Column: Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus

How to learn to recognize the differences between men and women and then respond to those differences in a healthy and productive way

The “battle of the sexes” has been fought for hundreds of years now, but now is the time to put down our arms and come together.

Television shows, commercials, books and practically every other media source out there often put the idea into our heads that men are providers and women are caregivers. This belief spills over into our everyday lives and causes a large amount of pressure for both males and females.

Unfortunately, we believe these overemphasized gender roles and allow society to create a distance between men and women, which evolves into conflict. It is easy to think, “No matter what I do, the opposite sex will never understand me, and I will never understand it.”

I refuse to believe that. I believe that is an excuse we use to avoid conflict. My next column will be about learning how to recognize the differences between men and women so that you can respond to those differences in a healthy and productive way. However, before I begin writing about these differences, it is important that we understand men and women are much more similar than they are different.

Although males and females are born with biological differences, we are all still human. Men and women strive to feel accepted, valuable, unique, loved and important. The media tries to tell us that spending money, time and effort on various material items are the tools we need to be able to attain those needs.

Perfume and cologne advertisements are a small example of the media’s inadequate representation of men and women. A Houston Chronicle article “Perfume Advertisement Strategies” stated, “To successfully advertise a fragrance, you must tap into the human psychology and link your brand with a desirable abstract idea, such as passion, femininity or masculinity. This is why so many perfume advertisements are erotic in nature.”

In AXE’s recent White Label: Hotel commercial, it shows a man walking throughout a hotel while a mix of men and women daydream about what his profession might be: a surgeon, backstreet fighter, secret spy, movie star or something else. These images show him as masculine, and he is seen as successful with material resources and attention from women.

The advertisement is trying to sell cologne to a man by portraying the cologne as the reason why strangers think of him as strong, sexy and successful. The idea of “If I look and smell good, the opposite sex will like me” is put into men’s minds. This leads to a large population of men putting more effort toward buying the best cologne out there rather than putting its effort toward active listening and good communication. Unfortunately, healthy and rewarding intimacy is not that easy.

These cravings are so much larger than the shallow perception the media tries to portray. It takes effort to put our differences aside and find a middle ground, but we can be given the skills to do this. After all, we are trained to do it in a professional environment. If a group of men in suits and ties and women wearing panty hose and pencil skirts can sit together and discuss business strategies, why can’t we do the same with intimate relationships?

Do what you would do in a business meeting. Always keep your mind and heart open and listen to what others have to say. If the goal is to feel accepted, valuable, unique, loved and important, then treat others with respect. A goal implies that you need to work to get there. Make every experience a learning experience. Listen to each other, respect each other and work together.

Understanding one another’s differences is important, but focusing on the differences too much causes a disconnect between two major portions of the population. We must remember that in spite of how different men and women may seem at times, they are both after the same end result. When we are aware of what we have in common, it makes dealing with the conflicts much easier.

Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. They are both from Earth. Sometimes it may feel like we are on opposite ends of the planet, but that does not change the fact that we are on the same one. If you want advice on how to communicate well through differences, then here it is: Don’t see the world as man vs. woman.

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