Men Are Stronger Than Women (yes, I’m entering the fray of gender issues, and yes, I have lost my mind in doing so)

The title of this post – Men are stronger than women – not the bracketed bit, comes from words I spoke when I was about ten years old. They were said to a thirteen year old boy. I had just met him. Perhaps our paths had crossed before this day as we both went to the same very small school for weird children, but I had never noticed him. The reason for my words was very simple, yet within them was a seed of complication.

My Judo teacher had sent me and my classmates to retrieve some heavy padded gym mats from the school basement which we needed for our lesson. The mats had to be rolled up then lugged up a steep and narrow stairway. One rolled up mat was too heavy for one of us to carry, it barely left the ground with two of us, one at each end, yet three of us could not climb the staircase with the mat.

The boy and his mates had been hanging out in the basement during recess playing football. When we arrived they decided stand around, watch us struggle with our task and give us a running commentary on our efforts. A few of my classmates got upset at the comments, the others just ignored them and continued to struggle.

One of my friends began an argument with the boy, who seemed to be the unofficial leader of the pack. He had pointed out to her as she pulled at a mat that as she was a girl she did not have the muscular strength to lift such a heavy object, that she really should leave the heavy lifting to the boys in our class. She was a bit of a blossoming feminist and was adamant that women and men were equal in everything. This attitude rubbed the boy the wrong way. He was at the age when boys become men, in their minds and in their bodies, and every interaction is tinged with them proving their manhood to themselves and others. My friend’s words stung him and he decided to leave. He and his friends had been teasing us, but they had not been being mean, whereas my friend’s words had felt like a personal attack, an insult.

My friend’s words struck me in an entirely different way. It occurred to me that she was wrong, and that her error would work to our benefit. I stopped the boy and said ‘Men are stronger than women, and you can prove it to my friend’. He looked doubtful but was tempted by the opportunity to heal his injured pride. ‘These mats are too heavy for us, I bet that they aren’t too heavy for you and your friends, I bet that you guys can carry these upstairs to our classroom easily.’ The boy grinned, he knew what I was doing, he told me so, but he also saw the satisfaction to be gained from showing off his superior strength to me, my classmates, and especially my friend. She was also a blossoming beauty as well as a feminist.

Several minutes later all the mats were in our Judo class ready for the lesson to begin. We thanked the boy and his mates, and that was that. Or was it.

My friend was rather annoyed with me. She confronted me about it. She felt that I had betrayed those of my own gender by playing the role of weak and helpless female in need of being rescued by a big and strong male. She was particularly irritated with what I had done because she knew how physically strong I was. Our Judo teacher had partnered me with a boy in our class who was two belts above mine because I was too strong to be partnered with anyone else, male or female. But to me this was my strength working against me because my partner was more skilled in Judo than I was, and I always ended up on the floor in a hold which left me gasping for air.

My friend was intellectually my superior, but her intellectual strength was also her weakness. In this instance she wanted to fight a battle for the sake of fighting a battle, but it was one that her intellect needed her body to win for her. Her body was not strong enough to win the battle for her, yet her mind could not accept such a defeat. In some ways her mind was willing to sacrifice her body to a cause. She would have been happier straining every muscle in her body trying to lug a heavy mat up steep and narrow stairs, perhaps even injuring herself in the process, than give a victory to someone whom she saw as her enemy and her inferior. The fact that admitting defeat would work in her favour was something which she did not want to grasp.

One of the main things which I learned from Judo class was that my weakness could be my strength and my strength could be my weakness. Many of the moves in Judo are about assessing the strength of your opponent and using their strength against them, but also assessing your own weaknesses and using that knowledge for your defense and benefit. If your opponent is physically stronger than you, then you must acknowledge this, honour it, and use it to your advantage.

I was only a child at the time, so much of the ramifications of that interaction were lost to me. I simply realised that I was given a task which was too great for me to accomplish with the skills I possessed, but I was given an opportunity to accomplish it using the skills which others possessed. I was learning teamwork. I was learning about social interaction. I was learning about the differences in gender. I was also learning how to swim against the tide.

I do agree with feminism up to a point. I am very grateful for the opportunities which the feminist movement have given my gender. Women should be treated with equal respect. They should have the same opportunities available to them. Have equal pay for equal work done. And so on. However when feminism becomes a scorpion stinging itself, when women are afraid to take on traditionally female roles for fear of retaliation from other women, when women feel the need to apologise to other women for not following a career path and choosing instead to be a wife and mother, when feminism oppresses females, and when feminism becomes oppression of the male gender, that is where I stop agreeing with it.

A matriarchy is just as bad as a patriarchy.

If women consider themselves equal to men, then they should give the respect they want from men to men. The relationship should flow both ways. Equality should flow both ways. There should be a balance. An appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of both genders which work together for the benefit of all genders. Why waste time fighting a battle which will leave us all worse off. Angry men and angry women all being angry together and against each other.

My mother was a misandrist and my father was a misogynist. They both taught me that both genders can be assholes, especially when they are using the opposite gender as a scapegoat for their own problems. Playing the If It Wasn’t For Your Gender game with no end of the game in sight. A Lose/Lose situation.

Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of the guidebook of our early ancestors who survived tough times by making use of the skills of both genders… before one gender decided that it was superior to the other. But, unfortunately we tend to think our ancestors were idiots. Grunting and grovelling in mud and dirt trying to survive. Our intellectual superiority has made us weak due to our disrespect for our bodies. For nature’s order, balance, and rhythm.

The battle of the sexes… if one sex wins this, both sexes will lose.

