Mind the gender gap - it's more of a chasm

By Rachael McCormick

THE politically correct individuals of today will gasp in horror at the hint of double standards or stereotypes in the gap between men and women.

Those whose feet are firmly planted on the ground - realists - will merely nod, or chuckle to themselves; the infinite differences between girls and boys are blatantly obvious.

For those who are still unconvinced, however, the gaping chasm between the sexes can be determined with a few simple points. Today's mental, physical and social expectations and unquestioned traditions can be insane.

The ways in which women and men handle stress and emotions are different, to say the least. Men tend to handle the worst of situations by seeking an immediate solution. Whether they have lost their keys or totalled the car, crying is kept to a minimum (although the same cannot be said for swearing).

Women almost invariably have an inbuilt, unavoidable panic reaction. Burning dinner can result in tears, screaming, and a two-hour phone call to the best friend before she has calmed down.

In that time, most men would have whipped up an alternative meal - in this department, unfortunately, males generally cope better than females.

The same, however, cannot be said for memory strength and an ability to multitask.

Forgetting the birthdays of children and anniversaries of wives, men in general have short memories. Women remember everything; make a mistake and you will be reminded of it until the day you die.

On top of this, science has proven that men lack the ability to multitask and focus on multiple scenarios, whereas everyone knows most women can drive, read a map and scold mischievous children simultaneously.

While the brains of males and females work differently, in a physical sense the wants and needs of both sexes are also unalike. Design and aesthetics are important to a woman - being told that her gorgeous heliotrope dress is merely "purple" by a man is outrageous.

When their wives embark on home makeover binges, sensible husbands should retreat to the garage, finding solace in a distinct lack of visually pleasing surfaces.

When it comes to food, men are perfectly happy eating the same pie, sausages or steak every night of the week.

Women, on the other hand, insist on producing canape{aac}s and hors d'oeuvres when entertaining.

It is either that, or they hardly eat at all, opting for salad like there is something morally wrong with eating.

Perhaps more absurd than any other tradition is a woman's inability to enter a bathroom alone. Gentlemen have stringent rules that are followed - a trip to the men's room should be quick, efficient and professional. For women, it is a social event.

The two schools of practice could not possibly be more different.

Also world's apart are the ways men and women behave in social settings. To put it simply, girls fuss, flutter and reduce themselves to baby talk in the ridiculous presence of children and animals.

Kids barely get the chance to learn what dirt feels like, and "doggie woggies" and "puddy tats" are stripped of their dignity and dressed like dolls.

Men, for their part, treat dogs as friends, cats as worthy adversaries and children as bad smells who should be held accountable for their own actions.

What about fashion? Jeans and a t-shirt are the quintessential male uniform. The truly amazing thing about this combination of garments is the innate customisability. A man can create any number of combinations by simply changing his shirt.

Women require no less than an infinite walk-in wardrobe to cater for their clothes. And that does not include the shoe rack that will hold more pairs than anyone can actually afford.

On the topic of shoes, it is also a fact that if a gorgeous heel comes two sizes too small, a girl will still buy it. No pain, no gain is every woman's favourite saying.

Lastly, a man's sense of humour is the total antithesis of a woman's. Males have the uncanny ability to find nearly anything humorous - whether the joke is appropriate or not is irrelevant. In fact, the dirtier, more cringe-worthy and crass a joke is, the funnier it seems to be.

Sometimes it seems as though women exist merely to show that there is some dignity in being a human.

There will be those who flatly deny that women and men are treated differently. And while this may apply to the more blatant areas of life, the truth is that these differences are so obvious to everyone that nobody really notices.

Women and men have their own identities, stereotypes and traditions, and there is an element of anger that can surround this. But why is it such a problem?

Girls and boys have always been different - it was not a debate before, so why create one now? Our mental, physical and social conduct is a cause for balance, distinctiveness and humour, and this is something to embrace.

Rachael McCormick, Year 12, St Kentigern College

- NZ Herald

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