Saturday, January 31

Venus vs. Mars

“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” I’ve heard that sentence before - I guess everyone has by now. Still, I’ve never really understood it.

First of all, neither Mars nor Venus can be inhabited by humans (and yes, I know that saying is just a metaphor). And even if they could be: Why should men and women come from different worlds?

Yes, men and women quite obviously are not alike. Check out this picture for some details as to where we differ:

But what do those differences really mean? Certainly not that we come from two different planets.

Like the males and females of most species (at least of those that actually have males and females, ask bacteria or snails how they feel about it), we physically differ from each other mainly where it is necessary for reproduction. This includes not only primary and secondary gender characteristics (I might have translated this wrong, but I’m sure you’ll get the point), but also physical characteristics that help with reproduction. This is why, for instance, women have more fat per pound of body mass than men (unless they do a really rigorous training). This way even a famine will not immediately abort pregnancy. Men usually have more muscles per pound of body mass, which helps them to do more physical jobs.

I won’t deny that men are stronger physically than women, at least on the whole. But that doesn’t mean they are superior to women. Physical strength alone is just as useless as a bodiless intellect or a mere vessel for reproduction (as which women have sometimes been seen in the past).

Even today a lot of women seem to accept the gender roles sayings like “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” or “Women and technical things don’t go together” picture, even if only on a subconscious level. Officially - at least in most western societies - women can take on every job they want. They are equal to men - at least down on the paper of the law books. Most young women these days have a job and the training for it. A lot of young women go to university - in some areas of science or medicine the number of female students is higher than that of male students.

The moment the first child arrives, though, it’s back to the old roles. Daddy goes to work and mummy stays home with the kid(s). And when you think about it for a moment, that’s strange. By now, theoretically, a woman should make as much money as a man, so, at least in some of the relationships, it would be wiser financially if the husband stayed at home and the wife went to work. But tell a man that and he’ll look at you as if you had suggested he should get completely castrated and then locked away in a windowless cell for the rest of his life.

And it’s not just the older ones - the ones who grew up in a different society. In fact, some older men I’ve talked to said that, in case their wife made more money than they did, they would have stayed home with the children. It’s younger men, like my colleague, who take it for granted their girlfriend/spouse will stay home when they start a family. Why? Because they still take it for granted they will actually make more money than their girlfriend/spouse, just because they’re men. And who are we kidding? Chances still are good they will.

No, that’s not a Feminist rant, that’s not just an excuse to demand some sort of quota from society or something. It’s a reality. I have my theories as to why this happens, but I’ll do a different post about it.

Sport two X-chromosomes and you get less money for the same work than someone with one Y-chromosome. Sport two X-chromosomes and bosses will ask you whether you plan on starting a family in your job interview - people with an Y-chromosome don’t get asked the same question. Go for a career with two X-chromosomes and you better pack your ovularies in a glass of formaldehyde to show possible future bosses you can’t get pregnant any longer. (“Look, sir, here they are, I’ve no longer gotten what it needs to get pregnant.”) People with one Y-chromosome don’t need a letter from their doctor about the vasectomy they’ve had.

I’m quite sure that men and women both are from Earth, but I’m not really sure which world those people who have coined the saying inhabit.

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