Years ago I read an article about how different methods of sexual intercourse could help predict the sex of a baby.
It was based on a simple premise.
The actual egg itself has no sex.
The sperm determines the sex.
The male sperm are apparently more agile, but also more fragile.
The female sperm are slower, but tougher and more durable.
(Think of it as the difference between a bus and a motorbike.)
So, depending on what sex you want the baby to be, you create the best chances for that type of sperm to get to the egg first.
For instance, if you want a boy, you create a very conducive environment.
The male sperm is faster so, in ideal conditions, it gets to the egg first.
If you want a girl, you create a less conducive, tougher environment.
This kills off the more fragile male sperm.
The female sperm being slower, but tougher, survives and fertilises the egg.
There were three main criteria for how to do this.
Penetration, time of the month, and douche.
For a male child you’d create the easiest journey possible.
So the position of maximum penetration.
The woman’s least acidic time of the month.
And a mild alkaline douche before intercourse.
All this should ensure the faster, male, sperm wins the race.
For a female child you’d do the opposite.
You’d make the journey as tough as possible.
You’d use minimum penetration.
The woman’s most acidic time of the month.
And a mild acidic douche before intercourse.
So, even before they exist, men and women are different.
They have different strengths and weaknesses.
Why is this a problem?
Why do we have to pretend all people are identical?
Recently, I wrote a post explaining the offside rule to women, in terms of shoe shopping.
Several people chose to be offended by this.
They equated this with stepping back in time to the bad old days of inequality.
I didn’t say understanding a footballing term made anyone superior.
I said most women care more about shoes than they do football.
I told this explanation to a dinner table full of women.
One of them was a lawyer, one ran a company with 2,000 employees, one was involved in human rights, one was an art director.
They all laughed.
Because three out of four thought football was a waste of time compared to shoes.
One out of the four preferred football.
But even she thought it was a harmless bit of fun.
I grew up in the 1960s, during the struggle for women’s equality.
We were told men had always forced women to wear bras, forced them into stiletto shoes, forced them to use makeup.
Just for men’s pleasure.
To impose the male idea of femininity on women.
So I grew up feeling guilty about it.
I grew up thinking I was lucky not to be a woman and be oppressed by men.
A few years back I was discussing this with some women.
They were all powerful women with good careers.
But they were all wearing makeup, high-heel shoes, and (from where I was sitting) bras.
I said to them, “Women now have total equality and you don’t have to wear that stuff anymore. So how come you’re all wearing it when you could dress comfortably, like men, if you wanted?””
They looked at me as if I was nuts.
They said, “Who would want to dress like men? They all dress the same, how dull is that?”
I said, “So you don’t all wish you’d been born men, so you wouldn’t have to wear all that?”
They all laughed.
They all said, “God no. How boring.”
To them it was ridiculous to suggest such a thing.
They thought they had a much better deal.
These women were all film producers, or CEOs, or journalists.
They could laugh at the idea that women preferred shoes to football without being remotely threatened by it.
Because, to them, football was a childish waste of time and they’d rather spend their leisure time on something sensible.
Like shopping for shoes.
It was an indulgence, a distraction, after all their hard work.
See, it’s okay to be different.
In fact, men and women are different even before they’re born.
We don’t have to pretend we’re all the same.
We can relax and have fun with the differences.
I find a lot of this choosing to take offence isn’t really to do with the actual apparent subject.
It’s actually more to do with how confident someone is as a person.
As Kate Stanners once said, on a D&AD jury, to a particularly militant American woman who took offense at an Australian ad: “It’s only a joke.”