Friday Fact or Fiction: Men are Naturally Stronger than Women


VERDICT: Fiction

Women have struggled for centuries to have the same rights as men politically and in the work force. Another struggle has been the one for equal opportunity in sports. It has always been assumed that women weren't as athletic or as strong as men so the "weaker sex" has really had to work up to getting taken seriously in any sport. Now there are female basketball players, softball players, soccer players and - though rare - female football players. Women can also participate in military activities and serve in the same missions as men. The "strength" debate between men and women has been going on for years. Yes, we know. Big girls don't cry, and grown men definitely aren't allowed to. Either side could argue until we're all extinct but here in the Friday Fact or Fiction we like to stick with facts. Are men still stronger than women? There are two sides to this coin.

women stronger than men

The first step is to define strength. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the first two definitions of strength are "the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance" and second, "power to resist force." These two definitions of strength are in the men's favor. In terms of being physically stronger - able to lift more weight with less effort, and being more athletically inclined on a mass basis, this can be considered true.

Men produce larger quantities of the hormone testosterone than women, which is why they tend to carry more muscle and build more muscle faster than women. More muscle normally points toward more strength so that is why this is partly true. Men also tend to be larger in size in general than women. Having longer limbs means you have a longer lever to exert force, having larger muscle mass (controlled by testosterone) means there is more pushing force at the end of the lever. Having more bone mass also helps them produce more force. Anytime you get the average women and the average man in a weight room and have a strength contest with no previous training, the man will most likely win. However, essentially we are all made of muscle and women can train to be as strong as men. In no way is their natural advantage a hindrance to women at all. Women's muscles have the ability to adapt and grow strong if they train hard.

However, there is a third definition - "power of resisting attack." The truth behind this definition in women's favor was recently exposed in Women's Health Magazine. Men are not stronger than women in all areas. Women may indeed be better than men at fighting off disease, as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In research on mice, scientists found that estrogen in the female rodents blocks production of a protein that slows the immune system's response to infection. Females may have stronger defenses, a possible quirk of evolution that protects mothers-to-be, says lead study author, Dr Maya Saleh, Assistant Professor of Medicine at McGill University in Canada.

Here are a few other benefits women have over men that might tilt the argument according to numerous scientific studies done over the years of recorded human history: Women live longer, and not just the human female. In the animal kingdom the female also lives longer than the male. Women work longer hours during their lifetime than men. Women have less leisure time. The infant mortality rate is less for girls than boys. In industrialized countries the greater longevity of women is an undisputed fact.

At any age, men are three times more likely to die of accidents, violence and cardiovascular diseases. Malignant cancer related to smoking and alcoholism occur more frequently in men. Women resist extreme cold longer than men, because they have a deeper insulating layer of fat under their skin. Hemophilia, the hereditary disease which prevents blood from clotting, affects males primarily. Men are more subject to color blindness, stuttering and learning disabilities. Women have better manual dexterity enabling them to do work requiring finer movements. Women are wealthier than men. The U.S. Treasury Department informs us that women die richer by outliving spouses and inheriting everything. And girls mature, on the average, three years earlier than boys.

Plato (427-347 BC) was one of the first great philosophers, and for a long time the only one who believed in the basic equality of the sexes. We are going to stick with that and just say that men are not stronger than women. Each sex has its own strengths.