Men vs. Women: Who Has It Harder?

When I was pretty young, I read a book that my mother gave me that changed the way I thought about men.  The Fascinating Girl by Helen B. Andelin, is a book written in 1969 by a wife and mother of 8 children – 4 sons and 4 daughters.  Her book (as well as her other books) seek to help women understand men at the most fundamental level of what men desire or need in their life concerning their relationships with women.

helen b andelin

Helen B. Andelin

One of the strangest things that I never realized before, and probably wouldn’t have realized at all if it weren’t for my mother & her book, was that men are held to higher standards of expectations in society.  From the beginning of time, it has always been this way.  Rollo Tomassi, author of The Rational Male (Vol I) & The Rational Male: Preventive Medicine (Vol II), writes that Men are expected to perform.

For Men, there is no true rest from performance. To believe so is to believe in women’s mythical capacity for a higher form of empathy which would predispose them to overriding their innate hypergamous filtering based on performance.

Women will never have the same requisites of performance for themselves for which they expect men to maintain of themselves. Hypergamy demands a constant, subliminal reconfirmation of a man’s worthiness of her commitment to him, so there is never a parallel of experience.

Women will claim men “require” they meet some physical standard (i.e. performance) and while generally true, this is still a performance standard men have of women, not one they hold for themselves. There simply is no reciprocal dynamic or prequalification of performance for women, and in fact for a man to even voice the idea that he might qualify a woman for his intimacy he’s characterized as judgmental and misogynistic.

In Andelin’s chapter devoted to being sympathetic to men, she echos this enlightenment to women in hopes that they will be able to come to a better understanding of what men (even young men) face.

A woman ought always to understand the responsibilities a man faces in his future.  Since most men plan to marry, they have, at least in the back of their minds, a picture of what this responsibility entails.  They know that they will be faced with the social and economic responsibility of a wife and children for a lifetime.  They also know that their family will look to them to be their guide and protector, and that they must grow into manhood if they are to fulfill this position.  They may not spend a great amount of time worrying about it, but they are nevertheless aware of it.  They know that if they are to succeed in this role as a man, they must make adequate preparation.

A woman’s preparation for the future is different.  She is planning for marriage also, but this does not require economic responsibility.  If she is employed, she knows that it need not last a lifetime – that others will not depend upon her for their daily bread.  IF she is attending college or planning a career – a career out in the world, she knows that others will not depend upon her success, and that she will not be disgraced if she fails.  She may change her mind, set down her burden at any time, without appearing a failure.  She does these things – assumes these responsibilites by choice, without pressures for the future.  Of course she may face unhappy or angry parents if she fails in school – but this problem she knows is only temporary.  If she makes a success of her marriage, she will win their appreciation.

But with men – their college, career or their jobs are serious business.  If they fail, they fail in their preparation for the future.  Success in life itself is at stake.  They must succeed if they are to fulfill their roles as men and provide for loved ones adequately.

Even in our modern society today, Andelin’s words still ring true.  The only exception would be the plight of the single mother, who actually does feel the burden of performance that Tomassi speaks of, and yet, even with that she is not burdened in the same way as being marked a failure by society.  Her marriage may have failed, yes, or she may have failed at “keeping a man,” and of course, there are social slights she will deal with concerning those conceptions.  However, even a single mother has access to financial aid, grants for college, emotional care, comfort and overall, a greater amount of empathy from society than a man will ever have.  Even though she feels the burden of being the sole bread winner, the other passes she’s given for being a woman lessen the overall burden she may feel to perform.

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11 thoughts on “Men vs. Women: Who Has It Harder?

  1. This is really true. I think I started to notice the biological inequality there when I was about 16. Boys really struggle to attract girls and they face constant rejection. Girls pretty much just need to show up. Men go from that to trying to figure out how to be providers, how to lead, how to be men. Once again, women just pretty much need to show up. It’s not fair or equal, it simply is what it is.

    One real problem with feminism is that is teaches girls to not empathize with men, to perceive them as having all the benefits and ease that life has to offer, a status they allegedly enjoy and use to oppress women. It’s a reversal of the truth and it makes relationships between the genders more difficult than they need to be.

