Women Have a Lower Pain Threshold Than Men
by Lynne Miles // 5 July 2005, 13:48
BBC News report on clinical testing which has shown women to have a lower pain threshold than men \x96 which leaves me wondering: "So What?"
Physical differences between males and females are really only interesting in terms of the ways in which we react to them. Women may have a lower pain threshold than men, but \x96 outside of the medical sphere \x96 I can\x92t think of many (any?) reasons why this might matter. How many instances can you think of in the modern world where the ability to withstand pain is an important criterion in getting the job done? No, *other* than childbirth.
Other than inform us of interesting snippets of biological fact, the more pernicious effect of articles such as these is to prompt us, subliminally, to take a physical or biological attribute (in this example, pain tolerance) and append a whole lot of non-physical qualities we positively associate with masculinity (power, courage, fortitude) \x96 as if women, through some cruel stroke of biology, can't have those attributes \x96 or as if they were better attributes to have than those which are traditionally feminine.
That's the crux of the issue - it's not that men and women aren't different at all - it's that much of the \x91difference\x92 is socialised into us, and that many of the ways in which we are perceived to be different are valued differently according to the gender they \x91belong\x92 to.