‘Men Don’t Know Anything About Women’ Says Company Who Don’t Know Anything About Men

Look out fellow men, our secrets are out! Not only is Valentine’s Day is swift-approaching, and therefore supplies of the colour pink and badly-drawn teddy bears on overly-sentimental cards bearing the motto ‘I Wuuurrrrrrve You’ or something equally-nauseatingly trite rapidly running out , but now – now of all times! – the Daily Mail has chosen to expose a dirty, filthy, shameful and completely 100% true fact: none of us male folk know anything, at all, about our womenfolk. Nothing. Nada. Nowt.

Seriously, nothing. Age, hair colour, eye colour, general shape – all alien to us men. Really. It’s remarkable we’re even able to pick them out of a police line-up. Although try asking them what the hell they’re doing in a police line-up, and you’re in trouble. Bloody Women. Harumph. Oops, that might have been wildly sterotypically ignorantly sexist towards the end there, and I can’t go around like that…

…because clearly wild, ignorant, sexist stereotyping is the Daily Mail’s job, as evidenced by their stunningly-accurate-and-definitely-not-made-up research on the amount we fellas know about our missuses:

Think he knows you? Think again! How millions of men don’t know their partner’s dress size, date of birth, or even eye colour

Millions of men! Millions of men don’t know their partner’s date of birth! If the UK population is 60 million, let’s simplify things and say that 50% are male (ratios tend to favour a higher female population, bloody women harumph and all that), that’s 30 million men at most, of which millions don’t know their partners’ eye colour! That’s assuming all have partners. And are straight. Realistically, we’re probably talking about 15 or 20 million men who are straight and attached. So the Mail’s ‘millions’ of ignorant men speaks to a real epidemic! What bastards we are!

ORRRR the Mail made it up. Hmm. Let’s read on beyond the headline, and see if we come out the other side.

“For despite their claims to the contrary, millions of British men are completely clueless about their partner’s clothes size, her natural hair colour and even the colour of her eyes.”

Well, that seems solid enough. Not sure where the Mail got their figures – did I miss a survey? Was there a census I wasn’t told about? I’m always missing those, I mean Family Fortunes asks 100 people stuff every week and they’ve never asked me anything (quick aside – I love the idea of finding out the location of the Family Fortunes survey, gathering 99 mates and then REALLY fucking with their figures… I need to see the day when the question is ‘We asked 100 people to name a flavour of ice cream’ and the answers include Dead Bird, Back to the Future Part II and Shame. Take that, surveys).

Back to the Mail, and their sexist gibberish:

“The failure to pay attention can, at best, lead to awkward conversations. And for some hapless men, not knowing these everyday details can cause major problems with almost one in 10 women ending their relationship or getting perilously close to ending it and a further eight per cent having serious rows”

Wait, 1 in 10 women ‘ending their relationship or getting perilously close to ending it’ and ‘eight per cent having serious rows’? Well that hardly sounds like the outrageous levels of neglect and ignorance put upon these poor creatures by we heartless, unthoughtful, brutish males. Only 2 in 25 couples have serious rows, and 1 in 10 come close to breaking up? That sounds actually pretty positive… 90% of people stay together, even despite the male’s inability to remember his partner’s name or where he left his shoes or how to breathe or whatever else the Mail think men forget. Those numbers seem way too low for real life, let alone life in the nightmarish scenario depicted by the Mail.

“The full extent of men’s failure to pay attention emerged from a survey of 2,000 men conducted for The Perfume Shop”

And the penny drops. The ‘millions’ of men is an extrapolation from a pretty small (comparatively) sample size. The study is a meaningless survey, funded by a high-street chain with a marked interest in the Day Of Pinkandloveandhugsandwearegreattogetherseeeveryoneseeseesee (TM). I wonder what else is on the list of things The Perfume Shop scientifically-discovered (ie made up) that men don’t know about their girlfriends:

“However when questioned 12 per cent did not know their partner’s eye colour, 10 per cent did not know their partner’s date of birth and a further eight per cent did not know their natural hair colour.

One in three had no idea what her favourite perfume is. A further 30 per cent was oblivious to their partner’s bra size, 11 per cent did not know their job title and 12 per cent did not know the name of their wife or girlfriend’s best friend”

Wow, apparently a shop that sells perfume thinks men need help in buying perfume for their girlfriends who like perfume. And as if to ram home the point:

“This lack of basic knowledge can turn shopping for gifts into a minefield”

Now, clearly there’s the obvious easy angle on this – a non-event story timed to coincide with the time men will be looking for gifts for their girlfriends, framed in a way to encourage women to ask men certain facts about themselves, including the name of the perfume they like. Chided-and-chastised-Man then slopes off to those helpful people at the shop of perfume, who turn their minefield into a cakewalk yaddah yaddah yaddah. That bits very clear, very old-hat, very Flat Earth News.

But there’s more to this. For one, the complete bastardisation of the maths involved – while the story tells us that millions of men don’t know a range of facts about their loved one, in actuality we have a small number of men who didn’t know individual facts. The article/PR-puff-piece doesn’t treat the scores for those facts individually, but takes the separate percentages and represents them as a majority – a bit like saying 60% of people have dark hair, 50% have brown eyes, therefore %110 of people have dark hair or brown eyes. Erm, no.

