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. Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-10-11
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Sept.)