6 Absurd Gender Stereotypes That Science Says Are True
If you've watched bad stand-up or beer commercials or listened to awful morning drive time radio DJs (Science has yet to prove the existence of any other type) you know about all of the supposed differences between men and women. The #1 topic of conversation among male hack comics is their nagging, chatter-box wives, and for hack females it's... well, vibrators. But their insensitive, slob of a husband is a very close second.
Well, it turns out there's a reason those comics and beer companies keep making those jokes. Many of the exciting advances in brain mapping and genetic research are proving that some of the oldest, most hackneyed gender-based stereotypes are totally true.
Women Can't Drive and Park For Shit
There is allegedly one thing women and blind men have in common: their ability to navigate. Even Google loves this stereotype, tossing back an impressive 75,200,000 hits when we typed in "women can't park."
Then there are the supposed differences in the ways women and men get from one parking spot to the next, a practice often referred to as "driving." According to the Hollywood formula, men navigate by compass directions and a stubborn refusal to ask for directions ever, while women get from here to there by using landmarks, a winning smile and a little leg. Tell a woman to turn north, then east and then north again and every sexist comedy writer we polled here at Cracked agreed she'd get turned around faster than a frog in a blender.
So, if this ridiculous stereotype were true, then Mother Nature has given men a serious edge in the "getting around" department. But that can't be right, because the decade of the 70s promised us that Mother Nature doesn't favor people based on race, sexual orientation or whether or not there are dangly parts between their legs.
This is what equality looks like.
What Science Says:
Several studies have shown that heterosexual men are better at both navigating by north-south directions and at orienting themselves in three dimensional space than women. Why did men win the spatial perception jackpot? No, the answer isn't sex this time, it's food. Well, actually, it's both.
Some things aren't better when combined.
In the days before grocery stores and mini malls, mankind had to actually go hunt and gather for his daily mammoth chops. Scientists think that testosterone helped early men find their way home again after a long day of hunting, ensuring that they were the ones impregnating their mates and continuing their line while the spatially challenged became saber tooth tiger snacks.
Not only that, but one researcher actually scanned the brains of over a million kids and found that by age four, the boys were already surpassing the girls in spatial ability by a ratio of 4:1. She also found that while girls did just fine at seeing two dimensions in the brain, boys had the ability to see a third dimension, allowing them to understand the concept of depth at an earlier age.
And yeah... the same isn't necessarily true for gay men, who tend to navigate like women. Literally. That was not an insult.
Men Are Freaking Slobs
If detergent commercials have taught us anything, it's that the female nose is so highly evolved that it can pick out the stench of sweaty gym socks from a thousand paces. And once she has the scent in her delicate nostrils, a real woman cannot rest until the malodorous insult has been found, eliminated and replaced with a Linen Tides Breezy Cotton Fluff-n-Fresh (Now With Real Strawberries!) scent.
Their men, meanwhile, can wear the same sweat-stained T-shirt for a week, and will let garbage pile up in the kitchen until somebody calls the health department.
But that's loco right? It's like saying women were predisposed toward cleaning up after men or something, which is totally whack.
She LIVES for this shit.
What Science Says:
Women really are better sniffers than men. This is despite there being no physical differences between the male and female nose or the number of receptors they have. Not only are women better at detecting smells, but studies have also shown that women use a bigger chunk of their brains when processing smells than men do.
"Is that wet fish offal I smell?"
So why the difference? What biological reason can there be for your mom to be able to detect your sweat soaked socks through a closed door? The same reason that she was able to detect your dad's horny musk: sex. And though women generally detect all odors better, their noses really won the stink jackpot by having the knack for detecting male body odor.
Why? It seems that locked in that sweaty stench are chemical markers that can tell a gal when a fella is sexually aroused, even without her knowing it. Plus a woman's superhuman sense of smell is at its peak just as she's ovulating. So what does this mean for you? Forget Ax body spray. If you want to get laid, you need to smell like you've been watching porn in a sauna.
Women Are Wimps
This is as basic as stereotypes get. Guys are bigger and stronger and traditionally are thought of as the more badass of the sexes. Women are frailer, smaller and prone to the sniffles at the slightest injury.
The one exception, of course, is childbirth, when even the weakest woman is an Amazon warrior when it comes to tolerating labor pain that would make a grown man whimper like he just took a paintball shot to the nuts. So call a woman frail, and she'll reply that if men had to give birth, the human race would have died out a long time ago.
What Science Says:
Women do have a lower pain threshold, but it has nothing to do with toughness. Men simply don't feel pain the same way women do, and what they do feel, they feel a lot less of. Women have more pain receptors in their skin for starters, amplifying their exposure to aches and pains.
Researchers believe it might be tied to the presence of GIRK2, a nifty little protein that not only affects pain threshold, but how well morphine and other painkillers work to block the pain once it's been inflicted. The next time you tell your girlfriend to walk off that cramp she got trying page 46 of the Kama Sutra with you, try to show a little compassion, she may just have less GIRK2 than you.