Perhaps what we need at this point is to stop using our gender as our identity and start realising that we are individuals first and foremost. Our gender is just a part of our identity, not the whole of it, not even half of it. That is a lesson taught to us by those fearless enough to cross the gender barrier. The sexual revolution of our times is not between male and female, it is not even about being a male or a female, or having sex with whoever we please, however we please, it is about choice, choosing the gender which suits our individual identity. We are not a man or a woman, but a person, a human being. Being a human being, an individual, having the courage to embrace all that that entails… now that is a challenge, a battle worth fighting, not outside of ourselves, but within.

That’s my view, what’s yours?

5 comments

  1. Well said, Ursula. 🙂 Your post reminds me of the number of times that I have seen women and girls hitting their male friends and boyfriends. They think they are being playful, or that’s okay to do so, somehow. However, if the tables were turned, the males would be in a lot of trouble. I completely agree that it’s about respect, and respecting that while our physical bodies may be different, we are all just people.

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    • Thank you 🙂

      Recently I’ve been reading up on cases of women abusing men, and how difficult it is for men to not only admit to that, but report it and be taken seriously by the authorities, and by other men and women. Society still finds it odd that a man can be abused by a women, blames the man for the woman abusing him, and may even champion the woman who abused the man in some misguided approach to equality.

      There’s one particular case being used as part of a campaign at the moment for female upon male abuse – the male in this instance was killed by the female. They’d been in a relationship, after he broke it off, she stalked and eventually killed him. The story is a case of reverse inequality.

      There’s a ‘joke’ I saw recently, an extract of a comedian’s routine, wherein he said – If women can do everything that a men can, how come they’ve never successfully oppressed an entire gender?

      Is that where feminism is going for the sake of equality between genders? Will women not feel equal to men until we have done to them what we feel they have done to us?

      At the end of the day, Abuse doesn’t care about gender, it’s an equal rights advocate. Anyone can abuse anyone regardless of gender, sometimes because of gender and gender differences. Humans abuse other humans, and there is nothing right about that no matter what excuses we use to justify it.

      Sorry, getting heavy about this, but… in my personal experience women have had more to do with my lack of self respect than men have. In fact men have helped me confront and deal with that issue more than woman have because men tend to tell it like it is rather than sugar and poison coat things. If a man finds you to be attractive, intelligent, talented, he’ll tend to just say exactly that, point it out – a woman, especially if you are female, may want to take you down a peg or two because you’re a threat in some way – how dare you think you’re all that, and stuff.

      Humans… we’re all just humans being human and that’s so very complicated!

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  2. “If one sex wins, both sexes will lose”

    I am very disappointed in this. Quoting from above, you let the male gender win, so both genders have already lost.

    Men are not stronger than women, they are equal. You’re just building up the confidence for boys to think that they’re stronger while underestimating the girls. Nowadays, girls do not have much confidence, and that affects everything. We are not different species, and we are simply no different in any way.

    It seems that you have gotten the wrong definition of “feminism.” Women should be treated with equal respect as men, and since women are not, feminists do something about it.

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    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      I think you may have perhaps misunderstood what I was trying to express. I wasn’t letting anyone win the gender battle, I was actually saying let’s appreciate each other for who we are as humans, regardless of gender. I was saying that if one gender wins, both genders lose because both genders are equally valuable to the human race.

      Putting males down does not make females stronger just as putting females down does not make males stronger. Why do males and females feel the need to come down on the opposite sex? Is the issue really about gender or is it about something which both genders share as human beings dealing with life which is complicated and always seems to be eating away at our confidence, whether we are male or female.

      I really like what is happening with transgender, as that is bucking an old system and challenging the battle of the sexes to not be so sexist on either side of the equation, it is challenging us to go beyond our comfort zone of male versus female and let humans choose their own gender based on who they are as an individual, and what gender that human feels most connected with being.

      I think respect comes from being respectful – if you want to be respected then it helps to get that by giving that regardless of gender.

      I’m a female, and I’m guessing that you may be a female too based on your words. And based on what you expressed you feel that females should support other females. Yet you told me that your were ‘disappointed’ in what I said based on how you interpreted my words, you then intimated that I was on the side of boys rather than girls and gave the impression that I was somehow betraying my gender for that (even though that was not what I was doing) and you disapproved of me for doing what you thought I was doing, and finally you told me that I had the ‘wrong’ definition of feminism.

      Your comment could come across as basically putting me down, one female putting another female down, therefore I might experience it as undermining my confidence to express myself as a person regardless of gender… and that affects everything.

      Now that’s fine to do that, I’m a blogger who posts publicly and I have to take what comes from doing that. I expressed a view and you are welcome to express yours on my blog even when yours dislikes mine. This is an important part of human interaction, how we learn about ourselves, others, and the world in which we live. Confidence sometimes comes from the knocks we take in life, and the lessons we learn about ourselves and others from those sort of interactions.

      A question for you – If I had said to you what you said to me how would you feel about it?

      Are you supporting me as a women to another woman or are you undermining me? When you wrote this comment were you in any way building yourself up by putting me down?

      Sometimes we are so caught up in ourselves that we don’t always realise the impact we have on others, and if we were to be aware of our impact on others we might never feel confident enough to express ourselves.

      I am grateful that you shared your view at this time, so much so that it partially inspired my latest post – which may give you some background as to where I was coming from when I wrote this particular post upon which you commented.

      Another question for you – How interested are you in understanding what lies behind what you perceive of others and their views? Both males and females have to grow up in an environment which may undermine their confidence, and may give them misguided views about their identity and what that entails. Gender is not who we are, it’s simply the sex of our body, and these days we have the ability to alter that to suit who we are, who we feel ourselves to be.

      We’re living in very interesting times.

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