I’m a personal growth junkie. There I said it. And it’s totally true. I love learning about what makes me and others tick. This weekend I attended a conference and sat in on a session by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn who spoke about the differences between men and women.
The information they shared was based on seven national surveys done with very carefully planned surveys created by a former Census Bureau survey developer. They shared a bunch of really great information but there is one thing that I want to share because I NEVER understood this.
I have always heard that men are visual and women are emotional. This is why pornography can be such a problem for men. But I never really understood it no matter how many times I heard it. I think I get it a little better now.
According to Jeff and Shaunti there is an area of the brain near the brain stem that controls the autonomic system. This is where things that we never think about are controlled; things like breathing and our heart beating. A quick peek at Wikipedia (not the best source, I know) tells me that it controls other things like salivation, swallowing, pupil dilation, perspiration, urination and sexual arousal.
They shared that when a man sees an attractive woman dressed to show off her body, for example, that part of the brain lights up. It’s biological. They have no control over it. It just happens. It’s like a knee-jerk reaction. And somewhere deep inside it makes them feel good.
When a woman sees an attractive man who is half-dressed that same part of the brain stays dark. No surprise, right women? But the parts of the brain that gets stimulated are the thinking centers. We immediately start THINKING. Of course we do! “Wow, that guy is hot” counts as a thought.
Polar opposites, right?! At one point during their talk Jeff mentioned that men’s biological response to an ‘arousing’ woman is automatic but what they do with it can be conditioned and that he’s been working with his young son to temper it. Since I have two boys I wanted to know more about that and I spoke with him after the talk.
In his response to me he gave another example of how automatic this response is for boys/men. He said that one day he and his family were shopping at the mall when they lost their then four-year-old son. After a moment of panic they retraced their steps and found him standing with his mouth dropped open in front of Victoria’s Secret. Shaunti recognizing what was happening asked Jeff to investigate.
Jeff approached his son saying, ‘Hey buddy, what’s going on?’ His son replied, ‘I like this lady, daddy.’ Shaunti encouraged Jeff to get MORE answers. Jeff asked, ‘Well, what do you like about her?’ His son said, I like her bare tummy. And he stood totally transfixed in front of the picture. Jeff asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ The son said, ‘I don’t know. It makes me feel good inside.”
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT! From the mouth of a four-year-old boy who probably hasn’t been overly sexualized by the media, who probably who hasn’t been exposed racy music, etc. Something clicked in my head. OH! It IS an automatic biological response! Jeff described that feeling with an analogy of food. If someone was starving, seeing food would do something similar to them. It wouldn’t be a conscious reaction but one that is purely biological.
So I sit feeling like the veil has finally been lifted (a little) and it’s so amazing. Why did it take so long for me to get it?
In case you’re interested in learning more here’s a link to Shaunti Feldhahn’s website: http://www.shaunti.com