To be willing to care for children, women need certain personal characteristics. Foremost they need to be less driven than men are about following their own pursuits. Secondly they need to be relatively passive to be willing to subjugate their own activities and focus on nurturing others.
Most girls focus on social activities and rather than physically active play. In order to survive, women have evolved to be more passive and amenable. Not everyone conforms to these stereotypes but many do. Women need to deal with men who can be aggressive and ruthless. Men like amenable women but they also disrespect women because they are easily dominated.
From a young age, most girls already demonstrate a more passive and timid personality than most boys. This gender difference is apparent before the onset of puberty and is not caused by hormones. The first sign of puberty for girls is the growth of pubic hair, which begins developing by 12.3 years of age on average. Female puberty focuses a woman’s reproductive role rather than her responsiveness. A girl’s growth is completed by 15.8 years old. Regular ovulation does not begin until sixteen to eighteen years of age.
A woman has a monthly cycle that includes ovulation and her period. The age of first menstruation ranges from 9 to 25 years but the median girl starts her period at age 13. A period is not liquid blood but more like gelatinous clots. A woman’s period involves losing the lining of cells that builds up in her womb each month as her body prepares for a potential pregnancy.
Girls from the age of 15 or so start to talk of the man they might marry one day and the children they hope to have. This interest in a prospective family is not focused on a particular male. But once she has a boyfriend a girl may contemplate the longer term. This contrasts with boys who are much more short-term in their thinking and who often want to keep their options open.
In girls the appearance of the breast bud is the first sign of puberty, though the appearance of pubic hair precedes it in about one-third. The uterus and vagina develop simultaneously with the breast. The labia and clitoris also enlarge. Menarche, the first menstrual period, is a late event in the sequence. The early cycles are often irregular and do not include ovulation.
Most women ovulate anywhere between Day 11 and Day 21 of their cycle, counting from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP). Women use sanitary pads or tampons to absorb the blood. Some women spend days in bed with stomach cramps and have pre-menstrual tension (PMT), which can make them bad-tempered. Other women experience no period pains.
A woman has a life-time supply of eggs within her body from the day she is born. After puberty, a woman ovulates automatically (without conscious awareness). One mature egg is released from an ovary each month. After the egg is released, it moves down into the fallopian tube where it stays for about 24 hours. A woman can conceive (if sperm are present from a recent ejaculation) during that time. If the egg is not fertilized during that time, the egg disintegrates and menstruation (blood flow) begins 2 weeks later.
A woman can be impregnated any time she has intercourse. A man only needs to ejaculate into her vagina (or close to it). Sperm can sometimes enter the vagina if a man ejaculates just outside. To know the days when she is fertile, a woman needs to keep a temperature chart. Few women do this and so assume that they may conceive any time after their period ends.
Male puberty causes men to have a new curiosity in their own genitals and also in any opportunity to observe nudity in others. Female adolescence does not include this sudden and intense increase in responsiveness that boys experience. Women may have a general curiosity about genitals just as children do. Women are not automatically aroused by hormones as men are. Neither are they aroused by observing or thinking about the genitals of a lover. So most women are not remotely curious about masturbation.
Female anatomy is more susceptible to infection than the male because of the proximity of the orifices: urethra, vagina and anus. The opening to the vaginal lies between the urethra and the anus. A woman needs to wash either side of the vaginal opening including cleaning the folds between the labia majora. When a woman washes between her legs, she needs to use soap and lather the pubic hair on either side of her labia majora (outer lips or skin folds). As she ages, these become wrinkly and slightly baggy, reminiscent of the male scrotum, which is the equivalent male anatomy.
A woman does not need to clean inside the labia minora (inner lips or skin folds), which are much more delicate and lead into the vagina. She can insert a finger into the vagina to check for discharge. She may find a creamy substance that she can wash from her fingers in the shower. Most of these discharges are quite natural. Women are persuaded to buy vaginal douches in the belief that the vagina is dirty. There is nothing inherently unclean about the vagina. Douches can be dangerous and should not be used without medical advice. A woman should wash the crack between her buttocks and her anus separately, by reaching her hand down from behind.
… the capacity to reproduce is not synonymous with the capacity to be aroused erotically and to respond to the point of orgasm … (Alfred Kinsey 1953)