For centuries, the difference between men and women have been socially defined and described through a lens of sexism in which men assumed superiority over women and maintained it through domination. Women are known as fair sex better at empathizing while men are believed to be apt at analysing the physical world. Some of the world’s bestsellers have expounded on this theory. “The Female Brain”, by Lonann Brizendine, an American academic, suggests that women spend most of their time on a psychological ‘roller coaster’ by fluctuating hormone levels.
As equality between men and women now becomes more perceptible, we are losing awareness of important differences. It is acceptable that men and women are equal (constitutionally) but different, at least as different physiologically and psychologically. The physical differences between men and women are quite obvious in weight, size, shape and anatomy. Besides physical differences between men and women, do their brains also respond differently to the real life situations is a subject for research. A leading neuroscientist has dismissed the “myth” that women’s brains are wired differently from men’s. According to her “this is nonsense, there may be some very small difference between the genders but similarities are far, far greater; the idea is that men and women have different brain structures but there is no real evidence for any of it”.
Some studies still hold different views. According to them men rely on their left brain to solve one problem one step at a time, women have more access to both sides of the brain and they have four times more brain cells (neurons) than men that is why they can focus on more than one problem at a time. Both men and women approach problems with similar goal but with different considerations. While both of them can solve problem equally well, their approach and processes are often quite different.
Women are endowed by nature with three complex physiological processes that have no counterpart in men: menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Because of their biological characteristics women do encounter some physiological and psychological problems. Women have also to deal continually with society’s mixed messages; they are most often expected to be sexy but not sexual; to have a child but remain child like; to be assertive but not aggressive; to hold a job but not neglect their home etc. From the beginning society preserves its gender bias:
• Boys are more active than girls
• Boys stay awake longer
• Boys lose their temper more easily than girls
• Boys engage in more fighting and attacks
• Boys don’t cry, girls don’t climb trees
Most girls are treated more protectively than boys; this logically suggests that the girls need protection.
Most girls are complemented on their appearance before any other trait. People exclaim’ what a pretty girl! But what a strong boy!’ This, of course, conveys to girls that their packaging is important.
Fear of failure is fed into female mind on the basis of their role expectation.
• Women are weaker sex
• Women are too emotional for business world
• Women are less logical than men
Today, women who have won over their fear of failure express their need for achievement like their male counterparts. They have fearlessly ventured into so called ‘male territory’ and have become ‘khatro ke khiladi’. Estrogens and testosterone hormones are critical for female and male characteristics. All women have some male hormones as all men have some female hormones. A female with dominant male hormone in her is a type A woman. She is highly ambitious also a perfectionist and never satisfied with her achievements. She is impatient and irritable as the type a man. She can be aggressive rather than assertive.
Women liberationists, however, believe that any difference other than anatomical is result of conditioning by society. The opposing view is the differences are fixed in the genes. In a lighter vein men can boast of doing something which probably a most ‘evolved’ female won’t do:
• Men can wear shorts no matter what their legs look like
• Men have one wallet and one pair of shoes which are good for every seasons
• Men can choose whether or not to grow a moustache
• Men’s bellies usually hide their large hips
• Men’s last name never changes
• Everything on a man’s face stays its original colour
• Men have to shave their faces and necks
• Men can keep the same hair style even for decades
• For men wrinkles add character
• Men can go on a week’s vacation and pack only one suitcase
This world is colourful because of both sexes, so why try to fathom their brains? As long as men are men and women are women their attraction for each other will always remain. Variety is the spice of life that is why most women like to watch tearjerkers like ‘Baalika Badhu ‘ and most men prefer to watch cricket and football matches.