Men, Women Are Not From Mars, Venus

Men-Are-From-Mars-Women-Are-From-VenusMen and women aren’t so different, after all.

They have similar levels of interest in sex with multiple partners, willingness to have sex outside of a relationship, closeness with a best friend and interest in science, for instance.

What a surprise!

Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, and Bobbi Carothers, a senior data analyst at Washington University used their own and others’ research to study the characteristics of 13,301 men and women.

They looked at a range of things like physical strength, sexual attitudes, empathy, science inclination, extroversion, relationship interdependence, intimacy, mate selection criteria and personality traits in an attempt to find out which characteristics could reliably predict whether someone was male or female.

Turns out, women and men are much more alike than different.

And even differences may not be biologically based. Stereotypes tend to create social patterns. Boys are told “boys don’t cry,” so they end up repressing their emotions. Or, they get kudos for acting tough. So they are more likely to grow up to be tough guys. Girls, on the other hand, are free to cry and show weakness, and so they are more likely to do both. That’s a social pattern, not a biological one.

But even with socialization, you still get a continuum of behavior. Some guys are sweet and some girls are tough.

The researchers found that the biggest differences were physical, with men being taller and physically stronger. But psychologically, there’s a lot of overlap.

Below, you can find graphs of physical strength and assertiveness. Men are a bit more assertive, but take a look at the overlap.
men and women

A variety of other traits show a pattern similar to the bottom graph, like desire for non-committed sex (so much for evolutionary psychology), fear of success, levels of empathy, and how much feeling men and women have for their friends.

Amanda Marcotte points out that,

What’s remarkable about all this is not that men and women have so much in common but that these commonalities persist despite relentless gender policing that usually involves quite a bit of shame.

Men face ridicule if they’re perceived as having female-like levels of empathy and concern for their friends, and yet, according to the study, they overcome it. Women are routinely told there’s something wrong with them if they have “masculine” attitudes towards sex and men are emasculated if they aren’t horny all the time or if they desire intimacy alongside their sexual adventures, and yet both genders tend to have a mix of adventurousness and tenderness when it comes to sex.

Good to know that the humanity within usually wins out.

Simplistic frameworks like the pop psychology book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus can even be harmful in some ways. In relationships, says Reis,

When something goes wrong between partners, people often blame the other partner’s gender immediately. Having gender stereotypes hinders people from looking at their partner as an individual. (Yet) gay and lesbian couples have much the same problems relating to each other that heterosexual couples do. Clearly, it’s not so much sex, but human character that causes difficulties.

Rigid frames can also discourage people from pursuing goals that they think are for the other sex.

If men aren’t really from Mars, nor women from Venus, that gives us all a whole lot of freedom.

Related Posts 
Guys Just Wanna Have Relationships?
Hookup Culture
Surprises in Indiana University Sex Survey

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 2, 2019, in gender and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. This Blog Post, “Men, Woman Are Not From Mars, Venus” was interesting to read because of the different perspectives of how men and woman are not so different after all. I completely agree with everything that was written in this blog. This blog emphasizes the fact even though genders have stereotypes and that is what makes the genders “different”, but deep down we are all feeling the same way. Psychologically we are all the same, but we all don’t have the “freedom” to act in the same manner because of stereotypes. The same stereotypes of how girls are soft, and guys are supposed to be tough. I hate how much everyone feeds into these stereotypes and if one does not conform to them, they are seen less as who they are. If a guy wants to cry, he should be able to, if a girl wants to be more masculinity, then she has the absolute right to do so. It sucks because everyone has to suppress their emotions in order to fit into societies standards. I’ve seen it happen to both genders in my friends, how they get judged for stating their feelings or being their true selves. It sad if you think about it, that these stereotypes conform people in society so much, but we are all so blind to it because it is all that we have known.

  2. Wow this was such a pleasing blog post to read. Growing up, society has groomed all of us to have a magnifying glass on men and women’s masculinity and femininity and how that fits in with the rest of society. Qualities such as assertiveness and empathy are shared between the sexes, but for one these qualities are more accepted. This is WRONG. We shouldn’t be limiting what’s natural. The “norms” are silently enforced and put us in boxes. I think this article is a very important piece and is dissolving these boundaries that are put up around men and women’s true and authentic personalities and mindsets. At the end of the day, regardless of being men and women, we are all human beings who feel the same things and we should be allowed to express how we feel about things because we all have that in common. Great Article!

