THE Battle of the Sexes

That’s it. I’m throwing the gauntlet DOWN.

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I want to determine, once and for all, who has it harder: men or women.

Let’s take men first. For this purpose, I have brought in my masculine side. It’s just survived a long weekend with all four boys home from school for a holiday, worked outside in the yard, and done some manly exercises like …girl push-ups.

I say that men have the short end of the stick. Why?

  1. Men are expected to work for their entire lives. Even in a ‘woke’ society of both sexes working, or just the woman heading out in a business suit, a man is not considered a whole man unless he pulls his own weight.
  2. The male species cannot feel anything like sadness, vulnerability, or silly joy. Those are weak emotions, symptoms of an insecure or incompetent man.
  3. They have to deal with, date, and understand women (assuming, for this argument, they bend that way). And not offend any of them. And still be manly.
  4. Men must initiate relationships. They must often pay for a date. They must read what a woman (for sake of this argument) wants without asking blunt questions (see #3) and without getting accused of harassment and rape later.
  5. When a man gets sick, he gets mocked. Who cares if he literally feels at death’s door? Let’s kick his pride while it’s convalescing.
  6. Males are often stinkier. Practically everything sweats, and in large amounts. Thank goodness for deodorant, aftershave and cologne. And windows.
  7. Men are expected to be good at most things, especially where fixing stuff or sports are concerned. They are also supposed to only be interested in those topics. As before, lack in these areas is a sign of weakness.
  8. Similarly, a man must be strong. He needs to look fit and be ready to move a couch or a car with his bare hands.
  9. If a woman feels like it, she may pick on a man. She may slap him, belittle him, and accuse him. He may be strong, but man is not allowed to hit back.
  10. Even though men spend hardly any time at home (see #1) and are not supposed to get involved in decorating the house (see #7), they must figure out where their tools have been moved to and why a couch (complete with an obscene number of throw pillows) is now where their favorite recliner was.

Women think their life is difficult, but it’s a bed of roses (that match in color, and were complimented on by their hordes of friends) compared to a man’s.

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Now, in order to prepare an adequate female defense, I must think more girly. Allow me a few hours on Pinterest ….or not. I’m not the most feminine representative of the female sex, but I’ll try my best.

Women have a harder life, hands-down.

  1. Periods. Since many men do not understand this sensation: picture a sharp knife inside your lower abdomen that scrapes at your organs. Once a month-ish. Not only that, but you must endure odd hormonal effects like loss of mental capacity and car keys just before the fun starts; plus, blood.
    If all of that weren’t enough, people snidely tell you that you’re grumpy because of PMS or that you ought to just “deal with it” when crumpled over a toilet.
  2. Childbirth. It’s not much of a break from the alternative; especially since menstruation and pregnancy share symptoms like pain, forgetfulness, and grumpiness. Being pregnant is just weird, and delivery is the worst pain many have ever been in. Ever.
  3. Menopause. Imagine a relief from the #1 issue, that was designed by a drunk engineer who didn’t care how (or if) the machine functioned after it ran the full program.
  4. If the first three points didn’t win this debate for women, the judges have obviously been bribed. The women recommend that each judge pass a kidney stone before being allowed to vote. -Which leads to a real #4: more health issues because of female organs. One doctor visit for one symptom leads to an overall diagnosis of “because of womanhood.”
  5. Shopping for women’s clothing is enough headache and cost that they just might need a government-sponsored representative. Seriously. Men get measurements for everything and one name for each color. Women get inaccurate numbers by 2’s and colors like “blue with gray in it” or “gold that may be black.”
  6. In a traditional home; a woman needs to stay home, take care of the home, raise her children to not be psychopaths, and feel fulfilled doing so.
    In non-traditional homes; women need to do all of the above, plus work a job and arrange for childcare …and keep themselves sexy but not too sexy that they’re attracting coworkers.
  7. Females need to look good. If they buy into the ‘inner beauty’ and ‘be yourself’ crap, they have few dates and few friends. If they, instead; nip, tuck, makeup, inject, smile, style, and flaunt; they get a lot of positive attention.
  8. A woman is a b*tch if she’s pushy. She’s unfeminine if she (necessarily) picks up any ‘masculine’ slack. Her opinions are emotional ones, and therefore not as valid or as sound as a man’s.
  9. When a woman takes a younger man, she’s a cougar. If she sleeps around she is a slut. If she dresses attractively and flirts then she is “asking for it.”
  10. Women are expected to arrange everything around the house to buy some social cred, make friends (to admire the house), and plan fun family or couples outings. They are also expected to not overspend their budget doing this.

