Men and Women are from Earth

January 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

“Women are from venus. Men are from mars.” We have all heard that expression before but the essay “Men and Women are from Earth” by Barnett and Rivers allows us to dispel that coined phrase. Many people and books have stated that men and women communicate on completely different levels and are therefore incapable of having “good” conversations without the other sex learning certain guidelines that pertain to how a man or woman communicates. I can remember being told early on in life that men’s brains are wired a completely different way and I still hear similar expressions when discussing a man’s actions or behaviors. In some ways, this idea of considerable differences between the genders, seems to be an excuse that either women give to men for their behavior or vice versa. For example, if a husband “shuts down” in an important conversation with his wife, she may just continue to be upset, blame it on the “men are from mars” concept and neverl let the conflict be resolved beacause “his brain just isn’t wired to do so.” Similarly, a man can shrug off a woman if she is deeply hurt and emotional because “women are from venus.” This rationalization just doesn’t make sense to me and I see it as more of an easy out excuse. I can see how some people who have grown up with this idea just assume that they must act or communicate in these stereotypical gender-based ways. The essay states, “Either way, rigid sex stereotypes promote self-fulfilling prophecies.”

The essay “Men and Women are from Earth” cite several studies that have shown that “women and men are much more alike than different in how they listen to people, the ways they react to others who are in trouble, and their ability to be open and honest in communication.” The  essay goes on to say that power is often the key in determining who will control the conversation, not gender.  I think that if a lot of people were to understand the idea that men and women are much more alike than they think and that communication differences between the genders is not innate, then communication would significantly improve. By not assuming that you are automatically supposed to be a certain way, it allows you to define your own style of communication, dealing with issues, etc. based on your own experiences.

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§ 3 Responses to Men and Women are from Earth

  • It’s amazing how we’re taught from so early on to create these artificial distinctions between men and women; “boys will be boys”, the idea of the gossipy woman, and the “strong, silent” man.

    I wonder if, by teaching us to preserve these perceived communication stereotypes, society is also responsible for perpetuating the power differential? If you’re taught to relate to an entire gender in a certain way, there are implicit lessons learned about what your “place” is in relation to theirs. Men are taught to demean the opinions and emotions of women because women are naturally more unpredictable and hysterical. And women are taught not to express their feelings and criticisms to men, because men might get offended and feel emasculated.

    Both sides of that coin depict men’s feelings and comfort as superior, or more worthy of consideration, than women’s feelings and comfort. I also find it ironic that women are simultaneously labeled as more emotional and volatile than men, and expected to bottle up their emotions for fear of upsetting men. We just can’t win!

  • This thread reminds me of an essay I read recently about communication between men and women. Here’s a quote: “From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.” Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html

  • smschutt says:

    Okay, I will agree with you on a few of your thoughts, but that is about as far as I will go. Men in my opinion are entirely wired different than women. We think differently, our brains process things in different ways. I may think that something is not ok. The man in my life will choose to avoid confrontation, he will push it aside, simply put not want to talk about the issue at hand. Our ideas on what are important are sometimes at a whole different level.
    This might not be true in every situation. You may find a man that has a few more “feminine” qualities. He may be more apt to appreciate your feelings, know that you are hurting, etc. He would not push your feelings aside sighting you are being silly about this, to just get over it. He could be the kind of man that feels your pain and can give you that hug you deserve. This could also be visa-versa as well. There may be a woman who understands where a man is coming from. More often than not a man and women’s process of thinking are different.

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