  3. I found this article to be very intriguing. Having grown up with an older brother who was very different than me, I always thought that men and women were very different. Of course, to a child it makes sense that the opposite sex should be quite different from yourself, but then there were times when I saw that men and women should be equal. Women can do anything a man can do. Biologically, we are all human so we should not be as different as we are told we are. I feel like as a woman, I am taught through media that men and women are different, especially in regards to stereotypes and double standards. Having always been that men only ever think about sex and that women never do, but in fact, neither is true. I mean sure, women do not reach their sexual prime until they are in their 30, and men reach theirs in their late teens, but they do not think about sex all that differently.

  4. Mary Elizabeth Mccall

    I appreciate that this article acknowledges that many of the psychological differences between men and women are created by society rather than biology. Often times children follow the example set by their parents when it comes to gender roles, creating a pattern of gender stereotypes that should be changed. One point this article makes that is especially interesting is that research finds that both men and women have the same sexual desires, including a desire “for non-committed sex”. However, this behavior is strongly discouraged for women, yet accepted, and sometimes even celebrated, for men. This highlights the extreme cultural disparity between the way we view men and women because although we all have the same sexual preferences, it is only socially appropriate for men to express them. As the next generation of parents, we have an opportunity to shift the gender specific molds presented by our parents and set an example of inclusion and acceptance.

  5. I have always been closer to guys than I have to girls, and have a majority of guy friends. What I have learned through having so many guy friends is that they really aren’t that different from girls. Guys may act all tough and macho in front of girls, but when it comes down to it they are just as sensitive as we are. They just choose not to show it. I have had deep conversations with my guy friends about girls, and have learned that they too worry about a lot of the same things that I worry about as a women with men. A lot of times they come to me asking for girl advice, which is also something that my girl friends do too. They often wonder if the person they’re with is with them for the right reasons, just like my girlfriends and I do. Although they put this front on with other people and especially other women, I feel that men can be just as sensitive as women sometimes.

  6. I completely agree with this article in that most of what we believe to be gender differences are in fact a social construct. In my experience most people tend to believe that we are biologically built to act a certain way. For a long time women were expected to only fill the role of mother and wife while men were the head of the house-hold and bread winner, in a respect-demanding role. This social norm emphasized that men and women were so different that one gender couldn’t or shouldn’t fill the shoes of the other while the research tells us differently. The genders are much more alike and I think it comes down to viewing the person in front of you as a sum of their genetic predispositions and their life experiences instead of traits that are viewed as typical. Unfortunately, I think the main reason we have such perpetuating stereotypes is in large part due to how genders are portrayed in American media, especially media targeted to young audiences.

  7. What I’ve read too though is men are more likely than women to fantasize or have fantasies based out of desire. It means men have fantasies because they turn them on and they would do such things if they were in a society or place where they wouldn’t be judged.

    • Sexual repression affects both men and women, but women much more. Women faces but also shaming for not doing sex with exactly the right number of partners. And there are just so many words out there that shame women From the time they are born: slut, whore, skank… Women are even shamed for being sexually assaulted. And men are sometimes celebrated for committing assault

  8. This is a very “fair and balanced” interview.

    She is a European woman whose perspective is very very different than American women. She clearly recognize the differences between men and women. She also accepts those differences. Unlike here where feminist are trying to force men to change who we are as men.

    What is interesting is her halting answers when asked if she “liked” men or “loved” men.

  9. Since I was a child my mom always told me there wasn’t really much difference between a men and a women psychological. But when my sister and I went to Mexico, we would help my grandma clean the house, each one was assigned a task, either sweep, mop, wash the dishes, or dust. The only one who wasn’t assigned a task was my cousin, who was the only boy out of 3 girls. We asked him to help sweep and as soon as my grandma saw him with the broom she took it away from him and said that he isn’t allowed to sweep because he was a boy. We didn’t understand it back then why he still couldn’t help even if he was a boy, my mom tired to explain it to us that it was different in Mexico, but I did remember that we argued wth her and told her that it shouldn’t be different and he should still help us too. I think as a society some of us have grown to think that boys can only do certain things and girls can only do certain thing. Just last week at my job, I was moving a pallet with a pallet jack and a customer who was a women told me why I was doing that and only a guy should do that because it’s heavy. I just told her a girl can do it to and it wasn’t heavy. But sadly she wasn’t the only one who said something about me being a girl and doing a “man” job, (didn’t know we still had those now a days). To my surprise I didn’t get offend when some of the customers whose are men asked if that was a man job or if it was too heavy for me, but I took it more as an insult when the women told me what the men have being saying throughout the week.

