Science Says There’s An Evolutionary Reason Why Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Tidy Up. We’re Calling Bullshit On That One

New book Why Men Like Straight Lines and Women Like Polka Dots is released this month, but can you really blame gender differences on science.


by Sophie Cullinane |
Published on

What is it that makes men and women different? It’s a question that – even with thousands of years of philosophical thought, millions of pounds spent on self help books and one valiant effort from a Mel Gibson film – we’re still a long way from answering. But someone else has had another go, with a new book out this month that’s putting in a concerted effort into the age-old problem and apparently everything that annoys you about your boyfriend around the home can be put down to science. Evolution specifically. So that's that sorted then.

The book in question, written by management and marketing professor Dr Gloria Moss, is called Why Men Like Straight Lines and Women Like Polka Dots and puts the main difference to the way men and women behave – both in the commercial sphere, as in what they buy, and in relationships – can mostly be explained by the way we perceive space laid down thousands of years ago. ‘The evidence for visual-spatial differences along gender lines is, after height, the most robust of all the sex differences, and extremely well-supported in psychological literature,’ she explained to the Guardian. ‘A lot of these differences could well be the results of hundreds and thousands of years of male and female activity as hunters and gatherers.’

Apparently what all this hunter-gatherer conditioning did was make us all awfully cross with each other when we wind up spending any significant time with the opposite sex within a confined space. Thousands of years ago, women were all about finding buts and stuff, you see, so that makes us much more concerned about little things like sequins. Whereas men, on the other hand, hunted their prey over long distances, which is why all men like mowing the lawn. Or something less horrifyingly sexist.

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Basically, we’re not buying it and we’re pretty certain that looking for a scientific answer to all these gender stereotypes is kind of like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg? Would the gender stereotypes exist if we weren’t already looking at history through a kind of sexist lens? We don’t know. So we’re calling bullshit on that and some other ‘truths’ in the book.

Men are messier

According to Moss, the women tend to see things like scatter cushions (and kittens?) in disarray is because they’ve evolved to spot berries in the wild, whereas men tend to let cushions get all messy because in order to be good at hunting they needed to visually assess large fields rather than noticing small details. Let’s forget about all those ‘small details’ men obsess over in the traditionally ‘masculine’ rolls in which they’ve flourished like science, IT and mechanics and just get to the truth of the issue – your boyfriend is not picking up the scatter cushions because he doesn’t really fancy doing. If it means a lot to you, you should probably just ask him to clean up after himself and I’m sure he’d oblige. If he doesn’t it might be time to get a new boyfriend, but for entirely unscientific reasons.

**Men don’t notice when you clean **

In the book, Moss describes how many of her friends report that their husbands don’t notice when they clean, again because of all this long-distance hunting stuff. Apparently, they might be able to notice that a space looks bigger, so slightly different, but they’ll be absolutely at a loss as to why. Are we the only ones who think this is completely mental? If any of our male housemates we knew came home after we’d had a deep cleaning session and didn’t notice anything, we’d first start penning passive aggressive email to them in our heads and then get them to the local doctors sharpish to see if their vision/mental health had been impaired. Have you ever seen the reaction of a guy when you move part of his record collection out of place? Trust us, they notice when things are clean and when things are untidy.

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Women like soft round things (like boobs), men like hard, straight things (like dicks)

‘Sometimes the differences just erupt,’ Moss writes. ‘My good friends were choosing a new mixer tap for the kitchen and at first Nina said she would leave the choice entirely up to David. However, when he returned from the shops with a minimalist mixer, operated by slick vertical levers, she realised she did care about what the tap looked like after all. Her preference was for something rounded, and white.’

We have literally never looked at a tap and thought about anything other than ‘will this be able to dispense water?’. We think maybe both Moss and Nina are thinking a little bit too hard about the tap.

**Men are all about functionality **

Apparently, women are more likely to ‘suffer mild discomfort for the sake of aesthetic pleasure – and men will want something, primarily, to WORK PROPERLY – it’s no wonder the new exercise bike parked in the middle of the sitting room floor becomes a major source of domestic friction.'

Yeah I’m pretty sure both men and women want things to both work and look nice. Just saying. Any no one wants an exercise bike in the middle of a living room because that is just mental.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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