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Are Men and Women Really From Two Different Planets?

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology on August 28, 2012 at 7:03 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

“Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” Even typing out the words made me shiver a little at the thought of having to answer this mousetrap of a question. The inquiry is usually fired across the bow just before leaving for an evening out. Once the wrong answer is uttered by the man, the woman proceeds to make his life miserable for the remainder of the night – or longer.

Back in 1992, author John Gray decided to put an end to the ambiguity surrounding the behavior of men and women by declaring we were from different planets, at least figuratively. “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” was a runaway best seller, inspiring sequel, a board game, and television programs for years to follow.

In his book, Gray adopted the planet metaphor as the central theme, likening men and women to the classical Greek god Mars and goddess Venus as ideal types. I take issue with this since it tends to lump men and women into categories that we don’t always fit, but for our purposes here, let’s say he is correct.

In that case, what’s the right answer to the, “Do I look fat” question? Your guess is as good as mine. Most guys chicken out and go for the safe response. “Oh honey,” they squeak from behind a locked bathroom door. “You look great in anything.”

If you hide, you don’t see “the look” you’re getting from her. Guys, you all know the one I mean. Every woman has one, fire from the eyes glare reserved especially for us whenever we’ve said something unacceptable. If we hide, we’re going on the assumption that if we can’t see you, you can’t see us and therefore the reign of terror resulting from our unbelievably patronizing answer will never actually strike us.

Cowards! Why don’t you come out and say it. “Yes, it does make you look fat. You shouldn’t be wearing that skirt it looks like it was sprayed on. And don’t even get me started on that animal print blouse, could you even show more skin?”

Now, would I say that? No way. I wouldn’t say anything even close to that. At the same time, I don’t cower behind a door either. My comeback is generally something like, “How does it make you feel?”

This kind of answer is honest with the intention of getting her to admit their insecurities to herself instead of beating me up because they feel unattractive for whatever reason. After all, they don’t really want you to answer the question.

What they’re really doing is fishing for an unsolicited compliment. Don’t fall into that trap guys, if you do, you are doomed … doomed I tell you! Once the question’s out there, it’s not unsolicited anymore.  In fact, there is no right answer and even if there were, it wouldn’t be appropriate to every woman or every situation.

Ok, so now that the women in the audience are fuming, let’s turn it back on the guys for a moment. Ladies, what would you say if your husband or boyfriend came strutting from behind the bedroom door and said, “Honey, how do I look?”

You gasp when you see your balding, somewhat paunchy, 40-something husband wearing an outfit that a teenager shouldn’t even have on. What do you say to him?

That’s easy. You’d say, “Are you crazy? Take that off this minute you look ridiculous.” You don’t care that you crushed his ego, ripped the dignity from his body, threw it on the floor and stomped on it. You just don’t want to be embarrassed, and rightfully so.

The difference is that guys don’t tell women what we really think for fear of reprisal. Men rarely have anything to leverage that a woman can’t live without. Like it or not fellows, we guys might like to believe we are the superior gender but we couldn’t be more wrong about anything.

The truth is that generally women save us guys from making utter fools of ourselves in more ways than I have space to list in this column. I don’t know what planet they’re originally from, but I’m glad they landed on this one. So when she asks, tell her how beautiful she is and give her a big hug. That’s really all it takes.

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