Why Do Men Sit On The Left And Women Sit On The Right?

This is no joke. Sorry if you thought I was going to double you up with laughter. No, today I’m talking stereotyping! I thought it a thing of the past, but it seems it’s as evident today as it has always been.

Take, for example, Television. Have you ever noticed that during a pub scene on a TV show the men seem to be always drinking pints or bottles of beer while women are drinking glasses of wine or a gin/vodka tonic? How often have you seen a man in a pub scene drinking a glass of wine and a woman drinking a beer? Some may say it’s down to taste, but surely not all the men in Coronation Street only drink beer while the women always order a glass of wine? I’ll give it to Emmerdale (another UK soap-opera), as I have seen at least one female character (the vicar!) drinking a pint of beer. It’s refreshing to see but I’ve yet to see any of the men walk in and ask for a gin and tonic! It’s always “pint please, Chas.”

Let’s turn our attention to the news. I know a lot of people don’t watch the news on TV because it’s always depressing, but take ‘Breakfast’, the BBC early morning news programme. Why does the man always sit on the left of the screen and his copresenter, a woman, always sit on the right? Is it some kind of power struggle? Why can’t they occasionally swap positions?

Charlie State and Naga Munchetty
Charlie State and Naga Munchetty, Presenters of BBC’s Breakfast – He always sits on the left while she always sits on the right.

Which leads me on to why does it always have to be a man and a woman when two people read the news on TV? ‘Breakfast’ does occasionally have two women presenting the show, but I’ve never seen them have two men present the show. Why? Is it not acceptable to have two men present the news together? And it’s exactly the same over on ITV. The man sits on the left of the screen while the woman always sits on the right of the screen. Have you ever noticed that on many news programmes the male presenter always seems to be a lot older (not you Charlie) than the woman presenter? Very rarely is it the other way around. Is there a reason for that?

Let’s move on to driving. Yesterday, while waiting to cross the road, I counted the number of cars that drove past where there was a man and woman sat in the front of the vehicle. Would you be surprised if I told you that in just about all of the cars, it was the man who was driving? I’ve seen it when on holiday as well. The majority of the time it’s the man that drives a hire vehicle while the woman sits in the front passenger seat.

It happens in our family all of the time. We go and collect my sister-in-law and her husband and I can guarantee that my sister-in-law will sit in the back of the car while her husband will sit in the front passenger seat. Same goes for my niece and her boyfriend. When they come down to visit us, it’s always him that does the driving regardless of whose car they are using. Take two couples going off on a car journey together. Why do the men always sit together in the front while the two women sit in the back of the car?

London 2012 Olympic Games
Celebrating at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sport also suffers from stereotyping. I was delighted to hear, today, that Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow won an Olympic bronze medal in the synchronised 10m platform diving. On TV, ‘Breakfast’ mentioned it all morning and the interview with Daley and Goodfellow was aired far too many times. They even interviewed a friend of Daley and Goodfellow who talked the audience through the last dive more times than I care to remember. However, where was Clare Balding and Co when Ed Ling won an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s trap shooting for Great Britain? Was he not worthy of an interview Ms Balding? And why, unlike Daley and Goodfellow, did he only get a few seconds of a mention on ‘Breakfast’? Ed, if you’re reading this then, unlike the BBC, I’d be delighted to interview you and celebrate the fact that you won an Olympic bronze medal.

British Flag - The Union Jack
Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Finally, let’s turn back to drink (must we? yes!) How many of you ladies enjoy drinking whisky? Does anybody out there consider whisky is only a man’s drink? Why am I asking these questions? It’s something that recently came up in conversation.

It seems I’m as guilty as most others at stereotyping. Reading through this post, why did I put an exclamation mark after the word vicar? Do vicars not drink alcohol?

Do you have any examples of stereotyping in today’s world? Does it bother you or is it something we just take for granted?

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123 thoughts on “Why Do Men Sit On The Left And Women Sit On The Right?

  1. Yes I have noticed left and right TV presenters. It’s weird. Driving? In London? Happy to defer to anyone! As for alcohol… I’ve been in some very stereotypical environments in my time – one guy actually offered to “get the drinks in” making reference to wine for the girls and beer for the boys. He almost fell off his chair when I asked for a glass of dry white wine.
    JP

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    1. I don’t blame you for letting somebody else do the driving in London. If I stuck to the routes I knew, then I was fine. If I was driving to somewhere for the first time then I was happy to sit back and not complain to my other half about his driving. (Not that I ever do of course 🤔)

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  2. Interesting observations there, Hugh; and lots of great comments. It is the same situation with the news and talk shows here in Australia. Funny I’d never thought to notice it before. I must admit that, as a right-hander, I carry my bag over my left shoulder and prefer to hold my husband’s hand in my right. It’s more comfortable that way. Also, you’ll mostly find him in the driver’s seat and me (asleep) in the passenger’s. He loves to drive and I do it only as a necessity. I guess we maintain the stereotype now that you’ve pointed it out, but I hadn’t thought about it before. Oh, and he only drinks beer in a bar, rarely anything else. I never drink beer. I used to enjoy a glass of whiskey sweetened with lemonade, but not for a very long time!

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    1. Thank you for joining the debate, Norah. I think you’ve proved me right in that a lot of stereotyping is invisible these days. We just never think about it, but it’s there right in front of us. I’ve loved the comments that this post has produced although we’ve yet to establish why our newscasters always sit in the same position regardless of who is reading the news. It looks as if we’ll never find out the answer (unless the BBC do decide to tell me the secret).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about the news before but you do have a point. And with the driving! My hubby always drives if we have a long journey but I tend to drive him back locally when we’re out with friends. Bit of give and take!

