Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Why do Women get it, but Men don't?

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin

Being the only remaining male left contributing to this wonderful blog, it got me thinking about the gender mix and all things Simple, Green and Frugal.  The title of the post is a generalisation, and I fully understand that there are also women who don't understand the benefits of simple living, and obversely there are men, such as myself who do understand.  I have chosen the title as an exaggeration to make a statement.  This post is not meant to be sexist or derogatory towards either gender, it is just a simple observation that I have made since I have been on my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.  I just really want to know what you think of what I pose to you all now.

The simple fact of the matter is, in my humble experience, is that more women understand climate change, and the urgency to act, than do many men that I talk to.  They understand that our lifestyles will probably need to change and it is the simple ways that will help us on the path to averting a total calamity.

However, I do not have an answer as to why this is so?  I get so many comments on my personal blog from ladies from all across the globe who share their experiences willingly, I find that rarely do any men comment.  Is it that women are more attracted to blogs of this type, and that men don't give a hoot about the big issues and are in denial? Or is it as simple as women take the time to comment, and men agree, but don't take the time to share their feelings?  However, if that is the case, what am I doing here sharing all of my experiences and stories with you? 

I simply do not have an answer, but I am hoping some of you do.  Please put me out of my misery and share your theories. 


A confused Gavin.

P.S. No slanderous comments please.  I am after clean and healthy commentary.


Turling said...

I had read a post by another blogger, the name of which eludes me at the moment, who did a study on the website blotanical. She had drawn the same conclusions, mainly in that women stuck with it longer and contributed more.

Perhaps, women on average (now, we're going to get into trouble with generalities) are more nurturing? Share more then men? I don't know, but I think your correct in your observation of this phenomenon.

Myrnie said...

It's an interesting point, and I might draw some fire on my own head for my answers :) I think women are hard-wired to be nurturers, and homemakers. It's kind of our job here, so it makes sense that women would be more interested in homesteading. It's cheaper, it feels more caring, etc. Now, my husband agrees with me on a lot of thing...but he almost never comments on blogs. He's completely baffled when I talk about crafting/gardening blogs, and how we all trade comments, and how we watch for comments from friends...apparently on his tech blogs, people almost NEVER comment. I guess woman like to talk more :)

KJ's Restart Button said...

I was thinking the same as Turling. I think nurturing has something to do with it. My DH is very nurturing but when it comes to leaving this world in good shape after we're gone, well I don't think he puts much thought into it. But I want my children's children to have a healthy planet to live and carry on.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Could it be because woman (many of them) are mothers and it is in our nature as mothers to worry about our children's futures? Could it be that for years concern for the environment was either a hippie thing or a femenist thing? Could it be that it appears to be in direct opposition to current gender roles? Could it just be that women have more time to read and blog than men?

Scarlett said...

I think that more women read blogs and blog then men. And I don't think that men don't understand, they are just busy with other things and the "little" things (in the scheme of their lives), get set aside.

Laura @ Getting There said...

My husband and I agree on just about all issues regarding the environment, and sustainable, self-sufficient living, etc. But while I read tons of blogs, and comment a lot too, he doesn't read blogs at all, and if he ever does read something (normally that I have shown him) he would never think to comment. It's not that he doesn't care about the issues; he cares deeply. He just isn't as social as me, I guess, and he doesn't have any desire to converse with others about these issues.

Paula said...

Possibly, it's because men don't like to think about unpleasant things, so they don't. My husband is all for saving the planet, as long as it doesn't cost him TOO much, but he definitely doesn't spend any time thinking about unpleasant things. I, on the other hand, tend to ruminate on them.

The other reason for the difference, could be that women are concerned about their now families and the well being of future generations, where as men, if they do pride themselves on being good providers, only concern themselves with the current generation. This is a wild supposition of course, but probably not completely off base.

