What is The Rebuttal from Uranus?

In 1973–when I was thirteen–I read Erica Jong’s groundbreaking book The Fear of Flying. Thirty-five years later I had the pleasure of  lunching with her and I told her about the first time I read her book. “But you were only thirteen,” she said. “What could you have possibly gleaned from a book like that?” I told her that I had no idea what it was about at that young age—a woman in mid-life having an affair? Becoming sexually aware? What the hell did I know? But that didn’t matter. Having read it meant that I was officially a feminist. That was my rite of passage.  I read Erica Jong and now I was a feminist!  She laughed in delight.

Erica Jong was one of the women who broke ground in what young women coming of age today take for granted. The possibilities, the CHOICES–they weren’t there back then. You made bold choices at your peril. Going against the grain intellectually, sexually, and financially got many a woman scratched and battered. But they persevered. They changed the world and it meant we were never going back. Indeed, the world is a better place because of them.

They changed a lot, but they could not change one thing: patriarchy.

Patriarchy is like a weed. It keeps popping up no matter how hard women (and men!) try to pull it out or poison it. It pops up when someone says a rape victim was asking for it in the way she dressed. It sprouts when a woman is called a “bitch” when she’s assertive, or “washed up” when she’s gray. And it grows like a cancer in societies where young girls are killed to protect a family’s so-called honor or their genitals mutilated to preserve their purity and douse their sexual desire.

And that’s why, in 1996, I began to speak out against a self-help publication that had taken America—indeed, the world—by storm. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (MMWV)by John Gray, Ph.D. I first heard of this book when a friend told me that a friend of her’s had received a copy as a gag gift. She brought it home one night and we laughed and laughed. How insipid was this tome of advice! It was written on the level of a pre-teen and contained some of the most damaging “advice” I’d read in a long time. The more we read it, the more the laughs turned to outrage. “We have to answer back,” I exclaimed! “We need a website!” To which my friend Leslie uttered, “What’re we gonna call it? The Rebuttal from Uranus?”

When The Rebuttal from Uranus made its debut on a no-tech Compuserve server on Valentine’s Day 1996, MMWV was everywhere. “Dr.” John Gray, Ph.D. was on talk shows, radio programs, and coffee tables; in newspapers and magazines. He was the undisputed relationship guru that was saving the world. Everywhere you looked this guy doled out advice like a cigarette machine—raking in the money as poison was handed out.

The Rebuttal from Uranus was the very first source that took him to task. I questioned his education, his methods, and his conclusions. I deconstructed every word to lay bare the insipid logic on which his work was based. The site was quoted in many publications, used in feminist theory and women’s studies college courses. The feedback I received reached across the spectrum: praise, damnation, and even a death threat (from a woman, no less). It was a heavily trafficked site. But I knew it was worth the effort when a friend, John Vestman—who worked with Gray on some of his audio work—relayed to me that Gray had said to him, “That Susan Hamson is a thorn in my side!”

The Rebuttal sat on line for many years. I had a life, you know. But much of the fad had passed and Gray—still hammering away—was less visible. Still, my site stayed up because it needed to be there. With a busy life and rewarding career, it was the last thing on my mind. And then I received a message on Facebook. “Are you the one who did this wonderful site?” It was from author Sharon Presley who was citing the archived site in her publication Standing Up to Experts and Authorities. Wait, “archived” site? Well, seems The Rebuttal from Uranus had been off the web for awhile now, my host having folded (it was $9.00 a month, who kept tabs?). But Sharon’s interest also told me something: there was still a need for this gadfly to bite.

Why republish the essays?  Well, despite its promotional hype, MMWV at its very core it is a sexist, patronizing, male-centered invective which does little more than perpetuate long-held negative gender stereotypes. Infomercials, popular magazines, the existence of a web site, Facebook pages, television appearances and published spin-offs by the author have made this book appear undisputed in its broad claim to improve communication between men and women. Unassailable it is not and thus I feel a very sincere need to rebut the arguments put forth by John Gray.

Comments
  1. Justin says:

    I came across your old site on the internet archive, which has a wealth of information worth reading. Do you have any plans to resurrect those pages here?

    I thought John Gray’s Men are from Mars Women are from Venus was a passing fad, and had been thoroughly debunked by now, but unfortunately John Gray’s Venus-Mars pop psychology and that same old book are enjoying a renewed surge of popularity today among both men and women, and even among professionals who should know better. There is remarkably little debate, making your rebuttal all the more relevant.

