Women! They’re more confusing than sudoku, only prettier and into really, really dull television. You can’t help but pity your fellow man as they all inevitably try – and just as inevitably fail – to understand what goes on in those gorgeous heads of theirs. So you’d have to think that the oke who penned Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus was onto something. That dude was John Gray and FHM has enlisted his help to try and make some sense of the 12 biggest mysteries and conundrums we guys face regarding those alien creatures we lovingly refer to as “our better halves”.
Gray, who’s recently released a follow-up book entitled Why Mars & Venus Collide, surmises that any friction between the sexes is primarily due to our diametrically opposed genetic make-ups. De-code your lady and, he says, there’s no reason why you can’t lead a lovely sex-filled life, full of cuddling while watching rugby with a beer in your hand…
01 – She hates your drinking buddies
The crime: She thinks because you’re getting molar with your buddies that you prefer the pub to sitting at home with her, eating boiled tofu and watching Ugly Betty. And she’s probably right.
JG: Women rarely ask their men to spend time with them, so they get jealous when he’s out with his buddies. If she’s getting regular time then she won’t be so bitter when he goes out without her.
The solution: Book time with her (say a once-a-week “date night”), even if you live together. It keeps the flame of romance alive and lets her know she’s not just your back-up plan for when the boys aren’t keen.
Vaguely related fact: The average adult male can consume about one beer per hour without becoming legally intoxicated. This is affected by things like body weight and fitness, so don’t call us when you get thrown in chookie for dronkbestuur! Also, women tend to have less of the stomach enzyme that helps process liquor, and less bodily fluids, resulting in higher alcohol-saturation levels. Bottom line: they tend to get wasted quicker than dudes.
02 – She always has cash for treats
The crime: There’s barely a cent for bills or food, yet ladies can always find cash for a new handbag or a waffle machine. Who doesn’t love a waffle? But it does seem a bit pointless if the electricity’s been disconnected.
JG: I don’t believe that this anomaly is exclusive to women – I reckon men always find money for treats, too. However, for women, accessories such as clothing or kitchenware are deemed an absolute necessity.
The solution: Take note of how much you’ve spent on your car/surfboards/iPod. About as much as she’s racked up on facials? Then you have no grounds to complain. Women, in our experience, also tend to plan elaborate and expensive – yet infrequent – drinking missions with their mates, compared to your twice-weekly pinting sessions over rugby talk.
The point: it all evens out. It’s just the actual stuff that differs.
Vaguely related fact: The first iPod was launched in October 2001. By April 2008, over 206 million units had been sold worldwide. Any chance of a loan, then, Steve Jobs?
03 – She’s always on the phone
The crime: When not watching Grey’s Anatomy on the telly, most women can be found talking on the phone. For decades at a time! And it’s never a quick hello; rather some riveting three-hour dissection of Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoe collection. Then the phone bill arrives; it’s more than Nasa’s Hubble Telescope launch. To avoid World War III, you begrudgingly decide that “splitting the bill” sounds fair. You did, after all, call gran in PE for five minutes on her birthday.
JG: When a woman is stressed, she talks a lot more. Talking stimulates the chemical serotonin in a woman’s brain, which calms them – which just isn’t the case for men. If you spent more time talking to her, then she wouldn’t spend so much time on the phone.
The solution: Ask her all about her day, careful not to offer any solutions, no matter how obvious; all she wants to do is vent. Or, just pay the bill and stick to watching Top Gear while she chats away.
Vaguely related fact: It is estimated that there are more than half as many cellphones on earth as there are people (approximately 6,8 billion). As few as one per cent are properly recycled.
04 – She always bins your stuff
The crime: “Oh, I didn’t realise you wore that any more,” she says of your favourite Metallica T-shirt that your now-deceased mate gave you in 1996. Women loathe clutter, meaning unless you hide those magazines, clothes and the leftover pizza, they’ll soon be calling a landfill their home.
JG: Women always try to create order. If a lady wants new things, then the old stuff has to go.
The solution: Regularly volunteer to throw out stuff you don’t need. And indicate to her what does and does not have sentimental value. That way, she’ll think you’re sensitive and not just a closet hobo.
