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Akanna Okeke: Gender Differences at the Root of Relationship Problems



dreamstime_m_10366941Last week’s article really ruffled a lot of feathers. It was interesting to see the various reactions from readers in the comments.  Everyone made a valid point except, of course, those who resorted to insults.  I just think that if you have to resort to personal attacks while making an argument, then it means that you don’t even think your argument is strong or valid enough to convince the other party.

I say the other people’s points were valid because that’s the way people view life; so whatever they say is valid to them.  We tend to see people the way we see ourselves.  We relate to people that way as well.  But the truth is that everyone is not like us, and so we have to get past ourselves and see others for who they truly are in order to deal with them effectively.  This is no easy task.  It requires a change of mindset.

Your mind shapes you. It determines how you see life and how you behave.  This is why it is essential to expand your mind (by reading broadly) in order to change yourself.  You can only be transformed by renewing your mind.  However, the brain is the ‘foundation’ for the mind. You cannot stray from this foundation no matter how hard you try to expand your mind.  Your brain determines how your mind works and your mind determines how you work.

The female brain is different than the male brain. Therefore, the female mind works differently than the male mind.  The female is different from the male, not similar to, not necessarily equal to! Equal means you should expect the same things from me that I expect from you.  Men don’t have the same expectations as women from one another, and this is the fundamental cause of problems when both genders come together be it in an intimate relationship, a place of business or in assigning the almighty gender roles.

The Red Queen, a book written by Matt Ridley contains extensively researched studies on this controversial topic.  One of these gives us a clue as to why women are generally more in touch with their feelings and emotions than men are:

When the human being is just conceived (in the womb), it has a certain physiology to the brain. The default human brain –the one a child first gets in the womb –is the ‘emotional’ brain which, in other words, is the ‘female’ brain.  This brain is holistic in that there is a strong link between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (the emotional and logical sides).  If the baby is a boy, he would need a male brain obviously.  To get the male brain, that default female brain is injected with testosterone as it’s developing in the womb.  The mother’s body naturally injects a shot of this male hormone into its bloodstream.

The testosterone breaks that link (the “corpus callosum”) between the left and right sides of the brain, creating a clear divide between them. And that results in the creation of the male mind.  As that mind develops more and more, the two hemispheres become more and more specialized.  After the baby boy is born, he gets another injection of testosterone at puberty and that creates the adult man and his mind.

A baby girl, on the other hand, gets an injection of estrogen which creates an even more female mind by strengthening the link between the emotional and logical parts of the brain.  The female brain is more holistic because that link is strong.  The left and right sides work more together on problems.

So the male and female brains (or minds) are actually different.  The male brain is more about specialization. The left and right hemispheres specialize on different occasions.  He knows it is time to be super emotional when watching his favourite club play soccer, and he knows it is time to be very logical when solving problems at the workplace for example.  His brain is wired for systematic thinking and figuring out how stuff works –it is wired for logic; solving problems rather than talking them through.

Women’s brains are wired for emotional thinking, loving and empathizing.  Generally speaking, men would rather hurt feelings to uphold logic, whereas women would rather break logic to save feelings.

The problem with this topic is that everyone gets emotional talking about it.  What we are meant to do is seek the truth and understand how the opposite sex really works, because we definitely operate differently.  That’s why a problem arises when, in a relationship, a woman complains to a man about something and all the man wants to do is offer suggestions to ‘fix’ her problem instead of just listening to her because all she wants to do at that moment is talk it through to a listening ear, who would eventually give her a hug and tell her that everything would be alright.  Most men cannot fathom this because they relate to women like they would relate to other men.

With the study above, of course something could always go ‘wrong’ like the baby boy not getting an adequate shot of testosterone, resulting in a male with a more female mind.  The reverse could also be the case.  So you can have some ladies with super logical minds and some men with super emotional minds, but most of us lie in the centre of these two extremes, just like a certain Grace pointed out in the comments last week.

The key is to understand the principles behind the makeup of the male and female, and this would give us a clue as to what roles they are to play when they come together.  The difference in the reproductive organs, for example, presents us with a clear principle that one is wired to penetrate –to attack life, to be at the forefront of things, to always want to go out and fight for the other; while the other is wired to yield –to soak up life, to be in touch with feelings, to have the world brought to their feet.

