The Mercury Retrograde Bookclub: Men Are From Mars-Women Are From Venus

Nineties Self Help bookDudes, some of you may be too young (or sophisticated) to know that this thing was one of the best-selling self-helpy books of the 90s. And there were a LOT then.

At least four peeps pressed this book upon me, insisting that i read it…It’s infuriatingly simple & it’s copped heaps of criticism for limited gender roles. Leave men the fuq alone because they are like rubber bands who need to stretch out and be in their cave before they twang right back into your loving arms again. Men should remember that women like goo-goo compliments and that they cannot be aroused if he has not put the rubbish out as asked. I forget the metaphors but there were definitely rubber bands and a cave.

Some pertinent points for discussion, other than did this book do it for you style ponderings:

* It was apparently the book Princess Diana was reading just before her accident. They found it on her bedside table. Poignant, non?

* The author John Gray is a triple Capricorn (Sun, Moon, Mercury) and he extrapolated the Men Are From Mars concept into not only more than a dozen books but even a Colon Cleanse.  I am not joking. His website is selling a Men Are From Mars Colonic Cleansing Powder There was some controversy over whether his qualifications were bogus or not. He was a monk for nine years and is divorced from Barbara De Angelis, another self-help author & relationship expert.

* He has a new one coming out called Venus On Fire – Mars On Ice.  I am not kidding.  It makes me think of a women furious because her lover has become a crystal meth-head but it is actually about safely increasing hormones “of desire”.

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30 thoughts on “The Mercury Retrograde Bookclub: Men Are From Mars-Women Are From Venus

  1. There used to be a fab website on this featuring ‘A Rebuttal from Uranus’. Men are made out to be sooooo sensitive in this book – women are expected to dish out ‘mercy sex’ at the drop of a hat, in order to spare them from the trauma of rejection. At the same time, women are not allowed to initiate sex, as that threatens men with performance anxiety. If they are feeling frisky, they must dress in the appropriate lingerie (Gray has a complex nightwear code to signal sexual moods), and wait patiently. Lol lol lol.

    • Y’know, I’d be laughing too if that actually weren’t true in some situations. It does make one wonder how the species promulgated itself if the male psyche-libido was so fragile and spider web like in its intricacies.

      Personally, I HATED the Mars-Venus book. It was one of the ones that kissed the wall i.e. as I hurled it across the room to resoundingly smack against the nearest unfettered infrastructure. Is not that the polarization doesn’t exist but can we not simply leave the dance be rather than besmirching it with rubber bands/caves and trash emptying as foreplay.

      In short it made me feel as if I should only read this if I needed instructions to take my pants off, as in Step 1, stand with legs apart, Step 2…so on and so forth. And ok I admit it, he reminded me of a vegetable. Something stringy, tender and easily snapped in two.

      I now hail from the Moon and Pluto respectively…try bunging up a self help book on that.

  2. Oh it’s worse than you say. Gray is a nutcase, he’s a follower of the Maharishi. His degrees are from phony “universities” run by the Maharishi. They teach courses on how to levitate. Millions of dollars have been spent by thousands of gullible people, but so far, nobody has ever levitated. They do sit around in Lotus position and hop up and down and claim it’s levitation, though.

  3. t’was interesting – I just checked those links of the two authors mentioned and their methods / presentation / promotion of their work contrast almost black to white or orange to turquoise or whatever…

    As a single woman about to hit 40 and surrounded by men who are obviously either ‘occupied’ or prefer younger woman I have recently been informed that I come under the classification of a ‘cougar’ – as in predatory beast-like carnivorous cat with big claws and teeth… I personally find this very offensive – did I become the predatory beast simply because of my age and status – and who gives men the right to use these words and manipulate them into derogatives? It just doesn’t seem fair. Its almost like wanting a partner to share your life with once you’re over 25 is a crime these days….

    Seriously Mystic – is this a new social phenomenon or am I just new to it because I’m refusing to go the botox way?

    • I’m sorry Anon. That’s some ugly treatment. Criticising someone for wanting more love in their life is like putting them down for expecting to find water if you’re thirsty. You are you. With a heart. What on earth is predatory about that.

