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Is There Anything Good about Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men

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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 manho 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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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 manho 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.

30 review for Is There Anything Good about Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    The first half of this book was fascinating. Overall, the book was well written, well organized, and well thought out. I applaud the author for being willing to speak candidly about an opinion that is not considered politically correct. And, at first I thought that his opinions were right on the mark. Then I kept reading and I became more and more conflicted. As I read I was first impressed, then incredulous, and occasionally downright insulted. I think the author honestly attempted to remain unb The first half of this book was fascinating. Overall, the book was well written, well organized, and well thought out. I applaud the author for being willing to speak candidly about an opinion that is not considered politically correct. And, at first I thought that his opinions were right on the mark. Then I kept reading and I became more and more conflicted. As I read I was first impressed, then incredulous, and occasionally downright insulted. I think the author honestly attempted to remain unbiased. However, in this regard he failed spectacularly. The tone of the writing gets progressively more antagonistic and defensive as the book wears on. He claims he is tired of the "war of the sexes" and that his stance is one of equal but different. These things I can agree with. But later his examples come across as extremely pro-male dominance. Some of them are simply very tired and nearly-dead stereotypes that he has resurrected and attempted to present as new information. Others were interesting and appropriate but over-used (It seemed as though he mentioned the "women start businesses but don't go anywhere with them" example on every other page). I was also very disappointed that he did not explore the deeper reasons for his conclusions. I can get on board with the idea that men and women have evolved very different motivations. I think he explores the biological reasons of this in the men but fails to fully do the same for women. Instead just basically indicates women are lazy and content to be mediocre. That is the same as saying men are just worthless, relentless competitors. Neither is true. While this is a book about men, not women, it is unfair to explain one and not the other when using them in contrast. I liked this book because it really made me think and I believe the author is on the right track. However, I felt there were too many problems to really recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Greg Linster

    The title of Florida State psychologist Roy Baumeister’s book speaks to how silly much of the rhetoric surrounding the gender debate has become. Dare I suggest that both sexes are good? We don’t need our men to be more like women, nor our women to be more like men. Both sexes need each other for who they are. Someone had to write this book and I’m glad that Baumeister had the audacity (and tenure) needed to do so. To put it simply, this is hands-down the best book on gender differences I’ve ever The title of Florida State psychologist Roy Baumeister’s book speaks to how silly much of the rhetoric surrounding the gender debate has become. Dare I suggest that both sexes are good? We don’t need our men to be more like women, nor our women to be more like men. Both sexes need each other for who they are. Someone had to write this book and I’m glad that Baumeister had the audacity (and tenure) needed to do so. To put it simply, this is hands-down the best book on gender differences I’ve ever read. Read the rest of my review of Is There Anything Good About Men? here.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zahwil Dossa

    Baumeister gives a standard economic argument to explain differences in outcomes (e.g. career success, incomes) between men and women. He attributes these differences, not to oppression as feminists would have us believe, but to differing levels of motivation. Women, says Baumeister, are better at close, intimate relationships while men are better at developing broad networks of shallow relationships. Men, for evolutionary reasons, strive to achieve greatness. In our evolutionary pasts, only tho Baumeister gives a standard economic argument to explain differences in outcomes (e.g. career success, incomes) between men and women. He attributes these differences, not to oppression as feminists would have us believe, but to differing levels of motivation. Women, says Baumeister, are better at close, intimate relationships while men are better at developing broad networks of shallow relationships. Men, for evolutionary reasons, strive to achieve greatness. In our evolutionary pasts, only those men who climbed to the top were able to have sex and reproduce. As a result, the men who are around today