Little Girls Are Superior to Little Boys — Here’s Why

A 5-year-old boy wearing shorts holds on to the arm of a 3-year-old girl in a dress. Photo by BF Newhall

Boys and girls find out at an early age that boys have something that girls don’t have. And it’s not what Freud claimed it was. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall, The Oakland Tribune, June 1, 1987

Little girls are superior to little boys.

This fact is not written down in black and white anywhere. The popular baby books talk warily around the topic of sex differences. And researchers will make only minor, technical concessions to the superiority of girls.

Girls, they report, cry less as babies than boys. They talk better, their bones grow faster, their baby teeth fall out sooner, their brains specialize earlier and their fingers work better.

Girls are less likely than boys to die in utero, and they are more likely to survive the rigors of childhood. Consult any parent, however, and you will find out that girls also are more civilized than boys.

The experts may decline to comment on this touchy topic, but we know. We know that, as an infant, a girl already possesses a measure of respect for other people’s belongings.

A 3-year-old girl gazes intently at white flowers that she clutches in her hand. Photo by BF Newhall

If she squeezes the baby too hard in child care or squashes the flowers from her mother’s garden, it’s out of affection. Photo by BF Newhall

Unlike her brother at this stage, she does not pull the tablecloth off Aunt Nancy’s dining room table – not until the hand-built porcelainware has been cleared away, at least.

She might chew on the toaster cord, but she does it daintily. She does not electrocute herself.

At 2 1/2, unlike her friend Timmy, she does not drop her toys, one by one, off the deck and into the oblivion of poison oak below.

She gets in the way in the kitchen, but that is only because she wants to help slice the tofu.

Nor does she bite the smallest baby in day care. If she abuses him, it is with a surfeit of wettish kisses.

She enters kindergarten knowing how to raise her hand, write the alphabet and put eyebrows on her portrait of Mommy.

Her male classmates, meanwhile, are busy being active boys. They fall out of their chairs to get attention. They greet one another with karate kicks.

They are still uncertain of the location of the lavatory and use it only in an emergency. In the average school day, a kindergarten boy has two to four emergencies.

I had better stop at this point to mention that there are some areas in which little boys are clearly superior to little girls.

Any nursery school teacher will tell you that boys love to play with blocks – a precursor of superior math abilities.

What’s more, if you spend some time with young boys, you will find they are honest. If a 4-year-old boy says, “I don’t like you,” it’s because he genuinely doesn’t like you.

He does not lie and, therefore, does not suspect that other people – including little girls – lie.

When little Virginia, half a year younger, asserts that the adults have put her in charge of dishing out the tortilla chips, he believes her.

A 6-year-old boy in jeans and T-shirt with catcher's mitt goes for the catch. Photo by BF Newhall

Mitt and muscles ready, he goes for the catch. Photo by BF Newhall

When his share proves to be half the size of hers, he knows something is wrong, but can’t put it into words. He opts for a blow to the side of her dainty head.

And finally, anatomically, little boys have something that little girls might well covet.

Freud would smile and assume that I am about to talk p—–s. [Note to readers: I’m deleting the P-word to avoid attracting the search engines.]

But Freud was a man, a man who ultimately had to confess that he didn’t rightly know what women want. The feeling is mutual. Freud doesn’t understand me, and I don’t understand him – and his bizzare notion of p—– envy.

After all, what little girl who knows the first thing about her own body would want to trade in her uterus for a p—-? Without a uterus, she would not be able to have babies and having babies is power.

No, what most every little boy has in enviable abundance is – muscle mass.

At 2 1/2, he can lift his baby sister off the floor and carry her across the room. He can grab her toys and hold them over her head until she shrieks.

He can shove her off the tire swing. He can insinuate his muscle mass between her and the cookie plate.

Eventually, he learns not to use physical force on his sister. Mom, Dad and the babysitter don’t like it. Besides, he adores his little sister.

But he knows, and she knows – and they both remember long after the tire swing has been taken down – that he can throw her off it any time he wants.

Understandably, little boys love their muscles. They like the way they feel when they move. They like the power that their muscles bestow upon them.

