on 17 May 2006
An entertaining book, fine for a bathroom or train read. As mentioned by some reviewers already, this is a mixture of scientific studies on brain differences between men and women and the author's freely interspersed anecdotes, opinions and observations. A critical reader should be able to discern which is which.
I found a number of outright errors in the book. For example, "There are many more left-handed women." In fact, about 10% more men than women are left-handed. I also found innumerable sweeping statements like the following.
- "Until recently, women tended to be pregnant most of the time."
- "80% of all human societies have been [promiscuous] for most of human existence."
- "Until the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 1950s, no-one noticed that women had emotional highs and lows."
- "Throughout human history, wars greatly diminished the numbers of men...so creating a harem for the returning males was an effective survival strategy"
- "Girls were a disappointment because the tribe invariably had an excess of females. This is the way it was for hundreds of thousands of years."
Unsubstantiated, unsubstantiatable, or just plain wrong. I mean, do we know how homo erectus greeted the birth of a girl? War may have diminished the numbers of men during specific time periods, but I think one could certainly make a case that childbearing had a much greater effect on female life expectancy than war did on male life expectancy. I haven't seen any anthropological references to modern hunter-gatherer groups with harems. What is "promiscuous"? Where are these societies? Who counted them?
I also found objectionable the running thread of "man the hunter" and the faulty logic that connected all male behaviour to this one supposed fact. Why, for example, do men need distance vision to hunt, but not peripheral vision to watch for predators? Men just want to have a "few pelvic thrusts" because they must always be on guard against attack. Primates living in the wild seem to have time for courting behaviour, even with watching for predators. And, wouldn't the women have to be on guard as well in this relentlessly hostile environment? Why aren't a few pelvic thrusts enough to satisfy them?
While it was sometimes amusing, and the brain research material was interesting, I found this book more irritating than enlightening.
on 26 March 2001
Have you thrown plates in frustration, threatened divorce, murder or even leaving the planet? If so read one of the most perceptive books of the millenium. We all agree that men and women are different but now you can find the real reasons why men can't communicate as women do and why women do perfectly logical things that they understand but men find confusing and frustrating.
This book looks at the myths of communication and relationships and using the evidence of scientific research proves that the sexes are made biologically different.
It was once thought that babies came into the world like a blank book and it was experience, parental influence and nurturing that influenced how that person would develop but this book very graphically shows that we arrive, like a computer, pre- programmed with ideas,instincts and abilities that date back to cave man days when women were "nest defenders" and men were " lunch chasers". Thousands of years have past since these primative beginnings, life has moved on, men and womens lives have changed and many roles are now reversed, but the people have basically not moved on at all. Our expectations are so different and now more than at any other period in time the rate of divorce and relationship breakdown is at an all time high. This book will change how you see the opposite sex,show you how to handle the differences and be more tolerant and at peace with husbands and wives, sons and daughters. This book should be included in the National curriculum for years 12 - 17. I would guarantee that in 10 years the rate of divorce would begin to decrease.
on 7 July 2004
When I first saw this book in Smith's I just hoped it would go away, but now it's a best-seller something has got to be said. I'm a psychologist who specialises in spatial cognition - that's the "why women can't read maps" bit. Since I can't fit a load of citations into this review, you'll have to take my word for it that the stuff they are citing is an extremely selective view of the literature out there. There are loads of studies that haven't shown *any* spatial ability differences between men and women; there are some that show only certain specific differences but with some apparent dependence on things like hormone balances (so very 'masculine' women and very 'feminine' men are both better at certain spatial tests than other people); and there are even some that show, very importantly, that if you change the instructions so that women don't realise their spatial ability is even *being* tested then they do *much* better because they don't *expect* to do badly - i.e. it's often just down to confidence.
Also, yet more studies show that women can catch up with men on certain tasks if they're just given half an hour of practice, and that any differences seem to be as much due to different past experiences (e.g. more time spent playing with Meccano versus dolls) as to 'biology'.
