And being a single girl, at least from my perspective, is tougher.
Growing up I had the devoted attention of bullies at school and then was uncontested sport for siblings at home. So to survive I had to find a defense system.
I began with the discipline of unresponsiveness to physical and verbal attack, or "boot camp". Human beings, like predators in the wild, are stimulated by prey that runs or shrieks. But if prey is boring, like a possum, the predators lose interest.
This was only partially effective so I had to begin adding armor. First was the cloaking device.
The next set of armor is accumulated over time and better known as "batman's belt."
In elementary all my friends were on different vacation tracks than me so I spent most recesses alone. My friends were also never in the same classes so when it came to group projects I was always whittled off to the dysfunctional groups. These are those fabulous kids that have severe apathy and have the initiative of a wet sock so I was the one that had to carry the group to save my grade.
So over the years I had to accumulate skills, tricks, and facts that allowed me to survive alone what was meant to be done with several people.
My crowning example of this is one day my very bored teacher up and decided we were going to have a snowball competition. He took our class out back to some freshly fallen pristine packing snow in the field. Right off about eight boys grouped up and began rolling up a whopper of a snow ball.
The other groups were at least 3 to 4 strong. Once again, being deprived of my friends I set off by myself and began rolling one on my own. Two girls noticed that I was doing surprisingly well so they rather suddenly became friendly and asked to join me. They walked along side as I continued rolling and sweating behind the growing ball alone. When the competition ended I had the second largest snowball next to the group of eight dudes. *Nods* I had something on my belt for that.
This has essentially been my life story from kindergarten to my college degree. Not by choice but by necessity.
"*Tsk Tsk* "Man, tie rods? Those are a doozy that's gonna cost $400 to replace those."
Half hour later with my older brother and his tie rod remover we had them replaced for $60.
So the heavy artillery is street smarts and life skills. The more you can do on your own, the less chances you'll have of getting screwed by retail services.
I suddenly made a hobby of accumulating skills. I found having skills very reassuring and I slept better at night because I wasn't at the mercy of strangers.
The next set of armor is shielding. Toughness to endure discomfort, threats, and trials. The giant mech-suit of invulnerability.
1 in 5 women have been raped in the U.S. I always imagined that if someone tried to do that to me...well, I plan on sending them to a hospital or a morgue. In no small way do I feel vulnerable. I'm haunted by the frequent news stories of women on their morning walks getting assaulted and psychos breaking into single girls housing. I had a past co worker who was armed with pepper spray and had security officers nearby and still got sexually assaulted at a train station and didn't get rescued and couldn't get to her spray.
So while my friends were orienting their life trajectory I was going to college alone riding the 3 hour round trip on the bus until the train opened then it was about a 2 hour round trip. But if there's one thing cheep transportation attracts its weirdos.
Since I was young I've loved jackets and as I've grown up I've somewhat suspected jackets are my security blanket. Because once I started taking those long rides and encountering scary people I got me a big tough pilot looking jacket with the furry flip up collars and loud zippers. It made my arms look far less stick like and made me look just a bit more intimidating. I don't know how well it worked but I felt safer in it.
Now that I'm getting nearer age thirty I've had to continue accumulating these belt gizmos, artillery, and shields so that I can survive life alone as well as possible. But I worry that, with my already macho upbringing, that my toughness has made me coarse and intimidating to men.