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From My Corpus Callosum

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June 30, 1999: This page was formerly called, "Your Letters". But a few days ago, I got an idea from "Dr" Gray. In What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You and Your Father Didn't Know, he makes a big deal about the size of women's corpus callosi, which 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 renaming this section?

So here I am, making superior intellectual and emotional connections with my cyber-guests through my larger-than-life corpus callosum. As usual, this page contains the most interesting commentary on Out of the Cave. Thank you for your accolades, your support, and your challenges. Due to your queries, I have published a FAQ. Please take a moment to check it out.

And now, let's enjoy the most interesting letters which have appeared since the debut of Out of the Cave. They are grouped into the following sections:


Kudos

From: GMFREE7976@aol.com
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 20:00:20 EST
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: Hi Kathleen!

Just read your wonderful essays! With your permission I would like to include (crediting you as a source of course) some of your ideas in a research paper I'm writing on communication and gender. If you have a moment to let me know what your educational/experiencial background is, it would be greatly appreciated.
Again, thank you for being a rational voice amongst the nuts!
Gail


Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 05:48:54 -0600
From: cloudburst@feist.com
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: Mars and Venus

Hello,

These essays are great, not to mention hilarious. Thank you. Now I can send all the people I know who buy into Gray's babble to your site. I'm also sending this web address to a friend of mine who is teaching Soc. of Gender. I would love it if you can notify me when the other essays are posted. Thanks again!

Chris Taylor


Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 00:23:51 +0000
From: webe0207@tc.umn.edu
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: gray anatomy

Hello. I really enjoy your web cite and have Susan Hamson to thank for pointing me to it. I am in the thinking through the possibility of writing my dissertation about Gray's commodification of essentialist discourse. Are there places other than the web that I should look for your work? What is your background, activism, project in addition to Gray?
Sue Weber


Thanks for your wonderful remarks. To find out more about me, click on FAQ, which also has the tentative posting date for future essays. I am very supportive of people citing these essays in research papers as long as they give me credit and inform me beforehand. And I love it when people tell their friends about this site. Sue asked if I've published any non-web articles. Well, I've written Toastmasters speeches, letters to the editor and articles for various grassroots activist newsletters. But this site is my first attempt at "publishing". For several years, many friends have told me, "You've got to start submitting articles to magazines." But as soon as I started taking classes on "How to get published", I discovered The Rebuttal From Uranus. My corpus callosum immediately told me, "This is your home. Bloom where you're planted". I haven't given up on "real" publishing, but for now, I'm committed to this website.

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Mars&Venus in Europe

From: FAStaple@aol.com
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 17:18:38 EST
Subject: Out of the Cave

I am a graduate literature student at the Univ. of Arizona, and am studying the Mars Venus phenomenon in comparison with comparable trends during the English renaissance. I just wanted to let you know that I think you're doing outstanding work and I look forward to your posting the rest of your essays.

I may be writing again in the next several weeks to request permission to quote from your site.

sincerely,
Joe Staples


Why, thank you, Joe. I return the compliment and urge readers to point their browsers to Swetnam is From Mars, Sowernam's From Uranus: Masculine Discourse in Renaissance and Contemporary Constructions of Gender. It is 30 pages long, but well worth reading, as it sheds light on the connections between language, gender relations, and all the John Grays and Susan Hamsons of the past and present. Yes, Joe does quote me. Enjoy!


From: altitona@usa.net
Subject: comment
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 14:26:18 +0200

I never read the Mars/Venus books even though they are bestsellers in Europe, too. It's interesting, that there are differences in success of the book. In Germany e.g. they are read as this "easy-going" eso-psychological stuff - mostly by men. Interesting: They had a very great success in the extreme Catholic and patriarchal society in Poland...also read mostly by men. In France they are rather unknown.
So the parallels between the success of the book and gender discussion in different societies is evident. While German women mostly adopt feminist ideas from the USA, mostly losing themselves in endless discussions instead of changing things, French discussions have a lot to do with "androgynat". German women seem to break out of their roles easier and French women seem to live very traditional (kitchen, children, church). But what surprised me as a German woman coming to France: It's much easier to make career as a woman here! I think French gender discussion is best described with the symbol of yin-yang. You have not to get "Mars" to make career and to have rights.
Just some thoughts, I have to come back later to read your essay,
kind regards Altitona