Or maybe it's explained simply by the difference in how we like to network socially: I like to blog- Steve likes to Facebook. Could it be as simple as I like to talk about my feelings, and he still likes to poke fun at his friends?

Surely not.....

psmflowerlady said...

As a woman in industry, I am in a minority but the men in "my world" focus very much more technology to fix problems and less on process changes. The men in my world would more likely get excited over a new composting gizmo than a waste reduction program, a more fuel-efficient engine rather than biking. So, in my world at least, the men's focus really seems to more technology driven and the women's I read on blogs more process oriented. Just my two cents worth.

Kathryn said...

The first person who ever brought my attention to simple living & earth consciousness was a man. David & i were friends for quite a while when i was in college & for a few years after. (This would have been about 1991 - 1996.) He LIVED his passion.

He rode his bike & took the bus everywhere. He ate healthy food. He told me we were "killing everything."

I have to be honest, it wasn't until about 10 years later that the truth of what he had been saying hit home with me & i began making the changes. He certainly planted the seed.

But he always seemed so fanatical. I thought of him as "extreme" in order to help pull back into balance.

In general, it is mostly women i hear writing about simple living. One vivid exception to this is Trent of The Simple Dollar. I love reading his common-sense blog. Frequently it is women who plan meals & other expenses. It seems that simple living would be a natural extension of this.

This is a gross overstatement that doesn't play out across the board, but frequently it seems that men are power-driven to earn more, spend more. Certainly women fall into this too, or push the men into it. But it does seems that when things get seriously out of balance from this, women are maybe more likely to pick up on the pitfalls & try to make or encourage changes.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Perhaps someone already said this, but I think the phenomenon you describe is akin to women caring more about the home environment and the family well-being - it's wired in our nature to immediately spot a dirty sock on the floor, or the first sign of illness in a child. God made us nurturers.

My husband, who is extremely nurturing and also happens to care a lot about cleanliness and a healthy home environment, is also environmentally conscious on a large scale.

gardengrl said...

Maybe it's because men don't have too?.. as in they generally make better pay than women?

Kyerin said...

Hi! I think it's a combination of (a) women being more inclined to reach out through blogging and attempting to build their own support networks, which I think is quite traditional

and (b) I think women, even those with excellent careers and with no children, are more open to the idea that jobs and acquisition of 'stuff' should not be the main focus of life. Possibly this is due to the stereotypical roles that women have had up until very recently.

I'm young, unmarried, and have no children, but have often considering working full time as sometime that is neither permanent nor compulsory. Traditionally men have not had the option of not 'working outside the home' and their career and their money are often tied to their sense of self more so than the average woman's.

With exceptions, etc!

Kate said...

No comments thus far from men, I note!

I've had questions along these lines myself, Gavin, and have never come to any firm conclusions. I do get a few comments from men on my own blog, but by far the majority are from women.

But uh, Gavin, you're not the only male poster here. There's Thomas too!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to answer your question, but only find theories. Instead I will share my situation.

Some blogs I follow, but I rarely comment. I often miss content in the comments of others.

I am a male digging my own siple, green, frugal trench for a while now. I still have a lot to learn, and I find interesting information. Being a food technologist of profession, I'm learning many things about nutrition and about healthy and pure foods. I'm ashamed to see supermarkets transforming into entertainment centres. I feel uncomfortable about all the "edible foodlike substances" being sold. ( i like that phrase ).

While trying to find my way back to a more authentic way of living, i feel insecure about me and about the life that I have learned to live in the past. I don't feel like commenting in a confusing and insecure condition. That answers your question from my point of view.

I am okay with my feelings of insecurity and with my confusement. It is just a learning process I'm going though. I've done that many times before. It is nice to read about other people going though a similar learning process all in their own ways. That is why I keep reading the blogs. They are supportive and informative on many levels!

Sarah said...

I have two thoughts. First, I think women as a demographic comment on blogs way more than do men. They are, by nature, more wordy.


