Why It's Important To Recognize Differences Between Men and Women

Male and female gender symbols.

“There’s a lot to be gained when men and women are able to understand, enjoy, and respect the differences in each other’s bodies.” - Dr. Paul Joannides

I’ve read a lot of media articles recently arguing that men and women really aren’t that different—and that any differences that do exist are due entirely to cultural conditioning. While I believe the authors of these articles are well intentioned and are striving for a noble goal of wanting to reduce gender inequality, I can’t help but feel that they are doing a disservice to readers by minimizing or (in some cases) completely ignoring important sex differences. The scientific reality is that men’s and women’s bodies are fundamentally different, and it’s in everyone’s interest to pay careful attention to those differences.

My colleague Dr. Paul Joannides (author of the fantastic Guide to Getting It On) has put together a great video highlighting some of the many differences present in men’s and women’s bodies, from their hearts to their lungs to their brains. As a result of these differences, men and women differ in their susceptibility to various infections and diseases, their bodies respond differently to medications, and they experience pain differently. Their brains also differ in the way they process sounds and color.

Recognizing these differences is essential for a number of reasons, which Dr. Joannides describes in the video below; however, one of the key points he makes is that developing appropriate and effective medications and treatments depends heavily on an informed understanding of how a given substance affects men’s and women’s bodies differently. If we treat them as though they’re interchangeable (such as by only studying medications in one sex), we run a serious risk of causing harm.

It’s therefore in the interest of everyone’s health to recognize these differences. But it’s also important for us to realize that we can acknowledge these differences while still also being firm supporters of gender equality—and while supporting trans rights and acceptance, too. These things are not mutually exclusive.

To learn more check out the full video below.

Watch more videos on the science of sex here.

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Image Source: 123RF/Michael Travers

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