Who are harder to understand - men, or women?
Cecile's contribution to the debate was a blog post called 'I don't always understand men,' and her most surprising revelation was that men enjoy looking at breasts.
Now, any reasonable person will agree with me - and 48% of my readers are men so I expect almost half of you to be reasonable people - that men are childishly simple and women inordinately complicated.
I have a stupendously powerful analytical brain and access to many women of all nationalities and attractivenesses. But despite years of study, women remain inexplicable to me. Sometimes the things they say and do absolutely boggle my mind. Here's a few examples.
I went to see breathless action romp The Avengers with Cecile. She said "There's too much action." This may be the most female sentence possible in the English language.
After taking a woman to a movie, I always ask them what their favourite parts were. It's crazy how often the scene they pick as their highlight is a scene I would have cut.
Example: The Proposal
Sandra Bullock must marry her assistant (Ryan Reynolds, famous for having the body of a man and the head of a baby) to get a Green Card. They go to his home town for the wedding. Naturally, they have to share a bedroom or people will suspect it's a sham.
There is a scene with the male eye candy coming out of the shower with his body all shiny and tight and clad in a micro-towel. But that wasn't my friend's best bit. No, that was when Sandra Bullock was in bed and Reynolds was in a sleeping bag on the floor and they chatted for a bit.
Chatted! And that was the best part! "Because it was the first time they really talked."
Through skilful questioning, I've discovered that the purpose of this appraisal is to find fault with the rival woman. If no men are around (or the woman is drunk or you've convinced her you're gay), the results of the analysis will emerge:
* "She can't wear those heels"
* "Is that a short skirt or a wide belt?"
* "She looks like a stolen car under all that make-up"
If men are around, women will communicate all this to their girlfriends through a single glance or twitch of an eyebrow.
One woman gave me an incomplete insight by saying: "You're not happy with your clothes and you see another woman wearing something great and it just reinforces your bad feeling." So the woman will go shopping, buy some great new clothes, look so good she makes other women feel bad, see the second woman looking great a week later, and feel sad again. It's the circle of life, as designed by H+M.
* It's the result of a failed attempt to create a palindrome
Years later I started to understand what she meant. I was doing a lesson where the students have to choose the next James Bond. They listen to some actors explaining why they want the job. One of them has a rich, deep Roger Moore voice. "I choose him," said a female student. "Why?" I asked. "He makes me feel safe." "Huh? He's just a disembodied voice! What's safe about a voice?" "I don't know. It's like I can trust him with my secrets."
At last! A partial explanation for the way women think! It's not just physical safety, but some kind of emotional safety too. I think I almost understand it!
"Talk to him."
I've written a draft of an Agony Andrew article called 'My boyfriend has lost interest in me.' I haven't published it yet, but I've done a lot of research on it. 'Research' involved me asking my female students to tell me what they'd do in that situation. I hoped to get good feedback like 'I'd sleep with my English teacher to make my boyfriend jealous' but instead most of them just said 'I'd talk to him'.
Talk to him? What's the point of that?
Giving Me Weird Compliments
Compliments from men are nice. Once in secondary school I scored a preposterous goal1 in P.E. and then showed my mates how to do the experiment we were doing in Science. "Andy G," said my buddy Tim, "Good at football, good at Science." This compliment was good because I could understand what he meant and because it complimented me on things I care about - football and intelligence.
When I lived in Shanghai I had serious problems with my eyes. They were all red and gross and no doctor could help. They got worse. One day it was like I had a film of blood covering the sclera. Imagine a dartboard with a black bullseye surrounded by a blue ring, then a larger red bit. Now imagine how depressed and anti-social that would make you. Now imagine you have to go to work and you meet a hot woman who looks at you earnestly and says, "You have beautiful eyes." This actually happened to me and I don't know why.
Other weird compliments from women range from 'You have a perfect body' to 'You are successful'. Sigh. I mean, I do have a perfect body if you need to show a child the dangers of eating pizza to excess, and I have successfully completed Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect. But still, these compliments are too weird to have any true value.
If anyone can shed any light on any of this, please use the comments section just below.