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14065950 Why Its Great To Be Essay

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WHY IT’S

GREAT
TO BE A

GIRL

W

50 Awesome Reasons
Why We Rule!

Jacqueline Shannon

n

with her daughter, Madeline Trobaugh

For Madeline—
As a precocious preschooler, you inspired the first
Why It’s Great to Be a Girl. As you grew into the young
woman you are today, you’ve made me so proud
that someday I may be writing a book called
Why It’s Great to Have Had THIS Girl.
Thanks for your help.

Contents
Many Thanks

vii

Introduction

ix

1 The most frequently sung song of all time
was written by women.

1

2 We sing better than guys do.

2

3 Women invented many of the devices that make our
everyday lives easier.

3

4 Overall, we drive better than men do.

7

5 Girls are better with words.

8

6 Women are also superior at nonverbal communication.

11

7 Anthropologists and archaeologists credit females
with the “civilization” of humankind.

13

8 Women smell better than men.

15

9 Women also smell better than men!

16

10 Some of history’s most effective and powerful leaders
have been queens.

18

11 Two females initiated the discovery and colonization of
the land that would become the United States of America.

20

12 Women currently hold the highest office in several
countries of the world.

21

13 Except for muscles, the female body is stronger than
the male body in every way.

23

14 A woman personally led more American slaves to
freedom than anyone else.

27

15 More than any other factor, a book written by a woman
incited the Civil War, the war that ended slavery in America. 29 16 The courageous act of one woman triggered the
momentous American civil rights movement of the 1960s.

32

17 Women are especially well suited to be doctors.

34

18 Women have written many of our most enduring
and influential books.

37

19 It was thanks to the efforts of a woman that most
Americans obtained the right to vote.

39

20 Many of the greatest reforms to the American way of
life were instigated by women.

43

21 Many of the most recent reforms in the world were
made by women.

48

22 Women actually behave much better than men when
it comes to truly frightening situations.

50

23 Doctors agree that females bear physical pain far better
than males do.

51

24 Women instituted early-childhood education in the
United States.

52

25 Girls hear better than boys.

57

26 A woman won more medals and tournaments and
set more records in more sports than any other
athlete——male or female——in the twentieth century.

58

27 It was a woman who first exposed the harm humans
were doing to the environment, igniting
the world’s environmental movement.

60

28 Girls and women commit far fewer crimes than
boys and men.

65

29 Women made two of the earliest and greatest discoveries
of our time in genetics—the study of what makes each
living thing unique.

68

30 Girls get fewer viral and bacterial illnesses than boys do.

71

31 A woman founded the largest organization in the
United States.

73

32 Girls are more flexible and limber than boys.

75

33 The friendships between girls and women are richer,
deeper, stronger, more intimate, and more affectionate
than those between guys.

76

34 Women ushered in the nuclear age.

80

35 Girls have superior fine motor skills and manual dexterity. 83 36 Women made many of the biggest medical and scientific
breakthroughs in the twentieth century and beyond.

84

37 Females aren’t as sensitive to cold weather. And,
ironically, we also stay cooler in the summer.

92

38 Females have a better sense of taste.

93

39 We don’t have to shave our faces.

95

40 Women rarely go bald.

97

41 Women are responsible for the two biggest advances
in computer programming…and may also have
invented the Internet!

98

42 Women will eventually outperform men in several of
the most strenuous sports.

102

43 Girls are luckier in love.

105

44 Women founded and/or head up some of the world’s
largest, oldest, and unique companies in the world.

107

45 A woman is considered “the moral leader of the
millennium.”

116

46 Women created some of television’s most
groundbreaking sitcoms.

118

47 Nature was kinder to females when it came to
genital design. Yours are tucked safely inside,
protected from cold and injury.

