Blog Post

A Non-Dramatica Appreciation of Mental Sex

Jun 18th, 2020

Few concepts prove as challenging to grasp as Mental Sex. Charged with assumptions of gender bias and saddled by the inability of some to empathize with alternate modalities of thought, this vital concept turns many writers from the Dramatica theory of story. The conditioned response is a reactionary offense, the notion that men and women think differently, leading some to suggest misogynistic overtones to educators.

Enter this harmless (and charming) YouTube video, My Girlfriend Has No Inner Monologue (the relevant part being the conversation leading up to aphasia):

While likely unfamiliar with Dramatica, the couple explains Mental Sex as if experts. Female Mental Sex observes through “abstraction,” applying language if needed to concretize thought. Male Mental Sex parses through objectification (language) in the way to subsequent abstraction—the latter struggles to grasp the former approach because it requires words to describe everything. The request is a fool’s errand as language fails to capture the essence of subjective perception.

Note the contrast between the attempt to understand the other; the man flails, the woman scoffs. To the female mind, the male thought process appears basic to the point of being silly. For the male, the female approach is alien. One side understands both sides, yet finds the other half deficient. The other side sees their side and deems the other inexplicable.

In an attempt to assuage those given to offense, the Dramatica Story Expert application re-labeled Mental Sex to Problem-solving Style. This mouthful, in addition to being inaccurate, led many to misinterpret various aspects of story.

With Subtext, the concept moves towards its original intention. Mental Sex is Mindset—as in the set of Storymind modalities like observation. Notions of Male and Female appear as Linear and Holistic, respectively. This switch alleviates any conflation of the concept with biological or mental ideas of gender.