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"An Open Letter to Dr. John Gray"

Dear John:

How I would love to sit down with you and your wife and delve into your book, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." I’m bursting with enthusiasm over its success, while feeling that something essential is missing.

What a great title! My guess is that the title alone packs enough of a wallop to sell the book. I know that every woman feels an affinity with Venus. I would not have expected men to be so receptive to the idea of being Martians; but there you are.

Personally, I think that the concept of men being from Mars (aggressive, volatile, sparring) is not a perfect analogy, but it's O.K. It might be more accurate when considering the male/female polarity, to correlate men (the positive pole) to the Sun and women (the negative or magnetic pole) to the Moon. And yet, it is only about half of the time, (depending upon what is transpiring) that women actually are the negative pole of the polarity between the sexes. Men have their lunar sides too.

As it stands, your book has brought about a wonderful, even revolutionary, change and I just love it when you can get folks to listen to the idea that there are differences between men and women. Not an easy task after a thirty-year rebellion against any reference to differences between the sexes.

One reason I wish we could talk is so that I could convey to you, in person, how I thrill at the sight of a mature man sitting in your TV audience, chuckling at himself as he learns that being the way he is, is just being male. His chuckle is relief that other men respond in the same ways, say the same wrong things, suffer the same bewilderment about the female of the species. To me, this indicates a giant step forward--out of ignorance toward solution; it gives me hope for the future of relationships. Sooner, or later, though, I would have to say to you that your theory seems like a bit of oversimplification to me. I think there is a great deal more to this than women "needing to talk about it" and men "needing to fix it". That's true, of course, but why?

Don't you wonder if the "needing" unique to Mars or Venus, might indicate some obscure and more significant differences between the sexes? Perhaps, among the three of us, we could discuss some fundamental differences that I have found and explore whether they may explain the communication gaps you outline in, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus".

I'm sorry, but it just seems to me that it isn't practical to memorize all the translations you offer or to carry your book around with us so we can look up what's going on. Perhaps if we all knew what fundamental differences cause the communication gaps, we wouldn't need to refer to the book to tell us what he means when he says something else. (And, by the way, I would have to argue that "talking around the bush" is not so much a Martian trait as a Venusian one. I would submit that it is Venus who expects Mars to think like she does--to intuit what her needs are. She's the one who gets frustrated when he doesn't know what she means--even though she hasn't actually said it.

I might even admit to you, if we could talk, that I found myself laboring through the last half of your book. I had been expecting that sooner or later you would get into some sort of explanation as to why men and women speak different languages. I would suggest that we really do need to investigate that further.

For example, I would propose a possible explanation as to why women like to talk about what we are feeling; I think it's because we are so good at it. Not at talking about it, but at feeling. We are consciously feeling most of the time and, unlike men, we can delineate what we feel. We can analyze our feelings, revel in them, express them fearlessly, stand back and watch them. We can even turn them on and off--at will. If men could do that, they would. But, we have to understand that men cannot do that because, when it comes to emotions, the powers switch into reverse and women become the Sun (the initiating, projecting power) and men, literally, become the Moon (magnetic, receptive, vulnerable).

I would not be shy about asking you to consider that it is precisely the emotional prowess of woman that makes her so fascinating to man. He finds himself simultaneously admiring it, respecting it, and fearing it. This is the great mystery that, from time immemorial, has given her power over him. Some few women know that. Most women mistakenly think that Mars is a horny, helpless victim of female’s sexual charms. Mars is not so shallow as all that, but he is different.

And we need to know just how he is different in order to change our perception of him, correct our expectations of what he can contribute to the relationship, and start relating more successfully.

I know, John, that we will never be able to sit down and talk so I have made an hour-long recording of my findings about some obscure differences between male and female. The chance that you might want to hear that tape entitled, "Beyond Sex”, is the real motivation behind this letter. My study is now available on cassette or CD at www.mavismathews.com

Be happy,

Mavis Mathews

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