In the excerpt from the book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, author John Gray discusses the stark differences between men and women. He states that the personality traits between men and women are so dissimilar, that each sex might as well have originated from the planets, Mars and Venus, respectively. He explains that men value power and achievement, and they choose certain occupations and offer others solutions to their problems based on these values. Comparatively, women believe communication and relationships are more important, and they desire empathy when they interact with others.
He details that these different character traits often cause confusion and communication barriers between men and women. Gray’s excerpt explains his unique definition of male and female personalities; however, it is a broad assumption to say that all men and women behave in a certain way solely based on their gender. The stereotypes that Gray specifically utilizes in his excerpt oversimplify the complex interactions between men and women instead of showing their differing emotional responses based on particular situations. The two emotional responses that Gray does not compare are stress and anger.
The male and female reactions to these emotions offer the best example of the differences between the sexes. More often than not, men and women respond to stress in different ways. Women tend to externalize their feelings when they deal with stressful situations. They often confide in their significant other, friends, and family as an outlet for the stress in their life. Typically, once a woman has effectively deliberated and discussed her feelings and issues regarding stress, she often feels better about the stressful situation.
In her book, You Just Don’t Understand, expert Deborah Tannen similarly explains that women use complaining as a way to feel close to others. She calls this way of conversing “troubles talk. ” She says, “For women, talking about troubles is the essence of connection. I tell you my troubles, you tell me your troubles, and we’re close. ” (61). A perfect example of this can be seen with my interactions with my close friend, Lindsey. She will frequently need to call me and vent about her relationship woes. She uses our conversations to help talk through her stressful situations and will ultimately feel better following our calls.
I will tend to use conversations with my mother or sister to vent about my stress, as well. Conversely, men often internalize their emotional responses to stress. Men tend to reserve their emotions internally and use various non-stressful activities as distractions to occupy themselves, such as watching sports or playing video games. A prime example of the male response to stress can be seen when my boyfriend is stressed from work. When he comes home after a stressful day, he will play video games for hours to help relieve his stress. After playing these games, he will feel much better.
When I recognize that he is stressed, I usually ask him if he would like to discuss his situations; he usually responds by saying that he is fine and he just needs some time alone. I have also noticed a similar response to stress in other men such as my coworkers, fellow students, and my brothers and father. This unique male response to stress demonstrates the difference from the female stress response. Another emotional situation in which men and women have a tendency to respond differently is anger. Although each person reacts to anger in their own way, men and women will generally react to anger in a different manner.
Women, including myself, will often react to anger by isolating themselves from the initial anger trigger and think through their emotional response prior to any actions. Simply put, think first, and act later. For example, my mother’s response to anger follows the aforementioned format. Her initial response involves removing herself from the anger stimulus where she can better collect herself. After assessing the situation which generated my mother’s anger response, she will respond in a more conservative and appropriate manner. Conversely, men have a propensity to react to anger in a much different way.
When in an emotional situation that causes anger, men are more inclined to violence and can be quick to react by demonstrating their anger in a more physical manner. They often act this way because they are trying to prove they are “manly” or “powerful”. Gray explains that, “[men] are always doing things to prove themselves and to develop their power and skills” (695). A great example of this common male response can be seen with my brother, Sam. When angered, Sam tends to react like most males when experiencing anger. His initial reaction to anger typically is demonstrated by a violent motion by hitting an object.
This is usually followed by a more thoughtful and collected response after the initial outburst. These reactions to anger demonstrate the differing emotional responses between men and women which can be seen throughout society on a frequent basis. Despite the differing reactions to stress and anger mentioned above, men and women can also respond in a similar manner. Since no two individuals are the same, it is important to understand that the aforementioned examples are not the only reactions that men and women can portray. Stress and anger are natural human emotions that are experienced almost daily.
It is also important to understand that human emotions and communication are much more complex than the examples that Gray provides. This complexity is due to unique personalities and differing interactive situations. No two responses even with the same individual will ever be the same. However, understanding the different ways men and women may communicate and react to certain emotions will provide a better understanding of the opposite sex. This understanding will help bridge the communication gap between men and women and improve our knowledge of the complexities of human emotion.