In the interest of following blogging trends, I thought I’d write up something more…contentious. Anyway, for some reason, a lot of the classes I take consist mainly of females. Why I’m still single is beyond me (as well as the scope of this article). Well, actually, I already know the factors contributing to my unattached state. But I digress.
A couple of weeks ago, my professor (a vibrant and youthful 41 year old woman) started a tangential conversation about how hard it was for women and how unfair things were for women. One of her examples included how all the men on The Sopranos are “fat pigs,” yet their wives are with them. According to her (and the ladies in the class agreed wholeheartedly), weight gain is much more a woman’s issue than a man’s. “If we gain like, five pounds,” she said, “the guys go, ‘Whoa, what’s going on there?!'”
This tall Jewish fellow jokingly balked. “Five pounds?” he said, implying that a five-pound weight gain was rather significant and worthy of breaking up over. The guys in the class—myself included—chuckled heartily while the ladies gasped and chastised him for his insensitive comment. You could tell it was funny because my very quiet and serious visage actually cracked a grin.
While I would contend that women should simply leave men who are that superficial, it brought to mind these so-called inequalities women face. Today, I challenge that idea. Before I get started, let’s just get some things out of the way. Firstly, I’m going to disregard anything related to physical aspects (i.e. hormones and that time of the month). There’s absolutely nothing we can do about this short of pumping men full of estrogen and giving women birth control pills and anabolic steroids. Secondly, I am, for the record, very respectful of women and do not mean in any way to denigrate females. The point of this piece is to simply offer a different perspective.
Now let’s get five reasons why women have it easier than they think.
1) Mate retention
I haven’t done the research, but I don’t think it’s unheard of for a woman to divorce her husband because he lost his job and couldn’t get another one. I wouldn’t be surprised if “He just couldn’t provide anymore” is a common reason women divorce.
For women, mate retention behaviors involve maintaining a healthy and youthful appearance. Her ability to do so lies solely within herself. Staying young and healthy is in her control. She can make the decision to not eat fatty foods and to go to the gym for an hour every day. Am I saying it’s easy? No, but just bear with me.
Male mate retention behaviors involve resource display. This means a man must show that he can provide for his family. Men buy their wives expensive diamond bracelets and a new sports car to get her to stick around. They shower their wives with flowers and take them out to expensive restaurants when they are in trouble. When things get rocky, he’ll probably try to bust out first-class tickets to some far-off tropical destination.
If he loses his job, he risks losing his family. When you work a job, you are working with other people. You have to deal with a boss who could have it in for you. Your livelihood depends on pleasing your boss. This means that your ability to retain your mate is tied in to the will and whimsy of others. A man cannot make his boss like him. He can bribe him, beg him, pray to God Almighty, but at the end of the day, if his boss is a prick and just doesn’t like him, there is not one goddamned thing he can do about it. For women, it becomes a simple matter of self-discipline.
2) Creative careers
Like I said, men are expected to provide. To do this they must have resources. In today’s day and age, this means money. That money in this day and age comes in the form of a paycheck. The best paycheck is a steady one, and if it’s big and fat, all the better.
Us creative folks are passionate people. We all believe we are artists and that we should be able to express our artistic genius. In fact, if we don’t get to express ourselves, we feel as though we are being stifled and oppressed. To the most hardcore of the creative, the artist who chases a paycheck is a sell out. The artist who becomes a slave to some sort of normal career is chastised and spat upon, his black beret taken away and his goatee shaved off. But being an artist means not having a steady paycheck. The starving artist may be a stereotype, but it is also a serious reality a man must must consider if he is to pursue his art.
Those who consider academia their calling also seem to have this issue. So far, the majority of the young male adjunct professors I have met joked about having to marry a rich woman in order to pursue their goal of becoming a tenured professor. It isn’t too far from the truth: adjuncting doesn’t pay diddly. To be frank, I want to learn these guys’ secret: all of then were neither lookers (though some women might find them cute) nor Casanova’s. A couple of them were downright goofballs. Yet they were able to marry rich women. But, as usual, I digress.
For men who are creative or scholarly, life can be difficult if you intend to raise a family. You don’t get paid an annual salary for peddling your screenplay to Hollywood executives or passing your manuscript around to all the big publishing houses. There is no steady paycheck. Starving artists can’t afford to have a family, so a creative man who wants a family must make that decision: do I want to make art or make babies?
3) Freedom of choice: children, career, or both?
Women have more freedom of choice than they may believe. If she wants to get married and be a stay-at-home mom and make a career out of raising her children, she can. Yet today, she also has the choice to join the workforce and to pursue her career in the workplace instead of the home. Yes, it will be difficult, but hey, at least she can try.
Men on the other hand, don’t really have the choice to be a stay-at-home dad. Even without any hard data, I am damned sure that the percentage of married women in the workplace easily outnumber the percentage of married men guarding the home and hearth. I’d also like to know what percentage of women would actually be comfortable with their husband staying home to take care of the kids.
4) Psychological health
Women who are emotionally expressive or vulnerable are more desirable than women who are cold and stoic. Women are free to express their feelings. Tears are acceptable, whether they are from joy or sorrow. “Women are emotional creatures,” goes the common saying.
Men on the other hand are expected to be forever strong and vigilant. Weakness is not an option. I’m not talking about that intimate vulnerability that may win the hearts of women. I’m talking about a hard case of complete decompensation. A man who has a nervous breakdown is less a man than the one who takes all the hardships of life in stride. For a woman, people may look at her funny, but she isn’t really any less of a woman for it.
The expression of one’s emotional state is important to mental health. I’m not suggesting that we all become emotionally transparent to each other, but let’s face it: an emotional man is considered by many to be less masculine, and by extension, less desirable.
5) Sexual selection
This one is simple. The role of women in sexual selection is to choose her mate. The men come to them, they do not go to the men. Unless a woman is unusually ugly, I can say with great certainty that all she has to do is exist and she will be propositioned.
From an evolutionary standpoint, it sure looks like the males of the human species are the ones that have their work cut out for them. A man’s got to do the chasing. This requires considerable amount of resources, both emotional and material. A man is forever a slave to the evolutionary instinct to pass on his genetic material to the next generation. He must always strive to be better than the men around him, lest he suffer the fate of the dodo. For men, life is a struggle to reproduce. Women are the gatekeepers. They can just sit back and let the action unfold in front of them. Put quite factually, even a woman with just average looks will be asked out if she just sits around long enough. Men on the other hand, will decompose into a narcissistic state of delusion and loneliness if they think they can expect women to just come to him. I would know.
And there you go folks. There are five reasons women have it easier in some ways. When you think about it, women hold plenty of power. It’s just a matter of recognizing it and knowing how to use it.
Of course, before all the feminists start bashing me, let me just say that my personal opinion of how difficult it can be to be a man or woman in this world can be best summed up in this classic adage. Them’s the breaks. Men have got it tough in some ways, and women in others. Life’s not fair to either sex.
Now, off to write an “angry young man” screenplay…