Fran Lebowitz said, in Metropolitan Life, in 1978:
Being a woman is of special interest only to aspiring male transsexuals. To actual women, it is merely a good excuse not to play football.
Women are endlessly fascinating to me and I’m certainly no transsexual. They’re so complex and it’s so difficult to get a line on all their ways. So I plead guilty to making the species my life study, quite apart from being honoured to be the mate of one [at a time].
This news report on seven out of eight cyclists killed in London being women is by no means some misanthropic treatise but an attempt to come to grips with why it should be so. Xlbrl, a commenter at this and other sites, said:
I would not have predicted that. Women are certainly more cautious drivers than men. If caution does not help on a bike, that leaves two possibilities. One, that drivers subconsciously–and that is how we drive–may be even less prone to registering a woman than a man. Second, a woman may be be less quick to make the WTF perception and act on it.
It’s probably true that drivers are more prone to ignoring a good, quiet person who sticks to the side of the road than someone like me who makes his presence felt. Then there is the tendency for women to be less confident overall – almost all the films and advertising refer to women “empowering themselves” and cosmetic and soap ads speak of “giving you that confidence”. When women are ultra-confident, many fall into the trap of being brash. My girlfriend was one of those – driving like a maniac and thinking nothing could happen to her.
Finally, we come down to vision. Even with good peripheral vision, you need to be in the habit of looking two hundred metres all round, not just twenty metres and then you have to look into drivers’ eyes to determine if you have a problem on your hands. Usually, women aren’t really into that because they’re not as assertive. That can be a good or bad thing but it seems to be getting them killed in London.
It can also come into multi-tasking. Indeed women do it better, in general and that’s what they may be doing on the bike – sorting out all their issues while they go. I can’t do that – I’m not a multitasker and so I concentrate on one thing only – the road and surrounds.
Look at the photo of Bond and ladies. The one on the left is the new, brash, modern woman who wants it all and knows all her rights. The one on the right is the traditional woman in most men’s eyes though she’s confident in her own way. The one in the middle is confident. You can say it is because he’s achieved something but so have the other two. Not only that – there are many men with that sort of confidence, irrespective of their achievements.
OK – introduce a threat. How would you expect them to react? Let’s not make that threat a lion or a tiger because all would run. Make the threat, say, two hoodlums with knives.
Depends, doesn’t it? Eva Greene might be a karate expert. Catarina Murillo might be a boxing expert. Odds on they aren’t though – look at men and women in gyms and what they’re really doing there. Most men are building muscle and most women are getting in shape.
The question I’m asking is who will be the assertive one to take control? Or would all three attack the hoodlums at the same time and overpower them? I once taught a group of girls that. Stay in a pack, I said and if threatened, immediately attack like wolves. Knee to the groin, claws in the eyes and Bob’s your uncle. They refined it to using the feminine charm to get close [men are always susceptible to this], then the knee to the groin etc.
Tom Paine maintains that women are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and he’s no doubt right but still – women don’t mind the strong arms of a man and a man does like to be a man. Look at Alison’s post on this, a person I call a “proper woman” in every way:
Strong, gathering, steeling embraces. The kind only a man can provide. Gathers me up and reassures. Making me feel safe. I can have a hundred discussions and put the world to rights. I can take care of me and assert enough presence to feel my way in this world with confidence. But at the end of the day, when the world feels such a strange place and in particular a curious one full of memories and deja vu at this point in my life, I find my mind centres on this one personal truth.
I really think both genders would do better playing to their strengths and letting the other cover for their weaknesses, rather than trying to come over as the omnipotent superhero.