Men are risk takers, women are risk averse.

It’s generally quite accepted, even among the most ardent egalitarians, that men are risk takers and women are risk averse. It plays out everywhere, from women not asking for promotions right down to teenage boys dying more regularly from stunts gone wrong. There are all sorts of explanations as to how this comes about: hormone profiles, socialization, neural pathways and rewards. But there is an obvious reason why these behaviours are selected for, and knowing it benefits men women alike.

Make take the risks in society. They do this to surpass other men. Whether they’re starting their own business or doing a backflip off a tree into a pool, men want to become better than other men and be seen doing it. This is generally positioned by women as men wanting to show off and get social points. But the reality runs deeper.

The reason why men “peacock” like this, rather than by dressing in bright clothes or singing as they walk down the street, is because humans are brainy, social animals. And taking risks advances society. Why does the guy who starts his own business get rewarded with wealth and status? Because he provides a necessary service, a tribal environment, a product, employment, etc. He is actively creating wealth. Why does the guy who backflips off the tree get attention and praise? Because he is illustrating his physical prowess and confidence in his body, two valuable genetic traits. Both men are adding something of value to the world they live in, actively or passively.

The major disadvantage to this behaviour is quite obvious: death, resource depletion, ostracization, general failure. When a man takes a risk and it backfires, at best he is humiliated, at worst he is dead. A society of inefficient risk takers is a dead society. Therefore, as men mature and see the downsides of risks, their own risks become more calculated, preserving the older, more skilled men of the tribe to pass their wisdom down and ensure greater survival of the next generation.

On the other hand, women are naturally incredibly risk averse. We do this to survive. Women are the weaker sex, a necessity for the raising of children and socially dependent. We are unlikely to take any risks, even in our reckless teen years. Generally, men assume this is due to frailty or cowardice.

The reasons women avoid risks are also due to our brainy, social nature. Our babies need a very long time being protected and fed to grow their big brains and learn how to be adults. They need our care and attention. Possibly as a luxury given to us by men, possibly to encourage men to treat us kindly, we have got weaker from our primitive days and our bodies are gradually better and better adapted for nurturing, feeding and caring in general. This is not a flaw: by raising smart, healthy children in a safe environment we also add value to the world we live in.

The major disadvantage to this is less obvious, but is there: women’s low risk taking is a net loss. Look at how many great male inventors, leaders and artists there have been through history. Or, if you doubt the veracity of history, look at the great male explorers, inventors and investors, the risk takers of our generation. Imagine if the number of great women equalled that. Society would speed along over twice as fast from the sheer levels of innovation.

So men take risks, which is good because it pushes society forwards and bad because it endagers their lives and tribes. And women do not take risks, which is good because it provides care and safety and bad because it limits the progress of human society.

And therein lies a key compatibility.

Men’s strength lies in their ability to make calculated risks.

Women’s strength lies in our ability to accept calculated risks.

Any internal restriction on a man’s risk taking is a negative. If men always stopped at the safe line then society’s progress would be slow and staggered. But if men never knew when to stop or give in, or never paused for thought, then most men would be dead. Enter women: from his mother’s overbearing eyes during his childhood, to his scaredy cat girlfriends in his teens and twenties, to his wary wife in his thirties onwards, men have benefitted from the slightly paranoid voice of risk aversion. They will brush it off and often take the risk anyway, but always with a steadier foot, a more careful eye or an extra protective measure.

Any amount of spontaneous risk taking in women is also a negative. If women always toed the line of danger then society would be many mothers and babies short, drawing our growth to a halt. But if women never permitted a risk to be taken, then men would either become too weak to bring progress or exit society as a whole (reminds me of something, that…). Enter men: by making calculated risks and undertaking dangerous work on her behalf, the men in a woman’s life show her that risks can be taken in a relatively safe manner. Women will brush it off and still hide from danger, but always with a greater sense of security, that we can rely on men and trust their reason.

In a relationship, any relationship, be it parent-child, teacher-student, romantic, brother-sister or even work, we can make these facts play to our and everyone’s advantages.

Men:

  1. Take whatever risks you need to.
  2. Listen to women’s paranoias.
  3. Pause and assess which fears stem from a natural perspective.
  4. Ease her fears whenever possible.
  5. Take the risks she ought to take when her fear holds her back…
  6. …or at least make her feel safe and supported as she takes the risk herself.

Women:

  1. Make sure your life is safely guarded against unnecessary risks.
  2. Observe men’s risk taking.
  3. Urge caution and try and phrase advice so they will understand.
  4. Accept when he is going to do it anyway.
  5. Do not be afraid to demand comfort or exclusion from an activity if the risk bothers you.
  6. Reward successful risks, and do not blame or nag when the reward falls short.

After all, we want neither a society where women throw themselves blindly screaming into activities that terrify them, or feel pressured to take big risks to “look mature”, nor a society where men pussyfoot around their troubles and choke back the risks they want to take for fear of female retribution. We want a society where women calculate risks and men take them, with both considering the other’s perspective.