    • Boys are indeed able to sweep the floor. So long as society doesn’t stop them.

      There are certain biological differences between males and females. As the article notes, one of the few things you can predict with high accuracy is who is physically stronger, which is males. Still, we exaggerate the difference, often not realizing how physically strong women are.

      (Men have more muscular strength but women are stronger in other ways like an ability to survive because more calories turn to fat instead of muscle, which helps them to survive famine and cold and to have greater endurance. Women also have better balance with a lower center of gravity, and better flexibility.)

  10. Charlotte Greatwood

    I have always thought that blaming gender for differences is really just a scapegoat for insecurities. As mentioned at the end of the article queer couples have similar probable to heteronormative couples. To me, this idea isn’t surprising at all. When there are problems in a relationship, be it platonic or romantic, blaming a biological fact is easy. Looking for the real problem of someone’s desires and motivations is much harder. I think that defining men and women as such different categories is also very harmful. It seems clear that the real difference in people is just a difference rooted in their humanity not their biology. People are people, and part of the problem with gender inequality today is that there is such a huge emphasis placed on it. I think one day gender will be irrelevant, as these studies suggest “male” traits and “female” traits don’t really exist. We create these ideas, and then people put themselves in categories. One day, maybe all the lines will be blurred and people will just be able to be people.

    • It’s too bad that stuff culture makes up creates straitjackets for both women and men. Men who are softer and cuddly or can feel like they can’t express that. Or just being allowed only one emotion, anger, really hurts both men and the people around them as they react in a rage, when they really need to be aware of the real emotion and deal with that.

      Meanwhile Women are often pigeonholed and kept from doing many things that would serve both themselves and society. For instance, our society tends to be uncomfortable with female leaders, so we miss out on some really good leadership while women with the skills aren’t able to fully express them.

  11. Why do women have not much of a difference in desire for sex with many or different people if women are less visual than men? You said our culture is why women are less visual than men because women are sexualized and men are not as well as women are repressed sexually. If that’s the case, why would women be supposedly desiring not much of a difference for casual sex than men in our culture? Those graphs show not as much of a difference than you think by gender, and those graphs are of women in such culture where women are not taught to be visual or sexual like you said men are. So I’m confused and curious what still creates this lust for sex with different men by so many women and not the difference. Like it makes sense why men have that desire, because of how visual we are. It’s not just because of how sexy and beautiful women are but how arousing women are physically. And to top that off the variety women have in their looks, body and shapes and sizes to each other. I feel hypothetically also men would not have promiscuous desires if like every woman on earth basically looked the same facially, body parts wise, shape, maybe race and ethnicity all the same too. Like a big lust motivator too is not just women’s bodies and looks being sexy and highly arousing to men, but the great variety and diversity of women’s looks and body.

    I often get in my straight bias and like i feel bad for straight women sometimes. As a straight guy, I just feel it seems like women don’t get the great physical variety from the male body that men get from female body. Women don’t just have varied looks and beauty comes in many forms for women. For example the fact that women have different body shapes. My opinion is guy’s bodies different simply by like fat, thin, muscularity, tall, short, but do men really have different “body shapes” from each other? That’s because men don’t have “curves” and if a man does, that’s not so attractive, which I would get. We like the sex we’re attracted to, to look and have body features of sex we’re attracted too. Like man boobs are unattractive, because the obvious reason straight women aren’t attracted to breasts. I know you said women can learn the breast fetish, but you said desire isn’t attached to it, so that’s what I mean. A man with wide hips can look funny too, because that’s a female trait or associate because of women usually have wider hips and pelvic than men for obvious biological reasons. Men don’t need wide hips since we don’t birth children. But I think men desire sex with various women, is like how a chocolate lover desires and loves to eat the various types of chocolates out there. It’s the love of such and beauty plus variety of such beauty. If women don’t feel that way about men’s bodies or men don’t provide such variety, why would they come even close to desiring sex with different men, when I’d think visual should be the biggest motivator of all.