122

48 We smile more than guys do, and people of both sexes
smile more at us.

123

49 It’s thanks to women that so many American girls go
on to become athletic superstars.

125

50 Only women can give birth.

127

A Final Note from Jacqueline Shannon
Suggested Reading List
About the Authors
Other Books by Jacqueline Shannon
Credits
Cover
Copyright
About the Publisher

Many Thanks
. . . to Linda Konner, as usual, Queen of the Literary Agents. That should be her ™.
. . . to HarperCollins’ Sarah Durand, one of the nicest editors I’ve ever worked with, and Jeremy Cesarec, for their input and enthusiasm for this project. . . . to my parents, Dr. E. J. Farmer and the late Louise Ann Farmer, who never once said “Girls can’t/shouldn’t do that.” Dad: Sorry about #4, but we have to go with the facts! Mom: Every night I see you shining like a diamond in the sky. . . . to Emma Biegacki of Mad Hot Ballroom. I have never met her or spoken to her, but she inspired and convinced me to update and expand the original version of this book.

. . . to Radia Perlman, the Mother of the Internet, who made doing the research for this book so much easier than the first time around. (See #41.)
. . . to Carleen Hemric and Phil Giannangeli, the two junior high school teachers who have followed and supported my career for all these years. At a time when my confidence was shaky, Carleen persuaded me that I had writing talent. . . . to Dan Baits, of Helix Charter High School, who did the same thing for my daughter.

. . . to Linda Olander, with apologies that “Women Make Great Bosses” had to be cut for space reasons.
. . . to Reginald Calvin, my best friend and sparring partner. Write your own book!
Finally, I want to honor the late pioneering businesswoman Ruth Handler, whose autobiography I cowrote, and crusader Doris Tate, whose autobiography I was sadly never able to finish. These women, who are discussed in this book, taught me much about having a vision, finding one’s niche, and taking the initiative.

—Jacqueline Shannon

viii

MANY THANKS

Introduction

I

n the summer of 2005, my then sixteen-year-old daughter Madeline and I squealed with delight (and startled a few of our fellow theatergoers) when a girl in the sleeper-hit documentary Mad Hot Ballroom plugged my 1994 book Why It’s Great to Be a Girl.

In the documentary, several groups of eleven-year-olds in
mostly inner-city schools face the highs, the heartbreaks, and sometimes the humiliation of competitive ballroom dancing. In a few scenes, some of the girls are complaining about the attitudes, behaviors, and the “givens” of their male partners. “Why,” bristled one, “do THEY always get to lead?” At one point, silence. Then Emma, who the film’s Web site (www.paramountclassics .com/madhot) describes as a “typical New York kid [who] always has something meaningful to say” and who “stands out as the girl who is wise beyond her years,” suddenly blurts out, “Look, I read this book called Why It’s Great to Be a Girl, and I learned that . . .” My daughter and I were so excited that we barely heard her exact words. I just knew that they were extremely positive. And we both came away with the opinion that the book, in at least some small way, contributed to Emma’s confidence and her ability to speak up when it’s important.

The first edition of Why It’s Great to Be a Girl has been out of

print for years, but, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been as surprised at Emma’s comment as I was. Through the years, friends of friends, friends of cousins, and coworkers have found used copies of Why It’s Great to Be a Girl to give as gifts and have asked me to autograph them, although I warned them, “A lot of the facts in that book are very outdated.”

Our world has changed dramatically since 1992–1993, when I was researching and writing the book. Madeline was four. She graduated from high school with a 4.3 GPA, she plays a mean clarinet (she was in both marching band and wind symphony), and she was frequently called upon during her high school years to boost morale, not just in the band but also among non-band students. As her “senior project,” she started a business designing and manufacturing T-shirts that don’t bash males but that empower teen girls. Madeline won the 2005–2006 Helix High School English Department Outstanding Student of the Year honor. She was awarded a substantial merit scholarship to one of California’s best private colleges, where she is now a freshman. I am not saying that she’s perfect. One example: her room has always been a pigsty. And I don’t mean to imply that her successes and self-confidence are solely due to my book or the parenting she received. She has had several excellent role models over the years, many of them teachers (both women and men), who have boosted her confidence in her abilities. She is also an insatiable reader of certain genres of fiction from which she has derived strong convictions of her own.