  2. It’s not like there’s a finish line either. We just keep working the process and hope we look like we know what we’re doing all the time and don’t make any tragic mistakes.

  3. If, indeed, women were to feel the same pressures as men there would be no feminism. To achieve true equality they will have to feel it. Equality will not be easy, comfortable, or cheap. Feminists should be very careful what they ask for.

  4. Great article, GWDFT, and great comment by insanitybytes22.

    Women face challenges that men don’t understand. I recently read “the beauty myth” by Naomi Wolf, which discusses this. If you can get past the feminist dogma and conspiracy theories, she has some good points.
    Men are encouraged to see the difficulties that women face…but no one encourages women to see the unique challenges that men face. In fact, they claim that women face the same challenges. They do not. At least some women, somewhere, are beginning to see the hardships that are unique to men, and to appreciate them.

  5. You’re right, women do! Pregnancy, body weight fluctuations because of pregnancy or hormones… the beauty stuff. I’ve never read Naomi Wolf’s beauty myth, but I’ve seen her talk a little about it in video.

    You’re very right that society is constantly forever encouraging everyone to see women’s issues, up front and center, but regularly makes it seem like men don’t have their own pressures or problems. In fact, men have it easy, they have “privilege,” that they use to oppress, when in reality, women have certain privileges that the Feminine Imperative would like you to ignore altogether so that women look like the victims.

  6. @Dragonfly
    IMHO, it all comes down to an understanding of sexual market value – what factors contribute to male value versus female value.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, feminism freed women to obtain an education and have a career, if that’s what they want. But feminism CAN NOT free women from the constraints of the sexual marketplace. This is precisely what Naomi Wolf does not understand in her book. She claims that women’s (and men’s) obsession with “beauty” is a form of oppression as a backlash to feminism – a way of keeping women down. What she misses is that women WANT to be attractive to men, because men view beauty as desirable. Most men do not care at all what a woman’s JOB is (ie. they don’t care about what feminism freed women to do or not to do), but they do care about how women look. Feminism can not free women from constraints of beauty, because as long as men desire beauty in women, that’s what women need to be to secure a mate.

    In the same way, feminism (or masculism) can not free men from being providers. Male sexual market value is largely determined by a man’s social status, education, and providership ability (among other things, of course). No amount of cultural re-education can make women stop wanting this. I know many, many professional women who are more than capable of making a good living on their own – ALL of them married men with equal or better providership skills.

    The burden of male performance is the same as the burden of female beauty. It is determined by the sexual market values set by the opposite gender. Feminism can not free us from these things – only from things independent of sexual market value. If women saw the burden of male providership in the same way as they see their own burden of beauty, they would get some insight into the problem.

  7. “men are held to higher standards of expectations in society. ”

    Depends on the culture. Here in the USA, yes. I’ve lived in countries where its the opposite.

  8. “As I’ve written elsewhere, feminism freed women to obtain an education and have a career, if that’s what they want. But feminism CAN NOT free women from the constraints of the sexual marketplace. This is precisely what Naomi Wolf does not understand in her book. She claims that women’s (and men’s) obsession with “beauty” is a form of oppression as a backlash to feminism – a way of keeping women down. What she misses is that women WANT to be attractive to men, because men view beauty as desirable. Most men do not care at all what a woman’s JOB is (ie. they don’t care about what feminism freed women to do or not to do), but they do care about how women look. Feminism can not free women from constraints of beauty, because as long as men desire beauty in women, that’s what women need to be to secure a mate.”

    And the way men care about beauty is far less oppressive (to women’s mental and physical health, animals that are tested on, and the environment) than the way post-modern American women care about beauty (which requires all manner of cancer causing chemicals and dyes tested on animals and polluting for the environment).

    Men care about natural beauty; facial symmetry, hip to waist ratio. If you’ve got that, you don’t need anything else. And most women have that, as long as they don’t get too fat or too skinny or get Bell’s Palsy.

    Women are the ones into spine-twisting high heels, and all that other crap.

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