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Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps

Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps

3.6 22
by Barbara Pease, Allan Pease

(A) pithy, attention-grabbing guidebook to the difference between men and women...—Publishers Weekly


(A) pithy, attention-grabbing guidebook to the difference between men and women...—Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"To get a man to listen, give him advance notice and provide an agenda," write the husband and wife Peases in this pithy, attention-grabbing guidebook to the differences between men and women. Originally self-published in Australia to wide acclaim, the book weaves together facts from the latest brain research, theories from evolutionary biology and a treasure trove of anecdotal events and conversations collected by the authors during a three-year research trip around the world. Sociobiology has rarely been so entertaining. The Peases say that a woman's brain is wired to be able to speak and listen simultaneously, for example, and they are geared to talk through problems. Men, by contrast, need to clam up. "He uses his right brain to try to solve his problems or find solutions, and he stops using his left brain to listen or speak." These brain differences took shape in cave days, according to the authors. Men were hunters and defenders who evolved tunnel vision (as compared to women's vision), while, as nurturers, women not only had broad peripheral vision but sensitive relationship skills. Channel surfing and newspaper skimming are modern ways for a man to cut off from others to privately mull problems, advise the authors. "Remember, his forefathers spent more than a million years sitting expressionless on a rock surveying the horizon, so this comes naturally to him.... " Feisty and crystal clear, this controversial work will appeal to readers of both sexes. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Someday, there may be a book based on evolutionary psychology that lightheartedly attempts to explain the differences between men and women; this isn't it. Barbara, CEO of Pease Training International, which produces videos and seminars for businesses and governments, and Allan, a professional speaker, assert that the "politically correct" will lambaste their work, which is based on interviews with experts and seminars. Quite rightly so. While there is a need to publicize research on the evolutionary differences between men and women, there is absolutely no need to couch the research in offensive stereotypes while trying to be funny. For example, the authors use the tired clich of a woman with PMS hurling cookware at her spouse to illustrate that testosterone equals spatial ability. They also allege that a "woman with a moustache is...much more likely to make a better engineer than one who looks like a Barbie doll." In addition, quite a few of the statistics are suspect--e.g., the authors allege that 110 percent of engineers are men. Public libraries should stick with Deborah Tannen's work and John Gray's Mars/Venus series.--Pam Matthews, Gettysburg Coll. Lib., PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

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Chapter One

Men and women are different. Not better or worse—different. Just about the only thing they have in common is that they belong to the same species. They live in different worlds, with different values and according to quite different sets of rules. Everyone knows this, but very few people, particularly men, are willing to admit it. The truth, however, is most definitely out there. Look at the evidence. Around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce in Western countries, and most serious relationships stop short of becoming long-term. Men and women of every culture, creed, and hue constantly argue over their partners' opinions, behavior, attitudes, and beliefs.

Some Things Are Obvious

When a man goes to a rest room, he usually goes for one reason and one reason only. Women use rest rooms as social lounges and therapy rooms. Women who go to a rest room as strangers can come out best friends and lifelong buddies. But everyone would be instantly suspicious of the man who called out, "Hey Frank, I'm going to the toilet. You wanna come with me?"

    Men dominate TV remote controls and flick through the channels; women don't mind watching the commercials. Under pressure, men drink alcohol and invade other countries; women eat chocolate and go shopping.

    Women criticize men for being insensitive, uncaring, not listening, not being warm and compassionate, not talking, not giving enough love, not being committed to relationships, wanting to have sex rather than make love, and leaving the toilet seat up.

    Men criticize women abouttheir driving, for not being able to read street directories, for turning maps upside down, for their lack of a sense of direction, for talking too much without getting to the point, for not initiating sex often enough, and for leaving the toilet seat down. Men can never find a pair of socks, but their CDs are in alphabetical order. Women can always find the missing set of car keys but rarely the most direct route to their destination. Men think they're the more sensible sex. Women know they are.

How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?

It's unknown It's never happened.

