Brian Edwards Media

Women Are The Weaker Sex – Yeah Right!

Strongwoman by Jed Dougherty

 Browsing through some old papers I came across a piece I’d written some years ago about women being the weaker sex. It had been sparked by a fascinating article I’d read in The Weekend Australian about why men die younger than women. And we do – about eight years younger on average, which is a lot, and a problem not only for us men, but for our generally younger partners who find themselves widowed and alone in their late 50’s or early 60’s, with lots of living still to do. 

Why males die younger than females remains a mystery, though there is some evidence that men, and not women, are the true “weaker sex”. 

According to the article, baby boys spend more time in hospital than baby girls. They fall face-down in the bath and don’t get up more often than their little sisters.  They get burned more often than their sisters. Pre-school boys get  poisoned more often than pre-school girls. Teenage boys spend more time in hospital than teenage girls.  Adult males report more disabilities and handicaps than women and are admitted more often to hospital than their female counterparts. They have more heart-disease, more cancer and more strokes – more injuries, more shootings, more drownings, more road accidents.  

It’s a sorry picture. On any given day, a man is 60 percent more likely to die than a woman of the same age. Between 15 and 39, twice as likely. In his early twenties, three times as likely. 

So what are the reasons? Well, here are four of the commoner explanations:   

Work stress: Men have historically and traditionally made up the bulk of the work-force. They have been the hunters and gatherers, a physically more dangerous and emotionally more stressful role than raising kids and looking after the  home. Male mortality is higher in the employable years.  

Testosterone or macho posturing: Men put their lives at risk more often than women. They make war, engage in dangerous sports, drive too fast and do a lot of other stupid and life-threatening things. 

The same macho posturing – or possibly the fact that they are really wimps – prevents men from going to the doctor as often as women, and certainly as often as they should. 

Excess: Men do things to excess, including eating, drinking and screwing around. 

Repression: Men repress their emotions and have lost touch with their inner selves. Which is why there’s an industry out there offering to teach them how to get in touch again. 

I suspect there’s some truth in each of these theories, but are they enough to explain the hugely greater risk that the average man stands of dying on an average day, compared to the average woman of the same age on the same day? I don’t think so. 

My own theory is that women are constitutionally stronger than men. Nature has built them that way and for good reason – the preservation of the species. After all, the man’s role in procreation is somewhat less strenuous than the woman’s role. 

And women have always had the job not merely of giving birth to, but of rearing children. So it’s possible that in pre-historic times, when life was brutish and short, a genetic pattern emerged, which ensured that  primitive woman would live long enough to guarantee the survival of her offspring – say seven or eight years longer than her dispensable partner? 

Men’s constitutional inferiority to the so-called ‘weaker sex’ also appears in their everyday behaviour. Women endure, men complain. A sick man, as any woman will tell you, is a pathetic creature. He takes to his bed for days, whines endlessly about his discomfort, demands constant attention – usually in the form of endless snacks, cups of tea and magazines – and is convinced that his runny nose is a symptom of terminal cancer. 

Women swallow a couple of aspirin and, in the words of the old commercial, ‘soldier on’. 

Add to this constitutional superiority the male risk factors I described earlier, and the fact that men are, generally speaking, more competitive, more aggressive and more stupid than their female counterparts – testosterone again – and you may just be getting close to a reason why women, on average, outlive men by almost a decade. 

Maybe. But there is a simpler, more obvious and more persuasive explanation that seems to have escaped the attention of the sociologists and the medical researchers:  men have to live with women, women only have to live with men. That ought to be worth a decade at least.

23 Comments:

  1. I reckon it comes down to peeing while sitting down, which i’ve taken to doing on the regular.

    all that time i used to spend peeing standing up i can now relaxingly recoup in later life.

    • I reckon it comes down to peeing while sitting down, which i’ve taken to doing on the regular.

      Hmmm. The strain of standing to pee shortening our lives… interesting theory.

  2. “men have to live with women, women only have to live with men. ”

    Sorry… wot?

    • “men have to live with women, women only have to live with men. ” Sorry… wot?

      A generalisation, I admit. The next piece of research should include how long single men, married men, single women, married women, men and women in gay relationships live. I think my flippant final remark has already been shown to be incorrect. People in long term relationships apparently live longer than single people. But I’m willing to be corrected.

  3. That does it – I’m getting back in touch with my feminine side.

  4. We seem to consider longevity of life to be automatically of great value.These extra years without a partner may not be the advantage it is portrayed to be .

    • We seem to consider longevity of life to be automatically of great value.These extra years without a partner may not be the advantage it is portrayed to be .

      I agree that we place too much value on the quantity rather than the quality of life, sometimes neglecting one for the other. Still, it does seem a bit unfair that women get an extra 6-8 years on men.

  5. My father always reckoned that men died before their wives simply because they wanted to. Being married to my mother will do that to a man.

