How to Read this Blog

Posted: August 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Welcome to the Rebuttal from Uranus.

Blogs being what they are, authors and readers alike are subject to reading the most recent post first.  Alas, that is not how this particular blog is structured.  This blog is essentially an archive of a former website of the same name.  Its original web host long ago went dark, but demand for the site’s content led to the creation of this blog.

The blog is divided into two major categories: Chapters and Essays.

Chapters comprises chapters 1-9 of the book.  It is always recommended to read them in order.  The chapters are detailed and exhaustive, but they are the very heart of The Rebuttal from Uranus.  To access them use the drop down to the left and select the chapter that you wish to read.  If you want to cut to the chase, the two chapters that truly capture the essence of Gray and his gendered paradise are Chapter 6: Men are like Rubber Bands and Chapter 7: Women are like Waves.

Essays offers a collection of reviews of magazine articles, submissions by readers of the original website, and humor.  Again, access them through the drop down menu to the left.

Please feel welcome to leave comments, but my experience in writing The Rebuttal has left me weary of flamers so I cannot guarantee that all comments will be published.

This is but an opinion of an intelligent professional woman.  Socrates might have had his own issues with women, but he had one thing right: QUESTION YOUR ASSUMPTIONS.

Read The Rebuttal from Uranus and question yours.



(Thanks for the image, Leslie.  The Rebuttal would have never happened without you.)

Mailboxes can sometimes hold wonderful surprises. This contribution from a reader is one of them. She writes:

“I recently read two of “Dr” Gray’s books and stumbled onto your site while using an internet search engine to see what the web had to say about his work. Thank you for all the effort you’ve put into your webpage. If I may, I would like to express my opinion of “Dr” Gray’s books in a format he suggests is helpful for many relationships . . . a love letter.”

 

Dear “Dr” Gray,

I am writing this letter to share my feelings with you.

1. ANGER: I get annoyed when I read your books. One example is page 104 of Mars and Venus Together Forever. I feel angry when I read that “Doing more so that a woman will have less to do is not the answer to making her happy.” It frustrates me that you acknowledge that “a woman’s work is never done” but your instruction to men is to “initiate conversation and listen” in order to “free her from the urgency to do it all now.” Then after talking “she can accomplish what is humanly possible in a more relaxed manner” while her man sits on his backside.

2. SADNESS: It hurts me to read your portrayal of women as mercurial beings who constantly cycle in and out of a pit (your word is “well”). I feel disappointed when I read books that encourage men to do as little as possible to maintain a relationship. I wanted to tell you that I am a rational yet feeling being who is much more balanced and cerebral than you give me credit for.

3. FEAR: I worry that women will read your book and think that your opinions and stereotypical ideas about relationships are well-researched fact. I shudder to think about unhealthy changes that some people might make in their relationships and/or expectations after reading your publications or attending your seminars.

4. REGRET: I am sorry that I spent my hard-earned money on your books. I want to let all my acquaintances know that there are much better relationship guides on the market than yours!

5. LOVE: I love the fact that I live in America where we have the right to express our opinions. I understand that you are free to make a buck any way you choose. I understand Susan’s need to publish this webpage and I congratulate her courage in doing so and wish her the very best of success in her future.

P.S. The response I would like to hear from you: I will make a concentrated effort to differentiate fact from opinion in any of my future writings, seminars, and talk show appearances. I will sincerely reflect on the possibility that I may have caused emotional harm to some of my readers or seminar participants in presenting my opinions. I will adjust my behavior in the future to act more responsibly.

Sincerely,
Kim Jones

22 May 1998

In the spirit of true debate, I have to stand before you and squarely admit when I’ve been bested.

I have asked repeatedly for Gray’s Apologists to defend him with sound arguments and it looks like they have finally delivered.