We also have the opposite implication in part too – that men know nothing, a combination of forgotten features. Yet one of the 240/2000 men who didn’t know their partner’s eye colour is not necessarily also in the 220/2000 who didn’t know their girlfriend’s job title. On top of that, did they not know, or could they not remember? Two very different scenarios. If I was asked the name of my girlfriend’s best friend, I’d have to answer I don’t know – which does she like best? I doubt she’d make a choice, why should I? Did that scenario get captured in the stats, or did it go down as a male-fail? 30% didn’t know their partner’s bra size – is that because they’re terrible men, or because they’re not obsessed with cup size? Personally I think it’s actually pretty cool that way more men knew their girlfriend’s job title and best friend’s name than the size of her boobs – that’s actual intimacy there.

“Researchers revealed a healthy six out of ten males believed they knew their partner inside out”

Even better! So 40% would say they don’t know their partner’s every detail, yet only 10% couldn’t recall their girlfriend’s date of birth (22.07.1981, by the way!) – 30% of guys give themselves way too little credit, then.

What’s most annoying about this made up PR nonsense is the associated opportunity for relationship ‘experts’ to tell women why their men are useless, in sweeping ignorant statements:

Relationship expert Francine Kaye said the crux of the problem was that whereas knowledge of small details is important to woman, it is unimportant to men.

‘These things are vitally important to women. But men are wired differently. We’re not talking about one in a hundred men who fail to notice basic details. We’re talking about the majority.

‘However, you can’t expect men to change without prompting and reminding. You need to be a pragmatist”

Francine – if, in you’re experience, men fail to notice basic details, maybe it’s because you’re an ignorant sexist moron? It’s OK, we can’t expect you to change that without prompting and reminding. We’re pragmatic too. For anyone who’s not aware, Francine is ‘The Divorce Doctor’ and appears on Channel 5’s procession of idiocy ‘The Wright Stuff’ from time to time, to dispense her self-help guff like a particularly misandric mould periodically spluttering out it’s sexist spores. And she’s not alone:

Michelle D’vaz, spokeswoman for The Perfume Shop, agreed men would benefit from learning basic details about their partners.

‘The results of the survey are actually quite shocking,’ she said.

‘The basic details like date of birth and hair colour are what you expect your partner to know about you, but it seems many men don’t. This is especially the case with everyday things like eye colour, or the perfume they spray on each morning’.

Here’s a few subtle details I’ve noticed, Michelle:

  1. You work for The Perfume Shop, and you’re advice is to pay attention to what perfume girls spray on each morning.
  2. You say many men don’t know the date of birth or hair colour of their partner, but the stats don’t support that.
  3. You work for The Perfume Shop, and are therefore in no way an expert or authority on relationships, the male psychology or statistics.
  4. Your company paid for a cheap 2000 person survey, mangled the stats into something sexist, extrapolated the results into something nationwide, and then threw it out there to try and sell perfume.

And they say we men don’t notice the little things…

*For anyone who wondered, I correctly answered 9/10 for definite, and was pretty confident about the 10th.

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  1. #1 by AexMagd on February 10, 2010 - 13:31

    All this bullshit about being wired differently on things like details really does my head in. Men are this, women are that – no they’re bloody not! People are like this, and people are like that. Turns out you can’t take 50% of the population of the planet and say that they’re rubbish at remember small details, or that they can’t drive, or that they value things over people, or any of that nonsense.

    I blame John Gray, personally, and his pseudoscience sexist rubbish. His MO: take some social trends ground in by centuries of tradition, do a quick survey that unsurprisingly supports those trends, then pretend that’s science.

    A “relationship expert” would do better to encourage people to see their partners as equal individuals, not ambassadors for a giant bloc of people who are fundamentally alien to them.

  2. #2 by Jo on February 10, 2010 - 15:27

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Maybe the fact that they’re interviewing the type of men who run last-minute to the perfume shop in order to ‘ask the nice lady behind the counter for some nice smelly stuff that the little lady will like’, rather than those more thoughtful men who take the time to choose something more personal than a cheap (or expensive) bottle of smelly stuff, could explain why they’re seeing these ‘results’.

    The fact that they have decided that this survey must represent millions of men is insulting and ridiculous.

    What an idiot.

  3. #3 by Mike on February 10, 2010 - 19:05

    You know an extract from Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus came up in my English Language A Level exam, and not really knowing much about the book, my honest take on it was that he was taking the piss, and not all that subtly.

    It was a part about how men and women listen differently, men being problem solvers and women being emotionally tuned or something, and IIRC he actually suggested that when a woman tells a man about a problem, he should ask “do you want me to listen as a man or a woman?” I thought that was so utterly preposterous that the whole must have been a pisstake. Apparently he was serious.

  4. #4 by Jon d on February 11, 2010 - 00:39

    2000’s a pretty respectable sample size. The reputable polling firms do about that many for gauging political party support and attach a 3pct error margin to the result and they’re usually pretty accurate. Possibly the problem is that the survey just wasn’t done in a proper manner Ie a lot of the responses were made up.

  5. #5 by Marsh on February 11, 2010 - 09:16

    @Jon d: True, 2000 isn’t the smallest sample size, it’s the mangling of the stats and the generic stereotyped ‘results’ in support of the survey’s sponsor that irritate me. I probably made too much of the fact that it’s only 2000 people involved, reading it over again.

  6. #6 by AexMagd on February 11, 2010 - 18:35

    “The Myth of Mars and Venus” by Deborah Cameron does a good job of this listening/communicating differently idea, and points out that there are a fair few societies where the ideas that we take as intrinsic to gender (men are more aggressive, women are more co-operative etc) are actually the other way around. Ironically – but probably not coincidentally – the same qualities which we give as reasons why men should be in positions are power are used to disbar women from similar positions. It’s all very interesting!

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