Recently, I received a (meant to be humorous) email that explained why life is simpler for men than for women. “Our last name always stays the same; the garage is mostly all ours; mechanics tell us the truth; we get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness; our underwear is only $8.85 for a three-pack; we can play with toys all our lives,” and, finally: “We do the same work but get more pay.” The last zinger struck a dissonant chord.
I know that, even though things have been getting better over time for women, equal rights and equal pay is a glass ceiling that has not yet been broken. After all, it has been less than 100 years since women have had the right to vote; the gender wage gap continues; violence against women persists; and poverty and homelessness is worse for women, especially single mothers. Plain and simple: unfair discrimination toward women persists.
Because of these injustices, there has been some societal rejection of discussion about the differences between the sexes as politically incorrect. I get that, because, despite some improvements in societal equality, there remains perpetrated bigotry against those who some consider “different” (be it because of their sexual orientation, sexual identity, or race). However, from a medical standpoint, there are important and real dissimilarities between women and men which are solely based on physiology, like hormonal differences that influences behavior and size.
For example: in a study applying topical testosterone to half of a large group of normal men, the men with increased testosterone were less willing to check themselves for mistakes and appeared over-confident. This could explain why men, who naturally produce more testosterone than women, are sometimes more reluctant to admit when a problem becomes obvious and less willing to seek help or ask for directions. Another example: the average U.S. adult man weighs 196 pounds and is 5 feet 9 inches tall while the average adult woman weighs 168 and is just under 5 feet 4. (Incidentally, average U.S. people weigh about 30 pounds more than they did 50 years ago.)
Recognizing the physical differences between the sexes should not mean either sex is inferior. We should combat unjust inequalities while embracing what makes us unique.
Understanding the biological differences between the sexes should simply allow us to find treatment for medical and behavioral problems and to best love and support each other.
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