The glory of womanhood; or, eighteen things men can’t understand even when they try

Very rigid gender stereotypes are not my thing. Men can paint their nails; they can have a deep and spiritual relationship with chocolate; they can cry over The Notebook. (Likewise, plenty of women don’t do any of those.) I think ‘men are from Mars’ articles are generally lazy and annoying, and we should all just knock it off.

But the other day I was talking to Timothy and realised there was no possible way he could understand what I was talking about. It got me thinking about the necessary gaps between us. Then I was overtaken by the Great Spirit of Buzzfeed, and compiled a list.*

the glory of womanhood; or, eighteen things men can’t understand even when they try



1. the hideous moment when you pull off your hair towel and your wet, prickly, unpleasantly warm hair hits your naked back

2. the five attempts it will take to manually unlock your pee muscles so you can pee standing up

3. the embarrassment of thirteen-year-old you finding that you have grown little Toblerone boobs, then compounding this indignity by having a middle-aged woman with cold fingers measure them so you know how small they are (men have uncomfortable puberty changes too, of course, but none of them are quantified)

4. the second you stand up after giving birth, and all of your internal organs tumble back down through your empty torso to where they should be

5. being hyper-aware of the hairiness of your legs during the months after everyone else starts shaving and your mum still says you can’t

photo via


6. the sweet, sweet release of taking your bra off before bed

7. the tickly weirdness of having a small hand grab your hip bone from the inside

8. knowing what a speculum is for, and wishing you didn’t

9. the leaping-into-a-lion’s-den anxiety of trying a new hairdresser for the first time

10. the exquisite lightness of being, the day after that monthly unpleasantness is over


free at last

11. wanting to sob, shout and stab something all at once during the first week of breastfeeding, when latching is still an issue

12. the relief of having a deep, soulful, bare-everything conversation with a friend of the same gender

13. also, giggling

14. leggings

15. jabbing yourself in the eye with a mascara wand

photo via Estee Lauder

she’s just asking for bother

16. the comforting rightness of sitting with your legs crossed, no matter how many times you’ve been told you shouldn’t

17. the intermingled fear and hope of going shopping for new jeans

18. the fierce euphoric connection to the babies you made, carried and gave birth to, springing itself upon you at the most unexpected moments (3am, the grocery line at Tesco, forcibly brushing their teeth, watching them demolish a pork pie).

So don’t even try it, Mr Jeffcoat. Some things are mine alone.

*this is not a serious exploration of gender issues. Please don’t send me emails. Also I think I might get Timothy to do a Glory of Manhood list to balance things out. 

UPDATED TO ADD: golly, Glory of Manhood sounds wrong. Sorry. 

10 thoughts on “The glory of womanhood; or, eighteen things men can’t understand even when they try

  1. This post cracks me up, and truly does point out that, like you said, men don’t understand and probably never will, despite our best efforts. On an aside, “Glory of Manhood” sounds absolutely and unequivocally right, in so many ways. Haha. Thanks for the laughs this morning!

  2. SO true, I remember thinking when I first had Amy that nothing under the sun or stars would make me trade from being a mother and woman. I can only really speak for Dan and I but assuming we are average, women know their bodies so much more, they have to as so much more goes on. Only now middle age is upon us is Dan disappointed to learn moisturising would have been a good idea and body bits can go wrong for boys too.

    • I absolutely agree – I think being a woman is wonderful, even with the funny or less-funny downsides! I can’t for the life of me get Tim to moisturise, so well done there 🙂 x

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