Last night, I had dinner with some really brilliant and accomplished women. These are women who just get stuff done. The conversations were fascinating, challenging, thought provoking, and more than anything, they were fast. We buzzed through topics and covered so much territory, with each person offering something, an idea or observation, that really made you think and stirred your beliefs and opinions.
I have enjoyed many conversations like this with my female friends. Some of them may appear to others to be arguments but it is really almost a form of intellectual sparring—someone brings up an opinion about a controversial topic, another person counters quickly with an example from history that illustrates the other’s opinion is flawed; that person comes back with a retort explaining how that time in history was different in due to X, Y and Z. It’s fast, it is fact filled, and there are no shrinking violets.
I have worked with, and am now the mother to, males who don’t participate in this form of discussion. The men I worked with were very smart. My sons are very smart. They think differently than these female friends of mine; they think slower. They process information at a different pace. This is especially true if it is a particularly emotional topic for them.
While I want to talk (who’s kidding who, I want to argue,) about things in the moment, these slower thinkers—which doesn’t in any way diminish their thoughts, need more time to digest things. They need a period in which to examine the input before creating any output. My younger son is kind of famous for his notes under our bedroom door. If my husband and I were angry with him, he said nothing; speech didn’t seem available to him. Always, there would be the most thoughtful and thought provoking letter left for us to read in the morning.
It has caused me to wonder if perhaps, with these men, and at times with my sons, I have been an intellectual bully.
I remember there being court cases against professional athletes, I think there was a boxer, who got into a fight with some guy on the street. The basis of the case was that this boxer wasn’t just getting into a street fight like any old person; his fists were highly trained tools. It was a completely unfair fight. We are very hard on men who hit women, and rightly so, women, for the most part, are not in a position to defend themselves against a man. Big kids are not supposed to pick on little kids on the school bus. We are an anti-bullying society.
You are not supposed to use your physical strength as an unfair advantage to beat a physically weaker person. What is it called when you use your faster mental processing skills to win an argument with someone who is probably your intellectual equal, but is just not in a position to defend their views on the spot–someone who needs time to process?
Certainly, there are many men who are very fast at processing information, and there are women who are slower at processing information, but from my experience, women, even young girls, are at a great advantage in their processing abilities. Maybe this goes back to the rape and pillage culture. Men were entering villages to rape women—those women had to make split second decisions to determine any options to keep themselves safe, while men only had to think of one thing.
Please know my awareness of my bullying through processing speed doesn’t mean anything has changed much. I want to go right into verbal battle about something, while my sons want to some time to think. I guess I have been thinking about future daughters’ in-law and how it would be painful for me to see my sons receiving this type of intellectual bullying from their quick processing wives. I hope and pray they marry women who say, “Do you want to think about this and either write your thoughts down or talk about it tomorrow?”
We have taught our sons to never, ever strike a woman, even if a woman hits them. What are the parents of these fast processing types telling their kids? Go for the jugular, get the win?