Friday, December 14, 2007

Down to Earth

The Myth of Mars and Venus by Deborah Cameron

This book closes with the line, "Men are from earth, women are from earth: deal with it." In this profound if somewhat obvious statement (and in the pages that precede it) Debra Cameron lays to rest the simplistic idea that men and women are somehow doomed to mutual misunderstanding because of how their brains are hardwired.

Today's pop psychology about communication differences between men and women (most notably the 'Mars and Venus' series of books) stipulates that women must learn how to speak bluntly to men because mens' brains are not innately capable of handling subtlety or polite hints.

Cameron does agree that there may be differences in language style between men and women, but she asserts that the differences between the genders are far less dramatic than the differences that can be observed within each gender. In other words, there are women who are blunt and rude, just as there are men who shy away from direct confrontation.

The author backs up her ideas with study after study, drawing from a wide range of disciplines to back up her core thesis -- when it comes to communication, women and men share far more similarities than differences.

Cameron's book is well-researched and accessible, but above all it is highly enjoyable: it elicited many out-loud agreements from this reader ("Yes! Yes!" I kept saying as I read the book) and I recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by the subject of conversation, or anyone confounded by the continual disparities between men and women in society.

Read More about The Myth of Mars and Venus here:
Gender Agenda, from The Guardian
Back Down to Earth, from The Guardian
Myth, from Mantex Blog
Don't Believe the Hype, from The Fword Blog

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