Women are just nicer than we are

Yesterday at Rotary, I noticed a stark example of something that we all know, but don’t often see demonstrated this clearly. The speaker at the podium was recognizing a member — Crawford Clarkson — for having belonged to the club for 63 years. We were all duly impressed, and offered applause, even a standing ovation, because we all like Crawford.

But at some point, when Crawford was offering his acknowledgments, or when another speaker was talking about him with him standing there, and the crowd had sat back down, I looked around and noticed something.

All of the women whose faces I could see were smiling. We’re talking maybe six or seven women whose faces were clear to me from where I sat, without craning my neck. It was that sort of smile that makes women the wonderful beings that they are, a sort of Mom smile, the sure sign of a warm heart. They were pleased, on a fundamental level, for Crawford, and the pleasure radiated from them visibly.

Then I made myself look at the men. There are still far more men in Rotary than women, so in a few seconds I checked the faces of maybe a couple of dozen men. All but one was impassive. They might have been pleased, they might not have been pleased; they weren’t going to show it either way. They had stood up and clapped, dammit, so what more did you want from them? What do you expect a guy to do?

Note that I said “All but one.” That one had a slight smile. But for all I know, he was thinking about something else.

I remember hearing something on NPR a few years ago about some women who took a class in which they learned to impersonate men (don’t ask me why). One of the participants interviewed explained that the hardest thing, for her, was to keep herself from smiling. You’ve perhaps noted that most women, if you make eye contact with them, smile (at least, they smile at me; I don’t know about you). Men, perhaps regarding it as a sign of weakness, generally do not. I think there’s something about survival hard-wired into us.

Anyway, I am reminded of a recent case in which I demonstrated what jerks we men can be. Remember when I complained back here that some young woman I’d never heard of had 100 times as many Twitter followers as I did? Well, she certainly told ME off, but in a nice way:

Hi Brad,

Just read your post. Thanks for the mention, or rather, the criticism. I have so many friends because I talk a LOT and I’m always happy for other people’s successes. I hope you find your own comfort zone soon.

Thanks again,


Ow. She’s right, of course. Women are just so much readier to be pleased for other people than we are. Guys are always trying to figure out what’s in it for US.

9 thoughts on “Women are just nicer than we are

  1. Brad Warthen

    The thing about women smiling when they make eye contact is not universal. Some women, in fact some very attractive women, instead offer a rather discouraging frown if you meet their eyes as they pass. I think this is a defense mechanism, their way of saying “Down, boy! Bad dog!” in order to ward off unwanted advances. Not that they look at ME that way, of course, but this is true with some of you losers.

    Then there are other really attractive women who use the smile to such dazzling effect that it hypnotizes. Look at this clip of Segolene Royal. I’ll bet you guys will agree with everything she says, and won’t even notice that she’s speaking French. Maybe Lee won’t even notice that she’s a socialist…

  2. doug_ross

    The women were probably looking at the guy as a father figure while the men were seeing themselves as old men.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    The women are thinking, “Dude! Congrats!”
    The men are thinking, “63 years? Bah! I can beat that!”

  4. Brad Warthen

    There was another interesting example of this, a fictional one, in an episode of Mad Men I watched the other night. All the women at Sterling Cooper were deeply upset about Marilyn Monroe’s death. Even the unflappable Joan Holloway (who had been rightly compared on the show to Marilyn — not that Joan was a Marilyn type, but in one of the wittier turns of thought on the show, that Marilyn was actually a Joan) was deeply shaken.

    The men reacted exactly the way I do when a Princess Diana or Michael Jackson or whoever dies — you didn’t even know this person; what are you so worked up about? They were pretty brutal about it, but I have to admit that their unfeeling attitude was no more obnoxious than my own when these things happen.

    And it fell to Joan to put that jerk Sterling in his place for his coldness. Men, after all, are brutes, and no one knows better than Joan.

  5. Karen McLeod

    On the other hand, when something traunatic is actually happening women tend to get over emotional about it. Unless, of course, they need to do something about it, in which case they can respond as needed, then come to pieces later.

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