    • My father always reckoned that men died before their wives simply because they wanted to. Being married to my mother will do that to a man.

      Good thing you use an alias!

  6. I’m a metrosexual, happily married to a career-minded woman. I work as a caregiver at a rest home. Claris (my wife) is an investment banker for HSBC.

    After I finish the weekend housework, my wife and I usually head off to the Soul Bar and Bistro, down at the Auckland viaduct. For lunch, I order the vegetarian quiche with a side dish of alfalfa; Claris has the 10lb New York steak, cooked blue, with a large bowl of French Fries.
    We have two TVs in our home, because I like to watch Coro St and Dancing on Ice, and Desperate Housewives. Claris has different tastes to me: she likes to watch the Sky sports channel and CSI Miami.

    I look forward to the weekends, because it’s a time for me to wash our respective cars (which I always like to be in pristine condition). Claris drives a 2009 black (manual) BMW M5, and mine is a 1992 turquoise blue (auto) Renault Clio.

    We have a wonderful relationship. A marriage made in heaven. All is well in our lives, because we subscribe to the notion that our marriage is based on one of: mutual equality and respect. I see no good reason why Claris should outlive me.

    • We have a wonderful relationship. A marriage made in heaven. All is well in our lives, because we subscribe to the notion that our marriage is based on one of: mutual equality and respect. I see no good reason why Claris should outlive me.

      That’s a great comment. Thanks. However, though you see no reason… she probably will. On the other hand, the role reversal in your relationship could mean that she won’t.

  7. “Good thing you use an alias!”

    No alias, Brian, simply a contraction of an unwieldly name imposed by…you guessed it, de mammy. I’m safe enough, however, given her aversion to any technology more advanced than the mangle. And in fairness, she’d agree that she’s a tyrant…

  8. @ Don “And in fairness, she’d agree that she’s a tyrant”

    So, what to you give “de mammy” on Mother’s Day — a bouquet of thorns or poison ivy?

  9. Erratum: “Claris has the 10lb New York steak…”

    Goodness gracious, me! It was most definitely NOT a “10lb” New York steak (she is not a glutton), it was supposed to be 1Ib (as in 16oz.)

    My sincere apologies to my lovely, darling wife (Clarissa Hetherington-Thymes), for any embarrassment caused. And for her wonderful understanding nature, as to the frailties of men.

  10. I heard that one of the main side effects of severe testosterone poisoning is an inability to forsee the consequences of actions combined with an inability to empathize (while, however, being acutely aware of self as centre of the universe etc..)
    Back in the 90’s I read an article by a researcher who interviewed a group of senior women whose husbands had died. The resounding message was that even for those women who’d had a loving and wonderful relationship with their spouses (spice?), they all felt that their own lives had finally started … they could finally choose when to get up, when/what to eat, what to buy, where to go, who to see and for how long. They no longer had to clean up after anyone except themselves, they could read a book all afternoon without interruption …
    Many women only get a few scant years of retirement. Alas, you chaps have got to pop off early, otherwise many women will have no freedom at all!

  11. Little Toot: “Alas, you chaps have got to pop off early, otherwise many women will have no freedom at all”

    Mmm..sounds like something, my wife would want. And I feel sad :(

  12. Dear Merv et al.,
    perhaps chivalry is not dead.

    Why should a woman have to lose her partner before she feels truly alive? What are we doing wrong?

  13. Dear Little Toot

    The “chivalry” thing worries me. Youse, saying, I should do the decent thing and “go”, now?

    I have to engage in my wife’s punishing fitness regime, of zumba classes and — night — jogging. I always thought, she had my fitness at heart. Maybe, her motive is, less benign; and more sinister.

  14. Dear Merv et al.,
    the traditional way to cull unwanted knights is to feed them fat rich food, allow them to lounge about caressing the remote, and engage them in vigorous …

    … debate on this subject reveals your resentment at being unwilling to say “No”, and her ambition to force you to live forever!

    At least you’ll look your best, all laid out, and you can ‘slip away’ thinking: “Thank God I wasn’t line dancing”.

  15. Dear Little Toot

    OK. Thinking about it, she does remove the skin from the chicken.

    “and engage them in vigorous…”
    Go on, finish it, we’re all growed-up, here.

    “Thank God I wasn’t line dancing”.
    We do quite a bit of dancing (salsa, ballroom & Latin). When they play Billy Ray Cyrus’s ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, the wrist goes straight to the mouth.

  16. Hi Brian,
    Who was the brave suicidaly inclined person who raised this topic? Could it have been a woman??
    I’m reaching the end of my use by date, but intend adventuring to the bitter end. As one of your contributors put it, “Quality rather than quantity”
    As a work mate of mine expressed his feelings on the subject, “Ï want to arrive at my destination, utterly munted, bits falling off, burnt, battered, and tattered, and exclaiming loudly: Wooo!!Hooo!! what a ride !!@@!@
    After all, it’s not the length of life that you receive, it’s what you make of it.