I have long been pained and confused by the love of gift giving, especially displayed by women. I loathe gift giving so much that it ruins almost every holiday. This is part of the reason I like Thanksgiving so much. Most of the women around me seem to love gift giving so much they never stop doing it. They’re thinking of gifts for people they’ve barely met, regardless of the time of year. I’ve always known why I hate gift giving, but I think I might have recently come to some insights as to why other people, especially women, might like it.
Part of it is obviously just liking shopping in general. I hate shopping, so I don’t want to do it for myself, let alone other people. This is not a hinderance for everyone. However, love of shopping doesn’t necessarily mean a love of gifting. Actually, a lot of the people in my family seem to not like shopping very much, unless it’s for gifts. Why?
I’ve always assumed the point of giving a gift is to get something the target will like. As soon as I realized this assumption, and circumvented it, I came up with my new hypothesis. I hypothesize it is because it is a socially acceptable way of acting on their judgments of a person, and “improving” the target. So, if someone has “bad” fashion sense, maybe a gift of a “super cute” handbag will help them build their outfits, or if their taste in movies is lacking perhaps a gift of a few of your favorites will open their mind to the cinematic gold you perceive. The ability to potentially fix the negative things in the world must feel so nice, and on top of that, you get to do it in such a way that the target thanks you.
Obviously, I don’t think women are the only people out there judging people. I do think women are less likely to just accept people and not try to fix them, and also more likely to prefer the indirect method of expressing ones judgements. Couple this with an increased love of shopping and my observations that women like gifting makes some sense.
An alternate explanation is that gifting is a form of evidence that you and the target really are friends, kinda like a validation. If this hypothesis is true, and the observation that women like gifting more than men, then they would suggest that women require more validation than men, or that the whole effect is attributable to female love of shopping.
As is my custom with topics involving humans, I suspect this issue is complex, and likely a combination of the hypothesises above, and some not concidered. I’m also prepared to believe that the gender shopping discrepency can account for most of the percieved gifting discrepency in the general population. However, I think the first hypothesis, the one about fixing people, makes quite a bit of sense. Maybe, if I keep that in mind, I can get through another Christmas.