16 March 2012


Women are definitely not as smart as men.

If we were, we would have figured out a way, by now, to blame them for the basic facts of biology, which are, of course, not their fault.  We would have thought up some really excellent derogatory names to call them when they want to have sex but are not ready to have children.  By now, we would have been successful in making them feel ashamed of the very fact that they are male - making them tiptoe around the grocery store and avoid the clerk's eyes when they need to buy basic hygiene items, blaming their moods on their body chemistry and still asking them to get control of themselves, and forcing them to feel that every extra ounce of flesh on their body is a sign of weakness and lack of control.

If we were as smart as men, we would rally entire political parties around the subjugation of men.  We would deny them basic healthcare on the grounds that just wanting to earn a livelihood and support their families is against the grand plan of the universe.  We'd mandate medical tests that they don't want or need, just to make sure they know that their role in society is secondary to ours. We'd invoke the tenets of the major religions (which tenets we would have written, mind you) in support of our positions. We'd control the capital, and leave them to tend to the menial but necessary tasks of everyday life. They would stand behind us as we pontificated, clapping politely even as we robbed them of their integrity.

We'd constantly make fun of them for pursuing hobbies that are just in their nature, like watching sports, hunting, and playing competitive games.  It would be more societally acceptable, and less laughable, when we spend our time making clothing, beautifying our living spaces, and creating food for them to enjoy. Our empathy for the hungry and downtrodden of the world, that gut-wrenching feeling that makes us want to (a) spread the word about African warlords who torture children, (b) adopt homeless pets, and (c) spend our Saturdays at the soup kitchen, would be celebrated in society and the media rather than mocked.

The highest-paid professions would be those dominated by women because of their instinct to nurture: teachers, nurses, midwives, house cleaners, babysitters, and, yes, stay-at-home parents.  Men would scratch and claw their way into these professions, only to be told they're not dedicated enough when they want to take some time off to engage in manly pursuits.  Paid professional sports teams would be unheard of - at least, those where only men play.  Enthusiasts would watch the Super Bowl in private, on a laptop with headphones, feeling guilty and hoping no one minded their sneaking away for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

The world would be a very different place.

In all seriousness, I do not believe that there is any gender difference in intellectual ability.  I have known smart and stupid people of both genders, and people's intellectual ability generally has to do with factors other than their sex. That's not to say that men and women are the same; they are different, for sure.  Their sexual anatomy and urges are complementary and designed to perpetuate the species.  And though some of the stereotypes I mentioned above, mostly tongue-in-cheek, do not necessarily hold up under close inspection, I believe it is important for us to realize that we are all in this together. Some of us prefer male companions, some female. Some of us like to watch football, and some of us like to knit. Some of us want to have or be around children, and some of us don't. Discriminating against a large portion of the population because of an immutable trait - such as gender - does no one any good.

As I read the current news in law and politics, I hope with all my heart that the women of the world understand that the world belongs to them, too. I hope they will use the brains they have - which are every bit as good as any man's - to stand up for their bodies, their choices, and their lifestyles. The movement to restrict women's rights in the United States is gaining ground, and it uses religious tenets (mostly written by men) to justify it.  Do not be complacent. Stand up for what you believe; our daughters are watching.


jhl said...

This is fabulous. I'm about to share it with all of my women friends.

While we're at it, in your hypothetical world, let's make sure that any attempt to pass a Violence Against Men act is sabotaged.

Esperanza said...

This is pure and utter genius! Thank you so much for writing this!

Serenity said...

Here from Esperanza. This reminds me of a book I read in a utopian literature class in college - "Egalia's Daughters" by Gerd Brantenberg. That book has stayed with me, nearly 20 years later.

Love this. Thank you for posting.