The Battle of the Sexes: What’s Changed in the Past Twenty Years?
A look at how society and gender attitudes have changed since the release of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus
The legendary book, Men are From Mars and Women are from Venus, written by relationship counsellor John Gray, was released in 1992. Since then, it has gone on to become one of the best-selling hardcover non-fiction books ever, selling more than fifty million copies.
But can the findings from a book written over twenty years ago still be relevant today? So much has changed in that period of time, from how we communicate with each other to the roles we play at home and in the bedroom.
Let’s look at the differences in the sexes and find out how much has really changed since the early nineties.
A Room of One’s Own
In Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, Gray describes how unlike women, men feel the urge to hide away and seek alone time when they are stressed or upset. In the nineties, the so-called ‘man cave’ would have been somewhere like the garage or shed, somewhere physical where your man could seek refuge from the world.
Nowadays, most twenty-somethings are still living at home, saving for a mortgage, or living in a flat. Few men have the luxury of their own outdoor space.
Instead, if you do have a home together, you might turn your spare room into a cave, furnished with a large TV, games console and beer fridge. (Isn’t that every man’s dream!?)
But what about us ladies? Do we have a man cave equivalent? Do we need one?
Actually we do.
With the growth of crafting and social sharing websites such as Houzz and Pinterest, more women are creating dedicated crafting rooms to escape to.
Just like men, us ladies need some time for reflection and peace. Or at least just a space to retreat to with our female friends. Even if you can’t dedicate a whole room to a man or woman cave, try and set aside some kind of personal zone in your home.
Even feminist author, Virginia Woolf, described how “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
Talking it through
Whereas women like to talk about our problems amongst our friends, men prefer to shut down and keep pressures to themselves. Sadly, this is why suicide is the biggest killer of males aged 20-49. Men just don’t like sharing problems.
Women want to air their problems, but if you complain about something to a man, instead of a sympathetic ear, you’ll be presented with your man’s ideas and solutions to resolve your issue.
This is an area Gray touches upon in his book and something still prevalent today.
Encourage your man to speak up if he has had a bad day at work or had a row with his mum. He might not want to talk at first, but it’s important he can share concerns with you, without being judged.
The differences between what men and women look for in a career are still as typical today as they were twenty years ago.
Salary and benefits packages are equally as important to women as they are men, however, whereas women look for a solid work-life balance in their career, men are more interested in career progression.
Another key point of importance for women was the location of the job. Men on the other hand are more interested in the financial stability of the company.
Although issued over forty years ago, it is estimated that it won’t be until 2067 that men and women are finally paid the same amount of money for the same work.
Across Britain, women workers are paid only 79% of what their male counterparts earn. Throughout the rest of Europe, the situation is only slightly better, but still not great, with women earning 82% of what a male colleague would take home.
It’s not just the pay gap women have to contend with either. More women have been made redundant than men in the past twelve months too.
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Compared to when Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus was released in the early nineties, our attitudes towards sex have totally changed.
With the introduction of stores like Ann Summers making an appearance on our high streets, sex is no longer something to keep behind closed doors, so to speak.
Research has revealed that women aged 16-44 now have an average of 7.7 sexual partners outside of marriage, compared to 3.7 in 1991. In 2001, the figure was 6.5.
It appears we are catching up with the boys too, who in 1991 had 8.6 partners outside of marriage. By 2012, this had increased to 11.7, a drop from 12.6 in 2001.
The gender gap is certainly closing in this area.
So, if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, as Gray claims, when you put them together, in a single-sex relationship, you might assume that the couple would get on like a house on fire?
It’s no surprise that in fact, gay couples have much the same relationship problems as heterosexual couples. Researchers found that couples who pigeon-hole their partner and blame their behaviour on gender, prevented them from viewing their partner as an individual.
To sum up, yes men and women are different, but so are all people, regardless of gender. It’s our experiences and attitudes that shape us, not our gender.
Gray hits the nail on the head with this quote from the book,
“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.”
As long as you can learn to respect your other half’s differences and have harnessed the power of effective communication, you have an excellent chance of building a long-lasting, meaningful and successful relationship.