Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus — so where does that leave Ufology?
Sheryl Gottschall ©
Have you noticed that the UFO field is dominated by testosterone? Traditionally, men have held the commanding influence in this field of research but I have often wondered how Ufology would change if more women became actively involved. Would women take the same path, explore the same issues, demonstrate the same values or respond to the same influences? I think not. Today’s Ufology is unbalanced and I cannot help but feel that besides the complex nature of this phenomenon it is also hindered by the male mindset and world view.
The influence of males dominating Ufology dates right back to the 1940s where we see, even then, the contactee movement mostly consisting of men, with the amount of women who went public with their contactee accounts being counted on one hand. Many of the people who have taken up the banner of Ufology since that time have been men. Why is this so? This could have been due to signs of the times and the legacy from the pre-suffragette movement, the nature of the UFO phenomenon itself or the strong desire for those who studied Ufology to appear to approach it scientifically, thereby attracting more of the male gender. One can only guess but I do favour the latter explanation. Since that time this pervasion has perpetuated but it may now be time for the opposite swing of the pendulum.
Taking on the scientific approach to Ufology requires one to focus on the hard facts leaving the “soft evidence” and “the esoteric” to quietly slip into the night, and isn’t this approach precisely what has persisted in this field so far? UFO research now struggles with the fallout of this trend, that is, contending with the integration of reductionist thinking and esoteric principles which the UFO phenomenon itself demands if we are to make any progress towards a greater understanding of it. Although the esoteric aspects of Ufology have traditionally been denied (there are the exceptions) by men wanting to present scientific credibility, it would be unfair of me not to bring to the reader’s attention the recent slight, yet noticeable, shift in Ufology brought about by the emerging influence of the New Age movement led by women. We see the reflection of this influence, now slowly impinging on the UFO field, in some of the ideas Ufology is now willing to entertain. This new cultural environment has aided tremendously in supporting tentative steps away from the traditional male oriented “nuts and bolts” approach of UFO research towards a more lateral viewpoint which may have the potential to bring us closer to the “truth” about the UFO phenomenon. This demonstrates, at least in my view, that the impact of female consciousness can affect our focus and does make a difference. Consequently, the importance of keeping a balance of input from the strengths of both men and women in UFO research is revealed.
In order to regain the balance here, Ufology needs to overcome the challenge of attracting more input from women by firstly dismantling those invisible and mostly unintentional, “not welcome signs” that are subtly hung over this area of research. Most male ufologists will have no idea of what I am referring to here, but make no mistake, they do exist. In any gender dominated environment eg, wrecking yard, lingerie shop, one can gain a sense or feeling of invisible walls. If you happen to be the less dominant gender and wander into the dominant gender’s world, you will probably develop the feeling of wanting to leave very quickly. We have all had this experience at times and it demonstrates that in any unbalanced environment we can sense those invisible walls, even though we may be consciously unaware of them.
To prove my point further and relate it to Ufology, one cannot fail to notice the proportion of men to women who speak at UFO conferences, author UFO research articles, chair or preside over UFO organizations, or who simply do the chatting on UFO email lists. To be fair, women have not been discouraged from participating in these areas but they have not been encouraged either. One cannot help but wonder what may happen if they were, or where that may lead Ufology in the future. If men and women combined their strengths in the UFO endeavour it may offer a more balanced approach in researching this enigmatic phenomenon.
As Dr John Gray states in his seminal book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, life on Mars and Venus are quite different with the focus of both seeming to be opposite, but in truth are complimentary. Typically Martians (men) focus on things and objects which manifests in initiative, activity and power while Venusians (women) focus on people and feelings which manifests in stillness , receptivity (intuition) and insight. It would not be untrue to say that in the past the Martian focus on objects has taken precedence in Ufology keeping any advancement towards deriving any meaning from it. Even the name change by many UFO organizations to include the term UFO rather than the word alien is a reflection of the turn away from the Venusian focus on people or living beings. In truth, it would have served Ufology better if UFO organisations had included the term “Alien” in their titles. At least this would not have caused the same depotentiating effect as the term UFO which now diffuses what Ufology is really about, that is, extraterrestrial life not unidentified flying objects.
Although the male and female points of view are quite different, combining the strengths of these two perspectives in the UFO movement may provide the potential for a deeper understanding that takes us somewhere other than into more confusion. There is no doubt that men and women have distinctive roles to play in the world and the UFO community could be well served by combining the talents of the two to maintain a balanced approach to the study of UFOs.