Tuesday, December 24, 2013

You Don't Need to Like Sports

I've traveled a lot. I've lived in Europe twice, spent months at a time in Africa and India, and have visited dozens of other countries in south and central America, the Middle East and Europe (no, I am not in the military). I don't say this to brag or show off, but to lend a little more weight to the observation inspiring this post. The time I've spent abroad has given me a fairly good grasp on the differences between American women and foreigners. This understanding, in turn, helps me to recognize the characteristics that are universally feminine, as opposed to those that are specific to the women in the United States, or any other culture.

One thing that is unique to the United States is how much American women watch sports. Perhaps I am noticing this more recently because it is the middle of the American Football season, but in any case the trend is unmistakable. Women in the United States have favorite teams, know the names of all the players, and watch every game. They cheer with excitement when there is a good play, swear at the referees when they make a bad call, have opinions about who will beat whom, and generally invest a good deal of their identity as a fan of their chosen team.

This doesn't really happen outside the United States. I am sure there are some places where women care about sports more than others, but I have yet to go anywhere outside the U.S. and find women out-shouting men at a bar where a "big game" is being shown on TV. In the U.S. it happens regularly, so it is clear that this is a cultural (rather than sexual) phenomenon.

Most sports are inherently masculine. They are physical, aggressive, strategic and competitive. Perhaps more importantly, "scoring" is characterized in most sports by the same kind of build-up and break-through that occurs in the male orgasm (it isn't a coincidence that men use the same term to refer to getting laid), and in other traditionally masculine pursuits, like hunting and scientific investigation. And while this doesn't mean that women can't or shouldn't participate in sports, or even thoroughly enjoy them, it does mean that any pressure a woman feels to watch or participate in them is most likely external and cultural, rather than internal and authentic.

More to the point here, liking sports will not make you more attractive to men. As I have pointed out before, trying to be one of the guys is a bad dating strategy. There is nothing lamer than that girl at the bar on game-day, wearing face-paint and a team jersey, yelling at the players or referees on the screen in an attempt to prove to the guys around her how much she knows about the game. It is almost the definition of trying too hard, and it is a huge turn-off. While taking an interest the things he likes (sports) is a demonstration of good-will, admiration, and maybe even loyalty, being as obsessed about hockey as he is will not make him want to bang you or date you; it will (at most) make him want to be your friend.

I occasionally pick up Cosmopolitan to see what kind of advice they are giving, and I read there once that men said they like a girl who loves sports. I don't doubt that men have said this, but that doesn't mean it is any truer than the female claim to like men who are able to cry during movies. While both are kind of nice ideas in theory, the behaviors of both sexes in choosing partners betray their real preferences. And yes, of course, there are girls who are epic sports fans and still get guys, but I can promise you that this is because they are hot or fun to be around - not because they are sports fans

So if you are American girl, and feel like you aren't fitting in because you don't know the name of your local basketball team's point guard, or if you find yourself tempted to mimic that one girl you know that has men swarming over her as she spouts football statistics, take a moment to recognize that (a) it isn't her love of sports that is attracting those men, and (b) if it isn't something you genuinely like, you shouldn't be doing it anyway.


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36 comments:

  1. Why does psychology say "likeness attracts"? With people doing assortative mating, to mate with people who share similarities with themselves? Maybe they mean in other ways, instead of in sharing similar interests?

    Read articles saying that the extreme masculine mind(good with rules, maths, mechanics etc.) can lead to children with autism, especially if the masculine mind lacks a sense of empathy/warmth and if it tends to rationalize everything rather than feel them. When both of the parents are extremely analytical the chances of them having children with autism increase.

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  2. Great article! Definitely applies to me. Besides soccer, I never really kept up with American sports. I always felt out of place not getting all hyped up like the other girls but now I'm glad I didn't. Would have been too fake.

    Merry Christmas Andrew :)

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  3. I HONESTLY LOVE LOVE LOVE my sports teams. Yes, I know the players, yell at the TV, attend sporting events and write about sports. So, if there are men truly offended that a woman who likes sports is either trying too hard or trying to be like one of the guys, they are probably too small-minded to be with a woman like me (and my friends!) this is the woman of the day. There is more to life than sports and many women balance several interests including sports - particularly football! ;-) Oh, go Eagles! :-)

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    1. I don't think any man would be offended by a woman who genuinely likes sports.

