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5 minutes
August 30, 2016

Mental Sex is Not Sexist

Last week’s article Predicting Who Will Listen to Your Story created quite a ruckus over the weekend. While most of the feedback was positive and encouraging, the topic of the Main Character’s Problem-Solving Style stirred up the hornet’s nest of haters it usually does.

Take for instance this kind letter:

This email is such tired, sexist bullshit. Seriously. You can sell your product, but confining responses to cinema based on male/female binary suppositions is really tired. Cinema is an artistic medium, and so is screenwriting. This article is stifling, very binary. It’s something for you to work though, as real art rises far past these seeming boundaries. It’s tired!

Ah yes. The suggestion that there is a difference between the way Linear problem-solvers think and Holistic problem-solvers think is complete “tired sexist bullshit”—

—except to anyone with a working brain.

I responded:

Did you even take the time to actually read through the article, or did you just see male/female and your “sexist” warning flags went haywire? There’s not a single sexist remark in my entire article. Linear and holistic are processes of thinking and they GENERALLY trend towards gender—that doesn’t mean you can’t have a female character who thinks linearly or a male character who thinks holistically. In fact, those are usually the most interesting stories. I don’t for one second think of story as black and white, either/or. But there is undeniable proof now that the popularity and frequency of a particular narrative is based on the problem-solving process of the Main Character. You can either understand this reality or ignore it all together. It was hearsay to suggest that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe at one time. The same exact thing is happening here.

This reminds me of the time last year when one of my former students from CalArts tried to throw me under the bus for teaching “fucking bullshit” (apparently this is the go-to word for simple-minded folk). This latest rant, like the one last year from that student, shares the same lack of depth in thinking and cognitive skills.

You can’t blame them really—what they really have a problem with is the use of the words Male and Female to help describe the differences between Linear and Holistic thinkers. Forget for a second the mountain of evidence and years of experience that show otherwise—they’ve been taught at a very young age that any suggestion that there might be a difference between the sexes is an instant excuse to start burning books.

They don’t bother looking into the concept further. They ignore the idea that Mental Sex—which is what the Problem-Solving Style was originally called when Dramatica was first released—is only 1/4 of the psychological makeup of the mind.1 And, unable to look up from their phones during class, they disregard the admonition that men and women can both consciously think linearly or holistically.

But the best is when they project their own subsconscious sexism onto this discussion. The ranter sent another email:

“Just don’t try to make them sit through High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma, or Armageddon.1 They will likely despise you until you find a way to balance out their annoyance with you” Who is “them”?

Holistic problem-solvers you dunderhead.

The troll saw “them” and projected “women” onto the conversation because of his own personal issues and uncomfortablility with the topic.

My Mental Sex is Linear, but the other 3/4 of my psychological makeup is Holistic. How else do you think I am able to write these articles and consider story from so many different angles? You think only women can dislike Armageddon or High Noon?

Those films are boh-ring.

Holistic thinkers can’t stand those movies because they seem simple-minded. Deadlines are a non-starter for us a majority of the time, beacuse time is fluid and not set in stone.

We use Male and Female to describe the differences between Linear and Holistic problem-solving because that has been the trend for centuries. In order for the species to survive, two bell curves needed to be in place—the Male linear thinkers on one side and the Female holistic thinkers on the other.

But times change, and with it the needs of the species for propogation. The two curves are slowly moving towards the center—with those able to balance out both methods of problem-solving succeeding and out-fertilizing those on either side of the spectrum.

We can only hope and pray that those driven to add “bullshit” to the conversation will fail to carry on their mindless genes into the next generation.


  1. The term Mental Sex is a far more accurate term than Problem-Solving Style, according to the one of the theory’s co-creators Melanie Anne Phillips. The switching of nomenclature was purely a marketing decision—to appeal to those who don’t have the time to think things through. ↩︎

Concepts covered: Main Character Problem-Solving Style.

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