I humbly submit the top ten defenses offered to The Rebuttal (since its debut in February 1996) in defense of “Dr.” John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

10.  You don’t have anything better to do than play academic half-wit with your computer.

9.  You are obviously discontented with your lot in life as a woman!

8.  MEN WILL NEVER BE WOMEN!!! Get over it…

7.  Your web page is just an awful attempt to receive attention.

6.  Life is too short to bitch about everything.

5.  There are a number of typographical errors on your page which make me question your academic background.

4.  You are full of anger and spite.

3.  You need to spend a little time with a man and get laid.

2.  It doesn’t matter where he got his Ph.D.

1.  You’re just jealous.


Ouch! That sure did hurt! I’ve been put in my place, alright!

How to Be the Perfect
John Gray
Stepford Wife


While this is offered with all due humor, it does bare a striking resemblance to the so-called “professional advice” proffered by John Gray. Could it be that we are actually uncovering a source in Gray’s “seven years of research?” (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, 3.) Pay attention. There will be a test on this later.


  1. Get your work done. Plan your tasks with an eye on the clock, finish or interrupt them an hour before he is expected. Your anguished cry, “Are you home already?” is not exactly a warm welcome. 
  2. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal–on time! This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking of him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are [part of the warm welcome needed. 
  3. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift. 
  4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then ran a dustcloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. 
  5. Prepare the children. Take just a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they’re small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. 
  6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. 
  7. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and act glad to see him. 
  8. Some don’ts. Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. Count this as minor compared to what he may have gone through that day. 
  9. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back into a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to massage his neck and shoulders and take off his shoes. Speak in a soft, soothing, pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind. 
  10. Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. 
  11. Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relaxed. 
  12. The goal. Try to make your home a place of peace and order where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

volume 2, number 7, December 1996


Last night I was rendered speechless. Not from joy, but from pure disgust. In fact, I have trouble putting into words the magnitude of my revulsion. I have always maintained that John Gray is a pseudointellectual. I have always asserted that he is a sexist. And I have always believed that the man is nothing more than a very wealthy charlatan. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t changed my mind about those things. Indeed, they have been reinforced. But I can now say something that I could never quite say before. John Gray is repugnant. And I also believe something that I could never quite fully believe before: John Gray is a misogynist.

You know, as much as I loathe the tripe shoved down the throats of the American (nay, international) public by John Gray, I thought that I had heard it all. I really did. Well, that was until I read Gray’s interview with David Sheff in Yahoo! Internet Life. (“If Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus, Are Net Surfers from Pluto? A Conversation about the Sexes with Best-selling Author John Gray,” Volume 2. Number 7. December 1996.) I cannot help but think that the full page photograph of John Gray juggling those balls isn’t somehow metaphorical. Indeed, I think that after reading this interview, print and on-line, that is all John Gray should aspire to do. It is all that his adoring readership should ever want him to do. As a matter of fact, I believe that it’s the only thing he is capable of doing.


“A potential to be fooled exists in the online world just as it exists in the outside world,” insists Gray. “You can’t always know if you are getting the person or a charade.” (49) With Gray there is no mystery; you know exactly what you get with him. Well, you know after you read The Rebuttal. You know as you’re reading a chat group where I have the last word and Gray’s cronies pull it off the web in haste. You know when you peek into his group and see the web equivalent of Caller-ID when the esteemed Michael Najarian asks those who want to go online for “hosted discussion” to submit their e-mail addresses before he goes on line with them (www.marsvenus.com/rap.html. Note: this has been replaced by a chat page giving readers the option to block out those they wish not to read.) And if you’ve read this interview you know. “When I go online, I can tell a fake,” insists Gray with hard-nosed surety. Well, so can I. And judging from my mail, so can most of you.

