Women Vs. Men : Battle of the Brain

Women Vs. Men : Battle of the Brain

We all know that males and females are biologically different in many species. But how should we interpret one genre to another? And when it comes to the human brain, how different are men from women?


One thing we can’t deny about the features of modern societies nowadays
is the reminiscent mentality regarding women and their non-equality in women-men rapports. Although much progress has been seen in this regards, we still confront ourselves with questions and debates regarding the prohibit “woman’s role” or the lack of access in various fields of activity because of the gender inequalities or incapacities.

Men and women have, in some respects, different emotional worlds, various studies have revealed in recent years. In particular one, conducted by the University of Basel, analyzed the relationship, in both genders, between the processing of emotional information and memory. In addition, it has established a possible brain cause for women’s emotional expressiveness.

For example, it has been shown that women are better than men at distinguishing emotions, especially those of fear and disgust; as well as in the interpretation of facial expressions or multisensory stimuli related to emotions. Also that women and men often suffer from different mental illnesses because they both manage their own emotions differently. Thus, women are more likely to suffer from disorders such as depression or anxiety, while men are more likely to suffer from antisocial disorders and drug addictions.

On a more personal note, speaking of jealousy, a 2010 study performed by psychologists at Pennsylvania State University found that most women see emotional infidelity as worse than sexual infidelity; while the opposite happens to men. It is believed that this difference could have an evolutionary origin.

Also, according to a new study, men who believe they have power over women are more likely to have mental health problems. The study, published by the Journal of Counseling Psychology, also showed that men who believe they have such power over women are less likely to seek help for their psychological problems.


Is it true that men and women have different brains this being the reason they are more aggressive than women while women are more empathetic than men?


“This is a very popular story because it gives us a very simple explanation about the world we live in,” says neuroscientist Daphna Joel from Tel Aviv University. “It explains why women are more sensitive and emotional, and men more aggressive and sexual, why most teachers are women and most engineers are men.”

Joel has investigated man’s brain, reaching the following conclusions: it has two areas, referring to “aggression” and “sex”, while women’s brains mark two other centers – “emotion” and “communication”.

Gender-based brain differences

Man

Woman

Bigger brain

Smaller brain

Thinner cortex

Thicker cortex

More white matter

More grey matter

Bigger amygdale

Smaller amygdale

Smaller Hippocampus

Bigger Hippocampus

Larger ventricles

Smaller ventricles

And yet, according to Joel, there is no “masculine brain” or a feminine one. “Some characteristics are more common in men and some in women, but there is no male or female brain, opposite case to male and female genitalia. What my study shows is that each brain is a unique mosaic of characteristics,” she adds.

The fact that women have smaller brains and older men “empty spaces” (ventricles) does not make one or the other more intelligent by default, or predisposed to certain behaviors or emotions, concludes the researcher, adding that the brain is intersexual.

This is the ‘rule’ that does not always apply though. Brain can be different considering gender when it belongs to someone with a rare neurological condition, such as autism (in this case, boys are the ones to suffer from it more often than girls).  

Joel’s study, on 2.700 brains, published last year in “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience”, has proven that “what is characteristic to female brain it is also characteristic to male brain and the other way around”.

Simon Baron-Cohen is one of the researchers who disagree with these conclusions. For the psychologist and professor at the University of Cambridge, there are studies that show that, on average, men are better at systems analysis and women at empathizing with people. He says that autism, his area of ​​expertise, is an “extreme version” of the typical male brain.

Modern society’s hand over

The many differences between the two sexes fortunately couldn’t stop women for gaining their rights and for proving they are no lesser than their “opponents”.

Here you have the most notable successes women managed to “score” over time:

  • 1895: South Australia grants women the right to vote

In December 1894, the Parliament of South Australia passed a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. The battle was tight and hard to be won, but it meant one big step for the condition of women.

According to the National Museum of Australia, South Australia has become the first territory in the world to grant equal political rights to men and women.

  • 1920: The United States give women the right to vote

On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment bought to the US Constitution was ratified through the tireless efforts of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott, giving women the right to vote.

The movement for women’s suffrage in the United States had flourished in 1848, with the first conference on women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York State.

Canada had nevertheless overtaken the United States by allowing women to vote as early as 1918. Last but not least, Quebec did not grant them this right until 1940.

  • 1960: Sexual revolution gives sexual rights to all women

The sexual revolution (or liberation), was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships firstly throughout the United States then all over the world, from the 1960s to the 1980s.

At the core of the sexual revolution was the concept — radical at the time — that women, just like men, enjoyed sex and had sexual needs. Feminists asserted that single women had the same sexual desires and should have the same sexual freedoms as everyone else in society.

  • 1963: US pass the Equal Pay Act

Former President John F. Kennedy supported the amendment of the Federal Fair Employment Standards Act of 1938 so that women receive the same pay as men in the same job.

In Canada, the pay gap between men and women has been declared “discriminatory” under the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977. But the disparities persist still, a woman earning 88 cents for every dollar a man earns.

  • 1973: Right to decide over own abortion


Roe v. Wade, arguably one of the most controversial court decisions in women’s rights in the past 75 years, legislated on the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. This decision of the Supreme Court established that courts, doctors or politicians could no longer make this decision in their place. In Canada, abortion was “decriminalized” in 1988.

  • 1980: China passes a new marriage law

The new Chinese marriage law from 1980 granted certain rights to women during the legal term of the marriage contract: they had to be 18 years of age or older to get married, had to be consenting, and the courts could reject marriages for unacknowledged reasons (such as human trafficking and arranged marriages).

  • 2012: United Nations bans sexual mutilation of the female genital tract


The terrifying reality of genital mutilation that was threatening girls up to the age of 15 ended in 2012 (at least in theory), at the global initiative of United Nations. Common in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, it had affected nearly 200 million girls and women.

  • 2017: Saudi Arabia grants women the right to drive

The Saudi government repealed the regulation banning women from driving. According to a decree signed by King Salman in 2019, they are now also allowed to go abroad without first requiring the approval of the man referent that holds them as their guardian.

  • 2017: Lebanon repeals a law pardoning rapists

Until 2017, the rapist could have been acquitted if he married his victim. Worldwide women’s rights activists finally managed to have this inconvenient law abolished in August same year.


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