Are These Pictograms of the Differences Between Men and Women Brilliant or Cliché?

Slate’s design blog.
Aug. 22 2014 9:02 AM

The Differences Between Men and Women, Told in Pictograms

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Do men (left) and women (right) have different preferences when it comes to the balance of love and sex?

Copyright Yang Liu Design/Taschen

Designer Yang Liu’s Man Meets Woman is a visual exploration of the age-old, constantly evolving interplay between the sexes. A pictogram-based shorthand answer to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus for the 21st century, the book will be released in October by Taschen. It’s the award-winning 38-year-old Berlin-based Chinese author’s second book, after East Meets West, about Liu’s bicultural experiences.

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How men and women view themselves.

Copyright Yang Liu Design/Taschen

“We are living in an age of constant social change, in which the subject of the sexes, in particular, is rapidly evolving in people’s consciousness,” Liu writes. “Each new generation re-assesses and questions the role models currently in place. ... It is interesting to see how Man/Woman clichés have indeed changed in our daily lives and to what extent the attributes that were assigned to the sexes in the past, often centuries ago, are still relevant in today’s society. And to consider which desirable role models are already rooted in our thinking but are still in the process of transformation.”

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How men and women talk on the phone.

Copyright Yang Liu Design/Taschen

The side-by-side male-and-female pictograms cover the discrepancies between how men and women generally see themselves, are viewed by others, communicate, work, love, fantasize, behave, and more. The simple, accessible, and stark visual format is necessarily reductive, designed as a thought-provoking tool to spark conversations and elicit a range of emotional responses.

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How men and women talk about their sexual experiences.

Copyright Yang Liu Design/Taschen

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“I myself have experienced, directly and indirectly, many communication problems between the two sexes, both in my private life and in my professional career,” Liu writes. “As a working wife and mother, I am compelled to realize time and time again how many minor and major differences exist between men and women, despite today’s ongoing debate on the subject and the constant redefinition of male and female roles.”

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The ideal partner(s), as seen by men (top) and women (bottom).

Copyright Yang Liu Design/Taschen

Liu says that many of these differences “arise out of traditional gender models and are dictated by social and professional structures.” The book, she is careful to note, is “a visual documentary of my personal views on the subject of communication between men and women. I thereby hope to be able to encourage all of us to approach this subject with a little more humor and, in our daily interactions, to look at and think about things from the viewpoint of the opposite sex.”

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