Temporary malental incompetence

That at one point women were considered the weaker sex has always been ridiculous to me. That some people (male and female) in this century cling to this belief is nothing short of astonishing and depressing.

Consider the Darwin Award winners. Nearly all male. Other nefarious categories dominated by men: violent criminals, property criminals, financial criminals, pedophiles, terrorists, war criminals, internet trolls, dictators, and philanderers.

Yeah, men have more muscle mass. That is our only physiological advantage relative to women, and it is getting increasingly meaningless in a sedentary, robotic world. Other than that small advantage, we have weaker immune systems, higher prevalence of birth defects, worse hearing, male-pattern balding, easily-damaged external genitals, and shorter life expectancy.

I would add to this list a disability/psychological disorder/temporary mental incompetence: an unhealthy inability to assess and avoid danger. I call it malental incompetence. It has a sudden onset, causes a substantial loss of mental activity in the parts of the brain where fear and rationality reside, and disappears shortly afterwards.

Consider any smart man you know (above the age of 24, when mental mature apparently occurs). Now, catalog all of the stupid things that man has done during brain farts, bursts of manliness, “hold my beer” moments, etc. Many of these episodes result in death, hospital visits, physical scarring, destruction of property, money loss, or at the least stress and mental anguish for those around them.

I’m no exception. I am Phi Beta Kappa, have a graduate degree, and am proud to have once been called ‘the most risk-averse man in the universe.’ But, even a risk-averse man is not risk-averse all of the time. Therefore, my brain gets blinkered at times by testosterone, or the Y chromosome, or whatever. When I get that cocky grin, or grunt incoherently as deh stupidz descends, I wreck my shoulder while weight-lifting and need surgery. Or move my 401k money around when I should leave it. Or change lightbulbs while standing on a chair with wheels or a shaky side of a couch. Not all of these stupid moments backfire or end poorly, but they are way too risky. And all of them make women shake their heads politely, because no mentally competent woman would do such things.

No, I’m not asking for maleness to be added to the list of disabling conditions or to be allowed as a legal defense. I’m not calling for men to just act smarter, or be more like women. And I’m not saying that men deserve some kind of special dispensation, break, or advantage. We’ve created more than enough of those for ourselves already.

I’m just pointing out that when you see a man going ‘malental’, don’t enable him by holding his beer, or cheering him on because this will be hilarious. Try to gently steer him away until he stops trying to beat the average market return or juggle chainsaws. Some day we’ll figure out how to treat us guys to counter the effects of our genetic disadvantages, but in the meantime, we all need to muddle along.

And, in case you were wondering, this malental disability provides a lot of grist for some future writing projects. <big, cocky=”” grin=””>

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