I noticed something interesting at my recent academic conference — by and large (although there are a few exceptions), women recognized me more quickly and embraced me more warmly and engaged me more deeply than men. If a man took 10 seconds for his brain to reboot and then was tentative and distant in the minutes after that reboot, women rebooted in 3-5 seconds and showed virtually no hesitation to talk about friends, the conference, or my presentation. I think they must feel a certain need, perhaps a hallmark of feminine culture, to compliment my presentation, and those comments were very much welcome.
I’m going to need to spend more time thinking about this, but it occurs to me that women have generally responded to me throughout this past year quite a bit differently from men. It may be as simple as a sense that someone has “left one side to go to the other,” and thus needs to be welcomed (for the women) and puzzled over (for the men). But it’s probably a lot more complex than that.
I suppose it’s not surprising that a major life change that involves sex and gender will engage sexed and gendered people in ways that class, race, and education (for example) might not.
As I process this question, I would certainly appreciate your observations, dear readers.