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[[quoteright:350:[[ComicBook/WonderWoman http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ares_aphrodite_wonder_woman_1.png]]]]

->''"...There's a river dividing men and women, deeper and wider than the ocean."''
-->-- '''Ryoji Kaji''', ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''

You know this trope. It's the one where people of different genders are treated as if they were more like different ''species'', and species that can't communicate or get along at that. Since characters in works using this usually don't live in one-gender worlds, and tend to be overwhelmingly heterosexual, they are nevertheless compelled to seek interaction with each other. This usually works out about as well for all involved as you would expect.

While often "officially" a DiscreditedTrope, this is often also claimed as TruthInTelevision, sometimes with an edge of brave speaking out against PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad, or with a DebateAndSwitch or JustJokingJustification approach.

Subtropes include MenBuyFromMarsWomenBuyFromVenus, along with just about every "war of the sexes" trope in fiction.

Key signs that this trope is in effect in a work: you appear to have come into a world where

* '''The ways of men are by their very nature incomprehensible to women, and vice versa''': a great deal of the dialogue will be attempts to decode the mysterious ways of wo/men ("What did s/he mean by [insert action/dialogue]"). This will rarely involve asking the particular wo/man in question, but will often involve the protagonist asking ''another'' opposite-sex character to explain their incomprehensible significant other.
** For extra bonus points, have the protagonist ask their opposite-sex best friend, who is secretly pining for them, to help them understand (and win) Alice/Bob.
** And for the grand prize, have them ask their same-sex friend, who claims to be an expert on the opposite sex and [[KnowNothingKnowItAll has no idea what they're talking about]].
* '''The goals of women and men by their very nature diverge and may even conflict outright''': even if a relationship between opposite-sex partners manages to get off the ground (not always the case), the ride will continue to be bumpy.
** Bonus points for this leading to a crisis about getting married and/or moving in together, and for complaining to third parties about the significant other's gender-specifically annoying ways, such as (according to gender and matching stereotypes) refusing to talk about their feelings/putting cutesy stuff and scented candles in the bathroom/never putting the toilet lid down/filling the house with shoes.
* '''Both these points will tend to be lampshaded, shape characterization, and drive the plot''', whether PlayedForLaughs or PlayedForDrama, or both.

Characters need not be (entirely) [[FlatCharacter flat]], but women characters will tend to be stereotypically female and men stereotypically male. Deviations from stereotype, where they appear, will tend to be plot points in their own right as exceptions that prove the rule, and are usually resolved by a return to something more stereotypical (e.g. {{Tomboy}} WrenchWench gets her man when she finally [[SheCleansUpNicely cleans up nicely]]).

Which ''particular'' gender stereotypes are invoked may vary considerably, and inconsistently, even within the same work: (e.g. women want romance/men want sex; women want to talk about feelings and go to the opera/MenAreUncultured; AllWomenLoveShoes/all men hate shopping; WomenAreWiser/men are all {{Man Child}}ren, etc.) Stock contrasting stereotypes (hello, BettyAndVeronica) substituting for nuance will often also be in play. Outright logical contradiction between different stereotypes will rarely, if ever, be addressed.

Insofar as this trope tends to rely heavily on binary gender stereotypes, it also functions (in a somewhat complicated way) as a SuperTrope of several other GenderAndSexualityTropes: expect regular joint appearances by complementary tropes such as AllMenArePerverts and AllWomenArePrudes.

'''The key point, whichever particular stereotypes are invoked, and even where they are/seem to be avoided, is that male and female characters align so as to allow the first three points to apply'''. Whether men or women (or neither) come off better for the comparison may vary. Expect {{Double Standard}}s to apply fairly frequently if the work ''does'' take a side for one or the other gender.

Works using this trope often also tend to outright celebrate the stereotypes they invoke (''embrace'' your inner ManChild/[[AllWomenLoveShoes Imelda Marcos]]!), and see them as making an essential contribution to the value of opposite-sex relationships, which just wouldn't be as meaningful without this particular source of misunderstandings and tension. Conversely, though, even where this trope is combined with outright misogyny or misandry, obtaining (at least) one of the opposite sex as a partner is ''still'' usually viewed as essential and urgent.