In his imprudent confidence, Gray insists that when “feminist women…hear me…in my workshops, ‘they’ don’t resist it because they want to know why they haven’t succeeded in getting relationships.” (50) Myopic as always, Gray not only assumes–and why should we be surprised–that feminists are exclusively women, but he actually believes that such a woman (or man, for that matter) would be caught within a light year of one of his “workshops.” We learn that women can get “addicted to romantic novels.” (50) That women “have to create the opportunity for a man to find her.” (50) [Turn the phrase around: if she hasn’t created the opportunity, than it’s her fault that she hasn’t found a man.] And, of course, we learn that a woman who chats online about explicit sex has “rejected her feminine side, [she’s] learned from men how to think like a man.” (53)

My interest was piqued when, at the end of the article, I read that the interview was continued on-line and, “due to the adult nature of the conversation” I was cautioned to exercise some discretion. (53) I went right to the questions that “Dr.” Gray answered. They were what I normally expected from the legitimate Ph.D. wanna-be, but one question has really stuck in my craw. If it’s not sticking in yours like hardened bubble gum under a school desk, then you need to wake up and smell the toast burning!

“What if want sex and my wife doesn’t?” the question so innocently asked. The answer is one that no one who calls himself a professional would offer to anyone if he truly (truly) cared about the well being of the couple and wanted to encourage intimacy and respect between them.

Gray proudly tell us that when his wife’s not the mood he says to her, “Honey, you don’t want to have sex? You’re not in the mood? How about a blow job?” Well, if she’s not into that he tells us that he wants a “hand job. If feels so much better when she does it, why should [you] do it?” Tell me, “Dr.” Gray, is a man supposed to say this to his partner as he’s got her by the hair and is banging her head into the wall of after he’s slapped her around a little bit? Why not leave a few bucks on the kitchen table when she’s through?

Then our little imaginary seeker of knowledge brings up a good point. “Perhaps she is just too tired, too busy from the kids and household chores, or work.” (Don’t you like the “or work” afterthought?) “That’s all excuses,” write the former celibate secretary to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “It takes two minutes. That’s all complete baloney and that attitude ruins marriages.” Oh, I see, not the uncaring, unsympathetic attitude of a Neanderthal who can’t live with an erection. It’s all her fault. Why?

“Women make a big deal out of a two-minute hand job. They want him to go do something for her! They want him to go clean this up or do this or whatever. Two minutes! That’s all it takes. Big deal!” Oh, I see now, this is how the man gets paid for doing things that any other respectful man would be happy to do for his significant other! How silly of me! “This can make a guy’s day,” we’re told, “make him feel happy, it can save the marriage.” Oh, there’s that saving the marriage bit again. If the marriage fails, ladies, it’s your fault. You haven’t pleasured your man enough in exactly the way he expects. How dare you!

And just hoes does the Ph.D. from the mail-order Columbia Pacific University reach this grand conclusion about why a woman wouldn’t want to perform this simple little act for her man? The man who touts himself as a professional concludes: “She’s just pissed off because she’s not getting what she wants, and she’s using that as an excuse. She’d get more of what she wants if she would take the time for a quickie.” Oh, and then we’re told that should she relent and bow to the sadistic demands of her partner that “hand jobs” are not enough. Oh no! “He’d resent it if all he gets are hand jobs.” She can’t do that. She’d ruin the marriage! She should obey the wishes of her man and provide him with oral sex and “quickie-intercourse. It only takes a couple of minutes. What’s the big deal!”

Let me ask you, “Dr.” Gray: What’s the big deal? Are you so emotionally retarded that you think you might otherwise die without ejaculating? This sounds to me like the puerile demands of a high school adolescent on the verge of date rape because he doesn’t believe that when his girlfriend said “no” that she meant just that: “NO.” Do your needs, wants and desires take precedence over her wishes? Well, apparently they do. Bad selfish girl! How dare you deprive him of the sexual pleasure that is his due! Close your eyes and think of England, little one. Your body is nothing more than a vessel for his pleasure and his progeny. A vagina is not a mind; a mouth is not a brain. Just turn yourself off and bow to his desires. After all, your bad attitude is going to ruin that marriage. Save your marriage! Do your marital duty and make him happy.

