Ever found that whole Mars/Venus male/female thing sorta suss?

You’re not alone. The problem is that John Gray knows very well how to hit all the socially constructed hot buttons on male entitlement and female submission so that readers infer the message that Venusians have only themselves to blame if not being a doormat drives their Martian away, without ever letting a hint of blame attach to the Martians for being bullying control freaks. Thank the Invisible Pink Unicorn for Kathleen Trigiani and her marvellous essays ripping away the veil of Venus. The latest, at Feminista!: As Long As Men Like Mr. Mars and Venus Exist ~ By Kathleen Trigiani (or How John Gray Helped Me Change My Mind About the Feminists People Love to Hate)

The feminists that people love to hate are, of course, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, whom Trigiani once denigrated herself for their polarising (and maliciously mischaracterised) views. Her conclusion:

Activists need to relearn what the radicals taught them in the 60’s: The personal is political. And there will be no way they can avoid the radical feminist analysis of heterosexuality. I’ll be the first to admit that radical insights are often harsh, but they also make it much easier to figure out why a John Gray is so oppressive. If I hadn’t read Dworkin and MacKinnon’s works before tackling the Mars and Venus books, I would still be playing a pin the tail on the donkey game with Gray’s advocacy of quickies. I would have sensed something was wrong and said, “What incredible selfishness!”, but I wouldn’t have been able to articulate the political dimension of the offense. Needless to say, I would have never been able to write essays like Crown Him Patriarch. As I look through feminist history and see how the mainstream women’s movement and even non-feminists are finally recognizing such controversial nineteenth century activists like Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin, I feel hopeful that someday, all feminists will appreciate the groundbreaking insights that MacKinnon and Dworkin have contributed. If it actually happens, it’ll be a pretty good sign that most heterosexual intercourse will finally deserve to be called “lovemaking”. But even if “those two” always remain controversial, I will never waver in my hard-earned conviction that “As long as men like John Gray exist, we will need feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon.”

The whole essay is, as usual when Trigiani takes on Gray’s purulent misogyny, fanfuckingtastic. Read this, then visit her website devoted to deconstructing Gray’s shameless advocacy of pure male selfishness throughout the Mars and Venus canon: Out of the Cave

Categories: arts & entertainment, culture wars, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism

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8 replies

  1. Geesh!I find it surprising anyone would take John Gray seriously as a doctor or specialist who understands gender relations. If you do some biographical research on this guy you’ll learn that his “Ph.D” comes from a diploma mill which was closed down by the state of California but unfortunately has since altered it’s name a litte & reopened in another state. His other supposed impressive credentials come from a dubious institution based in a hotel in Switzerland.
    Rebuttal From Uranus
    Rick Ross on Gray
    CultNews on Gray
    Women need to start doing serious research on the authors’, scientists, doctors & researchers whose self-help books they are buying.
    The self-help market is full of scam artists who write misleading unscholarly non-peer reviewed books, with shameless add on DVDs, workshops, cruises etc….all of which can do far more damage than good.
    And another clue in on the integrity of the doctor, author, researcher is if Oprah endorses them – there’s an excellent chance what they are selling is nake oil.
    I find it totally depressing that Gray’s books not only sell well. But that Gray is deemed intelligent or influential enough for someone to consider him “oppressive” to women.
    How much more obvious an asshole does Gray gotta’ be before women wake up & stop forking over their hard earned money, precious time & attention to a freaky narcissistic misogynist?
    Just because Oprah likes him doesn’t mean we have to.

  2. I think most feminist bloggers are in violent agreement with you on the arsehole narcissistic misogyny of John Gray (your little bio forgot to mention his stint as personal secretary to the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi). His books aren’t quite as popular here in Oz as in the States, but I still know heaps of people who read at least the first couple of books and thought they offered good relationship advice. The man does know how to write and perform – he’s slick, and that’s why he’s so influential, bemoan it though we may.
    What is most interesting to me in Trigiani’s article is her argument for reclaiming the work of Dworkin and MacKinnon from the demonisation by the antifeminists and the fluffy fun feminists. Even radfems have sometimes sought to distance themselves from Dworkin and MacKinnon because of what people thought they wrote rather than what they actually wrote.
    To my shame, I’ve read neither. I plan to rectify that.