We are not broken, unequivalent or stupid. We do not need to be fixed. We are two perfectly compatible sexes and our roles serve a distinct purpose.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Men are risk takers, women are risk averse.

  1. -like-

    I notice that as 1) I come to the end of my child-raising season of life and 2) I lift weights/add testosterone 3) age past peak fertility… I am a lot less risk-adverse than I have been. And this too seems common to women’s experience.

    Can be focused well or poorly, like anything else.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That sounds interesting. Do you think it’s a physical change, or a psychological one? Or a bit of both?

      I read somewhere a while back that women past peak fertility are happier in careers and do better in business ventures and corporate climbing too. It makes sense, looking at human biology, that grandmother and career woman are natural paths once the babies are grown up.

      Like

      • I think it’s a bit of both. My kids won’t be producing grandkids (God willing) for another 10-15 years or so. I should just … uh… clean a lot? No one wants to see me that bored. No one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nothing worse than a bored woman. And every ancient text, the Bible included, values women in gainful employment when there isn’t anything else to do. Contrast Titus 2:3 and 4 with the Proverbs 31 ladies.

        Adult kids, no grandkids, husband still doing his own thing… may as well weave all day and go out and sell it in the afternoon on a Thursday, or help the husband at work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. @superslaviswife – nice post. You explain some of the gender differences, without employing the principle of hardcore solipsism (the type that suggests an inferior ontological capacity for women, by way of inferior innate aptitude for personal agency), al la Illimitable Man’s approach.

    My view is that there is no good evidence at all for normative inferior ontological capacity among women (i.e. – see the Stanley Milgram, and company experimental data). What appears to be hard-core female solipsism, is probably instead due to a different focus and valuing.

    Your ideas around normative gender differences for a risk-aversion gradient, fleshes out one such difference wrt to focus and valuing. My guess would be that this may be even more nuanced than you have suggested, and that there may be situations where men perhaps are more risk-adverse (public admittance of error perhaps? – less social reward and more social punishment for men, for such, vs. the risk-taking scenarios you outlined that are socially rewarded).

    Furthermore, your idea around this gendered risk-adverse gradient principle, recasts the social definition of some of what has been defined as the human dominance and submission dynamic. I don’t doubt the traditional meaning and veracity of the human dominance and submission dynamic in all kinds of social situations, however some of what has been labeled as female submission to male dominance, may instead be better characterized as a difference in approach to risks, retaining female agency by way of the category differential of choices that are made wrt taking risks (male mode) vs. accepting risks (female mode).

    Your line of inquiry, does therefore (in a round about way) lead to a further discussion about traditionally defined dominance. Traditionally defined dominance, without merit (merit by way of provision of something that is of value to the larger group), is not an enduring dynamic with humans, I would argue, and this tendency for the reversion-to-the-mean-dominance-wise, is largely due to our mimetic nature (and therefore our memetic nature), I would also argue. So…. perhaps this interplay between dominance and social merit…. is really more about merit …. and less about dominance.

    One of the central interests of redpill discourse, is about how women value men (particularly value wrt to partnering, pair-bond, or at least sexual liaison-wise). To my mind, redpill has presented ideas on this topic that are still at the stage of being rather nebulous.

    – Do women tend to value men, particularly sexual-attraction-wise, for which she feels she can safely submit to his dominance?

    Or:

    – Do women, tend to value men, particularly sexual-attraction-wise, for which she feels is either already socially meritorious, or is judged to have the traits that promises for such?

    superslaviswife – I would be interested to know what you think about this.

    Like

  3. superslaviswife – also the portion of your post wrt to your counsel to both men and women, six-bullet-form, for more nuanced relationship success, via knowledge about risk-aversion differences – it seems you are counseling for rapport-seeking. I agree that rapport-seeking is the bedrock of most relationships, at least rapport as defined by Google:

    “Rapport: a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well. Example: “she was able to establish a good rapport with the children”
    synonyms: affinity, close relationship, understanding, mutual understanding, bond, empathy, sympathy, accord”

    There seems to be a difference of opinion around this, particularly wrt to the relationships of a sexual-attraction nature. Yesterday I exchanged comments with LeeLee and Liz over at LeeLee’s blogspot:

    http://www.leeleeinbabylon.com/

    , under LeeLee’s latest article on Slut Farming. Our comment exchanges were quite a bit about this issue of this type of rapport.