Vaguely related fact: The world’s largest collection of rubbish is actually floating in the sea. An expanse of “rubbish soup”, almost twice the size of the continental United States, is bobbing around the Pacific. The affected area stretches from about 930km off the Californian coast, almost all the way to Japan. Tell your babe that, next time she decides to chuck out your beloved beer-bottle collection.
05 – She covers your bed in cushions
The crime: Beds are purely a functional item, made for sleeping, masturbating, and getting occasional sex on. Thus, they don’t need to be topped off with eight cushions and a teddy bear. What purpose do these mysterious tasseled wonders serve?
JG: This is a great mystery. Women like things to look beautiful, but men don’t understand things that don’t have a function.
The solution: Be thankful she even wants to share a bed with you. Plus, clean, crisp, white linen is, at the end of the day, nice to kip on. In our experience, an old couch is a better bet for napping or passing out blind drunk at 3am.
Vaguely related fact: A British study conducted on 1 000 people found that the most common sleeping position is the foetal – predominant in 41 per cent of subjects. Grey-haired psychologists suggest this indicates an individual with a façade of toughness who actually masks his inner vulnerability. We reckon it’s just more comfy…
06 – She has to be reminded. A lot
The crime: How to work the computer, directions to her ouma’s, the rent’s due on Thursday, how many sugars you like in your tea – why do we have to tell women the same thing over and over? Is it simple forgetfulness or is there some subterfuge to their behaviour? Yet, forget an anniversary or a Valentine’s Day and you’ll never hear the end of it – and that’s only if you’re fortunate enough to survive the fallout!
JG: That’s just a case of women playing the poor, lost maiden. Men really should be thankful they’re so needed around the house.
The solution: She just wants you to look after her like the big, strong man you are. Enjoy it. She doesn’t need to take note of everything, because she’s found an alpha male who loves her enough to let her focus on her own goals, hopes and dreams. That’s you, by the way.
Vaguely related fact: American Dave Farrow is the Guinness World Record holder for memory. To claim the title, he correctly memorised the exact order of the cards in 59 shuffled decks! Today, he does demos, writes books and conducts seminars on memory.
07 – She has that shoe fetish
The crime: Most okes can go their entire lives with just a pair of once-white-now-beige takkies, a pair of work shoes and something for the gym – and still feel like their wardrobe is bulging. Not women. They don’t appear content until they’ve hoarded 30 pairs of identical red stilettos that they’ll probably never wear anyway. Then they’ll happily chuck your stuff out to make room when they drag yet another R2 000 pair home because they were “on sale”.
JG: Women love accessories because they see more detail. Women see how things combine with each other. Men don’t notice that stuff so it isn’t important to them.
The solution: Ignore the fact that all her kicks are identical, and say something like, “I think I like those ones better,” every third pair.
Vaguely related fact: Made famous by television shows like Sex And The City, Manolo Blahnik shoes are to ladies what monster trucks are to men (only far less practical) – and no cheaper. Some pairs retail for more than R110 000!
08 – She wants a husband. Badly
The crime: Most women start planning their wedding at age two, while men are reluctant to spend their lives with the same person. Especially one who becomes allergic to the word “blowjob” as soon as she earns the title, “girlfriend”, never mind “wife”.
JG: Marriage is everything a woman is about: partnership, sharing, connecting and loving. These things produce oxytocin in a woman’s brain, which makes her feel good. Testosterone makes men happy and we get that through a fancy car, a great job, sex or becoming a rock star.
The solution: If she’s suggesting that you “put a ring on it” and the thought terrifies you, you’re probably wasting a good woman’s time. If she’s not a “good woman”, you’re wasting yours. Sticking around because of sex on tap and to avoid the effort of finding another partner whilst exiled once again to your porn collection, is just selfish. Otherwise, start talking to your confidants about “coming to a turning point in your life,” and get some wise counsel. It may, in fact, be time. Or maybe time to move on.
Vaguely related fact: Divorce is not an entirely modern, western phenomenon. The ancient Mesopotamians and Athenians allowed for legislated divorce. The ancient Romans, however, could renounce marriage at will. Overseeing of the process was considered a family matter. We don’t reckon a lot of babes got the villa and the chariot out of the deal, though.