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  4. The problem is, stereotyping is how kids learn, because they build heuristics in their brain based on ‘generalisations’ were programmed to bloody stereotype. It’s horrendous really, but when you think about it, it’s makes sense in evolutionary terms.

    ‘Generally lions ate you. Generally red berries were poisonous!’

    But that doesn’t make it right.

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  5. Great points… You are so right as to how women and men are mostly placed that way on TV shows and news. Now, I’d Love to find an exception (at least one!)
    Funny and Clever post, Hugh. Thanks and have a Lovely day. Aquileana ✨

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    1. A few people mentioned about the sword thing. Hard to believe that as we men no longer have any need for a sword, that the seating position on the TV is still governed by it. However, yesterday on Breakfast for the first time I’ve seen, the presenters had switched positions. I wonder if somebody at the BBC read this post? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good observation Hugh. I’ve noticed the presenters take the lead from the male too. He will announce the headlines while she alternatively gives the time and highlights after him.
    I like whiskey, on occasion, and never drink beer in public lol! The Hubble likes me to drive, so we share road trips and the experience which is something most of the female members in our family refuse to do. They don’t drive on the motorway for some odd reason.

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  7. I’m not sure who sits where on our news shows but the younger woman and older man holds up with Sunrise a popular breakfast show here in Australia.
    My husband sits in the couch to the left at home in the corner while I have the couch closest to the corridoor but that’s from an access point of view and I do get up and down a lot more than him.
    One trend you haven’t mentioned is which side of the bed couples sleep on. We have an ensuite so I sleep nearest the bathroom while my husband sleeps near the door. I have mobility issues too which account for this but I have heard it’s a gender thing.
    My husband drives everywhere and mostly puts petrol in the car as well. I have no sense of direction and gender stereotype again, can’t read maps but refuse to use GPS in case it gets any worse.
    I barely drink and my husband drinks wine instead of beer.
    xx Rowena

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    1. Which side of the bed we sleep of was mentioned in some on the comments, Rowena, but I didn’t really want to go there. To be honest, it never crossed my mind, but it seems there could be a trend there as well.

      I think you’ve given very good reasons why you sit on the right, sleep near the bathroom, etc, but I’m still wondering why those newsreaders sit in the same place on every show. A couple of other items has also been brought up such as it’s always the man who leads, while the woman will announce the time, etc. Something I need to watch out for and see if true here in the UK.

      Thank you very much for reblogging this post. It’s certainly resulted in some very interesting comments about what I highlighted.

      Best wishes,
      Hugh 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you pretty much covered it. You could add paying bills in the restaurant or ordering wine with a meal… Usually it is the guy who is in charge (put in charge)…

    People are an interesting bunch…

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      1. Hahaha… I think the paying the bill is turning into a 50/50 thing but the ordering the wine is one of those things. I often observe women knowing exactly what they want but it’s still the man who orders…

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      2. I suppose it’s very much like going to the bar to order a drink? It always seems to be the man who will order. I once went to a restaurant where there were no prices on some of the menus. Can you guess who those menus were given to?

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  9. I’m a southern comfort/ American Honey Girl myself. I wish I could drink wine, looks far more refined, but alas wine only leaves me sober with a terrible migraine.

    As a shop girl I have lots of stereotypes, the top on being “ignorant” or “uneducated”. I hold a bachelors while I take enrichment courses at Stanford for fun in my spare time. I’m also thought of as young, selfish, and rebellious: I’ve been accused of all sorts of things even stealing a woman’s wallet right from behind the register. Many people assume I hate retail, but indeed I do I have a degree, if I wanted I could be somewhere else. So many stereotypes out there, I believe everyone suffers from them. I don’t judge them for it (well except the lady who accused me of stealing her wallet), aside from that I know I’m very terrible about classifying people and how I assume their beliefs and habits will play out.

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    1. I worked in retail for many years and totally understand what you are saying about how people judge shop assistants. I dealt with many a rude customer but always remembered a saying my Grandmother told me – “treat others how you would like them to treat you.” It was sometimes very tough but seemed to work.

      I agree with us all being stereotypes and that we all judge others. That’s why I referred to much of this being invisible stereotyping. Sometimes, we don’t realise we are doing it.

      Thank you very much for your comments about this subject. I’ve had such a diverse response to this post. It’s something I may write about again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I always thought my (women’s) positioning was due to convenience. I sleep to the left of my husband only because it is closer to the door and easier to tend to children in the night without waking him. Who drives comes down to who’s car we are taking. No one wants to fiddle with seat positions. Although, I would always prefer he drive because of the considerable nagging about speed and how fast corners are turned; too fast! Also if he is driving I’m free to again, tend to the children. I have been shifted away from the roadside on busy streets in his attempt to keep me safe though. The media is more mixed in the US, but not f/m equal, mind you. I have seen two men doing news shows. Also our sitcoms regularly have women ordering beers. Any woman would go broke ordering those froo froo drinks. 9$ for one drink when a beer is 3$; BEER PLEASE!

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    1. I’m so pleased to hear that there are places in the world who do have two men presenting the news together. I’ve never ever seen it (although I have often seen two women present the news), so it’s great to hear from you and for you to confirm that it is happening.
      Beer at $3? Wow! You got a bargain there. A beer in London, these days, is way over £5, but you’re right about it being less expensive than a glass of wine.
      Thanks so much for joining in this debate with your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have read about this before. The left hand position is considered the dominant position because that is the way our brain works and we read left to right. Be interesting to watch the news in say, Saudi Arabia, but my guess is that it is two men?

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