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  4. wait, where do you divide "external, cultural" factors and "internal, authentic" factors? I don't get it. It seems to me that the first set of factors you delineate is proposed by the "feminist" group, and the second by the pre-1950s set. Both are external.

    Also, "scientific investigation", bro?

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    1. I don't understand the question

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    2. I could be misunderstanding, but I think the question Berlin is getting at is, "Both 'liking sports' and 'not liking sports' are influenced by external, cultural factors, but the former owes its roots to the external influences of feminism, while the latter is derived from the external influences of more traditional, 1950s-esque expectations of womanly behavior. So, what's the difference, and why does it matter?"

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    3. I disagree that the pressure to not like sports is external. But if you could somehow prove that it was external (i.e. In the 1950s), that kind of pressure certainly doesn't exist now. Now, any pressure that exists is to LIKE sports, and my point is that this isn't something that girls need to pay much attention to, or should feel bad about ignoring if they are interested in attracting men.

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    4. I still don't understand the scientific investigation comment though.

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    5. Is it really accurate to claim that scientific investigation is intrinsically masculine? That all women scientists are deluding themselves? In some fields of science, like psychology and biology, women outnumber men. Moreover, if any activity with "build-up" and "break-through" is masculine, then I would argue that achieving anything meaningful is masculine by your definition.

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    6. Also, I'm curious what you think the female orgasm is like.

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    7. "I still don't understand the scientific investigation comment though."

      Basically, people are miffed that you think science is inherently masculine (I disagree with you on this one, too, even though I respect your opinion, by and large). The pursuit of truth and knowledge seems gender-neutral to me -- many feminine women are intellectually curious people.

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    8. Just for the record, I said "traditionally masculine" not "intrinsically masculine" - though I do think there is something intrinsically masculine about scientific investigation, yes. Men are hunters by nature - few, if any, people will deny this. The pursuit of scientific discovery (or philosophical discovery, or business success, for that matter) is only different from the pursuit of prey, or anything else that men "hunt," in the sense that it is not a physical object. But the intense focus on an objective or goal is definitely masculine. Neuroscientists have shown repeatedly that the male brain is wired for this kind of focus on a singular objective. I also think that sales is an intrinsically masculine job, for the same reason (the sale is the "prey" or the "kill").

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    9. Out of sheer curiosity, would you be unwilling to marry a woman who is a researcher or a scientist, if she was also beautiful and had a great personality? For example, if the woman is in a research profession (because she genuinely enjoys the process of seeking truth and knowledge), but is also attractive, warm, nurturing, energetic, and optimistic -- would you write her off because of her job?

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    10. Mary H
      I know you directed your question at Andrew but I hope you don't mind me popping in here to answer this one.

      "would you be unwilling to marry a woman who is a researcher or a scientist – would you write her off because of her job?"

      I’m guessing you’re a researcher or a scientist? Hehe

      I would say in general, no a woman won’t be written off because of her job, although it does have an impact - let me explain.

      When men look for a woman the first thing they look for is looks – so he will want to sleep with her. Then the next stage is looks and personality – so he will want to shag her and hang out with her. Then the next stage is looks, personality and intelligence/kindness/other long term traits – so he will want to shag her, hang out with her and commit to her.

      So if you’re beautiful, have a great personality and are intelligent/kind then the specific nature of your job isn’t actually that important – i.e. she won’t be written off for her job.

      That said, the specific nature of her job won’t necessarily be of much benefit to a woman either. If she doesn’t fulfil looks and personality she will have no chance regardless of what she does.

      However there are some exceptions: men who like more relaxed homely women might rule out a woman who has a job that requires extensive hours or travelling etc. Also, in spite of what men say about not caring a woman’s achievements we generally pick long-term partners with jobs not too dissimilar from our own. So if a woman is a research scientist, a non-intellectual type guy might be intimidated and seek something more aligned to his values. Or if a guy is a professional he might select someone approximately at his level because of societal mores/status.

