The “Weaker Sex” Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Women become frail because everyone thinks they’re frail — including themselves.
My body feels vulnerable, my body feels small and breakable and weak. My body recoils from men’s physical presence, their strength their height their width their assurance, the way they take up space in the world. My body fears and hides and shrinks.When shadows lurk on street corners. When guys come too close, a threatening invasion of my personal space. When I wear high heels and I feel sassy and confident and powerful until one look or comment reduces me to mincemeat.
Sometimes I am stronger than the man I am scared of, or I can run faster or kick quicker or reduce him to ashes with a withering look. But I don’t believe that, it doesn’t even cross my mind because the way I have been taught to view my body, the way everyone is taught to view women’s bodies, is as small and breakable and weak and vulnerable.
The problem with the myth of the weaker sex is how self-perpetuating it is. How a belief in women’s frailty actually creates that frailty itself. It’s exactly like how people used to believe women’s intellectual capacities to be inferior to men’s, which led to their capacities being reduced. Girls received less education, women were encouraged not to participate in intelligent conversation but rather be seen and not heard, women were infantilised throughout their lives, barred from higher education and training. In short, they were prevented from ever developing their intellect.
Today, girls are encouraged to take part in less active games than boys, they have fewer opportunities to develop their abilities on the sports field, they are told not to get too muscular because it isn’t feminine. They practise less and lose interest in sports because they are convinced that they are no good anyway. From their infancy, they are taught that they are weaker than boys, that to be feminine is to be frail. From outside and in, everything pushes women to constrict their own abilities.
But what about anatomy?
Some cis-women are shorter than some cis-men, is basically what our physical differences boil down to, when you into it. From my 5'1" I am hardly a tall woman, and yet I many…