Meeting the ‘great’ Dr. John Gray
We have a guest writer from South Africa at our CoupleDumb. Hesca Joubert writes all over the place. We do not have enough space to list everywhere that you can find her work, so look at her site http://www.intimacy4us.com/. When you read this post, know that the single quote means sarcasm. Since we love Hesca and ‘love’ John Gray we thought this would be a great post for CoupleDumb. Enjoy.
Hesca says: Someone in my family recommended that I read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by Dr. John Gray before getting married last December. Though the title always intrigued me, I never really had a good reason to read it before then. I set about reading this ‘jewel’ of a relationship book (what else would you call a book that has sold more that just a couple of millions of copies?) with utter zeal. And also with an open mind – self-help literature has never really been my cup of tea.
The first few chapters went well. The concepts were easy to understand, and being a naive bride-to-be, it was even easy to observe the same problems/situations in my own relationship. However, the more I read (only a small section a day), the more I became reluctant to keep on reading a piece every day.
About halfway through, I realized my reluctance could be translated into anger and total disagreement. I stopped reading right then and there. Now, at the risk of sounding too much like NY’s favorite fictional columnist, Carrie Bradshaw (me being a self-confessed Sex and the City junky), I got to thinking: Millions of people LOVE this book and live their relationships according to Dr. Gray’s observations and ‘recommendations’ . . Why am I so angry at and disappointed by it? Why can’t I read it?
Two weekends ago, my feelings were reaffirmed. South Africa had its first Look & Feel Good Expo at the Coca-Cola Dome close to Johannesburg. Dr. Gray presented three seminars there, and me and my hubby went as representatives of our print magazine (INTIEM & INTIMACY). Both of us were equally excited to meet the ‘guru’ of relationships – my hubby having read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus from cover to cover in almost one sitting and me hoping to resolve my reservations.
A couple of minutes into the seminar (attended by a very, very small amount of people – they even handed out free tickets to fill up the room), it felt like I was having the déjà vu of the century. This seminar was presented according to his new book, Why Mars and Venus Collide, but the more he talked, the more I realized: these are not new concepts – they are in fact only variations of his ideas in Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus from 20 odd years ago . . . those very same ideas that caused my panties to twist.
Why was I so disappointed by him? Why couldn’t I read his books? Well, he’s been riding on the same wave for nearly three decades – the amplitude of the wave just varying from time to time. What’s more is that in all this time it seems that very few people have actually had the courage to stand up to him and challenge his ideas. For instance, when he compares men to rubber bands who need to pull away before returning, he reduces them to having the emotional intelligence of an amoeba, or worse. When I need my hubby the most, he better not turn around and say: “I’m in my pulling away phase dear”. Millions of helpless souls gulp his concepts up like it’s free caviar – regardless of the fact that caviar actually doesn’t taste THAT awesome!
Apart from the fact that he generalizes far to much, women seem to be in the wrong most of the time, while men’s solution to problems is for women to sit down on the couch and just relax (not realizing that when a women sits down, he won’t have clean clothes, food, healthy kids, and everything else that suburbia requires). Sure, men don’t do everything right, but come on, do the girls have to be the ‘culprits’ all the time?
After the seminar, we went to interview him – again I thought: I have a chance to change my opinion. What a disaster! Personal conversation with him doesn’t make up for lack of new ideas in his seminars and every question asked, were answered according to those tired ideas of his. Not to mention a cocky attitude and not even a hint of humility.
Needless to say: my opinion stayed the same – I still won’t spend my time reading his rehashed twaddle and even my cover-to-cover-reading-hubby’s eyes opened and he started questioning the concepts and laughed at the truly ridiculous/obvious parts that people actually spend money on this to ‘gain insight’.
The only good thing that came from our attending a seminar of his, meeting with him and reading half his book is: If someone ever asks me again how it’s possible that I don’t agree with this great expert and think that his ideas are ‘wonderful’, I can safely and surely say that I’ve had more hands-on experience with him than most people (who gulp up and believe his theories) ever will and based on that, my arguments and opinions are firmly grounded.