Men get ‘that look’ when they come home to a house full of pillows, but say they don’t want to go furniture shopping. They say they have simple needs, then demand that women look good and feel sexy after doing all the laundry. Face it: men hold the power and prestige, and women hold the garbage bag.

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In developed countries, the battlefield of the sexes is nearly even. In terms of permanent penalties, however, I feel that women will always have it worse. I’m not looking for compensation (though, some sort of temporary transferal of woman parts might be nice); I’m looking for agreement.

Do you agree? Do you not? Let’s hear your reasons. Don’t be shy; I’m a fair moderator.

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While you gather your thoughts and rebuttals, look at what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, March 13: Talked about Dr. Pickell and our ignorant influences in “Do You Know Your Influences?

Thursday, March 14: “The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 15: Versed “Prometheus,” in response to Frank Prem‘s poem.

Saturday, March 16: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bruce Almighty Goodman!
Announced the Xth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is verbosity. I haven’t had a lot of entrants, so PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 17: “Crescent Illusions,” a sci-fi response to D. Wallace Peach’s popular prompt.

Monday, March 18: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Six.”

Tuesday, March 19:  An inspirational quote by Trent Shelton.

Wednesday, March 20: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Why Oh Why Must We Have The Teenage Years?,” “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” and “Five More Minutes” (a poem).

 

Photo Credit:
Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay
Image by Josethestoryteller from Pixabay
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

The Best Christmas Ever

Four eventful years ago, on Christmas day, I was still recovering from recently giving birth by Cesarean Section.

He was my third trip down the necessary-surgery route, so I knew the drill. I wasn’t carving any turkeys or wrestling other offspring.

In fact, I was lounging like a holiday whale in my parents’ armchair. I sat within reach of my newborn on one hand, and the Christmas tree and presents on the other.

At some point, I got up to adjust something. My short-term memory is barely reliable, so we’ll assume I was changing the music on the CD player behind the chair.

I slipped.

I fell onto the arm of the armchair, with said arm jabbing me cushily at about my uterus.

This was the worst spot to land on. The armchair had struck true. Panicked, I checked down South in the bathroom. Sure enough, I’d started bleeding heavily.

Bless my parents; they immediately offered to keep the other three boys entertained, while my husband drove me and our youngest up to the emergency room where I had delivered just two weeks before.

I told my story to the check-in, to the nurse on staff, and to the on-call doctor.

Fortunately, the bleeding stabilized. Happy ending.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to remember this Christmas, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if the staff went home to their respective families that end-of-shift and said, “The best Christmas story today was this woman, who slipped on a present…

Cognitive Creation

“What?!”

Dr. Baerkaler cleared his throat professionally. “I said,” he repeated slowly, “That is a common side effect when you’ve lost some parts of your brain.”

I felt dizzy, and tired. I felt like I’d just given birth, for Pete’s sake. The doctor wasn’t making much sense. I’d lost some parts of my brain?

I looked down at the snoozing head of my newborn son. “Could you explain what you just said in more detail?” I managed. Surely, this would have been a chapter in that What to Expect book.

