Agony Aunts and Bogus Ph.Ds – A Critical Look At Sexperts – Part 2
John “Mars/Venus” Gray Needs To Come Down To Earth
John Gray, who is famous for his “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” book series, has been published around the world. While Gray is popular, his relationship and sex advice has been criticized for encouraging gender stereotypes that inhibit communication and the creation of a healthy sex life.
Gray likes pop-psychology terms for the way men and women behave, and his terms are simplistic, stereotypical, and rather embarrassing to read. He insists that “men are like rubber bands” who retreat into “caves” and “women are like waves” who “crash” into “wells”. According to the web site “The Rebuttal From Uranus”, the man’s cave is “voluntary “ time to reflect, work things out, solve problems, rejuvenate.” The woman’s well, on the other hand, is “involuntary “ darkness, overwhelmed, ’emotional housecleaning’.”
Did any of that make sense to you? It threw me the first time I read it, too.
In plain English rather than pop-psychology gobblegook, men are active problem-solvers and women are passive receptors of men’s attention. Gray encourages men to engage in passive-aggressive behavior with his “rubber band” theory. Men need to retreat to their “cave” occasionally to regroup and replenish their energies. This is an active retreat from the world that ignores female partners, and women are told to put up with their men’s passive-aggressive acting out – his rudeness, his silence, and his leaving her out of his business without complaining about how he is treating her like dirt.
Women in Gray’s world are forever waiting for their men to come around, and they are told to be passively “receptive” to him. They remain passively depressed and bleak in their “dark wells”, and they are told to get out of there as quickly as possible. When a woman’s wave crashes, she is “suddenly not as self-assured, receptive, and responsive.” It seems that Gray is saying that woman’s purpose is to be receptive and responsive to her man, and when she crashes, she isn’t much use to him. She can’t devote her total attention to him, and that is a bad thing. She also cannot expect her man to wait patiently for her to come out of her well. It’s her job to get out of her rut as quickly as possible so that she can get back to her proper role as receptor of his attention.
I wondered how anyone can fall for this kind of pop-puerile crap, but there are apparently lots of women out there who do fall for it. Some women want to relish a traditionally passive female role. One wrote the following in a Google group that lavished praise on Gray: “Wow, what a book! I am now on chapter 20. I feel much more capable of handling dating now! I just have to be ready to “receive” and “be positive”!” I was horrified that another female fan of the book gave a copy of it to her fifteen year old daughter. Now, that’s scary “ giving this awful tome of pop psychology to a teenaged girl, who is already coping with gender stereotypes in high school.
Another woman from the same group wrote that “Gray understands our feminine need to be cherished. ¦ Mars and Venus allows a woman to have womanly feelings. It’s ok if we’re emotional about love. ¦ The old manhood was about protecting and providing for us women.” Good Lord! There are still women who dumb themselves down for men in this manner? How many men want a woman like that? Gray’s view of men and women insult both.
NEXT – PART THREE: Some “Rules” Are Made To Be Broken “ Fein’s And Schneider’s “The Rules”