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on August 26, 2003
This book pretends to be based on scientific evidence. But we are told at the same time that this evidence would be so « politically incorrect » in a world dominated by ideologic feminism, that many scientists accepted to inform the authors on the sole condition that they remained anonymous... Strange scientists that may be so afraid of the truth(Copernic, Galileo, Darwin at their own times took more risks and were not so shy...) And poor readers that are not allowed to check by themselves the exact scope and content of studies that are supposed to definitively prove, for instance, that men are stronger as regards spatial intelligence, while women need to chat out their overwhelming emotions, hahahah (By the way, studies I am aware of are not so unanymous in identifying brain differences as regards language ability and spatial intelligence, and testosterone is not always improving performance...)
The authors' relentlessness to bring every sexual difference back to a prehistoric time where men were efficient, tunnel-sighted hunters and females wide-sighted, talkative fire-and-baby caretakers, is especially suspect. Actually, most scientists believe that animal and human genre difference relate mote to sexual selection, i.e. competition amongst males, than to natural selection, i.e. the distribution of tasks between genders optimizing the specie's chance of survival. Male oversize and agressivity is very common by mammalian species that don't hunt nor fight against predators : it has little to do will any male specialization in hunting. It is remarkable that the Peases may have missed this dimension of the story... Is it not rather that, for some mysterious reasons, male competition for females does not match in their demonstration ? In the « real » scientific world, there is even no evidence at all so far that prehistoric men hunted while their women took care of the nest... Actually, observations of hunting mammalian species suggest that, from lions to simians, females can be widely running the hunt - males preserving their energy to fight against each other for sexual prevalence.
The consequence is that it is impossible to sort out the information provided by this book : some of it is so obviously uncorrect, farfetched, misleadingly presented or oversimplified that even the rest that may be true becomes suspect.
In conclusion, the issue raised by this book is a double one :
1. What is the intention of the authors ? To pseudo-demonstrate a natural repartition of tasks and duties between genres, for instance that women are biologically deviced to stay home and raise children, leaving mathematics and car driving to men - while pretending vehemently that it is not the purpose ?
2. How could this book be so successful, and who could take it seriously ? I am especially amazed to read from other reviewers that this book has « changed their lives », and how. For this book does not bring any food for thought apart from its intentions and methodology. On the contrary, what it tells is what some people have wanted to believe for centuries. It is the quintessence of old common sense. The new thing is the systematical resort to uncheckable scientific evidence. Perhaps it's what some people what : to read that what they have always wanted to believe is the absolute truth of science. Feminism is the enemy. Backlash take all possible forms. One of them is the Peases' book. It's not the most agressive one. Nor the most subtile!
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on August 9, 2003
Here we go again! I write this as a female who once again fails to fit the stereotype.
In the words of Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) sometimes we have to "sort by difference." Men and woman are different, to be sure. And I think it behooves both men and women to realize this.
But in my humble opinion, this book leans more towards generalizing too much. And when I read generalizations, especially those written by educated people, I often fall into the trap of (a) expecting all members of each gender to act the same and (b) thinking that there is something wrong with me because I don't fit the stereotype and (c) feeling like I can't improve my performance on something -- like reading maps -- because genetically and hormonally, I'm not cut out to do it.
To be sure, the Peases use other examples besides "men not listening" and "women not reading maps." But I will stick to these two.
1. Even if men "naturally" don't listen, they can learn to do so, and this process is not going to lower their testosterone level. It's called GOOD MANNERS. Men are fully capable of doing this. It may take some practice, as all good skills do. But it can be done.
2. If women don't "naturally" read maps, they need to be taught how to do so. There is nothing about estrogen levels that precludes a woman from learning how to read route numbers and to learn that the top of the page is North, the bottom is south, the left is West, and the right is East. And it won't make a woman any less than a woman if she is taught how to use a compass. It can be done!
The Peases try to attempt the "nature-nurture" argument. I don't know how they would respond to what I have to say here, but I think that there is something to it. My father has a profession where he has to travel a lot, so I learned to read maps at a very early age. He is also an artist, so I learned spatial concepts early on, too. I was also exposed to domestic skills too (i.e., keeping house) and I didn't catch onto that very well!
Maybe a book like this can help men and women understand the difference in communication styles. However, I've had just as much trouble understanding the communication styles of my female friends as I have my male ones.
Maybe if we all practice common courtesy, good manners, and good teaching principles, some of these "general" differences won't be as noticeable. And then we can work on our weaknesses and not feel like we're trapped in them because of our gender.
And yet, we will still remain two wonderfully distinct genders who can understand each other just fine.
And then I can read a map and not feel guilty!
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on August 5, 2003
Here we go again. It's Mars and Venus again, but this time with unwillingness to listen by men and inability to read maps by women. Just like it, only different!
