Gender Stereotypes vs. Scientific Realities

5 min read
Gender Sterotypes Vs. Scientific Realities

Men vs. Women. It’s a staple for stand-up comics, beer commercials, and rotten radio DJs (science has yet to prove the existence of any other type of radio DJ).

It turns out that some of the oldest, most hackneyed gender-based stereotypes are true. Brain mapping and genetic research have found some interesting evidence. Let’s take a look.

Stereotype #5: Women Talk. And Talk. And TALK!

Men are from Planet #4, and women are from Planet #2. It seems men and women are doomed to a lifetime of misunderstandings.

What gives? It appears that on Mars saying, “I’m fine” means all is well; while on Venus saying, “I’m fine” is code for, “If you can’t figure out what I’m thinking completely on your own with no hints or explanations, there’s no way you will live through dinner.”

According to Science: The language areas of the brain are 17% larger in women than men. It gets worse, guys. Not only are they bigger, women’s brains process language in both hemispheres of the brain, while men generally use only their brain’s dominant side.

The brain part that transfers data from one brain hemisphere to the other is called the corpus callosum. This thingy is larger in women too. So women think with high-speed fiber optics, while men’s brains are using a landline.

Why the differences in wiring? No one is sure yet, but it affects many things – even with identical brain damage, women recover speech faster. If you happen to comment that your lady’s best friend looks really good after losing weight, the odds are high your lady has instantly become your most feared enemy.

Stereotype #4: Women are Neater and Cleaner

We already know that the female nose is so advanced that it can sense the presence of petrified tube socks from half a mile away. And the Earth will stop spinning on its axis if the foul smell is not located, eliminated, and replaced with a Breezy Fluff-n-Fresh Scent (Now with Real Strawberries) aroma. Meanwhile, the men can wear said socks for ten straight days. Even worse, half-eaten food and other refuse can pile up in the kitchen until someone calls the authorities.

According to Science: There are no physical differences between the male and female nose structure or the number of nerve endings within it. However, women are not only better at detecting smells, but studies show that women use a larger portion of the brain when the smell sense is activated.

Why is this? How is your mother able to smell your dirty clothes through a closed door? The same reason that she was able to detect your dad’s horny musk: her gender. Women especially win the odor jackpot when it comes to detecting male body odor.

Stereotype #3: Men Can Take More Pain

This is about the most obvious stereotype you can find. Men are stronger, bigger; women are smaller, frailer, and will bawl over the tiniest injury. Childbirth is the obvious exception though, when even the weakest woman is greater than any warrior ever because labor pain would make every male whimper like he just got kicked in the nuggets. If you call a woman weak, the obvious response is that if men had to bear children, there would only have been one birth ever, then humans would have become extinct.

According to Science:

It’s not a matter of toughness when it comes to pain. Men just feel pain differently from women, and what men do feel, they feel a lot less. Most people are unaware that women have more pain receptors in their skin. This will make the pain more amplified for them.

Scientists theorize that GIRK2, a nifty little protein that affects pain threshold and how well medicines block the pain, could be responsible. So your lady may just have less GIRK2 than you, but show some compassion, even if you can’t empathize due to your super-charged GIRK2 level.

Further, women require more than twice as many painkillers to achieve the same level of relief from the pain. When they are pregnant or have just delivered a baby is a notable exception. A nice mix of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals build up during pregnancy, ensuring that mom can deal with the delivery. That probably explains that pregnant lady glow as well.

Stereotype #2: Men Hold Their Liquor Better

Ogden Nash once said, “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” He was insinuating that alcohol is faster and more effective than witty conversation or flowers when it comes to, um, getting her in the mood. Give a girl a single shot, and she’ll be a giggling puddle as soon as it’s in her blood, while a man can down the rest of the bottle and continue to function as normal.

According to Science: This is true, but not for obvious reasons. It turns out that men and women have very different water-to-fat ratios to their bodies, which is what determines alcohol tolerance. A woman’s body is typically 52% water, and for a man, it’s closer to 61%.

Have you ever been to a bar with a dishonest bartender? The kind that waters down a drink so he can charge for more drinks than he should get from a bottle of booze? This is a similar concept. Imagine a bartender that adds ten times more water to men’s drinks than he does women. That’s what that water composition does as a body processes alcohol.

There are also differences within the liver. Women produce less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme that converts alcohol into an inactive state and helps you return to sobriety. Having less of this enzyme also causes a woman to feel the effects of alcohol much faster, and it hits them harder.

Stereotype #1: Women See More Colors

Let’s go to the paint section of a random store. A woman is enthusiastically debating two very similar paint swatches. The man next to her starts chewing off his own arm in hopes of escaping this hell where “white” has 30 different names. Men, we’re told, have zero sense of color. Blue socks are the same a black ones, and there’s no such thing as salmon red. It’s pink. Meanwhile, women are color-obsessed, meticulously matching outfits, and relishing the differences between ecru and ‘so white it’s white.’

According to Science: The gene for seeing red is only carried by the X chromosome. This is a problem for males. Color is defined by the ability to perceive red, green, and blue, with every other color based on combinations of those three.

So men, having one X chromosome, might not be able to see red at all. Women, with two X chromosomes, are more likely to have a broader expanse of the color spectrum than men.

To explain this, we return to the dinner table. In the caveman days, while men were out killing dinner and developing that radical spatial perception, women were gathering fruit and vegetables for the salad. Having the ability to distinguish between the shiny red berries that taste good and the shiny red berries that can kill you was extremely important. Those who chose the non-death berries lived to pass on their genes.