You know, I’ve always been proud to be female. I’ve been an outspoken feminist since girlhood (and I’ve put my money where my mouth is, doing everything from producing feminist theater to writing for feminist magazines to writing woman-positive erotica aimed at female audiences). I endured 30 excruciating hours of unmedicated labor when I had my son, only breaking down and accepting drugs when my life literally depended on it. And I’ve always stood up to sexism whenever and wherever possible, though not always successfully (like when I was unceremoniously forced out of my job simply for having a baby).
But on the other hand, I haven’t always enjoyed the company of women much, or particularly enjoyed all that goes with being female. For example, I’ve always had more guy friends than girlfriends—going all the way back to elementary school. (I have always hated the gossipy, passive-aggressive, and overly judgmental behavior that often goes on among women. I prefer the straight-talking, no-bullshit company of men instead.) Whenever I go to a party, you’ll usually find me sitting at a table with a bunch of guys at the end of the night, talking business and politics. Unlike most women who tend to run in packs, I have always been pretty solitary, with a very small and select (though tight-knit) group of female friends, most of whom are like me in this same regard.
One thing I’m very outspoken about, though, is I’ve always thought women are tougher than men—-physically and emotionally. We have a much higher tolerance for pain, we have more endurance (marathoners versus sprinters—-we’re biologically programmed this way thanks to being made for pregnancy and childbirth), and we are better at understanding and managing our emotions. (Note to men: I don’t think that men who never cry and “act tough” actually ARE tough—-there’s a big difference between looking it and being it). And it’s a damn good thing too, because we ladies have to deal with a lot of crazy shit when it comes to how our bodies work.
Men pretty much have the same hormonal dish served to them every single day of their adult lives. Women, on the other hand, ride a different roller coaster every single day—-and that’s when everything is working the way it should. Women’s bodies are frighteningly complex, and difficult to deal with even when things are working properly (guys, if you’ve ever lived with a woman of childbearing age, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
If that weren’t bad enough, when something goes wrong with our bodies, it REALLY goes wrong. As in, massive blood loss and anemia and dizziness/fainting/collapse/fatigue. Not to mention pain. (Not the pain of childbirth, mind you, which is in a category by itself—but still very unpleasant). This week my body decided to totally fuck itself up, to the point that I had to see a specialist, have a battery of very invasive tests (and there are more to come), nearly need a blood transfusion, and spend days in bed when there are a multitude of things I’d rather be doing—-like writing my novel and taking care of my kid. And all because some hormone or other in my body isn’t being secreted at the proper level. (And there’s a lot more detail I could go into here, but I won’t because it’s just gross.)
Damn it, sometimes I just wish all I had to worry about was whether to wear boxers or briefs. Men, you guys just don’t know how lucky you have it.