Ultimately, a woman's body can require more than double the amount of painkiller to get the same amount of relief.
The exception is when they are pregnant or have just delivered a baby. Endorphins and a cocktail of other feel good chemicals build up over the pregnancy, ensuring that mom can deal with the delivery and likely explaining the real reason expectant women have that special glow.
So, to recap, yes women have crazy strong pain thresholds right around childbirth, but any other time of their lives their capacity to endure pain is far less then men's, due to the way their nerves are wired up. Either way, be nice when her lady-days come.
Women Love to Talk (and Talk)
When it comes to communication, we've all heard that men are from a planet rich in iron oxide and women are from a planet that is full of sulfuric acid clouds, and without the insights of a skilled stand-up comedian or the psychological stylings of Dr. Phil, men and women are doomed to a lifetime of misunderstandings and divorce.
Why? Because apparently on Mars telling someone you're fine means all is well; while on Venus saying you're fine is code for "If you don't figure out that I had my bangs cut half an inch before I freakin' point them out to you, I'm going to shiv you with an Ebola soaked nail file."
So women love to talk, men keep it bottled up. But that's ridiculous if you think about it long enough. After all, humans are social animals, so if women are the better communicators, then how did they end up as the subjugated sex for like, ever?
What Science Says:
The areas of the brain responsible for language are over 17 percent larger in women than men, making them the well-hung studs in the horse stables of conversation. Not content to just be bigger, women's brains also multi-task; processing language in both hemispheres while men generally keep the conversation going with just the dominant side of the brain.
The corpus callosum in a woman's brain is reportedly larger too, meaning that women transfer data from one brain hemisphere to the other with high speed fiber optics, while the men's brains are still on dial up.
Why the differences in wiring? No one is sure yet, but it affects everything from the odds of a woman recovering the ability to speak faster than a man after identical brain damage, to the odds that you're going to piss off your girlfriend when both sides of her brain start analyzing your comment about how her best friend looks really, really good after she lost all that weight.
Women See Mauve, Men See Purple
A couple is staring at paint samples, the wife enthusiastically discussing the merits of aged ivory over albino Caucasian while the husband starts chewing off his own arm in hopes of escaping this hell where "white" has 30 different names. We're told that men are color impaired, forever mixing black socks with blue ones and refusing to wear salmon red because he's sure it's pink and he's going to get beaten bloody if he is seen wearing it in public.
Only deserts are safe for pink polo shirts.
Meanwhile, women are allegedly color obsessed, meticulously matching outfits and orgasmically relishing the differences between ecru and so white it's white, which implies that women are not only pretty shallow but kind of nuts as well.
What Science Says:
The gene for seeing red is only carried by the X chromosome, which puts men at a serious disadvantage for seeing the color spectrum. Color, after all, is defined by our ability to perceive red, green and blue, and every other color we see is based on combinations of those three.
This means that while men, having merely one X chromosome, might not be able to see red at all, women and their double X chromosomes have a 40 percent chance that their vision includes a broader expanse of the spectrum than their male counterparts.
Male color spectrum.
Why this colorful superpower? It goes back to food again. While the men were out killing dinner and developing that radical spatial perception of theirs, women were gathering fruit and vegetables for the salad course. Having the ability to distinguish between the shiny red berries that taste good and the shiny red berries that can kill you was an important survival skill, and the women who didn't pick the death berries lived to pass on their genes.
Women Are Lightweights
When Ogden Nash commented that "candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker," he was most definitely talking about alcohol as the liquid panty remover. It's supposedly faster and more effective than witty conversation, flowers or even dick jokes. Give a girl a shot of tequila and she'll be a giggling puddle of uninhibited goo the moment it hits her bloodstream, while men can slam back the rest of the bottle and still be ready for anything.
What Science Says:
It's true, but not for the reason you're thinking, which is most likely body size, right?
According to researchers, the real reason why women can't hold their liquor as well as men is because men and women have very different water to fat ratios to their bodies. Men's bodies are made up of about 61 percent water, whereas women average about 52 percent. While this doesn't sound all that important, it basically means that male biology acts like a cheating bastard of a bartender, watering down every drink a guy consumes nearly 10 percent more than a woman's internal barkeep.
Women are also lacking in the liver department. Specifically, they produce less of the liver enzyme dehydrogenase, which is that magical substance that converts alcohol into an inactive state and ensures you're sober by the time Monday morning rolls around. Because they have less of the enzyme, women also feel the effects of alcohol much faster than men and it hits them harder.
So there's a medical reason why there's a drunk coed at every nightclub who will drunkenly protest she's only had one little drink just before she passes out on the bar and shows everyone her business. A MEDICAL REASON, we tell you.
For more of Susan's work you can check out her blog at Capricia's Corner.
Gender stereotypes aren't the only thing Science is opening its big mouth about. Check out 6 Sex Myths as Explained by Science and 6 Obnoxious Old People Habits (Explained by Science) .