    I am confused at to whether women seek rapport with the men they are sexually attracted to, or if such rapport is not actually appropriate for sexual relationships (SSW – I’m a 56 year old Canadian guy with a fair amount of sexual partner experience, including a 20-year marriage that ended in mutual peace around the break-up, about 10 years ago, but ….. even with all that experience, I admit that it is really hard to know where women are coming from wrt rapport in these types of relationships). Alot of redpill discourse (Rollo at Rational Male for instance) counsel that women don’t actually want rapport from their male lovers, and so men must find ways to seek that elsewhere (as women do). It seems like some women may prescribe to this viewpoint too (without outright saying so) and so perhaps it is true. The problem for a guy like me is, then ….. the only way I can give women the type of dominance (as opposed to rapport) they apparently want (I mean outside the bedroom – in the bedroom I’m cool with the dominance vibe as the man), is to see the woman as inferior. The problem with this is that I know women are not inferior (different yes – but not inferior). See, if rapport within sexual relationships is for the birds – then what kind of mindf..ck are women expecting a thinking man to accept?

    SSW – I wouldn’t mind getting another redpill-aware woman’s view on this, so…. if you are so inclined to disentangle this for me, I would appreciate that.

    Like

  4. SSW – so as not to get hung up on definitions, taking the gist of the google definition for rapport, as applied to my specific discussion, I am more succinctly defining rapport as

    rapport = committing to understanding and appreciating another, so as to provide an environment for reciprocity around that

    Like

  5. Very interesting post, thx. Confirms much that is written about male risk-taking behaviour liek this excellent article – http://denisdutton.com/baumeister.htm – but I agree with your points about women only after learing the hard way (as a man duh).

    I admit it used to annoy me when women were as risk-adverse (altough I at the time called it “negativity”).

    1) After my brother got married (well before me and had 1 kid with another on the way) we did a trip together (I was with my new wife) and came accross a great Bungee-Cord bridge. As we had done as kids we just looked at each other and knew as brothers it was going to be fun to do the jump – and then his wife had a fit! He had to walk-off for a “private moment” with her as I heard her say “over my dead body” and he had to stand down. It marked his dedication to his new family and I didnt mind that much – and may have been a bit relieved – but it made me realize the nature of male relationships in encouraging risk-taking in a way I never had thought about that much.

    2) When my nephew got Married he asked me to MC the Wedding Dinner – and so I had to get to know his fiancee. What a bitch! She was an only child and spoilt rotten. Every time I suggested something she nixed it and I mean completely. She never even once had a compromise solution/comeback idea. She just killed it and said – NEXT! It was completely up to me to guess her wishes for the event somehow by trial and error. I hated her and sure enough that marriage was dead within 2 years. Her inability to consider anything “new” which she obviously considered “risky” was among the most deadening experience I think I ever encountered.

    3) When my daughter was older I Coached her Soccer Team and for quite awhile I did that (actually for indooor/outdoor from U12 – U16). As the girls were getting older I noted that they did not respond to my exhortations/coaching instructions as they had when younger. And in fact some were particularlly difficult to the extent of acting like entitled Princesses. I realized it was the intrusion of normal female hierarchy forming and I asked an older, well respected Coach about how to deal with my increasingly disruptive players.

    He told me a brilliant solution. He recounted how in his experience Coaching both Boy’s and Girls high performance teams that he had to extent dicipline differently. For the Boys poor performers were to some extent criticized publically for their shortcoming in a game/practice – or if they they had behaved badly by taking an unnessary penalty or failed some how in their postion – they would be given a corrective. Run around the field 2x as many times as the others perhaps – or be the “human pylon” during a drill that everyone could do and they were last. No boy misunderstood the point of these minor humiliations – it was to enforce compliance with team dicipline.

    This did not tend to work as well with the girls. If I tried to single out a girl for something she messed up in a game – the girl would burst into tears and behave even worse the next game while the whole team would rise up against me – the Coach – for “shaming” her publically and in general performance would drop. Instead to get cooperation I would have to pull the girl aside and praise her profusely but somehow mention why her error might not be the best action and suggest that she try the move that I thought would work better. If it happened in a practice and her behaviour was obvious to all then the best way to get her to stop was tag the whole team with the drill and make them repeat it until SHE got it right. The rest of her team-mates would be split by those annoyed at repeating a drill they knew well and had perfected and her peer group friends who would encourage her on to do well. In sum it was peer group pressure to save themselves from effort that would drive an “errant” girl to pull up her socks and perform rather than some nasty (male) coach.

    (And believe me – I tried to lay-off that Coach gig almost every year – or recruit a Mom to take over – but noone ever did. Most told me just preferred watching the games on the sidelines rather than working too hard as a Coach or occasional linesperson).

    Somehow this is relevant to female risk-taking or how women are more motivated by proxies attitudes and behaviour than their own agency/actions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, a lot of female behaviour is focused on the same problem-solving as men, except it becomes indirect and cautious, which may make us seem less able to solve problems or less decisive. In reality, what we are seeing is men face every option with an open mind, however uncomfortable or dangerous, whereas women need to look around the problem for a long time in order to find a solution. You can actually see this issue in everday situations as well, such as women taking longer than men to order their meal, or repeatedly ordering the same dish and sampling other people’s food. There is comfort in stability.

      Like

Comments Always Appreciated. :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s