• joemalonephd

SEX DIFFERENCES IN COLLEGE


During the time that I was a university professor I observed some very interesting differences between my male and female students. I always took my classes on what I called a cross campus food tour sometime during the semester. We would visit the different food providers and analyze their nutrition content. I used this also as an opportunity to introduce them to high intensity interval training (HIIT) through having us (because I would actively participate) do a number of sprints as a group.

It was a chance to get out of the classroom and explore the wellness environment of the University. It also gave the students and I the chance to be together as a group (we called it a Team) and interact with other people on campus, some of whom we knew. You should have seen the looks on some of the passing students faces when they saw us sprinting across the quad!

Food Tour Day

Twice during this lesson over the years, I had a young woman come to me and request that she walk with her friend who had an injury instead of sprinting so she could keep her company and she wouldn’t feel bad being alone. At first, I suspected that these girls might just be wanting to get out of a hard workout, but in both cases, they were very motivated, athletic, and conscientious young women. I concluded after careful analysis that they were very empathetic and concerned about the feelings of their friend. In 12 years, I never had a male make the same request.

EMPATHETIC FEMININE INTUITION

At this point, I realized that there were some fundamental differences between these young women and men and was curious about other differences. I discovered that there were many. For instance, males are 3 ½ times more likely to die from all accidental causes and have higher rates of impulsivity and poor compliance with rules. Females exhibit significantly higher empathy and imitative behavior, along with better communication skills and use of language. So, this is why she wanted to keep her company! And these are just a few of the general differences.

I learned though that the area of greatest difference between the sexes is in their sexuality. Young adult males and females see sex through different lenses. On average, men have 7 to 8 times more testosterone than women. Some high testosterone men have 183 times more testosterone than some of the low testosterone women. Women have three times more sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which, as the name describes, binds with hormones like testosterone and prevents it from being active and having its normal effects.

YOUNG AND RECKLESS MALES

Not only do males have a sexually supercharged brain chemistry compared to females, but they also have a supercharged brain anatomy. Men’s area of sexual pursuit in the hypothalamus is 2 ½ times larger than women’s, packed with twice as many neurons and is stimulated by testosterone levels. It is located directly behind where the optic chiasm brings visual images into the brain. This is why some men are so attracted to sexually stimulating sights. Many women find themselves annoyed by the fact that their guy has a roving eye, but there is a hardwired reason for it ladies.

If this wasn’t enough, the survival command and control part of the brain, the amygdala, is twice as large in males as it is in females. In males it is very reactive to sexual stimuli, while in females it is very reactive to food stimuli. It is a challenge in both cases to override consciously.

I have concluded that this is the reason that Proverbs chapters 5-7 are written the way they are. God, speaking through Solomon has written helpful guidelines to young men to help them get through especially their teenage and young adult years while they are literally high on testosterone. We can take notice that there are no similar chapters written to young women with regard to sexuality. Our maker knows us so well!

WOMEN’S SEXUALITY: IT’S COMPLICATED

Women, on the other hand, have a much more complex sex drive. They tend to tie their emotions to their sexual relationships. They are more interested in intimacy and want to bond. Although females are continuously receptive, their sex drive is strongly related to their menstrual cycle with it peeking around the middle of the 28 days, near ovulation. They are much choosier about who they have sex with. We see this throughout God’s creation and it is called female choice by scientists.

Because of these differences many women react negatively to casual sex. Research shows that they are depressed at higher rates, have lower self-esteem, and higher general mental distress following a hookup. Other research shows that 78% of women regret having participated in casual sex. Many would like to see it turn into a relationship.

ORIGINS OF SEXUAL DIFFERENCES

In Genesis 3:16 we read “your desire will be for your husband”. As with the Proverbs chapters, there is no equivalent statement to men. I have come to realize that whether it be the young women in my classes being genuinely concerned about the feelings of their female friend who would have to walk alone, or whether it be the two sexes displaying such different sexualities, much of our relational behavior has been programmed into us at the biological level, and it is important to understand the opposite sex and ourselves!

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