zero in on the kill. He feels good about himself because he has been successful (accomplished) in the past and expects, or at least hopes to be successful again. His adrenaline is high because he knows his work is vitally important. If he fails, his family goes hungry. His adrenaline is also high because he knows if he isn’t extremely careful, he might be the one who ends up getting killed. Hesitation or distractions could kill him, so he has learned (and is built) to be like a horse with blinders—to really focus on the hunt and his prey—the objective.
Meanwhile, Ms. Caveman is preparing food, gathering berries, cleaning clothes, straightening and cleaning the bedrolls and watching four children all at once. Her life is compartmentalized, naturally fragmented, or as we might describe it, it requires great multi-tasking skills.
Immediately we can see that men are better able to focus on objectives and women are better able to multi-task. That is given, but there is more.
Ms. Caveman has neighbors, primarily more women and their children, and so it is to Ms. Caveman’s benefit to think of the group in order to keep the peace. The instinct for wanting a safe and secure environment for herself and her children is undeniable and understandable.
Group think not only matters in her relationships with other, and relationships are far more important to women than men, but it matters when Mr. Caveman comes home. She wants peace between her husband and children as well as between the children. And she wants peace with her neighbors, so she is wired to cooperate, both in child rearing and in the gathering and sharing of the fruit of the earth.
This is not to say men are uncooperative. Only, men cooperate on the hunt—on obtaining the objective (like soldiers), not in maintaining positive relationships. Men cooperate as a team, and they play as a unit to win the game
To maintain positive relationships among many people, women need another skill, namely flexibility: the ability to see things from the other point of view. (Men don’t need to see the prey’s point of view. They do, however, need an officer and privates to function well in a group environment—thus hierarchy was undoubtedly a male invention, and eventually government as well).
Women, then, are far more flexible in their views than men who tend to see the world in more black and white terms.
NOTE: I am not saying that women are wishy-washy in their thinking. I am not saying that when a woman argues fervently for the other side that a) she does not know her own mind or b) she is a good liar. I AM saying she is more willing to be flexible on lesser matters for the sake of peace and stability (greater good) and more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. She can do this because she is adjusted to fragmented or compartmentalized thinking. To be sure, many men need to be hit on the head with a sledge hammer even to see the other point of view…
In terms of cooperation, men cooperate, but in a hierarchical form. (It was not by accident that most ancient societies were patriarchic. The whole idea of “leader” is a male invention, I have no doubt, and it is imperative if the group hopes to have a successful hunt). Men have a Captain and crew, a manager and staff, a lieutenant (centurion) and platoon (phalanx), and make no mistake, no matter how big the army gets, the platoon or squad remains the basic unit. Small groups with clearly defined leadership is where men cooperate best.
Women cooperate on a whole different level and for different reasons. “You gather today and I’ll watch the children. I’ll gather tomorrow and you watch the children.” Women (again the flexible, observant minds) can also see the strengths in different women and play to those strengths.
“No, let’s have Ms. Caveman watch the children three days per week and share our gathering with her. She is really good with children. And then old Grandma Caveman might help with the cleaning and cooking since her knees won’t let her gather anymore.”
For women, cooperation is more organizational in nature and the division of labor is instinctive, or might as well be. Generally, leadership develops among women as well, but it is more organic and flexible and less end-game focused.
For men, competition is a game. Give two men cups and tell them to go pick berries and see if they don’t make a game: who can fill the cup fastest, or pick the most, or pick the best. Give two women cups and they will talk about relationships: children, troubles, friends, and their men, and hardly pay attention to the berry picking.
For men, it is no wonder that sports play an important role. Game competition, even vicarious, is instinctive. Don’t think for a second that the cavemen did not compete to bring home the biggest deer or have the fattest wife.
For women, competition, which is usually with other women, is anything but a game. It is over the top, off the cliff, deadly serious business because it has to do with her getting what she wants; which historically was invariably THAT man. This, however, has translated easily into our day when the competition has become getting that job or that promotion or that “A” in the course. For men it remains a game, often a “wait until next year” game that isn’t that serious. No wonder men are so often blind-sided by ambitious women.