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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Battle of the sexes

What do men hate about women?

We are all very familiar with the list by now: of all the things that women hate about men. Not just about the men in their lives, but about men in general as well. And strangely enough, this list remains much the same, even if the women themselves vary vastly. It doesn’t really matter if you’re talking to a teenager in London, a mother of two in Mumbai, or an octogenarian in Ohio, their complaints about men are startlingly similar.

Top of the list, of course, are all those everyday irritants that make men impossible to live with. They leave the toilet seat up; they never pick up their clothes from where they left them (in a pile on the floor, if you must know); they leave sodden towels lying around; they never close any cupboard that they have opened; and they are incapable of turning the lights out.

And that’s just the small stuff. Then come the biggies, the kind that can wreck relationships if you don’t watch out. They don’t listen to anything; they are incapable of having a serious conversation; they never want to discuss their feelings; they don’t understand the feelings of the women in their lives. I could go on, but I’m guessing that you’ve got the general drift.

But surely, just as there are some (well, several actually) things that women loath about men there must be stuff that men hate about women as well? I would certainly think so. But because men, on the whole, are such uncommunicative creatures, we never really get to know about their pet peeves about the opposite sex.

So, in the interest of promoting greater understanding between the sexes, I decided to conduct some strictly unscientific research among the men of my acquaintance to find out what they hate about women. Here are my findings, in no particular order of importance:

• Women talk too much. And they talk all the time. Just when you’ve settled down to watch television they will start nattering about something about the other and insist that you turn the volume down to listen to them. They will burst in on you in the bath to discuss some pressing matter that can’t possibly wait. They will nudge you awake in the middle to the night to share what is bothering them.
• Even if you put aside whatever you are doing and listen to them, they insist that you are not really paying attention (and it doesn’t help if you can repeat everything they have said back to them). You are just pretending to listen, they complain, your mind is somewhere else (on the game being telecast live, perhaps?). Really, there is no pleasing some people.
• If you manage to convince them that you have been paying close attention (perhaps by turning off the television?) they find something new to complain about. Now, it’s not that you don’t listen. Now it’s about how you don’t understand. And there is no way to convince them that maybe, just maybe, you do.
• They constantly seek approval. If they are getting dressed, it’s “Do I look fat in this?” or that old favourite “Does my bum look big in this?”. And there’s no right answer to questions such as these. If you say no, then you are implying that there are some outfits in which they do look fat and big-bottomed. And if you say yes…oh my God, all hell will break loose. There will be sulks, they will be tantrums, and you will never be allowed to forget what you said.
• This seeking of approval thing doesn’t end there though. They want your opinion on everything: what jobs they should take/quit; where to send the kids to school; what birthday present to buy your mum; whether to invest in shares or real estate. Except that it soon becomes clear that they don’t really want your opinion at all. They have their own opinion on such matters and your role is simply to agree with them.
• They nag all the time and about everything. Why haven’t you shut the cupboard door? Why are your clothes on the floor? Why don’t you use a coaster under your coffee mug? Why haven’t you opened that fixed deposit yet? Why can’t you help with the children’s homework? Why do you think that my bum looks big in this? Why don’t you love me anymore? Why aren’t you listening to me? Why, why, why?
• And then, when nothing else works, they cry. For all this talk about equality of the sexes, women are not above getting the waterworks going if it helps them get their way. And as we all know, men are like putty in the hands of a weeping woman.
• But what men hate most about women is that they simply can’t win with them. Come over all chivalrous and they accuse you of treating them as the weaker sex. Be all tough and macho and you are told off for being a chauvinist pig. Stay strong and silent and they say that you’re not in touch with your feelings. Be all weepy and sentimental and they despise you for your weakness.

Honestly, it’s enough to make a grown man cry.

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