The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Woman

Sometimes I wonder if a particular event is pure coincidence or in the metaphysical realm. The other day I was lamenting how no one tells jokes in real life anymore (thanks, Facebook). Then literally a few hours later, while at the grocery store, I overheard a fellow pass on to another guy one of my favorite ponderings:

If a husband says something in the forest with no women around, is he still wrong?

Of course, everyone knows the answer is “yes.”

Maybe I’m being unfair, throwing my fellow mates under the bus by saying we’re always at fault. Generalizations can be dangerous. But perhaps we guys deserve that accusation.

After all, over thousands of years, women have been through more crap than men could ever remotely hope to shoulder: Oppression, violence, being passed over for promotions, unfair wages, navigating career and motherhood simultaneously, the lack of respect for caregiving, spiraling hormones, and more. Not to mention having to endure the yelling at the TV screen during football games, mega-snoring, farting, belching, leaving the toilet seat up and, in general, man-splaining and all-things testosterone.

You name it, women have dealt with the worst of it.

In the context of the history of civilization, it was essentially yesterday when women began to enjoy any freedoms or the right to control their destinies. And despite those victories and subsequent progress, our predominantly patriarchal society still — unbelievably so — perceives women as less qualified and less competent than their male colleagues. That’s ridiculous.

We, the brittle-brained men, simply haven’t been that good at uplifting women and treating them fairly. So to the humans out there with one X and one Y chromosome, I plead: Cease with the sexism and misogyny already, will ya?

Women Are Just Plain Smarter

I can’t walk in a woman’s shoes, not just because they wouldn’t fit well. But I think I have decent societal awareness, and it’s still incredibly challenging to be a woman.

For starters, they’re expected to have dynamic careers and perfect bodies. They’re expected to be amazing mothers who, when not changing diapers or teaching junior how to read, will feed the homeless by day and cook gourmet meals for the family at night. Meanwhile, a fair percentage of men grow beer bellies and hair on their backs and complain if someone else finishes the bag of chips.

Overall, my take is that women are more intelligent than men. Their gut and feelings are pretty darned intuitive, too. I suspect those are reasons why they’re more complex than guys. They have a lot going on upstairs. It’s non-stop. A woman is the omnipresent Xs and Os coach, thinking 5-6 plays/tasks ahead of the men around them.

Based on decades of workplace and family observations, I’m certain that the world would be a far better place if more women were in charge. We’d have a lot less conflict, especially if the gents could embrace (and commit to memory) the different definitions of simple words/phrases such as:

  • “Fine” (used to end arguments and indicate it’s time to stop talking)
  • “Nothing” (be aware that there’s actually “something”)
  • “Go ahead” (this doesn’t indicate permission, it’s more of a dare)
  • “Whatever” (you’re an idiot)
  • “Okay” (proceed with caution)

Women are better communicators at home and in the office. They tend to use more words than men, but I suspect that’s partly because they have to repeat much of everything they say to us blokes, who often turn on the “white noise” switch in our heads. I suspect we’re genetically wired to do so.

Women make better bosses because they prefer cooperation to competition. Which means they’re better listeners, problem solvers, multi-taskers, and mentors than their male counterparts.

A boss’ job is to motivate and keep everyone focused on the journey and goals. Women, who also grade higher on the compassionate scale, are better connectors than men and cannier about knowing how to activate passion in their employees.

Look, there are certainly oodles of competent and extraordinary men in society. But men, overall, tend to tilt the needle more toward doofus status than female leaders. So the sooner more women take positions of power, the more we’ll evolve as a species.

The Wage Gap is a Fairness Gap

Have you seen statistics for income inequality? It’s not pretty. Women make 84% of what men earn, which means they’d need to work an extra 42 days to get on equal ground for pay. Hey guys, would you want to put in 42 more days for free?

Tragically, women of color earn even less for the same roles in the US. Nothing can justify that gap. It’s a bit of a whoosie word, but it’s about fairness — everyone should be paid based on merit. I don’t have a magic wand to solve this problem, but society needs to address this and make it right. And fast.

Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe women should actually get paid more than men. For the most part, women are wired to get more done. They have higher standards than men. It’s not that they’re necessarily bossy. Strong women simply have better leadership skills. Give an opportunity to a woman with drive and smarts, treat her as an equal, and she’ll be successful.

