Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Dr. John Gray wrote the book — literally — more than twenty-five years ago.
The premise? Men want to find solutions to problems. Women want to vent. Men and women fight because while a man wants to find a solution to a problem, the woman merely wants to complain. That’s the theory.
The book is now an article of faith — claimed as science — and has become a deeply embedded part of the culture. Nobody wants to question it.
But shouldn’t we?
Think of how insulting it is to women. “Women just want to complain. They don’t want solutions.” If we put it that way, women would be right to be insulted. But when you dress something up in psychological or seemingly scientific jargon … well then, who are you or I to question it, right?
Forget about men and women for a minute. Let’s just look at it rationally and objectively. If I’m complaining to you about my day, and you try to offer me solutions, ask probing (fair) questions of me, or provide a rational question, am I right to become irate if I merely want to complain? If all I want to do is vent or complain, then what I’m really implying is, “I don’t care what the facts are. I don’t care about anything. I just want to be upset.”
Psychologically, it’s normal and natural to be so upset at times that you can’t think. It’s good to own this fact and convey it to others. “I’m just feeling really low right now, and I don’t think I’m up to a constructive conversation.” Don’t waste the other person’s time, and don’t waste your own time. I remember Dr. Laura, a talk radio host from the 1990s, who used to say something like, “I give myself 24 hours to wallow if it’s a hard issue. I give myself 48 hours if it’s a really hard one.” Fair enough. Know yourself and convey it to those around you.
But this Mars and Venus approach elevates such a 24-hour or 48-hour attitude to a way of life — and, on top of it, insults women by claiming it’s all they’re capable of. Where are the feminists when you need them?
So much has gone wrong in our culture. You see it in the collapse of our social-political discourse verging, at times, on all-out civil war. The problems are deeper than the existence of Facebook and Twitter. The problems are in rotten or stupid ideas. Mars-Venus is one of them. It’s time to challenge such distorted thinking.
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