01 February 2007

Plus a change / Plus c'est la mme chose

I have been doing a lot of thinking about men and women lately, and, as far as differences go, one thing really seems to stand out for me (okay well, two things, but, one of them is too obvious to bother discussing). Change.

There are so many different points in a woman's life when her body, and her hormones (and thus her chemical makeup) change. Yes, boys and girls both go through puberty, and yes we both very obviously change during that time, and yes, I realize that over the years hormone levels fluctuate in both sexes.

But, women, we have to deal with monthly hormone changes, then if we get pregnant, not only do hormone levels shift in the beginning, but all throughout the gestation period. At the same time our minds are being forever altered, our bodies are permanently changing too. Then there is nursing, a whole different set of hormones are released, birth control alters them yet again, we hit a certain age and suddenly we hit our "sexual prime"... whether or not this 'actually' exists is debatable, but I think if you believe it does, you can cause the biological changes to occur.

Finally (hopefully that's the last one, I'll let you all know when I get there), we hit menopause. Suddenly all the hormones we've been learning to deal with throughout our lives disappear, and we change again.

Heraclitus said, "You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." This quote has always seemed to explain women in general. We are similar to the river, or possibly the ocean, ever flowing, ever changing, yet somehow still maintaining the same general form. I've always seen men as the tide pools which exist near by... similarly changing, yet containing a quiet universe within which changes much more subtly. The only problem I have with the analogy is that the relationship between women and men is much more symbiotic than that of ocean and tidal pool... and I honestly do believe men are much deeper than the tidal pool comparison. But, having spent so much time in this chaotic swirling mess of hormones, I seem to be at a loss when it comes to understanding men, and how they evolve over time.

Here's my question, can someone please tell me what it is men go through? Do men change as much as women throughout the years? Are we more similar than I think, or more different? I'm not looking for a better/worse who has it harder kind of debate here... I'm honestly asking for opinions and thoughts.


CamiKaos said...

Having only female parts to use as personal experience half of my comment is based on observation.

Women can change so drastically and violently from all that our bodies go through with hormone boosts and dumps through all our various stages that we can almost be one person on Wednesday and then wake up Thursday morning with an entirely new idea of self... How many times that can happen I really don't know nor do I want to think about it too long because I crave some hormonal/ emotional stability in my life.

With men it seems to me that slow and steady wins the race.

I look back at my brother when he was 20 and then now at 32 and he is a different person completely. When did that change occur? Can't tell you don't know. Some of it probably came from the love of his girlfriend who's been so good for him but I know there were changes before her. His growth, his self realization seemed to happen so slowly that we didn't notice it was going on.

Likewise with my hubby: When I hear stories from his youth, or from when he was my age I look at him in amazement. He's in his early 40's now and is making a real effort to be a man he can be proud of, that his wife can respect and love, that his daughter can depend on. By the time I met him I think he was already there and hadn’t realized it, but still slowly throughout the years his growth has been steady. He didn't change one night from a boy scout to a drummer in a hair band then to refined music lover, super husband & high tech employee but after many years and trials that is where he has landed.

So I would agree that women are as ever changing and unpredictable as the ocean, but to make an earthly comparison men seem (to me) to grow and change like mountains. Over time they accumulate mass and let things fall off but they don't commonly shoot up over night…

Anonymous said...

my initial thought was about the male "midlife crisis" and how drastic that can be... but im not there yet, thank goodness. looking back though, my personal changes have been rather less drastic i think.

the transition from child to man is a fundamental part of how a man changes. we look for the "rite of passage" that marks the change, but really i seemed to have changed much more slowly over time. before i knew it, i was looking for the next rite of passage to prove my manhood to myself, when i realised that i was already there.

making the transition to fatherhood was a huge step as well, going through pregnancy is much less drastic for men, but the change does hapen (it did for me, anyway).

anyway, i think my point is that we do change (we know this) over the years, but its much less drastic. i think its more of a quiet internal realization, as opposed to the sudden hormonal and physical changes of women. maybe thats why rites of passage in older cultures exist more for men, we are jelous f your sudden hormonal changes and want some suddennes to mark our change too =p

if men are mountains, then the midlife crisis must be the volcano of change... i dont know...

Anonymous said...

I'm resisting the urge to give a non serious answer and just be silly. (that could be my hormones acting up) I do have to agree men and women change at different paces in life. I think women change on a constant basis where men change on a need to change basis. A woman can change and be prepared for motherhood or feel the need to be a mother well before she is with child or she can be six months along and still not be at one with the idea of motherhood. Where in my experience, a man whether he is ready or not will become ready once the need arises. Women change because it is a natural part of who they are. Men change because they have to, but will stay as they are until something, a catalyst, brings on that change. In the way of analogies, men are like books. You can reread a book and each time it will come across differently bc of where you are in your life, but the story is always essentially the same. Women . . well we're sort of like improv acting. You can use the same props again and again, but the show will never be the same twice.

Giddy. said...

Thought provoking comments! I love it, thanks!

If you are interested, there are some pretty interesting comments on the same blog over at Tribe (http://people.tribe.net/giddygrrl/blog/c3cd72e5-4f7b-4e60-8415-d2c9db5a538a#comments).