Why is it that women are called the weaker sex? At the risk of belaboring a point which “political correctness” has rendered moot, I want to explore the unique strength of the women I know and who inspired this reflection.
Weak is defined by dictionary.com in ten parts that are relevant to this discussion:
- Lacking physical strength, energy, or vigor; feeble.
- Likely to fail under pressure, stress, or strain; lacking resistance: a weak link in a chain.
- Lacking firmness of character or strength of will.
- Lacking the proper strength or amount of ingredients: weak coffee.
- Lacking the ability to function normally or fully: a weak heart.
- Lacking aptitude or skill: a weak student; weak in math.
- Lacking or resulting from a lack of intelligence.
- Lacking persuasiveness; unconvincing: a weak argument.
- Lacking authority or the power to govern.
- Lacking potency or intensity: weak sunlight.
As I read through this exhaustive list that explains just what lacks in something weak, I cannot think of a single woman I know who fits the bill. Sure, I might not be as strong as my husband (1), but I don’t think I lack aptitude or skill (6). And I can go on and on, not just from a first-person point of view, but also in analyzing the women in my life who are my inspiration and models.
That said, I have a suspicion that the root of this phrase lies in a misunderstanding between the sexes. The fault here does not lie entirely with the males either; while they may not understand the strength of the women around them, perhaps the fault with women is that we have not helped them to see it.
I’ve also heard that men get sick more often than women, and my husband and I are living examples. He says my immune system is Jack Bauer, his is Harvey Fierstein.
That’s pretty interesting, Heather. I have some ponderings on that, but they will sound like I’m male-bashing, which I sincerely don’t want to do. (Like, perhaps I get sick more because I’m the one to care for the sick kid…perhaps it’s because I’m exposed to more people…hmm) (Then again, it may just be that we’re built differently!)