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It’s a boy/girl thing

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and Ben Harvey is possibly from a small planet in the vicinity of Beetlejuice. This week, our favourite Friday afternoon provocative columnist talks about the differences between men and women.

– – – –

I do love stereotypes. I do! They make the world easier for my tiny mind to comprehend. Lots of people consider stereotypes to be lazy generalisations at best, and rude & blinkered misogyny at worst, but I find them to be useful metaphors. As such, this article is packed full of them. 

Please write your letters of complaint to Ewan, by the way.

Disclaimer over, you must now brace yourself for an article based solely around my own Neanderthalic observations about the differences between men and women. Perhaps, actually, I’d better clarify that statement, because the differences between men and women are many and various and often fleshy & dangly, so I’ll start again – the difference between men and women in terms of how they view, use and live with their mobiles.

Differences between the genders – fleshy, tufty stuff aside – have always been a source of amusement & confusion and a rich vein of material for stereotype-loving social-snipers like me to mine. Slanderous swipes about shoes, football, handbags, personal hygiene & the ability to park aside we are, of course, all quite aware of the existing prejudices about men & women’s telephone usage, being that male-to-male telephone calls are often blunt grunts, lasting the length of time of the average sneeze, whereas female-to-female calls are more like the Big Bang; they start for no reason at all, and even though the important stuff is achieved in the first ten seconds the rest of it drags on and on interminably, only coming to an abrupt halt when Hollyoaks comes on the telly.

I’m sorry – that’s not the Big Bang. For some reason I’ve just described my sex-life.

I’ll continue with an apology, as well, because I’m about to use the phrase ‘male to female”, and as such I’ve probably just lost half my audience due to their content-firewalls blocking this page. I imagine several hundred people are now in the process of getting a sharp note from their IT department, but that’s beside the point rather; male-to-female calls themselves are all perfectly normal in the business world, but when the participants are in a personal relationship the calls, again, are often like my sex-life; starting in a blaze of fire but ending in a cold, barren, collapsing morass of heaviness & inertia, the same boring nonsense happening again and again and again.

I’m sorry – that’s not my sex-life. For some reason I’ve just described the Big Bang.

Anyway, where were we? I believe I was about to reel off some stereotypes for you. But in the interest of not getting any more hate-mail than I already am, I’ll pre-empt your wrath by backing them up with statistics. So, here we go…
Men are more interested with fashion than women

Admittedly this may well change with the increasing glut of cross-marketed fashion-house telephones (the Gucci handsets are indeed lovely. But how long until Primark release a co-branded bleeper…?) but, at the moment, it’s chaps who actually seem to care more about how their handsets look. When buying a new handset (or, if you’re anything like me, when you’re choosing which of your friends’ you’re going to steal) the main factors are – and probably always will be – compatibility, price, build-quality and utility. However, after that, the genders seem to split – after those four factors males tend, next, to opt for looks and styling and women tend to then opt for security & safety.

These marketing results don’t – rather obviously – take account of people buying the latest models just for the hell of it and will also exclude anybody even remotely considering a 7280, or that nice new Razr with the mirror-finish that you can snort your cocaine off of. These results do include those people who buy handsets primarily because this week you get treble Nectar points.

Women are less stupid than men

Someone, somewhere got a grant to watch people as they crossed a busy street. Paying attention only to those people who were talking into their handsets at the time they studied 270 women and 276 men. Compared to those people that weren’t on the phone, the mobile-using women tended to cross more slowly, with close to half waiting for the passing cars to be halted by traffic-lights before stepping off the pavement.

Half of the men also crossed the road whilst the cars were stationary, but this had nothing to do with traffic-lights; the cars were stopped because of all the accidents caused by the other half of the men walking straight into the path of an oncoming bus. The moral of this piece of otherwise-pointless research is as follows: if you’re a man, get either a taxi or a sex-change.

Women are more likely to have annoying ringtones

59% of all ringtones are downloaded by women.

All ringtones are annoying.

The prosecution rests.

Women are less stupid than men (2)

Again, according to academic papers with long words in them (I’m not omitting them because I think you can’t understand them, by the way, I just can’t be arsed to type them out and then, later, wrestle my spellcheck into submission) of all the people arrested or cautioned for driving whilst talking on their mobile, 64% were male and 35% were female. Given that yakking on your handset (hands-free being a different kettle of fish, of course) raises your braking distance from 31 meters to 46 meters, from a speed of 70mph, this is really a bit dim.

The police didn’t have records available for those people arrested or cautioned for applying mascara whilst waiting on sliproads on the way to work, though. Probably just as well, actually, because if my insurers found out about that I’d be in trouble…

Also, the sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that 64% and 35% only adds up to 99%. I guess that means that Michael Jackson does have a driving licence, after all.
Men are quicker on the uptake than women

Like Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, us chaps do tend to adopt things very early. In the case of the mobile industry this can most clearly be seen in terms of 3G & media-usage; 70% of mobile media usage is male as opposed to just 29% female (again with Jackson ruining my totals).

Quite why this figure is so predominantly male-skewed is a mystery, but I have certain theories of my own, primarily due to males having a higher predisposition towards geekiness and also, of course, because men are rather more likely to be sending & receiving video-clips involving naked girls doing either very alluring or very disgusting things.

However, both males and females are equally balanced when it comes to watching Macaulay Culkin films over GPRS, with both genders each taking 0.1% of the market.

Oh! You pesky Jackson!

Women like their telephones, whereas men just use them

Now, I don’t have any solid figures to back that lot up, of course, but I’ve spent so much time – in researching this article – trawling my way through academic papers that use phrases like ‘by applying a covariance structure analysis, the correlations between latent and observable variables can be successfully visualised” that I no longer care, so, hey. The fact that women are more likely to form an almost emotional attachment to their handset is one that I’ve long suspected, so I set out to prove it.

This has roots in the fact that – again, with the stereotypes – men prefer tools, whereas women prefer artefacts. To prove this, I spent some time on dating websites. One of the set questions often asked by such sites is ‘what object could you not live without?”.

Of a sample of ten women of various ages & locations, eight of the girls I peered happily at included their phone in their answer. The other two were in prison, and therefore presumably not allowed to have one. Other answers included ‘Rimmel Concealer in Ivory”, ‘my dog”, and ‘I AM A VERY INDERVIDAL”.


Grudgingly I did also inspect the profile of ten of my fellow males; out of those ten, only two of them listed their mobile as being something they couldn’t actually live without. Other sample answers include ‘my plasma TV”, ‘independence,”, ‘my computer”, ‘my computer”, ‘regional dialects” and ‘my computer”. So, the downside is that us men are all emotional cripples who are scared of social interaction. On the upside, I have a date for Friday night.

What?! He’s a doctor. With a plasma TV…


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