Angry? In truth, I’m well beyond angry. I am repulsed. As much as I write I cannot find the words to express the loathing I feel for Gray’s vile attempt to “counsel” his brainless readership. I cringe when I think of the men who would perpetuate such moronic behavior or a woman that they supposedly loved and cherished because it had been sanctioned by “Dr.” Gray. I wince when I think of those women who have bought your bag of sexist garbage and think they need to do this in order to “save the marriage!” How dare you, John Gray, lay the blame of a failed marriage squarely on the shoulder of the woman! How dare you, John Gray, assume that all men are such as you and put their selfish demands over and above any consideration for how their mates feel! And how dare you, “Dr.” Gray, offer this advice from behind the veil of a flimsy Ph.D. as if you were an authority on anything beyond self-promotion!

Take the advice of a truly rational Stoic, my male friends. “In the application of your principles, you must be like the pancratiast, not like the gladiator,” wrote the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, “for the gladiator lets fall the sword which he uses and is killed; but the other always has his hand, and needs to do nothing else than use it.” (Meditations 12:9)

Susan

21 November 1996


More advice from “Dr.” John Gray.

“It’s such a big deal, ‘Well, I didn’t get my 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation, so how can you think about penetrating me?’ This is all feminist stuff that came in, and women are brainwashed with that. They should have it. I’m not against that. Women should have great sex. It will make better marriages for men.”

Want to read some more?

“Does one spouse owe the other sex? The man goes out and risks his life for this woman. The man works hard for his family. What does she do for him? She has sex for him whenever he wants. That’s what sex was. Sex was always for the man. What’s this sex for the woman thing?…It’s takes 30 minutes [for women] to have a real sexual experience. How do you have sex for 30 minutes every day in a busy life with kids? You don’t. But you can do two minutes whenever the man wants.”


Check out these related links to Gray’s esteemed words of wisdom.

The Yahoo! Interview: Some Comments and Few Lingering Questions

PLEASE NOTE: Much to my chagrin, Gray’s Yahoo! Internet Life interview is no longer on the web.  The print version–lacking the base comments above–can still be found in print (see your local librarian for an ILL of Yahoo! Internet Life v. 2, n. 7, December 1996).

I thought I would write to you about my John Gray week-end.

I admit I have never been a fan of John Gray’s books. His books are poorly written, his premises, arguments and solutions weak and ill conceived, and in the real world they do not meet the reality test. Despite these views I attended Mr. Gray’s personal success week-end seminar in Seattle on October 24 and 25, 1998. I had never attended a personal success seminar before and was looking for something my sister and I could do together (she, like myself, is also a professional who is happily married with two young boys). Both of us would describe ourselves as successful and I believed the seminar would be fun and provide us with a “polish” or some new tools. We went with an open mind and heart, buoyed by the endorsement of Oprah and a close family friend.

We arrived prior to the start time of 9:00 am on Saturday, received our badges and milled around with the back of the conference room. No materials were handed out. Approximately 500 people were in attendance at $250 a pop. Peppy loud music played in the background as we waited for Mr. Gray’s arrival. He was late and obviously just showered when he walked in. The crowd cheered loudly as he stepped onto the stage. (BTW the crowd was a mix of ages, gender and socio-economic backgrounds, but predominately white).

As a general comment, during the seminar Mr. Gray tended to be unfocussed, rambling and self promoting. The first hour held out a lot of promise of an interesting and insightful week-end. It also foreshadowed the possibility of things moving into the twilight zone. Things moved into the twilight zone. Mr. Gray stated he believed in astrology, reincarnation, white and black magic, spirits, possessions, and his ability to heal mental and physical ailments. He went so far to suggest that he could cure MS, brain tumors and cancer. He then told us he was looking forward to doing some of this healing on this week-end. More on that later. He also identified himself as a believer in metaphysics (although he never used that term).

