I have come across several reviews of John Gray’s book that call it “sexist” and “a piece of crap”, to name but a couple of the objective conclusions reached by readers.
I can probably see where their objections may stem from, but it is important to remember that this book does not question or even aim to approach the topic of male and female equality, it looks at the differences between the sexes and those even the ardent feminist would need to acknowledge.
Discussions with friends and colleagues have not thrown up any startling differences in opinion on this topic. The notion of the man in his cave and the women with her “Jim’ll fix it” hat are common in any household all over the world. Maybe I am being too much of a generalist here, but being a girl, how many times have you had a problem and talked to your boyfriend about it only to be bombarded with several practical solutions to a simple issue that it upsetting you, and then how many of you have, knowing that the solution is indeed simple still wanted to carry on with your rant? For me, it’s very true, when I have a problem I don’t necessarily always want it solved, I just need some supportive nods, a rub on the back, some words of encouragement, is that too much to ask?
On the other hand, when my boyfriend has a problem and shuts down, retreating into his cage I have to try my utmost not to follow him in there with a torch and hammer. I see him upset and I want to fix it, that’s only natural when faced with the problems of a loved one, but he wants to take some time out and deal with it himself, if he needs my help then he will undoubtedly ask for it!
So you see the concept is simple. Gray does not tell any of us anything radical or thought changing, he says the obvious, but by saying so forces us to acknowledge it instead of glossing over it. It forces us to reconsider how we interact with not just the opposite sex, but people of the same sex too.
The use of men and women in this book I feel is designed to bring forward two traditionally separate entities and highlight how they can understand each other better. However, many of us have male and female friends/family/colleagues that display characteristics and traits that might be considered typical of the opposite sex. This does not make the book sexist, it is our understanding that would make it sexist. The key is to look at the bigger picture here, to see male and female characteristics in Gray’s book as x and y whose traditional traits can be applied interchangeably to other men and women in our daily lives.
In that sense I think this is a fantastic book, it has definitely made a difference in the way I approach situations, not just with the opposite sex, but with fellow females too.