Does Nature Determine the Share of Masculinity and Femininity in Society?

31 08 2009

It is interesting to note that the research on the differences between men and women continues. Does nature really determine the share of masculinity and femininity in society? Is this a fact or just a stigma in our society plaguing around?

For definition purposes, let us simply characterize masculinity as having the qualities associated with men, and femininity as having the traits of women in general. Meanwhile, nature is humankind’s original or natural condition. In this respect, it is very obvious that men in nature are physically different with women.

Physical Differences
By mere looking at men, one will immediately see a big difference between men and women. The skeletal structure of men is bigger than women. Men weigh heavier than female. This is attributed to the biological difference between the two sexes. Men produce higher levels of testosterone than women and lower levels of estrogen. Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by the testes that encourages the development of male sexual characteristics such as having beard and a deep voice. The larynx or the voice box grows bigger during puberty that’s why the voice becomes deep. Estrogen on the other hand is a female hormone produced by the ovaries. This hormone triggers menstruation and prominent breasts than men.

Meanwhile, the brain of the men is said to be generally 2% bigger than female. However, this does not have a correlation with the intelligence of the two sexes. Men think at problem solving one at a time while women could handle multiple problems. Men also have greater upper body strength, bigger hands, bigger feet, thicker skull and they easily build muscle than women.

Sociological Differences
There are several nurturing non-physical attributes that differentiates men and women. One would be related to sociological. Women are more pronounced to have talent in human relations. They are more seen as having effective communications skills. They know when and how to listen to other people. They have the ability to connect hence they become more emphatic than men. They want to know how problems are solved in details and not just solving a problem. Men tend to be less talkative and prefer to be in isolation or play sports rather than communicating with other people. Hence, they only want to solve the problem itself. Men prefer bigger picture and show competence in solving problems.

If you will go to remote places and observe how the two sexes have evolved millions of years ago, you will find out that their communal lives have been dictated by culture. Outside a city, there are still existing practices that women are not encouraged to work having the notion that it is the male who should provide for the family’s welfare. Men tend to go hunting for food and women prefer to stay at home to take care of the children. In politics, few women have been accepted in office. Until few years ago, it was still not feminine to be in public office. Fortunately, there is now gender equality between the two sexes in public office. Both men and women have increasing opportunity to land a job where men used to dominate.

The Final Scorecard
Does this therefore lead to masculinity and femininity within the society the live in?
While there is still a continual study on the differences between men and women, one will not be able to point out if nature indeed determines the share of masculinity and femininity in society. One has to take into consideration individual differences in terms of personalities rather than gender. Men and women are both equal but they are different. The bottom line message here is that society plays a pivotal role in influencing acceptance between femininity and masculinity.

Coleman, Taj. Gender Differences. August 30, 2002.
Conner, Michael Psy. D. Understanding the Difference Between Men and Women.
He Brain, She Brains. n.d. Neuroscience for Kids. URL:
Hensley, Amber. 10 Big Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Brains. 16 June 2009. Masters of Healthcare. URL:
Meriam Dictionary. URL: URL:
Sabbatini, Renato M. E. Are There Differences between the Brains of Males and Females? URL:
Volk, Elvi. Should Women Train Like Men? n.d. URL:


Gender Sensitivity: A Mountaineering Perspective*

31 08 2009

“I think the whole secret of women’s liberation is for your man to find it within himself to do things that historically have been classified as ‘women’s work’, and his masculinity should never be questioned when he does these things”. (Jean Stapleton, actress and TV star)

Let’s be honest about something here. We all know that ‘mountaineering’ has been tagged as “man’s world”. But couple of years ago, women have already little by little delved into the activity. Some of them even gained passion for “mountaineering”. Why do you think so? The following discussions may simply address the issue.

Understanding Boys and Girls: Any Differences?

This part is for the BOYS. Do you remember when you were a kid playing “taguan”, “tumbang preso”, “habulan” etc. in your neighborhood? Noticed that you were all playing with the girls in the area? But, when the game is “piko” or “luksong lubid”, definitely the boys will shy away and will no longer participate? It will surely be the girl’s time to play?

Have you ever thought of why boys do not like color pink? And if a boy has a pink short, he will surely be teased by other boys and will be called “bakla”. So what’s the point here? The “norms” are clearly dictated by society.

