An observation by a companion the other day brought me up short: “Why are all your friends men?” The answer, much as I hate to admit is, is that I don’t see women as equals but as potential mates. That’s partly because I am alone after the death of my partner, Su, two-plus years ago. Ironically, I considered her not only my beloved but also my best friend. It’s also partly because women are indeed not my equals. I’m bigger and stronger than the women I know. My voice is deeper. I’m a great deal hairier. Never mind that women don’t tire as quickly as I do or that they think faster or that they have more patience than I do.
Nor do I pretend to understand women. The way they think and express themselves, the logic they favor, and their approach to life all mystify me. The way they respond to me—with warmth at something I said or annoyance at something I did—leaves me bewildered. I find myself agreeing with Henry Higgins in Lerner and Lowe’s 1956 musical My Fair Lady who put it this way:
Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can’t a woman be like that?
Men’s virtues are obvious to me. They trend to be open-minded, logical, and clear-headed. They are used to being in control—to the point that they will try to use physical strength first and mental acuity only when sheer muscularity fails. But they are generous about admitting inferiority when out-thought or out-worked.
Why can’t women be like that?