    • Well, the sex drive is very strong. They would probably be no difference without the punishments and objectification directed at women.

      When it comes to desiring multiple partners or monogamy there is very little sex difference. Somethings it’s because both strategies can reproduce genes well Such that both strategies have survived the eons.

      • Yeah but why very little difference for desiring multiple partners for women, when women don’t have the visual motivator from men’s bodies like I and men have for women’s bodies? I’d think there would be a big different with desire for multiple partners between men and women. It seems like without the visual motivator, a sex would be more interested in just a few people and monogamy. I feel the reason men desire sex with multiple women is because of how visual we are, and the beauty of women’s bodies and variety. Men’s bodies aren’t sexualized, men’s bodies aren’t as enticing or such body parts and there’s less variety between male bodies for women to want to be “connoisseurs of the male body, whereas, women have more visual variety with their bodies. So I don’t get what is causing such desire for women when to have such desire, it would seem visual and a lot of physical would have to be part of it. The reason is because multiple partners doesn’t fulfill emotional desires, but mostly physical lustful desires as you don’t really know or love people you are having casual sex with right? If you’re desiring sex with different people, it’s coming from a less emotional, and more purely physical lust

      • Well, because women are the sex objects they tend to be aroused by their partner finding them exciting. And maybe new partners find women more exciting than someone they have been with for a long time. Regardless of that only half of women prefer to have many partners while the other half prefer monogamy, which mirrors numbers for men. Another thing which can keep partners interested is deep connection which comes from monogamy.

  12. At a very young age, girls and boys are subjected to how society wants them to be perceived, Girls are taught to play house and play with babies as well as kitchen supplies. While men are taught to be adventurous and play with more difficult toys than girls would have. During my social psychology class, we looked at Legos and the Legos meant for boys were much smaller than the Legos meant for girls. This indicates that females have a harder time playing with intricate things. Therefore, they may already feel that they are inferior to males. I read in a book that boys are forced to be masculine because, in the society we live in, boys are depicted to be masculine and invincible. Therefore, many men are unable to express themselves because they feel ashamed to show emotions. This affects their future relationships because they would be putting up a wall that would prevent further intimacy with their partner. Men have to suppress their emotions and it is upsetting because they must feel like they would explode from all the emotions they withhold.

    • Our sexual stereotypes put pressure on boys and girls and men and women to behave in specific ways and well this creates social patterns behavior where girls are a bit more likely to do some things and boys a bit more likely to do others, what is amazing is how similar we all are despite that. Our basic humanness is deeply rooted.

  13. We think men and women are so different because of our behavior and the things we like. Turns out everything we know about gender comes from our environment and what we are told to do. When we are little, our parents buy us pink or blue clothes, we’re given sports balls or barbies, we watch Disney princess movies or movies about superheroes, and the list goes on. If we are a girl and we’re given barbies to play with as a child, we automatically associate femininity with barbies and what they look like. Though much of how we associate gender is based off of our family, I think most of it comes from stereotypes. As kids, everyone wants to fit in. Boys will be made fun of if they’re seen doing “girl activities” and vice versa. I think this has a big psychological impact and it will make that boy/girl think whatever they were doing is not okay in society and they will change to conform to societal gender norms. I think one of the reasons why women are not as respected as men is because men are seen as tougher. If we were all raised with no gender bias and no pressure from society to be one way or the other, men and women would be much more similar.

    • Cross-cultural comparisons also help us to see what is gendered. Basically, we make up a bunch of stuff about how women are supposed to be and how men are supposed to be that put us in straight jackets.

  14. Why the erasure of trans and nonbinary people?

    • Not every post is about every gender. In this case trans and non-binary people are not socialized in any particular way. We don’t have stereotypes about how trans and non-binary people are. We do have stereotypes about how men and women are, AND they are socialized to be particular ways. None of this applies to trans and non-binary people but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about the issue.