Before the morning break he had the group meditate/pray to God. After this break we seriously moved into the religious zone and healing of “blocks”. Mr. Gray did a quick and dirty explanation of what he referred to as people’s “blocks” to success. After this explanation Mr. Gray led us in a 10 minutes “feelings’ letter”. We then heard testimonial after testimonial of unhappy housewives, careers gone bad and parental blame as Mr. Gray used members of the crowd to demonstrate how to work through a “block”. Tissue paper was passed to those in the throws of crying and weeping. Mr. Gray had the group meditate/pray for each person to be “healed” from their pain/block. In the afternoon Mr. Gray led the crowd through a “meditation and remembrance” session. He then divided the crowd into three groups based on the remembrance session – good memories, bad memories, no memories. People with bad memories were paired with people from the other groups. In our pairs we were then led through a second session of expression about one of our parents. You again, could hear a lot of crying in the room. After the exercise the group was brought together once more for meditation/prayer before breaking early for the evening. In closing he requested those with physical ailments wishing to be healed by him to write him a letter of gratitude(?) and to sit in the front two rows the next day in order to be healed.

The next day, Mr. Gray was again late. Apparently, having just completed 2 1/2 hours of writing and taking a shower (wet hair). He spent about 15 minutes explaining the “blocks” and the process he suggested to work through these “blocks”. He then moved to the floor and we heard even more testimonials from unhappy housewives, people in careers they hated or had abandoned and just plain dysfunctional hurt human beings. Group meditation and prayers were again employed. It went on and on and on…we were going to leave, but kept thinking there had to be something more. It actually took someone from the crowd in the afternoon session to move us from the unending testimonials to what Mr. Gray laughingly referred to as “flower power”. “Flower power” is a method in which one discharges negative energy into flowers. In groups of 20 we huddled around potted moms and meditated/chanted to discharge the negative energy we had been accumulating.

We then moved to the last exercise for the day which was done in groups of four and consisted of two parts. First, we and our group separately affirmed to ourselves our power and love ability as a person. In the second part, we participated in a touch/trust experience. The first part of the exercise received a neutral rating in our group. We could, however, hear people crying uncontrollably in other groups. Everyone in our group liked the second part of the exercise which was the touching exercise. (Hedonists that we are).

Mr. Gray then closed the seminar with requests for testimonials on how this seminar had changed or benefited anyone in the room. More testimonials which included a Mr. Gray saved my life bent. That was it, the Personal Success Seminar. He then invited those interested in the crowd to stay for another hour for a healing or to learn how to heal. Since it was 7:30 at night we chose to skip the healing session and leave. Frankly, I wish we had left sooner. It was obvious, others shared our view that the Seminar was not what we thought we had signed up for. The crowd had really thinned out on the second day and had continued to thin out as things progressed (or did not progress).

More on Mr. Gray’s stated abilities to depossess or exorcise spirits. On Sunday morning Mr. Gray stated a couple of people had come up to him on Saturday who were possessed and he would be depossessing them that day. He truly went over the top when he went through a “depossession” of a woman sitting on the right side of the room Sunday afternoon. She was screaming and wailing, he was screaming and wailing. It was too weird and rang so untrue as to be stomach turning. I felt so bad for that woman, whoever she was, and I wondered if she even shared Mr. Gray’s view that she was possessed by demons. I also found the crowd’s willingness to believe all this out pouring of emotion in one afternoon was going to help them disturbing. My sister and I both thought our attendance of this Seminar was a sad experience. We hadn’t realized how many walking wounded were out there looking for anything or one to offer a solution to their pain. Or how exploitive Mr. Gray really was in feeding on crowd dynamics and the pain of individuals’ who really do not know any better.

In my opinion, Mr. Gray’s Personal Success Seminar had nothing to do with success and everything to do with exploiting the need for an emotional release by adults who had not dealt with or taken responsibility for their lives or pain. The seminar rated a 1 out of 10. I am so grateful we never took the 6 day Personal Success Seminar.

October 26, 1998

the one
SEX
SECRET
you must know

20 years
of passion
how to make your
marriage last forever

John Gray’s
365 days
of love!

PLUS: Win a romantic
island getaway

what makes me feel loved by John Travolta,
Bruce Willis,
and Brooke
Shields

Well, I suppose despite the fact that it’s sold “some 10 million copies around the world,” even John Gray knew that some people weren’t going to shell out $26.00 for a copy of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Why not sell a watered down version of his personal opinion for $3.48 per copy? That way even more people will read it! Even better–Gray will make more money off the desperate.