are the descendants of the few chosen men who had in them a strong sexual drive and were able to oust many other men in a competition in which women were the prize. Baumesiter argues that culture exploits men. One of the ways he says it does is by marriage, which he sees as a way of transferring wealth earned by men to women and children. Baumeister says he is a romantic, but it's clear from his writing that he is anything but. He suggests that love is a myth propagated by culture to get men to make a life-long commitment, financial and sexual, to a single woman. Men get the raw end of the bargain over time, as their wives gain weight and lose their sexual appeal, while the men become richer and more powerful. Baumeister argues that culture curbs men's sexual desires by encouraging them to commit to a single woman. He suggests that half of all men will cheat on their wives at some point, and that men who have the choice choose to have sex with multiple partners. He points to superstars like professional athletes or famous actors or politicians, whose sex lives are frequently the subject of scandal. He also refers to a campus experiment where three quarters of attractive men agreed to have sex in a heart beat with an anonymous woman. When the experiment was reversed, with men approaching attractive women, there were no takers. Culture, says Baumeister, dangles an elusive carrot of abundant, willing sexual partners, to harness men's talents in the creation of wealth for society. It is elusive both because men's sexual fantasies are somewhat beyond reality and because few men reach greatness, while those who do have paid a high price along the way in terms of self-sacrifice. Male ego and overconfidence ensure that all men give it their best shot, which acts as a sorting mechanism to reveal the few men who are really capable of greatness. It is these men whose contributions move society forward. Throughout the book, Baumeister attacks the widespread view that men and women are the same in every relevant respect and the corollary that there must be systemic oppression of women in our society. This belief rests on two fallacies. First, although men and women have the same average ability, the distribution for men has fatter tails - more dispersion of ability at either end of the spectrum. When making the case for women's oppression, people tend to focus at the top of the distribution, where they find predominantly men among the ranks of top CEO's and politicians. what they fail to notice is that men also dominate the bottom positions in society: the prisons, death row, the homeless, the mentally disabled. As Baummmeister puts it, men are nature's way of rolling the dice. If nature lucks out by stumbling upon a winning genetic variation, the man who has it has lots of sex with many women, thereby propagating the trait rapidly. On the flip side, when a trait has a bad outcome, the man fails to reproduce, and the trait meets a quick end. Women, in contrast, are able to mother only a limited number of babies during their lifetime, so nature has endowed them with greater moderation and risk-aversion. Their abilities are more tightly clustered in the middle of the distribution. The second fallacy to which people fall victim is to overlook differences in motivation. Men are far more ambitious than women within the male domain of broad, shallow relationships which characterize most large organizations. To support his case, Baumeister points to surveys of the female graduates of IVY leagues universities, which find that significant fractions of these top-performing women are unemployed several years after graduation. Since they graduated from the top universities in the world, these women clearly face an abundance of career choices and are sought-after by the most prestigious employers. The decision many women make to stay home with their children instead of pursuing the top-tier career available to them reveals their lower level of motivation to take on this kind of work. Some but not all of the book resonates with my own experiences. When I look at my own life in my early 20's, I see how central to my life were my sexual desires and how preoccupied I was with trying to satisfy them. Looked at through Baumeister's lens, I see the twin forces of nature and culture having done a number on me. Nature endowed me with plenty of restless sexual energy and drive to climb to the top. Culture then stepped in with the institution of marriage. Once I got married and had children, the restless energy was replaced with an intense career orientation knowing that my family now depends on my financial support. I think marriage, viewed from a broad cultural perspective, is a great tool to get men to hanker down on their careers and create wealth for society. Without marriage, men would wander the land restlessly with their minds never far from their next sexual conquest. To tame the "beast", men need a contract which entitles them to sex with a single woman and forbids them, through social norms, from looking beyond. This takes men's energy and attention away from trying to have sex with many women and channels it into more productive means.