09 – She constantly makes lists
The crime: Along comes the weekend, and we men pine for little more than a couch, beer and sport. But not the ladies. They prefer to construct an endless list of jobs that sees us teetering atop rickety ladders, chopping, cleaning and washing while they go lamp shopping.
JG: When a woman is stressed there’ll be a never-ending list of things to do. Even if you appease her by doing all the jobs on the list, she’ll just double it. What you need to do is relieve her stress and that’s about being romantic, listening to her, spending time with her.
The solution: Those massage fingers should be getting a workout. On the upside, if you use them correctly, the chances of a non-verbal “thank you” are good!
Vaguely related fact: In 1994, Joseph Wesbecker walked into his place of work in Kentucky, USA, shot eight people dead, injured 12 others and then killed himself. He’d been taking anti-depressant Prozac for four weeks prior to the incident. A lawsuit against Prozac-makers Eli Lilly resulted and a settlement was reached. Rather let your babe make lists, then!
10 – She lives in the bathroom
The crime: Most okes can have a dump, shave and shower in under ten minutes and still look – in our minds – semi-decent. But not our lady friends. Bugger the environment, as they twirl under the shower for 45 minutes. It’s then global warming’s turn as they hairspray their ’do, only to arrive at a style that looks, admittedly, lovely… but not that different to how she went in…
JG: In society, women are desired by how they look and men by their jobs and how much money they make. Men are very visual and women will try to look good for men to compete for their attention. The irony is it’s other women who notice how women dress and they can often be very critical of each other.
The solution: You could comment on how lovely your mom or sister looks when she’s all natural, but you’d probably be lying. Best you do notice the effort they put in, though!
Vaguely related fact: The first known flush toilet was used by the Indus Valley civilisation in the 26th century BC. Cities boasted flush toilets in almost every house, connected to an advanced sewerage system. Then, in the 1880s, Thomas Crapper added the siphon system to remove waste. His name was thus immortalised. Unlucky, chine!
11 – She shops a lot. A whole lot.
The crime: How on earth did spending a Saturday driving around for an hour looking for parking and then trudging around a shopping centre for five more hours ever officially constitute entertainment? Who knows, but if sex is a man’s ultimate high then a trip to YDE is unfortunately a woman’s!
JG: A woman’s primary function is to nurture the needs of others and only once that’s done will she concentrate on herself. That’s why women love to shop: it brings awareness back to who she is, what she likes and what she needs. Men know what they like and want; they don’t need time to find out. For men it’s work hard during the week, with a nap on the couch on the weekend.
The solution: Use it to your advantage. Given that shopping’s inevitable and you will be dragged along, why not suggest that you spend a lovely day shopping (at places with strategically selected rib ’n’ chicken specials as lunch options) before you go and enjoy the rugby with your mate Dave, who’s having “relationship issues”. See what we did there?
Vaguely related fact: Opened in 1785, St Petersburg’s Gostiny Dvor is considered the world’s first purpose-built shopping mall.
12 – She’s always dressing you
The crime: Men don’t ask for much when it comes to fashion: does it require ironing or dry cleaning? Will it go out of style in the next decade? Will it make me look like an utter doos? If the answer is “no” to at least two of these questions, then we’ll take it! Women can’t fathom this. They simply don’t get the idea of “lucky” underpants; that we can’t bear to part with a favourite shirt despite the underarms having gone green and that we regard boardshorts as acceptable evening attire.
JG: When a woman tries to dress her man, it’s her nurturing side that’s coming out. She thinks she’s making things better, while he takes it as criticism and as her being controlling. Women don’t see it like this; rather they think they’re doing something nice.
The solution: Listen to her advice. She may have some good ideas. Plus, if she wants you to look a certain way, it’s because she thinks it’ll make you more attractive. To her. The person who shags you.
Vaguely related fact: Adolf “Adi” Dassler and his brother Rudi started a company manufacturing homemade takkies back in post-World War I Germany. In 1949 – more than 20 years later – their company, which had operated under several less catchy names, was formally registered as Adidas AG (from “Adi” and “Dassler”). Rudi, however, had already split up with Adi two years earlier, to start rival brand Puma. The two clothing brands are still massive competitors today.
First published in the FHM October 2009 issue.
Dr John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and Why Mars & Venus Collide are both available from kalahari.net.