That said, women do have at least one major flaw: They’re foolish to pretend that they are equal to men. To my way of thinking, they’re actually far superior. What’s the old line to best illustrate this? “Sure, Fred Astaire was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards … and in high heels.”

The Source of Domestic Bliss

I believe I’ve been exposed to more incredible women than the average guy. This is why I’m fine as frog’s hair with my wife’s oft-repeated saying, “You ain’t the boss of me,” which is said chiefly tongue-in-cheek. Or at least I think so. My corollary is, “I ain’t the boss of me.” In other words, “Let me check with my better half and I’ll get back to you.”

It’s a sign of higher intelligence that I am aware that, for the most part, she simply makes better decisions than me, especially when it comes to choices that make a difference to her/our world (versus my world, in which there are no invisible problems). She keeps our train on the tracks, running right on schedule.

Now let me be clear. My wife and I have true equality in our relationship but, as an intelligent guy (is that an oxymoron?), I recognized many moons ago that there are things I don’t do well. I’m incompetent with interior design. I often forget specific requests a few minutes after they’ve been requested. I frequently can’t remember where things go. (“Behind the mayonnaise” is the typical response in our household.) The completed job I genuinely perceive as “good enough” often doesn’t measure up to her higher standards.

In frustration, my better half once kissed me on the cheek and said with a smile, “You do the stuff you’re almost good at, and I’ll do the stuff that I’m great at.” That works for me. First of all, my roomie is more perceptive in dozens of areas, so she knows what needs to be done — and usually how to do it — better than I can. Such is the case with most resourceful women I’ve had the privilege of knowing.

The Clock Says It’s Time For True Equality

I’d be a mess if it weren’t for my bride of 40-plus years. She’s the sweet in my dreams, the beat of my heart, the blue in my sky, the twinkle in my eye, and the best to my friend. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also say she’s the eggs to my bacon — I loves me some bacon.) We finish each other’s sentences and even thoughts. We still make each other laugh, often hilariously. We’re a team. Nah. We’re soulmates.

If you’re a guy and lucky enough to have a partner like mine, I would hope that you, too, wonder why there isn’t absolute gender equality. Unfortunately, too many men — especially those “in power” — still have a bias against women rooted in sexism. This bias creeps into the workplace and, frankly, it’s disgusting.

How a Man Can Make His Life Easier

Some years ago, my wife told me that she wants to come back as a man if she gets reincarnated. From her perspective, a guy’s tasks, and therefore our lives, are easier than a woman’s. While I initially disagreed with that perspective, it’s probably true upon reflection. It’s an accurate opinion because a woman is always thinking, by default, “What else can I do or needs to be done?” Xs and Os, indeed. They can’t turn that off like us troglodytes do.

This difference can cause upheaval in relationships. Men like to take the path of least resistance. We embrace shortcuts; call ’em “alternative paths.” Why spend hours preparing and cooking a nutritionally balanced meal when you can have a pizza delivered in 30 minutes? Why have houseplants when you have to put in the effort to water them?

Men also have highly developed ninja work habits. We focus on the benefits of actions, anticipating obstacles, plotting the right course, and ultimately striving to complete tasks with minimal effort. We strive for optimal efficiency and saving energy. From our point of view, stuff is getting done. But if your adoring wife, like mine, thinks that you don’t have the good sense God gave a goose, and that you’re about as confused when it comes to following directions as a fart in a fan factory, then shortcuts, perfunctory efforts, and breaks are not going to put you in the boss’ good graces.

I’ve come to realize that women just care more: About aesthetics, about going the extra mile to fulfill their vision of perfection, about people, and mostly about the tiny details we head-in-the-clouds dudes would never, ever notice.

I’ve also learned that life’s lessons never end and that a woman’s pearls of wisdom for surviving life will always be communicated to us guys. These gals … they ain’t shy.

For ages, men have struggled with this difference and a zillion other discrepancies we have with women. We’ve been stupid enough to think we can resolve things by hoping they’ll be more like us. Sorry — generations of our gender have seen that strategy fail on an exponential level. Let’s try something new. Let’s just accept women for who they are. And while we’re at it, treat them as equals. It shouldn’t be so difficult.

An English professor once wrote the following on the chalkboard and asked his students to correctly punctuate it:

A woman without her man is nothing.

The male version came back as: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

The female version: “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Punctuation is powerful. So are women. Treat and reward them as such.

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Addendum from LSomerbyCooke … Check out the other side of the coin — The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Man.

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