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Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide Paperback – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

She may be smart, incisive, witty, and keenly observant but with the release of Are Men Necessary?--a series of pithy (some might say piqued) ruminations on the sexes--Maureen Dowd will never, ever be championed by guys. Not that she cares. Even those who seek to avoid her columns in the august pages of The New York Times are certain to stumble over her invective in syndication. Dowd, it often seems, is everywhere. So those seeking even more via this book should be warned: Are Men Necessary? not only asks the eponymous question; it seeks to answer it with myriad examples (some convincing, some not) drawn from the Toronto Star to Kenneth Starr, from Cosmopolitan to Condoleezza Rice. You can bet a lot of folks aren't going to relish the answer.

With hands on hips and eyes wide open, Dowd surveys gender relations in contemporary settings such as the workplace, the White House, the mall, and the media, comparing and contrasting as she goes. And while her secondary sources are endless--and, let's face it, the subject of gender inequality is not exactly new--Dowd manages to produce a fair share of bons mots. To wit, this pearl on the subject of plastic surgery and men: "I have yet to see a man come out of cosmetic surgery without looking transformed into some permanently astonished lesbian version of himself," Dowd quotes a source as saying. "It's terrifying. My friend's father had just his eyes done by the best, most highly sought-after cosmetic surgeon in New York City. And he doesn't look refreshed or well rested. He looks like he's being stabbed to death by invisible people." Dowd's generously dispersed anecdotes, though seldom as funny, are equally readable. In the end, though, one wishes Are Men Necessary? went beyond simply grocery listing examples of sexual disparity to offer concrete suggestions for change. Then again, maybe that's too great a task even for a woman like Dowd. --Kim Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Dowd's Bushworld, collecting her amped New York Times op-eds, hit big during the 2004 presidential campaign. This follow-up is as slapdash as the earlier book was slash-and-burn. What Dowd seems really to want to do is dish up anecdotes of gender bias in the media, which she does with her usual aplomb—everything from how Elizabeth Vargas was booted out of Peter Jennings's vacant chair at ABC during his illness ("I'm not sure if she has the gravitas," opines an exec) to the guys who won't date Dowd because she's got more Beltway juice (and money) than they. The rest is padding: endless secondary source and pundit quotes ("In Time, Andrew Sullivan wondered: 'So a woman is less a woman if she is a scientist or journalist or Prime Minister?' "); examples of gender relations gone wrong in books, film and TV; random interview blips ("Carrie, a publicist in her late twenties from Long Island, told me...."); little musings from girlhood that are rarely revealing enough; endless career rehashes of everyone from Anita Hill to Helen Gurley Brown. A chapter on dating is a mishmash of everything from The Rules to He's Just Not That into You; one on reproductive science (that asks the title question for real) ends up referring a lot to orgasm. It's intermittently entertaining, but neither sharp enough nor sustained enough to work as a book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042521236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425212363
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

407 of 492 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on November 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dowd is a fabulously sarcastic writer. When my opinion synches with hers, I revel in the deliciously wicked way that she expresses herself. It is a good laugh and the writing is truly unique. But when I don't agree, I find her style and opinions irritating and superficial, that is, unwilling to look beneath the surface in either a constructive or a genuinely insightful way. I suppose that is why she is a great columnist - you never have to get beyond about 800 words and you can forget her opinions as you step off the subway.

Well, this book in my opinion brings out the worst in her. She masses statistics about why so many talented women remain unattached, and makes an argument that it proves feminism has failed: because men basically want bimbos and women want to "trade up", the most interesting women (like, uh, her) get left without enduring relationships. Behind this funny and elegantly written argument, Dowd utterly fails to ask herself any of the harder questions that require introspection. Why can't she find a good relationship? Why do certain types of men approach her? Etc. It is not she who is deficient or somehow repellant to those who might love her, but men as a category and even society as a whole that come up short. This is OK for a pithy column, but in a book it wears awfully thin after the first chapter. Her lack of introspection is, well, depressingly relentless on such a personal subject. This is singularly unimpressive.

Moreover, what about all the talented women who DO find relationships that work? I am married to one of great talent and intelligence, who challenges me constantly and does not allow the marriage to stand still, even when it hurts. To have it any other way would be boring.
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109 of 129 people found the following review helpful By History Teacher on April 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dowd has absolutely nothing useful or interesting to say. I think her book is summed up by the 'pink change purse' that she gave to a young friend that says 'BOYS ARE STUPID, THROW ROCKS AT THEM.' Leaving aside the utter obnoxiousness of this (think of an item of clothing that read 'Blacks are stupid, throw rocks at them', "Jews are stupid, etc.') the sentiment truly explains her problem. She wants to throw rocks at a certain group of people and thinks that in spite of this, they should be interested in or attracted to her (or women of her sort). Wake up and smell the coffee, Maureen! You don't need evolution to explain why you haven't been able to get married. Maybe men are dumb, as you endlessly say in this book, but they are sure smart enough to stay away from rock-throwing women. Ooof!

P.S. I am a female Yale graduate. I've been happily married for 23 years, so its not being smart that is the problem. I have three sons who I am raising to stay away from women like Maureen!
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74 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Ono No Komachi on December 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm a married professional woman and and consider myself a feminist, but I probably disliked this book as much as the angry males on here.

The book primarily a collection of stereotypes. There is an element of truth in some of these, but some of it is just wrong.

For example, Dowd states she would have had a better chance at being married if she had chosen a career as a maid. That's possible, but most likely in that case she'd probably be married to a janitor, not one of the high status males she seems to feel she deserves.

Maureen Dowd is the female equivalent of all those angry men who complain they aren't getting any because women are too focused on men with money...It's always easier to blame the outside world for your failures then look in the mirror.

She does have a point that "society" still values women primarily as sex objects, but men are not the only ones to blame for this either. A much, much better book on that subject is "Female Chauvanist Pigs".

I admit this book is entertaining, but don't give Ms. Dowd your money - buy it used.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Thomas W. Jeffries on January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a great admirer of Maureen Dowd. Her column in the New York Times is the first thing I turn to after scanning the top stories. Her choice of language is always entertaining, and her insights into the psychological motives of public officials always add new dimensions to my understanding of the news. I was therefore rather distressed when her column disappeared for several months while she was on "book leave".

For anyone else who loves her column - rest assured that this book will not disappoint. Dowd is best when glib and entertaining, and most irritating when she affronts our closest held biases. Her critique of Bill Clinton's womanizing rankled my liberal prejudice, but eventually helped me realize how deeply it offended large segments of the public. This volume has large measures of that which will both amuse and challenge your sensibilities.

What has most perplexed me is how Dowd seems to fixate on the sexual aspects of our society, and in a way this book is her own exploration of that obsession. She admits in the very first line that she does not understand men - and even that she does not understand what she does not understand about them. While many might confess to this failing from either side of the sexual abyss, most would be content to live with their doubts and use ambiguity to cover up moments of uncertainty. Instead, Maureen Dowd attacks the eternal dance of equivocation head-on.

It is difficult to know exactly what playbook she is reading from when it comes to personal relationships.
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