A Day in the Life of a Man or a Woman: Can You Tell?

Are certain day-to-day things that people do more “manly” than others? Lisa Hickey thinks not. See if you agree.

Here are 16 things. Eight of them were done by men (real or imagined by me), and the other eight were done by me, a real-life woman. Can you tell the difference?

  1. Threw my hockey bag over my shoulder, dashed to the rink for a pick-up up game, skated defense and got checked against the boards first play.
  2. Went to a party given by a gay buddy of mine, barbecue, tons of wine, 53 men and 3 women. Felt awkward at first, but ended up talking with the guys about everything from someone’s landscaping business to jello shots to how much easier it is to come out as gay to your family and friends in the age of Facebook.
  3. Sent my high-tech car key through the wash for the second time because I forgot to take it out of my jeans pocket.
  4. Met my son and his girlfriend at a bar on Comm. Ave in Brighton, MA, ordered nachos, beer, margaritas, diet coke. Both of them had just gotten jobs in sales so we ended up talking selling strategy watching the hoops game on the big screen.
  5. Woke up, startled, from a sexual dream about someone I barely knew.
  6. Swore when I realized a stack of dress shirts was still at the dry cleaners, needed one for a meeting the next morning. Supposedly they are no-wrinkle but they never look right, even if ironed.
  7. Gave my long-haired daughter a small ponytail in the front so her bangs would stay out of her face.
  8. Went to the gym, and while doing the Nautilus circuit, was secretly pumped when the person before me was using weights lighter than me, sighed when they were using heavier ones and I had to move them down.
  9. Roughhoused with my kids, tackling and getting tackled, with lots of lifting and squeezing and tickling.
  10. Saw an elderly woman in a parking lot struggling to get her walker out of her car, so went over and helped her get it out.
  11. Lent a spare laptop to one of my kids to bring to college, she sends me a text that says, “Thanks a lot, nice surprise when I opened the laptop in class and see porn on there.”
  12. Took the dog for a 3-1/2 mile walk, just me, the dog, iphone and headphones.
  13. Fired up the grill in 28 degree weather to grill some chicken and shrimp, while my daughter made a Ceasar salad.
  14. Saw a woman I found sexually attractive and imagined what she’d look like naked, without giving any hint to her or anyone else that I was doing so.
  15. Went to Costco’s to get extra large paper towels, chicken breasts and breakfast cereal.
  16. Watched full seasons of “Deadliest Catch”, “Project Runway”, “Worst Cooks in America” and “Top Shot”


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About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.


  1. pillowinhell says:

    Lisa, can you explain to me what you mean by loving that you’re a woman? The fact that I’m a woman rarely makes it into my consciousness until someone points it out to me. Maybe its just privilege that I’ve never had to think about it, but I tend to view myself as gender neutral. At least that’s how it seems to me.

    Also, I came here hoping to find this essential maleness some people like to talk about, but I’m starting to think its a lost cause if I can’t identify with my femininity beyond the basic biology.

    • David Byron says:

      I assume you’re a straight woman so can you enlarge on “I tend to view myself as gender neutral”? You’re just not very traditionally “girly”? What sort of things make you ‘feel like a woman” if any?

  2. Funny.

    I was only able to come up with an answer for number 2 and I even got that one wrong.

    Not sure what that means.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hi Danny,

      I’m seeing the discussion around gender to be in three categories 1) biological 2) traits (personality, etc.) and 3) roles. While I had thought that the difference in male and female roles had disappeared long ago, I’m actually finding that not to be the case — that there are still a whole bunch of people who consciously or not consciously see a difference in male and female roles. But at the same time, I’m seeing a lot more talk about how biological differences are just a spectrum also.

      As I’ve said elsewhere, I like being a woman. Love it, in fact. It definitely is part of my identity. Not that I love men any less — there are many ways I love them more. So I enjoy the differences, while acknowledging the differences themselves might be both arbitrary and artificial.

      It fascinates me, and I’d love to get at it from a male POV — if guys like being a man as much as I like being a woman, while still loving and respecting the differences in the other sex. (or in those who *don’t* see gender as part of their identity.)

      • It fascinates me, and I’d love to get at it from a male POV — if guys like being a man as much as I like being a woman, while still loving and respecting the differences in the other sex. (or in those who *don’t* see gender as part of their identity.)
        I can say that I most certainly enjoy being a man while still loving and respecting the differences in women. But its not that I “don’t see gender” its just that I think people should be free pick and choose the parts of their gender as they see fit. That’s why I was unable to harbor any guesses at your quiz accept for the second question and that was only because I was recalling an actual similar experience from my life (where I was the only guy in a office of 15 women and with some of them I eventually was able to just move past the awkwardness and get to talking about all sorts of thing).

        But I also got that one question wrong, going to show that while cultural attitudes may influence which experiences are more likely to be lived by certain genders there really isn’t much exclusivity when it comes to gender and experience.

      • As a trans woman, I love being a woman, but it probably means different stuff from what you mean by that, Lisa.

        Someone on a forum elsewhere asked if female-assigned people (people that doctors declare female at birth) identify as female, or if it’s just something they don’t even question (ie they go by genitals, and that’s that).

        What would you reply?