In works that use this trope as a central element, naturally, both male and female characters will also, as noted above, tend to be overwhelmingly or even exclusively heterosexual. Gay men, usually of the CampGay variety, may appear, often as a [[FagHag female character's]] GayBestFriend [[note]]On a sidenote, binary contrasts similar to the Mars/Venus one tend to feature heavily in BoysLove works and SlashFic, with {{Seme}} and {{Uke}} couples, which often come complete with the same problems of communication and getting along as this trope attributes to heterosexual coupling. This just ''might'' be due to MostFanficWritersAreGirls.[[/note]]. Lesbians tend to appear even less frequently, except as [[GirlOnGirlIsHot fantasy objects]] for male characters (and viewers): BaitAndSwitchLesbians may appear for similar reasons, but rarely get beyond a SweepsWeekLesbianKiss.

Characters male and (especially) female who are affected by this trope may occasionally get wistful about the idea of how much easier things would supposedly be if they could only get together with someone of their own sex, but this rarely goes anywhere lasting, and the work will rarely notice how many potential UnfortunateImplications and internal contradictions there are in this line of thought. {{Transgender}} characters are also rare, but not entirely excluded, though expect treatment of any GenderBlendingTropes to reinforce rather than bring into question more traditional/mainstream gender binaries.

Almost unavoidable by definition in ChickLit and Lad Lit, and the corresponding flick genres, and pervasive if not quite inevitable in RomCom. Also frequent feature of Dom Com.

The presence of certain actors (Creator/JenniferAniston, Creator/MegRyan, Creator/SarahJessicaParker, and on the SpearCounterpart side, Creator/MichaelDouglas, Vince Vaughn and Creator/SethRogen) tends to indicate this trope will come into play.

Also a common feature of observational RecordedAndStandUpComedy. Oh, and there's just a tiny bit of this in {{Advertising}}, too, as seen in MenBuyFromMarsWomenBuyFromVenus. This trope is also most of the raison d'etre of magazines specifically meant for one or the other gender (Cosmopolitan, FHM, etc.)

Do not expect works that invoke this trope heavily on a regular basis to be shining examples of gender equality.

That said, in a perverse way works of this type emphasizing the male perspective tend to do better than average on UsefulNotes/TheBechdelTest, as in order to set up this trope they will normally introduce multiple female characters alongside the male ones, and by law of averages a few of the female characters' discussions will not be directly related to the opposite sex.

Likewise, in works emphasizing the female perspective, there will also usually be at least one straight male who believes that RealMenWearPink. While this will usually be countered by the character "making up for" this with an excess of machismo in other areas [[note]]for instance by also being a CulturedBadass who can readily "prove his manhood" in a brawl, or a {{Pornomancer}} who's actual character depth doubles as a way to seduce women[[/note]] the character will often serve as an example of how even a character RatedMForManly does not have to mean a character who is unrefined or childish.

The HeteronormativeCrusader probably believes in this trope, the StrawFeminist will see [[EverythingIsRacist every difference or conflict between characters of differing gender as this trope]], and the StrawMisogynist will decry any attempt to defy it.

For contrasts along cultural lines rather than gender lines, see CultureClash.
!! Examples:


* Anime/{{Vandread}}: Men and women are ''literally'' from two different but neighboring planets and have vastly different cultures. Then three men get stuck on a female pirate ship sent nearly a year from their homes. They must journey back together. Hilary ensues.
* The fourth episode of ''Manga/{{Boruto}}'' features all the boys and girls in Shino's class facing off against each other after Boruto and Sarada get into a fight over lunch.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Spoofed in ''WesternAnimation/SouthParkBiggerLongerAndUncut''. Satan and Saddam Hussein are in bed together, and while Saddam Hussein is waving dildoes suggestively at Satan, Satan is reading ''Saddam is from Mars, Satan is from Venus'' and bemoaning their inability to communicate.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Played with throughout ''Film/WhenHarryMetSally''.
%%* ''Film/TheUglyTruth''.
%%* ''Film/DownWithLove''.
%%* ''Film/HowToLoseAGuyInTenDays''.
%%* ''Film/HesJustNotThatIntoYou''.

