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From My Corpus Callosum

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July 9, 2000: Since The Pill celebrated its fortieth birthday a few months ago and "Dr" Gray has said some interesting things about it, I'm going to devote a few short paragraphs to this most revolutionary invention. For starters, Mr. Mars&Venus would disagree with me on that one, for he actually said in What Your Mother Couldn't Tell You and Your Father Didn't Know, that the birth control pill was discovered!(p. 15) Gee, it never occured to me that Drs. Gregory Pincus and John Rock just saw a birth control pill fall out of the sky as they went on their morning jog. I thought they actually created it after the usual tedious round of medical networking, social fundraising (none of which came from a government or corporation), lonely laboratory work and clinical trials. The good "doctor" makes it all sound so easy.

But "Dr" Gray's interpretation of the history of medical science is nothing compared to his view of women's lives before oral contraception. He wants us to believe that in the pre-Pill world, women were contented Stepford wives. Well, if women were such passive Venusians back then, then why did feminist activist Margaret Sanger push so hard for the invention of The Pill? Why did labor activist Emma Goldman and suffragist Mary Ware Dennett devote so much energy to birth control? Why did so many women risk prison and public censure for smuggling illegal contraceptive devices? And why did the pioneering feminist philanthropist Katherine Dexter McCormick devote so much of her inheritance to birth control research?

Scientists invented The Pill because women and their male allies demanded it. I'm not denying its medical and social side effects, admirably evoked by Adriene Sere's Pushing Pills expose. Yes, patriarchy has co-opted it. Still, how many of us really want to go back to the days so poignantly recalled in a desperate letter to Margaret Sanger? We must go forward with safer, more effective methods and use them in a non-sexist context. We need an oral contraceptive for men. As Loretta Lynn sang in 1972 to the delight of so many women and the irritation of so many male DJs, "I'm making up for all those years since now I've got The Pill."

(Can't you can just hear her singing to the "good" doctor, Don't Come Home A Drinkin' {With Quickies On Your Mind})?

As usual, this page contains the most interesting commentary on Out of the Cave: Exploring Gray's Anatomy. Thank you for your accolades, your support, and your challenges. Due to your queries, I have updated the FAQ. Please take a moment to check it out.

And now, let's enjoy the newest batch of stimulating letters:

I am building archives of past From My Corpus Callosum entries. For starters, check out:

Don't Expect an A If You Quote John Gray

Subject: John Gray
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 09:38:38 -0000

As a Gender Issues teacher and a therapist I was delighted to at last find constuctive criticism on the Mars/venus thesis. I have students who often quote Gray as an authority rather than look at what he says with an analytically critical eye. It came as no surprise that his qualifications are questionable! Nor is it a surprise that the media love him and endorse his thesis, nothing has changed since Faludi's book !

Michelle Moss

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 09:24:37 -0500
Subject: Mr. Mars and Venus

Hi, Kathleen,

Love the article; thanks for sharing the reference on WMST-L.

I've always cited John Gray as the epitome of books that are NOT acceptable as Sociology book report material. I'll be incorporating some of your material (sourced, of course) to further explain why.

Thanks again.

Mary L. Ertel, Associate Professor, Sociology
Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT

I share your frustrations, Michelle and Mary. It's maddening to find that the Australian media loves him as much as the American media, which creates more stress for overworked professors on both sides of the Pacific. Makes me want to hide in a cave. Or drown in a well. ;-)

On a more positive note, a belated thank you for your affirmation. BTW, I do have a list of other critiques of John Gray on the net. Just click on Other Feminist Critiques of Mars&Venus.

For some reason, academics from down under are looking out of their telescopes and dissecting John Gray. Annie Potts of the University of Auckland wrote a wonderful critique of Mars and Venus in the Bedroom. Unfortunately, it's not on the web. However, I write a summary of it. By all means, get a hard copy of Potts' beautiful piece of work! Also, Susan Hamson recently showed me Mars 2, Venus 0: Exploring Self-Help Books, a stunning expose by Julia Martin of the University of South Wales.

Why are feminists from down under writing all these brilliant critiques of Mars&Venus? I'm jealous. ;-) Enjoy!

National Public Radio and The Good Doctor

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 09:16:10 -0500
Subject: Himself

K- I was horrified to hear this morning that NPR will be featuring John Grey on "Parents' Journal" tomorrow. I'll probably not be able to catch them because of work schedule, but I called NPR and was given the following e-address, which I used to protest accepting JG's expertise on gender roles and parenting (address is I also furnished them your JG urrl, so you may be contacted.

Lillian Waugh, Ph.D.

Would you be shocked if I told you that NPR never contacted me? But then, that's why so many of us call it National Patriarchal Radio. One of America's biggest myths is that we have a liberal press. One of its biggest jokes is that NPR is left wing. With all that corporate support, how could NPR ever be progressive? Still, some brave souls are valiantly trying to get some balance back into the airwaves, as shown by the long overdue Feminist Coalition on Public Broadcasting.

Several studies show that most people do not trust the mainstream media and are turning to alternative sources. While this trend has dangers, it also provides some hope. On June 2, 2000, Dr. Linda Yniguez of AdrenalineRadio interviewed Susan and me for Shrinkrap: The Women's Forum. We had a marvelous time telling the world how to be the ultimate John Gray woman. As Linda herself said, "Why don't we all just move to Stepford?" While an NPR interview would have given us more exposure, Dr. Linda's forum allowed us to be more forthright and have more fun. I'm not trying to trivialize the power of the mass media, but if it refuses to open the door, I'll have no problem going to alternative outlets.

Not As Futile As You Think

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 01:19:57 -0800
Subject: In regard to your concept of egalitarian relationships.

I'm wondering why so many seek what my family has always had and my culture seemingly has always had. Seems, much ado about nothing and perhaps is a focus on the wrong question in regard to realtionships but then again history is littered with seemingly rational but pointless exercises. Ponce de Leon's efforts in what was to become Florida, springs most readily to mind.

Chris Priga

Chris, what evidence do you have that "so many seek what your family has always had and your culture seemingly has always had"? Indeed, what specifically do your family and culture have? I'm assuming that you're talking about a male-dominated marriage. True, many people love John Gray, but many also can't stand the guy. Those who want to go back to the 1950's do have power over today's discourse on family values; however, they have failed to turn back the clock, for the 50's weren't all that great. In so many ways, they were terrible for women and racial minorities. In spite of all the backlashes, the feminist movement(s) have not died. To compare a movement for gender equity to the quest for the fountain of youth is silly and reeks of misogyny. As I will show in my forthcoming essay, From Gender Vertigo to Gender Peace, the quest for gender equity is far from futile. Egalitarian marriages are far happier than the "traditional" kinds. If the "family values" crowd really wants to save the institution it will follow the guidelines in books like Pepper Schwartz's Love Between Equals: How Peer Marriage Really Works, Francine Deutsch's Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Really Works and Scott Coltrane's Family Man: Fatherhood, Housework and Gender Equity.

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