This book is a longer (women have achieved a lot since the early 1990s!) and very revised and updated version of the original. That

x

INTRODUCTION

book was one of the first books written about self-esteem for girls. I got the idea for the book because my own daughter, a preschooler, was encountering sexism even at that early age. Here is just one of the examples that I listed in the introduction to the original version of the book:

An elderly man walking his dog through a park stops to talk
to a little girl [that would be Madeline] who is climbing the monkey bars. “When I grow up, I’m going to be a ballerina and a doctor,” she tells the man.
“You let the boys be the doctors,” the man replies.
“Girls don’t have the stomach to deal with blood.”

Tee-hee. Madeline is now working toward a bachelor of science degree in nursing and plans to go on to get a master’s degree in midwifery. I wanted to counteract those doses of boy bias by building up Madeline’s pride in her own gender while not bashing guys. The other thing that spurred me on at the time were the results of some very discouraging studies. For example, a 1991 American Association of University Women (AAUW) study found that only 29 percent of young teenage girls were “happy the way I am,” compared to the 60 percent who gave that response back in elementary school and in marked contrast to their teenage boy counterparts, whose selfimages had been judged much more positive. Carol Gilligan, who was then head of Harvard’s Project on the Psychology of Women and the Development of Girls, had found that

Introduction

xi

one of the ways teenage girls exhibit their wavering confidence is by becoming more tentative in offering opinions—a trait that she said often persists into adulthood. A Gilligan example at the time: When she interviewed one girl at age twelve, the girl answered “I don’t know” only 21 times; at the age of fourteen, the same girl’s “I don’t know” number shot up to 135.

I realized that those studies mirrored my own experience twentysomething years earlier. I had been something of a childhood star— the whiz kid who skipped grades in elementary school, edited the school paper, was always voted the class president or team captain. But something happened to me along about the time I turned fourteen. Although I can’t remember any specific incidents that triggered it (it was probably largely due to my rapidly changing body), I completely lost my self-confidence and basically skulked my way through high school and then college too. I did not really get my old self-confidence back till I was past thirty. The original Why It’s Great to Be a Girl was my part in helping to ensure that that didn’t happen to later generations of girls.

I would say overall that in the years since the original version was published, self-esteem among white and African American girls has improved (recent studies, in fact, have shown that African American girls have higher self-esteem than any other race). But it’s still not as high as it should be, especially among minorities other than African Americans. Over the years, Madeline attended well-integrated public schools in Southern California and made friends with a variety of girls who weren’t white. When they all became teens, my daughter, dis-

xii

INTRODUCTION

mayed, began to tell me that many of her friends were encountering bias from their families because their cultures historically value males more than females.
It is not my intention to interfere with or try to change other cultures. I simply feel that girls like these will get a boost from Why It’s Great to Be a Girl. I also hope to reach an international audience of girls who live in countries in which gender bias is even more prevalent than in the Western countries. For these reasons, this new version is more multicultural (to reflect the increasing multiculturalism in Western countries) and global (the original version pretty much focused on women’s accomplishments in the Western countries, especially the United States). It is also the reason that, while the original book was primarily intended for mothers of young daughters and, to a much-less-stressed extent, to girls entering adolescence, this edition was written for YOU as well—a girl or young woman who can read on her own.

So check out how much you’ve got going for yourself. I promise you, by the time you finish this book, you’ll be in awe of what your gender has achieved, full of pride about the special talents and strengths of your female body and mind, and fully convinced, once and forever, that it really is great to be a girl.

—Jacqueline Shannon
San Diego, California

Introduction

xiii

The most frequently sung
song of all time was written
by women.

M

1

ildred Hill and Patty Smith Hill wrote the music that was to become “Happy Birthday to You” in 1893. It became the first song ever sung in space (at least by earthlings!) on March 8, 1969, when the astronauts aboard Apollo 9 sang it for Christopher Kraft, director of space operations for NASA. Contrary to popular belief, “Happy Birthday” is not in the public domain. Hill set up a foundation to which a royalty is supposed to be paid for each entertainment use of the song—when it’s sung on a sitcom, for example. Or at your birthday party!

Actually, it’s the most frequently sung song in the English language, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s been translated into many other languages, but, oddly, it is often sung with the English lyrics in countries where English is not a primary language. Incidentally, a woman, Euphemia Allen, also composed what is probably the song played most often on the piano—“Chopsticks”! Speaking of musical achievement . . .

