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In the last post, the topic of respect came up in the comments, revealing some differences between how men and women view respect, and it was interesting for me to ponder both sides of the coin. And in many ways they are somewhat two sides of the same coin.

The men explained that respect between men is not automatic, it must be earned.   Something like this:





Women tend to view respect as a basic starting point of interaction, more like this:




In my eyes, neither viewpoint is “wrong” so much as they are a reflection of how differently the male and female minds work.

Men and especially groups of men seem to automatically think in hierarchies. In a room full of men, it is immediately clear to all of them (without anyone even saying so) where they  all “rank” so to speak in the order of males in the room. Seemingly subconsciously, the Alpha Male of the Group (AMOG) emerges, and the rest fall in line accordingly. There may be some posturing to establish this, but it ends relatively quickly (or if not, it’s likely they will spar verbally, physically, or both.) There is no debate. There is no discussion. There is no consensus. There is no vote. It’s not even necessarily seen as negative or a slam on the individual man based on where he ranks. Each man simply understands and *automatically accepts* his place in the order. Men who do not are usually ostracized from the group and considered dangerous or a threat to safety and order of the whole. Men who do not understand this hierarchy concept are generally not respected by other men.

Women, and especially groups of women, do not think like that at all. Women are all about consensus, inclusion, and making sure everyone feels OK and heard. Respect seems to be more about acceptance than rank in the female mind. Women will go to all sorts of lengths to dance around the idea of rank or hierarchy. Women like flat hierarchy and equality. Women often rebel against the idea of a vertical hierarchy, and tend to see it as “unfair.” (This is likely the line of thinking that lead to feminism, interestingly.)

Of course I am being admittedly heteronormative and general here — there are indeed men who view respect more like women and women who view respect more like men, but in the vast majority of cases I think one will find the ideas above apply.

I find it interesting to ponder how these two differing views of respect (both valid) may lead to all sorts of misunderstandings between men and women.

What do you think? How do you define respect? Please share your thoughts, experiences, examples, etc. in the comments.