While men are physically strong, women get a boost from hormones, facilitating better physiological response.
She was born from a rib ripped off Adam by God to provide companionship to the lonely man in lovely Eden. And so, in the history that man wrote, she was called the fair sex and the weaker sex.
But look at what science tells us today — that women outlive men, bubble with abundant energy, and are apparently better at many things than the “stronger” sex.
Somewhere between cultural qualms, discourses and a common perception about men being strong, even women started believing the notion about their counterparts being stronger and more powerful. But numerous scientific factors contradict this. In the most essential proof of robustness — the power to stay alive — an average woman outlives a man by at least six to seven years and numerous researches prove that by age 85, there are roughly six women to every four men.
Steve Austad, an international expert on ageing who has been studying the survival ability of females, said the gap between the sexes becomes a glaring one in extremely old age and that women have resistance to almost all the major causes of death. His statements and research have yet again raised questions about one of the most controversial topics of all times: Are women stronger than men?
The female gender is a better survivor even before birth. They had always “pushed” themselves beyond the threshold capacity, to emerge as “survivors”. Doctors have noticed that baby boys produce longer labours that are likely to end in a Caesarean section or a delivery assisted by instruments.
“In the case of de-oxygenation or any other medical issue, a girl baby makes an effort to come out and becomes normal within a short period. But in the case of a male delivery, the baby is more likely to require intensive care or medicine,” said senior gynaecologist Dr Lokanayaki, adding that she has seen higher infant mortality rates among males in her 42 years’ experience.
The meaning of strength is relative, medical practitioners point out.
Providing examples, Dr Lokanayaki said: “Lifting a 100 kg weight or winning a fistfight does not determine strength. Women are accustomed to withstand pain, handle injuries and menstrual agonies from adolescence. Both the examples determine strength in a different way.”
Studies also suggest that men are more prone to illness than women. They have an increased risk of developing asthma, hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and heart attack.
There is also a significant difference in the structure and functioning of the male and female brain, which influences the intelligence and behaviour of the two sexes. Yet again, women seem to be on the greener side. Dr Prithika Chary, senior consultant, neurologist and neurosurgeon says, “The two sides of the brain are connected to each other by a structure called corpus callosum, which is 23 per cent thicker in women than in men. This privileges women to have more verbal abilities and they are better communicators, being great at detecting emotions. Also, they have a super human ability of multitasking.”
Women also survive more years on the planet than men. Dr V.S. Natarajan, considered the father of geriatrics, says, “Men are more prone to diseases of old age — the reason that the ratio of widow to widower is 3:1 in the country. While lifestyle, habits, and oestrogen production do play a role, the trait of accepting and adjusting to the aging process is the main reason women outlive men.”
Science could be late in revealing the strengths of women for history reveals that they were always considered supreme.
While all gods came to grief at some point, goddess Shakti’s supremacy was eternal, unchallenged and unquestioned. Most religions in any civilisation have celebrated and acknowledged the feminine power as being superior. From those ancient scriptures down to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Wonder Woman, women have shown that their shakti is better and long lasting.
In an Indian context, a man will live for another 17 years and a woman for 19 years after turning 60, states a survey by the Sample Registration System (SRS) under the Census office. Interestingly, the common perception of women bears out this research.
Indian women who outlive their men attribute their longevity to their healthier lifestyle habits. K. Ramani, a 65-year-old housewife from Chennai who lost her husband 10 years ago, told this newspaper: “He developed chronic heart ailments due to alcoholism and lack of exercise. A majority of men, due to their unhealthy habits, expire sooner.” How and why then was there a shift from a female-dominant society to a male-dominant one? Anthropologist S. Shekhar said, “Previously, with the small face-to-face culture, there was no real separation between private space and public space.
In denser populations with real separation, men began to exclude women from public spaces and relegated them to the four walls of their homes and their kids. That prevailed for thousands of years."
Women have advanced much more now because they are educated and have an occupation and income of their own, says psychiatrist S Nambi. Women started to make inroads into various areas of public life and with financial independence, society started to accept them back.