Building Bridges

Issue # 18 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire

We Are Different, Not Better

I'm all for equality. After all, no man or woman, anywhere in the world, should be considered worth less than another. But let's be realistic - men and women are different.

We cannot seem to get this through our heads, even though all of the obvious outward signs are there, that we are indeed very different creatures. Certainly much of what makes us different is centuries of conditioning that men should be a certain way and women another. Just as significant is the role our genetics play, since there are many natural differences in our bodies and minds.

As a society we don't need any more excuses for undesirable behaviors. We are not held captive to our links to the past, whether we're referring to genetics or conditioning. At this point of our physical, emotional, and intellectual advancement it is quite clear that our modern brains can override many of our instinctual urges and tendencies.

Together as couples we will benefit from bringing men and women together instead of dividing and separating. We are not from separate planets but rather from the same origin, and can get along much more easily than many seem to believe. While we may be capable of much more adaptation and change in the future, men and women are still different creatures presently.

The difference between men and women isn't just their sexual organs!

For an illustration of how different we really are, consider the following examples from the science journalist Marc McCutcheon's book "Astonishing Facts About Humans."

Women are reported to suffer 10 times more headaches than men, and are more prone to acute gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension than men. Men are especially vulnerable to personality disorders, including drug and alcohol abuse, where women suffer more from anxiety, phobias, and depression. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, although more men actually succeed at it. Marriage increases the risk of depression for women, and decreases it for men.

Women's longevity is far greater over all than men in the US. During the first year of life, 54 males die for every 46 females. By age 21, there are 68 male deaths for every 32 female deaths. And finally, by age 65, there are 7 surviving men for every 10 women. Women outlive men in nearly every corner of the globe - in the U.S. by more than 7 years.

Men are more violent by nature than women. In 1987 men committed seven times more homicides and aggravated assaults than women. Men also caused two thirds of all road accidents. Numerous studies have shown that aggressive behaviour is closely linked with high testosterone levels. Men have higher levels than women. This level peaks when men are young adults, which is also when they commit the most crimes and get in the most accidents. Yet testosterone decreases in production with men over time, while after menopause it increases for women.

Young adult males average 50% muscle and 16% fat, where females of the same age have 40% muscle and 26% fat. Men's blood quantity is approxiametly 1.5 gallons, where as women average .875 gallons. Our lung capacity as men is 6.8 quarts, where women's is 4.4 quarts (at age 25).

Women usually have more accuracy at identifying odours and tastes, have sharper vision, and are better at hearing high sound frequencies. They also perform left-brained activities better than men, such as processing and learning language. Boys are often slower to speak and are more apt to stutter. Yet these same boys typically excel at right brained activities, gain mobility quicker, and often perform better in mathematics, science, and visual-spatial tasks.

In spite of all the anatomical, physical differences, somehow both genders seem to overlook the differnces and live as if men and women are only different because of the penis, vagina, and breasts. We mistakenly believe that other than their sexual accessories our partner should be just like us.

There is certainly some truth to the fact that we are conditioned to be different beginning as a small child, which surely plays a part in the gender gap. Yet some fundamental differences, regardless of their origin, do exist and create problems for couples who refuse to accept the differences and relentlessly try to change their partner.

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

Building Bridges Table of Contents

Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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