If you were to stand straight, both feet pointing forward like a soldier in a military parade, only barefoot, you would notice that your left foot is virtually a mirror image of your right foot. Perhaps the only difference you would be able to make out is if being male you looked at your most used pair of shoes. Likely then the rate of wear on one shoe would show some significant difference between the left and the right. As you move up the lower limb, the right knee and the left knee are mirror images too. Not so the upper limbs. Starting with your elbows, which you use primarily to support a cup of tea, there is a little difference in feeling when you hold the cup in your right hand versus your left. The more comfortable hand, being your dominant hand.
It would seem as if, as you move from toe to head there emerges small yet significant differences between your left and your right side. Few of us have perfectly symmetrical fine-looking faces – the true definition, apparently, of beauty. For most of us one side of the face is much better looking or worse than the other. In a few of us neither side of the face is a sight for sore eyes, a reversal of the definition of beauty but surprisingly not as bad as it sounds. Why might it be that as we move up the body it becomes less symmetrical? Certainly by the time we get to the top of the head and especially if the person is female, there is a great desire to have a hairstyle that is unique and shows one side of the face in a ‘better light’, usually be carrying a signature handbag on the opposite side to the dominant side of the hairstyle.
What happens on the outside also happens on the inside. We have two kidneys, two lungs that work more or less the same. But move into the head and whereas your ears might be at the same level, for most of us one ear hears better than the other. One eye is better at squinting and looking stern than the other. Even the brain itself works in such a way that what happens on the left side is not a mirror of what is happening on the right side. The largest part of the brain is called the cerebrum. It is divided down the centre into two halves, the left and right hemispheres, which are connected to each other through a thick band of nerve fibres, the corpus callosum. The hemispheres themselves are divided into four paired lobes named; the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes as you move from the front of the brain to the back. Of interest is that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa. Furthermore particular hemispheres are responsible for specific functions. For example the ability to speak and understand the spoken word is a function of the left side of the brain.
This may partly explain why Probox taxi drivers in Bomet drive so fast. They are seated four or five in the front with the driver’s seat usually occupied by at least two people. The congestion and pressure on the left side of the driver’s head may mean that he does not understand much that is said to him, such as “drive safely” or “slow down” or ‘this car has three times the number of passengers it is meant to carry”. Unfortunately brain anatomy or gender does not explain how passengers allow themselves to be a part of such tragic comedy.
Scientists have found that male and female brains are different particularly during development. At 26 weeks pregnancy the corpus callosum viewed through ultrasound is significantly thicker in a female foetus when compared to a male foetus. This may explain partly why it is believed that females’ left and right sides of the brain communicate more than in males. When females are listening to a conversation both left and right sides of the brain light up, whereas in males it is predominantly the left side. Given that the left side controls the right side of the body, and that 90 per cent of people are right-handed then it becomes clear where men get a reputation for action sometimes without thinking too hard.
Other than in reproduction and how beauty is defined, that may be the only difference between males and females; that men to understand an issue need to have it said in stereo or surround sound whereas women can process internally. The primitive nature of many men is simply a lack of application of brain processing power. So much of our state of under-development is not due to a gender difference per se but more likely the low level of development in itself. Investing in the common basics that we all need would allow the whole society to utilise the full potential available.