As someone who has vacationed in Europe during the past two years, I found your comments illuminating. I went to the bookstores and specifically searched for the Mars&Venus books. Frankly, I didn't find very many. That didn't mean Europeans don't read them, as "Dr" Gray keeps telling us they've been translated into umpteen different languages. It's just that American bookstores tend to display self-help books more prominently. In Vienna, I saw MMWV listed on the cover as a top American bestseller. In Rome's daVinci airport, I saw a woman reading the Spanish version of MMWV. And in Munich, I saw a Venus und Mars poster on a kiosk. It was an advertisement for a medieval domestic battle of the sexes play. Hah! I'll bet it had almost nothing to do with the Middle Ages and everything to do with America's favorite charlatan.

Since I spent only two days in Munich, I couldn't find out more about Venus und Mars. But if you have some info on the play, Susan and I would love to get it. I just can't believe it was written in the Middle Ages. And I can't believe the John Gray legacy had nothing to do with it.


From: altitona@usa.net
Subject: Re: Venus und Mars
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 19:37:08 +0100

Bet lost ;-( It was this special "comedia dell' arte" where archetypes, mostly mythologic or political or familiar ones, are made ridiculous. Don't feel tracked down by Gray ;-) not every Roman myth about Venus and Mars is written by him....

Really, imagine, there *are* middle age plays in Germany, rather many and they are trendy, too. A "commedia dell'Arte" (origin Italy) should look like this: a very arrogant Mars, whose virility has gone to his head (or his head to another place) meets a very feminine Venus. Everybody seems to know the roles. But during the play, which is always very funny with lots of slapstick, you recognize that Venus is powerful and intelligent and Mars left impotent, not at all intelligent and totally ridiculous. Just the European medieval way to break roles and rules....
So long, Altitona
PS: If you are interested: on my goddess-discussion page (URL below) there's just a discussion started about gender od god/dess / androgynity and the differences in spirituality of women and men - perhaps you like to join it? (But please without Mr. Gray ;-)
***MAGIC SECRETS OF HISTORY***
The Website about pre-Christian history of Europe:
http://www.geocities.com/~Altitona/

***THE GODDESS DISCUSSION LIVE***
Leave your questions, comments, ideas:
http://www.InsideTheWeb.com/mbs.cgi/mb144023

***PETRA VAN CRONENBURG***
The author's website:
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/altitona/

OK, Altitona, score one for you. But I'll get even the next time around. ;-) I'm not at all surprised that Venus und Mars really is a medieval play. Several well-loved European plays and operas are about sharp servants who outwit their masters. It's just that in the United States, we've gotten so saturated with John Gray that we can almost forget he didn't invent the Mars&Venus myth. Thanks for reminding us of a few things. By the way, your websites are quite interesting. However, don't say Mr Gray. Please, he's Herr "Doktor" Gray!

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A Few Good Men?

From: lightman-aj@usa.net
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 08:24:23 -0800
Subject: "Crown Him Patriarch" (long response and a question)

Hi Kathleen,

I just read your article, "Crown Him Patriarch", and it made me stop and think about my own actions, attitudes, and beliefs toward men, women, relationships, and society. It's an issue that I've been dealing with for a couple of years now, and I want to do what I can to help men and women come together as loving partners once again.

First let me give you some background. I am a 23-year-old young man living in Los Angeles and recently graduated from UCLA with a Computer Science degree. During my adolescent and young adult life, and until just recently, I've never dated anyone nor have I been in an intimate relationship with a woman, although I have always wanted to be in one. I've held on to many of the negative stereotypes toward men and women, and I've always blamed women for not wanting to go out with me, or not being in a relationship with me because I wasn't the "tough, buff, and popular" ideal male.

My college life was a different story. From my limited perspective, I found UCLA to be a cold, large, hostile, and isolated environment when it came to forming relationships, particularly because of my technical orientation, the fact that I commuted to school instead of living in a dorm, and quite frankly my negative attitudes toward men, women, and relationships. In particular, I was enrolled in several English and Biology courses that, to me, felt like men were being brutally put down as oppressors. I internalized it all -- I felt totally responsible for what has been happening with women for the past 4000 years. As a result, I distrusted my female peers and kept women at an arms distance, with my own fear that the "Mars and Venus" mentality, coupled with "feminist doctrine", brainwashed women into thinking that men and sexuality were inherently unhealthy.

