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Are Women From Utopia And Men From Wal-Mart?
By Allie Ochs, Relationship Expert, Coach
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
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
(c) Allie Ochs, Relationship Expert, Coach, Speaker and the Author
of Are You Fit to Love?: A Radically Different Approach to Successful Relationships.
Reprinted with permission.
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