Thursday, February 9, 2012

Female Life


I read an article in "Psychology Today" which said that women have heightened awareness of their surroundings.  Studies show that women pay more attention than men do to their physical environment and its perceived risks.  Women, for example, are conscious of the presence or absence of others who  might help them, if necessary.

This fact is known by public-planners.  Officials who design and maintain public parks know that women notice disarray and decay more than men do and they equate it with lack of safety.  Unkempt parks make many  women nervous and they stay away; their absence then makes other women stay away.  Planners know that attracting women and making them feel safe is vital to the success of public space.

It is my impression that most men are generally oblivious to their surroundings.  They are also unfocused on their physical safety.  Men, due to the way they are raised, don't worry about being attacked and are usually less anxious in public settings than women.

Are you aware of your surroundings?  Do you ever worry about your safety in public?

26 comments:

  1. Interesting article. I definitely do take note if my surroundings, especially if it's new or when I'm alone. And, thinking about it, I mostly do it for safety reasons. My mom was alway a cautious person and taught me to be aware and choose to take the safest option.

    I always find it curious when they do gender comparisons. Just because I can think of people who oppose the generalizations made. It would be interesting if they could find out what factors contribute to why males are less likely to be observant

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  2. I always am. I go to some shady thrift stores in some shady areas (plus my college campus has some crazy weirdos who stalk around the Student Union Building), so I'm always trying to keep an eye on everything around me. I assume we're predisposed to be more cautious for the purposes of protecting our children/growing babies.

    Really interesting point about the parks. I would absolutely have to agree with that! Also, I'm always noticing little details and odd things when I'm out with my boyfriend, and whenever I ask him if he saw what I just saw, he'll have no idea what I'm talking about.

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  3. my surroundings mean absolutely nothing to me. I don't take in surroundings at all, and a lot of time people say that I am oblivious to it. I do however take into consideration each person. I focus more on the people themselves..not their appearance but their emotions, facial expressions, and attitudes. I will read peoples emotions and state of mind or perceived emotions/SOM far before I even look at what is around me...

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  4. Absolutely. I am always paying attention to all the turns. Names of the roads. What building we are passing when in a new area. I even sometimes try to memorize number plates of cars around me if we are on a deserted highway. Most times it is not even conscious efforts. So I would have to agree with the article 100%

    ♡ from © tanvii.com

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  5. I'm always aware of my surroundings...I'm very observant too. If I'm with Missy (my German Shepherd) I generally don't feel unsave as she is very protective of me, but I would never go anywhere to put myself in danger or feel unsafe, it's just not worth it xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

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  6. I'm always on the lookout when I am out and about, even in my (relatively) safe little city. I pay attention to details and what they tell me about a place.

    I also observe people since I walk everywhere - you can't be too careful.

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  7. This is a very interesting article!! It never occurred to me that park planners (or any other type of city designer) paid attention to the way women's minds work. But it does make sense, especially for parks, which are notorious for being playgrounds for danger.

    I do have a heightened sense of awareness, but it has more to do with an incident which occurred in my town than my own femenine instinct. Five years ago, a girl I knew through a few friends (I barely knew her myself) was kidnapped from a Target parking lot right near my house. She was raped and murdered and thrown in the woods. And it was 7 p.m. during the summer. As in, she got abducted in broad daylight at a super busy Target. That incident changed my life. Ever since, no matter where I am or what time of day it is, I am always on my guard. It's sad to have to be nervous to go out all the time. :(

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  8. Hubby has very good situational awareness. I am oblivious!!

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  9. I look out for myself and those around me.
    I am the one who is telling people the zipper on their bag is open. I am the one who rushes to the car at the mall looking around and with the car keys in her hand. I am the one who asks you to call as soon as you get home (specially at night) just to make sure you are ok.
    However I have put my guard down and was robbed in a subway in Paris :(

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  10. Fascinating. I often walk around with my head entirely in the clouds, but then I live in a pretty safe area and go outdoors during "safe" hours, mostly... I also love abandoned places and overgrown gardens though I hardly visit them (there aren't many nearby). So maybe my socialization was different because I grew up mostly in Europe? It's sad that the public reaction to something that is caused, in part, by rape culture, is adjusting public spaces, not challenging cultural notions, but I guess they've gotta start somewhere.

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  11. Oh definitely, I pay much more attention to where I am and who is around me than a lot of my male friends. Except the one who was in the military, he does a 'threat' assessment of a situation similar to the way I and my lady friends talk about doing. Which makes me wonder if it is a learned behavior rather than an evolutionary trait. I definitely pay less attention to my surrounds when I am with a group of people or even just one other person.
    I've never been physically attacked or anything, but I get regularly verbally harassed when I am walking in a public place by myself. Which makes me much more wary than a lot of men who do not seem to garner that type of attention.

