Men like to roll their eyes about how hard it is to understand women, and yet, while I agree we are a lot more complex than they are, it’s really quite a simple thing to understand us.
First of all, autonomy, free will, is as important to a woman as it is to any man. The freedom to choose what to wear, whether to wash up immediately after supper or to leave the dishes until morning when one is refreshed – even serious issues like whether and when to apply for an annulment – these are things that we are not wiling to have dictated to us.
Men should understand this. They don’t want to be told what to believe, how to spend their time, what to say to this person or that… – so why is it so difficult to recognize this love of individual liberty in us?
We also want to be respected even as men expect us to respect them. John might want sympathy and admiration from his lady friend over a difficult work or family situation – but when he is resentfully intolerant of her advice, when he thinks he can freely provide her with advice how she should improve herself in order to be good enough for him – that is flagrant disrespect.
Why is this so hard to understand? Why is John so surprised, so bewildered that Marge is mad at him for trying to fix – not a situation, but her very self?