8
50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

&

1

2

We sing better than guys do.

S

ix times as many females as males can sing
in tune. Why? No expert claims to have
the definitive answer. But most speculate that
better singing is a part of the female’s superior verbal-ability package (see #5). Others point to the fact that females have superior auditory memory (see #25)—that is, we are better at remembering the way a song is supposed to sound, say, from hearing it on the radio. It probably also doesn’t hurt that mothers tend to sing more to girl babies than to boy babies, according to some studies.

&

2

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Women invented many of the
devices that make our everyday
lives easier.

I

3

n 1957 C. D. Tuska, the patent director for RCA, a company that makes TVs, audiovisual equipment, and the like, said: “Most of our inventors are of the male sex. Why is the percentage of women so low? I’m sure I do not know, except the Good Lord intended them to be mothers. They produce the inventors and help rear them, and that should be sufficient.” Well, shut it, Tuska.

Women invented the dishwasher, for example, plus disposable diapers, the bra (and the jockstrap!), flat-bottomed paper bags, Scotchgard (to make things waterproof), vacuum canning, the automatic sewing machine, and the drip coffee maker. Women also invented Jell-O and the TV dinner (although the early TV dinners were terrible—take it from one who knows). In 1793 the first-ever U.S. patent was issued to Hannah Slater for perfecting cotton sewing thread. In the early 1900s Madame C. J. Walker created the first cosmetics and hair care products specifically for African Americans. A little later in the century Dorothy Feiner Rodgers, the wife of famous composer Richard Rodgers (he cowrote the songs for The Sound of Music, for example) and a wealthy member of New York’s high society, surprisingly invented a couple of rather basic household items. The more popular of the two was called the Jonny Mop, and it is still being manufactured today. A small mop to 50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

3

clean toilets, it was the first that featured a disposable sponge on its . . . uh . . . icky end.
But women inventors haven’t limited themselves to hearth,
home, and hair. If you want to go way, way back in time, Greek scholars believe Queen Semiramis of Assyria invented bridges, causeways, and canals. The list of woman-borne inventions also includes the bulletproof vest, the fire escape, the Navy’s signal flare, the circular saw, solar heating, invisible glass, computer programming, DuPont’s Kevlar (a thread that’s as strong as steel), Liquid Paper correction fluid (usually referred to as “white-out”), pneumatic (inflated with air) tires, tract housing, the cordless phone, laser cataract surgery, windshield wipers, the hang glider, and even the white line that divides a road. Amelia Earhart, who, in 1932, was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, designed the first lightweight luggage designed for air travel. Hedy Lamarr (a famous 1930s film star) invented a sophisticated and hush-hush torpedo control device to foil the Nazis, a device that now speeds satellite communications throughout the world. Ruth Handler, best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, also invented the first truly natural-looking breast prosthesis for women who had had mastectomies. Elsa Garmire, now a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College, developed a cost-effective method of zapping graffiti with a laser (this is one of nine patents she owns). Incidentally, she started the first commercial laser light show, “Laserium,” while she lived in California.

Experts believe women invented scores of other useful contraptions we now take for granted, but they never received any credit for

4

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

their work. Many American women, especially those who did their inventing before 1900, registered patents under their husband’s or their father’s name because (1) women had no property rights until the turn of the century, and (2) to be mechanical was considered unfeminine. A case in point: Have you ever heard of Catherine Littlefield Greene? She was evidently behind the invention of a machine that changed the course of American history. In 1792 Greene, a widow with five children, was running a boardinghouse in Georgia. When she became annoyed with the amount of time she had to spend separating cotton from its seeds so that she could spin it into thread, she prodded a young boarder named Eli Whitney to come up with a machine to do the work for her. With Greene’s financial support, Whitney enthusiastically tackled the problem and, after about six months, came up with a prototype of the cotton gin, then almost gave up because the wooden teeth he had devised to separate the seeds from the cotton just weren’t tough enough for the job. It was Greene who suggested he try wire teeth instead. The rest is history. And that’s a conservative version of the story. Some accounts have Greene actually providing Whitney with the plans for the machine.

