Battle of the sexes reduxIf you have a friend who belongs to the Bertelsmann book club here (maybe that would also be an offbeat conversation starter), ask to take a look at the latest quarterly catalog. There is a handful of English-language books listed there at attractive prices; this book is in the current catalog.
The book is somewhat akin to “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” reviewed here some time ago. It has more of an edge, however, in rejecting politically-correct assertions of equality of the sexes. Barbara and Allan Pease point to basic biological differences derived from ancient roles as the reason that men and women sometimes seem as if they are ― well, from Mars and from Venus.
Listening and talking are two of the areas that both the Peases and John Gray’s “Mars/Venus” series address, and both come to the same conclusions: Women verbalize their feelings under stress or in the grip of emotion, while men tend to clam up; women just want someone to listen to them, while men want to solve the problems being presented.
One of the most interesting topics in the book is how our behavior has been shaped by the role differentiation of our ancestors: monofocal attention by men to stalking prey, and sensitivity by women, whose role was to protect the nest, to the immediate surroundings. Why can’t women read maps? They navigate differently than men do; they focus on landmarks in the immediate area, while men can visualize how to get back to a hunting area a day’s walk away. Why can’t a man find something sitting in plain sight in the house? He literally doesn’t see it; his vision is too selective. Why does a woman often point to the right and say, “Go left”? She has more interconnections between the hemispheres of her brain than a man does, and uses the sides of the brain more equally. “Right” and “left” are not as sharply differentiated in her mind as in a man’s, the authors say.
Fascinating stuff, but the book does not surmount the hurdle it sets for itself. The authors say their claims are based on hard science, and while that may or may not be true, the science is generally given short shrift in favor of one-liners and summations. While the book provides a few laughs and some insights, it does not seem to pack the necessary horsepower to take on sexual political correctness, a worthy endeavor when it leads to understanding.
Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps
By Barbara and Allan Pease
by John Hoog