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    "Although feminist ideas are mentioned from time to time in this book, I want to emphasize from the start that I am not debating any actual feminist scholars of the movement of feminist thought itself. In fact, I strongly suspect there is not point in debating with feminists...That means that even if an outsider like me made the most brilliant, correct, and insightful point against some feminist claim, the feminists wouldn't listen or change their views one iota. So why bother?" Well, he didn't t "Although feminist ideas are mentioned from time to time in this book, I want to emphasize from the start that I am not debating any actual feminist scholars of the movement of feminist thought itself. In fact, I strongly suspect there is not point in debating with feminists...That means that even if an outsider like me made the most brilliant, correct, and insightful point against some feminist claim, the feminists wouldn't listen or change their views one iota. So why bother?" Well, he didn't technically lie; he doesn't debate actual feminist scholars. Instead, he decides to create an Imaginary Feminist (!!!) who is to represent the 'established wisdom/feminists as perceived by men'. Oh boy. "The idea of a glass ceiling is that there are hidden conspiracies among men to keep women down...Moreover, most serious social scientists recognize that conspiracy theories are generally wrong, and this one should be considered quite dubious." So we come to the false premise that underlies much of the book. Baumeister refers to common feminist claims as anything other than 'conspiracies' exactly two times and expunges them on this basis repeatedly throughout the book. For someone with a PhD, I expect better. "From the unfeeling perspective of the system, it could be worth it to restrict female access to education." Yikes. "Before we condemn men as hopeless sinners, however we might feel a moment of sympathy for their unrewarded successes. How many times on the dance floor, possibly head swimming with too many drinks, did he want to reach out and touch some woman’s derriere, and yet he resisted? How many times did he stop as soon as the woman with whom he was necking said to stop? He doesn’t get any credit for all the times he stifles his desires, despite all the struggle and sacrifice that they cost him. Daily he wrestles with the beast, and mostly he keeps it controlled, even though it is part of him and, crucially, when he does manage to give it the sex it wants, the result has been some of the most glorious moments of bliss he has ever known. Mostly he succeeds in restraining himself. Out of every thousand times he has to deny himself and stop himself from acting on his feelings, once or twice he slips up, and these can be enough to shame him. In fact he’s lucky if their only lasting effect is painful memories tinged with shame, embarrassment, and guilt. These little slip-ups could ruin him, costing him his career, his marriage, his happiness, even his freedom." He wants men to get credit for not sexually assaulting women... There are many reasons to debate with feminists. To do so fruitfully, one would actually need to do what Baumeister referred to in the beginning - make brilliant, correct, and insightful points against some feminist claims. Baumeister fails to do this in this book. There is plenty good about men and they deserve a lot better than what they have currently and a hell of a lot better than what this book offers them.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aurélien Thomas

    Here was a book which truly had a potential. Yet it fails, and fails miserably. It's not that the premise of the author is wrong (culture DO exploits men, who are indeed expendable). What is appalling here are the reasons given as to why culture is how it is; the solutions proposed; and, where to take us all from there. Let's call a spade a spade: Roy F. Baumeister might claim the contrary pages after pages, nevertheless, here's a sexist and prejudiced book, lazy in its argumentation, and poor in Here was a book which truly had a potential. Yet it fails, and fails miserably. It's not that the premise of the author is wrong (culture DO exploits men, who are indeed expendable). What is appalling here are the reasons given as to why culture is how it is; the solutions proposed; and, where to take us all from there. Let's call a spade a spade: Roy F. Baumeister might claim the contrary pages after pages, nevertheless, here's a sexist and prejudiced book, lazy in its argumentation, and poor in its biased and chauvinistic conclusions. But, first of all, let's give him some credit and start by recognising where he is right. At its core, what is it all about? Well, a powerful argument: yes, we live in a man's made world. Yet, such man made world always has been a double-edge sword for men themselves. It's been allowing them to thrive, take charge, suit their ambition and drive. It also entails a culture which exploits them and make them expendable. He, in fact, bashes against the feminists as he imagines them (more on that later...) who, according to him, are so brainwashed into reducing everything to a battle of gender that they delude themselves into believing there is such a thing as a patriarchy: 'How can you say men are exploited, if they run