This newest addition to the magazine racks is the same contrived tripe that has been delivered in Gray’s books and interviews: more personal opinion prescribing just how men and women should behave in the world. Gray is listed as the editorial adviser and has contributed his articles to the magazine, as is his shadow, Michael Najarian (the Mars and Venus Adviser), and other free lance writers including famous celebrity gossip Jeanne Wolf.

There’s little that is new to readers of The Rebuttal. For instance, Gray has contributed an article entitled “The Art of the Quickie” wherein we’re told that James and Lucy negotiated for “quickies.” He receives regular “gifts” from Lucy, and in return she gets “cuddles” whenever she wants them. I could swear I’ve heard this story before. Hmm, where was it? Oh yes, it was on Gray’s web Q&A page–only there this “quickies for cuddles” deal was promoted as the brainchild of Gray’s wife Bonnie. Oh well, it’s only an opinion–I suppose you can modify the story at will to at least make it look like it’s a new idea.

While the players in this story may have changed, the message is the same. Says “James”: “For the first time . . . I was free to skip foreplay and go right to intercourse. I wasn’t at all concerned about my performance or having to please. It was strictly for me and there were no guilty feelings because we both knew that she would get hers at another time.” (29-30) Women are reported as saying “A quickie is fine because my body isn’t in the mood for an orgasm.” (30) Gray tells us that this is “normal.” Yeah, right! Keep dreamin’ buddy boy!

What does a woman do when she’s in the mood and he’s not? Don’t be direct; instead, send signals. “If she clearly puts away her book when he walks into the room, he knows she’s in the mood.” (31) Don’t ask questions. They’ll turn him off “at this most sensitive moment.” If she wants an orgasm (remember, women don’t always want one) she can pleasure herself and then she can wake him up to turn over and “do the honors.” (Guess she can’t do them herself, eh?) And, of course, don’t pursue that man. That’s a turn off, too.

Funny, isn’t it? He needs that orgasm so badly that she’s expected to lie there while he gets off and then she’ll get some cuddles when she wants them. And besides, the woman will “get hers at another time.” But he can’t masturbate, can he? No, he only can derive his pleasure from a woman. And our mail-order Ph.D. says that in order to keep him happy, a woman must give him this gift. The implied message? She’ll do it if she really loves him.

Remember Michael Najarian’s comment that the quotes in the Yahoo! interview were all taken out of context? I don’t see anything different in this article that is credited to John Gray. It’s written without the vulgarities but it’s the same message. That’s what I find so amazing. Somehow because it’s been wrapped in glossy paper with sexy photos and couched in nicely written phrases, we’re all supposed to think that this is something new. It’s the same old active-passive control mechanism again. A woman is required to give, else she doesn’t really love her man. A man is only required to give when he feels he’s ready for it.

Pathetic. But then you know this.

Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, “Objects of Desire” puts forth some nifty gift ideas arranged in gender categories. Naturally, women are showered in trinkets and all things considered feminine. Men, of course, are surrounded by gadgets, toys, and things electronic. But just in case you’re thinking of doing something different for your significant other, this magazine has included some suggestions for you.

First, we’re told that men don’t “get” flowers and they only want fruit on their cereal–so don’t go to your florist. Also, silk boxer shorts are a no-no because “men say they feel slippery and slimy.” Thinking of a cashmere sweater? Be warned! “Guys like gear, not high fashion.” (News to those men who make a living from designing high fashion for men, isn’t it?) For women? Buy Godiva chocolates, take her to dinner, treat her to a spa visit, or just cuddle up. Putting men and women into rigid categories just makes life so much easier, doesn’t it?

Page 43 tells us how to write a love letter. Date it, use sappy salutations, declare your love in the first paragraph, use amorous analogies, include a “love list” of things you like about your significant other, then close with a statement of commitment. This is a pretty nifty layout. I suppose the next money-making endeavor will be “fill in the blank/check this box” love letters purchased directly from Personal Growth Productions with a personal message from John Gray and Michael Najarian written on the verso (with copyright symbol, no doubt).

