158: Why Men Don’t Listen by Barbara and Allan Pease

by Gerard

158.2: Pease, Barbara and Allan Pease. Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps: How We’re Different and What To Do About It. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. 250 pp. ISBN 0-7679-0763-9.

First off, before I get into the sure-to-be-polarizing inherent and inescapable differences between men and women presented in this book, let me just say how hard this book was to classify. Both the World Catalog (or “WorldCat”) and the Library of Congress use the old edition of the Dewey and class this book in 305.3 which is books on men and women as social groups. But, the problem is this, while the authors talk about men and women from a historical, anthropological, and sociological perspective, their man focus is on how men and women are fundamentally different on a psychological and neurological level. This pushes the book back into the psychology. Since they use this new information to explain behavior, it should be updated to be 158.2, which is applied psychology dealing with interpersonal relationships.

That being said, let’s get to the meat. Barbara and Allan Pease are, for all reasonable assumptions, a relatively normal married couple, but secretly they are fighting against millions years of evolutionary programming and psychology. The Peases have looked into the mass of psychological and neurological research to bring us a tight volume on why men and women don’t interact very well. Here’s the quick list of reasons:

  • Men have one-track minds; women multitrack — eons of hunting for lunch in the wilderness equipped primitive man with tunnel vision and exceptional focus, but the women, who stayed back at camp, had to be continuously on the lookout for danger coming at any angle. This is why men who are reading the newspaper to watching TV cannot listen to their wives at the same time. Women can apparently have multiple conversations going on at once and read the emotional contents of a room at a glance.
  • Men have minds hard-wired for spatial reasoning; women do not. Don’t ask them to navigate, just don’t.
  • Men internalize; women externalize — women need to talk about their problems with other people in order to get a good sense of it and perhaps envision a solution. Men sit and think and mull and ponder until a solution is discovered; then that solution is enacted. In other words, men problem-solve, women problem-talk.
  • Everybody begins fetal development as a female. If that fetus gets multiple bursts of testosterone during gestation, boys are born. The more testosterone, the more manly the child will become. Varying degrees of testosterone produce (in descending order of testosterony-ness) hypersexual and brawny men, standard heterosexual men, gay men, transgender persons, butch females, feminine lesbians, and overwhelmingly feminine women.

Much of this seems common sense, and some of it will irk those who think that everyone’s potential should be completely identical all the time. But identical is different from equal. We are all equal, but we are all different. The Peases understand, and after you read this book, you will too.