Women’s bodies are no good!?!?

I hate to be the kill-joy here, but as a response to this I have some (err)humble observations –

1. Pregnancy is not a pathological condition. It is a biological process. Women aren’t better or worse without it. Ditto for Menstruation. The body isn’t any worse because of it.

2. Not everyone shaves. Shaving isn’t a requirement imposed by your body, it is imposed on your body by society.

3. Osteoporosis quite often has to do with poor diet in childhood. There are two aspects to this – in most cultures till about 35 years back the disparity in diet for girls and boys was vast – as it was believed that boys (Even at 8) would need more energy. The second aspect is that women are told they shouldn’t eat much and ruin their chances of landing a good mate! So out go the dairy products and protein that are so crucial to bone-health. So there you have it – most illnesses come from social pressure. Another interesting observation – women aren’t allowed to exercise as much as men are. Women work (which is stressful activity), as opposed to exercising (which does not stress a body part but engage it in activity that makes it more flexible).

4. Breast cancer is as likely as prostate or testicular cancer.

5. Men pee anywhere. On buildings, near sidewalks, over shrubs. Women unfortunately cannot do the same because most cultures cannot take a woman sitting squat to pee. Therefore they crowd the first available restroom they can see. And if you think it’s any different outside India – you should take a look around in any city on a Friday night once the booze has begun its trip.

16 Comments

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16 Responses to Women’s bodies are no good!?!?

  1. LAK

    Well thought out article. I read the article which *inspired* your post, and it seemed to be going nowhere—the sympathy seemed misplaced. But, your point no. 2—the woman’s body is none the worse from Menses and pregnancy? Surely that is what makes us vulnerable (I will not say “weak”?

  2. Yes, well-written. But, like lak, I too wonder about your point #: 2. I don’t think menstruation and pregnancy make us either weak or vulnerable (or “worse”); but this biological/sexual difference is definitely at the root of many patriarchal assumptions about gender. Can we afford to ignore this difference?

    And yeah, I refuse to shave.

  3. LAK and River: You guys mean point no. 1 right? *confused*

    I understand that women menstruate, and get pregnant. But my point is that it makes the body different from a man’s, not necessarily worse. The world has to adjust to the differences of both bodies. My point was about the biological aspect of it. That the body doesn’t necesarily suffer because of these processes and that suffering or vulnerability is more of a social construct. This construct keeps us away from all the action.

    For instance, a pregnant woman can pretty much work till a week before her delivery. But often firms insist that a woman is given less work by the time her bump is visible because they have to wean her off the work. (My point – where is the dialogue before you decide she can or cannot do the work) Or that a woman must take pills to ward off her period to engage in some social activity. If all the research that went into making women more (ugh) beautiful went into making pregnancy and periods easier – life would be so different!

    By all means – let’s understand the process and how it affects a woman’s relationship with herself and the world – but don’t label the body weak/worse because of it! (I know you both aren’t!!)

  4. LAK

    Yup, sorry, point no.1 it is. The body may not be weak/worse, but still vulnerable—physically—what if she falls on her tummy, what if she gets hit there? In that sense. Of course men are vulnerable too. Maybe this whole thing started in the distant past by men “hypnotising” women into thinking they were weak. As for working upto delivery time, don’t you think it is purely individual? a robust woman can and a less fortunate one may not be physically able to.

  5. LAK: You read my mind lady! Yup. Men are vulnerable physically as well – but in a different way. And about the workload, that’s what I mean when I bring in the dialogue bit. I just don’t like the assumptions made about coping mechanisms.