In an article by Bruce Raskin, we’re given a “Parents Guide to Romance.” The article itself is typical of those “keep it special and passionate” articles, but I’m amused by the last item in a list entitled “6 Ways to Spark the Flames”: “Dads: Bring mom flowers, or better, send them to her at work. It may sound sexist and cliched, but it’s a great way to make her feel loved and appreciated, and there’s nothing quite as romantic.” (26) Uh, why is this sexist? I think if the author wants to employ the term “sexist,” he should be looking to Gray and not something as thoughtful as sending flowers to let your partner know they’re loved and thought of.

My favorite article is written by Vicky Samuels, the producer of Gray’s “ABC documentary” (read: infomercial). She writes of planning the “documentary”: “If we do this story well, it might have a positive impact on viewers’ lives. If we do it badly, ABC’s news division will be embarrassed and my career making TV documentaries will be over.” (58) Although I tried to contact Samuels on a number of occasions while this “documentary” was being planned, I never received a response. I wanted to know why she was wasting valuable time on this charlatan. Well, I finally I have my answer through this article, and it is the one that I’ve long suspected: “I’d read the book months before during a rather bleak period in my own love life, and I was fascinated.” (58)

After watching this sorry infomercial, I’d be surprised if the ABC news division wasn’t embarrassed by this two hour excuse of a documentary. This would explain the absence of any contrary opinion. And, naturally, this Gray apologist has provided some sources of where to get some help so that, “like the TV couples, you can improve your marriage.” Yeah, you guessed it: Mars-Venus workshops, the Mars-Venus Counseling franchises, books by the questionably credentialed doctor, audiocassettes, videotapes, AND the toll free number for acessing all of these interesting items.

I have an enormous amount of respect for news professionals who put their own predilections aside in order to thoroughly examine something of note. Samuels isn’t one of them.

Why bother taking you through every article of the magazine. It’s not worth it. It’s the same old, tired story coming from John Gray and his cronies. Men are portrayed as strong, sexual, tactile creatures who don’t “get” flowers and love their “gear.” Women, as usual, are given the message to submit and be happy with what you get. If you don’t get what you need, don’t ask, don’t pursue, and don’t be direct, instead “send signals.”

While my overall opinion of this magazine is very low (yeah, like you’re all surprised), two things did catch my attention. First, In the article “Why We Love (and Hate) Ally McBeal,” critic Jeff Jarvis observes that the “honest, endearing, smart, tough” and vulnerable television character is “a sign of a new era–or at least a new twist–in sexual relations [in that] TV is merely reflecting what’s happening among us.” I agree. Well, not about Ally McBeal (gag!) , but I do think that this magazine is a reflection of what is happening in society.

I contend that in a new age of uncertainty–where definitions of gender are themselves undergoing a change (much as they have throughout history)–putting men and women into pidgeon holes makes things a hell of a lot easier in the long run. In Gray’s universe, men and women fit nicely prescribed roles and are therefore predictable. They are depicted as coming from different worlds that are dictated soley by gender, without any consideration of the society that surrounds them. Gray advocates a patriarchal social system that as such holds one group in dominance over the other. It’s easier that way. If men and women just accepted the way they should be, we would all get along quite well. This magazine contributes to that patriarchal system by telling women that men “need” quickies and that they’re “normal” if they don’t want an orgasm. Do they not want an orgasm, or are they just accepting that sometimes they have to settle for less because they don’t “need” it like a man? If they don’t settle are they in danger of losing their partner because they just haven’t been accepting enough? Where is the line drawn? Is this magazine reflecting society, or prescribing patterns of behavior so that society is less disrupted by inevitable social evolution?

Secondly, I found something else that I thought was profoundly interesting and well worth noting: In not one place did Gray ever follow his name with that marginal “Ph.D.” Considering that until now everything to which the man has signed his name has included the mail-order degree I find this new development fascinating. Very fascinating indeed.
17 January 1998