It's been a year and a half since graduation. I've been wanting to make up for the destructive attitudes and behaviors that I displayed toward women. To tell you the truth, deep down inside I have this love for women that is just waiting to come out, and I have since formed endearing and intimate female friendships. However, I am still holding on to the grudges and insecurities I feel particularly toward my female peers (those in the 18-25 crowd who are single and living in my local area). It's been hard for me to connect with women my age in my work and home lives.

Kathleen, I've been doing what I can to help improve my relationships with women, and I want to be a force of positive change and encouragement to help men and women come together in love once again. I'm doing my best to treat women with utmost dignity and respect, and I've started to reconcile with and make up to men and women whom I've hurt in the past. However, I've been afraid to deal with social and political activism because of my past hurts and experiences, and I feel that my contributions will be more in personal relationships with people in everyday life rather than in a political movement. Do you feel I'm headed in the right direction? How can I heal my hurts and move forward with helping women achieve true equality without continuing to project my fears and stereotypes onto them?

Thank you so much, Kathleen. I look forward to your continuing development with "Out of the Cave: Exploring Gray's Anatomy", and despite my lingering fear and discomfort with male and female issues, I still sincerely wish that your endeavor helps in some small (or even large) way toward healing society.

--Arthur


From: lightman-aj@usa.net
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 08:40:22 -0800
Subject: P.S...

Hi again Kathleen,

> If you want to take at an opposing viewpoint on society's attitudes toward men and women, I invite you to look at Jack Kammer's book, "Good Will Toward Men". I haven't read this book yet, and I believe it is now out of print, but you can find out more at the Web site:

http://www.erols.com/jkammer/

In addition, I have written an article which became published in UCLA's newspaper, Daily Bruin. If you want to read it, you can find it at:

http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/DB/issues/98/01.15/view.jerijan.html

(that's not a typo; the Daily Bruin misspelled my last name. :*)

I don't know how you'd feel about my article, but I still respect whatever position you take.

Thanks, --Arthur


Arthur, computer science is supposed to train people to think logically and yet, I see lots of contradictions in your letters to me. For example:

You say you want to make up for the destructive attitudes and behaviors you've displayed towards woman and yet, you wrote a thinly veiled anti-feminist diatribe for the UCLA Daily Bruin. Arthur, anti-feminism is a form of misogyny.

You say you've been afraid to deal with social and political activism because of your past hurts and experiences and yet, your UCLA Daily Bruin article and support of Jack Kammer was a profoundly political act which reinforced patriarchy.

You say you have a love for women that's just waiting to come out and yet, you constantly talk about your resentments against women (and that certainly includes feminists). Lust is not love.

You asked me how you can help women achieve true equality and yet, you sent me your poorly written and badly edited anti-feminist diatribe. Arthur, I showed that article to five people of varying political persuasions and they all agreed that the Daily Bruin should have never published it.

Arthur, you asked me if I think you're headed in the right direction. Come on, you know exactly how I'd answer. In your posts and article, you used almost all of the techniques I described in the Then Comes the But:How People Sustain Patriarchy section of my Crown Him Patriarch essay.

Arthur, I have some male friends who have decided to be part of the solution to "the system". Kay Leigh Hagen has written some lovely words about these men. Listen up:

"Men who are allies of women acknowledge and reject the notion of male supremacy and the unjust gender caste system that supports it. They understand that while they are not personally responsible for creating this system, they have inherited its benefits and internalized its values . . . Good men cop to male privilege; they wrestle with it, work on it, worry about it, and always strive to use it with integrity . . ."

"When they err--and they do err--they look to women for guidance, and receive criticism with gratitude . . . They intervene in other men's misogynist behavior, even when women are not present, and they work hard to recognize and challenge their own. Perhaps most amazingly, good men perceive the value of a feminist practice for themselves, and they advocate it not because it's politically correct, or because they want women to like them, or even because they want women to have equality, but because they understand that male privilege prevents them not only from becoming whole, authentic human beings, but also from knowing the truth about the world."

