A recent panel of the daily comic strip The Lockhorns depicts the wife saying to the husband, with a knowing smile, “Of course I understand you, Leroy – what would you like to know?”
Both men and women tend to assume that women understand men better than men understand either women or themselves.
Plainly this is not true in all cases; the misjudgments of young men about young women, and young women about young men, are probably equally awry, though they go wrong for different reasons. And there are things about each sex which must be explained by the other – supposing, of course, that the other has figured them out.
On the other hand, women tend to catch on earlier that there is something about the other sex in need of explanation. This is no accident, for there is an inwardness to women which is alien to the male temperament. Typically, men take longer than women do even to realize that they have an interior life; even when they are self-obsessed, they tend to live in a certain sense outside themselves. Still less do they grasp the interior life of women.
This difference between our male and female souls is mirrored in the very configurations of our bodies. His has no hidden place. Hers does. As Alice von Hildebrand has remarked, it is even set off with a curtain.
The woman powerfully symbolizes for us the mystery of the soul herself. It is no accident that although in English the term is he can be used for either a man or a women, the language has traditionally called the soul a she, not a he or an it.