Keep Your Eye on the Prize

As much as we strive for gender equality, we cannot ignore distinct gender differences. Men and women ought to have equal access, opportunities, and rights – but that does not mean that they are equally predisposed. There are several important sex differences beyond the obvious biological ones. These differences begin in utero. We share the same sexual identity just after conception; but thereafter, the structure of the fetal brain begins to develop male or female form. Sex hormones inform the way we think, evaluate and perceive. With advances in MRI technology, studies reveal more and more about the sexual differences in brain function.

Of interest to us here at FYFM are the aspects of the brain that process sight and visual perception. The greatest difference can be found in the region of the brain that governs spatial ability. The fact that males generally have better hand-eye coordination combined with their superior perception of faraway objects likely harkens back to antiquity when hunting was the purview of males.

Men needed long distance vision to ensure an adequate protein supply.

Women, on the other hand, have more accurate vision when it comes to close range objects. Dr. Oz notes that women also have better peripheral vision while men have stronger straight-on vision. This, too, stems from the need in hunter/gatherer societies for the women to keep watch on the children in the homestead. Dr. Oz’s noted difference between men’s and women’s vision supports the old division of labor, but it also tells us something about contemporary dating.

Single men tend to walk into a room, reminiscent of a hunter on the plain, and seek out the person to whom they are most attracted. They have great visual acuity and will be more attentive to a face with features similar to their own.

Women, too, are prone to seek mates but their hormone fueled brain function is differently oriented. Psychologist Helen Stancey claims that “Our results suggest that the near pathway is favored in women and the far pathway is favored in men.” Men can detect a desirable partner from far away; they still have the innate hunter within. While women are more likely to need to meet someone up close in order to determine desirability.

Above: Theodore and Edith Roosevelt   Below: James Cagney and Frances Vernon, George and Martha Washington, Kofi Annan and Nane Maria Lagergren

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