Kay Leigh Hagen,
"A Good Man Is Hard to Bash"
in Feminism and Men:
Reconstructing Gender Relations
,
edited by Stephen Schacht and Doris Ewing

Arthur, these men are not whining about "male bashing" and they know damn well the world doesn't think they're inferior. If you *really* want to become one of these good men, I'd be happy to correspond with you. Otherwise, please do not send me any more letters. When I read your first letter, I thought you were sincere. But that Daily Bruin article radically changed my perceptions.


Addendum: Arthur hasn't sent me any more letters. All I can say is, "Flames ain't what they used to be."


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Matriarchal Marriages?

From: birch@escape.ca
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: Re: Role Reversal
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:42:46 -0600

I started to read Gray's book and put it down. I am 65 and my husband is 73 and we've been married for 45 years. The last years have been full of problems and illness on my husband's part and when I started to discuss some of these with my daughter, she gave me the book and told me I needed to understand Dad. After read the first couple of chapters I realized what the problem was (cynical remark). I was a Martian and he was a Venusian. During my university years, I read somewhere that this role-reversal frequently occurs as couple mature. Any comments?
Jean in Winnipeg


From: jbirch@escape.ca
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: Re: My previous email
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 17:31:20 -0600

I had not read your essays when I sent the last email. I had only skimmed through it as I was printing it. I have always been the dominant partner in our marriage and my husband has always been more passive. I was brought up during th early 40's in England when my mother was working in a "male" role as a supervisor of workers in an arms factory while my father was in the army. My husband was brought up in the 30's and his household was dominated by his mother and her 3 sisters who were widowed by the 1st WW and his father was a second husband who had a lot of illness and used to go out to the pub to get away from all the women.
Jean in Winnipeg


Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comments. First, my sympathies for the health situation between you and your husband. I can identify somewhat, for I had to supervise my mother's care two years ago when she got breast cancer. To say that caregiving is stressful is a huge understatement. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Concerning your question about role reversal in older couples, the situation is rather complex. It is true that many older couples get less rigid in their roles. However, I wouldn't quite call it a real role reversal. For instance, a husband who willingly and competently acts as caretaker for his ailing wife usually gets more assistance and emotional support from family members and paid helpers and is less likely to take the stress of caregiving personally. When men do the caretaking, our culture usually perceives it as a choice instead of a family and societal obligation, which means that the husband will be more affirmed for "being so devoted". This is one more proof that we cannot completely separate individuals and families from the larger society.

A patriarchy will always make sure that a "role reversal" is never complete. Never forget that if a husband is controlled by his wife, people will say he's "hen-pecked", by far the least nasty term I've heard. But if a wife is controlled by her husband, most people will say nothing because it's considered "natural" even in the "progressive" 90's. Until "rooster-pecked" gets into our vocabulary . . .

Indeed, I was intrigued that your daughter told you to read MMWV. Since it doesn't address health issues in relationships, I wondered why she would recommend it. Also, since you claimed to be the dominant partner in your marriage, I can't help but think, "Nobody can escape from patriarchy in 1999, even "role reversal" couples." I mean, your daughter urged you to read John Gray's books. Why didn't she urge you to read sociologist Pepper Schwartz's Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works? Well, Gray's books are all over the place while Schwartz's works are harder to get. Again, we can't escape our culture, although we can certainly challenge it.

Jean, I'm not convinced that any marriages are really matriarchal. When the wife dominates, it's usually by default-- the husband has health problems, he's exhausted from job stress, or he's not interested. Several years ago, many men would joke, "I make the big decisions in the house--how to resolve the deficit, the arms race, environmental degradation--all the problems of the world. My wife makes the little decisions in the house--what life insurance policy we should buy, where the kids should go to college, what type of dining room furniture we need." People would laugh at the remark because those "little" decisions had more immediate impact on his life than the sexy global problems he liked to discuss. Still, that joke said a lot about our culture. He let his wife run the house because he thought it was beneath him ("the little decisions"). And most people never considered rebuking him for trivializing his wife's leadership.

Jean, I found it intriguing that your father-in-law used to go to the pub to "get away from the women". In Britain, the pubs are "male space"--they are a primary place for patriarchal male bonding. And from what I hear, it hasn't changed much in the past 50 years. Thanks to Starbucks, coffee bars are now the rage among British professional women because they don't feel comfortable in pubs.

