I've been meaning to write this for at least a year or two now, spurned on in part by a series of articles by Mel Makoro and also by this old post of my own
. It starts with a simple question, see: Is it harder to be a boy or a girl? My personal suspicion is that it is harder to be female. We guys have absolutely no counterpart to menstruation and all the things that come with it (seriously, despite what some idiots say wet dreams just don't compare), and to be quite honest life has been served up to us on a silver platter for most of history.
There are, however, those (women among them) that believe that boys have it harder, and their arguements are not without merit. They point out that men are expected to prove themselves and have to be careful in how they present themselves as not to appear weak, effeminate, gay, or anything else other that strong and knowledgeable in every subject. "Men act, women are
," so to speak. Norah Vincent, a female journalist who tried spending 18 months living as a man
put it best, I think: "[Men] don't get to show the weakness, they don't get to show the affection, especially with each other. [...] I passed in a man's world not because my mask was so real, but because the world of men was a masked ball.
" However, most of this is a social construct and is far from universal, so I'm going to have to stick with my own assesment that girls have it tougher. My hat's off to you, ladies.
In any case, there's no way to say for sure because nobody has actually lived as both a man and a woman; not as a biological member of one group and then the other, and certainly not as one able to experience growing up as one and then again as the other. Until such a thing is possible the jury is still out on this case.
But see, here's the thing. All of this is missing out on one fundamental, key truth that we too often seem to miss when the subject of gender comes up. And that is this:Begin a human is hard work.
From the moment we are kicked out of the womb we have to spend every minute of every day forcing our chest to heave out and then pull back in again to force oxygen in and out of our lungs. The kids these days call it "breathing". And to top it off, this is only a semi-automatic process! If you start thinking about it, you often can't stop thinking about it to hand control back to your subconcious.
And then there's every orifice in our body. Even the ones designed for intake are constantly leaking fluids. Our mouths are the worst offenders as they're constantly producing saliva that must be dealt with on a continual basis, but noses can be just as bad. And don't forget ears! Even those things are forging ear wax that has to be dealt with.
Speaking of orifices, there's the ones in our nether regions that deserve special mention. We have to constantly empty our insides by squeezing our waste out these things, the most messy affair imaginable. And we have to stop what we're doing and attend to it every single day
! Since long before the dawn of written history we've been trying to figure out the best way to deal with it. Even today we have entire rooms in our homes devoted to the issue. And to think, we have to facilitate this repulsive affair by stuffing organic material into our guts through one orifice just to come out the others. Before modern history, any time we didn't spend pooping we spent searching for food and clean drinking water. This is assuming that the intestinal system is actually working for once. Our bodies are weak things susceptible to disease, and then the whole system backs up and you have to deal with vomiting and diarrhea and headaches and clogged noses and difficulty breath... oh, the list goes on.
As if that wasn't enough, our very skin itself is in on the act, with countless pours to excrete sweat, which quickly turns sour and starts to smell. Not to mention that just to keep our skin in working order we have to shed dead skin cells all the time. When they're not sticking to us, they're covering anything and everything we brush against or pass by.
These are things we have to deal with every day, regardless of whether or not we're male or female. Just to stay marginally presentable we have to set aside time every day to deal with these things, especially to shower and groom ourselves so that we can pretend we're not the filthy, disgusting bags of goo-filled flesh that we really are. Even little things like hair and nails must be constantly trimmed and kept in check.
You've also got to be careful to keep your environment just right. Our bodies can only survive if we keep within a narrow range of temperature and avoid any undue stress and strain on ourselves. We break absurdly easy. Maintaince, you see, is the key. Failure to do so means we start leaking blood, and we have to keep that stuff inside. It really is stupid and unfair, but we only get one body a piece. We don't even get to choose the one we get. Inevitably it will have issues, and it doesn't come with a warranty. It sucks, but those are the rules. So you have to be very careful and take care of what you have. Lose the bumper on your truck? Install a new bumper. Lose your arm? Too bad. You don't get another one. Virtually all loses are permanent. Even minor things like scratches can leave scars that last a lifetime.
If this all sounds tiring, it is. In addition to all this nonsense, we've also got to devote whole hours
--almost a third of each day in total--to sleeping, where we close our eyes and proceed to lose conciousness. These are hours that we literally throw away. Even when pooping we can do other things. But when sleeping we can do nothing.
So we do our best, taking care of ourselves, trying to stay out of harm's way, trying to prolong inevetable failure because our bodies are in a constant state of breakdown. But we've got it made, we think! Food is plentiful, clean water comes out a tap, air conditioning is a thing
now, and so long as we remember to wipe our butts and clean behind our ears we at least stay presentable 99% of the time.
Ha! As if life would give us anything easy
. No, this is just level 1. We haven't even gotten to the first world boss yet. You see, the more needs you attend to, the further up the pyramid you progress
. These are only the basic needs
! The tutorial! From here you move on to new problems that must be dealt with.
Our psychs are ever so fragile. We have to deal with emotions that we often have no control of, that take over our bodies and manifest themselves in an endless array: happiness and sadness, success and failure, anger and melancholy, attraction and repulsion, love and hatered. We have to learn how to handle these things, how to express them, when to hold them back and when we can set them free.
We need companionship and relationships. We have to tend them and prune them, face rejection and fear. We need friendships and bonds to thrive. We struggle with self-worth and self-confidence, yearning for the respect of others, ever seeking for fellow humans that we can confide our thoughts and fears with. We have to be careful for those that would harm us, those that would take advantage of our feelings, those that would betray us, and we likewise must strive not to betray the trust of others. And this is just when we're not running around killing each other!
And then you reach ever higher into so-called "first world" problems, like finding the remote control and trying to figure out what to do with the precious few seconds in the day when we're not pooping. You'd think we'd be happy enough just to be not starving to death, but it seems our minds can only take so much boredom.
No matter what problem is solved, ten more take its place! Life really is unfair, you see.
So in the end, forget being male or female. The reality of being a person blows either one out of the water. You see, the moral of the story is this: Everybody Poops
. But you know what? As broken an experience as it is, I'm kinda glad I got a shot at it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I must continue to breath.