everything?... The mistake in that way of thinking is to look at the top of society and draw conclusions about society as a whole. Yes, there are mostly men at the top. But if you look at the bottom, really at the bottom, you'll find mostly men too. These are the worst outcomes society has to confer. And in each case, men far outnumber women... Look at the prisons... the homeless... death on the job... being killed in battle.' Indeed. And, had he stays onto that line of thinking and argumentation the author would have made a powerful impact: the so-called patriarchy is not a system to deliberately excludes women (such exclusion was a by-product); it's a competitive system let loose, which has thrived only through toxic masculinity. Men as a group surely reached the top, but it came as a price -them being expendable as individuals. And here we could have gone: in a society where feminism has been triumphing and women got empowered, women, thankfully, gained access to the culture made by men. They influence it. The patriarchy is receding. Yet, if things have positively changed a great deal for them, have they changed for men? Not much. Toxic masculinity is still pretty much prevalent, with all its nasty consequences for men themselves (again: culture exploits men). In fact, I had picked up this book believing it would be a reflection of such... It's not. The author doesn't go into that line of thinking and argumentation. Instead, where does he go? He attacks feminism as he perceives it, and, doing so, demeans women. It starts: 'the idea that all men think of themselves as powerful beings is one of the most absurd and unfounded assertions in the gender studies arena. The Imaginary Feminist often starts her analyses by thinking of the male role as one of power. Few actual men think that way. Most men know there is a hierarchy of power and that they are far from the top.' 'the conventional view of men enjoying lives of ease and privilege while women toil and suffer is not correct.' Well, yes! But, then, who would entertain such views about men? From my experience, no one. I have yet to come across a feminist who truly believes that there is a conspiracy of men to keep women down! The funny thing is... so is the author! The whole book is in fact an argument against who he calls (as in the first quote above) the 'Imaginary Feminist'. Oh boy! I understand he means 'imaginary' as a pretend person, but, sadly, it quickly turns out that his 'imaginary' is actually an embodiment of opinions that are not representative of feminism as a whole! Don't get me wrong: I loathe the victim culture and indulging in misandry of a certain trend of radical feminists as much as the author does. But, this trend is just that: a loosie bunch of radicals. Maybe such looneys are successful on American campuses? I don't know; I don't see them around. Thing is, such misandry is NOT what feminism is about, and, so, his is a straw man argument through and through. It gets worse. The author mostly tries to explain how the culture men-made came about, or, at least (since women have been empowered and welcomed in what were once all-male institutions) how it came to be shaped by men. Wow! It's so sexist, you'll be hard pressed to don't see it as plain misogynistic! In fact, he advances outdated arguments. For instance, he admits that men and women are biologically different, and, so, have different drive (men and women are social in different ways'): where women prefer intimate and close relationships, men prefer big groups. The patriarchy, then, according to him, is a by-product of these differences: 'The men formed armies, churches, corporations, unions and governments. The women did not. Much later, the women did begin to form a few large groups, but mostly these were aimed at protesting against what the men did... Men created groups that were proactive.' 'The fact that culture emerged from the men's sphere is the key reason for the increase in gender inequality. Crucially, the difference did not arise because women were pushed down, as the Imaginary Feminist argues. Rather, it arose because men went up.' In other words: culture has been shaped by successful men because men, gathering in large groups, battled against each other for success. Women never were in charge of anything, because they never created anything and took no part in such battles -not because they were deliberately excluded. Mind you, he doesn't claim women are inferior in any way to men. Contradicting himself, he doesn't even claim that women are not motivated enough to create and evolve within big groups of their own! What he claims (brace yourself!) is that when women create big groups, it's mostly as a drum to nag and whinge: 'Women mostly do not do things in big groups. Indeed, the main thing women have done in large groups is to protest and complain about the men and the men's activities. On this, women have been useful and successful in collective work. I refer here not only to the feminist movements from the suffragists onward, but also to various campaigns to protest men's drunkenness, to reduce vice such as by getting men to stop using prostitutes, and the like. Is he serious?! Is he sarcastic?! Lost among so much sexist prejudices I admit I can't tell. At least