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  12. Absolutely. I'm always looking around for where I might go if I need help, eg, is there a business/store/public place I could get to in a hurry? I also find myself taking "mental snapshots" of people in the area (clothes, hair, what they're doing).

    I'm also very aware of where the nearest bathrooms are, but that has nothing to do with the fear of being attacked. :)

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  13. Interesting question as always ~ I find it tiring to always be 'on guard' but then I guess it comes with being a woman.

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  14. I definitely always keep a look out at who's around me, noises and possibilities for places to avoid. I don't go a lot of places alone, but when I am I do think I've been taught that as a small female I am a person who is likely to be targeted.

    The worst time is when I have to wait for a ride after my night classes. The campus is kind of dark and the campus police is reduced at night. I usually try to stay near buildings or in them if it isn't after 9. I also keep campus police number on my phone.

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  15. I agree, I do pay attention to safety and whether a location looks safe. I don't think I was born this way, I think it is because of incidents like the one Jennifer Fabulous mentioned. Women and girls are predominantly the victims of these kind of crimes, and therefore with that knowledge, I keep an extra eye out.

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  16. Hmm. I'm not sure I entirely agree with the generalizations here. From the people I know, it seems to be a 50/50 split, regardless of gender. For every guy I know who's oblivious to his surroundings, there's another one who isn't. Same with women. I think, perhaps, "aware of your surroundings" is a broad definition...I can't really say if I'm aware of them or not, because while I do pay attention to where I am, if there's someone else around, their general body posture, etc., I hardly ever actually look directly at them. I could walk down a street block or two and tell you how many people were out and what they were doing, but I couldn't truly identify a single one of them.

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  17. Oh yes, I am always on the look out for some weird lurker in the shadows. If I am in the parking lot at the store after dark, I always am aware of my surroundings. I always am in defense mode. Being a woman, others may see us as weak or vulnerable for attack. Maybe I am just paranoid? Better to be safe than sorry though. Heather

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  18. I am super aware. Especially when leaving stores at dark. I get my pepper spray ready and scan everything in sight for things that might be out of place. This post is dead on!

    http://theclosetintervention.blogspot.com/

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  19. This is a really interesting article and the comments have added so much to it! I make sure to carry my keys in my hand when going to my car late at night but can't really claim a very high degree of situational awareness. But this may be a generational thing. For example, I was born in 1976 and the only "self defense" I ever learned about was by watching an episode of "The Facts of Life" but the ladies in my graduate house have RAD training offered to them once a semester. Definitely skills it behooves everyone, but especially women, to learn

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  20. I am extremely aware of my surroundings all the time. It is nearly impossible to scare me because I pay attention to everything. Amazing considering that I am constantly doing at least 8 things at a time.

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  21. Very true- I am constantly aware of my surroundings- especially at night I am always checking over my shoulder and in an underground parking lot I don't walk too close to other cars just in case someone tries to pull me inside. I think I've watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds but at least I'm hypervigilant!

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  22. Sometimes, especially when I'm in large crowds, I think I get overwhelmed with sensory information so that I just sort of zone out and escape into my own thoughts and dream worlds. For a woman, I am actually quite unaware of my surroundings. I always walk with my head up, but the things I notice tend to be random and insignificant to other people. I try to be more careful in parking lots and walking down town, but I only manage that because my mom reminds me ten times a day before I leave the house. This probably isn't a good thing. Hopefully I don't regret broadcasting my hopelessness on the internet o.O haha

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  23. Very interesting point. I know that I am much more vigilant than my husband, and just plain more observant, of the beautiful as well as the unsafe. He's very rarely worried that someone might come out and harm him. We each wonder what the other experiences internally.

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  24. I think women are more aware of the arm that might come to them but maybe we are just more visual too? I would think that it's heightened when you become a mother too...

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  25. Hmm. I've long thought that women were more observant of environmental clues, but I had chalked it up to motherhood and the need to protect children.

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  26. In my experience, this is totally true, and the obliviousness doesn't just apply to surroundings. I'm much more likely to notice if something is a bit off with our pets or baby than my husband. I think he thinks I'm paranoid, but I think I'm just watchful. He thinks he's more optimistic because he assumes things are fine instead of assuming the worst case scenario, and I think he just doesn't pay attention. :) I don't know if it's fair to generalize this for all men, though. But I do tend to notice the details of things around me pretty extensively. I always assumed it's because I'm artistic and many times look at things in terms of how I would draw them for some reason.

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