* In ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', Eldest Whistler explains to Jerin that this is due to the different upbringing. They spoil and coddle the [[GenderRarityValue rare boys]], who as a result will be emotionally open and trusting, but teach the girls to mistrust everyone and search for weapons before hugging anyone.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** Harry at one point complains that it's as if girls speak an entirely different language. Justified because the characters are fourteen at the time - among adults and older teens in the ''Harry Potter'' universe this isn't nearly as much of a problem. [[TruthInTelevision Fourteen-year-olds are incredibly susceptible to this trope]]; people that age generally suck at communicating within a romantic relationship due to lack of experience and/or lack of maturity, and the ones in heterosexual relationships can blame it on their love interest being an incomprehensible girl/boy.
** Hermione is smart and mature enough to explain some such misunderstandings. She still has difficulties with Ron later, but that's mostly because he has similar difficulties understanding ''himself'', let alone others.
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' makes this central to the setting, even building it into the FunctionalMagic. It's also played for HypocriticalHumor, with each sex accusing the other of traits they obviously hold themselves, such as stubbornness or an obsession with gossip.
* This is also the case for Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's ''Literature/{{Earthsea}}'' series, at least in the beginning -- only men have magical training; women's magic is a byword for incompetence and for malice.
* The ''Literature/BlackJewels'' series by Anne Bishop
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'':
** In the novelette ''Aftermath'', told from [[OneOfTheBoys Karrin Murphy's]] POV, Murphy keeps telling us that men speak their own language, largely composed of grunts and physical postures, that has nothing to do with English without even realizing it. She calls it [[GenreSavvy Martian]] and insists that while she learned to speak and understand it by necessity, she has no idea what thought processes are responsible for it.
** Another quick example pops up in ''Literature/ProvenGuilty'' when Harry complains about wanting to talk with Thomas, but not telling Thomas that.
-->'''Murphy:''' Let me get this straight. You want him to talk to you, but you won't actually tell him or ask him any questions. You sit around with the silence and tension and no one says anything.\\
'''Harry''': That's right.\\
'''Harry''': You need a prostate to understand.
** In ''Literature/ColdDays'', Harry goes on for several paragraphs about how women communicate on five separate levels at once, according to a magazine article he read, so it's no wonder that men can't understand them.
* ''Literature/BridgetJones''
* Creator/DaveBarry's works, especially ''Dave Barry's Guide to Guys''.
* Literature/SisterhoodSeries by Creator/FernMichaels: In this series, men are unable to understand women at all, except for Jack Emery, and even he has failed in his attempts several times. The author firmly sided with women in this series, with an unhealthy dose of misandry thrown in. Naturally, you have {{Double Standard}}s, {{Henpecked Husband}}s, UnfortunateImplications, as well as a cringe-inducing speech by one female character about how men are little boys at heart, and you just need to give them a few things to keep them happy! Indeed, women in this series are presented as understanding men completely, except evidence in the series points to the fact that the author and, by extension, the female characters don't understand ''anything'' about men!
* ''Literature/TheBelgariad''. Women are incomprehensible to men, who almost never win an argument against them, and there are some things about each gender the opposite is just unable to comprehend.
* ''Self Made Man: My Year Disguised As A Man'' by Norah Vincent explores some of the tropes surrounding this in real life
* ''Literature/TheGodsThemselves'' has a world where there are ''three'' sexes - and they still have a version of this: Rationals, Emotionals and Parentals often baffle each other. Justified in this case, as the three sexes are only able to think and act in line with their gender stereotypes: Rationals are only interested in learning, Parentals are only interested in mating and raising children, and Emotionals are ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. On the other hand, this trope is absent when humans deal with each other, though that's mostly because there's only one major female character in the book.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]:
* ''Series/SexAndTheCity'' and the whole ''HesJustNotThatIntoYou'' spin-off industry.
* In ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' Al goes so far as to form an organization dedicated to promoting the well being of men.
* Many episodes of ''Series/AccordingToJim'' end with an {{Aesop}} about the differences of men & woman and what it means to be a good husband/wife, that are treated as universally applicable. One episode has Jim countering the new metrosexual trend by becoming a ''flannelsexual'' advocate for traditional gender roles.
* ''{{Series/Cheers}}'' and ''{{Series/Frasier}}'' both have tendencies to this, if less overtly so for ''Frasier''.
* ''Series/HomeImprovement''- a definite example of MenAreUncultured as both something men are/should be proud of, as well as a way in which WomenAreWiser.
* In the universe of ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'', almost all nerds are male and their nerdiness can be awkward when trying to talk to women.
** After the fourth season, when Amy and Bernadette were added to the permanent cast, this has been the case more often than not. Either the girls have a separate storyline involving "girl time," or we see the "female perspective" on one nerd-issue or another.
* In an episode of ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'' Sabrina casts a spell on herself to become a boy because she wants to understand how they think. Hilda does the same.
* Many, if not most, episodes of ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen'' rely on this trope to a large degree.
%%* Just about EVERY 1950s and 1960s sitcom.
%%* ''Series/LeaveItToBeaver''
%%* ''Series/TheBradyBunch''
%%* ''Series/{{Bewitched}}''
%%* ''Series/EverybodyLovesRaymond''
* A major plot-driving force in ''Series/{{Friends}}'' .
* Even more so in ''Series/{{Coupling}}''.
* ''Series/That70sShow'' derive alot of their trademark splitscreen humor out of this.
* ''Series/TheOffice'' takes a look in Season 2's "Boys and Girls" episode. Jan holds a "women in the workplace" seminar, and Michael takes the "boys" down to the warehouse--where's he's just as unwelcome.

