By Jennifer Harper
Published August 18, 2006 — Vive la difference: Despite feminists, metrosexuals and gender-neutral language, we just can’t surrender those old ways. Men, it seems, are still chivalrous, protective of their womenfolk and perhaps endearingly stubborn about certain things. And women? They like to shop, they’re fastidious, and yes, they will ask for directions.
“American men and women tend to embrace many well-known sexual stereotypes, admitting to patterns of behavior commonly attributed to their gender,” according to a poll released yesterday by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University.
“Recall that male passengers on the Titanic agreed to give up their places on the lifeboats for women and children,” the researchers said in framing their question to more than 1,000 Americans.
“If there were a similar life-or-death situation today, do you think men should be expected to die and allow women to live?”
Almost two thirds of the men — a manly 63 percent — said they should be expected to lay down their lives. Only 39 percent of the women agreed; 43 percent of the ladies, in fact, thought the idea was “old-fashioned,” compared with 23 percent of the men.
Females had a practical edge: While almost half the men said that someone had told them that they were reluctant to ask for directions, the number was just 13 percent among women. And 65 percent of the guys had run out of gas while driving, compared with 47 percent of their feminine counterparts.
“One of the failures of second-wave feminism is the refusal to recognize that there are in fact differences between men and women,” Michelle D. Bernard, president of the District-based Independent Women’s Forum, said yesterday. “Recognition of these differences does not in any way relegate women to a status that is unequal to men, it merely recognizes a biological fact — we are different. The failure to recognize this is what is hurting our relationships, our children, and our jobs.”
Other recent research has emphasized the differences. A study by Ohio State University determined that comfort food preferences are “gender specific.” Men crave hearty steak and potatoes, while women shamelessly want sweets. The University of Toronto found that teenage girls pen stories about romance while boys write of adventure, even in an era of “grrl power.”
And after studying the persistence of the old-fashioned bridal shower, Pennsylvania State University sociologist Beth Montemurro concluded June 28 that “American society is still very much married to tradition and traditional concepts of masculine and feminine.”
Meanwhile, the Scripps Survey revealed that less than half the women would admit they had eaten food that fell on the floor. But the practice was more common among the gents — 60 percent, in fact, wolfed down that fallen cookie, dust balls and all. A majority of the women, 64 percent, said they enjoy shopping, compared with 46 percent of the men. And half of the ladies preferred a glass of wine to beer, a preference shared by only a quarter of the men.
The survey of 1,010 adults was conducted July 6-24, with a margin of error of five percentage points.