The more things change, the more we should hang on to things that cannot change.  It is good for men and women to be able to play equal roles in society so as not to leave one stranded when the other is not there.  However, both genders must be in touch with what they would rather do –their strengths –in order to maximize creativity.  A focus on your weaknesses rather than on your strengths is one sure way to hinder your creativity.

When both genders come together; in the bedroom, in leading organizations, in relationship building, it is important to realize that one has to yield and let the other penetrate in order to come into a beautiful fusion that produces lasting results!

Once again, I would like to read your thoughts and would also encourage you to do some more reading on this subject and seek to have a clearer and deeper understanding about gender differences, as this is the key to solving many relationship problems.

Photo Credit: Bryan Creely |


  1. tunmi

    November 8, 2016 at 2:19 am

    What in the world did I just read?

  2. A Real Nigerian

    November 8, 2016 at 2:30 am

    Yet another atrocious article from an insecure and ignorant man.

  3. Weezy

    November 8, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Its interesting that your source for these arguments about the nature of human brains is someone that is not a scientist or a psychologist or psychiatrist. Yeah I looked up Matt Ridley.

    Why don’t you use reputable, peer reviewed and experienced scientists to make your case? Because there are none arguing what you claim.

  4. Mr. Egghead

    November 8, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I agree with the general thrust of your article – Male brain are different from female brains. Some men relate with women like they would with men. They think that a woman is a man with soft skin, breasts and all the reproductive accoutrements. Many examples abound of the vice versa.

    Gender articles don’t interest me again partly for the reason espoused in your article
    “The problem with this topic is that everyone gets emotional talking about it.”

    • EE

      November 8, 2016 at 3:36 am

      Meh, its a losing battle. A combination of technology and ever loosening sexual mores will consign relationships to oblivion in our lifetimes.

      Why would any male choose the wahala of an entanglement when he can bang his carefully calibrated sexbot or put on his VR for any sexual experience of his choice. Cooking is no longer some big mystery, he can split expenses with a roommate instead of say a wife or girlfriend.

      The mistake “we” are making is to be having these 20th century arguments in the 21st, its no different from our leaders constantly advocating a return to agriculture in a world where technology allows one farmer to do the work of hundred.

      A simple fact, feminism is unnatural, it is underpinned by economic and technological progress, take that away and humans regress to their usual mean; strength determining right, handing the advantage to men. Nigeria is a patriarchy because we are poor, you can accept that or you can choose not to. It remains fact; as long as we remain poor, most women will belong in the kitchen and gender differences will remain rigid. So if you truly care about feminism, help us ehn Make Nigeria Great For the First Time……….Economically. Sloganeering, clearly not in my future??????

      P.S human flight, electricity, trans-continental communication, none of these are “natural” either, so please use some common sense over that particular phrasing.

  5. Abena

    November 8, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Dear author, what is the point of this article – it seems I missed it.

  6. Flexe being Naughty

    November 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Don’t cry okay? We’ve heard.
    I learnt something new anyway.

  7. Wanderlust _Trekeffect?

    November 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    You lost me at that talk about testosterone going into the corpus callosum, separation story. You should do more research before writing articles for people to feed on.
    As a neurosurgery resident I can clearly inform you that there is no separation of the corpus callosum in anybody, whether male or female. The union of both hemispheres is paramount to survival due to the interconnecting tracts that run from one hemisphere to the other via the cc.
    The right hemisphere controls the left part of the body and is the seat of artistic prowess. While the left controls the right side of the body and functions in control of things like logic and math.

    Emotions are controlled by the limbic system which spans across both hemisphere.
    The only scientifically proven effect increased testosterone on fetal (has only been proven in animals) corpus callosum is assymetric development which still has no bearing whatsoever with regards to emotional tendency.

    Your logic is severely flawed but I’m just putting this here for anyone who would gobble up this information you have just provided.

    • Engoz

      November 8, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Thank you! More doctors like you need to speak up before scientific literature is being misconstrued.

      1) The Red Queen he cites is as far back as 1993. If Akanna Okeke had updated himself on scientific literature he would stir clear off using words like ’emotional’. When people use the word ’emotional’ in their grand scheme of things to slyly discredit the female gender, they narrow it to emotional thinking. Aggression, violence, rage, hotheadedness, are all illustrations of emotional thinking and we tend to see these attributes in males. Take the skyrocketing male prison population for violent crime as a prime example. Testosterone is often regarded as the culprits.