After hearing the waiter recite the evening’s specials the other night, our 6-year-old was decisive. He ordered the mussels.

A boy can’t have too many muscles, sautéed or otherwise.

Our son will enter the first grade in the fall and I am wondering what happens next.

Just when it is, exactly, that the male half of the species stops dropping its toys in the poison oak – and starts taking over the world?

© 1987 The Oakland Tribune. Reprinted by permission.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like “Confessions of a Nintendo Mom: The Day I Unplugged My Eight-Year-Old,”  “Scrubbing the Floor With My Daughter Cinderella” or  “When Your Kids Don’t Fight — Enough.”

A 33-year-old man wearing white shorts bench presses at the gym Photo by BF Newhall

At age 6, he ordered muscles at the restaurant. At age 33, after years of working out at the gym, they arrived. Photo by BF Newhall



  1. George Alvarez-Bouse—Jache says:

    This is way too big a topic for me to take on right now, but thanks for raising it, then as now. In brief I am aware of this premise, but it is stated mostly in popular culture, so it can’t be other than a notion. The two notions I am most familiar with concern older children: 1. that by the time they reach ‘adolescence’, girls are more ‘mature’ than boys, and 2. That, at about the same time, girls show a lower ability to do math. She mentions earlier activity that seems to presage this latter problem. Barbara refers to scientific studies, but how would you conduct studies with any assurance when so little is written down, let alone scientifically studied, about each child’s school experience; and an individual family is a very small sample for making such a large judgment. Freud had a great deal more to say about adolescence than the mostly popularly understood theory she mentions. And I don’t think the Freudians since, notably Anna Freud, would have said that sex differences of this kind had anything to do with superiority or inferiority. Among the children I had some small part in raising I found no noticeable difference between male and female. I have had no experience in educating ‘little boys and girls’ in a school setting, so I can’t make a judgment to confirm or deny what she argues in that regard. This is an interesting discussion and deserves wider play in this arena we are evolving—social media. (I apologize for the length of this ‘brief’.)

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      I’ve been a big feminist for many years, so I totally do not approve of making firm claims about sex differences, let alone about the superiority of one sex over another. Apparently, at the time I wrote this, the little boys in my life were very boy, and the girls very delicate and girlish. One little boy really did take pleasure in heaving things off our deck. And our son Peter really did want muscles (he still does, as you can see by the photo). I remember the birthday parties, where the boys made a lot of noise and crashed around the house. Then we threw one for our daughter Christina where the girls very quietly entered the house and played all the games I had set out for them.

      Bottom line — I still wonder how it is that males have run the public aspects of so many human cultures for so long.

  2. Karen Gleason says:

    Of course, I love my boy grandchildren too. They are so much fun and totally engaged in life. They keep us young!

  3. Karen Gleason says:

    Barbara, I can really relate to this in watching my five grandchildren, one of which is a girl, age 5 in the middle of the pack, age-wise. Brooklyn proves all your points about the superiority of girls! She is the most civilized and really knows what’s what. I love this!

  4. I loved reading this and admire your total honesty. Terrific job!

  5. Katherine Philipp says:

    Boys are fun. They invent games and imaginative play. “I’ll throw the ball and you can hit it with the broom.” Or, overheard while observing 2 boys playing with cars “You be the daddy and I’ll be the teenager, we’re going for ice cream.” They never say “I’m bored.” They never shriek. They rarely come crying that “Ken hit me.” They never stop running (except sometimes to play with the cars) They never walk a straight line. They walk on the curb instead of the sidewalk. They jump over the rock rather than walk around it. They pull on tree branches within their reach. They challenge themselves and strive to be the best, the tallest, the strongest. They eat everything you put in front of them and ask for more.

    I won’t say they are better than girls, because I don’t like to compare them. But I observe their behavior together at the playground and pool. I have 6 grandsons, ages 6 weeks to 7 years and I love them dearly.

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      Katherine, So true. I can just see your boys in your words — boys walking on curbs, boys springing over rocks. Of course, I was just having a little fun with the boy-girl question back in the day. Lucky you, to have so many grandkids!

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