Top critical review
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A mixed bag
on February 8, 2004
It was interesting to read this book and get a new perspective. The thesis can be summed up with this quote from the first chapter: "Feminism suggested that God might be a 'She' but not that the devil might also be a 'she.'" This is definitely true. Warren Farrell's book does a pretty good job of debunking the popular notion that women are the victims and men are the suppressors, but here is my two cents: the solutions he proposes, the issues he wants a Men's Movement to raise, are neither plausible nor realistic.
I say "implausible" because while Farrell, three-time board member of the National Organization for Women, seems to have escaped the statistical and factual errors that plague modern Women's studies, he clearly has not let go of the biggest myth of the feminist worldview: that the traditional male role is evil and needs to become more feminine. Throughout the book, he discusses Stage I versus Stage II roles for men and women, and how women have moved to Stage II but left men behind in Stage I. The problem with this idea is twofold.
First, Farrell's vision of Stage II has few--if any--distinctions between the sexes. This would take us right back where we started. Feminism has helped set the tone for what is and isn't politically correct, and as such they have effectively made "boys being boys" something politically incorrect. Women and men simply are not the same; there is plenty of evidence to that end. Second, Farrell's charge would imply that feminism has been a good thing. Visit a Women's Studies program on your college campus and see what feminism has resulted in: misandry, lying, a sense of anger over a nonexistant problem, and a scornful attitude toward women who feel a compulsion to take a more traditional role in their family.
And I say "unrealistic" because, let's face it, we are not at a point where we can abolish our military. We cannot sustain the kind of infrastructure we'd need to institute all the changes we'd need to have this kind of gender conformity--and, as you can tell, I would hotly debate whether gender conformity is a good thing in the first place. And people who believe that sexual instincts should be "repressed" believe such because they have a serious instinct that the passages in the Holy Scriptures which prohobit fornication are divinely ordained, and they are not going to be convinced that religion should "progress" to focusing on the spiritual aspect of sexual relationships rather than on sexual repression. It is possible to cherish and enjoy one's sexuality while remaining staunchly monogamous, and except for the Episcopal Church U.S.A. (for which I hear a death knell in the very near future), I don't see most major sects agreeing with Farrell's goals.
Would I recommend this book? Well, yes, I would. Obviously, I am far more conservative than the author, but despite the fact that I think he would do well to scrap a few of his lingering feminist ideologies, I think it's an excellent read. It's an interesting alternative point of view, even if it didn't convince me that Farrell's particular flavor of the Men's Movement is the proper route to solving the current gender gap. It's well-written and has lots of useful information.