he had the decency to add, in a separate sentence of course: 'Women's groups were also active in campaigning against slavery.' Ha! Sweet. At last. Jokes asides, here we go again: debunking such bias. There is no scientific evidence that women do indeed prefer close and intimate relationships over the competition within big groups. The author seems to rely on socio-biology to claim so, yet he cites no evidence from the field to support the argument (and I am not aware of any). Here then are just, as the terminology goes, 'just-so stories'. More: following the success of feminism and the integration of women in such big groups (politics, businesses...) women have proven themselves perfectly capable to succeed within such social environments, at times even better than men themselves. The biological argument, then, doesn't stand. It doesn't stand, yet the author relies entirely on it to explain the reason why, despite decades of feminism, positions of power are still in majority into the hands of men and not women. 'there are real, innate differences between men and women, including in capabilities and inclinations... they are rooted in biology... people are born with these differences (at least as tendencies)' Let's emphasise 'capabilities and inclinations'. I emphasise because it shows how deeply ingrained his bias are. The issue is that, talking about 'capabilities and inclinations' as he does, he wrongly uses biology to explain and justify women being in subservient positions when they are. To him indeed, it's all about motivation only. Do women really want to work the top jobs in sciences? Politics? Corporate businesses? Do they really want managerial positions in various fields of work? Or, do they prefer to focus on 'close and intimate relationships' that is, stay home to care for their families? According to this line of thinking, there is no glass ceiling; just women not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the top. Women are, biologically (supposedly) not tough enough, ambitious enough, driven enough. He actually is very candid (making this even more shocking coming from a University Professor): when men shaped the culture by taking risks and competing against each others, women, on the other hand, were busy otherwise: 'they competed to get a better versus less desirable mate. And they did this not by besting other women at physical tasks, but by being more beautiful and sweet and lovable than the others.' Yep! You've read that right! This book smacks of such sexist prejudices. You want another one? Here's another one: 'For the females, being attractive, healthy, and yes, loving and lovable were the traits that were passed along to the offspring. For the males, the vital traits were strength, aggressiveness, and ambition.' Obviously, as a result: 'striving for greatness has often demanded (and still demands) a dedication to work and career that is difficult to reconcile with having a large brood of children. Hence, that passion for greatness may not be as deeply ingrained in the psychology of today's women.' I wanted to laugh. It could be funny. It's not. I will pass over the poor understanding (if at all) of the nature-nurture interplay in evolutionary biology. I will point instead to something way more alarming: explaining the fate and position within society of whole groups of people (here, women) by blaming it on their sole biology. It's appalling. Historically, such way of thinking even had terrible consequences. If anything, I am flagger basted that such [email protected] has been published by Oxford University Press! There, I said it: [email protected] I don't like cheap insults, so to illustrate my point I will pick on one, just one, of his examples: women giving up on successful career when they become mothers, to leave it instead to their male partner to be the breadwinner. I choose this example because it strikes me as him missing even the whole point of the core argument he is supposedly making in this book that is, our culture exploits men. He is right to point at women absent from top positions despite societal incentives to put them there, and he is right to link it to motherhood. Where he misses the point by a long shot, is when he claims that this is so because women are biologically geared to have less motivation than men -they ultimately settle for the cosy housewife lifestyle instead of working their arse off to climb a career ladder. Having babies is their excuse to give up, and, then, they dare complain top shot positions at work are filled by men! Oh so wrong! It has nothing to do with motivation (let alone innate). It has to do with men having been let down. As I say earlier, a lot has been done to empower women and give them incentives to succeed at school first, on the marketplace then. It worked. Sadly, nothing has been done to balance this by supporting men to participate in their household. Why? Well, here's another field where men are being expendable: in societies that are more GDP-friendly than family-friendly, men keep being perceived and valued as paycheques over being fathers and husbands. This is why paternity leaves are ridiculously short compared to maternity leaves (I don't know in the USA where the author is from, but, in the UK where I