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 larger male of our species 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. But 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 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 haemoglobin. They also have higher circulating clotting factors, which leads to faster healing of wounds.

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

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

3W. But women are less likely to suffer with 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. But 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 the 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. 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.

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. But 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 The Meaning of MadnessThe Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help GuideHide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deceptionand other books.

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Neel Burton
Source: Neel Burton