It is surprising how many writers, psychologists, or scientists have made it their life’s work focusing on the gender differences. In our male-dominated society it is no coincidence that men have undertaken the bulk of this work. They made an effort to help men and women get along, but deep down the sexes are much more alike than the world cares to admit.
Today, most believe that men and women are significantly different in every respect. The focus on these differences has divided men and women, instead of bringing them closer together. More importantly, it discourages both sexes to grow and unify on a human level.
Still viewed as the inferior sex, women feel compelled to assume utopian attributes such as nurturing to the extreme and giving to the point of running empty. Women are expected to live up to the expectations of their families, employers and society. To add to their burden, they ought to stay slim, sexy, attractive, loving, caring and emotionally balanced. In their attempts to meet these expectations, many women lose their identities, values, self-worth and even their minds.
In contrast, the “superior” male sex has been praised for its Wal-Mart attributes of being realistic, practical, efficient and logical. Consequently, men still run the country, hold most of the assets and control the majority of public and economic affairs. Yet, men experience their own stress in a competitive world that expects them to be the pillar of their families. Many men are still programmed to be the sole economic provider in their families and suffer their own anxieties. Feeling the pressure of maintaining an affluent lifestyle or even just making ends meet, many become workaholics, grow bellies, lose their hair and become candidates for heart attacks. Both men and women alike experience stress trying to be super-humans in a society in which they feel they never quite “cut it.”
Preoccupation with the differences often prevents men and women from asking each other for help. Consequently, both suffer silently through their own pain blaming each other for their differences and lack of understanding: “Men are never this” and “Women are always that.” As a result of the generalization of their differences, men “shut down” and women turn to friends, therapy or medication. The outcomes are unfulfilling, frustrating relationships that increase stress or even lead to divorce. Consequently, we wonder whether men failed women, or vice versa.
So much effort and money has been spent (and made) on exaggerating emotional, intellectual and communicative differences between the sexes that we indeed believe ourselves to be from different planets. We must look beyond the differences and realize that women cannot live without Wal-Mart, nor can men live without utopia. Women need Wal-Mart for the practical, logical and task-oriented aspects of their lives and, in fact, may be shopping at Wal-Mart more often than men. On the other hand, men need utopia to experience all the beauty and humanity of life, and are visiting utopia more frequently than they admit. We are all from the same planet. It is about time we bridged the gap between the sexes and realized that we are human beings with many of the same needs, desires, dreams and hopes.
Whatever the case may have been in hunting-and-gathering societies of the past, today we are all hunting for the same things. Men and women alike are hunting for love, happiness, validation and prosperity, and are gathering whatever they feel is necessary to achieve this. Now, more than at any other time, men and women need each other in the pursuit of these common goals.
Do we really think that investing in gender stereotyping encourages successful relationships? Today, both sexes seek to be loved and accepted, instead of being labeled. Do we really think that lovers connect, because they have figured out their gender differences? Love flourishes when both move beyond gender differences and rejoice in their commonalities. True love is based on mutual respect, moral responsibility and authenticity all of which promote the human potential of both sexes and allow for interaction without judgment.
Men and women are indeed living as if they are from different planets and often do not connect intimately as human beings. Gender differences have been analyzed to death, and we may never be able to understand a man or woman. However, we will always be able to understand and respect a human being once we realize that we are all human beings first and men or women second. Inside each of us, men and women alike, lies a vulnerable soul, the desire to love and be loved, the need to be validated, respected and to feel important. Regardless of gender, deep down we all have a fragile ego that often feels inferior. Recognizing that both sexes have many of the same vulnerabilities and strengths is the key to men and women relating to one another on a human level.
We need to free each other from the gender roles that society has cast upon us and start focusing on the ties that bind us. The commonalities between men and women are so much greater than their differences. As we change our attitudes towards each other, we will be able to relate to one another on common ground. Lasting love is only possible when we appreciate that our focus on gender differences has been of great disservice. For any relationship to become a stable and lasting anchor in our lives, we must learn to give up our pride and unrealistic expectations of each other. If we are to find true love in this misunderstood world of males and females, we must stop trying to figure out the opposite gender and focus on the human being inside.