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Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men [Hardcover]

by Roy F. Baumeister
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 12, 2010 019537410X 978-0195374100 1
Have men really been engaged in a centuries-old conspiracy to exploit and oppress women? Have the essential differences between men and women really been erased? Have men now become unnecessary? Are they good for anything at all?

In Is There Anything Good About Men?, Roy Baumeister offers provocative answers to these and many other questions about the current state of manhood in America. Baumeister argues that relations between men and women are now and have always been more cooperative than antagonistic, that men and women are different in basic ways, and that successful cultures capitalize on these differences to outperform rival cultures. Amongst our ancestors---as with many other species--only the alpha males were able to reproduce, leading them to take more risks and to exhibit more aggressive and protective behaviors than women, whose evolutionary strategies required a different set of behaviors. Whereas women favor and excel at one-to-one intimate relationships, men compete with one another and build larger organizations and social networks from which culture grows. But cultures in turn exploit men by insisting that their role is to achieve and produce, to provide for others, and if necessary to sacrifice themselves. Baumeister shows that while men have greatly benefited from the culture they have created, they have also suffered because of it. Men may dominate the upper echelons of business and politics, but far more men than women die in work-related accidents, are incarcerated, or are killed in battle--facts nearly always left out of current gender debates.

Engagingly written, brilliantly argued, and based on evidence from a wide range of disciplines, Is There Anything Good About Men? offers a new and far more balanced view of gender relations.

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Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men + Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture + Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on psychological and sociological theory in what he acknowledges is an essayistic rather than scholarly work, Florida State psychology professor Baumeister addresses gender roles and equality in a simplistic and even baffling book (as an example of male-female cooperation, he writes, "Most men voted to extend the vote to women," overlooking how long it took before men agreed to cast that vote). The reason men dominate culture and rule the world, he observes, is not that men are superior to women or have designed patriarchy to oppress women but rather that culture grew out of male relationships, which resulted in large structures containing many people (whether to engage in trade or in war), and thus men were always in charge. Whereas women, in Baumeister's view, seek close one-on-one relationships that are not culture-building. The author's belief that future cultures will be better off if they recognize and accept the differences between men and women can sound an awful lot like a "separate but equal" argument. Ultimately, though, Baumeister's repetitious and circular arguments fail to contribute any fresh ideas to the gender debate.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


"[Baumeister] does make the fascinating point that men operate at the extremes, socially and biologically." --Bitch

'Male readers may find some solace in Roy F. Baumeister's "Is There Anything Good About Men?" Mr. Baumeister is less concerned about the wimpification of modern man than about the degree to which men have been historically "exploited." The very cultures that men have built, he says, have considered males more expendable than women... But men, Mr. Baumeister says, are often taken for granted and denigrated as the bane of female existence, with some gender activist insisting that women would be better off without them. In a feisty rejoinder, Mr. Baumeister says that "'if women really would have been happier without men, they would have set up shop on their own long ago."
--Dave Shiflett, Wall Street Journal

"Read this if you're open to a thought-provoking take on so-called battle of the sexes. Packed with counterintuitive but convincing points, the book will reshape how you think about sexism, feminism, and gender differences." Andrea Bartz, Psychology Todayl

"There are some interesting arguments concerning marriage, procreation, and the creation of culture that students and professionals in the field of evolutionary psychology probably
would be interested in discussing further." -- Elin Weiss, Sex Roles

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (August 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019537410X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195374100
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
By Ham
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is possibly one of the most important for men (and women) in the last 50 years of the so-called gender debate. As one of the world's leading psychologists, Baumeister takes an open and inquiring approach into many of the myths and poses the question "are there alternate explanations here?" and in doing so, debunks almost every feminist 'anti-male' myth.

However, this is not a book which is anti-female, if anything, it cleverly explains that we need both genders, and that we both serve different purposes and roles from a cultural perspective. It also dissects the apparent drive (mainly in the US) demanding that men to be more like women, which thankfully, is also debunked. We do not need men to be more like women, nor women to be more like men.

For example, Baumeister illustrates that men have great interpersonal relationship skills (which is not what the feminists claim), and that men use these in a larger social setting, whereas women have great interpersonal skills and tend to use these in more intimate 1:1 setings. Men are considered as more 'expendable' by society, are not treated equally in the workplace, in risky occupations etc...... some real eye openers in this book.