  2. Alma says:

    Very interested in your site… dealing with emotional, verbal and psychological abuse from my hopefully soon to be ex husband… need all the help I can get…

  3. Admiring the hard work you put into your site and in depth information you present. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  4. jan says:

    I think John Gray’s books are pretty much outdated. There’s a whole new world out there who think John Gray is just a money hungry charlatan and are aware he has no doctor’s license or professional degree. He hired a great marketing person Darren Stephens to co-write and market the Mars Venus book. Since then Gray has been ousted on the news for buying his degree, partnering with a convicted felon Rich Bernstein who was convicted for stealing almost a half million dollars from Mars Venus investors and hiring a convicted pedophile Scott Lippitt to lead his Mars Venus seminars on parenting. Not many people in America believe John Gray is really helping anyone. Gray preys on individuals who are in a vulnerable state and strips them of their cash by shoveling products, seminars, coaching and pills down their throat to get rich. Most of civil and criminal info about the Mars Venus Coaching team is available online which is really a huge turn off because he mainly preys on women.

    • Scorchy says:

      A-freakin’-men!!

    • GP says:

      This is very interesting, Jan:

      “Gray preys on individuals who are in a vulnerable state and strips them of their cash by shoveling products, seminars, coaching and pills down their throat to get rich. Most of civil and criminal info about the Mars Venus Coaching team is available online which is really a huge turn off because he mainly preys on women.”

      Recently, Gray has set his cap for the lucrative Adult ADHD “market.”

      He says he discovered late in life that he himself has ADHD, and I find that he absolutely fits a sub-type: one whose neurocognitive deficits leave them with low remorse but high greed, one who bullies others with his certitude and makes black/white generalizations. and one who “self-medicates” with showmanship and glib bromides.

      The worst part is that now he has written a “book” ostensibly on ADHD, where he makes the most outrageously unfounded claims, especially about medication and the causes of ADHD.

      And, no surprise here, he has supplements for sale!

      It really sickens me that more readers don’t see through this con.

  5. jan says:

    Did you know John Gray was partners with Adnan Khashoggi. Adnan was the partner/financial backer of Gray, connected through Genesis Intermedia. Khashoggi’s longtime business partner Ramy El-Batrawi was CEO and Chairman of the company, and was even executive producer of Gray’s 1997 CD, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – Songs for Loving Couples.

    Gray later tried to claim he was victimized by Khashoggi’s stock scams in the pump-and-dump loan fraud of Genesis Intermedia but Gray himself made millions by dumping his own stock in Genesis Intermedia before it went belly up. Gray was later sued along with Khashoggi & El-Batrawi for this financial scam involving Genesis Intermedia they all allegedly participated in.

    There’s definitely a pattern here, new characters same story. Richard Bernstein, Gray’s current CEO of Mars Venus was arrested and convicted for stealing money from investors in another Mars Venus scam. Gray claimed he knew nothing about it and escaped prosecution., After Bernstein was arrested for theft and fraud Gray continued the partnership. In 2012 Bernstein plead guilty to Security’s fraud, paid a half million in restitution to just a few of the victims and is serving 5 years probation for this felony conviction. If you want to do business with John Gray today, everything goes through Richard Bernstein, a convicted felon.

  6. Vicky says:

    Oct. 1, 2014–I am listening AS WE SPEAK to John Gray on a recorded conference call with people who sell Isagenix, an MLM supplement company. I just heard him say that there are heavy metals in the air we breathe–something I need to research because it sounds weird. Right now he’s pushing “undenatured” whey protein–one of the main products sold by Isagenix (meal replacement shakes probably being #1). He is giving his testimonial as to the wonders of this product in helping your body make glutathione (doesn’t say how people sensitive to dairy get theirs, although I’ve learned from registered dietitians and authoritative sources that a good diet and exercise do the trick just fine). He’s also touting his new book, Staying Focused in a Hyper World. Good grief.

    • Scorchy says:

      What a shit stain this guy is. He’ll hawk anything for a buck.

      • GP says:

        So true. In one of his videos, he allegedly reads a letter from a reader, who asks about the doctor’s prescribing her 7-year-old son 10 mg of Ritalin.

        He tells the “reader” that 10mg of Ritalin is the same as methamphetamine!

        This is straight from the anti-psychiatry wackadoodle playbook.

        And, oh, he has some supplements to sell this lady instead.

        Charlatan. Huckster. Con. How ironic that this is who America has made its bestselling author on “relationships.”

  7. GP says:

    Thank you, THANK YOU, for taking the time to stand up to this sociopathy.

    I never paid much attention to Gray (his voice was grating to my ear, and his book — the few pages I could stomach — grating to my sensibilities).

    He came on my radar when he sought to exploit people affected by ADHD.

    He claims to have ADHD, and I believe him. (Though I don’t believe the part about him being “cured” by taking NAC.) In some people, it can definitely lead to the black/white, bully mindset that he promulgates, especially toward women. It makes me sick that he has had such an impact in reinforcing the obstacles to good relationships presented by ADHD, instead of healing them.

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