Why men and women see differently

I spied them through the streaming throngs of shoppers at the farmers’ market.

“C’mon, guys,” I said, grabbing my youngest’s hand and leading my kids away from the cheese stall toward a larger, produce-filled one.

“Are those cloud berries?” I asked the farmer who stood offering samples of his crops.

“You know what cloud berries are? Must be Swedish.”

I laughed. I do and I am, I told him.

I was, however, wrong about the berries. They were not cloud berries (not even that master farmer can get them to grow in non-arctic soil), but orangey currants instead. Still, the farmer told me, he was impressed with my keen berry eyes. As was I.

Perhaps neither of us should have been that impressed, though. According to a new study led by Israel Abramov, a psychology professor from Brooklyn College, men and women see differently. And, as a woman, spotting berries is among the things my female eyes were made to do.

“Females are better at discriminating among colors,” according to National Geographic, “while males excel at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning detail from a distance - evolutionary adaptations possibly linked to our hunter-gatherer past.”

All this is to say that the study thinks my ability to spot berries from across a farmers’ market is evolution at work, something that made my prehistoric sisters’ berry-picking role easier.

Now, normally, this sort of talk makes me nervous. Rebellious, even. Normally whenever I’m told what I should be or do because of my gender or heritage or education or location, my immediate instinct is to prove them wrong, to bust out of whatever box I feel tightening around me.

But my reaction to this study was quite different. The idea that we see the world differently - whether because of gender or because of experience or quality of eye sight or because of opinions or knowledge or whatever - gets me pretty excited. Especially when there are hints that God created us or allowed us to evolve to see things differently. Although, I confess: I’m not really as interested in how well women see berries or men chase prey as I am in how we see issues and how we see God Himself at work in this world.

Especially as we sit knee-deep in election season - when we sift through politically charged Facebook statuses and take digs in casual conversation - it’s wonderful to imagine that it really is true that some of us vote one way, and some another, not because we’re smart or stupid or ill-informed. Maybe - just maybe - we vote differently because God made us to see issues and solutions differently. Not because one is wrong or right or good or bad, but because we are simply different.

Same goes with how we see God in the macro - or doctrine in the micro. It’s wonderful to be able to believe that just as God allowed our physical vision to evolve depending on our gender roles during a time period, so might He have allowed our views to evolve, so might He have gifted us with different vision, different ideas, different opinions. Things that make this world richer and lives more interesting, if we see them in that light.

What Do You Think?

  • What affects how you see things, both physically and intellectually?
  • How open is the Christian community to differing perspectives? How open should it be?


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I read recently about women having better peripheral vision than men and a better ability to track activity around them. When I read this, with my 1 year-old climbing on a chair to get to something intentionally put out of her reach, my 3 year-old spinning in circles, and my 7 year-old asking for help finding a lost item, I realized that the species would not have survived without someone who could keep up with the 3 ring circus of family life-especially in primitive days.

Spotting berries first not only means better chances of reaping food, it also means lower chances of accidental poisoning by less informed members of the party. I can picture some cave-mom yelling “Get away from those berries NOW!”

“Maybe - just maybe - we vote differently because God made us to see issues and solutions differently. Not because one is wrong or right or good or bad, but because we are simply different.” Great explanation for why we should not demonize those who see political issues differently. There are some things that we can rightly consider beyond the pale, of course, such as trading in our Bill of Rights for a repressive totalitarian manifesto. Too many people treat minor differences as if they were on that level.

I think the same thing goes for doctrinal issues, Caryn. There’s no way we can engage in meaningful fellowship with those who deny God’s existence, for example, but there are a number of minor issues that are not only tolerable but not worth debating really. Paul said as much in Romans 14:5, didn’t he? “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”

Great job getting us thinking on this, Caryn.


I wonder when it became acceptable for evangelical Christians to speak of Evolution as if the theory were in fact a fact, a piece of proven science as Richard Dawkins (for example) would have us all believe. I personally do not believe that we evolved from cavemen and -women, nor do I know of any evidence whatsoever to the contrary, whether in the Bible or other ancient texts or in any recent scientific endeavours.It sometimes seems as if some Christians are scared of being called “fundamentalists” or “extremists” or whatever else worldly people might throw at us.
Yes, we do not have to believe in something just because some atheists do. The whole point is that we are different from them, have something utterly different to offer, something Eternal, and there is no need for us to pander to their desperate attempts to explain the universe without reference to God - which is what I take the Theory of Evolution to be.

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