04: Relationships cont’d

with 3 comments

Gray is far less concerned with power, however if you’ve been reading carefully so far, you should be able to anticipate my primary problems with Gray’s presentation of masculinity. Sure, I understand that the whole “men are from Mars” thing is simply a little gimmick Gray has hit upon to describe men in relation to women, but let’s not forget: it simply isn’t true. Men are not a different species to women, men do not speak a different language to women. Relationships between men and women can certainly be complicated, but this is down to the complexity of communication between all people, not just men and women. In making it a Mars versus Venus issue, Gray constructs a convenient fiction around the complexity of interpersonal communication, not a compelling explanation. And in doing so he perpetuates the Masculinity Conspiracy.

For example, Gray states that on Mars it was natural for men to have jobs like “police officers, soldiers, businessmen, scientists, cab drivers, technicians and chefs” and for them to enjoy “outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and racing cars.” But this does nothing more than demonstrate and consolidate that the conspiracy has allocated such jobs and activities to men. What of the men who want those things Gray allocates to Venus, such as “personal growth, spirituality, and everything that can nurture life, healing, and growth”? I guess those men are out of luck, because these things don’t even exist on Mars; in other words, they don’t exist for men.

So what does this mean for relationships? The sad irony is that while Gray believes he is shedding light on how men and women can communicate more clearly to one another and maintain better relationships, he is actually doing the exact opposite. By suggesting that men like certain things and communicate in a certain way, and that women like quite different things and communicate in a quite different way, Gray does not enable men and women with better relationships, rather he imprisons them to either Mars or Venus, both fictitious worlds constructed from his own limited imagination, which itself is saturated with binary conspiracy logic. Like so many others who speak to issues of masculinity, Gray responds to the intuitive feeling of dysfunction and wants to make things better, but unfortunately does little but makes things worse. If Gray didn’t spend so much time trying to frame men’s and women’s experiences with his mythical Martian and Venusian complementarity, he might find that men and women are certainly different, but different as people more than sexes. If he saw and communicated with people as individuals rather than fictitious Martians or Venusians, he might not need a phrase book for translation purposes, but he might have to acknowledge that until that point his simplistic presentation of men and women has been shoring up the masculinity conspiracy.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

December 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Perhaps even better than the Mother Test, the “Glaring Inconsistency Test” is shooting up flares, because men aren’t supposed to need personal growth, but women are immature? Guffaw.


    July 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

  2. Think I’m starting to get it now:
    descriptions of personality traits / communication styles / ect. >> good (or a least neutral);
    reducing everything to a two-column table with the heading: Male | Female >> bad.


    October 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm

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