    Men marvel at the way a woman can walk into a room full of people and give an instant commentary on everyone; women can't believe men are so unobservant. Men are amazed at how a woman can't see a red flashing oil light on the car dashboard but can spot a dirty sock in a dark corner 20 feet away. Women are bewildered by men who can consistently parallel park a car in a tight spot using a rearview mirror but can never find the G spot.

    If a woman is out driving and gets lost, she'll stop and ask for directions. To a man, this is a sign of weakness. He'll drive around in circles for hours, muttering things like, "I've found a new way to get there" or "I'm in the general area" and "Hey, I recognize that gas station!"

Different Job Specs

Men and women evolved differently because they had to. Men hunted, women gathered. Men protected, women nurtured. As a result, their bodies and brains evolved in completely different ways.

    As their bodies physically changed to adapt to their specific functions, so did their minds. Men grew taller and stronger than most women, while their brains developed to suit their tasks. Women were mostly content for men to work away as they kept the cave fires burning, and their brains evolved to cope with their function in life.

    Over millions of years, the brain structures of men and women thus continued to change in different ways. Now we know the sexes process information differently. They think differently. They believe different things. They have different perceptions, priorities, and behaviors.

    To pretend otherwise is a recipe for heartache, confusion, and disillusionment all your life.

The "Stereotype" Argument

Since the late 1980s, there has been an explosion of research into male and female differences and the way both the male and female brains work. For the first time ever, advanced computer brain-scanning equipment has allowed us to see the brain operating "live" and, with that peek into the vast landscape of the human mind, has provided us with many of the answers to the questions about male and female differences. The research discussed in this book has been collected from studies in scientific, medical, psychological, and sociological studies, and it all points clearly to one thing: All things are not equal; men and women are different. For most of the twentieth century those differences were explained away by social conditioning; that is, we are who we are because of our parents' and teachers' attitudes, which in turn reflected the attitudes of their society. Baby girls were dressed in pink and given dolls to play with; baby boys were dressed in blue and given toy soldiers and football jerseys. Young girls were cuddled and touched while boys were thumped on the back and told not to cry. Until recently, it was believed that when a baby was born its mind was a clean slate on which its teachers could write its choices and preferences. The biological evidence now available, however, shows a somewhat different picture of why we think the way we do. It shows convincingly that it is our hormones and brain wiring that are largely responsible for our attitudes, preferences, and behavior. This means that if boys and girls grew up on a deserted island with no organized society or parents to guide them, girls would still cuddle, touch, make friends, and play with dolls, while boys would compete mentally and physically with each other and form groups with a clear hierarchy.

The wiring of our brain in the womb and the
effect of hormones will determine how we think
and behave.

    As you will see, the way our brains are wired and the hormones pulsing through our bodies are the two factors that largely dictate, long before we are born, how we will think and behave. Our instincts are simply our genes determining how our bodies will behave in given sets of circumstances.

Is It All a Male Conspiracy?

Since the 1960s a number of pressure groups have tried to persuade us to buck our biological legacy. They claim that governments, religions, and education systems have added up to nothing more than a plot by men to suppress women, colluding to keep good women down. Keeping women pregnant was a way of controlling them even more.

    Certainly, historically, that's how it appears. But the question needs to be asked: If women and men are identical, as these groups claim, how could men ever have achieved such total dominance over the world? The study of how the brain works now gives us many answers. We are not identical. Men and women should be equal in terms of their opportunities to exercise their full potential, but they are definitely not identical in their innate abilities. Whether men and women are equal is a political or moral question, but whether they are identical is a scientific one.

The equality of men and women is a political
or moral issue; the essential difference is
a scientific one.

    Those who resist the idea that our biology affects our behavior often do so with the best of intentions—they oppose sexism. But they are confused about the difference between equal and identical, which are two completely different issues. In this book, you will see how science confirms that men and woman are profoundly different both physically and mentally. They are not the same.

    We have investigated the research of leading palaeontologists, ethnologists, psychologists, biologists, and neuroscientists. The brain differences between women and men are now clear, beyond all speculation, prejudice, or reasonable doubt.