Wherever the truth lies, it’s a fact that Greene didn’t get in on the patent and that the machine had immense historical repercussions. It enabled the South to develop a thriving economy based on cotton, which required the revival of the dying slave trade so that there would be enough labor to pick the enormous amount of cotton soon needed to meet worldwide demand. And that increase in the importing and ownership of slaves would lead to America’s Civil War.

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

5

On a lighter note, a woman is also credited with having invented the ice cream cone. We don’t know her name, just that she was the female companion of one Charles E. Menches, who, while attending the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, bought her an ice cream sandwich and a bunch of flowers. The resourceful lady rolled up one wafer of the sandwich to serve as a holder for the flowers, then rolled up the other wafer for the ice cream. The cone was born.

P
P
BONUS!

A woman came up with the idea for
the job of flight attendant.

In 1930, two years before Amelia Earhart’s record-setting
solo flight, Ellen Church became the world’s first flight attendant (then called a skygirl and later a stewardess). Church was both a pilot and a registered nurse. She applied to Boeing Air Transport for a pilot position but was turned down because of her gender. Commercial air travel had been slowly gaining in popularity in the 1920s, but many people were worried that it wasn’t safe. So when Church wasn’t allowed to pilot, she suggested placing nurses on board passenger planes to ease the public’s fears. Boeing liked the idea and hired her, and other airlines followed suit, but nursing qualifications were soon loosened.

By the way, in the early years of commercial flight, flight attendants had to be female, were forced to retire when they turned thirty-two or got married, and couldn’t be taller than fivefoot-four or weigh more than 115. Ouch!

6

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Overall, we drive better
than men do.

I

4

n the United States alone, more than forty
thousand people are killed on the road each
year, and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more of those people are men than women. According to several reports, men, especially young men (between the ages of sixteen and twentyfive) drive more aggressively than women. They tend to take out their aggression in a direct manner (say, tailgating to a dangerous extent) than in an indirect manner (say, just shaking a fist). What’s more, men are more likely to break traffic laws and to take more risks while driving. In younger males this “daredevil” driving has been attributed to “factors such as emotional immaturity and misplaced feelings of immortality,” according to an expert at the Insurance Information Institute. Finally, according to one recent fascinating study, estrogen (the primary sex hormone in females) may contribute to our better driving. British researcher Amarylis Fox of the University of Bradford School of Pharmacy tested young to middle-aged adults on spatial memory, planning, attention, motor control, and rule learning. Women consistently outperformed men in learning rules and shifting their attention, helpful qualities for drivers. “This study demonstrates that tasks requiring mental flexibility favor women over men, an area not previously considered to elicit strong sex differences,” Fox says in a news release. “Driving could be a good example of how this is applied to everyday life.” She added that estrogen may make a difference in those areas.

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

7

5

Girls are better with words.

R

emember how the boys in preschool used
to hit and push when they were angry,
instead of “using their words”?
Girls begin to speak earlier than boys do and are better readers at school, speak more fluently, understand what is said better, and learn foreign languages more easily. This is true whether we live in Nepal, the Netherlands, or Nebraska. We retain this edge in communication ability throughout our lives. Here are some theories about why this is true:

First, certain areas connecting the right and left sides of the brains are larger and contain more connections in females than in males, leading researchers to conclude that females use both sides of the brain more frequently than males do. Female brains are simply better organized for communication between the two sides. And according to neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, the brain areas for language are larger in women than in men. Brizendine, author of The Female Brain (2006), also says that the hippocampus part of the brain—the site of emotions and memory information—is also larger in women than in men. It is easier for us to express our emotions and to remember the details of emotional events (such as exactly what you and your boyfriend were wearing on the day you first met).

Finally, anthropologist Helen E. Fisher considers the most compelling argument for women’s verbal superiority to be its link to the good female hormone estrogen. She once recounted a study of two 8

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

hundred women of childbearing age and their verbal skills during their menstrual cycles. In one example, the women were asked to repeat a tongue twister like “A box of mixed biscuits in a biscuit mixture.” In the middle of their menstrual cycles, when estrogen levels are at their highest, they could accomplish this much better than they could when their monthly periods had ended, because that’s when estrogen levels are much lower.