      There is nothing wrong with enjoying the process of seeking truth and knowledge – in fact all of us should probably be striving to enjoy it.

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    11. Mary H,

      I would be willing to marry a girl like that.

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    12. @Thomas:

      Thank you so much, and I don't mind at all! The wider the range of masculine opinions, the better. :)

      Haha, I actually don't have a job yet -- I'm just graduating college this year. That said, nearly all of the jobs I applied for/am applying for are research jobs (not scientific research, but economic/political research), because that's what I'm most interested in doing. That said, it's not impossible to be feminine in a research career. Baking cookies for the office on occasion and wearing heels aren't mutually exclusive with working hard and doing a job effectively, in my opinion. I may be too young to know, but that's what I've got so far. :)

      This is a bit of a side tangent, but it's interesting, actually, to think about this scenario in reverse. If a guy was confident, driven, and was a man of character, would I write him off because he volunteers at the animal shelter on weekends? Definitely not. Actually, in combination with those other traits, I would really like the fact that he volunteers at the animal shelter -- it would sort of be a breath of fresh air compared to many confident, masculine men who are also selfish and arrogant. The Holy Grail is a confident, masculine man with integrity and a degree of humility and self-awareness.

      I think if a guy was 100% masculine with zero feminine traits, I actually probably wouldn't want to marry him. Some feminine traits, like compassion, empathy, and the ability to listen to a partner's needs are vital for a relationship or marriage to function. He shouldn't be a "nice guy" (a guy who is kind and empathetic *because he wants approval from other people* and seeks external validation, and is ultimately a pushover). He should instead be a "good guy" (a confident guy who is kind and empathetic toward other people because *it is the right thing to do.* He is not a pushover, but he has morals and values, and he does his best to be true to them).

      Curious to hear what anyone thinks about that distinction.

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    13. I am in total agreement with your comment. If the nice guy isn't getting the girl, it might be because he acts weak or gets intimidated easily. In my experience, most girls will avoid the loud, beer drinking, trash talking, confident guys and go for the more educated, stable, cultured men, finding them a better pick of the lot. The truth of the matter is, women value quality. They value a man's intelligence and his strength. They want a man who can take care of them and fulfill their needs. But they also crave respect from their men and want their men to listen to them when they communicate and be there emotionally when they need them.
      A man who is too arrogant or selfish to do that will ultimately lose the girl or if the society is extremely patriarchal (as is mine) the women remain in the relationship but are usually quite unhappy and end up disliking their husbands in the longer run even if they remain in the relationship.

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    14. @Andrew I respect a lot of the advice you give out on this blog but I don't understand your viewpoint here. I think you're very much in the minority when you claim that seeking any sort of success is unnatural for a woman. What is natural for a woman, then, when the vast majority of modern women are trying to do something with their lives? Would you be attracted to a woman who merely sits at home?

      Furthermore, in no way does the article you linked to support the idea that men are more suited to focused tasks. In fact, I read the paper in PNAS and a) the differences are only barely statistically significant and b) the authors never claimed that men are better are focused tasks. As often happens with studies like these, this has been blown up by the mainstream media when in reality it's merely a cool methodology with no immediate implications. They also didn't do any behavioral analysis, so they're simply guessing about how these small differences in wiring translate to observable differences in behavior. Finally, these are wiring differences in adult men and women, so societal influence has not been controlled for.

      Here's what the research does show: minor differences in spatial and verbal abilities that begin at an early age and, compounded by societal influence, are magnified until adulthood. However, this has nothing to do with general success. Please do your research before you promote such harmful stereotypes. I'm not sure you realize how much a young woman's mindset can be affected by disparaging comments such as yours.

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    15. Andrew-I disagree w ur suggestion that men are traditionally scientific. I understand why you might think so, but disagree. It almost seems that you're suggesting that emotion/feeling is different from scientific. The scientist can be an artist as well. In the context of everyday relationships I think it's something both genders are capable of struggling with. I like that you make the distinction about being traditionally scientific, but I don't think it's characteristic of men. I think it's a challenge for certain men to connect with their artistic side, but it can also be a challenge for women. In the context of something like falling in love, love and the passion associated with love is something that is guided by emotion more than calculated/focused deliberation. Love is different from being horny and having lots of sex.