live paternity leaves are two weeks only...). This is why, as a result, women end up staying at home: not by choice, but by necessity. Roy F. Baumeister had here the floor to make a compelling argument had he wished to: here's the evidence that culture, indeed, exploits men by reducing them as sole producers, providers and paycheques. He could have pointed out that, ironically, women pay the price. He could have make a compelling argument for measures to be implemented in order to reach a compromise between gender -measures which, like the ones that had allowed women to step up onto the marketplace, would allow men to step up into their household. After all, in countries where paternity leaves matches maternity leaves, women DO have successful careers, and men's careers are not affected. But he doesn't. Instead, sexist as he is, he just sees women not motivated enough to work themselves to the top, and, so, not being worthy of being at the top in the first place. His dismissal is blunt. Were he to be taken seriously, women would see decades of hard fought battles and progress for social justice snatched away from them. To him indeed, they are biologically geared to compete only to breed: 'Female motivational resources are more suited toward quality reproduction' And, so, we should question our trying to empower them to do and be otherwise: 'to take privileged places and resources like education, and then not use them, has some cost to society also. I cannot defend the decision of those parents who refused to pay for a Cornell education for their daughter, nor would I refuse to work with female students simply because they might be more likely than males to drop out of the field after years of training. Still, I can understand why a culture might produce people who have that policy. From the unfeeling perspective of the system, it could be worth it to restrict female access to education.' What's the point of educating women indeed, if, as soon as they get pregnant (their natural inclination) they will leave it to the men to do the dirty jobs and bring in the money while they enjoy a life of comfort at home? I am not caricaturing his view. As far as he is concerned, women don't even contribute much to progress and innovation anyway! For example: 'some of the longevity enjoyed by today's women is a result of the scientific work by men... not least in the improvements in the rates of surviving childbirth. It would be nice if women, collectively, could do something equally beneficial for men, something that would extend men's lives, but don't bet on it.' I could go on, from women supposedly not being tough enough to take the rough talks and attitude of an all male workplace (in other words: harassment and putdowns are just misunderstanding, no need to sue) to men being driven, brave and ambitious thanks to their innate sex drives (sorry wives, but cheating is in our genes...). I could go on but I won't. This was bad. Plain bad.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I read this book because I thought the title was intriguing. I thought it could have been a great book about how men are socialized to be exploited, or that American or Western Culture produces men that are expendable, and exploitable so that it can flourish. I thought the book could have been great. Instead the book is a 300 page argument with an imaginary feminist. It was lazy. The author even said so in the back of the book. He said that if he was writing this book to be taken seriously he wo I read this book because I thought the title was intriguing. I thought it could have been a great book about how men are socialized to be exploited, or that American or Western Culture produces men that are expendable, and exploitable so that it can flourish. I thought the book could have been great. Instead the book is a 300 page argument with an imaginary feminist. It was lazy. The author even said so in the back of the book. He said that if he was writing this book to be taken seriously he would have had research to back up his claims. Essentially what the author does is take common "misconceptions" about gender differences and points out the biases in the arguments, the statistical discrepancies that either are used to show men as oppressors, or women as champions. He will then make his conclusions based on those corrected discrepancies. Probably the weakest part of the book is that he spends so much time defeating the "imaginary feminist" that he doesn't actually back up his conclusions or really dig deep into the issues at hand. I do not accept that women earn less on average simply because they don't desire to work as hard as men. I could accept the premise if there was a deeper exploration of the issue. Why are women less motivated? Why are men more? It isn't biological like the author would have you believe. My biggest fear is that people who do not have much background into gender issues would read this book and be convinced that the author has made good points. The only people I would recommend this book to social scientists who want to practice tearing apart arguments, or playing devils advocate with hard core feminists.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Avi

