by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

virago n.  A noisy, domineering woman; a scold.

Having a front-row seat in a theater-in-the-round once afforded me a perfect vantage point for observing late arrivals across the way.  I watched a man and a woman sidling awkwardly in the dark toward their seats.  She dropped her program.  In an instant, two things happened: (1) the woman threw up her hands, and (2) the man made a diving catch.
Another of nature's secrets revealed.
In most species, males are expendable.  Their main function is to provide genetic diversity (see happen), which can be achieved with minimal expenditure of male time and energy.  Nurturing offspring to the point of reproductive competence places heavier, more enduring demands on females.  Males might assist in the enterprise, but such behavior is rare in nature.  Better that they provide defense from -- if necessary, nourishment for -- predators.

The issue is not lack of female bravery so much as what biologists call "inclusive fitness" -- which translates into a genetically programmed stupidity on the part of males.  Evolution will doubtless favor those species whose females are risk-averse and whose males unthinkingly confront environmental perils.

In prehistory, sexual distinctions such as in the "flinch factor" helped to get us here.  The same behavioral traits would be favored in highly stressed environments, even today.  If there is plenty of time for assessing danger, the dissimilarity may be less pronounced.  Take out the thinking time, though, and a man will unhesitatingly make a grab for a dropped object; a woman will draw back.

That this proposition applies to the human species is hotly disputed by half its members (see Platonic).  It is merely a special case, however, for a much broader debate.

Thus, I present the following Self-Proving Theorem:

Men celebrate sexual differences; women deny them.
For confirmation, simply quote the Theorem in mixed company and observe how the ensuing argument polarizes along gender lines: men pro, women con.

If you ever find an exception among females, send me her phone number.  With my matrimonial track record, it's never too early to begin looking for my next wife.

Oh right, and the word "virago" is suitable only for muttering under one's breath.

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