I hate to say this, folks, but this female learned to read maps a long time ago. And I have a father who listens very well. Maybe the authors of this book would say we're "exceptions." I only know that there are a lot of exceptions out there!
My problem with this book isn't "politically incorrect" issues. I don't like stereotyping.
I'll tell you why I can read a map. I learned how. I stayed awake in my geography class and learned what north, south, east and west meant. I learned what route numbers were. I followed the routes, learned what the numbers meant, and found out that I could read it! I liked to look at the globe, and found that when a country was positioned directly above another country it was to the NORTH! (Gasp) I wonder if my estrogen count went down because of this.
I also learned spatial concepts. Why? I learned them! I was taught them! Although I'm American, I come from a long line of Dutch painters and learned three point perspective (adjusting three dimensions to a flat surface) and I learned all about volume in square feet, yards, miles -- and even cubic centimeters. Uh, oh! Another drop in estrogen? I don't know, but I sure have had fun painting pictures.
And patents? Well, how many women have had ideas that we haven't heard of? We won't know -- because they haven't been mentioned! However, many a policeman can thank a woman for inventing the bullet proof vest, many a fireman is grateful for fire excapes (invented by a female). I have also heard that the laser printer was invented by a woman.
I have my some ideas to offer here:
1. If women are less likely to mess around than men, it is because sex produces babies and the woman is the one who carries the baby around for nine months and gives birth to it. Women simply have more personal consequences. It's odd that a man is more "polygamous" but will break out in white-heat anger if the woman in his life is interested in anyone else but him.
2. If women can't read maps, parallel park or do mechanical things as well as men, teach them to do it, for crying out loud! That's probably how men learn to do oit. By the way, my best friend could parallel park like a pro, and she told me that it was because her driver ed teacher gave her an exact procedure for doing it right.
3. If men like to give advice and not take it, tell them to grow up.
4. If men don't listen, teach them how to do it. If men don't "naturally" listen, and women don't "naturally read maps (or whatever other tasks each gender is't supposed to be able to do) it does not preclude their learning how.
5. If a woman gets exasperated because her husband doesn't act like she does, or a man gets mad because his wife doesn't do things his way, then teach them that it is bad manners as well as harmful to try to make someone over. This has nothing to do with gender dynamics and everything to do with plain old common courtesy.
I believe that gender generalizations can cause a lot of harm. For many years I didn't study logic and I stopped trying to better myself mathematically because I believed that I couldn't because I was female. Imagine my surprise when I aced a college logic test!
There has got to be a better way to deal with gender differences than arbitrarily telling people that they can or cannot do something well because of hormones. Give me a break!
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on October 6, 2002
I've recently stumbled over this book. Since I'm doing psychological research I thought this might be interesting to read. It was interesting, but not in the way I thought it would be...
In the foreword the authors claim to have talked to countless researchers from all different kinds of areas like the Neurosciences, Psychology, Biology, Medicine, etc. and that their book summarized the latest results from these areas.
At first I was somewhat surprised at the unscientific way it was written. The used language was simple, there were jokes on the difference between the sexes and small anecdotes on possible conflict situation within a couple strewn between the paragraphs with more or less detailed information on the assumption of the authors.
Soon it turned out that the unscientific way the language was used to express the ideas of the authors also concerned the presented data on the difference between the sexes.
The authors made their theory a little too simple to be believable. Actually they have just one assumption that they wrap in different words chapter by chapter: The behavior, motoric and cognitive abilities of men and women differ because the evolution of mankind has made it this way.
Through genetic differences that have evolved over the last 200.000 years men - the hunters and protectors of their offspring - have genes for better spatial abilities, sense of direction (for hunting), distant and quick visual stimuli, dichotic listening and concentration for watching prey.
On the other hand women - homemaker, mother and educator of the offspring - have genes for better linguistic abilities, close range visual stimulation, improved hearing abilities (for dangerous sounds or noises by their children) and non-linguistic communication like (involuntary) gestures, etc.
You could have written this down with enough "scientific" proof in less than 50 pages, but Barbara and Allen Pease chose to make a book of roughly 400 pages out of it. So every chapter presents one small portion of their assumptions rolled out to almost insufferable length by adding the above mentioned stories about hypothetic situation that are supposed to happen every day to millions of couples worldwide, jokes on the sexes and other overwise statements.
The little research they try to present is simple and often plainly wrong. For example when they talk about linguistic abilities of the sexes they claim that the center for speech in the brain is solely located in the left inferior frontal lobe of the brain.
Research on the lateralisation of various functions in the brain has long ago demonstrated that the abilities to speak and to understand speech can be found in either the left or the right hemisphere. The so called Sodium Amytal Test is used to find out in which lobe a patient has his or her speech center before a crucial brain surgery is performed.
