Cosmopolitan magazine recently published an online article asserting “tons of studies” have proven women are better than men at some things, specifically 12 things. Whether the 12 studies they referenced actually constitute “tons” is question for another time, one involving basic math skills. I suppose it doesn’t much matter seeing how math skills were not on their list. What is concerning is Cosmo has apparently taken the perspective that equality is no longer the issue, no longer “the cause”. What was once a noble quest has now become a full-fledged campaign to demonstrate the superiority of one sex over the other! I say this having never read the magazine, a minor and inconvenient detail. Since men’s magazines will not waste space on this type of material I feel it is my responsibility to defend my male brethren from the fire-breathing Cosmoites. I take on this responsibility with all the seriousness it deserves.

According to Cosmo there are 12 areas where the female shines brighter. I’m not here to disparage these findings. What I can do is offer up an alternative perspective about these assertions and let you, gentle reader, make up your own mind. Obviously, the we/we’re introducing each item comes from Cosmo, not from me since, you know, I’m not a woman.

1) We’re cleaner.
Are women actually cleaner or, perhaps, simply less tolerant of non-pristine environments? Indeed let me put forth the hypothesis that if women are obsessed with eradicating every germ in sight maybe they are not making the best use of their time. This, dear ladies, is a war you cannot hope to win. Germs thrive, germs survive. I say rather than Swiffer yourself into a tizzy, go enjoy the great outdoors. Relax! Have fun! To quote the great Jane Austen:  “To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”

2) We interview better.
The truth is the workplace remains a male-dominated environment. Quite unfairly men make more money than women for the same work. Men generally hold higher positions of power and authority. Since this is the reality it should surprise nobody the perception is women interview better. Interviewing is as much about appearance as anything. And with men (let’s be honest) being men how could you not expect a well-dressed woman to make a much more favorable impression on a male interviewer than a well-dressed man? To quote the great J.K. Rowling: “It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

3) We evolve hotter.
Seriously? Seriously?? Is that a measure of anything important? The thrust here is that over time and through evolution women are getting better looking while men remain pathetically the same. The reason? Women who are perceived as better looking tend to procreate more than average looking ladies. Aside from being an amazingly sexist observation by a magazine claiming to empower women, this raises another point. It implies men are more selective, more discerning with whom they choose to propagate the species. Whatever the truth Cosmo should be ashamed. To quote the great Audrey Hepburn: “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”

4) We survive car accidents more often.
So women are better at surviving car accidents. Is this because of some innate skill which allows them to absorb the crash impact in such a way as to lessen the chance of death? Or is it something else entirely? To quote the great Vanessa Marcel:  “Because of my crazy work schedule, I have become something of a master at changing my clothes while driving. The men driving next to me love it.”

5) We’re better at seeking comfort.
The assumption is by talking things out with friends and such women are more skilled at seeking comfort during stressful periods of life. Granted, it certainly appears as if women talk more about feelings and blah blah blah. But why assume this is better than, oh let’s say, taking an axe to an old desk or getting together with a few buddies to smash chests together during a sporting event or devouring 11 chickens at an “All You Can Eat” buffet? To quote the great Sheila Graham: “Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”

6) We’re more recession proof.
This flimsy claim is based on one statistic that says since December 2007 80% of the jobs lost have been lost by men. It then goes on to admit that male dominated industries – manufacturing and finance – are the ones which have been hit the hardest. So it’s not actually that women are more recession proof; the jobs they hold are. That can easily change. How many males nurses were there 30 years ago? Anyway, how important is the recession proof claim? To quote the great Marilyn Monroe: “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

7) We graduate college more often.
And still, sadly, earn less. To quote the great Helen Keller: “College isn’t the place to go for ideas.”

8) We eat healthier.
This is true – according to today’s standards. But we all know how cyclical these healthy eating guidelines are. One day something is good for you, the next day it is like ingesting poison. I say give this a few years when new studies will undoubtedly demonstrate tremendous nutritional value in chicken wings, beef jerky and deep-fried everything. To quote the great Julia Child: ““The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

9) We have stronger immune systems.
Again, this is not a learned skill or practiced trait. Women produce far, far more estrogen than men. This plays an important role in fighting off disease. This estrogen thing is mere luck of the draw. To quote the great Marie Curie: “In science, we must be interested in things, not in persons.”

10) We live longer.
Of course women live longer. Apparently we men are dying in car accidents willy-nilly. And does a longer life mean a better one? To quote the great Tallulah Bankhead: “If I had to live my life again I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”

11) We’re better managers, especially in this economy.
Show me one successful female baseball manager and I’ll hush up. To quote the great Sharon Olds: “Baseball is reassuring. It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.”