I think the main thing here might be that the whole idea of climate change is based on emotion, and women react far more strongly to emotional "news" stories than do men.

(And though I live simple, frugal, and green, I do not believe that the science on climate change is, by any stretch of the imagination, settled.)

belinda said...

Hi Gav,

I think the main socialisation side to your question has been covered amply by others so I am going to leave that alone.

I see aware men but most of them believe that anything less than acts that will make society sustainable in one swoop ,high level policy change or technological fixes, are a waste of their time and effort. You will often find them campaigning or at protests a lot more than you will see them commenting or changing light bulbs.

Specific to the simple, green and frugal movement I think there is also something interesting happening on the female side. The traditional female roles are generally low status, those of us that feel the call to nurture our families at home have generally not been supported by modern society. I suspect that this movement is giving a lot of women external validation for things they were previously considered crazy for doing.

Kind Regards

Mia @ agoodhuman said...

I tend to read a lot of blogs about the environment, energy and the economy. When it comes to analysing and discussing all the things going wrong, or coming up with technical fixes I tend to see a lot of men commenting. When it comes to simple, frugal living or 'process changes' it seems to be more female dominated.

There is also a huge source of male input in preparedness/modern survivalism blogland. It has many overlapping themes with the simple, green, frugal movement, such as growing food, using less energy and getting back to basics but it's based on the desire to be more independent and less reliant on a system that's falling apart. There now appears to be a great many different 'movements' which appeal to very different groups of people, but they are all moving in much the same direction. We should harness these similarities and not get caught up in the small points of difference and we've have a revolution on our hands.

James said...

I had a blog. I kept it up for over a year. I said all kinds of things about going green, gardening, saving money, taking small steps and building them into something grand. I kept going, until I began to repeat myself. I had only a few readers so I eventually just stopped.

I do mention things about my gardening happenings on FB, and my friends see it.

My neighbors comment on my garden when I'm out and they walk by. I have people stop their cars and shout to me about how great it looks, and how much they wish they could do the same thing.

The bottom line is that while I avidly read frugal blogs, financial blogs, and gardening blogs, I DONT like the doomsday blogs, so I steer clear of them. I know what I do is going to make a difference, I pay attention to what is happening around the world, but I just can't stand the negativity in many of the blogs, so I go on to find success stories and people that have great ideas that could help me in what I'm doing.

Anonymous said...

Men blog about climate change/collapse on a societal scale:


margot1257 said...

I think that by and large, it's a genetic difference between men and women that you're seeing, Gavin. It's the same phenomenon seen in microlending in poor countries, where the loans to women make a significant impact on the health of the family and community, whereas loans to men just provide men with more spending money. More than 90% of the Grameen Bank loans in Bangladesh are to women just for that reason. It 's the same phenomenom that Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea) sees in Pakistan, where the education of girls, not boys, makes the difference in the wellbeing of the community. And it's the same reason the Red Cross decided to distribute food rations in Haiti only to women...to ensure that the food was used to feed families, rather than being sold on the black market. For whatever genetic reason, women seem to have a much stronger drive to protect and nuture their young, be it better nutrition, better education, or a better environment.

Alicia said...

My husband reads your blog over my shoulder, and really likes your cheese making posts, he also would love you to come to our church's eco festival later this year. But comment he does not.

Hathor's Bath said...

A lot of men I know are "into" it but either aren't very literate, or not very tech-orientated. Those of my more scholarly friends just don't think there's a problem, and they will debate that, at length, online - which IMO is useless, what's the point of TALK when you can DO?

I think that there's also a rather fundamental thing here - at least among my scholarly male friends. Almost all of them are on the ASD spectrum; which means they hate change. Change is frightening and unpredictable and they will dig their heels in and resist change every step of the way, even if it's good for them. My ex-husband, whose IQ is so high they haven't invented a test to measure it, suffered from gluten intolerance for years - I could see it every time he ate bread - but he refused to do anything about it. Change scared him, and being ill scared him. I see this a lot in men. I don't think they like the idea of being helpless, and so would rather pretend they're not.

