Is there a superior sex? | Sunday Observer

Is there a superior sex?

A Martian landing on earth for the first time may easily form an opinion that the larger male of our species is biologically superior to the female. But after a closer inspection, he would find that biological advantages and disadvantages are more or less equally distributed between the sexes.

Any professional scientist will vouch for the opinion that the Martian is absolutely right. But that isn’t what happens in the modern world.

All our lives, teachers, religious leaders and even our parents tell us that men are stronger than women. Men are rewarded for athletic prowess, where muscular women are mocked at; men and women compete in sports separately; and casual conversations about gender equality inevitably take a loop through “but men are stronger” territory.

The battle   
For millennia it has been the dividing line in the battle of the sexes. Men are treated as superior to women, virtually in everything. They are regarded as, not only physically stronger, but smarter, better suited for leadership, and overall deserving of better treatment than women. Just look at the gender make-up of senior leaders if you need evidence.

Men joke that women cannot parallel-park, and women say men have the emotional intelligence of a plank of wood... and so it goes on.

And no wonder! On average, males are 6 inches taller than females and have twice the upper-body strength, as well as denser bones, stronger tendons and greater muscle mass. Wonder Woman may have taken Cinema and TV screens by storm, but it’s always Superman, with his rippling abs and bulging biceps, who saves the damsel in distress.

However, this could be about to change. A growing body of scientific study suggests that women are, in fact, stronger than, or are equally strong as men.

Look at these facts:

(1) Men are physically stronger than women, who have, on an average, less total muscle mass, both, in absolute terms and relative to the total body mass. The greater muscle mass of men is the result of testosterone-induced muscular hypertrophy.

But, women produce more antibodies and at a quicker pace than men, and have more white blood cells. For these reasons, they develop fewer infectious diseases and succumb to shorter periods.

(2) Men have a greater cardiovascular reserve, with larger hearts, greater lung volume per body mass, a higher red blood cell count, and higher haemoglobin. They also have higher circulating clotting factors, which lead to faster healing of wounds.

But, women have lower blood pressure than men, and, are less likely to suffer from potentially deadly cardiovascular diseases.

(3) Men are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress.

But, women are less likely to suffer from mental disorders, antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy, and developmental psychiatric disorders such as, autism spectrum disorders.

(4) Men are capable of fathering children into old age, whereas the fertility of women ends with the menopause. You may have heard the legend of Moulay Ismail, Sharifian Emperor of Morocco (1672 - 1727) alleged to have sired 888 children. Of course, he had a harem of more than 500 women.

But, women can actually give birth. By virtue of carrying two X chromosomes, they are also much less likely to suffer from X-linked recessive disorders such as, colour blindness, haemophilia, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

(5). Men are taller than women, by an average of about 15cm or 6 inches. But, women live longer than men, most likely because they engage in fewer life threatening habits and activities.

Let’s now look at the male and female brains.

(1) The male brain is highly specialized, using specific parts of one hemisphere or the other to accomplish specific tasks. But, the female brain is more diffused and utilizes significant portions of both hemispheres for a variety of tasks.

(2) Men are able to focus on narrow issues and block out unrelated information and distractions. But, women naturally see everyday things from a broader, ‘big-picture’ vantage point.

(3) Men can focus their brains on specific tasks or activities for long periods of time without tiring. But, women are better equipped to divide their attention among multiple activities or tasks.

(4) Men are able to separate information, stimulus, emotions, relationships, etc. into separate compartments in their brains. But, women tend to link everything together.

(5) Men see individual issues with parts of their brain. But, women look at the holistic or multiple issues with their whole brain (both hemispheres).

(These are the findings of a team of medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to the study of male and female differences).

To end this piece, all those male worshippers, take note:

According to IQ expert James Flynn, who has written a book about IQ and gender, women have closed the IQ gap and are in fact scoring higher than men.

There are many possible reasons that women finally surpassed men in IQ after a century of falling behind.

One theory is that women have always been capable of scoring higher, but, because of discriminatory gender socializing, never realized their own potential. Gender-based differences in education, upbringing and social roles have historically set the bar lower for women.

Now, if only women could close in on that pesky wage gap, we may reach the full gender equality.

Any woman is an expert in multi-tasking. She can juggle with cooking the meals, ironing uniforms, helping with the kids’ homework, and paying the bills online while her other half does his bit by taking the bins out.

Employers take note. Having women in the boardroom is good for business. A study found women make better bosses because they are fairer, have better scruples and are more likely to make decisions that benefit everyone – from shareholders to staff.

The research for the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics also found that female-influenced companies are generally more successful than those dominated by men. Whatever the pluses and minuses, men and women belong together, making them complimentary and necessary to one another. It is not a competition.