  3. PS I edited your links to make them a bit tidier – the long one was destabilising the sidebar.
    Another point of yours worth addressing:
    How much more obvious an asshole does Gray gotta’ be before women wake up & stop forking over their hard earned money, precious time & attention to a freaky narcissistic misogynist?
    Are we sure that it’s women who are buying the books? Apparently a scary number of church leaders are recommending them to their congregations, and seeing as how they totally support Martian selfishness, the husband might be the main purchaser. (“We don’t need to buy any other relationship book sweetie (that might tell you to not be a doormat) because we’ve already got Dr Gray’s book!”)

  4. TT – MacKinnon in particular is eminently worth reading, so if you’re strapped for time, I’d go there first.

  5. I completely appreciate with the reclaiming of Dworkin and McKinnon’s work. I am ashamed to say that I too had never heard of Andrea Dworkin until she died in 2005. I live in Wash, DC where (amazingly) she lived too. (A city which is ultra-male centric – the citizens do not have a right to vote, except for in Presidential elections – we have no representative in Congress for W,DC).
    I think there was a kind of conspiracy against Dworkin for several reasons which created a net around her & anyone who wasn’t a part of the original Feminist Movement probably never heard of her. I dont’ know? I went to a liberal arts college outside of NYC & I never heard of either Dworkin or McKinnon and it has angered me so much to have discovered such an incredible Feminist writer…AFTER she passed away! It’s like a sick joke that this should happen.
    Eeeww..back to Gray….yes I know! There is a lot more than his working with, Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi (actually it is the Mahareshi’s “hotel” school in Switzerland where he received 2 of his illustrious credentials), cultwatch or another blogger (maybe gurufiliac) has written about the bizarre relationship Gray had with his wife (since divorced, along with other unsavory things about Gray.
    I don’t know for sure, I guess some men may purchase Gray’s books/products. The only people I know who have bought his stuff are women. Oprah endorsements overwhelmingly (and sadly) influence women much more than men. But if church’s are recommending Gray’s slop? Oh my – that is EXTREMELY disturbing to hear & yeah I can see how men could become the main buyer’s of Gray’s crap being endorsed by their minister/priest/godbag.
    I am simply amazed his popularity has lasted this long? I thought for sure he’d be here & gone when he first received publicity thanks to Oprah. Yet he is still here. You are all so lucky that Gray is not as popular. Do you get Oprah in Oz? I feel Oprah is largely to blame for all the really bad pop psychology (Gray, Dr. Phil etc..) & dangerous pseudo-science/mysticism (The Secret, Esther Hicks etc…) which she pathologically endorses with great success.
    Anyway, I am glad so many bloggers are writing balanced serious criticism of Dworkin & McKinnon. So far I have only read Dworkin’s book ‘Intercourse’ and ‘Life & Death’ and recommend both of them highly. It is so frustrating that excellent social/literary criticism, like Dowrkin’s is in the shadows whilst Gray & other self-help new-age/new-wage quacks achieve superstardom.
    I am glad I found Hoyden About Town. The articles are really great and I appreciate all the fine work all of you are doing. I am learning a lot!
    Kind regards,

  6. Thanks for the kind words, P.P. Yes, we get Oprah here in Oz on general broadcast TV, along with all the usual suspects on cable. I tend to avoid them, although occasionally torment myself with the horror that is Maury.
    Regarding the talkfest shows like Oprah, Maury etc, as well as other general “women’s” TV, there’s a very interesting article from Mind the Gap!’s Zenobia today on media culture and the representation of aging women therein, taking on the beauty myth and class bias.


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