      Sales is not an intrinsically masculine job either. I'm not sure what population you're basing this all on, but if the population you're looking at feels that hunting and sales are intrinsic to men, then I think that population has other issues, or maybe they're just bad at promoting themselves aka lack confidence and therefore have to be aggressive to compensate for their short-comings. Talent to be savvy and have good people skills aren't gender-specific, and they probably aren't inherent either, but learned from parents, or environmental influences etc. Taking it a step further, children who grow up with harsh, critical, loveless, and emotionally abusive parents are likely going to have a difficult time falling in love. It has nothing to do with science or art, but with a knowledge and previous exposure to love that enables them to recognize it rather than think something is love when it's not.

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    16. I think you may find this article interesting: http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/10/24/can-feminine-women-make-it-to-the-top/

      Particularly this section:

      "Strengths on the feminine part of the continuum (again, seen in both women and men) include:

      Building relationships and establishing community in the workplace
      Structuring teams and groups in non-hierarchical, egalitarian networks that encourage involvement
      Collaborating (as well as competing)
      Making decisions by paying attention to process, gathering input and synthesizing perspectives (vs. driving to a goal)
      Influencing by persuading (vs. commanding)
      Sharing information, credit and power.

      These strengths are named in numerous books on leadership as highly effective ways of leading. Most don’t name them as “feminine” strengths. McKinsey & Company has created a “map” of capabilities it calls “centered leadership”; McKinsey notes that the capabilities demonstrated in such leadership are found in both men and women, but that the characteristics are “mind-sets and behavior often considered feminine.”

      The workplace values a number of the feminine strengths. Organizations are leveraging relational skills to address the need for connection felt especially by post-Boomer generations. They are utilizing flatter, less hierarchical structures when creativity, innovation and buy-in are important. Good leaders are leveraging both competitive and collaborative skills. They are recognizing that the best decisions come from groups that balance masculine and feminine ways of making decisions."

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    17. Along w Andrew's post, this is the same conclusion I reached in my own self-examination. Andrew - do you find that the very feminine women succeed in your workplace and are able to have happy dating/romantic relationships? By succeed I mean taking high leadership roles.

      I think the key is to be able to balance masculine and feminine behaviors to succeed in business (display so-called traditional masculine behaviors) and be able to be feminine in dating/romantic relationships. I notice that I was promoted and got to work on amazing projects when I wore my hair down, wore feminine outfits, more than when I didn't. I always wanted to have my work success measured based on my intelligence, but I think it's a balance that has to be recognized. And many successful women I know who can't balance the two well are generally miserable and single, whereas those who can balance the two achieve success at work and in personal/dating relationships.

      I also think it's wrong to believe that work success is masculine. It happens, but I think it's wrong. Success in business is nothing than that; success in business. Men have a better track record of it because women entered the workforce decades after men have. To identify one example, it wasn't until the supreme court's 1996 decision in US v. Virginia that sex-based admissions policies at VMI were struck down as an equal protection violation. It wasn't until the 19th Amendment that women were allowed to vote in the US, in the 1920s I think. And even today, in 2014, while women have overcome barriers to compete equally in the workplace, categorizing rational thinking and success it probably incorrect.

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    18. I would like to recommend Luce Irigaray's essay, "Wonder: A Reading of Descartes, The Passions of the Soul," to Andrew. The author desires to move beyond the (apparently masculine) idea of Cartesian dualism, and reading her essay made me re-think how we are ought to explore the idea of sexual difference between man and woman. May be helpful in writing your book!

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    19. Sounds interesting, any idea where i can get it? I looked online but didn't find it

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  5. I can't tell you how many girls' dating profiles I've seen littered with GO YANKEES and GO RANGERS, along with pictures of themselves in the stands at some sporting event or wearing a team jersey. Since when did girls become such sports fanatics?? Maybe they really are into sports, but I'm still convinced that it's just blatant pandering to guys, because I don't know of any girls that sit around with their girlfriends discussing the Super Bowl in between "I'm cramping so much during my period" and "I know this great salon where I just got my eyebrows done last Wednesday!"

