Is somebody going to hurt us? We draw back. The present study investigates using behavioral measures the interplay between imitative and complementary actions activated while observing female/male hands performing different actions. Female and male participants were required to discriminate the gender of biologically and artificially colored hands that displayed both individual (grasping) and social (giving and punching) actions. Biological hands evoked automatic imitation, while hands of different gender activated complementary mechanisms. Furthermore, responses reflected gender stereotypes: giving actions were more associated to females, punching actions to males. Results have implications for studies on social stereotyping, and for research on action observation, showing that the mirror neuron system resonates in both an imitative and complementary fashion.