Mars and Venus? Maybe Men and Women Aren’t So Far Off

blackboard-gender-imageMen’s and women’s genitals are found in the same places, but do we experience sex in the same way? Madison Avenue wants us to believe that, when it comes to sex, men are from Mars and women from Venus. This enables manufacturers to charge more for products that are targeted to a specific sex, like some cigarettes or deodorant.

The women in my women’s therapy group discussed this last week. Words such as hormones, testosterone, and estrogen came up. These endocrine influences do, of course, affect our behavior. But the biggest difference throughout millennia has been the fact men don’t get pregnant and women do.

As one woman pointed out, “Just think how differently we might approach sex if guys were the ones to get knocked up and had to carry a baby for nine months and then take care of it for 18-years plus!” None of us could argue with this point.

Another participant said she thought her son and daughter had behaved quite differently when they were babies. But a longtime obstetric nurse debunked this: “I’ve handled thousands of infants over the years, and the only difference I’ve noticed is how they pee—boys seem to aim right for your face every time!”

She went on to inform us that girls are every bit as strong and healthy as boys at birth, if not more so. “But get them home and Mommy and especially Daddy will cuddle and coddle little Mary while they throw little Jimmy up into the air!” she said. Good point! Hugs and kisses versus manhandling.

Babies dressed in neutral colors encourage people to ask, “Boy or girl?” If they are told the baby is male, they’ll typically say something like, “Aren’t you the big, strong fella?” When assuming female, they might coo, “Aren’t you the sweet and dainty little girl?”

One group participant pointed out that the female brain seems to respond more to chocolate than the male brain does, and no one argued. But with profound differences in the way we raise our kids, it’s hard to imagine how these subtle variations of smell or taste buds really matter.

Written pornography can show possible differences between men and women, with phrases such as “swollen clit,” “bulging blue jeans,” and “pleading lips” from a typical male magazine. Female erotica, written by women, more often contains phrases such as “tender caresses,” “infinite motion,” and “cleansing light.”

Such “soft porn” books and magazines were much more popular before the Internet took the staples out of their sides. Now, of course, visual porn is the go-to, and X-rated material is as close as the device in your pocket or purse. An increasing number of young adult couples enjoy X-rated films together, especially when the movie is smart, funny, and sexuality conveys genuine affection. More and more of the women I work with in therapy report looking at porn sites or saving them for self-pleasuring later. Guys, I think, more often use the images for “one-handed surfing” while at the computer.

Are male and female experiences of sex really that different, or do we just use different words to describe them? In graduate school, I recall reading about researchers asking men and women to write a paragraph describing their experience of orgasm. A panel of judges could not discern the men’s descriptions from the women’s. So much for those Mars/Venus charts.

The most crucial thing to be aware of about sexual differences is that your partner probably experiences sex differently than you do. So instead of making silly assumptions based on even sillier Mars/Venus generalizations, why not ask, play, explore, and learn for yourselves?

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Jill Denton, LMFT, CSAT, CCS, therapist in Los Osos, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jimmie

    Jimmie

    February 9th, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Unfortunately I think that the roles are so ingrained in all of us that it is hard to break through them at times

  • Chara

    Chara

    February 9th, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    There have been so many times that these divides as we see them have been created solely by us. I think that there are many of us looking more at the ways in which we are different instead of focusing on the things we do the same. I don’t know where this division came from, I think that it has honestly always been a part of the male female relationship, and while maybe there was a time and place for that division in the past, surely we all know that the time has come to move past most of that now.

  • elton

    elton

    February 9th, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    I strongly feel that the only reason we see boys and girls behaving differently is because we treat them differently from the moment they enter this earth. That’s the reason behind that. They are going to be what they will be if we will just allow them to express those personalities and not impose some kind of norm that we think that should act like upon them.

  • Reeny

    Reeny

    February 9th, 2015 at 3:58 PM

    I know that my guy looks at porn, like a lot, and I try not to let that bother me but I think that that shows a huge difference in the two of us because he uses it for such a turn on and it is the complete opposite for me.

  • Craig

    Craig

    February 10th, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    This is written in a way where you want to convince us more of the things that make us similar versus the things that make us distinctive from one another. In my own personal experiences with women though, there are so many more things about us that are different and I honestly think that this is the way that it is intended to be. If there weren’t that many differences then why wouldn’t I just choose to hang out with my guy friends all of the time instead of my girlfriend? Because I am looking for something that is different in my experience with her than I would be in a night on the town with the guys. There is something good about those differences that I think a lot of us actually can appreciate.

  • jimm

    jimm

    February 11th, 2015 at 3:46 AM

    I have never bought into the theory that girls are weaker than boys or whatever. I am married to a strong woman and have two strong girls and let me tell you what, I think that any one of them could beat the socks off of anyone who chose to mess with them… and that’s even with a ribbon in their hair too! They don’t let those typical stereotypes hold them back

  • Veronica

    Veronica

    February 11th, 2015 at 3:48 PM

    Well I am a girly girl, no two ways about it, and my daddy may have wanted me to go fishing and camping with him and do all the stuff that he would have done with a son, but as soon as I realized that pink and dress up didn’t play too well in the woods, let’s just say that I was done with all of that stuff!

  • heidi

    heidi

    February 12th, 2015 at 3:44 AM

    My thoughts are that we all need to stop looking at the things that make us different and focus instead on the things that make us all the same. #wishful thinking

  • Cristina D.

    Cristina D.

    February 14th, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    I am not sure why there is this whole issue surrounding gender equality and why it is so bad that I see women differently than I do men. It isn’t that I think that women are less capable than men( of course I don’t I am a woman) and I definitely don’t think that we are less intelligent, but I just think that there are some natural differences there between us, and I kind of like that.

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