男泥女水 nán ní nǚ shuǐ
Incidentally, the first expression in the series is not a proverb in the truest sense of the term but a quote from Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦, hóng lóu mèng) by Cáo Xuěqín (曹雪芹), arguably one of the greatest masterpieces of Chinese literature. The words are uttered by the male protagonist, Jiǎ Bǎoyù (贾宝玉). A tactful, compassionate and sensitive young man, Bǎoyù asserts that women are made of water, or, at the very least, remain as pure as water, whereas men are mere chunks of clay or mud, unformed and soiled. He shuns the latter for their moral and spiritual inferiority, quite in the image of his own cousin, a dissolute rake known for his amorous exploits with both men and women. Indeed, Xuē Pán (薛蟠) embodies all the possible deplorable and disgusting characteristics of a male, including indolence, uncouthness, inconsideration, and so on. A local bully, he even kills someone over a slave girl and has his case covered up with money, demonstrating how far corruption can go. Although not all men reach this level of tastelessness or depravity, they undoubtedly represent the gender with the lesser grace, mildness and virtue. Men’s pilosity, deeper voices, crime statistics, the volume of body noises emitted, or their greater inclination to consume stimulants (alcohol, tobacco, etc.) are but a few examples to underline this statement.
Yet, if men’s physiques are rough and angular, their temperaments pugnacious and impulsive, and their manners vulgar and selfish, it is only because it has been made possible by evolution. Their bodies and minds were originally fashioned for strength, agility and speed, as their purpose was to run, to seek, to capture, and to kill in order to provide for their community. Testosterone gushing through their blood vessels plays an instrumental role in the process. Not only does it drive the fabrication of male reproductive tissues (in particular the testis and the prostate) and the maturation of sex organs; it also fosters the growth of body hair, the building up of muscle mass and strength, the increase of bone density, etc., giving men their muscular and robust, i.e., virile, shape. Since men have about ten times more testosterone in their blood than women, it is impossible that the human anatomy stays unaffected by this sexual differentiation. The brain itself constitutes no exception and is heavily influenced by the amount and magnitude of hormonal fluxes. Consequently, testosterone levels play a major role in the explanation of gender discrepancies in the development of essential cognitive and sensorial functions, such as attention, memory, spatial ability, attachment, caring, risk tolerance, aggressiveness, the tendency toward violence or suicide, and so forth.,,,,
Inversely, the female body is much curvier, fuller, and softer. Just by looking at it, one understands immediately that it has been designed for protection, cosiness and nourishment. The key biological ingredients in the formation of that source (others may also worship it as a temple) of comfort and well-being are oestrogens. While they are part of both males’ and females’ blood chemistries, they are usually present at significantly higher levels in women of reproductive age, dominating their hormonal balance. Oestrogens are involved in the shaping of female secondary sexual characteristics (for example, breasts, larger fat stores, reduced muscle mass), are partly responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and contribute to other cardinal functions of the reproduction system (e.g., the increase of uterine growth, acceleration of vaginal lubrication, thickening of the vaginal wall). Finally, they are also connected to mental health, as a fluctuation, persisting low levels, or a sudden withdrawal of oestrogen may cause a woman’s mood to decline.,,,,
 Following the local convention, all Chinese names throughout the text are written with the family name first (in capital letters) and the given name next. In the present example, Cáo is the family name, while Xuěqín is the given name.
 Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone) is arguably the most famous of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese (四大名著, sì dà míng zhù, literally “Four Great Masterpieces”), the other three being Water Margin (水浒传, shuǐ hǔ zhuàn), Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三国演义, sān guó yǎn yì), and Journey to the West (西游记, xī yóu jì).
 Ridley (1993), pp. 254-258
 Pease / Pease (1999), pp. 187-189
 Campbell (2002), pp. 35, 290
 Pease / Pease (2009), p. 15
 Pease / Pease (1999), p. 182
 Brizendine (2006), pp. 33-35
 Pease / Pease (2009), p. 188
 See chapter 8 “A woman’s heart is as deep as the ocean”.