    When weighing the differences between males and females discussed in this book, some people may say, "No, that's not like me, I don't do that!" Well, maybe they don't. But we are dealing here with average men and women, that is, how most men and women behave most of the time, in most situations, and for most of the past. "Average" means that if you are in a room full of people you'll notice that men are bigger and taller than women, in fact 7 percent taller and an average of 8 percent bigger. The tallest or biggest person in the room may be a woman, but overall the men are bigger and taller than the women. In the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest and tallest people have almost always been men. The tallest human on record was Robert Peshing, who stood eight feet eleven inches, and the tallest person in 1998 was Alan Channa of Pakistan, who was seven feet seven and one-quarter inch. History books are full of "Big Johns" and "Little Suzies." This is not sexist. It's fact.

Where We (the Authors) Stand

Reading this book, some people may begin to feel smug, arrogant, or angry. This is because, to a greater or lesser extent, they are victims of idealistic philosophies that claim women and men are the same. So let's clarify our position on this now. We, the authors, are writing this book to help you develop and improve your relationships with both sexes. We believe that men and women should have equal opportunity to pursue a career path in any field they choose and that equally qualified people should receive equal compensation for the same effort.

    Difference is not the opposite of equality. Equality means being free to choose to do the things we want to do, and difference means that, as men or women, we may not want to do the same things.

    Our aim is to look objectively at male and female relationships, explain the history, meanings, and implications involved, and develop techniques and strategies for a happier and more fulfilling way of life. We don't beat around the bush with suppositions or politically correct clichés. If something looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, walks like a duck, and there is enough evidence to prove it's a duck, then that's what we call it.

    The evidence presented here shows that the sexes are intrinsically inclined to behave in different ways. We are not suggesting that either sex is bound to behave, or should behave, in any particular way.

The Nature Versus Nurture Argument

Melissa gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy. Jasmine she wrapped in a pink blanket, and Adam, in a blue one. Relatives brought soft fluffy toys as gifts for Jasmine and a toy soccer ball and a tiny football jersey for Adam. Everyone cooed and Mooed and talked softly to Jasmine, telling her she was pretty and gorgeous, but it was usually only the female relatives who picked her up and cuddled her. When the male relatives visited, they focused mostly on Adam, speaking noticeably louder, poking his belly, bouncing him up and down, and proposing a future as a football player.

    Such a scenario will be familiar to everyone. It does, however, raise the question: Is this adult behavior caused by our biology, or is it learned behavior that is perpetuated from generation to generation? Is it nature or nurture?

    For most of the twentieth century, psychologists and sociologists believed that most of our behavior and preferences were learned from our social conditioning and our environment. However, we know that nurturing is a learned phenomenon—adoptive mothers, whether they are human or monkey, usually do a superb job of nurturing their infants. Scientists, on the other hand, have argued that biology, chemistry, and hormones are largely responsible. Since 1990, there has been overwhelming evidence to support this scientific view that we are born with much of our brain software already in place. The fact that men were usually the hunters and women the nurturers even today dictates our behavior, beliefs, and priorities. A major study at Harvard University shows that we not only behave differently toward boy and girl babies, we also use different words. To baby girls we softly say, "You're so sweet," "You're a little sweetheart," "You're a beautiful little girl," and to baby boys we raise our voices and say, "Hey, big boy!" and "Wow, you're so strong!"

    Yet giving Barbie dolls to girls and action figures to boys does not create their behavior; it simply exacerbates it. Similarly, the Harvard study found that adults' distinctive behavior toward baby girls and boys only accentuated the differences that already exist. When you put a duck on a pond, it starts to swim. Look beneath the surface, and you'll see that the duck has webbed feet. If you analyze its brain, you'll find that it evolved with a "swimming module" already in place. The pond is just where the duck happens to be at the time. It is not causing the duck's behavior.

    Research shows that we are more products of our biology than the victims of social stereotypes. We are different because our brains are wired differently. This causes us to perceive the world in different ways and have different values and priorities. Not better or worse—different.

Your Human Guidebook

This book is like a guidebook to visit a foreign culture or country. It contains local slang and phrases, body language signals, and an insight into why the inhabitants are the way they are.