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  6. Speaking for myself, I am a huge football fan and I will devote numerous hours of discussion and Facebook posts to my team. If a guy takes that as trying too hard, so be it. The advice I love most from this blog is the "be authentic" message, so I don't mind putting it out there. While I am sure that there are women out there who are doing it to curry favor with dudes, some women really do enjoy it. If a man found that to be a turnoff in my case, we would have to break up for every NFL season and that's going to be a real drag on a long-term relationship!

    Great post as always, Andrew! Keep 'em coming :)

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  7. I've never once encountered a guy who has discredited me for NOT liking sports. Instead, I see the opposite - very masculine men who like sports but find it endearing or attractive that I'm not really into sports, and that I'm fairly girly. I'm still supportive, I'd still go to a game, I wouldn't be upset if he wanted to spend his Sunday at a sports bar with his buddies.

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    1. I've had the exact same experience. I honestly think that a lot of my boyfriends even liked that they had their own little thing and their own little sports universe that I didn't completely understand. I even dated a sports writer for three years. He didn't give a damn, and his next girlfriend after me was equally uninterested in sports.

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  8. I think this is one of those very regional things and it's not just as simple as whether a girl has to love sports for a masculine man to like her.

    For women: if you totally hate sports, without even a shred of ability to hide it or occasionally go out to a sports bar, let alone a game, then you need to be understanding of his need to do this with other people. I have met some crazy girls who can't get over this and become very possessive, especially if there are other women in these groups.

    As Andrew says, for the most part I don't think not liking sports is a deal breaker for most guys. That being said, I think there is a regional/cultural piece to this, even in the US. In Philly it's just so common for people of every age and gender to watch sports and especially go to Phillies games. It would be tough to imagine a guy who is a 10, who really likes sports, accepting a girl who NEVER wanted to do anything sports related. There are simply too many girls who are 10s in Philly who love sports. But then again Philly is also a major grad/professional school destination. So a nice chunk of the women in the prime 25-30 demographic are probably more "masculine" by Andrew's standards. This makes sense since there's an emerging literature around the connection between female achievement (educationally/career) and sports participation.

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  9. i totally agree with your post!!!

    Just like a girl wouldn't date a man who is "just one of the chicks" a guy doesn't wanna date a girl who is "just one of the guys"
    Too bad more girls realized this! So many chicks want to not only fake interest in sports, like you mentioned, but also do "manly" things like chug beers, burp loudly, swear, dress in guys' clothes (fitted hats, jordans, etc), act sexually aggressive/sleep around, just to impress a guy and "prove" herself to them. Huge turn off! Think if guys were to do the same... paint their nails, gossip over coffee, giggle, go shopping, be more passive and soft, and wear tight fitting clothes to attract women and act like one of the girls. Weird now, isn't it? But that's exactly what women are doing nowadays. Sigh.

    btw andrew I was wondering, does this blog make you any money? How do you benefit from this blog? I don't see any advertisements, and you don't sell anything. But your blog is super popular, i can see just from the high volume of comments on like EVERY post that a lot of ppl come here! (and NO this is not a spam comment haha I have my own blog too and I know a lot of spam comments talk about affiliate links/monetizing blogs, etc. I swear this is a legit question, not spam. Just genuinely curious.)

    happy new year!

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    1. I haven't made any money from it, no. I am publishing a book soon, however, so I am hoping to earn a little back for the time I've put into the blog.

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    2. Personally I like it when girls belch loudly. I think it's hilarious. Totally someone I'd want to be with.

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    3. sounds exciting!! I can guarantee you at least one sale ;)
      and @theunfortunatevirginmale LOL that is so odd! well to each their own right? exception to every rule haha

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  11. I feel that you're getting at inauthenticity as unattractive. I don't like sports, and I don't pretend to like sports because guys do. I don't play video games as well; I don't like to. I've dated guys that love playing PS3/XBox, and I feel I can't relate to that. I don't want to act interested when I'm really not. I also don't like scary movies, or very bloody movies. And when I comes to picking a movie to watch with a guy I'm dating; most guys like watching such types. Sometimes I do feel at a disadvantage to girls that "like" such movies, or are into playing video games. I also feel at times that me and the guy won't have much in common, and maybe won't work out because of it.

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