We also talk more than guys do. In most countries, women have a “verbal output” of around 7,000 words a day, compared to a man’s 3,000, according to Dennie Hughes, an award-winning journalist and columnist for USA Weekend magazine, among other publications. Incidentally, scientists have acknowledged the superiority of women’s language skills for generations. Here, for example, from Canadian psychologist D. O. Hebb’s ancient (1958) Textbook of Psychology, is a snappy comeback to any guy who discounts the value of female verbal talent: “Males, who are inclined to think that verbal skill is due simply to talking too much, may be reminded that language is [hu]man’s distinguishing mark as a species.”

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

9

P
P
BONUS!

We hold on to our verbal skills
longer than guys do.

According to a University of Pennsylvania study, men
probably lose their verbal abilities faster than women. Using magnetic resonance imaging—a kind of X-ray without the
radiation—researchers studied the brains of thirty-four men and thirty-five women. They found that deterioration in the brain— especially on the left side of the brain that controls language and verbal ability—was two to three times faster in men. How do the researchers account for that? They speculate that our female hormones “may protect the brain from atrophy [shrinking] associated with aging.” Previous studies have shown that these hormones increase blood flow to the brain—that may be what’s providing the protection.

a

10

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Women are also superior at
nonverbal communication.

T

6

hat is, we are better at sensing the difference
between what people say and what they
mean. We’re better at reading other people’s emotional cues—for example, the facial wince, nervous hand clenching, and other subconscious signals that a person is feeling guilty. According to relationship expert Dennie Hughes, numerous studies have shown that 70 to 80 percent of communication is nonverbal.

Mother Nature probably bestowed this skill on us so that we can better mother infants who aren’t yet able to communicate their needs verbally. Like language ability, the skill is attributed to the particular setup, patterns, and interactions of the female brain . . . making “women’s intuition” a scientific reality.

And here’s something pretty cool: Psychologist Joyce Brothers once wrote that she believes it’s this skill that will eventually make females the dominant gender. She predicts that in the future, physical strength—which has kept males dominant until now—may become about as necessary as the appendix is today.

“The key to survival in the nuclear age is going to be perception, the ability to sense how others feel about an event or an issue or a threat and what they are likely to do about it,” she wrote. “Everyone can think of episodes in our foreign policy that illustrate a serious lack of perception. As more women enter government and politics at the

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

11

higher policy-making levels, I am convinced there will be fewer such episodes.”

P
P
BONUS!

We make up our minds faster.

Researchers believe women can make faster decisions
because we more frequently put both sides of our brains to work on a problem. Here’s how one researcher expressed it: “Think of the brain as a city divided in half by a river. In the female brain, because there are so many bridges over the river, traffic moves faster and more efficiently between the two halves.”

Here’s a more scientific explanation. In 2005 Richard Haier of the University of California at Irvine announced the findings he and colleagues had come up with after a thorough study of the brain. The brain is mostly made up of stuff called gray matter and white matter. Gray matter represents the information processing centers. White matter works to network these processing centers. Men think more with their gray matter; women think more with the white. The researchers found that, in general, males have almost 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence than women do. But women have 10 times the

amount of white matter related to intelligence as men.
“These findings suggest that human evolution has created
two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior,” Haier told a reporter.

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WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Anthropologists and
archaeologists credit females
with the “civilization” of
humankind.

7

A

s Elizabeth Gould Davis stated in her book The First Sex, “Women dragged man, kicking and screaming, out of savagery into the New Stone Age.” How? According to Buckminister Fuller, who was an American visionary, inventor, architect, and designer, “Women organized the home crew to pound the corn, comb the wool, dry the skins, etc. They invented pottery and weaving, discovered how to keep foods by cold storage or by cooking. Women, in fact, invented industrialization.”