    Most tourists travel to foreign countries without having done much local research and become intimidated or critical because the locals won't speak English or cook burgers and fries. But to enjoy and benefit from the experience of another culture you must first understand its history and evolution. Then you need to learn basic phrases. For a deeper appreciation of that culture you need to sample their lifestyle, get firsthand experience. That way you won't look, sound, and act like a tourist—the kind of person who would have benefited just as much from staying at home and merely thinking of other lands.

    This book will show you how to enjoy and benefit from the knowlege of the opposite sex. But first you must understand its history and evolution.

On a visit to Windsor Castle in England, an
American tourist was heard to say, "It's a
wonderful castle, but why did they build it so
close to the airport?"

    This book deals in facts and reality. It's about real people, authentic research, actual events, and recorded conversations. And you don't need to worry about dendrites, corpus callosum, neuropeptides, magnetic resonance imaging, and serotonin in researching brain function. We did, but we're now keeping everything as simple as possible to make it easy to read. We deal largely with a relatively recent science called sociobiology—the study of how behavior is explained by our genes and our evolution.

    You will discover a powerful set of concepts, techniques, and strategies that are scientifically substantiated and appear, for the most part, to be obvious or common sense. We've cast aside all techniques, practices, or opinions that aren't grounded in, or proved by, science.

    We deal here with the modern naked ape—the ape who controls the world with megacomputers and can land on Mars, and who can still be traced directly back to a fish. Millions of years were spent developing us as a species, yet today we are thrust into a technological, politically correct world that makes little or no allowance for our biology.

    It took us nearly 100 million years to evolve into a society sophisticated enough to put a man on the moon, but he still had to go to the toilet like his primitive ancestors when he got there. Humans may look a little different from one culture to another, but underneath, our biological needs and urges are the same. We will demonstrate how our different behavioral traits are inherited or passed on from generation to generation with, as you will see, practically no cultural differences.

    Let's now take a brief look at how our brain evolved.

How We Got This Way

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, men and women lived happily together and worked in harmony. The man would venture out each day into a hostile and dangerous world to risk his life as a hunter to bring food back to his woman and their children, and he would defend them against savage animals or enemies. He developed long-distance navigational skills so he could locate food and bring it home, and excellent marksmanship skills so that he could hit a moving target. His job description was straightforward: he was a lunch chaser, and that's all anyone expected of him.

    The woman, however, felt valued because her man would put his life on the line to care for his family. His success as a man was measured by his ability to make a kill and bring it home, and his self-worth was measured by her appreciation for his struggle and effort. The family depended on him to carry out his job description as a lunch chaser and protector—and nothing else. There was never any need for him to "analyze the relationship," and he wasn't expected to put out the garbage or help change the diapers.

    The woman's role was equally clear. Being appointed the childbearer directed the way she would evolve and how her skills would become specialized to meet that role. She needed to be able to monitor her immediate surroundings for signs of danger, have excellent short-range navigational skills, using landmarks to find her way, and have a highly tuned ability to sense small changes in the behavior and appearance of children and adults. Things were simple: He was the lunch chaser, she was the nest defender.

    Her day was spent caring for her children, collecting fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and interacting with the other women in the group. She did not have to concern herself with the major food supply or fighting enemies, and her success was measured by her ability to sustain family life. Her self-worth came from the man's appreciation of her homemaking and nurturing skills. Her ability to bear children was considered magical, even sacred, for she alone held the secret to giving life. She was never expected to hunt animals, fight enemies, or change lightbulbs.

    Survival was difficult, but the relationship was easy. And this was the way it was for hundreds of thousands of years. At the end of each day, the hunters would return with their kill. The kill was divided equally, and everyone would eat together in the communal cave. Each hunter would trade part of his kill with the woman for her fruit and vegetables.

    After the meal, the men would sit around the fire, gazing into it, playing games, telling stories, or sharing jokes. It was a prehistoric man's version of flicking TV channels with his remote control or being absorbed in a newspaper. They were exhausted from their hunting efforts and were recuperating to begin the hunt again the next day. The women would continue to tend the children and make sure the men were sufficiently fed and rested. Each appreciated the other's efforts. Men were not considered lazy, and women were not seen as their oppressed handmaidens.

