Men: We are an amazing group — the great builders of human civilization.
As gentlemen, however, we will first stand aside as feminist/antifeminist Camille Paglia begins the testimony to our greatness, since she’s so good at it (taken from Sexual Personae):
“We could make an epic catalog of male achievements, from paved roads, indoor plumbing, and washing machines to eyeglasses, antibiotics and disposable diapers… when I cross George Washington bridge or any of America’s great bridges, I think: men have done this. Construction is a sublime male poetry… If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.”
Maybe that last line wasn’t germane to our topic, but why cut her off — she was on a roll. Let’s continue this grand testimony to our gender with men: 5 things you didn’t know.
1- Women think men are smarter
In 2008, British researcher Adrian Furnham, a psychology professor at University College London, analyzed the results of 30 international studies measuring and comparing the IQs of men and women. Although he concluded that, in terms of IQ, the sexes are “fairly equal overall” (a description too vague for our tastes — did we win or not?), he also noted an important distinction in the perception of intelligence.
Collectively, men and women regard men as smarter — smarter than they actually are and smarter than women. Furnham traced this perception through cultures and even generations: Both sexes tend to regard their own sons, fathers and grandfathers as more intelligent than their daughters, mothers and grandmothers. He also found that men are guilty of overestimating their intelligence and that those who fall below average are the biggest culprits. Women routinely underestimate theirs, with the brighter ones being the worst offenders.
Set that against a Cornell University study called “Unskilled and Unaware of It,” which revealed that not only do incompetent people vastly overestimate their abilities, but when they fail, they’re doubly screwed because they lack the capacity to acknowledge, interpret and alter their behavior accordingly.
Which leads us here: Are women deliberately playing dumb? That would make us the dumb ones, unless we never realize it, in which case we continue the all-male march to the end of time confident in our brainpower. There is an operational advantage for one person to play dumb, but an entire gender? Maybe the game got out of hand long ago, allowing our culture to absorb these perceptions.
Whatever the case, it feels good to be this smart.
2- Men have their own biological clock
We do indeed have a biological clock of sorts, although, instead of one that stops, ours becomes increasingly unreliable over time.
As men age, we lose approximately 1% of testosterone every year. The consequence of this deficit is that sperm production decreases, and those that are produced are of a lower quality. For this reason, the older we get, the greater the chances that the children we spawn suffer from conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and Down syndrome to name a few.
To explain why, fertility experts point to cell division: About every 16 days the cells that create sperm and determine their genetic code go through the process of dividing. By the age of 50, that division has happened hundreds and hundreds of times, and each time it did, the genetic code was vulnerable to changes that can augment genetic deterioration, making birth defects increasingly likely.
Believe it or not, there are still a few more things you didn’t know about men…
3- Daughters change men more than sons do
The effect daughters have on the way their fathers see the world has repeatedly been explored in the past 25 years, all with very similar results. In his 1996 book Family Man: Fatherhood, Housework, and Gender Equity, Scott Coltrane sums it up well, saying men with daughters “become more sensitive to discrimination — cultural images about girls and their body image and sexuality, violence against women and equal opportunity in the workplace.”
In Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child author Kyle Pruett puts it another way, “Daughters make [fathers] think differently about how they’re going to make the world a better place.”
Yale economics professor Ebonya Washington’s research reached comparable conclusions. Analyzing the family composition of congressmen and their voting records over several years on 20 women’s issues, she found that the more daughters a congressman had, the more likely he was to vote in support of those issues.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the father of three daughters, says they raise a man’s consciousness. “You have aspirations for them and you want them treated the way you would want sons treated — with dual opportunities.”
4- Men can tolerate pain better than women
It’s not something the ladies like to hear, but as research has proved again and again it appears to be the case. However, instead of being explained by a man’s need to appear macho, the real explanation may lie in the hormone estrogen.
For women, levels of this influential hormone vary widely in any given month (you don’t have to tell us that). But here’s the interesting part: As they reach higher levels during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, they convince the brain to beef up its response to pain by releasing endorphins, which help to diminish the brain’s reception of those pain signals. When estrogen levels are low, this clever pain-control coordination in the brain becomes substantially less effective.
In other words, pain toleration is a function of hormone levels. This should eliminate the common female response to who better tolerates pain since it addresses the lone ace they hold up their sleeve in this debate: childbirth.
5- Marriage favors men
Calling it “the best evidence that marriage is an institution that primarily benefits men,” University of Washington psychologist Neil Jacobson reported that despite all our bitching and moaning, married life favors men in a big way.
For starters, married men are half as likely to be depressed as married women. And women are not only more likely to enter a marriage with higher expectations from what they perceive as a bigger transition in life (making for a much bigger sense of disappointment), they also tend to ditch some aspects of their personality that they (and their husbands) liked the most in an effort to fulfill the conventional role of “being a wife.” To make matters worse, women are often the first to assume the burden of making an unhappy marriage happy again.
Finally, did you know that men get a better night’s sleep when in bed with a woman? Statistically, it’s true. Unfortunately for the ladies, those same statistics suggest that next to us, they sleep worse.