The authors accept the genetic predisposition as irrevocably given and don't even consider whether the environment, upbringing or education might make a difference on the behavior of men and women. A large body of research of the past two decades has shown that conscious influence can and does affect stereotypic and automatic responses and behaviors.
In my opinion Barbara and Allen Pease are presenting everything in terms of black and white. In this book they write about typical gender stereotypes and claim that all of these stereotypes are actually true due to the evolution of mankind.
Unfortunately they don't really provide the reader with a lot of help on how to improve the situation. Every now and then they have simple hints as in "If a woman asks you which dress you like best, ask her which one she likes best and advise her to buy it". Most of the time their take home message is: That's the way it is, accept it or leave it. For somebody who claims to be a communication trainer I think this is just too little.
My take home message for you is: If you are looking for a satire on the sexes, this is the book for you. It presents gender stereotypes in the purest meaning, it has some nice anecdotes and jokes on this matter.
If you are looking for a serious self help book on how to deal with your partner, you'd better avoid this. It doesn't present you with much help and reading all the stuff on how men and women are different might even worsen your situation.
I wish Barbara and Allen Pease would have stayed in their genetically predisposed roles (she guards the cave and takes care of the children and he hunts for food and keeps silent) instead of writing this unnecessary pseudo-scientific book.
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on July 13, 2002
I can read a freaking map!So can my female friends,mom,grandmother,great grandmother!Don't bother reading this sensationistic,sexist misinforming garbage!It's insulting to women and sterotypes men as always being the more "able" sex
therefore,it boxes both men and women into narrow boxes in which
individuality is lost and limits are placed.
I excell at spatial reasoning,infact I find it to be a breeze!
It IS my gift!To be told I can't do something by a shortsighted,
idiotic book is just plain repulsive!
What's behind all this brain obsesion? MONEY is course!
Your hard earned dollar is better spent on books which debunk
this nonsense,which open all people's minds to endless
I have noticed in college that foreign women particularly from
Asian and Mid Eastern countries are more prevailent in high math,engineering and anything requiring sounnd logic and spatial
ability.The reason behind it possibly being,these women came from a country in which these books are NOT the rage!
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on September 16, 2000
This book although claiming to reveal the reasons why men and woman are different, fails to deliver.
the Peases present their theories as Facts in many areas where qualified experts in this field are still in the process of carefully analysing and researching data scientifically .
This book on the whole oversimplifies and categorizes men and women in a too a narrow range.
Men and women fall into many different categories even within their own gender, not just one as the peases seem to think.
Researchers who have carefully studied gender differences have documented that such categories as the scientifically predisposed woman or the psychically gifted man are quite common. eg. madamme curie and edgar cayce types.
This book tends to feel that women cant do math to a high degree and all men are somewhat incapable of sensitivity.
Perhaps the peases are trying to ride the common trend of promoting man bashing as an easy way of making money, as I could'nt really find more than one area in which men were spoken of in a good manner in this book.
This book is somewhat humorous but sadly lacking in in scientific evidence to back up their claims, often they quote "studies show that.." without offering the reader a reference as to which study , when and by whom the study they are referring to had been conducted.
Overall I think the Peases have delivered a poorly researched badly put together piece of work.
What a shame!
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on June 12, 2002
This book has been billed as using scientific fact, which makes it all the more disappointing. The book would quote scientific research but then draw conclusions that can only be described as far fetched. I have to agree with several other reviewers that the males behavior is not just explained but denigrated and men are encouraged to try to emulate the behavior of the clearly supperior female. If humor was being used equally to explain male and female behavior there wouldn't be 3 times as many male oriented cartoons. Overall this is probably the worst book I have ever read. Definitely not worth the price even if it is given to you.
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on September 12, 2008
I think this book has some interesting points but it made me feel inadequate as a woman. I'm good at math but didn't pursue it at the university level largely because I wasn't interested in it. I also have a bit of a hairy upper lip so I guess that is probably why I was good at math.
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on October 18, 2003
I know men who have no sense of direction or map reading skills and couldnt swing a hammer for the life of them. And no, they arent gay. Women can be just as efficient and predatory as men and, yes yes, even capable of destruction. This book has no scientific... no forget that. this book was written by morons that assume everyone is also moronic. If you want proof, look at the diagram of contrasting expressions between men and women while they're listening. Very few women listen to just anybody talk and light up with emotions and lots of men possess charisma, empathy and emotion. So ha Peases, you make me laugh so hard its magically delicious!
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on February 25, 2004
Another terrible popular book about how everybody's prejudices about sex differences are confirmed by science, or more often, pseudo-science. Go ahead and read it, and then explain to your girlfriend that your genes made you sleep with all those other girls, or whatever.
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