AND most of these studies depend in any case on very obscure, specific, weird little mental rotation-type tasks (the sort of thing you see in IQ tests) - which may have any or no relationship to your ability to parallel park, read maps, or whatever: studies trying to correlate these things don't do very well because we don't really know what 'spatial ability' is anyway.
And that's just the spatial thing - never mind all the other dangerously over-simplified and intuitively-appealing-but-probably-rubbish stuff (which is mostly, as another reviewer commented, unreferenced so you can't even check up the real data). When these guys start in on the complexities of relationships it gets even scarier.
Basically, if you want your favourite 'battle of the sexes' prejudices confirmed for you, and you don't give a monkey's about science, this book is for you - good luck. Try not to let it mess up your life too much :-)
on 15 January 2011
This is not one of those books that insist that there are no differences between men and women, and everyone who suggests there are, is a women-hater and has to to be silenced at any price.
Neither is this book one of those numerous anecdote collections written by clueless authors chasing an easy buck.
This book states clearly that men's and women's natures are profoundly different and that it has been proven by scientific research. The book goes through all kinds of things that confuse men about women and women about men, and explains them based on their biological differences. I now know many things about women I would have never figured out on my own - as well as things that seem natural to me but need to be patiently explained to women. During the more than a decade since I read the book, I have on numerous occasions been able to understand and handle women better, thanks to the information from this book. Let me give you one concrete example.
I was subsituting a colleague who was on vacation, and I had to deal with an urgent task of his which I didn't know very much about. I called a female colleague to get some information and we discussed the matter. After that, I had enough knowledge to get the job done. Next morning, though, she sent me an e-mail in connection with something else, and asked in the postscriptum if I had completed the aforementioned task. My first automatic thought was: who do you think you are sticking your nose into my affairs bitch - do you think I can't do my job? A few seconds later, I remembered about this book and realised that maybe it wasn't her mother complex checking on me ("Did you wash your hands, Johnny? Come here and let me see!") - there was also a theoretical possibility that she just wanted to show her concern and willingness to help, should I need it. Well, I later found out that she was indeed just offering her help, not expressing disbelief in my capabilities.
Educating as this book is, I most decidedly disapprove of the disgusting way the authors represent their information. That's why I had a really tough time rating the book.
Even though the authors recognise the fact that men's and women's natures are profoundly different, it is also obvious right from the beginning that they had a politically correct audience in mind. The first pages are filled with massive apologies for this being not your usual men-bashing book. The more the book advances, the clearer it becomes that that apology is out of place. Almost every difference between sexes is described in a way that shows women in positive and men in negative light. You are given countless examples of how much better women can deal with everything that occurs in real life, while men are good at nothing except throwing spears at mammoths, and their thinking is not much more sophisticated than that of a Neandertalean.
Even though the book has two authors, one woman and one man (or at least one with a male name), it's written 100 percent from female perspective. Throughout the book, men are consistently described as evolutional retards. Here they are compared with schimpanzees, there with reptiles. I can't recall any disrespective statements about women. In spite of that, every once in a while there is an apology to the feminists for supposed excess praise of men.
The book will be past 100 pages by the first time you'll get to read about one thing necessary in modern life that men are better at. That section is, however, subtitled "Sexist thinking" and accompanied by a paragraph of apologies: yes, this is sexist, we're so sorry, we're so sorry, please don't get mad at us, we'll go on vilifying men in a minute.
Woman (indeed any woman), according to this book, is superhuman. When she walks into a room filled with people whom she has never seen before, she'll know what kind of personalities they have and which people are intimate with each other, merely by looking at them for a while. When she meets a man for the first time, she'll sense in three seconds if his immunity type is compatible with hers in a way that their children would have good chances to survive. By the nuances of your tone and body language (invisible for men, of course), she will know without fail if you lie and what you think. More than that, if a woman wants to deliver a message to another woman, she doesn't have to talk about the topic at hand at all - all she needs to do is to chatter around meaninglessly and the other woman will instinctively know what she was trying to say.