The doctor settled onto a guest chair and assumed his cheerful, patient, bedside manner tone. “You’ve just given birth,” He began. He met my gaze, so I nodded. Smiling, he went on, “It’s a major strain on the mother’s body to make and deliver a healthy baby.” Dr. Baerkaler paused, obviously so that I could process such a long sentence. I nodded again.

“As the baby develops inside of you, your nervous systems -pieces of your processing abilities and memory storing capacities- are used up by this process.” He looked at me cheerfully, despite my now-blank face.

“What?!” I managed, again.

Searching the ceiling briefly for inspiration, he looked back at me and slowly summarized, “You lose normal brain functions and forget things when your body is making a baby.”

I blinked. “Seriously?”

“Why, yes,” Dr. Baerkaler answered immediately. He sounded surprised that I wouldn’t know this. “And, now that you’ve delivered, a sizeable amount of functionality is gone.” He laughed a bit, in commiseration. “Surely, you’ve noticed it’s been draining out, so to speak, over the last eight months.”

I shook my head gently, in shock. “No, I hadn’t.” I said, nearly crying.

“Oh,” he supplied. “I suppose that would make sense, too.” He stood, and offered a slight, inadequately comforting squeeze to my shoulder. Bringing his medical tablet to his chest, he turned to leave.

“Is it permanent?” I timidly asked his back.

Pausing at the beige hanging curtain, he looked over his shoulder at me. I felt small, helpless, and dumb; a disheveled, ignorant mother swaddled untidily amidst thin hospital blankets.

Perhaps sensing my distress, Dr. Baerkaler smiled a reassuring doctor smile.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You won’t be needing your brain for a while anyway.”

Cafeteria Plan

“Next!” An average-sized man of medium hue lifted his neutral expression from his clipboard to the never-ending line of anxious, excited, impatient adults. A woman shuffled eagerly past him, and he made a mark on his paper.

I was nearly there. I could read a few words on his data sheet whenever he absently swung the clipboard down to his side. The information wasn’t entirely intelligible to me, but was some distraction from the endless waiting. And this was the Express Line.

Soon, I counted three people in front. Then, two. Then, one. The man didn’t even need to say, “Next,” and I was at his elbow. His face may have finally registered a different expression, but it was almost too fleeting to tell for certain. His right hand pointed to the dark hallway, his left gripped the clipboard, his eyes scanned his list.

I moved forward, finally. The wait felt interminable, though I knew I had only stood for about eight months. I had watched others be directed to the Ten Year Line, or even be turned away with a dismissive, heartless shake of an administrative head. I had reminded myself of these facts whenever impatience had crept in.

The hallway opened into a large room. In here, the walls were bare and curved upwards to meet in a peak high above my head. The floor was a clean, nondescript, waxed laminate reminiscent of the kitchen floor of my childhood home. Glass-fronted serving areas lined the far wall, and the room was full of queuing people. Chattering, shuffling human noises were amplified in the reflective, unadorned space.

At least this line moved more quickly, I noticed. Perhaps that was due to more workers attending to everyone. As I watched, a man at the start of the counters took a carrier from the stack. Pushing it along the grooved metal track, he stopped briefly at each opening and spoke with a helper there. Soon, he had his order complete and was walking away peering closely at it. He had finished in roughly five minutes.

I stepped forward after the woman in front of me did. She kept bobbing up on her toes, though she was only a bit shorter than the man in front of her. Whenever a new person started his order, her eyes followed his progress closely, hungrily. I realized that she had to be at least fifteen years my senior, though I was not always good at guessing age. I did much better guessing which musical instrument someone had played. I studied the back of her head and her bouncing curls. Definitely in orchestra, I decided.

Very soon, it was Curly’s turn. She snatched a carrier and plunked it down eagerly on the metal. She moved as if someone might suddenly cut in front of her; her left hand gripped the handle such that Death himself would have difficulty prising it from her.

