Unidentified Gender Objects
Obviously, this approach will be instantly attacked from the individualistic angle, arguing that every individual, regardless of gender, may have completely different spiritual, psychological or otherwise basic needs, and no person may assume such arrogance so as to dictate another's needs. But it must be pointed out that:
1. For lack of more precise terms, we must differentiate between global human needs and personal desires. For example, the requirement for lowered stress in the workplace is a global need, but wanting to work with computers is a personal desire. Under any set of behavioral rules there must always be room to develop and express variations in individual drives (within reason). When most people argue for individualism, they are thinking about the relatively minor personal differences.
2. There are very basic needs which apply to all humans. If this were not possible, general psychology and mass religions could not exist. If you hold that each individual must work out every basic need on his own, invent his own religion if necessary and avoid being categorized under any general psychological theories, then you may as well stop reading right here.
3. Many people cannot determine their own needs. Any psychologist would agree. This is not to say that the other gender knows better but that the argument that only an individual could know what he or she needs is an untenable one. Of course, one can argue that shrinks don't dictate but instead help the person figure things out for himself. But again, this would be a matter of desires, not needs. I'm referring to the basic, systematic knowledge that enables the shrink to conduct this kind of session in the first place.
4. As far as spiritual needs are concerned, it may be argued that the differences here would be even more pronounced and even unreachable. But this religion-oriented argument may very well be shifted away from how to determine needs (because God enters the equation as a source of knowledge) and more towards whether men could understand, interpret and apply this knowledge regarding the opposite gender.
Unfortunately, the discussion led nowhere. Her agenda, at ANY cost, was to undermine the possibility of traditional religious rules for women supposedly set by the patriarchy who have no clue what a woman really needs to develop herself spiritually. My approach was to show her how deep this gender difference must be in order to satisfy her agenda as well as the consequences of such an a priori axiom. The way I see it, if a man is so different that he cannot understand the logic of a woman's core needs and his only option is to be fed such information like a parrot so that he could learn how to help and what to avoid, then:
1. Practically no deduction and extrapolation regarding the opposite gender would be possible. We would keep making errors until we memorized every possible need and danger area.
2. If she (or he) does not understand her own needs or has psychological obstructions, or even if she cannot or does not communicate this knowledge, then there would be no way of figuring it out on his own. Or worse: If she misunderstands her needs then he could waste decades and be none the wiser.
3. Shrinks and marriage counselors would have to stick to treating their own gender exclusively.
4. Teachers and whole education system may have to be more segregated. Etc...
A Simple Approach
I'd like to introduce you to a pet peeve of mine: Inconsistency.
I use this word often. When it comes to work, debates and philosophy then the meaning is clear and I am usually referring to a logical contradiction or confusing juxtaposition. But with relationships and people, I came to realize that what bothers me is not lies, hypocrisy or even change. It's a character schizophrenia: A contradiction between words and behaviour, or words and behaviour that conflict with themselves. I discovered that when I call someone inconsistent, I am often referring to a problem with me and my lack of understanding rather than the person's neurosis or lies.
Whether you want to believe that men can't dictate a woman's needs and that it's all up to communication and listening to what she tells you, or whether, like me, you believe the only way to live together is by logically understanding everything about your partner, these are basically personal agendas, not logical arguments.
I also doubt the possibility of presenting proof from science because I can't see how one can use neuroscience and brain patterns to prove that someone understands another human being.
Barring religion, the only possible logical argument I can see that would settle this debate is by boiling it down to a simple question: Have you ever understood a person of the opposite sex so well that you can predict their next moves in unfamiliar situations, or logically trace back their behavioural patterns to mechanisms you know exist in their psyche. Also, have you ever predicted the behaviour of the opposite sex without even getting to know them?
I have done these things very often and I'm sure you have as well. As far I'm concerned, this proves that, all differences aside, men and women are from the same planet or at the very least from the same solar system.
A Jewish Approach
Many people don't notice that in the Bible, it says that God created 'man' originally in both male and female form and that this is before the creation of Eve! Judaism holds that the original Adam was both male and female in one creature who was then separated (the so-called 'rib').