  6. hi neha! wanted to address a couple of points in the previous comment; so with your permission:

    lak,
    re “…what if she falls on her tummy…”
    it’s the baby who’s vulnerable, as much as it is after birth too.

    and a ..”less fortunate one..” is because of complications in the pregnancy, much like an illness if she were not pregnant.

    being pregnant… is a lifestyle choice, if you will. you live a different life from that of a partying singleton; but by choice, not weakness. those choices are the beginings of parenthood.

    another interesting post, neha!
    cheers
    nina

  7. WOW…some reaction to my scribblings without any purpose… I was neither trying to sympathise with anyone or belittle anyone…but merely stating the facts as i understood…whether you call it a disease or not, pregnancy causes pain and body discomfort…Prostrate cancer is never as fatal as breast cancer…o my knowledge osteoporosis is quite prevalent among middle aged first world women..who eat decently and exercise as much as men..and as for toilets and shaving, i had clerly mentioned it was linked to social mores…

  8. OK.

    Pregnancy, as Neha states, is a physiological state (as opposed to pathological) which puts extra demands on the body. But then so does going for a run. I have yet to speak to a pregnant woman in clinic who has not been overwhelmingly positive about the whole thing. I kind of feel jealous, the bond between mother and child is something you simply can’t comprehend unless you experience it first-hand. Sure, you get back ache and nausea – but you also get to produce a living person. We can’t do that.

    Osteoporosis is more common in women than men because it’s dependent on peak skeletal mass – which is established early in life. Men rarely suffer from osteoporosis because we have a higher bone mass at around the age of 30, after which it begins to decline. Not all women get it, but it’s really part of the ageing process. Live long enough, you will get it. The stereotypical fractured hip lady is a little Indian aunty – osteoporosis is higher amongst Asians. It is not prevalent amongst middle-aged women shivaji, it’s a disease of the elderly. It’s good advice for anyone to make sure you drink milk and get lots of sunlight, don’t listen to aunties you say you should be fair!

    For men, it is prosTATE cancer that is a hazard of ageing. Pretty much all men will get it if they don’t die of something else first. I wouldn’t agree it’s never as fatal as breast cancer, but as it affects an older age group than breast cancer, men are more likely to die of something else first.

    When I read your post the other day old chap, the first thing I thought was “no girl has experienced getting kicked in the knackers.” Surely, the greatest pain there is ;)

  9. LAK

    :)! neha, look at the responses!
    Nina, I agree, pregnancy is a lifestyle choice, and as much for the father as the mother–I know guys who’ve given up smoking in preparation for fatherhood. Going back to vulnerable, I wouldn’t differentiate between the baby and the mom at that stage–they are one piece! Also, I feel a person becomes vulnerable the minute he/she has a kid.

  10. lak,
    so true about being more vulnerable as a parent!! never thought that would happen… till it did! spot on there.

    but in differentiating baby and mom… i’ve always been this huge pro-choice supporter, till i had a baby myself. i still beleive in a woman’s right to choose, but the baby, even unborn totally felt like he was on his own trip, an individual.

    going a bit off tangent there neha, sorry!

    nina

  11. I think women’s bodies are far more beautiful, productive and exciting than men’s, in every which way. The list goes on to eternity.

  12. A note about the tone of your post rather than the body of it, as i am much too tired and beat to go into who has it rougher at the end of the day.

    I loooove your “Uh, i hate to be the killjoy here” post tone :). Makes me actually feel that you are coming on to a crowded party and clearing your throat on the mic :)

  13. “Men pee anywhere. On buildings, near sidewalks, over shrubs.”

    fIRST OFF – u forgot to include in that list bath tubs and cats.

    Secondly that statement is a generalization! Very Unfair Neha. :( I wonder what the Martian men will have to say about this…..

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  15. Anand Srini

    a pattern that i see in responses to an article is that people cling on to a familiar word or theme and write prose. the relevance of that prose to the nub of the matter is incidental.

    pregnancy indeed leaves the body weaker just as old age does. the article you link to, does not suggest it is pathological.

    most of us live by the norms of society. we are not external to society. the desire to depilate, for most, is indeed personal and is not borne out of a need to comply with societal pressures.

    “most illnesses come from social pressure” – a statement which cuts a wide swathe will not stand up to empirical and scientific validation. it is preceded by a few cases that serve a a premise leading to a plausible conclusion.

    breast cancer is as likely as prostate cancer or testicular cancer — >

    again such a statement cannot be termed accurate as it does not fall upon any known evidence gathered during a reliable study.

    it is fair to say that men and women are a product of natural creation. attempting to compare their inherent difficulties is asinine.

    neither men nor women as a gender has emerged superior at the conclusion of this rejoinder provoked by the article it links to.