This will challenge your thinking, and is a welcome fresh perspective. Possibly the first book in the gender space to be unbiased, evidence based, and thought provoking. Highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique; Highest Possible Recommendation November 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Florida State University psychology professor Roy F. Baumeister has published an excellent, even stunning book that answers the title question, "Is there anything good about men?" with a resounding yes. To explain "why men have dominated culture and ruled the world," the author writes, "[C]ulture grew out of the way the men related to each other, more than out of women's relationships.... Because culture grew out of men's relationships--including competition, trading and communicating with strangers, and ample doses of violence--men were always in charge of it."

Ever the optimist, Baumeister believes "that the hostility between the sexes has been overstated." He points out that "women got the vote because a majority of men, only men, voted to extend the vote to women." In one deft paragraph, the author summarizes Warren Farrell's outstanding book Why Men Earn More and demolishes feminist suggestions that oppression explains the gender salary gap.

The take home for the author is, "If we want to understand gender and culture, we need to have our eyes open to how culture exploits men as well as women." Following in the tracks of Farrell, he ticks off several disadvantages of masculinity--greater likelihood of criminal sentencing and longer sentences, higher levels of homelessness, 92% of workplace deaths happen to men, and of course the male-only conscription systems in place around the world.

Baumeister reminds us of the reasons why men seem to be more expendable in these ways to society: men are in fact literally more expendable, in that "culture needs only a few men but as many women as possible" due to their biologically different roles in producing the next generation.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there anything good about this book? November 6, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
That question is easy to answer: yes! This book is an incisive, extended essay about gender differences and the role the play in our society, with positions that are backed up by a great deal of research, done both by the author and others. It also serves as an essay on the perceptions of gender in our culture, particularly among well-educated people. Until reading this book, I never realized how much misinformation about gender is widely accepted. For instance, the fact that the average male sex drive is stronger than the average female sex drive is obvious to many people (and can be proved, as the author points out), and yet textbooks and scholarly writing on sexuality and gender assert that there is no difference at all (or that women have a stronger sex drive), and this mis-perception is commonly promoted and repeated.

The beautiful thing about this book is that it is, for the most part, remarkably unbiased. As a social scientist, the author knows how to interpret data and describe its implications while avoiding value judgments. He points out where implications are clear-cut but multifaceted, and also points out where there are multiple possible causes or effects. Nonetheless, this is destined to be a controversial book. Some of the points in this book support some out-of-fashion traditional beliefs on gender. Others novel beliefs that are at simply at odds with what educated people are supposed to think. And while the author himself steers away from advocating any specific course of action, it is easy to imagine people reading more into his analyses that is actually there, due the charged nature of the topic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding March 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Simply the best book on gender available. Be a man and read it. Women who don't hate men, which I pray are the silent majority, will also enjoy it. The perpetually or professionally offended will be gleefully outraged by this book, but the rest of us will find a very optimistic message for both genders.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thinker's Book on Men and Women
Baumeister's book is above all refreshing to read. He casts aside typical arguments about gender inequality and starts from a fascinating hypothesis. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Mike
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, but longer than necessary
Professor Baumeister's book is hard to rate. On one hand it contains very interesting ideas about the differences of the two sexes based on biology and evolutionary psychology. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Tibor Mach
5.0 out of 5 stars Great quality
It came in very good quality. Wish I didn't have to spend so much money though because I didn't end up using it so much.
Published 25 days ago by Madeline
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read. first half of the book is good, you can skip the...
It is a good read in terms of understanding he dynamics that go into the different behaviors and wants of males and females. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Efren Castillo
2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting stuff, and a lot of misogyny.
I thought this book was kind of interesting, but even though the author explicitly says that he's not trying to make men out to be victims a number of times, that is absolutely... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matthew Wilding
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insights
This was one of the most interesting and insightful books I've ever read. One might expect that it would either reinforce my male prejudices or alter my perception of how men are... Read more
Published 3 months ago by James A. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars an attitude-changer
Professor Baumeister's frank, humorous book puts in writing what a lot of us have been thinking: that men can be exploited and can be as vulnerable as women. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Nanook
5.0 out of 5 stars A critical piece of writing on gender issues
I cannot recommend this book enough. I've loaned it out to multiple people since reading it, sharing it with both men and women, with both feminists and chauvinists. Read more
Published 23 months ago by David J. Ley
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating social science read
This book is well worth reading. It is objective and data-driven rather than ideological. the author introduces the reader to some conclusions that may not be known to most... Read more
Published on February 19, 2012 by J. Davis
2.0 out of 5 stars A lot of Confusion
The book is not a bad read but it goes off quite a few assumptions. Chief among them that all feminist think alike and that all feminist see men as only benefiting from patriarchy... Read more
Published on June 11, 2011 by Ljones22
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