Natasha Sohni: Let's let the sun set on Mars-Venus definitions

In my AP Language class this year, among the interesting ideas we discussed was the concept of gender.

For one of my papers, I chose to analyze a quote by John Gray, and since then, I've discovered that this issue is still largely discussed. In his book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus," Gray writes, "A man's sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. … A woman's sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships."

Although I do not personally agree with this, I believe that people do often relate to this idea and stereotype both men and women based on it. It can ring true in a countless amount of situations, yet it is risky and incorrect to state that all men define themselves based on their abilities and all women define themselves based on their feelings and relationships. Men and women are not naturally dissimilar in the way they define themselves; the societal expectations of both genders play a large hand in the validity of this quote.

Long ago, it may have been difficult for people to recognize this, but with the vast changes being made in today's world, this concept is not unusual to acknowledge and understand. If we continue to promote the idea that men define themselves based on their achievements and women purely use emotions, future generations will be afraid to defy these norms. These expectations and stereotypes continue to feed the oppression and poverty of assorted genders and other groups of people today, depending on where one resides.

People often use Gray's quote, in some degree or another, as an excuse for their actions. Unfortunately, the process to erase these issues is slow and those who side with Gray's quote will always be around to hinder change.


Due to the prevalence of the statement, it must be questioned as well whether the expectations at which it hints are the reason why this quote is true. Gray's quote plays directly on stereotypes that were much more realistic in the past. Even then, this stereotype constricted those who did not feel as though they could "abide" by the expectation it implied.

People are more outspoken today over their actions and how gender is not a factor in them, but in past decades, society was more patriarchal than it is today; both men and women of the past did not advocate for themselves and attempt to put a damper on societal standards. My father reminds me of how my grandmother was quite intelligent and was accepted for university in America, but her parents pushed her to marry instead. Of course, she did not protest this and focused on her relationships rather than her academics. Her abilities were diminished just as quickly as they were proven.

Gray may elaborate on his reasoning in the remainder of his book, but this quote, read on its own, feeds directly into the issues on gender we still face. Ultimately, due to societal presumptions, most people continue to see women as those who define themselves based on their emotions and relationships, and men as those who define themselves based on their achievements. These presumptions have been ingrained over generations, so it may take lots of willpower to convince the masses that this concept is untrue.

Humans define themselves on more than just those elements, regardless of gender, and it's important to remember this when interacting with anyone, professionally or personally.

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