    • I am actually of cougar vintage myself, Anon, and take the term with a grain of salt (but then, I’m all for reclaiming so-called derogatory terms). It’s not about being predatory so much as being sexual – and let’s face it, every term our culture uses for ‘sexually active/assertive women’ can be used as a slur. Using the term as a put-down says more about them than it says about you!

    • And pray tell, how did these rude behavior survive your incisors? When rudely faced with the term and trust me, the only peeps who ever want to shove it in your face are personally wracked with aging anxieties themselves, I now have a policy of saying, yes, I am and proceeding to masticate their head between my finely sharpened teeth.

      If you’re gonna call me a cougar, yah better be able to take my bite.

  4. lol I remember after my divorce when my ‘friend’ gave me this book to read and said, as an aside, it was the key to her happy marriage.

    biggest, sexist crock of shit I have ever read! be a long time before I settled with anyone who insisted on ‘cave’ time and wtf is it with the amount of words women have to get out in a day? and she should not burst forth into conversation as soon as the man gets home after work.

  5. I have never read this book, but I read a fantastic book called “Communion: The Female Search for Love” recently.

    The author bell hooks is a widely-respected black feminist academic and in this book I found out she loves self-help! Fantastic! But thinks the Gray book is narrow and misguided.

    Her book is about how early feminism made the female search for love become shameful (she elucidates the theory with a lot of her own experience) and how contemporary feminism still hasn’t addressed the problem that women have a hard time finding love, which is a completely necessary thing to desire according to hooks. Yay! I LOVED this book. It was like a warm hug to read. Smart but not exclusive.

  6. For relationship advice, ask your mum, grandma or aunt who has been married for 40 years – not someone like him who can’t sustain a relationship even with another expert.

    Anon – you need new friends. Tell them to fuq off. Women with younger men live longer apparently. Nothing wrong with wanting a relationship, but don’t compromise yourself to get one (although that could mean going with some guy that all your friends warn you off most strenuously – my best & longest relationship was opposed by all my friends!)
    we do live in strange times though. Feminism hasn’t been accepted & implemented, or something (help me out womens studies majors!) so men act strange and women are still judged on their looks. wtf?
    I read this book years ago and thought “well I’m from another planet entirely, then.”

  7. Read it! And no, it didn’t do a thing for me. Gave it away. 🙂
    I read one of Bev’s too. Wish I could remember which one. I think it may have been better than her said ex-husb. But not much as I gave that one away too… hehe.
    And the ‘cougar’ thing? More shite. Utter tripe. Who makes up this crap?

    • isn’t that a cheap bourbon? *spew*

      sorry all i can think of is that tasteless bourbon ad bit the big-boobed blonde, or for some reason courtney cox (and BEFORE that TV show came out too!?) and other old, blow-dried american women. well the name is of american origin i guess..

  8. I’ve read Bev too…from what I remember she basically says be your own person, make yourself happy, only enter a relationship with an equal, make sure he’s as committed as you, and make sure both of you are rowing the relationship boat together….or forget about it.

    Wisest thing that she says is that anyone who has been madly in love and over the moon happy who has discovered that the object of their affection was a cad/unworthy/not in to it….has also discovered the secret to happiness. That the feeling was real enough but that you’ve misidentified the source ….it was never created by them….it was created by you.

    I think I was quite surprised how down to earth her advice was. None of it new – just well explained.

    • I think that’s really true. YOU are the one who creates the feeling. But the thing is I can’t manage to recreate it without someone who fits the bill. Like someone I like is physcially co-ordinated, which is amazing to me because I’m not, so I project my self being made whole by this person who can do something I can’t.

      Sure I’ve created the feeling, i’ve projected something onto them, but I can’t seem to tap into that feeling without someone who is physically co-ordinated. No matter how much I work on self-love, or improving my own physical co-ordination. Ya know what I mean?

      • Yes, I do. I do know what you mean. I think that’s the whole point of having The Other. Non?

        We are whole unto ourselves but we cannot journey alone, I thought that was the whole point of this intrinsic and anciently intuitive longing to couple. I don’t feel its right to presume that the journey is finite, and ends with a defined event i.e. marriage, spinsterhood, widowhood, etc. whatever. I think individuals bloom to life, not once but many times and our experiences, our significant others, our intimates all contribute to the conditions that either help or hinder that fruition.

