How angels arrange their affairs is unknown. We humans have only two approaches to the puzzles and battles of life: The first is from Mars and the second is from Venus.
It is Martian to confront a problem with blunt speech and unsparing honesty, and yet to welcome unsparing bluntness in return. It is Martian to attack the enemy at the strongest point of the line, and yet to treat a fallen foe with courtesy. It is Martian to command without backtalk, and to obey without complaint. The Mars approach is most useful when confronting problems that require courage, force, majesty, dispassionate intellect. Results matter; intentions don’t.
It is Venusian to negotiate around problems so as not to provoke a clash of wills. Venus seeks compromise, makes sacrifices and expects sympathy in return. Speech is indirect, diplomatic, because feelings are delicate, easily bruised. Venus avoids ultimatums, and uses speech to seek out secret motives. A Venusian does not call adversaries enemies, but patients, meant to be healed of their ignorance and fear.
The Venusian approach is never used between equals. The seductress beguiles and cajoles a man like breaking a horse, because he is too strong for her, and so she is indirect. Contrariwise, the mother does not want to bark commands at the child. She wants him to learn to volunteer without being asked. The mother molds his character as he will one day be child no more. Her thought is long-term. She wants to teach the child to fish, not feed him a fish. Failure is insignificant if the child’s motives were pure. (Because, after all, children do not lose wars when they fail, or cause economic depressions or the downfall of nations.)
Martians rule by formal law, law carved in stone, law enforced by policemen and hangmen. Mars likes Robert’s Rules of Order.
Venusians rule by social cues and peer pressure to establish pecking orders, bestow honors, snub pariahs, sooth social friction, set roles and expectations.
But peer pressure only works in artificial, civilized, non-productive situations, not a factory where someone counts the profits and losses, not a ball game where someone keeps score, not a war where someone pins ribbons on chests and someone else plants red poppies on graves.
The Martian approach is to do your job as agreed and to go home after, and what you do on your own time is no man’s damn business but yours. The Venusian is concerned with hearts and minds not with tasks and results, so Venus follows you home. She embraces the world.
When left to themselves in their own sphere — not interfering with results-oriented work — not only is the Venusians’ approach healthy, it is useful because it is a peacekeeping function.
Now, everyone reading these words knows exactly which sex is the direct one, suited by nature for war and confrontation; everyone knows which sex is the indirect one, suited by nature for domestic matters and diplomacy. It is a sign of our times that this obvious truth known to all is considered something obviously never to be admitted in public. This generation is as delicate of feeling and as prone to hysteria as matrons of the Victorian Age. In both cases, the hysterics faint at the merest mention of sex.
The two sexes I am discussing here are not male and female, but conservative and leftist.
Specifically, a conservative is one who deals with politics as if it were within the sphere of Mars. A leftist is one who deals with all of life, political as well as personal, as if it were within the sphere of Venus.
Consider each point mentioned above. Political Correctness attempts to soften hard truths and spare delicate feelings. Reason is too masculine and confrontational. Instead of overcoming a rational argument, the leftist merely ascribes a vile motive to the person speaking, and making him an unperson, a pariah, someone we pretend not to be able to hear. Leftists don’t expect to be punched in the face when they lie. Their weapon is gossip and slander, rumor and hysteria, smothering your viewpoint rather than refuting it
Likewise, there are no equals in the leftwing universe. The Nanny-state is condescending. Our worries about national debts or Jihadist threats are dismissed with a maternal tongue-cluck, tut-tut, and we are placated with welfare benefits like chocolate cookies.
When the leftist encounters rebuke, the emotional reaction is not one of a defeated knight shaking hands with his honorable vanquisher, but one of a woman scorned or a woman in mourning, of whose like hell hath no fury. It is the hate of a weak and effete inferior, a scalding hatred. Read Marx. He is from Venus. Adam Smith is from Mars.
Because the Venusian approach works through custom, leftists are lawless. They think everything should be an exception.
Because Venusians regard all rivalry as curable cases of ignorance and fear, they don’t argue rival viewpoints (that is too confrontational) they just declare the science to be settled and the debate to be over, and you to be a fearful dunce.
Because motherhood overlooks no detail of a slow-witted child’s upbringing, the leftist regulates the water volume in your toilet. They follow you home. The right pesters your life from sun to sun, but the pestering left is never done.
All these Venusian qualities are admirable (nay, they are adorable!) when kept in their proper orbit. Imagine a wall called civilization, which consists of coolheaded and hardhearted men willing to work terrible evil on evildoers lurking like wolves without the walls. Within is a domestic garden called convention, where the women raising children may be as softhearted and hotheaded as they wish so long as they do not erode the wall.
Both fail at the other’s task. A Martian will fail if he tries to command the garden of convention by force. The garden of convention must be ruled indirectly, voluntarily, because it is a matter of opinion, learning and character. Force destroys opinion, smothers learning and prevents character growth.
Likewise, Venusians will fail most horribly when they try to man the wall of politics, and take up the sword of law or the pike of war in their soft and feminine hands. The battlefield or factory floor is not a place for feelings, but results. Enemies are not spoiled children to be chided or placated, but slain. Compromise and simpering sacrifice are counterproductive here, because business rivals and bloodthirsty foes will merely exploit any sign of weakness and call you a fool.
Both fail at the other’s task, but both do not quit. Martians are results oriented. When they see their results in the garden are counterproductive, they stop their meddling and return to their duties on the wall.
But when Venusians fail, they redouble their efforts. They do not see their results are counterproductive because they act on faith and do not care about results. When their counterproductive efforts create a bigger problem in the realm of Mars, ruining factories, trampling rights or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime, the Venusians conclude the bigger problem needs more Venus.
To put it charitably, the Venusians are not very analytical. But they are like a sobbing wife of a convict, the wife who never stops believing in him.
So the Venusian continues to negotiate and surrender with deaf and stubborn reality as if with a deaf and stubborn husband, thinking that if she makes just one sacrifice more, reality will relent. Alas, reality is from Mars.
When the world is healthy, Mars rules Venus because reality establishes the bounds and laws of the wall of civilization, within which the garden of convention is free to play.
But when Venus rules Mars, the world is demented.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.