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don't take your caveman shopping
leave the hunter at home
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)

Men and women are different.

If you didn't figure that out playing "Doctor" in the first grade, then hopefully you have established some kind of understanding in the years since. Beyond the physical differences that make dating, mating and relating so damn interesting are the psychological and genetic characteristics that drive us nuts when dealing with the opposite sex. We love them, but we hate them.

One of the most obvious is shopping. Women love to shop, in general. Some feminists or 'unique snowflake' women hate when I generalize, but frankly, I'm not writing for them. They can get over it. I'm telling you General Rule #7: Women LOVE to Shop. For future reference, General Rule #32 is Women Love to Tell You How Much of a "Deal" They Got. (As a side note, I got a gooorgeous pair of Nine West sandals at Marshalls for $15, and they're *so* comfortable. Just thought you should know.)

It's literally programmed into our DNA. (Not the part about telling you how I paid so little for such faaaabulous shoes, though I'd be willing to put money on there being a genetic marker for that, too.) I don't know what your particular belief system tells you about the evolution of our species, but it's generally accepted that we are descended from Hunter-Gatherer tribes.

Way back in Adam and Eve's days (depending on which books you're getting your facts from), the lifestyle went something like this: Dudes went out and hunted down some delicious, juicy antelope or mastodon for dinner while the chicks went shopping. There's no grocery stores, obviously, but these women were out to get the deals all the same. It was important in the days before Immodium and Benadryl were invented to find the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and plants that wouldn't kill you on ingestion or leave you so badly dehydrated you were nothing more than human-flavoured jerky left behind by the group for some sabre-tooth tiger to find.

To facilitate this, women developed peripheral vision. The men hunting large groups of four-legged animals needed peripheral vision to catch movements not directly in front of him - movements that might indicate an easier target or a larger predator sneaking up on THEM. Women developed peripheral vision in order to be able to see more variety. To let it all 'soak in' you might say. "I can't get distracted by trying to get every tough little nugget this dingleberry bush has to offer, even though it's totes great," she might say, "because I spy with my little eye a bush that seems to be full of those juicy red things that taste good and can maybe dye my new loincloth."

Half of the human species - the half that can somehow transfer hair growth from the head to the back - spends his days stalking, hunting and killing one animal in order to utilize the necessary parts as well as provide food. The gentler, fairer half - the half that started devising ways for her husband to differentiate between herself and her sister by creating combs made from bone and cosmetics made of parts of animals and plants we'd rather not know about - started spending more time noticing, looking for and actively gathering a variety of collected items.

It worked out well. So far.

But here we are in 2011. Roles have changed. There's Single Parent Households, there Dating, there's Gender Bending, there's Mall of America and Mimi's Millinery (a boutique dedicated to the art of the hat - it's so exclusive it's only open once a week and only then for a few hours) and Dick's Sporting Goods and Costco. Yet through these seismic changes - from hand-to-mouth subsistence foraging we have come to be a society of money (and glut) - we still maintain our base genetics.

If you watch a woman shop, she moves much in the way of her ancestors: picking the best of one 'bush' (rack full of clothes) before making her way to the second rack, picking the best and moving on. All the while, she practically has her ears twitching for any new sounds of 'Oooh, that rack over there had just my size perfect pants!' and has her eyes constantly moving, roving over each bush she may come to next, judging which one will give up a greater yield. A yield which she then either purchases outright or spends hours in the dressing room agonizing over.

If you watch a man shop, he also moves much in the same way as his ancestors: He has in mind what he wants. He moves directly toward the last location in which it was spotted or where it might logically be found. He reviews his attack options. He reaches out...and he Kills The Sweater. Once he has made a decision, he takes his booty directly to the tills and checks out. This man's shopping is done.

Meanwhile, the woman is still trying to decide between two of the exact same dress. "This is an 8, so it's a little more comfortable and loose fitting. This one is a six and makes my boobs look really good. And the shoes I get to go with it are totally going to be based on *How* I wear the dress. And what toenail polish would look best with my skin tone and this dress....." Etc. Ad nauseum.

And so, dear Hunter Gatherers, I offer you this. If you want your relationship to be happy, you need to understand a few truths:

1. Men don't like to guess. Tell them the information they need to get the goal accomplished. Keep it Simple. This goes double for anyone wanting a thoughtful-gift-picking-out kind of guy. Just tell him what you want.

2. Men are never going to enjoy these all-day shopping trips women seem to love.

3. Men would probably rather spend all day 'hunting' a small white ball that he 'kills' and subsequently hits away from him and starts to 'hunt' all over again than dig through the seemingly endless, mind-numbing plethora of colours, textures, shapes and styles offered within the first forty feet inside a shopping mall.

4. Most importantly, to make sure you both stay happy and that you stay together - Don't Take Your Caveman Shopping!


Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.

more about maigen thomas


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