Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

So I recently threw the audiobook of “Men are from Mars,Women are from Venus” into my mp3 player and recently finished it. It was fascinating to listen to, but I couldn’t help but squirm when the author constantly used words like “different” and “natural” to explain many of the male/female gender differences.

Having taken a Sociology of the Family class last quarter (which is also a women studies class) I have learned much when it comes to the difference between “sex“and “gender.” These two concepts may sound identical and interchangeable, but the subtle difference in the definition in the words makes all the difference. Sex is what you are born with and what you cannot change, for example having male or female body parts. Gender, on the other hand, refers more towards your sexual identity in which one acts typically “masculine” or “feminine.” Therefore a person may be a man by sex by having male body parts, but by dressing in a typically female way and talking in a high voice that person’s gender would female. So in a nutshell, sex is determined biologically, whereas gender is socially constructed.

Never once in the book does the author mention these societal differences between men and women and sticks true to his hypothesis that “Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus,” asserting that differences in communication and understanding in men and women are based on biological reasons. And according to him, because men and women are so inherently different, we must accept these differences and treat our partners differently with this in mind.

The author states that men hold true to values such as courage, strength and power, they are naturally more goal-oriented when it comes to problems and often “retreat into their caves” when they are having problems to “deal with it themselves.” However females are “naturally” more gentle, caring, and emotional which causes them to rather seek people to listen and support them when they are going through problems and become more social when stressed or going through problems. So therefore if you learn to accept these inherent differences between men and women and learn how to act loving and supporting in the light of this, your relationship with your partner is supposed to get much better.

It is strange because while listening to this book, a lot of it seemed very true. For example I always find myself to “problem solve” whenever people tell me about their problems, and I recall hearing that women like to “voice out their emotions” and just want others to “listen” to their problems rather than try to solve their problems.

However there are many loose ends in this book which it does not address. How do you treat your partner if they are gay, lesbian, or even transgender? This is when the gender lines become blurred and not so concrete. Do you treat your partner more according to his/her gender? Or his/her sex? And not by delving into some of the sociological topics when it comes to gender, I feel that the author loses his credibility (especially by having a PhD). I would have given the author more credibility if he said that these differences between males and females were socially constructed and thus by identifying these gender differences we must act accordingly, but by making it a biologically-driven argument I refuse to listen to what he says.

But in the end (what makes this still worth reading/listening to) is that the author ultimately preaches the messages of love and acceptance. We can’t always expect to mold our partners into the people that we want them to be, and must accept them for who they are. This shouldn’t discourage us, however, from trying to change some of their bad habits that may be destructive. But if your partner is a little forgetful or foolish sometimes we should let those instances just slide by. And also by spending more time to listen to your partner is a good one too. Although he directs the “listening” argument more towards women, men and women should both strive to listen to each other more. By listening to one another we can get a better feel of how they are feeling which will ultimately make them feel more loved and cared for.

But this is simply my opinion of the book. Yours may differ. But if you decide to listen to it, don’t take everything for truth. Just because it is written in a book by a guy with a PhD. doesn’t mean that he is entirely right. This is one of the most important things that I learned through college. To hold true to your own beliefs and don’t simply just throw them away when someone tells you otherwise if on TV, the internet, or even a book.

My simple piece of relationship advice is the golden rule said by Jesus over two thousand years ago which still holds true today: “Love one another as you would like to be loved.”