The Battle of the Sexes

Men vs women: No clear winner.

Posted Jul 02, 2012

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

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

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

1W. Women produce more antibodies and at a quicker rate than men, and have more white blood cells. For these reasons, they develop fewer infectious diseases and when they do, they succumb for shorter periods. Man-flu is not a myth!

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

2W. Women have lower blood pressure than men, and, at least prior to menopause, are less likely to suffer from potentially deadly cardiovascular diseases.

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

3W. Women are less likely to suffer from alcoholism, antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy, and developmental psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and Tourette syndrome.

4M. It has been suggested that the variance (or spread) in IQ scores is greater in men. If this is true, there should be more men than women with an exceptionally high IQ.

4W. At the other end of the spectrum there should also be fewer women than men with learning difficulties.

5M. Men are capable of fathering children into old age, whereas the fertility of women ends with menopause. The oldest known father was former Australian miner Les Colley, who fathered a child at age 93. Men are also able to father a significantly greater number of children than women can give birth to. The most prolific father of all time is believed to be the last Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, Mulai Ismail (1646-1727), who reportedly fathered more than 800 children from a harem of 500 women.

5W. 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 color blindness, hemophilia, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

6M. Men are taller than women, by an average of about 15cm or 6 inches. The average adult man in America is 175.8cm tall, versus 162cm for the average adult woman.

6W. Women live longer than men, most likely because they engage in fewer risky activities. This gap in life expectancy has been closing in developed countries, where men have abandoned hard physical labour and women have begun to engage in risky activities such as smoking and binge drinking.

So, at least in biological terms, it would seem that there is no clear winner between men and women. What do you think?

Neel Burton is author of Hypersanity: Thinking Beyond ThinkingHide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deceptionand other books.