  15. It’s interesting to mention how stereotypes are what create people to act socially. We’re all human so it should be known that psychologically both genders are about the same. Stereotypes are what make people assume that men and women are different but that isn’t true. Men get criticized if they cry in public because men are supposed to be the “tough” sex; the ones that can’t show emotion but they have the ability to cry for being human. having emotions is a natural thing that shouldn’t be repressed due to your gender. Gender stereotypes ignore the fact that we’re all human. People immediately jump to assume the way someone is because of their gender. Yes, gender is who we are and we have different experiences due to it but psychologically we are still mostly the same.

    • Yes, different genders even do different things in different cultures, but then people think that it’s all natural, which boxes them in when gender needn’t do that.

    • Testosterone literally makes you not want to cry. But whatever, you’ve got your gender studies narrative.

      • I guess that explains why male athletes are bawling their heads off after they win a major championship – and right when their testosterone levels are especially high (testosterone levels rise when people are winning).

        (Some theorize that testosterone stops tears but there’s no proof.)

      • Because winning also increases levels of cortisol which is a far stronger and more immediate effect.

        Do a Google search on testosterone and “emotional regulation”. It’s literally fundamental to the regulation of emotion, and what is crying if not loss of control of your emotions?

      • Just saying that testosterone definitely doesn’t prevent men from crying.

      • Hang on, you just went from “there’s no proof” to “definitely not”.

        There’s 605000 Google results in searching for “testosterone emotional regulator”. And yet your big retort is “nah”.

      • Like I said, men will bawl like a baby after they win a big championship, even though their testosterone levels are about as high as they can get. If testosterone blocked tears that wouldn’t happen.

        And Google searches don’t equal science

  16. Yes completely agree

  17. You can come up with a study that says women have equal interest in multiple partners. It’s kind of like asking people if they would like to be able to fix their car when it breaks down. Sounds ok in theory. But only a certain select set of people (mostly male) go beyond the vague thought bubble that it would be good to know how to fix a car, and actually disassemble their car’s engine in their garage, and put it back together again.

    And there you have it, ticking a box on some survey questions is not the same as actually going and making it happen. When a woman ticks a box saying they’d definitely like sex with a stranger, they mean that they drooled over Justin Bieber in an edition of Cosmo. When a man says he’d definitely like sex with a stranger, it means that last night he actually cruised down Sunset Boulevard, and picked up a couple of hookers. A self imposed grading scale means you are grading yourself BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS and not by an objective standard.

    And if it were true, then we should stop with all the rape and sexual assault hysteria.

    • First, women and men can have equal desire for sex but act differently, in the way you describe, for a couple of reasons. First, we teach men to be the active participants and we teach women to be the passive participants when it comes to sex. Secondly, we punish and shame women’s sexuality for doing the same thing that we celebrate men for. that creates different behavior even if the desire is similar.

      Second, rape and sex are two different things. Sex is loving or at least fun while rape and sexual assault are violent and hurtful, and men don’t like to be assaulted assaulted anymore than women do.

      • Even if a woman is horny like a guy/ It makes sense that men would be more free in doing and thinking of having sex with a stranger that is female. Two big reasons and have to be factors too. Most men are stronger and I feel we do feel or have a protection as a result to not have to think or worry about things women typically have to think about when having sex or thinking about hooking up. I don’t mean to say it can’t happen, but I’ll be honest. And it might be why, sexual harassment or unwanted touching is usually more upsetting for a woman to deal with if a man says something to her or touches her vs a woman touching a man. It can be upsetting if a woman touches me but I don’t feel threatened, whereas that can defiinitely be threatening for a woman.

        Yes, most or many guys would never rape a woman, but the great majority of rapes and sexual assaults committed are by men. It’s pretty for women doing it. So there’s that fact that I as a man have a freedom because of my size and stregnth where I can venture and more free in doing or thinking about just going ahead with casual sex with a stranger that’s female because of my size and because it’s rare for women to want to rape a man. Whereas, a woman having sex with a guy who is a stranger is dealig with a sex that is stronger than her and can be dangerous for her and the fact is she doesn’t know the guy and needs to know because of this and the majoriy of rapes commited are by men.

      • Women and men have similar desire but women may be less likely to act on it because of things like fear of strangers. And punishment from society. Other studies have found that women and men’s fantasies are more similar than what they actually want to do in real life.

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