I could hear some of the words the workers asked her, but not her responses. Those string players are so soft-spoken! “Boy,” “blessing,” laughter, and something about “energy” was all I caught. She was nearing the end. I suddenly felt panic.

A woman sitting at the first opening turned my way. She looked vaguely like my favorite aunt, though without the sarcastic twist to her mouth. She nodded helpfully at the rack of baby carriers, then smiled warmly as my hands reached forward and removed one. I heard the clunk as I automatically placed it on the stainless steel track before her.

“Now, dear. This is where we decide if you get one or more. Most people get one, but you’ll need another carrier if that’s not the case.” She smiled as a slight concern settled over my features. Then, she looked at the display in front of her. A second later, she looked up and smiled again. “Just one, dear. Congratulations.” She nodded and I moved on to the left.

This space held an older man who didn’t look like anyone I knew, unless I’d seen a frog-sloth hybrid at a zoo in my youth. He smiled as well, his wide mouth nearly reaching his small ears. “Now, we get to see if you’re having a boy or a girl.” He tapped his screen, then added, “Do you have a preference?” I shook my head. I didn’t see the point of having a preference if I couldn’t actually choose. He smiled a smaller smile, then announced, “Boy! Congratulations.” He nodded and I pushed my carrier down the row.

“You get physical attributes here,” barked a woman, before I was even fully in front of her. She tapped her button and drummed the fingers of her left hand. “Small, slight build; brown eyes; brown hair-” She paused to glance up and note my dark eyes and hair, then read, “A bit pigeon-toed, attached earlobes, photoptarmosis, webbed toes, etc.” She ripped off a printed page and handed it to me. I was able to see a gray body outline with mapped notes before she snapped, “Next!”

“Here is your list of other attributes,” an airy voice said, at the next counter. The voice belonged to what had to have been the actress who played Glinda in “The Wizard of Oz.” She waved a dainty hand of sparkly nails toward my left, dismissing me as effectively as her grouchy neighbor -but somehow more politely and regally.

I barely had time to read “Precocious, indifferent, hyperactive, intelligent,” randomly from a long paragraph, before someone clearing his throat interrupted me. I looked up to see an older man, who looked like my husband’s Orthodox Mormon grandfather, looking at me sternly at about the top line of his glasses – just as my husband’s grandfather did.

His left finger ran across his display as he read along:
Congratulations on becoming a parent. Your child will now be assigned random quirks and foibles. 1. He will delight in challenge. 2. He will avoid uncomfortable situations. 3. He will finish a fight. 4. He will leave a trail wherever he goes. 5. He will be responsible. 6. He will get frustrated at correction. 7. He will seek deep relationships. 8. He will not be a picky eater. 9. He will doubt. 10. He will become hyperactive when happy, or after swallowing Benadryl. 11. He will sleep well, never for more than seven hours. 12. He will respond well to reason.

He handed another paper to me, which I numbly added to the first two. I was feeling overwhelmed. He cleared his throat again, dismissing me.

“Did you go ‘natural?'” a voice behind me asked. I turned to see a nurse holding some sort of machine.

“Um.. ” I began, taken aback. I gathered my thoughts, then said, “I was going to go as long as I could and then decide.”

“Right,” the nurse said. She had a sarcastic lift to her mouth.
“Here ya go, then,” she said, then quickly applied the end of her machine to my exposed forearm. I gasped as intense pain flashed across my midsection. Forever later, or maybe a few minutes, I straightened up and hobbled to the last window.

“Here you are, dear!” A nurse enthused, as she briskly deposited a new baby into my unencumbered right arm. “Have a nice day!” She clipped out like a perky robot, then turned to service the next customer.

I looked down at my sleeping child in disbelief.

“Exit’s over here, dear.” Another grandmother-type was pointing to the door beyond her. Sure enough, a green EXIT sign glowed over it.

I gathered my papers, carrier, and child more closely to my body. Stunned at the suddenness of responsibility, I stumbled forward, then out the door.