What Drives Social Behaviour

Friday 28th February

I sometimes wonder if we are all sheep, following meekly one after the other, with no real direction, just keeping the tail of the sheep in front as our sole objective.  And I expect that despite my protestations I too am blindly following some sheep or other in front.

And, possibly because I am a man, I seem to notice that women are far more sheep-like than men.  They seem to be far more subject to fashions than men, though that may be down more to men’s intrinsic laziness.  Most men couldn’t give a fuck what they look like, especially when they get to a certain age; they have a wife or partner or are maybe a confirmed bachelor so attracting the opposite sex is no longer on the agenda.  They still think about sex, maybe far too often, but are either realistic enough to realise that these young women they fancy wouldn’t look twice at them or are too lazy to bother.  But it seems that women are concerned about their appearance far more than men are, and age doesn’t really come into it.  And strangely enough I don’t think they are really looking to attract men, well not exactly for sex anyway.  If a man smiles or acknowledges their good looks it gives them a secret wave of pleasure, they are still attractive, they feel good about themselves.  Because women are so conditioned (or is it in their genes) to always be attractive to men, they are far more concerned about their appearance than men are.  I never really worry if people like the way I look, but women seem obsessed by their appearance and will go to ridiculous lengths to “improve” it.  I have even begun to notice the emergence of yet another stupid make-up addition, the painting on of false eyebrows – thick dark perfect eyebrows, and I suspect that the originals are being shaved off too.  To me they just look even more clown-like than before, but they must think it looks sexy I suppose.

So who is laying down the fashions; who is directing social behaviour; who is the lead sheep?  It used to be blamed on men, who stereotyped the perfect good looks, but I am more and more convinced that it is other women.  Not exactly peer pressure though I am sure they would make a woman who refuses to make-up feel unaccepted, but I think women see what they think is sexy and try to copy it.  Look at any add for perfume or skin cream and the women are incredibly sexy.  But it isn’t the men who are buying the over-priced wonder potions and lotions, it is women who want to look as sexy as the models in the ads.   And like sheep they follow.

There are signs that boys, younger men are likewise following these fashions, though to a lesser extent I would think.  In general men have some sort of inner confidence that they look at the least acceptable, though this acceptability is possibly the key.   Men have lower expectations of both themselves and other men, so as long as you sort of fit in it is okay.  Women have far higher expectations of both themselves and of other women and so are far more self and (of others) critical.  We each in our way conform to social behaviour, though the boundaries for men are far less rigid.