The Hebrew words used in these two separate processes conform to this idea: For the original Adam, the word Beriya is used, which denotes creation of something new ex-nihilo. For Eve, the word is Yetzira which is more a formation than a creation. In order to 'create' Eve, male and female were merely separated.
These different types of creation also denote the level at which they work (i.e. spirit vs. matter). The original creation was more abstract but the separation worked at a more concrete level. My argument, as I will further expand on, is that the more physical (material) the level, the more separate the genders become and the more differences we encounter.
A comparison can be made with conception and birth: Judaism says that when new life is created, at its source it has no gender. This is further supported by science that shows that as a pregnancy develops (more physical organs, less abstract potential), the separation, or gender, becomes more and more definite and clear.
This is further supported by the concept of Original Sin and the ensuing curses. As discussed earlier, Adam and Eve wanted more materialistic power, thinking they could control the forces and elevate them, and they got it, the consequence of this being more emphasis on physical functions and needs. Conceptually, due to the increased attention given to physical needs, a stronger sense of self-identity ('me' instead of 'us') infected the higher faculties and therefore the relationship between the genders deteriorated as well.
The consequences and curses Adam and Eve brought upon themselves emphasized the separation between the genders in many ways. Man lost his status, had to sweat for a living, lose strength after sex, etc. Women got 9 months of pregnancy, menstruation, the difficulties of child-rearing, submission to men, etc. It's interesting to note that before the sin, women didn't have to go through 9 months of pregnancy and there was no pain during childbirth. These factors are touted by feminists as making women secondary citizens and taking away their freedom in comparison to men. Ironically, the male curse of having to sweat and work for a living has now somehow become a blessing.
Regarding sex, whereas before it was primarily a joining of spirit, now it became a joining of physical bodies and therefore they suddenly 'realized' they were naked. Thus shame was brought into the world whereas before it didn't exist.
In other words, Adam and Eve fell from the idealistic level at which all genders are almost one and the same. Equality was progressively lost, roles were assigned, differences were created or emphasized.
A few other relevant points:
1. Judaism believes that a man gets the mate he deserves. The way I see it, this means that the more a man has polished his soul, the better a link he creates with his mate and he therefore gets a better/deeper soulmate. It's all a matter of which spiritual level you are working in and this attracts different mates to correspond with your abilities.
2. The first definition of a woman in Hebrew is 'ezer kenegdo' which translates to 'a helper against him'. Again, this is taken to mean that if he deserves it, she will be a helper, otherwise, an opponent. I.e. it depends on what level the man is working at and this defines the level of connectivity or compatibility.
3. Jewish sources say that Adam tried to mate with all other creatures and couldn't find a proper soulmate before Eve was formed. I.e. no proper link was possible with such alien beings until a creature from the same mold was created for him to partner with.
4. Judaism sees the evolution and maturity of a man as one who 'leaves his father and mother and glues himself to a woman until they become one flesh'. The more progress, the deeper the link.
All of the above makes it very clear that man and woman are one and the same at the source and only present differences and obstacles in their physical forms. The deeper the link, the fewer differences that must be overcome. A relationship where everything has to be communicated and there is no understanding is the lowest level possible.
Everyone knows that when mysteries are revealed they tend to become uninteresting. And what is mystery if not curiosity and imagination due to a gap in understanding? What is the romance in new and mysterious people if not a projection of one's own imagination onto an otherwise dull individual? Is it any surprise this kind of fantasy wears off after you get to know the person all too well?
Real romance is magic in the mundane, passion in logic, joy in everyday life, and spirit in the material. The mystery of romance is not due to lack of knowledge or so-called 'complex' men and women that befuddle and intrigue their partners. It's something one actively builds on top of a solid, worldly base.
As shown, the type of romance based on mystery and lack of understanding is the opposite of a deep bond - it only emphasizes the differences between two people.
Even if a girl is as complex or mysterious as she thinks she is (which is rare), she is then merely a puzzle to be solved and nothing more. I used to think neurotic women were more interesting, but they're a dime a dozen nowadays what with so many modern women trying to be what they're not. Romance relies on the ability to know each other, to connect at the deepest level possible, not on guess-work, superficial communication and mystery.