    These simple rituals and behaviors still exist among ancient civilizations in places like Borneo, parts of Africa and Indonesia, and with some Aboriginal Australians, New Zealand Maoris, and the Inuit of Canada and Greenland. In these cultures each person knows and understands his or her role. Men appreciate women, and women appreciate men. Each sees the other as uniquely contributing to the family's survival and well-being. But for men and women who live in modern, civilized countries, these old rules have been thrown out—and chaos, confusion, and unhappiness have been left in their place.

We Didn't Expect It to Be Like This

The family unit is no longer solely dependent on men for its survival, and women are no longer expected to stay at home as nurturers and homemakers. For the first time in the history of our species, most men and women are confused about their job descriptions. You, the reader of this book, are the first generation of humans to face a set of circumstances that your forefathers or -mothers never had to tackle. For the first time ever, we are looking to our partners for love, passion, and personal fulfillment because basic survival is no longer critical. Our modern social structure usually provides a basic level of subsistence through social security, Medicare, consumer protection laws, and various government institutions. So what are the new rules, and where do you learn them? This book attempts to provide some answers.

Why Mom and Dad Can't Help

If you were born before 1960, you grew up watching your parents behave toward each other based on the ancient rules of male and female survival. Your parents were repeating the behavior they learned from their parents, who in turn were copying their parents, who mimicked their parents, and back it goes to the ancient cave people in their clearly defined roles.

    Now the rules have changed completely, and your parents don't know how to help. The divorce rate for newlyweds now is around 50 percent and, taking de facto and gay relationships into consideration, the real breakup rate for couples is likely to be over 70 percent. We need to learn a new set of rules in order to discover how to be happy and survive emotionally intact into the twenty-first century.

We're Still Just Another Animal

Most people have difficulty thinking of themselves as just another animal. They refuse to face the fact that 96 percent of what can be found in their bodies can also be found inside a pig or a horse. The only thing that makes us different from other animals is our ability to think and make forward plans. Other animals can only respond to situations based on the built-in wiring of their brain and by repetition of behavior. They cannot think; they can only react.

    Most people accept and acknowledge that animals have instincts that largely determine their behavior. This instinctive behavior is easy to see—birds sing, frogs croak, male dogs lift their leg, and cats stalk their prey. But these are not intellectual behaviors, so many people have difficulty making the connection between this behavior and their own. They even ignore the fact that their own first behaviors were instinctive—crying and sucking.

    Whatever positive or negative behaviors we inherit from our parents are likely to be passed on to our children the same way it happens with all animals. When we as humans accept ourselves as animals whose impulses are honed by millions of years of evolution, it makes it easier to understand our basic urges, and to be more accepting of ourselves and others. And therein lies the way to true happiness.

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Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally see the differences between men and women. I really enjoyed her analysis. It made a complete sense. If you want to understand your partner, you must read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
How a man's brain works has always been a mystery to me. This book gives reasonable explanations and points out the trends I usually missed out about both sexes. It has been a very interesting read though the content repeats itself in latter chapters. But the first few chapters are excellent with evidence and research to support the authors' theories. One other setback is that after reading this, I get a distinct impression on my own that men are shallow. I've only read the translation of this book but luckily the translator did a fine job translating, bringing forth a smile and laughter from me from time to time. If anyone wants to know the differences between males and females, then this book is definitely recommended. Unlike fiction, this book is humor based on certain facts which made it even more interesting. However, it is extremely persuasive and may cause dislike on certain issues the authors try to impress upon readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You can get enough about what this book is about from the title..all I can say is that I can read maps and this book is definetly another clone of the resent Mars Venus and evolutionary psychology we are now bombarded with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This fascinating book should be a required reading starting already in primary school. Then it should be a required reading again in high school and certainly at the university level. Most people are entirely unaware of gender differences and how they affect our lives. This book opens the window to the world which should be common knowledge but unfortunately it is not. If more people would read this book the planet would be a much happier place.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband & I recently read this book on an 8 hour return flight from Europe. We haven't laughed this much in a very long time. The book is 'right on' with regards to the differences between men & women, but most enjoyable is the humor. A delightful easy read.