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Frequently Asked Questions

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Tell us about yourself and your educational background, Ms. Trigiani.

Why do you think Oprah Winfrey supports John Gray?

When can we expect your next essay?

Could you give me advice on my relationships?

Why do you call one of your sections, "From My Corpus Callosum"?

Why do you put Dr. Gray in quotes, as in "Dr" Gray?


Tell us about yourself and your educational background, Ms. Trigiani.

Well, I'm a fairly typical urban, American, white, middle class, single, heterosexual professional woman who would look perfectly "at home" in an Eddie Bauer or Lands End catalog. My educational background is in Western classical music (B.M. from Arizona State University, M.M. from University of North Texas) . However, I escaped to the computer field as soon as I discovered money--or the lack of it. Professionally, I am a business analyst. My hobbies are all the arts (especially opera and dance), yoga, snow skiing, travel, the Internet, and yes, activism. Somehow, I've managed to squeeze in the time to work for equal rights legislation, get involved in women's studies groups, give Toastmasters speeches on feminism, and start writing these essays. Little did I dream when John Gray went on Broadway that I would build this website. But in a moment of deep frustration, I started a web search and landed on Susan Hamson's Rebuttal From Uranus. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Why do you think Oprah Winfrey supports John Gray?

Oh, my! I can't exactly look into Oprah's psyche, but I can provide some multilayered "forest and the trees" insights. The first layer is in my Crown Him Patriarch essay and accompanying paragraph on Societal Stockholm Syndrome. To get the second layer, read on:

Oprah Winfrey is a smart, saavy superstar who wants to do good while she does well. She knows alternatives to Gray's anatomy exist, as sociologist Pepper Schwartz did a successful presentation for Oprah four years ago on egalitarian and patriarchal marriages. Still, Oprah takes the path of least resistance and gives all her power to Mr. Mars&Venus. Why?

Well, let's just imagine what would probably happen if she put all her weight behind a feminist like Schwartz. Let's visualize how the audience would respond if Schwartz did sessions on sex, housework, childcare, communication, careers and patriarchy. I can just hear the reactions: "But where can we meet progressive men?", "But my wife doesn't want to share the child care", "But why should men take any responsibility for patriarchy?", "But I still think my wife is oversensitive about sexism" and so on. We all know what would happen to Oprah's ratings.

Oprah is in the hot seat. I understand why she takes the path of least resistance. Still, we can't let her get away with it. I was delighted to hear from people who took the Oprah-tunity to make the media maven come to her senses. We need to keep writing those letters and turning off her show whenever "Dr" Gray is the guest. But eventually, some activist psychotherapists will need to form a "Nader's Raiders" group which demands accountability from these self-help gurus. Until the therapy community develops an effective grassroots consumer watchdog group, the Oprah Winfreys of the world, strong as they are, will remain vulnerable to charlatans like John Gray.

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When can we expect your next essay?

That's a very good question. Because my work schedule in this slippery economy has gotten so intense during the past five years, with considerable travel, overtime, and fear of layoffs, I haven't been able to devote much time to this website. Also, I have struggled with a mild form of carpal tunnel symdrome. So unfortunately, I can't estimate when I will post Transforming Our Mars&Venus Society. However, I am still committed to this site and I WILL BE BACK.

On a related note, I cannot answer letters immediately. However, I will eventually respond to constructive posts, although it could easily take a year. In the meantime, have a beautiful autumn!

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Could you give me advice on my relationships?

My essays do touch on relationship issues. However, I am not a psychotherapist, nor do I play one on TV. So it would be unethical for me to act like an expert. However, you can inquire about good therapists in your area by subscribing to POWR-L, the Psychology of Women and Gender listserv. Send a standard subscription message (SUB POWR-L Your Name) to LISTSERV@PETE.URI.EDU. After your subscription has been approved, send a message with a header like, "Looking for a therapist in the Raleigh, North Carolina area". Good luck with your search.

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Why do you call one of your sections, "From My Corpus Callosum"?

In What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You and Your Father Didn't Know, John Gray makes a big deal about the size of women's corpus callosi, which, according to one study, is larger than men's. Without using any citations from reputable scientific studies, he says that we women are great emotional "connectors" because of it (see Chapter 4). With such a prime example of "Dr" Gray's approach to sex and gender, how could I resist naming the "letters to the editor" section after my larger-than-life corpus callosum?

Gray's assertion about the fibers which connect the two brain hemispheres and carry information between them begs the question, "Is he right?" In The Gendered Society, Michael Kimmel says that while one study showed that the splenium, a subregion of the corpus callosum, was found by one researcher to be significantly larger and more bulbous in shape in females, subsequent research has failed to confirm this finding (p. 33). Indeed, in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests on living men and women, no differences were found between the sexes. Jonathon Beckwith, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School argues that even if scientists did find differences, there is no way at this time that they could make a connection between brain structure and behavior pattterns.

So if the evidence for women's larger corpus callosum is so skimpy, why does "Dr" Gray act like it's a fact? Brain researcher Marcel Kinsbourne suggests it's because of anti-feminist backlash: "It seems that if sex differences do not exist, then they have to be invented."

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Why do you put Dr Gray in quotes, as in "Dr" Gray?

I adopted the "Dr" from Susan Hamson and other academics who know how much work it takes to get a real Ph.D. Susan has done much research on John Gray's academic background and I urge everyone to read her article, Ph.D.? Where Did John Gray Get His Ph.D.?. Also, check out the Time archives for Elizabeth Gleick's expose, "The Tower of Psychobabble." The evidence speaks for itself: Gray's academic credentials are a fraud.

I'm sure someone will tell me, "But if Gray's work is good, why bother with credentials? My kooky cousin got a Ph.D. from Yale and you couldn't pay me to go to him for counseling." True, credentials have their complexities. Some of the finest therapists in the world don't have M.A.'s while some of the worst have Ivy League doctorates. In our time-crunched, degree-oriented society, questionable correspondence schools will always lure a busy first-rate therapist who wants a promotion. And yes, a promising non-traditional Ph.D. program which starts out kosher could easily turn into a fraud. Credentials aren't everything.

However, in "Dr" Gray's case, his fake credentials and the quality of his work reinforce each other. If he were doing first-rate work, I'd be more flexible about the Ph.D. provided that he admitted the problems with Columbia Pacific University. But Mr. Mars&Venus hasn't done it. And that is the reason we call him "Dr" Gray.

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Copyright 2006 Kathleen Trigiani. All rights reserved.