In Man Meets Woman, a new book from Taschen, Beijing-born, Berlin-based designer Yang Liu manages to reduce already reductive stereotypes about men and women to pictograms–a playful attempt to show just how stupid they are. These simple, colorful illustrations convey age-old cliches about how men and women behave in the bedroom, the boardroom, and beyond.
Using titles, and no other text, the designer highlights the absurdity of common double standards: a man exposing himself in public is creepy, while a woman doing so might be seen as sexy; a promiscuous man is Prince Charming, while a promiscuous woman is a whore; a man cooking and cleaning at home with the kids is modern, while a woman doing so is a housewife.
She also illustrates stereotypes, which might be seen as harmless and inoffensive at first–that men tend to travel with a single piece of luggage while women pack up their whole room; that men love action movies and women are bored by them–but which point to deeper, more insidious assumptions about a gender’s inherent traits. Other graphics use understated visual punchlines to poke fun at uncomfortable truths–men’s magazines are usually full of hypersexualized female models, and so are women’s magazines.
It’s a playful approach to the everyday sexism that stems from Liu’s personal experiences. “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,” she writes. “Many of these differences arise out of traditional gender models and are dictated by social and professional structures.” The conversation about gender has certainly evolved since 1992’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, but this book reflects on how far there is to go.
Man Meets Woman is available for pre-order from Taschen here for $15.