12) We invest better.
This has something to do with being more cautious and thinking more carefully about the long-term. There are kernels of truth in there. Women do tend to be more cautious. I know when approaching any insect repelling situation many ladies display an admirable degree of caution. Also, long-term thinking is a female hallmark with the notable exception of being prepared to pay at the supermarket once all the items have been scanned and bagged. How all this relates to investing is a mystery. To quote the great Gertrude Stein: “If you are too careful, you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.”

I humbly implore the editors of Cosmopolitan to stop building walls between us. Instead, let’s all join hands and sing a song of unity and love. Especially you ladies with velvety, soft hands.

  1. Honie Briggs says:

    Freakin’ hilarious. Don’t get the big head or anything John, I only stopped by because your gravitar is wearing a Late Nite with David Letterman hat. : ) For you it’s Cosmo – for me it’s Vogue. Seriously, what are those people thinking?


  2. rangewriter says:

    Your last paragraph is the best paragraph. But then, I’m not a Cosmo reader either. I think I picked one up once in a doctor’s office. Put it back pretty quickly. Drivel.


    • John says:

      I’m sure Carl Sagan, rest his soul, isn’t crazy about people associating “Cosmo” with that ‘zine instead of his thought-providing “Cosmos.”


  3. I’m with you on #5. That’s a bogus one for sure!


  4. bronxboy55 says:

    Making generalizations about any group of people is always a dangerous thing — but it’s also a great premise on which to base a conversation or essay, whether you’re looking to stir up trouble or just sell some magazines. I had to laugh at this sentence: “…long-term thinking is a female hallmark with the notable exception of being prepared to pay at the supermarket once all the items have been scanned and bagged.” I guess most grocery store customers are women and they may be better shoppers, but at the check-out many of them seem to have given no thought to the fact that they have to actually pay for their stuff. Later, watching them back out of a parking space is also intriguing. But again, we shouldn’t generalize. To quote the great John Brennan: “Let’s all join hands and sing a song of unity and love.”


  5. I agree that the article sounds stupid, so why bother to review it? I suspect there are a great many more carefully thought out articles on noted differences and similarites between men and woman that would lead to a thought provoking and compelling discussion.

    My understanding is that prenatal and pubertal estrogen and testosterone have a profound affect on the development of both the body and the brain. Having said that, men and women are far more alike then they are different. Nonetheless, numerous studies have found that men consistently have superior spatial skills then women. Who knows what they meant by “tons” of evidence, but one of the most important aspects of science is replication. One study doesn’t mean jack shit. But if you can replicate the findings over and over again in multiple studies, the findings are likely to be true. Men having superior spatials skills compared to women AS A GROUP (because individual differences are greater then sex differences as a group) has been replicated over and over and over again.

    As for women, to me one of the most compelling differences that is well established is that the corpus collosum in women is considerably larger then in men. The corpus collosum is the section for the brain that connects the right brain and the left brain together. In essence, women have many more connections between the two sides of their brains compared to men. One can certainly speculate about how this would impact specific behaviors and skills – but I can’t remember the data on that.

    But seriously, when will we get past the battle of the sexes? Men and women both bring important traits and skills to the table and society benefits from both sexes. Both men and women are guilty of engaging in this discussion in a way that I think only serves to pull it down into something less than it should be.

    To me it’s no better than saying which race is more superior, blacks or whites?

    Why not approach the discussion from a different direction entirely? I think it would be far more interesting, productive, and ultimately – satisfying.


  6. Stop reading Cosmo, John. It’s not good for you.


  7. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Oh, Traskie – I laughed so hard at this. I loved the quotes…


  8. kayjai says:

    Interesting counter-arguments. I have some points to, uh, point out: a) The “great” Vanessa Marcel?? What? Really? Hmmm… ugh b) I now have a new appreciation for Julia Child and c) We are shinier, but cleaner? That’s a bit overdoing it I think. Nice post and I think you should shoot this off to the editors of Cosmo.


  9. sparklebumps says:

    Funnily, men have better magazines, like Mustang and FHM. Women only have Cosmo. I think that trumps all that other stuff…


  10. My first thought when I read the first sentence was, “only 12?” Then I realized Cosmo stopped at 12 to keep from giving the spouses or boyfriends or booty calls of the men who may glance at the cover of the magazine while their wife or girlfriend is reading it from getting an inferiority complex that will manifest itself by vigorously denying the validity of Cosmo’s arguments, or quite possibly Cosmo is trying to make its core demographic feel better about themselves while being better educated yet making less money. It’s probably one of those.


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