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          I have only just started having the language to even talk about gender half-way intelligently. Someone said to me that the way I talk about gender sounds like “back in the 70’s” which is probably true. So I’ll do what I can to explain.

          I am not sure that it does mean something different to me than it does to you as a trans woman. That is, I think about the fact that I am a woman almost daily — and I get great joy out of that. I also really like the fact that people *can* change genders — how great is that, really! I like being a female enough so that I can actually see how uncomfortable it might be if I wasn’t clear that it was part of my identity.

          As I’ve talked to others, however, I’m not sure if I am typical. Because as much as I like being female, I am all for breaking stereotypical roles. But there is no disconnect for me from doing both. It’s in part what Danny says in his comment “people should be free to pick and choose the parts of their gender as they see fit.” I can do that AND still feel uniquely female.

          Does that make sense? Ask the question a different way if you don’t think I understood it correctly. It is quite fascinating to me.

          • I’m not sure if that’s typical either, but it sounds like my experience with my own gender, once I got into the correct one. It’s how I knew I had arrived, so to speak.

        • pillowinhell says:

          Schala, I’ve read articles that say children who are born with “ambiguous genitalia” were assigned a gender based on the presence of a uterus in the past. I’m not sure if this is still going on, but I wouldn’t be surprised it it were. With such a personal decision being made by others, with such an arbitrary guideline I’m sure that many of those children grew up thinking they were the opposite gender.

          Just to be clear, I put ambiguous genitalia in quotes because I think the ambiguous part comes more from the genitals not matching the ideal of what people think they should look like.

  3. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    Interesting, reminds me of some of the things Ursula Leguin wrote in her forward to The Left Hand of Darkness (which also happens to be the only good novel about gender). The Nerd (the first commenter) should probably give it a read, because it’s about a world where all the people are genderless (or rather, all genders in pontentia). It’s also fantastically well written and emotionally gripping.

    Regarding number 14 (imagining an attractive woman you see naked), this can actually be an excellent exercise for artists working on their anatomy, although of course a true artist is capable of finding beauty (or at least something of interest) in any human form, regardless of whether they’re conventionally attractive or not. I remember I used to sit on a bench in Boston Common and do this when I was having trouble drawing breasts (they would always come out to large and balloon-ish and make it look like I was drawing cheese cake shots when I wasn’t trying to).

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hey, thanks for the book suggestion, and yes, agree with your points on finding beauty. I try to be an artist of all sorts — what I like is to see things as they actually are but then find beauty in that. And I try to look as much as possible towards things that are not conventionally attractive.

      Funny to imagine you sitting in Boston Common drawing large and balloon-ish breasts but trying hard not to draw them that way.

      • pillowinhell says:

        I used to have the same problem drawing breasts! I just figured I’d spent too many hours reading comic books. Actually, come to think of it, there are a lot of very simple things that can be incredibly hard to draw. Our minds construct representations, which when put on paper are blatantly wrong. One of those things I often thought about, but then philosophy and art were always something of a blend to me.

  4. David Byron says:

    Damn that is not easy. Before I peek my answers….. to keep myself honest….
    1. L
    2. X
    3. X
    4. X
    5. L
    6. L
    7. L
    8. X
    9. L
    10. X
    11. X
    12. L
    13. L
    14. X
    15. L
    16. X

  5. Well can I add, “Digested 3hrs of multiple streams of media explicitly and overtly telling me that I am not representing my gender properly” to the list?

  6. Ah, the fundamental question of “but what is gender, anyway?” [not sex, gender] As a genderqueer person, I ask myself that a lot. I occasionally hear dreams of a world without gender, where people can just be people. So maybe, as a GQ person, I’m the future and have arrived before my time? Who knows? I yam what I yam.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Thanks for that. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized *how much* I’ve defined myself by my gender. I’m not sure if that’s bad or good — I’ve loved being a women. But I do sometimes wonder what being free of that would be like.

      • Me too. 😀 Ok, yes, it is freeing to be who I am and not who was told to be. But wow, gender is everywhere! Even I still define myself by my gender, though in a different way than when I was growing up. Kate Bornstein once said that all she had to do was find out where gender is, and then go to where it isn’t, but I have found that to be much easier said than done. But I’m glad you can love being a woman, and I hope everyone can love who they are. That’s why I like this blog: so much of it is about sharing those little ways we can help each other love ourselves.

      • I love this, because it illustrates that we’re all humans, and that masculinity and femininity are human qualities (and not necessarily inherent to either gender). I have spent a lot of time trying to distance myself from the gender binary (of course, while studying it at the same time, which rather reinforces a lot of the hegemonic discourses on masculinity and femininity) so each of the items on your list didn’t call to mind a person of either gender. For me these are just human things.

        And in terms of your comment about your relationship to femininity while striving to break through gender stereotypes – I have a similar relationship with gender, femininity, and my own identity. I do love being a woman, but I don’t perform hegemonic femininity; in fact, my friends and family often point out that I’m quite masculine in nature. And don’t wear make up, it takes me about five minutes to get ready and out the door in the mornings, and I often dominate conversations, but at the same time I love to wear dresses, I love my heeled boots, and occasionally I paint my fingernails. And I think problematizing gender stereotypes has brought how I identify in terms of my own gender into ever-clearer focus. 🙂

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