So you’ve probably had this video pop up on your Facebook newsfeed a few times now and you’re wondering what the hell is going on:
Is this really an example of something women can do that men can’t? Well, technically, it’s not a fair fight.
This is an issue of where the center of mass and the fulcrum point is when you bend over. Most men have bigger feet than most women so they are a bit further back from the wall when they bend over. That shifts where their center of mass is away from the fulcrum point and that makes it impossible for men to lift the chair. You’ll note that most of the men are leaning forward to put their head on the wall so their legs are at an angle whereas most of the women’s legs aren’t. It’s only a few centimeters at most, but it’s enough to make all the difference.
If you match a man’s positioning to where most women end up then we can do it just as easily. If you move a woman’s feet to match where a typical man’s feet would end up then they can’t lift the chair either. You can see this tested in this video from Science Mom:
This also isn’t new. It seems like it pops up every so often over the years and goes viral for a bit and then everyone forgets about it until the next time someone pulls it out. It was really big on YouTube in 2009 for awhile, but you can find examples pre-YouTube such as the sitcom All in the Family back on the February 9th, 1971 episode. I was 3 years old when it aired:
It’s a cute trick that’s been around for a long time, but it’s not a big mystery. How baffled someone is by it is a good indicator of their science literacy.