        So..yes, even if we create the feeling of love, after all yes, to be love is to be in the condition of all that is loving and compassionate, (and this is not to dispute what whatsername said but to add it), it is a necessary next step to express that. And without a destination, a recipient, a something or a someone – that love sits there unexercised. It’s a verb much more than it is a noun, so certainly I feel it’s organic and natural to be activated by partners who compliment and contrast us in different ways.

        Isn’t that the essence of magnetism? The tension between polarities in nature?

        • Thank you FA. Yes, the magnetism of polarities.

          I also agree with you about the nature of love, that it is a condition generated by yourself, a oneness with compassion for others. So you’re saying without excercising love it still exists, but its a part of the process of love?

          But what about when you’re in love and you have far more compassion, affection etc. for self others etc. I feel like that th other person helps you GENERATE that love. That BIG feeling.

          I think I’m just doubting that the source is all me. At the very least I think it’s generated together.

          • I’m saying what you’re saying….that yes, one can exist in a condition of love on one’s own. You generate love individually but you generate MORE together. I feel to fulfill love, you need to reach out to someone or something.

            In other words, whether it is a work of art, a vocation, a man, a woman, a child, whatever it is, love needs to engage with The Other. That’s what gives it the expansiveness. Because on our own we would only travel what we know.

            What is to love but to understand that which is outside ourselves? To be subject to the unpredictability, the lack of control we have over others yet be able to meet them halfway in that flow, to CHOOSE to be loving when we’d rather be kicking them… and to be touched by something unexpected we could have never come up by ourselves.

            So I am saying basically that love isn’t a limited commodity. Just because you don’t have another person doesn’t mean you don’t have it. You do. The key is engaging it as an action that is beyond yourself. It’s energy, you create it on your own, and you create more with others.

            Like right now, all these things are thoughts we think to ourselves, but sharing it with people here, that’s a form of love and it releases the thoughts from musings to a discussion. There is an elevation, a growth. That’s what I meant.

  9. Mars and Venus quite fascinating and complex, it can be summed up
    fairly succinctly however. They’re the ones that like to fuck.

  10. Well, when I was a bona fide homemaker I did give my husband time when he got home from work to unwind. Of course if both are working it’s different. I mean the kids want to jump all over daddy and such and poor guy just needs to get through the door and get his shoes off.

    And I agree about the rubber band thing. Many women begin to live their lives through their man and expect him to be thethered twenty four seven. He’ll be happier to see you if you give him some space. And I don’t mind the cave thing either. I need a bubble bath away and so whats the difference. I just don’t see the big deal. Whatever works.

  11. hey i just read why men want sex and women need love. very interesting . has anyone else read it ? so anyway it says that its women in their 40s who are leading the sexual revolution .. hence all this “cougarism” stuff.

  12. never read it. was working in a bookshop back then and despised self help books. one of the regular customers was a couple (i guess that makes them 2 regular customers…) who used to order bucket loads of de angelis books for their clients in their relationship counselling business. they always had this odd slightly-posessed thing about them like they were actually elsewhere and their bodies had been left behind to glide around dreamily.

    i also despise the cougar tag, though i am not in that age bracket yet. bet it’s not too long before it gets broadened in its use to mean any woman over the age of 25…

  13. Totally agree this book is bubblegum psychcology based on the 1950’s view of relationships. It gives no credence to the complexity of awoman and a man and as we know from this site we are more than jsut our sign in venus or our sign in mars. i know lots of women who are tougher than men and men who are way more sensitive than other woman.

    it was women who lead the sexual revolution on the 60’s ala Germaine gree( moon in scorpio) although she gets more credit than deserved according to a biography i read. She was all for free love back then but this it resulted in a number of abortions. But it didn’t stop her being the ultimate aquarian F u all type.

  14. Well one thing Germaine (et al) got right is that marriage is not an equal opportunity position for women. At 47 now and happily very single, the cougar thing doesnt bother me. I have a greater sexual appetite than I did when younger and find that men my age are still growing up and quite needy; and are often looking for a replacement partner..(I however am not interested in having another pair of dirty socks’ n ‘jocks to look after .) Younger guys have a different outlook on life, and a similar sexual appetite! God if only I had a wife…lol….

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