As I've mentioned before, in order for men to "get it", it really needs to come from other men. If a woman tries to tell a man about change and issues to be frugal and get on top of things at home, there's immediate resistance. It's written off as being "emotional" and unrealistic - and, most of all, it's a scary change. It takes a long time of chipping away and reassuring to get mates on boards with this sort of lifestyle, and I didn't ever manage it. I'm happier as I am by far, but still, Ex imports wood from Europe to make furniture, and has now bought a very expensive car. Le-sigh.

angela said...

I think its because men think that no matter what the problem is they will be able to fix it. Women know that there are no quick fixes and so we tend to go for small but sustained change.

angela said...

I think its because men think that no matter what the problem is they will be able to fix it. Women know that there are no quick fixes and so we tend to go for small but sustained change.

Damn The Broccoli said...

I've noticed the same thing, my blog has an entirely female readership, the one bloke is a guy I've known years so he doesn't really count.

I agree with the points about being nurturing, I think it is a genetic thing. Being devils advocate it could also be that women are more likely to be at home contributing etc especially if they have children to care for but this is a sweeping generalisation. My view is that it is a caring thing.

But we always associate such things with femininity, Mother earth etc. So if there is hope maybe it's the women who will save us?

Anonymous said...

I think women have a more nuturing, nature and a maternal instinct.
We like to repair situations.conflict with love, praise and attention.

That is why maybe we seem to get more stressed, as situations are not going to plan.

Just a thought
sheryl miller

Anonymous said...

I think the lack of male commentary is less a "women are more nurturing" deal than the way men acquire information.

At least that's how it looks in my corner of the Internet. The men in my life will look things up online, read a few posts pertinent to a problem or question they're trying to solve (how to build a giant sifter for compost, for instance) and be on their way, not commenting unless they know the blogger/poster in RL. I'll look up the same information and have three new online buddies by the time I'm done, a recipe for soup, and information on a really neat crafts fair that I simply must attend. On the other hand, he'll have built the sifter by the time I log off.

Turling said...

@ Kate, Very first comment. Turling. Me. Man.

Rhonda Jean said...

Hi Gavin, Hanno brought my attention to your post. He's another man who walks the walk but doesn't talk the talk. I think a lot of men communicate in different ways. They care but are unlikely to write that they care. When they do, it's often solution-based (re the overload of men on survival and climate change sites) and not process based which seems to be the domain of the simplicity movement and women.

Darren (Green Change) said...

These are gross over-generalisations, but they may be reasons behind the trend you're noticing:

1. Women talk more, men are more action-oriented. Women will ask friends what they think, talk to experts, etc - men will just jump in and do something. And if men do get on the net looking for advice/instructions, they'll read it and then go do it. They don't feel the need to leave a comment as they aren't looking to build a relationship - just looking to get a job done. Women associate more with the blogger behind the information.

2. Men more frequently have full-time careers, and according to stats tend to progress higher in those careers than women. Because of that, men are more caught up in the current state of things (economy, way of doing business, etc) so they probably have more to lose if anything disrupts the status quo. Because of that immersion, they probably also feel that things aren't going to change (can't see the forest for the trees). They are also caught up in the need to earn money and pay off debts etc, and see "that green stuff" as an additional cost or a drain on their time.

daharja said...

Hi Gavin - Men don't blog as much. They're too busy out there, earning a living.

To be honest, when/if I go back to work, I probably won't blog as much, if at all.

I won't have the time. Same with the men I know.

I absolutely believe the whole "women are more nurturing" line is sexist bunk. It's rot.

Some of the most nurturing, thougthful people I know are men.

People who are great parents, caring and loving both to their families and to the wider community in their turn.

But most men have to go out and earn bucks during the day.

They come home exhausted at night, and the last thing they want to do then is go and blog.