The other side of course is natural. You boys begin to understand the “metamorphosis” of your biological nature. When you noticed that your neck is beginning to have a small “adam’s apple” and your voice seems to be lower, the more you never wanted to go out of your house. At times, you will notice also that you are beginning to have greater upper body strength, you easily build muscle and you have thicker skin.

As you grow older, you begin to have an increase interest in the opposite sex. This is of course the usual context. Deep inside, you knew that something inside of you is beginning to change you to become something else. This is the time you begin your adolescent stage. You go on a date and your life goes on.

How about the GIRLS? What is their story? When you started schooling, you knew that you were different from the boys. You dress differently – skirts, tops with laces and so forth. But you never questioned why. You just accepted the fact that every time you have to put on your clothes, it has to be a skirt, a blouse or a “bistida”. Then, there came a time in your life when you started wearing the same clothes as the boys. You started playing the games that boys play – baseball, computer games and even basketball. But similar with the boys, you knew something is different inside of you – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Physically speaking, you are not strong as compared to the boys. On an average, men are larger than women. Men have greater spurs of muscular energy. Women’s pelvic anatomy adapted for child-bearing prevents them from running as fast as men. Weight, shape, size and anatomy are tangible and easily measured. At an onset, your breasts, hips and legs for instance, are filled out as compared to the boys. You don’t develop an “adam’s apple”. Instead, you have a very soft voice that any boy could dream to have as a girlfriend. Specially, when you have a charming smile, boys will surely die in front of you upon bestowing to him and witnessing your “Monalisa smile “.

Emotionally, you are more hot tempered specially when your underclothing is stained with blood the first day on a monthly basis. Because sometimes you never know the exact day “it” will come. You just know that you will have the next month. Reason for this behavior is more on hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle which result in a rhythmic variation in acuteness of perception, muscular coordination and even mental concentration in the course of each month. “Oh, the red flag is up!”, as the girls say.

Mentally since girls have four times as many brain cells you tend to be more keen to details. Because girls have more efficient access to both sides of their brain and therefore greater use of their right brain, you always like to plan ahead. But at times, you know that plans are never carved in stone that’s why you always go from one shop to another just to be able to decide which blouse you are going to buy. Girls generally can focus on more than one problem at one time and prefer solving problems through multiple activities.

And lastly, spiritual in the sense that the bible simply put “girls” as the shadow of men.

Bridging Differences

Although boys and girls know they have a lot of differences, they still could work together. They could still trek, be climb buddies or simply be together in an outdoor activity. But what then is the issue here?

Let us say the boys and girls are now “men” and “women”. Since in all relationships whether as friends or as a couple, the main ingredient why the relationship survives is communication. Both men and women communicate who they are, their values, respect and esteem for the other person. Thus, this ingredient should always be inside the backpack of a mountaineer. Every one of you should have a pack of “open communication” inside your load.

So it is understood that whenever a woman feels like peeing, the EL should inform the group to have a break and rest for a while. Similarly, the men may also pee. Here, decency and respect should be observed. The men should step out of the trail and find a place a little bit farther from the group just like what the women do whenever the call of nature occurs.

There are also cases that men generally discriminate women’s abilities in climbing. Often times, you will hear men will say that women will not be able to climb Mt. Halcon, Mt. Banahaw or even Guiting-guiting. Why say so? Because men will always have the concept of if they will be climbing with women, the number of hours in the itinerary will be longer as expected. Worst, if the men feel that since there are “physical” differences between men and women, the women may not be able to climb those mountains mentioned. In such cases, if this type of man who doesn’t have the patience or would like to have a “rat-rat” pacing on the trail or belittles women at large should never give any comment at all. There should be a paradigm shift for both men and women. So, it would be best for women to undergo sufficient training and education before the climb so as not to be underestimated by men.

In a group outdoor itinerary, another classic example will be that of giving out assignments. Women automatically chair the food committee and the men handle tent committee. Let us all exercise “self-sustenance” as much as possible. Better yet, be sensitive on “gender issues”.

A Retrospect

The bottom line here is the acceptance of the male genre of the insurmountable differences of men and women regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Communication also plays a vital role. Individual respect for other people is another thing. These are the reasons why women in their capacity as “being a woman” keeps on trying to infiltrate the “man’s world” of mountaineering.

Aries, Elizabeth. Men and Women in Interaction, Reconsidering the Differences. Oxford University Press Inc, 1996.
Wilkins, Ronald J. Man & Women. USA: C. Brown Company Publishers, 1975.

*Originally published by MFPI, 13 April 2004

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