“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” This is the famous lament of Professor Henry Higgins in the movie, My Fair Lady. Thoroughly discouraged by his inability to understand women, Professor Higgins sings this tongue-in-cheek melody about how the world might be a better place if women became more like men. Yesterday’s humor but today’s reality. Increasingly powerful segments of society today seem bent on eliminating discussions about or references to gender differences in the name of equal or fair treatment. They proclaim that gender is a matter of internal preference, not external reality. Indeed, some scientists have asserted that change is a fundamental feature of gender. Because of assertions like these, a person’s “internal sense of gender” is often becoming a key factor in gender determination.
Those who buy into the “dynamic systems” approach to gender identity hope to be able to use these ideas to rectify unfair treatment on the basis of gender – which has been an important historical problem. However, by trying to assert that gender is a matter of personal preference these scholars are in complete conflict with the numerous studies which clearly delineate the scientific dissimilarities between men and women. Men and women are not the same. Indeed, gender is difficult to disguise. This is not only because of the obvious physical differences between men and women associated with pregnancy, reproduction and lactation but also because of other less-obvious differences:
Male musculature is more highly developed than female muscle systems. The average man is about 50% stronger than the average woman. The skeletons of women are generally lighter and smoother than those of men.
Because woman’s blood contains 20% fewer red blood cells than men’s blood, woman tire more easily and are more prone to fainting. However, for perhaps the same reason women generally outlive men by five to ten years.
There are many differences between male and female brains. Men’s brains are larger and have more connections within hemispheres (suggesting greater symmetry between perception and action), while female brains have more gray (computational) matter and more connections between right and left hemispheres (suggesting that their brains are wired more for socialization and memory).
These are only a few of the numerous findings on variations between men and women. Women and men are different. Science proves this. Ruben Gur, an author of one of the most recent and highly acclaimed studies of male and female brains pointed out, “It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of men and women really are.” The idea of complementary as opposed to identical seems to best sum up how gender equality can be best achieved.
Perhaps instead of seeking to become more and more alike, men and women should seek to develop a more united and complementary relationship – appreciating, respecting and even enjoying the gender distinctions that can in tandem produce better families, better societies, and a better world. Indeed, in a society where gender differences were respected and appreciated, we might ask “Why would a woman want to be more like a man?”