The Mix

Do you feel the pain?

A university research study finds that women feel more pain than men. Why does this have men cheering that women are the "real" wimps?
Women, never again believe a man -- be he President, lover, or friend -- who says "he feels your pain." Because a new study finds that he really doesn't. According to the University of Bath, women feel more pain than men do, and it lasts longer. Not just cramps, either.

But what's perhaps most interesting about this is how it has been interpreted to mean that men are better at coping with pain. Apparently, besides just feeling more pain, women are more concerned about it, have a lower threshold for pain, and a lower tolerance.

Dr. Ed Keogh, a psychologist from the university's pain management unit, said men took a "problem-solving" approach while women focused on how pain made them feel.

This was enough to get a few headlines cheering about how women are the real "wimps."

You could argue that sticking your hand in ice cold water (as the study's participants did) isn't quite the same as a 25-hour-labor, but the bigger point is why are we so concerned with who feels less pain? It's pretty clear that we value the guy who slams his head into brick walls and walks away more than we do the guy who cries when he stubs his toe. But why? Seems there's a role for empaths in our society. As a country, we are numb enough as it is. Being able to sit with pain, and feeling your own and others, is something we could use a little more of, particularly during this time of protracted and bloody war.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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