In other words, this book tries to make you believe that men are completely at the mercy of women who can read them like open books. That is obviously not the case in real world. I have seen female acquaintances read me so wrong so many times that I don't even bother to sneer at claims that women are born with a hotline to some kind of a universal source of knowledge. To put such "information" in proper perspective, you might, for instance, want to think of all those stories you have undoubtedly heard of women getting married to men they later discover are not at all like they "knew" at first.
I have no doubt that the average woman is INTERESTED in figuring out people's personalities and relations, so she pays close attention to them. It is also plausible that she will quickly form an OPINION to that respect, but that doesn't mean the opinion is correct. They will know more about those things than men because men are simply less interested in them. An average man, on the other hand, sees a fancy car, and he will wonder how fast it can go and what it might have cost, and mentally make a (more correct or less correct) estimate, while an average woman couldn't care less. (She will be curious about the income and marital status of the car's owner.) The process will be quite similar in both cases, and the women's hunches about other people's inner worlds will not always be correct, any more than men's hunches about intriguing machines.
Back to the book. To reinforce the theory of women's profound supremacy, we are told that women are, in average, 3 percent more intelligent than men. That sensational information is unnecessarily repeated over and over (systematic thinking being, as the authors admit, not one of the strengths of the female brain). It would appear that the knowledge of this difference tends to boost dramatically the self-assessment of women. In fact, the authors themselves talk about it in such a style as if the difference was three times. Apparently it takes a male brain to understand complex mathematical concepts - like what three percent means.
In spite of all the repulsion I feel, I can't help admiring the authors' ability to play down male advantages so subtly and masterfully. Making female chit-chat seem more important than the saving of human lives in air traffic, is an outstanding literary achievement. Indeed, the authors' clear recommendation to women is not to aspire to meaningless professions like pilot, architect, engineer, chemist, navigator etc., for which men's underdeveloped brains suit better. Let the prehistoric hunters play with their silly toys like houses, trains and power stations, so that the superbrains of women (don't forget the three percent!) remain free for things that really matter, like building and maintaining relationships, sharing feelings and showing compassion.
In spite of everything, the book's first two hundred pages are relatively bearable. The really disgusting part comes at the end when the authors begin to talk about sex and men's and women's different attitudes towards it. After the initial admission that for men, sex is primary and love is secondary, and that a man can truly feel loved by a woman only after he has had sex with her (at least that obvious truth is there, black on white!), and that monogamy is in contradiction to the men's nature because men have a natural need to have many sex partners, the rest of the chapter is dedicated to the question how that treat of male nature could be suppressed and reversed. (It never occurs to the authors to ask why men have to be made to think and act like women. They just talk about it as if it was self-evident.) As one possible "cure", the authors propose castration, spending an entire paragraph on describing its benefits. (They fail to specify if it's second-hand knowledge or based on personal experience.)
Finally, the authors move on to feminist political utopia. You see, polls indicate that most of the working women don't really want to work. If they could afford it financially, they would rather be home and spend their time raising children. There's nothing wrong with that. At the same time, however, they want to be financially independent and have political influence. How could that goal be reached? The authors answer that question. Political power in the society ought to belong to women who are at home raising children, while men would essentially be in the status of domestic animals whose task would be to provide for all women's material needs. The authors don't spell it out so directly (they go only as far as demanding that every country's president be a woman), but it's very clearly implied.
For the conclusion, let me sum up this book's essential message: in order to overcome the misunderstandings between men and women, each of the sexes has an equally important task to fulfill: men must deny their nature and live by women's rules, and women have to help them do it.
My recommendation is to read the first 200 pages - that's where nearly all the useful information is. After that, you can safely quit reading when the book gets too offending. The final part of the book will be ONLY insults and propaganda.