If you had had the choice between being born a boy or a girl, which would you have chosen? I’ve always said anyone would be mad to pick the fairer sex. In the purely biological sense, we are smaller, slower and weaker; our only redeeming physiological feature the ability to pop out the occasional sprog (admittedly kind of a big deal as it sort of ensures the continuation of mankind, but it’s hardly a useful skill day-to-day, like being more able to carry heavy shopping up the stairs or run for a bus without looking like a twat). Historically, we’ve been dicked on by pretty much everyone pretty much everywhere; in fact, the only times I can think of where it’s been better to be a bird is a) during any of the fightier periods, as wrapping bandages at home is always preferable to running face first into machine-gun fire in some Godforsaken field or b) on the Titanic.
However! We live in enlightened times. In the UK, at least, gender has become less and less a barrier for success, and although inequalities certainly still exist within the big picture, I for one have never felt disadvantaged in any real sense. Sure, lewd comments from white van drivers are disrespectful and irritating, but where it counts I’ve never felt like my gender has held me back. (Perhaps I’m lucky though – how about you?) And, to be honest, there are some awesome things about being a girl too, so let’s play the Glad Game. Bookmark it and bust it out next time you have to spend your hard-earned cash on tampons or when the line for the ladies’ room is twenty minutes long and you’re gagging for a piss.
Yes, fine, there’s always a queue and there are never enough mirrors, but at least there’s a nice atmosphere. What do boys do in the toilets? Stand there awkwardly in silence, resolutely looking ahead lest they accidentally make eye contact or – worse – look at somebody else’s cock. Girls, by contrast, actually get to spend quality time in the john. Some dude once asked me what girls do in the lavatories and why it takes so long and why we go in groups. It’s because, especially in schools and nightclubs and other places where oestrogen inevitably pools together, the loo is a social hub. Some of the best secrets I know have come from people spilling their guts while spilling their bladder at 2am. There’s something about urinating, seems to open the floodgates. Sometimes at university we would fit as many as five girls into one cubicle, standing on each other’s feet and taking it in turns to actually take a wazz, all the while chatting away, usually about the boys we’d left outside. If blokes share a cubicle (and why would they? Even girls draw the line at watching each other take a dump) everyone just assumes they’re snorting coke out of each other’s arse cracks.
First dates are nerve-wracking for anyone, but especially (I imagine) if you’re a dude. Whereas girls are more or less just required to turn up and look nice, boys have a myriad of small pressures. Where, for instance, is the best place to get your fledgling romance off the ground? Before you even start stuffing condoms into your wallet in a mad fit of
optimism responsibility, you’ve got to impress your date with your choice of venue. The cinema is obviously out (you can get away with those lovely little arty ones with the armchairs, but not on day one) and dinner isn’t sensible either in case she turns out to be a maniac and you have to make a break for it. The obvious choice is drinks, but nowhere too loud, in case you can’t hear each other, and nowhere too generic, in case she thinks you’re boring and unimaginative. Then you have to carefully consider your choice of outfit, hilarious anecdotes and greeting (hug? Air kiss? Double air kiss!?), mindful that many girls can be quite, er, judgey, comparatively, and practically take notes so they can discuss everything you said and did with their mates later (see below). And then there’s the prickly issue of the bill, which is just a big old pit of awkwardness for everyone. Eurgh.
Last year I went on holiday to Florida with my friend Carla and in two weeks of non-stop gassing we never ran out of things to say. I can’t even remember our conversations, to be honest, but by gum, we had a lot of them. By contrast, I’ve lived with two men for over a year now, and I still have no idea what they talk about when I’m not there to topic manage. No fucking clue whatsoever.
It does seem that generally men seem to share a lot less with each other. I know this because my friends and I have pretty open relationships – no topic yet too gross or embarrassing – and my housemates are routinely appalled by the conversations they overhear when the girls are round. This also makes many boys shitty vessels for gossip; I have male friends who can learn of a bro’s tragic break-up and when quizzed can only offer up a ten word summary. Pathetic, I could have got that shit off Facebook. Do they not realise we need details..!?
Most women love make-up, and many don’t. They’re both fine, but it’s nice to have the choice. Personally, I think being allowed to conceal stonking great big eye bags or monster zits without ridicule is fucking amazing. (Obviously men can wear make-up too if they like, but unless you’re in Patrick Bateman’s gang or a drag queen it’s bound to cause comment.)
Shaving is an inconvenience for almost everyone, but if you’re a girl at least pits and legs only take a few minutes, and unless you’re a swimsuit model or dance on tables for money it’s hardly a daily chore. If you are a man, your life will almost certainly be plagued with coarse, bristly hair growing relentlessly out of the most noticeable part of your body, viz, your face. And even if you style it out and go down the manly stubble route, or – god forbid – a full-on womb broom, you still have to groom that shit with trimmers and so on. (Is this difficult? It’s tricky enough getting liquid eyeliner bang-on symmetrical but at least you can start over if you properly cock it up.)
Furthermore, my boss recently got drunk and told me about his “untamable gooch hair problem” for five whole minutes, in which he colourfully described his unusually fluffy perineum and the predicament it presented in eye-watering detail. Apparently, he is in constant quandary whether to let it grow wild and free, “chafing his bollocks off”, or to surrender his quivering bifkin to the hands of a lady armed with some hot wax and a spatula, which will subsequently cost about £30 a fortnight for the rest of his life (assuming he keeps it up into his eighties, that’s £40K right there. I may suggest laser removal. Watch this space.)
I cry a lot. At films, the John Lewis Christmas advert, weddings, funerals, The Snowman, old people walking along holding hands, the last episode of Dexter (admittedly these were the hot tears of fury and disappointment, but it was crying just the same). I can’t help it. Even if I don’t feel especially sad, water just falls off my face. You thought you were a bit emotional at the beginning of Up? I was bawling like I had minutes to live. Titanic? Moulin Rouge? Schindler’s List? Full-blown hysteria. In olden times I would have been whisked off to the nuthouse, stat, or sat in the stocks so people could throw oranges at me.
Admittedly, few blokes feel the need to sob uncontrollably because Nicole Kidman has TB and Ewan McG has the sads, but even in properly awful situations, many men feel this social pressure to keep a stiff upper lip. My housemate recently told me he couldn’t remember the last time he shed a tear, let alone became a big red puffy ball of salty woe. What the bloody fuck is that, I practically welled up the other day when I couldn’t find my favourite eye pencil sharpener!? It makes no sense; I must have overactive tear ducts, or something, but I’d rather burst into tears every other week than never cry at all.
So it’s not all bad! Ladies, what do you like about being a girl? And gents, would you agree?
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