女人心海底针 nǚrén xīn hǎi dǐ zhēn
If one single proverb was to summarise or to excuse the problems men have understanding women, it would probably be this one. The seemingly elusive, impenetrable character of the female has preoccupied people for several centuries, frustrating some of history’s greatest thinkers, as the following quotes testify:
O most delicate fiend!
Who is’t can read a woman?
William Shakespeare, Cymbeline
Everything in woman is a riddle
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.
Oscar Wilde, The Sphinx Without a Secret
The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’
Sigmund Freud (in a letter to Marie Bonaparte)
Women. They are a complete mystery.
Stephen Hawking, in reply to the question:
“What do you think most about during the day?”
They are not alone. Poets, novelists, and philosophers have always described the mystery of women and the challenge of understanding the female psyche. Bemused by women’s behaviour, they find themselves at sea when it comes to figuring out what they want. For most men, a woman’s heart is, as the proverb implies, like a needle at the bottom of the ocean – a place infinitely vaster than a haystack and that is affected by all kinds of internal and external forces. Not only can it be a challenging task to pinpoint their exact physical or emotional state (“Is she really all right? Didn’t she exaggerate her pain this time?”). Sometimes, their condition also depends heavily on their mood and sentiments at that very moment (“What happened today? She would not react like that usually”), which can be difficult to apprehend. Such male perplexity occurs under circumstantial conditions (e.g., when quarrelling, or during discussions about where to spend the next summer holidays) as well as in situations where oppositions between the sexes are more fundamental and critical issues are at stake, such as courtship or mating strategies (“Does she prefer her husband to be a tough and successful business executive or a soft family man? Should he passionately ravish and masterfully dominate her or stick with the tender cuddling and remain caring and loving? Does she expect him to take the initiative or is she going to consider his move as too aggressive or even rude?”).
 Original: “Alles am Weibe ist ein Rätsel.”
 Original: “Die grosse Frage, die nie beantwortet worden ist und die ich trotz dreißig Jahre langem Forschen in der weiblichen Seele nie habe beantworten können, ist die: Was will das Weib?”
 Hawking (2012)