“What is a woman?” is a question Ketanji Brown Jackson dodged while speaking on CNN, implying that she’s not an expert on biology. Her response was absurd and off-putting. Women’s lives are slightly longer than men’s. But what are the characteristics that make a woman unique? Here are some common differences between men and women across cultures and societies. Whether a woman’s life span is shorter or longer depends on her environment and cultural norms.
Women’s lifespans are a few years longer than men’s
The biological differences between men and women are probably a major contributor to the lifespan gap, but there is also a social and psychological component. While women are better health-conscious and less likely to smoke than men, they also tend to talk about their health problems and get better treatment faster. Additionally, males are less likely to adhere to treatment and may be more prone to disease. Regardless of the exact cause, the difference in lifespans between men and women is significant and should be accounted for in our future medical plans.
Feminine traits vary across societies
The prevalence of female traits varies greatly across cultures. Some studies have found that the higher a woman’s femininity, the lower her chance of dominance and success in competing for resources. This suggests that women who are high in femininity may face a greater trade-off between being resource-holding and dominating than men. Regardless of why women have these traits, there may be many cultural factors that contribute to these differences.
While sexism against women isn’t new, it still has an impact on society. In ancient Mesopotamia, women were enslaved and separated from their lineage. In most Western countries, women still do not have the right to vote until the 20th century. After marriage, women became legal property. The term for this is coverture. In the 1848 novel, Thackeray suggests that women are “made for delectation and comfort.”
The Power of Parity report by the McKinsey Global Institute explores the economic benefits of narrowing the gender gap. While women currently generate about 37 percent of global GDP, men account for almost 50 percent of the world’s working population. In 2025, achieving gender parity would yield a $12 trillion annual economic boost. In 2015, progress was marginal. The report also details the cost to men of gender inequality.
Throughout history, women have undergone many types of body alteration, including circumcision and liposuction. Some cultures have even gotten creative and performed elaborate scarring. Women from the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia have their lips pierced with metal plates, which grow bigger with time. Many of these women have the procedure done during marriage and are said to be more attractive and fertile than women without these scars. In Myanmar, Kayan women wear large brass rings on their necks and collarbones. The pressure of these brass coils pushes down the collarbone, making women more sexually demanding.