We’re also credited with beginning the domestication of animals and—most important of all—with inventing agriculture. “While [man] enjoyed himself, [women] observed that the seeds dropped on the midden pile produced newer and bigger plants,” wrote Kenneth MacGowan and Joseph A. Hester, Jr., in Early Man in the New World. Out of the invention of agriculture, the authors continued, “rose a settled community and a surplus of provender which allowed the few . . . to think and plan and build a civilization.” MacGowan and Hester believe that women also invented milling stones to grind seeds, and they speculated that “as she watched the wearing away of mortar and pestle and milling stone as she ground her flour between them the idea

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

13

occurred to her . . . that it was possible to grind stones into axes and other implements.” If that was true, we can also pat ourselves on the back for inventing manufacture!
What motivated us to be so inventive? Davis believes it is because woman has eternally struggled “to make the best of things, to provide food and shelter for her children, to make ‘home’ comfortable for them, to soften and brighten their lives, and to make the world a safer and more pleasant place for them to grow in.”

F
FF

14

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Women smell better than men.

W

8

e’re talking BO here. The human sweat
gland is called the apocrine gland—and
there are hundreds of these in the human armpit, scientifically known as the axillary. “Sure there are some first-class women stinkers,” Albert Kligman, M.D., a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist once said in Health magazine. But, added Kligman, the apocrine gland is androgen-driven. Androgens are male hormones, though women have some too. “Men have more androgen and bigger apocrine glands, and they stink more.”

Compounding the problem is the fact that males aren’t as aware as females of whether or not they smell because . . .

h
50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

15

9

Women also smell better
than men!

W

omen are more sensitive to odors than
men are. A 1985 test of some two thousand noses at the Smell and Taste Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is one of several studies that prove it. Another is the huge and now famous National Geographic magazine’s 1986 “Smell Survey” of 1.5 million of its readers. The respondents had been sent six encapsulated odors: sweat, banana, musk, cloves, a natural gas warning agent, and a synthetic rose scent. An accompanying questionnaire asked them to identify the scents, rank them by their level of pleasantness, and so on.

Interestingly, the smelling ability of females actually gets even better once we’re through puberty. Researchers tie this skill to female hormones . . . specifically, and once again, to estrogen. When estrogen levels are highest—at ovulation—a woman’s olfactory sensitivity can increase up to a whopping one thousand times (not that this is always a good thing!). Because of the hormonal tie, it seems obvious Mother Nature felt superschnozzes were somehow needed for reproductive purposes. It’s been proven to a statistically scientific degree that mothers of six-hour-old babies can find their own baby among a group of others by smell alone, whereas males cannot.

A corroborating anecdote: A residential repair worker at San Diego Gas and Electric tells customers to always trust a woman’s nose.

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WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

“I’ve seen heated arguments between husband and wife—she says she smells a gas leak; he insists that he doesn’t,” the repairman says. “In all my years on the job, the woman has been right every single time.”

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BONUS!

Girls’ voices don’t “crack”
during puberty.

When a boy’s voice begins to deepen during puberty, he
has to go through an embarrassing stage when his voice can
crack or even squeak without warning. Oftentimes, it happens at the worst possible moment, the moment of high stress, such as when he is asked a question in class. What’s happening is that his vocal cords have begun to double in size, and he has to relearn how to control the pitch and sound they produce. Yes, female vocal cords increase in size, and our voices change during puberty too. But according to medical experts, the increase in size is only about 30 percent, and the change is much more

smooth and gradual—nothing, as a writer for Teen magazine
once put it, to “crack up” about.

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

17

10

Some of history’s most effective
and powerful leaders have
been queens.

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oland’s Queen Jadwiga (1370–1399), for example, is considered one of that country’s greatest rulers as well as one of the truly inspired peacemakers of history, according to anthropologist Ashley Montagu. “England’s Queen Elizabeth I and Victoria rank among the greatest of English monarchs,” he added in his book The Natural Superiority of Women. When Elizabeth I became queen in the sixteenth century, England was in a horrible state. The country had just lost a war against France, the royal treasury was depleted, and England’s citizens, hostile and resentful after Mary Tudor’s bloody and bigoted reign, were still fighting with one another over the question of England’s religion: Was the country Catholic or Protestant? When Elizabeth died, England was the richest and most powerful country in the world. During the golden years of her reign—dubbed the Elizabethan Age in her honor—the country became the Mistress of the Seas by defeating the Spanish Armada and expanding its trading and holdings throughout the world. Elizabeth was also the monarch who made the Church of England the country’s official religion.

