What people need to understand about gender differences
First of all, I’m not writing this out of hate. I think Feminism is a noble movement which supports a worthy cause, but only when considered in its substantial convention. While the exact definition fluctuates, most would be willing to agree that Feminism is universally designated “the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” This in it’s own is a rational cause — fighting for women’s social justice is a reasonable action that I agree with.
I’ve recently read pieces deprecating the “stereotype that women are weaker than men.” Scientifically, though, girls do tend to be less athletic than boys. Stereotypes are rooted in generalizations. This is rooted in evidence.
Physical strength is something that cannot be changed by a movement, no matter how hard you wish or how many notes you get on Tumblr. It’s a fact, that on average, men have a higher capacity for physical activity than women. Sure, maybe Mandy on the basketball team can bench press more than her brother, but there’s a reason we have gender divided sports teams, gender divided professional competitions, and gender divided expectations for athletic capability. It’s why boys and girls are graded on a separate rubric in PE class, and it’s why the majority of jobs requiring strenuous manual labor belong to men. These things are done not because society hates women, but because there are people who’ve recognized and acted upon the differences in athletic competence between genders. It’s not a sexist opinion, nor is it an unjustifiable claim. It’s a fact with legitimate corroboration. But I’m not a scientist — don’t take it from me.
Here’s the abstract for a study that proves women have a generally lower capacity for physical achievement literally because they “tend to have a lower proportion of their lean tissue distributed in the upper body.” Claiming something like this reinforces gender stereotypes is akin to blaming OB/GYNs for only taking in women — it’s a biological characteristic.
Don’t get me wrong — girls who want to be football players are completely appropriate, and should be encouraged to pursue what they’re interested in. There IS a general negative mentality towards athletic females, and I agree it’s wrong. But activists should understand that they’re barking up the wrong tree by arguing females are just as athletic as men rather than promoting acceptance towards girls like Mandy.
Instead of focusing on things that can’t be changed, a more valuable approach would be to advocate for the ones that can. I’m not posting this because I’m anti-feminist. In fact, almost everything I’ve said so far establishes feminism as an upstanding campaign. But perhaps there’s a reason for the seemingly unjustified negative perception towards Feminism.
It’s commonly held that the paramount constituent in any movement is education — but we need education that goes both ways. While it’s definitely important for the public to be educated on gender equality, it’s just as important for feminists to be educated on what they’re fighting for. We need education that prevents claiming things that are blatantly untrue, which undermines the validity of the movement.
I’m posting this because I believe that in order to change something, you have to know your own limitations. You have to understand some things cannot be changed, regardless of how hard you petition. And you have to comprehend its triviality in the face of worthwhile progress. And you need to be willing to let go and focus on what matters. In a Forbes interview from last year, Teresa Younger, Founder of the Ms. Foundation for Women explains that “true feminism is recognition of the dynamics that each person brings the the table.” We need to realize, however, that not everyone’s bringing the same thing. Gender equality isn’t about claiming that men and women are the same in every regard when they’re clearly not — it’s about recognizing and respecting our differences and moving towards a common goal.