The true cost of being a female

I could go on and on about the pink tax and the VAT on tampons, but this post is going to focus on something else. Both men and women are faced with challenges in everyday life, things that put a burden upon us because we are of one or the other sex and gender. Today, since we are in February, the month of love, I will talk about the things which often go without mention but have notable impact on women. If you are a male reading this post, remember to show women the level of respect you desire for yourself because being a woman can really suck.

Let’s start by stating the obvious – the world is not a fair place. We can strive for equality, balance and mutual appreciation between genders (and thank goodness there is progress there!) BUT the way this world is laid out right now is far from fair.

The pain and painkillers

There is a myth circulating about women being able to handle more pain than men. And the myth is just that – an old story which is usually not true. Women are more susceptible to episodic and chronic pain and tend to experience more of it too. According to University of Bath research from 2005, not only do women feel physical pain differently to men, but it carries an emotional aspect in addition to the physical one. So not only do women ache, their emotions take a negative hit too making the pain experience more challenging to handle.

Aside from potentially shelling out more on painkillers over the course of a lifetime, since women live longer on average, women’s physical pain is often disregarded in a way a man’s would not. According to BBC Future, women not only have to wait longer for an ambulance and in emergency rooms should they experience significant pain, they are often also offered less effective treatments and have to wait longer for treatment administration than men. The reason quoted is that women’s physical suffering is taken less seriously than that of men.

Fertility treatment

We already know that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to conception prevention and unwanted conception consequences. It is women that carry the heavier load of hormonal contraception and invasive contraception, despite well known and well documented side effects. The known side effects including physical discomfort, weight gain, nausea, headaches, increased risk of blood clots and mood swings are the very reasons quoted when trials into a male version of the pill were abandoned.

Women are also at a disadvantage when trying to conceive with a fertility-challenged partner. Interestingly, when a male suffers from low sperm count, low sperm mobility or both, one of the most commonly available treatments is IUI (intrauterine insemination) and IVF (in vitro fertilisation). Both options are somewhat intrusive to the man and downright invasive to the woman. This also means that a woman who might have no fertility issues of her own will be subject to intrusive treatments, heavy load of hormones and generally taxing set of procedures. If you look over the NHS website, the medicine treatment options are targeted at the female side of fertility only.

Surgical options are available for males in cases where there is an epididymal blockage (i.e. the sperm can’t get out of his body), but there isn’t much available to tackle sperm quality issues. Epididymal blockage is the only scenario where a male infertility actually gets addressed medically in mainstream healthcare in the UK. All other problems are shouldered by the woman. Unless you go private of course, where a male might just be given a round of testosterone and the woman will have to go through the same circus again if that fails. Oh, did I mention that fertility treatment can be painful but women’s physical pain is not taken seriously?

Limited freedom

Saudi Arabia operates a system of guardianship where a woman must receive a permission from a male relative to study, work, seek medical help. In a number of countries women are demanded to follow a strict dress code, some of it including face covering. In a number of African and Asian countries young women are sold by their families to become wives, without their consent. Right across the globe women in employment in general earn less than men for the same work. Women’s access to contraception and choice around having children is limited by legislation in a number of countries, including USA and Ireland to name a couple. In war-ridden countries women are being enslaved, their lives treated as a commodity. Even in developed countries, women still shoulder the majority of housework despite working the same or more hours than their partners. If they opt to have children, their careers are penalised and so is their pocketbook. When they are assertive, they are told to stop being so bossy.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

Just life

Ok, I said I wouldn’t talk about the pink tax, but the other day I went into Boots drugstore to buy a hot water bottle (it’s cold at night and I am saving on heating people), and lo and behold, the blue one was £7.99 and the pink one was £8.99. An embodiment of what the pink tax is, if you were after a definition. I bought the blue one, obviously, but the blue one is not always the choice.

So after a post like this you might wonder what to do with yourself. Do you now hate men? Do you now hate ‘the establishment’? Do you become a man? Because being a woman clearly sucks.

So what is there left to do? Nothing but change. Make the change.


Next week –  the true cost of being a man.

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