So here we go again. No couple lives in a vacuum. We're all connected to a gender system called patriarchy. Yes, role reversal can occur--but only up to a point. And we all know how much our society frowns on it. Just think what would happen if you and your husband decided to write books and give seminars on the superiority of female-dominated marriages. I hate to say it, Jean, but if you and your hubby expect to make as much money as John Gray, you'd better move to another planet.


Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 08:43:45 -0500
From: kilgore@unix.tamu.edu
To: ktrig246@airmail.net
Subject: Your web site

I am glad to see various people engaged in web activism, particularly for such a good cause. My only heartburn with your essays, which was somewhat but not fully addressed, had to do with the examples of successful marriages where the woman did the power trip and the man stayed behind her (e.g. the Abzugs). First of all, marriage as a legal institution is all washed up. The female heads of half of all African American households already know that, for example, and white women ought to wise up too. As Ann Richards, our beloved former governor once said (i'm going from memory here), "Girls, your prince charming is not going to come riding up on a white horse to take you away. He's going to come driving up in a White Honda and expect you to pick up the payments."

What I'm saying is that as long as we continue to try to squeeze our relationships into a patriarchal institution -- you and I both know it doesn't matter which _sex_ the patriarch is -- we are going to have more women doing more work and getting less out of it. Instead of egalitarian lifestyles among heterosexual couples, we are seeing "supermoms" and single moms heading households amidst govt policy that doesn't recognize their families as valid.

I don't hate men, I'm married to one. But we are constantly struggling to overcome the gender stereotypes we both have. I feel like a pioneer in a hostile wilderness sometimes. I think I will look up Pepper Schwartz, who you mentioned in your discussion about Oprah. Frankly I think with her zillions of bucks off the backs of women, Oprah owes it to us to have more Schwartz's and fewer Grays.

Anyway, this letter is all over the place, but obviously you got me thinking about this some more. Thanks.

Deborah Kilgore
Texas A&M University
Fue tan bello vivir cuando vivias
How lovely it was to live while you lived!
- Pablo Neruda, from "Final"


Deborah, I hear you saying the following things:

  • The legal institution of marriage is all washed up.
  • True "role reversal" doesn't exist, even when the woman is the "patriarch".
  • Those married couples who want to build egalitarian relationships are in a hostile wilderness.
  • Oprah pulled a fast one on women and she owes us a helluva lot of repentance.
Are these interpretations correct? If so, I agree with everything you said. Believe me, you'll see the evidence after I post Essays #4 and #5 sometime in the year 2000. In From Gender Vertigo to Gender Peace, I will write about the joys and struggles of couples who are building egalitarian marriages in a patriarchal society. In Transforming Our Mars&Venus Society, I'll talk about how we must start building an egalitarian marriage and relationships movement. Those couples who brave it in a hostile wilderness are showing us that we definitely do not have to settle for Mars&Venus. But without the support of a social change movement, their legacy will be forgotten and the next generation of peer-leaning couples will have to reinvent the wheel. Needless to say, some John Gray charlatan will be waiting in the wings . . .

I strongly urge you and your husband to read Pepper Schwartz's Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works. It shows that one of the biggest challenges for peer-leaning couples is isolation. However, isolation can also strengthen a couple. As Allan Johnson says about his marriage to feminist psychotherapist Nora Jamieson:

"And yet we are in such different places as woman and man under patriarchy, a fact that both divides us and in our facing it together, joins us in common purpose . . . It has been sixteen years of "Can I run something by you?" and "getting it" and "not getting it"; of bedside tables piled high with books; of play and passion and silent meditation; of struggling with the patriarchal legacy as it lives in each of us and unavoidably, between us. And it has been sixteen years of learning how a woman and man can share life and love each other in spite of patriarchy, of learning what is possible across the great gender divide we were born into, of the many meanings that "we're in this together" can have."

From The Gender Knot:
Unraveling Our Patriarchal
Legacy
(p. x)

Deborah, hang in there. You've not as alone as you think. It's just that you pioneers need to get together and start a movement. Through this website, I have gotten letters from other pioneering couples. If you like, I could give them your name and e-mail address. Also, the internet has some free discussion groups. Why don't you and your husband start a listserv for egalitarian-leaning heterosexual couples? If you holler, I'll bet someone will answer.

Best wishes, dear Aggie, in the great "can do" state of Texas! I remember Anne Richards well. Now just go and GIG EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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