      2) “Women’s brains are wired for emotional thinking, loving and empathizing. Generally speaking, men would rather hurt feelings to uphold logic, whereas women would rather break logic to save feelings.”

      Modern scientific literature shifts from this thinking of independently separating the hemispheres based on logic (left hemisphere) and emotion (right hemisphere). Culled from the Center for educational Research and Innovation….

      The origin of hemisphericity
      Throughout history, the intellectual skills of humans were often divided up into two classes: critical and analytic skills as opposed to creative and synthesising skills. This idea was attributed to the two brain hemispheres and became a major doctrine in neurophysiology in the 19th century. In 1844, Arthur Ladbroke Wigan published a book entitled “A New View of Insanity: Duality of the Mind”. In this book, he describes the two brain hemispheres as independent parts having an independent will and way of thinking. Usually they work together, but in the case of a disease, for example, they might work against each other. This notion became very popular and even found its way into popular culture as with Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1886), which explores the idea of a cultured left hemisphere in contrast to an emotional right hemisphere, that is primitive and easily out of control.

      Arguments against hemisphericity
      Arguments against a left brain and right brain thinking style and its application to education
      The notion of different hemispheric thinking styles is based on an erroneous premise: each brain hemisphere is specialised and therefore each must function independently with a different thinking style. This connection is a bridge too far: it uses scientific findings regarding functional asymmetries for the processing of stimuli to create conceptions about hemispheric differences on a different level, such as a cognitive thinking style. Furthermore, there is no direct scientific evidence supporting the idea that different thinking styles lie within each hemisphere. Indeed, deriving different hemispheric thinking styles from functional asymmetries is quite a bold venture, which oversimplifies and misinterprets scientific findings.
      If one considers the right hemispheric creative and emotional thinking style, there is no scientific evidence that supports a correlation between creativity and the activity of the right hemisphere, let alone evidence for a correlation between the degree of creativity and the use of the right hemisphere. Similarly, a recent analysis of 65 neuroimaging studies on emotion found no scientific support for the hypothesis of an overall right hemispheric lateralisation of emotional function. There is no direct scientific evidence that supports an analytical, logical thinking style for the left hemisphere, which predetermines the left hemisphere for mathematical tasks, or reading and writing. In contrast, Stanislas Daheane found that both the right and left hemisphere are active in the identification of Arabic numerals (e.g. “1”,”2”). Similarly, other data showed that subsystems in both hemispheres are activated for parts of the reading process, e.g. decoding written words or recognising speech sounds. Based on these and many more scientific findings, scientists nowadays think that while there are some functional asymmetries, the two brain hemispheres do not work in isolation, but rather together in every cognitive task. In light of this notion, using the conception of hemisphericity to guide and direct educational practice is highly questionable.

      3) “The key is to understand the principles behind the makeup of the male and female, and this would give us a clue as to what roles they are to play when they come together. The difference in the reproductive organs, for example, presents us with a clear principle that one is wired to penetrate –to attack life, to be at the forefront of things, to always want to go out and fight for the other; while the other is wired to yield –to soak up life, to be in touch with feelings, to have the world brought to their feet.”

      I am sorry but this is laughably ridiculous. This is not how science works. You cannot just arrive at grandiose conclusions like that. It does not present you with a ‘clear principle’ to attack life, or to be at the forefront of things lol. Sexual organs like all other structural components in our body abide by the The principle of complementarity of structure and function which states that function is dependent on structure, and that the form of a structure relates to its function.

  8. Loki

    November 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    If men are so logical, why haven’t you come to the logical conclusion that this topic will never ever meet resolution and just give it a rest?
    Relationship problems have been in existence since the days of Adam and Eve. If you’re so “logical”, why on earth do you think your pop psychology is going to change anything now? That is an illogical expectation.
    The average person with average intelligence knows men and women are very different. That knowledge still hasn’t led to peace on earth. We still want to kill each other.
    The root cause of relationship problems is not gender difference. It’s selfishness, lack of empathy, bad communication and the fact that the average person walking the earth (whether male or female) is pretty much messed up.

    • LemmeRant

      November 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Well he makes money writing articles like this, so there’s that:

    • Loki

      November 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Well then, I guess money is a logical reason to do something illogical… He should carry on then.

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