* Music/DavidByrne's "Women Vs. Men":
-->Women have their world, and men, we have ours.\\
We're into sports, and they're into flowers.\\
The women are talking. We do not understand.\\
They speak in a language we do not comprehend.\\
No one knows how it started, and God knows how it will end.\\
The fightin' continues, women versus men.
* Byrne also covered this topic with his band Music/TalkingHeads on the song "The Girls Want to Be With the Girls" from ''Music/MoreSongsAboutBuildingsAndFood'':
-->''The girls don't want to play like that,''\\
''They just want to talk to the boys.''\\
''The just want to do what is in their hearts,''\\
''And the girls want to be with the girls.''

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''{{ComicStrip/Cathy}}''.
* Calvin of ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' believes this, [[GirlsHaveCooties because he's at that age]]. At one point when witnessing Susie (''gasp!'') doing her homework, he finds the idea of doing it voluntarily so strange that he dubs girls "the gender from outer space!"
* The boys of ''ComicStrip/{{Zits}}'' seem to believe this. It was done with nuance during the early years, showing that it's only true to a certain extent, but in later years, it seems to be played more and more straight.

[[folder: Radio]]
* Parodied by Laura Shavins on ''Radio/TheNowShow'', "celebrating" the anniversary of ''Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus'':
-->He wrote that all men are stupid, all women are mad,
-->That's why mixed-sex relationships will always go bad.
-->The best advice to give any young girl or lad,
-->Is that all men are stupid, and all women are mad.

[[folder:Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy]]

Some comedians that rely heavily on this trope:
* JoBrand
* Creator/BillHicks (see [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys "Chicks]] [[DracoInLeatherPants dig jerks]])"
* Creator/DenisLeary
* Creator/ChrisRock
* AdalRamones
* Creator/ChristopherTitus
* WhitneyCummings
* Creator/MargaretCho, although it's more a case of [[WhiteDudeBlackDude Gay Dude Straight Dude]]
* German comedian Creator/{{Loriot}} who coined the quote: "Männer und Frauen passen einfach nicht zueinander!" (Men and women simply don't fit together!)

[[folder: Theater]]
* Appears in ''{{Theatre/Camelot}}'', when King Arthur, after an argument with Guinevere, starts wishing that Merlin had included women in his childhood education:
-->And what of teaching me by turning me to animal and bird,\\
From the beaver to the smallest bobolink? \\
I should have had a whirl \\
At changing to a girl, \\
To learn the way the creatures think! \\

[[folder:Video Games]]
* [[PlayingWithATrope The degree to which this trope applies]] to ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'' would be a good, essay-length discussion of how the game portrays the intricacies of gender relationships. On one hand, the central plot element is about a [[ThisLoserIsYou laid-back slacker]] trying to decide whether he'd be happier settling down or remaining unchained, with a BettyAndVeronica LoveTriangle externalizing his decision. [[InvokedTrope Mars-and-Venus symbolism abounds]]: the [[EsotericMotifs planetary symbols]] are ubiquitous, one of the background tracks is a ClassicalMusic remix of an ode to the planet Mars, and one of the [[ScrappyMechanic worst things]] that can happen to the player is the "Curse of the Morning Star" (i.e., Venus). Most of the protagonist's friends don't "get" women, or make assumptions about the fair sex that are flat-out wrong. When their favorite waitress--the most approachable female character--tries to set the poor boys straight, none of them take her advice. Instead, they scoff because it's assumed ''she'' wouldn't get it either. [[spoiler: [[BackStory Though this is because she is MtF.]] ]] The other women don't get as much screen time, but don't fare any better: "Betty" is a straight-laced IceQueen type, while "Veronica" shows early signs of {{Yandere}} behavior. So, what does the game ultimately decide about this Trope? ''It doesn't.'' [[MultipleEndings You do.]]

* ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'' - full of Female Character X explaining to Male Character Y that "girls all..." and vice versa (though these seem like they're meant to be rules of thumb rather than statements of literal fact), and occasional examples of the 'men and women don't speak the same language' subtrope that usually lead to severe confusion, painful misunderstandings, or both in combination. It gets off pretty lightly compared to most of these examples, though, since none of the characters are defined utterly by their gender and the stereotypes thereof (although Steve sometimes comes close to being a stereotypical man, especially when drunk), nor is it {{Anvilicious}}ly heteronormative.
* ''Webcomic/SomethingPositive'' doesn't employ as many stereotypes as some examples, and has more non-heterosexual characters than most examples, but still portrays an inherent and quite deep divide between men and women.
* ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' has many such moments. Torg, Riff and Gwynn especially can be pretty stereotypical. And then there's Aylee, who sometimes naturally acts clearly "female" but at others still has huge difficulties understanding how that works in human society. Some characters are not affected at all, such as Sasha or Bun-bun.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Present in this article [[http://www.takeninhand.com/woman.whisperer here.]][[http://wikibin.org/articles/taken-in-hand.html Not a parody]]. For a DistaffCounterpart, see also [[http://wikibin.org/articles/loving-female-authority-3.html]]. Note: these are examples of this trope because they both present the dynamic as being true to the fundamental nature of the genders, and of individual people as members of them - which is rather different than just saying some people like sub/dom dynamics on an individual level, or without the gender-based essentialism.
* The website [[http://www.girlsaskguys.com Girls Ask Guys]] revolves around this concept, providing a place for people of either gender to ask questions and share their life experiences, in a general bid to attempt to better one anothers' understanding of the mysteries of the other side.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'' has Timmy wishing he was a girl so he could figure out what his crush wants for her birthday. Justified, since the kids still believe that GirlsHaveCooties. Chester discusses this when he sees Timmy as a girl going into an arcade and freaks out: ''"Boys like comic books, girls like dolls. Boys like video games, girls like makeup. We're different! That's why we have different bathrooms!"''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'':
** Parodied with the Omicronians: "It is true what they say. Women are from Omicron Perseii 7, men are from Omicron Perseii 9."
** The later episode "Neutopia" exaggerates the differences between men and women for comedic purposes, before introducing a SufficientlyAdvancedAlien who creates harmony by [[NoBiologicalSex making everyone gender-neutral]]. Everyone's fine with it until they realize it means [[AllMenArePerverts no mo]][[AllWomenAreLustful re sex]], at which point they demand their genders back -- only the alien [[GenderBender gets a few things wrong]].
* Lampshaded in the ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' [[TheMovie movie]] "A Sitch in Time", when Kim discovered that Shego, not one of her male villains, was destined to become the "Supreme One" who would conquer the world.
-->'''Rufus 3000''': Wasn't it clear that Shego was the only one smart enough to take over the world? \\
'''Kim''': Uh, well, I guess it always seemed more like a guy thing.
* Hilariously subverted in ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' by Candace, who has a tendency to overcomplicate things by assuming this is the case. From "The Baljeatles":
-->'''Stacy:''' I think it's going really well; he asked me to save him a dance.\\
'''Candace:''' He did? What do you think he meant by that?\\
'''Stacy:''' I'm pretty sure he meant he wants to dance with me.\\
'''Candace:''' Hmmm.... Men and their impossible endless riddles.
** And that's not even getting into the fake mustache...
* This trope was given a TakeThat in ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' where Phil and Lil switch the hairbow so that Tommy can see it won't be hard for him to pass as a girl. Phil cries while wearing Lil's bow and Betty rushes to her side.
--->'''Betty:''' ''(in a soothing voice)'' Oh, whats the matter with beautiful baby girl? ''(turns to Didi)'' Girls seem to cry more at this age. ''(turns to Lil without bow in a buffer voice)'' Oh, my big baby man. Guess they're ok Deed, now where were we?
--->'''Didi:''' We were talking about the difference between men and women.
--->''(Phil and Lil soon switch the bow while the Mom's backs are turned)''
--->'''Phil and Lil:''' See?
* [[CloserToEarth Sharon]] and [[BumblingDad Randy]] Marsh in ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', as well as the whole town [[DependingOnTheWriter when the plot asks for it]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitansGo'' episode "Boys vs. Girls" Starfire and Raven beat Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy in a contest 3-0, resulting in Cyborg and Beast Boy assuming girls are better than boys in general, rather than two particular girls just happening to be more competent and having better powers than three particular boys.