Thursday, May 22, 2008

JAN: So all this talk about big screen TV raises the obvious question: Why are men so much more enamored with a big television screen than women?

My husband, who installed a 5 by 9 foot projection HDTV in my family room (luckily it rolls up into the ceiling and disappears), gets just the slightest bit defensive if I comment too enthusiastically about the picture on someone else’s plasma TV. (the option not taken.)

He seems to think that this competitive element has to do with sports. And that man’s need to have a bigger, better and clearer television screen is about the contest to have the best personal arena in which to view sports.

Mike, a mild mannered superhero who lives outside a Detroit suburb, a self-described “technie” and a writer, and owner of an HDTV big-screen, sees the competition in broader terms. “Anything visual and bigger than yours appeals to all men,” he says.

I can't argue with that. But I’m wondering if, there’s any technological product that illicits the same kind of desire and/or competition among women: Best convection oven?? Doubtful. Best washing machine? Maybe in the 1950s. Best laptop?

Or do we wage our competitions in strictly non-technical ways?


  1. Maybe: metabolism. I have a friend, very very thin. Literally, she can eat anything. If I ate a cheese puff, which I wouldn't, but if I did, I'd look like a cheese puff.

    She could eat a million cheese puffs. And she would. And she's still thin.

    But she'll be eating a say, cupcake. And she'll say: Want some of my cupcake? And I say, no thanks.

    She'll then say: It's amazingly delicious. Sort of, cappuccino flavor. And I say, no thanks.

    It's really terrific, she continues. High pressure. I say, sincerely, I'm very happy with my celery (or whatever.) Which is actually true, I don't even lust after cappuccino cupcakes, totally take em or leave em.

    But I do...envy her ability to just eat every carb/sugar/calorie-filled item that comes her way.

    And is she aware she's being competitive? My metabolism is more user-friendly than yours, she's saying. It lets me eat more stuff than yours does. Is she saying:I win?

  2. Hmmm,
    Yeah, there's definitely an entire book in the weird way women compete in their desire to be the thinnest, or maybe in your friend's case, the most carefree thinness. I think we could do an entire blog on that baby!

  3. Hmm ... metabolism. I used to have one of those "burn anything" metabolisms until the odometer turned over 35. Not anymore. Karma caught up with me.

    Back in the days when women were identified more by the man beside them, I remember girls being drawn to boys with the "sharpest" cars. Competition was keen for guys with "cool" cars. Sadly, girls boosted their self-esteem by what people saw them riding around in.

  4. Interesting - It seems women are more competitive about things that are not obvious to the eye in a visual sense. You can see the results of a friendly metabolism, but you really can't picture the friendly metabolism. Apparently, men are much more obvious about that. There's no question whether your 400 HP engine and tires can leave a bigger patch of rubber than mine. They focus on the end result, like looking at big screen HDTV.

    Just as a point of reference in regard to body image, weight, money - what we tell ourselves and how we relate that expression can also drive the process. That, as I point our in my transformation novel, is the Heisenberg theory in action in our lives. For the most part as humans we love to be right - even if the "rightness" is negative. For instance someone says "I always lose money at the black jack table, but I'll try anyway." Then, you see them go off to play black jack. Guess what is going to happen?

    What Hank describes is exactly what happens between my wife and I. I Can usually easily eat 50-100% more than she does and never gain an ounce. I'm within 5 lbs of my weight in college over 30 years ago. However, I will point out, my internal conversation is: I can eat as much as I want and never gain weight! I truly know this. I can also go without eating - for a long time. I'm working on indefinitely. There's a story about a saint in India who they claim never ate.

    Sorry for that aside - but I needed to keep my consciousness clear... I only put things in writing that I am willing to have in my life. And, I LOVE the fact that I can eat as much as I want. By the way - with that comes the mandate to care for the "temple of my body". After all, it is where my spirit lives and manifests. What spirit do I want to show the world. That is far more important then my HDTV, for instance. Although, certainly the HDTV is a manifestation of who I am. And, I am male and can embrace that aspect.

    While I can identify with the classic male, I try (listen to the words - try) to remain objective about it. It's like walking away from an ice cream when I know I've had too much. I focus on being the fish that knows there is water all around him!!!

    I can't wait for more posts. I really want to understand the things that drive the feminine mind.

    Great blog topic - Jan.


  5. Okay, first, on the big-screen thing. My husband (and son) are much more visual than me--both are visually artistic, while the only thing I've got going for me that way is some ability to mix colors well. Last night, we rented The Golden Compass, and while my husband and I both agreed that the plot was pretty darned weak, the filming and the visual was spectacular--but it definitely did more for him than me. Other than the polar bears, I could almost have turned the movie off. My son will take much longer than me to read the funnies or a comic book, and that's because, I think, I "skim" the pictures, while he studies them. Is this possibly a reason behind the male-big screen thing?

    Women and competition: It IS weird. I try NOT to surround myself with women like this, but how many times have you been in a group and heard one woman--oh, so politely and tactfully--put down another woman's choice about working versus staying home with kids, or even about having kids/not having kids? Obviously, not all of us do this, but its out there--is it based in our own worries about the choices we've made? Do men do this? Do they do it about something else?

    Great discussion.

  6. Hi Mike, thanks for your insights and your enthusiasm!
    Becky, I think the deal is that female competition changes with teh phase of life. It evolves from the stay-at-home/vs.working mother thing, to the how-well-is-your-child-doing-in-school-and-sports thing. But I think that only about 2 percent of the women in any group in engage in the weirdness. It's just that those are the women you remember!

  7. Jan -

    Thanks and amen!

    I don't want to thwart this thread, but this last comment struck a chord. And, apologize in advance.

    Yes, I know the type of women and even parents you seem to be referencing. And, I always felt is was essential to let my kids "BE" whoever they chose to be. We let them know that at an early age. Even at 2 years old we let them make decisions - simple ones - but decisons, and live with the consequences. Do you want the red cup or green cup. Apple juice or grape juice. That kind of thing. As a result they felt no pressure from us and were always able to take responsibility for their decisions. Result, my oldest is a Marine biologist working for the fisheries dept. in FL who also is a really good vocalist. Sang with the Charletston Symphony Choir. She taught me a ton about how critical estuary science is. Mid-child has a BA in French and speaks French, Chinese, Thai, Spanish has lived all over the world and is just getting an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She taught me a lot about languages and cultures. And, the youngest - Got a Full Ride to Wayne State in Art, a grant to study art in Southern Brazil for a term, learned fluent Portuguese in 6 mos so that he could attend College there all in Portuguese. He has taught me a ton about art and the meaning of art. I have learned so much from these people who are my children. Am I proud of them? - Sure. However, I am far more grateful for all they have taught me.

    I say all this - ONLY to emphasize how important it is to just let children be who they are. They don't need to meet any standards. They need to know for sure that they are loved no matter what. Passing grades, failing grades - it doesn't matter. It's their choice and they are responible for it. It's a leap of faith to let go - but it's the only way!

    I am so grafeful that I was able to just go with my gut feel in things. Was it trying at times? Sure.

    But the result and who I am today I owe in part to my children who brought things into my life that I never could imagine and I love them and what they brought into my life.