The reign of Queen Victoria was also an era of extreme prosperity and prestige for England. In fact, some historians consider the late 1890s—when Victoria was celebrating sixty years on the throne—to 18

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

be the time the country was at its peak of power. Supposedly, when Victoria died, England’s citizens were so grief stricken that all of the stores sold out of black cloth.
Russia’s Catherine the Great (1729–1796) reigned over the country’s pre-Revolution expansion into one of the world’s major powers. She added the Crimea, the Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland to the Russian empire. Some of the many social reforms she instituted included establishing free hospitals and schools throughout the country, building new towns, highways, and canals, promoting religious tolerance, reforming the tax system, standardizing the laws and the currency so that they no longer differed among Russian provinces, and improving the living and working conditions of the serfs. Queen Isabella was at the helm when Spain first reached the world leadership position it would hold in the 1400s and 1500s. She united the splintered country, and because of that and its growing number of colonies in the New World, Spain became for a time the most powerful country in Europe.

And during the sixteenth-century reign of Queen Catherine de Medici, writes Elizabeth Gould Davis in The First Sex, “France rose to her status as the cultural and intellectual center of the world—a status maintained down to our own time.”

Marveling at the success of queens, one eighteenth-century male scholar speculated that the “lenity and moderation” of females make women “fitter for good administration than [the] severity and roughness” of you-know-who.

50 Awesome Reasons Why We Rule!

19

11

Two females initiated the
discovery and colonization of
the land that would become the
United States of America.

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wo of the aforementioned queens, as a matter of fact.
True, the Indians were in America first, but Europeans have always gotten the credit for “discovering” and colonizing the United States as we now know it. And the first of those—Christopher Columbus—was able to go for it only because Spain’s Queen Isabella gave him the money he needed for his trip. While other higher-ups in Spain wrote off as impossible the idea that the confident but penniless Columbus could sail directly west to reach the Indies—instead of taking the usual route around the tip of Africa—Isabella believed so strongly in Columbus that she pledged her crown jewels to finance the expedition. In 1578, fifty-four years after Isabella died, England’s Queen Elizabeth I, who was far more interested in exploring the new land than her grandfather (Henry VII) or her father (Henry VIII) had been, issued the first patent for English colonization of the New World’s mainland. In issuing this patent, Elizabeth stipulated that no Englishman would lose his citizenship rights by moving to the New World. It was this assurance that encouraged thousands of English citizens to head west over the next two hundred years, which ultimately resulted in the birth of the United States.

20

WHY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GIRL

Women currently hold the highest
office in several countries of
the world.

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ep. While the United States still hasn’t had a female president (although that will happen in your lifetime), other countries are more enlightened. Current women heads of state and government include:

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www.girlzone.com www.harpercollinsebooks.ca www.harpercollinsebooks.co.nz www.harpercollinsebooks.com www.harpercollinsebooks.com.au www.paramountclassics www.rachelcarson.org www.sallyridescience.com www.smartgirl.org www.studio www.studio2b.org www.studio2b.org/boutique/. www.thirdwave www.time.com www.time.com/time www.tryscience.org www.uk.harpercollinsebooks.com www.wieo.org www.womenswork.org www.womenswork.org/girls/. www.youthactionnet x x-ray xerox xi xii xiii xx xy y yale yeah year yell yellow yes yet yew yield ym york you-know-who young younger youngest yourself youth yulia z zaharia zap zealand zero zia ziporah zit zone zoolog zoologist zzz fiber fibrosi fibrous fiction fictional field fifteen fifteenth fifth fifti fifty-four fifty-nin fifty-seven fight fighter fighting fights figure figure-sk filled fills film filmed filmmake final finalli financ financial find finding fine finish fire fired firewood first first-class first-ever fish fission fist fitter five fivefoot 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