It seems cliché, but every man I’ve ever known has broken dishes, glassware, and the occasional vase. That isn’t to say they were clumsy exactly; nor were they the proverbial bull in a china shop.
Naturally, I’ve also had my hand in the inadvertent destruction of porcelain and crystal, not to mention spills that stain upholstery or rugs. But the frequency of my fragile object casualties represents a fraction of the occurrences among my male friends.
For one, there is a system to loading the dishwasher to prevent chipping and rubbing. (Gentlemen, take note.)
Secondly, it’s a matter of paying attention.
(We should all take note. Accidents happen when we don’t pay attention.)
But this is not, best I can tell, the result of being careless. Perhaps something else may be taking place.
Are Men Clumsier Than Women?
Might men actually be clumsier than women? What causes clumsiness? Do we grow out of it – or possibly into it? Are women more prone to falling but men to accidents – in the workplace, for example? Is this just so much myth and assumption?
I searched, and found a variety of opinions on the above.
Personally, the taller my heels the more likely I am to topple. (This is why I don’t do 5″ stilettos; 4″ is my max.) And as we grow older and balance may be slightly less on target, couldn’t we be more clumsy then?
As for the bull in the china shop something else entirely – a sort of perceived if not actual “misfit” relative to one’s surroundings?
Professor of Psychology Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, writing at Psychology Today, seems to equate clumsiness with being accident-prone, and that tendency with a variety of potential causes including chronic inattentiveness. She writes of “cognitive failures” and of course, stress is also referenced.
Fatigue, Distraction, the Cost of Clumsy
As my own mental capacities are feeling strained today (it is, after all, Saturday), I hope I won’t be more likely to acquire a collection of bumps, bruises and scrapes, which is more typically my fate when I’m sleep deprived or distracted.
Still, this doesn’t explain the high breakage of dishware (relatively speaking), which I contend skews slightly higher to the male of the species.
Is it lack of care about the objects at hand? Annoyance at having to unload the dishwasher when World Cup games offer an alternative?
Psych Central offers a view into the clumsy child, as well as parental worries and approaches to remedy the situation. (Let’s face it. Some of us are more klutzy in childhood than others. Even then, are we wandering with our heads in the clouds? Is there something more going on?)
Noting that educators and psychologists are paying more attention to what may be taking place, they note:
… Being a klutz has increasingly profound social and even academic implications as a child passes through elementary school and into adolescence. It interferes with social relationships and often decreases preadolescents’ self-esteem, especially among boys.
Have you ever broken bread with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, and when you extend your hand to shake you feel as if your fingers are being crushed? Are they likely to break objects more easily, not to mention a few digits? Ouch! I’m all for a firm and hardy hello, but could it be that these gentlemen truly don’t know their own strength?
I find this to be an interesting metaphor for strength in general. We may possess more of it than we know, there are times we seem to be oblivious to its intensity, occasionally it may seem brutish in terms of force.
Are we well served to consider the material we are dealing with – be it an object or a person that may be more fragile than we think?
As for the bull in the china shop, to me this always seemed a self-perception problem, a lack of awareness of one’s actual dimensions, which is especially acute in a small space in which slight movements may be required in order to maneuver.
This still doesn’t answer my breakage question. But for a Saturday musing, I am nonetheless pleased as I conclude that human variability adds a certain spice to our dealings with each other. And what are a few smashes stems among friends?
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