five things women can’t do
1. Know anything about a car, except its colour.
This one often comes up at the small gatherings I am more reluctant to attend, in the form of some narrow-minded guy wearing a shirt with an obnoxiously large logo feeling the need to start a conversation about his ideas. During this conversation he will unfailingly equate having a very thorough knowledge of one’s car and being a ‘skilled’ (reckless) driver to, naturally, being a decent human being. The completely un-founded sentiment that women can’t drive often makes a cameo in these, err, highly intellectual discussions, with the cringe-worthy, self-righteous conclusion being drawn that ‘women and cars just don’t go together’.
Fun fact: In 2010, Queensland Transport and Main Roads released a Year in Review Road Crash Report. This report featured statistical evidence that drivers and riders involved in fatal crashes within Queensland from 2006 – 2010 were 79.6% male and 20.4% female, where gender was known. So, looks like if you can’t drive responsibly and use good judgement on the road, knowing that a certain type of low-restriction conical air filter and straight intake tube can give you 21 pound-feet of torque won’t actually save you. Who’d have known?
If you are interested in learning something about your car that you probably do need to know, most good automotive clubs (RACQ in Queensland) run cheap car-care courses, covering things like engine basics and how to change your own oil.
2. Throw (a punch or a ball)
I wasn’t the best at sport in school, especially when faced with activities that required me to enter into direct physical competition with other people. I thought that my failings in this area happened because I was awkward, had insufficient strength and was scared shitless of getting hurt.
I was wrong.
Apparently, I was having trouble because I’m a girl. It seems that not having a penis can lead to all kinds of physical inadequacy – I can’t fight either. Another shortfall that comes, it appears, with being born female. Many people I have spoken to, male and female, remember similar awkward and terrifying experiences from their time in Phys Ed class. Others find it confusing. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be true that as an alternative to throwing a ball around, we deliberately spent our time learning things that we cared about – things that didn’t involve sport and/or inflicting gratuitous pain on other people… There must be some other reason we can’t/won’t throw a sick punch or catch low-flying round objects.
3. Grow stylish bodily hair that isn’t on our heads.
Man-scaping isn’t just for porn stars any more. Shaving, waxing, trimming, and cleaning up any kind of superfluous or unattractive fuzz has come to be expected, in a sense, from both men and women. Some attribute it to the rise of the metro-sexual, while others believe it is because of the proliferation of pornography in popular culture.
Regardless of the reason, one thing is clear: Men are still allowed to have hair on their bodies. Unless they’re Michael Phelps, guys are allowed to keep their under-arm hair. The rise of the trendy-beard is almost on the same level as thick-rimmed black glasses in terms of infiltrating the music and fashion industries, and won’t die down any time soon. This evident growing demand for maintenance does not mean that every guy you see has sexy, stylish, meticulously trimmed hairy areas (sigh). It just means more guys are doing it than before.
The important thing is, it seems like they still have the option. In many cases, women who value their sex lives are expected to maintain complete and utter baldness from the ears down, in order to hold our own against today’s porn queens
4. Not wear underwear.
Now, I can only assume that many women out there occasionally go *ahem* ‘panty-less’. I know it’s a thing for many guys, but when it comes to women abandoning their undergarments for any reason in the context of popular culture, the act is restricted to… err… Paris Hilton. In other words, while it may be figure-flattering when you’re wearing a tight pink dress, a woman not wearing underwear in public carries certain sexual connotations that some of us wouldn’t be keen to shoulder on a lazy trip to the grocery store. The usual slang terms like ‘going commando’ and ‘free-balling’ even scream this is an exclusively male activity. What if, like many men, us women occasionally do not feel the need to wear anything underneath our jeans? What would we even call it? I mean… free-vagina-ing? Yes, that sounds fine, let’s make it a thing. Just kidding, please don’t!
5. Go topless.
I was at Surfer’s Paradise a couple of months ago with a Belgian exchange student called Camille. As we spread our towels out on the sand and I cracked a bottle of sun-tan lotion, Camille casually whipped off her bikini top and lay down to sun-bake. Cue stares of disgust from every direction. I will happily admit that there was an initial moment of ‘what is happening right now’ on my part, but after that moment passed, I realised that her relaxed upper nudity didn’t – and shouldn’t – bother me at all. She ended up putting the bandeau back on, however, upon seeing the seedier men in the vicinity scramble for their dark-tinted sunglasses. After we talked for a while about peripheral vision, I eventually learned that in most other parts of the world (including New York, and Malmö, Sweden), topless female sun-baking is:
a) not restricted to nudist beaches, and
b) not the foundation for excessive batting of eye-lids on beaches that are open to the general public.
Australia, more than any other beach-loving nation, is (according to Camille) full of prudes. ‘It’s just my body!’ she laughed.
I feel like there’s a theme here. I mean, I can’t guarantee that guys won’t look like king douches when showing off their present or absent chest muscles in public spaces that don’t facilitate swimming. But, it is generally accepted that men are able to exist around the house, at the beach/pool, and in many other public places without any clothing on their upper bodies and not cause too much of a fuss, unless they’re Ryan Gosling or somebody. Go figure.
By Grace McCarter
(In a similar vein, we recommend you check out this article of top 10 things women can do that men can’t.)
(Image credit: 1)