article

01.29.09

Exactly How Are Men Superior?

I love my sons—they’re funny, sweet, and full of surprises. But I don’t understand how a species incapable of feeding themselves—much less hitting the toilet—ever came to rule the planet.

Last week as I watched the 44th male take possession of the most powerful position in the world, I had to ask myself how men ever came to be in charge of the world. How did they surpass women in status, power, and wealth? I don’t hate men, I live with far too many of them to survive day-to-day harboring such feelings. I just know that women are the more capable sex. As early as the age of two, girls leave boys standing bewildered in their dust as they speed along the social, emotional, and intellectual racecourse of life.

I am not dealing with Einstein here, just regular boys, and besides, I bet Einstein had his mother tying his shoes for him until he was in college.

My daughter, Cleo, was self-sufficient and independent from the time she could walk; my boys can't take a piss without my help, and even then they can’t manage to get it in the toilet bowl. My boys have been slow to walk and talk, impossible to potty-train, and refused to give up breast-feeding. I had none of these problems with my daughter. When Cleo was five, I came home exhausted from work and fell asleep on the sofa. I opened my bleary eyes to find her eating pizza.

“Where did you get that?” I asked.
“I called Domino’s.”
“Where did you get the money?”
“Your purse.”
“Did you tip?”
“Twenty percent.”

I can’t imagine any of my boys, much less my husband, taking such proactive measures against personal hunger.

“Mom, can I have some cereal?” Peik, my 13-year-old son asks.
“Sure,” I say.
Fifteen minutes later, he starts whining, “Mom, I’m hungry. Aren’t you going to get my cereal?”
“No, I said you could have it. You can get it yourself.”

How can it be that they can’t overcome hunger, the most basic of human instincts, yet they are given the power of world nuclear annihilation?

I never remember having to help my daughter with her homework outside of any special projects she needed me to acquire materials for. She was completely on her own. I certainly never had to remind, cajole, or threaten her with death to get her to do it. With my ten-year-old Truman, it goes like this:

“Mom, I have to do my homework.” (This is after hours of me telling him he needs to do his homework.)
“OK, do it.”
“I need you to help me.”
“You haven’t even started, how do you need help already?”

My daughter is a model of scrappy ingenuity. Now a junior in college majoring in broadcast journalism, she works as a bartender to earn money. The bar where she works advertises on a local sports radio station and she used that connection to get an internship there. Cleo did such a great job that the station manager recommended her for a job at the local television station. I can’t imagine my son connecting the dots this way—he forgets to wear a coat when it is 20 degrees outside.

The multitask gene is obviously linked to the X chromosome, because I know of no men who carry the trait. My husband will get off of the sofa to get something from the kitchen and yet it never occurs to him to bring his empty coffee cup with him. He is a highly intelligent, successful architect, but he can’t leave the house on time in the morning because he can’t find his keys. I can’t even count the times per week he has to put out an all-points-bulletin on his glasses because he can’t remember where he left them, all the while it never occurs to him to put some sort of system in place so his keys or glasses can be located. A hook by the door? A string on his glasses? Seriously, and his kind run the world?

Five minutes of observing my son’s preschool class is all the proof I need. The little girls are verbally adept and speaking in complete sentences. With complete understanding of exactly what it is they want, the girls take charge of the room, with organized cubbies and color-coordinated outfits. While the boys, many of whom forgot to put on underwear, grunt in monosyllabic tones.

How many times while expressing worry over some alarmingly backward behavior in one of my boys, has a fellow mother said to me, ”Well, you know Einstein didn’t speak until he was four.” The implication being that we all know the boys are behind, and we are just hoping that a slow start ends up in greatness. I am not dealing with Einstein here, just regular boys, and besides, I bet Einstein had his mother tying his shoes for him until he was in college and I doubt he could hit the toilet bowl either.

The only possible explanation I can come up with is that in prehistoric times, in order to get some real work done, cave women sent their men off to hunt and do battle, and the trend stuck. I love my boys; I find them funny, and sweet, and full of surprises, but I just don’t understand when the girls got lapped in the race. They had such a clear lead.

Laura Bennett was trained as an architect but has since established her career as a fashion designer by becoming a finalist on Season 3 of the Bravo TV series Project Runway . Bennett lives amid complete chaos in New York City with her husband and six children, Cleo, 20, Peik, 13, Truman, 10, Pierson, 6, Larson, 5, and Finn, 2.