I never blogged when I worked full time either.

The green groups I have been a member of, both online and in real life, have had some incredible male members.

And we only have to look at the Green parties around the world to see political action being headed equally by both men and women.

But blogging is something you need spare time to do. So what you're seeing, when you see women posting, blogging, and commenting on your blog, isn't a proof that women care more.

It's simply a result of the leftover in our society that women tend still to be the parent / partner at home, when it is even possible for a family to afford for one member to stay at home at all. And those stay-at-homes have more time.

Let's be honest here - are any of us bloggers blogging from home?

And it would be interesting to find out how many of us are full time workers - with kids, which is what a lot of the men in our society are.

When I was working full time, I saw some incredible green actions happening in my workplace.

Blogging is a forum for the time-rich, not the ethics-poor.

All around the work, in more ways than we know of, people are working towards change. Not just through blogging!

Which is bloody brilliant :-)

Just my 2c :-)

daharja said...

Oops - typo:

"Let's be honest here - are any of us bloggers blogging from home?"

Should read:

Let's be honest here - are any of us bloggers blogging from work?

JulieG said...

I think most of the differences between men and women are socialised, not built-in. So here's one factor in our society that might be worth adding to the mix:

Due to women (in general) taking on more of the household labour, they become responsible for 80% of consumer spending. Groceries, re-fueling the car, school expenses, bills, home maintenance, etc.

I think the day-to-day activity of shopping means that women have an opportunity to observe changes in a broad range of areas (processed food, fast fashion, increased fuel prices, more toxic cleaning fluids, etc) and look for a reason that accounts for it all.

A less-sexist division of labour would give a lot of men the opportunity to broaden their knowledge about the details of everyday life, and wonder about how sustainable it really is.

Gavin said...

Thanks to one and all for leaving such wonderful comments and each is a piece of the solution that I was seeking.

The answers are diverse and I believe that every single comment has struck a chord with me, as I sit here nodding at them all in agreement. Everybody have articulated valid points, however I tend to agree more towards the communication differences and nurturing theories that were posted. I may have misstated the women get it, but men don't because I too know caring and climate change aware people of both sexes, all willing to spread the message of hope and change for the better.

I feel that if you have a goal that is ambitious and lofty enough, any man or woman will find the time to achieve it.

As for me, it is a blog, and I use it as a method of communication about simple living, climate change and the like, even though I too have a full time job.

I prefer this medium because it is interactive and interesting and it is the like of comments like these that truly reward a humble blogger like me.

Thank you all from my heart, for taking the time to share, and to help answer my question. I am certainly more enlightened and will use your questions to better communicate to audiences in the future, either by written word or face to face.

Warm regards,


missmessy said...

I believe God designed women to be the nurturing half of the relationship. He also designed us with a need for connection and love. Caring about the environment and the health of our family helps us feed the nurturing part of ourselves. Commenting and reading blogs helps us feel connected to other people with like minds & hearts.

My husband is the information reader. He will read a blog if he needs to learn how to do something, how something works, troubleshooting, etc. He will only comment if he has a specific question for the writer about the 'how to' aspect...He's the same with shopping. He makes a list, buys the thing, gets the heck out.

Laura Spilde said...


We woman NEED a healthy environment to grow babies.......

Morning sickness may be attributed to the poor nutrition we receive in highly processed foods.

Guy said...

Hi Gavin

I'm a man - found and enjoy your blog and am trying to "get it" and am getting much inspiration from your blog and others. Have 3 acres which we (my wife and I) are trying to cultivate and use to live as sustainably as possible. So yes - your not the only male !!
carry on the good work !

ecoMILF said...

Hi Gavin,

Great post. I don't know all the answers but sometimes I think that because the Earth is our "Mother Earth" women can identify with what it is to be a Mother more readily. And a Mother who is always giving, giving, giving and asking for nothing in return. Perhaps we develop more empathy and understanding than men do because of this. xo m.