02 October, 2008

Hunters and Gatherers (Caution: Generalities in Use)

Throughout early history, we observe that men are the hunters.  They run around in their loin cloths, spears in hand, obtaining food and protecting their clan.  They decorate themselves and demonstrate prowess and strength through the mastery of various skills.  While all of this is happening, the women are gathering. 
As far as women are concerned, very little has changed in regards to our gathering.  Our historical mothers gathered the items needed for survival - food, water, tools and instruments, materials for shelter and clothing, and one another for community.  Today, centuries later, women are gathering the same items; the items needed for survival and quality of life.
It is, perhaps a bit easier now.  We run to the grocery store where someone has nicely gathered all the foods we need under one roof.  Water can come from the tap, and the threats we face are far different than the disease and wild life from the past.  
We gather people into communities, make a house into a home, and can serve as a focus point for the gathering of family and friends.  We serve as the keepers of history, tradition, and custom.  It is in our bones to gather; to bring things together to build a life; and to keep things together in our hearts after a given point. 
Men, in general, today or centuries ago, do not do this.  They do not serve this function in a community or in a home.  There are definitely exceptions and this is not a slam against men as each gender brings something new to the table.  Men are just different than women.  Women gather people and work to bring comfort to the community while men network, always ready to find the next conquest. 
A while back, a friend moved overseas with his family.  Dear friend that he is, he warned me, up front, that men don't keep in touch.  A "guy" friendship is one that involves going off and doing ones thing and then returning to find that you pick up where you left off.  Six years he was out of the States and for 6 years, our communication was sporadic.  There were times when I would go weeks without hearing from him and then I would hear from him daily.  (Nothing has changed now that he is back in the States, by the way).  I never thought too much about it.  He warned me that this was the way he viewed friendship - the fact that I am female didn't change that. 
I find that my experience with him is common with my other male friends.  I can go weeks without hearing from them and then... it is as if someone hit a switch, they write or call.  They are guys; this is what friendship is with them; and I realize that they need to do their thing.  Regardless of the relationship category, men and women need their space.
And then there are the flakes. 
Apparently there are the friends that need their space and then there are the men that are the flakes.  Now, me being a woman of the gatherer variety, I am a bit unclear as to the difference, but this is what I understand it to be. 
Flakes are the guys that aren't really interested in a bond of any sort.  They are the guys that maintain a relationship on their terms in the sense that it is about them over the two or the unified desire to build a friendship.  These are the guys that don't return calls, don't return e-mail, and then, out of the blue drop back into the picture only long enough to suit them.  These are the guys who spent time circulating throughout the clans leaving everyone to think that they were important only to find that it wasn't about the community or the building, it was about the lad himself.  Perhaps they are just wanderers who need people?  Or maybe they are of  a single mind - theirs?  Or maybe it is the networking - the building relationships based upon what you get from them over the quality of the person and the desire to give and share?
I have yet to figure it all out.  I mean, it is a man thing right?  perhaps men understand this behavior more than I, after all, it was a guy who brought it to my attention.
And it isn't about sex people so that is not a valid excuse.  We aren't talking guys with a dating intent, we are talking platonic!


cathouse teri said...

I don't think it's a man thing. I know plenty of women who are "the flakes."

And I don't do any work in trying to maintain that sort of relationship.

Men may not have a natural incliniation to "keep in touch" but I have known plenty who choose to. And they reap the benefits of some great relationships.

cathouse teri said...

(My second typo today. I think I'll hang up my spurs.) :)

harassedmomsramblings said...

mmm this is interesting. If I think about the few male friends I have - the contact is sporadic but the friendships seem to last longer than those with women who I have regular contact with?

Flakes exist across the gender lines! And I have experienced more female flakes!

dadshouse said...

Interesting post. I agree that "flakes" as you define them exist across the gender lines. I can think of one mom blogger in particular who uses the community for her own purpose, but doesn't seem to care for the individuals. (I don't comment on her blog anymore)

As for hunters and gatherers - I agree that deep in our psychological core, men are programmed to provide and women to nurture. Evolution has blurred those boundaries. But I think women are more in tune with emotions - they are hardwired to their entire being. And women are generally better at fostering consensus and building community.

The Exception said...

Flakes definitely cross the gender lines. I don't notice it as much with women as I have learned to invest only what is invested in return. Learned the hard way... but that is a different story!

Men, on the other hand, it is more difficult to identify the flake from the natural patterns of the male friendship. I never know when it is a natural flow or space and such and when it is a pulling away or a lack of interest. Male friends will call another guy a flake - only out for his own interest while I would never see it believing that his behavior is not different than theirs from time to time.

T said...

I agree that I have flakey friends on both sides but seem to notice flaky girlfriends more.

Its funny. I was just hearing this same thing from my soldier the other day. He gets upset when friends of his get married/have kids and he never hears from them after that. I have to explain to him what happens once you settle down. He likes to stay in touch and in fact chides me that I didn't do a better job of it!

I haven't noticed a trend either way, actually. I have friends, male and female, that contact me regularly and others (again male and female) whose contact is more sporadic.

Interesting view point though. A man brought this to your attention? Hmmm.....