We shouldn’t lie to the young, and allour fiction and most of our movies lieabout what women can and can’t do.
The Difference Between Men and Women – Variations on a Theme
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Sorry that I didn’t put up a post yesterday, but we were installing a kitchen isle to add to the counter space downstairs.
It was sort of a lesson in the differences between men and women.
Myself and accomplice, neither of us fainting maidens, first went to the cabinet store, and found that cabinets we could barely move with much effort between the two of us were hefted around effortlessly by teenage employee who probably weighed all of 90 lbs and therefore less than either of us, and had arms like boiled spaghetti, but who had the blessings of testosterone making him much stronger than either of us.
I first ran into this with younger son, who at fourteen looked like a twig which I could have broken over my knee (he’d just grown two feet over the previous year, going from a foot shorter than I to a foot taller. This was also the year in which I was unreasonable and would turn around when he came in the room and say “shower, now” even though he’d already showered twice that day. I.e. to quote our old neighbor “that poor boy is being beaten with a stick made of testosterone. Mothers of boys will get it. At least mothers of boys who went through growth spurt from hell.) We went to the store to get cement to repair a crack in a garden path. The bags were 100 lbs. I tried to lift it and (partly because it was at foot-level and was an awkward floppy bulk) just couldn’t budge it.
Younger son gave the theatrical teenage sigh, reached past me, grabbed the bag and threw it into our shopping cart, leaving me open-mouthed in surprise.
So every time 90 lb girl beats a 300 lb trained fighter on TV remember that. And for the love of heaven explain to your daughters that it’s play fantasy. The daughter of old friends of ours has fallen for this hook line and sinker and was telling older son she could beat him. Older son actually has muscles (he was the one who helped me renovate two Victorians from the ground up and build two balconies. He also does all the sawing by hand.) He’s six one but projects taller. He also happens to be built like a brick ****house, as the men on my side of the family are. (As a little girl I keep insisting my cousins were wardrobes. If you think of the old fashioned wardrobe, seven feet tall and six feet wide, that’s the impression they projected.) That poor girl is five five and skinny for her height. She couldn’t even push older son back if he decided to stand still. She MIGHT be able to fend him off long enough to run away, if she fought like a cornered cat and gouged eyes and bit (I’ve done something like that in similar circumstances, but there’s a reason I’m never without a weapon.) but that’s about it.
Watching her brag to my least excitable, very patient son who just sighed and didn’t even bother contradicting her, I thought how lucky she was in her choice of male to annoy. But if she keeps it up, sooner or later her luck will run out.
We shouldn’t lie to the young, and all our fiction and most of our movies lie about what women can and can’t do, all in the name of “there is no difference between men and women.” (“Except men are defective women” is implied.)
Look, when I was young and in shape I might have been able to match that radically deconditioned store clerk. It would have taken effort but I might be able to. I’m 55. My accomplice is 28. Neither of us lifts weights (the guy doesn’t either) so not a hope.
Sure, some women can be stronger than some men, but that’s not the way to bet.There is a reason from time immemorial men and women don’t compete on the same teams. It’s okay, if they’re all pre-adolescents, but after that there’s not a hope.
In the same way when time came to make the installation permanent, we had to go get husband from his tax-work to come and help, because neither of us could visualize in three dimensions.
Now I KNOW that’s not all females. I know females who are engineers and artists and can “see” the back of an object in their minds. But that’s one of the few things (that and the propensity to find writing characters easier than writing plot) in which I’m wholly feminine, and alas, so is accomplice. Without husband (who was grouchy at being rousted from his numbers) the poor isle would obviously be made of three separate elements, each pointing in a different direction, poor things.
Again, it’s not all females. But it’s a majority of them. One of the things we consistently find across all cultures and types of tests is that men are better with spacial relationships and women are better with language. This is most obvious at a very early age.
Sure, you can train the visual/spacial side of your brain. I started out near abnormally low, mostly because I think that’s the part of my brain that got affected by being premature. At least my coordination was messy too. I also suspect—there was no one around to diagnose it—that I had central processing disorder as a child. Younger son did, and his problems were the ones I had till about 14, the ones paternal grandfather had (which caused his family to take him out of school and apprentice him as a carpenter), the ones oldest uncle had, and a more severe version of the ones my brother had (which finally caused him to write all in print, because even he couldn’t read his own handwriting.)
I am much better since I took up art and particularly DAZ 3D. But the ease with which husband handles spacial and visual stuff makes me sigh. The ease with which sons handle it too.
At the same time, this morning female accomplice and I were remarking on how hard it is for them to explain themselves, to the point we sometimes laugh because it sounds so silly.
She said they probably find us silly too. I’ll be honest, this type of “merry war” between men and women is how I grew up.
In my earliest years, mom and grandmother would sigh and mutter over how “men are like children.” Mostly when dad plowed into the kitchen right after it had been mopped without even noticing, and left muddy footprints throughout. Or when grandad would upend an entire sinkful of dishes, removing the ones that were soaking from their place and mixing dirty and clean in search of his favorite coffee mug.
And I heard dad and grandad laugh at the women in the family (sometimes also mildly exasperated laugh) when they upset the men’s long range planning or ideas, or just refused to acknowledge the sovereign importance of knowing soccer statistics.
Men and women are different.
If men and women weren’t different, what would be the point of transexuality, or transition, or any of that. If it’s all the same… Well, I guess that’s when people decide they’re a different gender every day. Never mind.
Men and women are different. Impossible not to be when our hormones, and the separate pressures of selection have molded us so.
On the other hand no one is exactly what it says on the can. Sure, I can’t visualize the relationship of three objects on a plane without physically wrestling them into position. When we were young and moved more, I had 3-d paper models of all our furniture, which I’d place in the plan of any prospective apartment or house. (And then sometimes missed the obvious, which is why we once stayed up till four in the morning, maneuvering an 8 foot sofa past two doorways placed at the worst possible angle.) Other women can. Sure most women aren’t as strong as most men. Some women are. But with my being utterly feminine in those two things, I still like playing with power tools (husband is sure I’m going to take out my typing fingers.) I don’t mind getting dirty and sweaty and in fact rather enjoy heavy, violent work.
When younger son was young, he was once heard to lament that mom refinished pianos and daddy played them and “I want to have a normal family.”
This is okay for pre-teens, who are looking at models and trying to figure out where they fit. But adults who insist if you aren’t exactly what THEIR image of a woman or a man is you must be “gender fluid” or whatever is just zany.
Men and women as two vast groups are different, on the average. But any individual woman is not the archetypal “woman” either.
We are individuals first. And if women find it difficult to understand men sometimes, and find it much easier to talk to other women… well, that makes sense. Women’s experiences are often at least somewhat similar. Those of us who are odd in particular often share the experience of not being a particularly gregarious woman in a sex that—mostly—runs to liking groups.
And that’s okay.
This morning female accomplice and I agreed that all men are zany and it’s a good thing we love them. We’re fairly sure they think we’re zany too. And it’s a good thing they like us.
Believing men are “defective women” and women are ideal humans is as crazy as the opposite. All it does is destroy society. And men and women with it.
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