    If it were possible to give a book 0 stars (or even better, negative stars), I would. This book is actual sexist, misogynistic garbage that I would not have so much as read past the first page if it had not been a required text for a class. Among Baumeister's many claims are that only men can innovate because women are good for absolutely nothing besides reproducing, men should be rewarded for not sexually harassing women, men must produce something in a culture whereas a woman need only to take If it were possible to give a book 0 stars (or even better, negative stars), I would. This book is actual sexist, misogynistic garbage that I would not have so much as read past the first page if it had not been a required text for a class. Among Baumeister's many claims are that only men can innovate because women are good for absolutely nothing besides reproducing, men should be rewarded for not sexually harassing women, men must produce something in a culture whereas a woman need only to take off her clothes, and that our current patriarchal society is actually set up to use, misuse, mistreat, and manipulate men for the good of evil, useless, manipulative women. If you think that I am exaggerating then seriously, read the book. You will find that he actually makes these claims. I feel like a dumber and more ignorant person just for reading his book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marshall

    It's sad that our culture has become so anti-male that we seriously ask a question like, Is there anything good about men? This book is about what purpose men have served in our culture, and the ways our culture exploits men. As an answer to all of the various feminist complaints, it is insufficient. What it does is builds a case for a perspective rarely seen in gender discussions: evolutionary psychology. It spends a lot of time discussing the way humans have evolved culture to band together fo It's sad that our culture has become so anti-male that we seriously ask a question like, Is there anything good about men? This book is about what purpose men have served in our culture, and the ways our culture exploits men. As an answer to all of the various feminist complaints, it is insufficient. What it does is builds a case for a perspective rarely seen in gender discussions: evolutionary psychology. It spends a lot of time discussing the way humans have evolved culture to band together for a common purpose, which both shaped and was shaped by gender differences, namely men's greater upper-body strength and women's pregnancies. Each had their roles to play in culture-building: men, through leadership and strength, and women through nurturance and child-raising. This is not a conservative argument for traditional gender roles. It's merely an overview of our current understanding of human biology. Traditional gender roles stem from an outdated misunderstanding about gender differences: that men and women are inherently better or worse at some things than the other. Modern biology shows that these differences are in fact so slight as to be insignificant, though they do exist. This book argues that the real difference is in the psychologies each gender has evolved, which shaped their respective preferences. Females tend to prefer one-on-one relationships, whereas males tend toward larger groups. The implications of these gender differences are quite far-reaching, and can help explain many cultural differences that feminists have insisted we should attribute to a patriarchal conspiracy to oppress women. There's little evidence of such a conspiracy, and yet the differences remain. This book offers an elegant explanation for these differences, and has more evidence to support it. Obviously, this contradicts the feminist party line, as well as the common understanding in our culture. Feminism officially denies evolutionary psychology. In fact, they feel threatened by it. They believe humans are malleable blank slates which patriarchal culture shapes to its own ends. It makes intuitive sense, but it is rather simplistic, and it flies in the face of a burgeoning field of science. It will be forced to reconcile itself with an increasing plethora of evidence. The reason modern (specifically, third-wave) feminists are so threatened by this perspective is that it undermines their entire platform. Just as evolution took away the need for God as an explanation for the existence of life, it also takes away the need for Patriarchy as an explanation for the gender differences in our culture. And to do that would be to absolve men of many (most?) of the crimes they're collectively accused of. It will be interesting to see how this struggle plays out in Women's Studies and in politics in the decades to come. This book gives a good preview. But it goes beyond that and shows many ways that men are treated as expendible, beasts of burden in our culture. It shows the huge role men's unique characteristics have created many things we enjoy and take for granted--breakthroughs in medicine and technologies that make our lives easier and more pleasant. Many of these specifically benefit women. But men's ways also created a lot of problems, so these benefits were certainly trade-offs. In this way it sounds very much like Warren Farrell's books, but without the resentment that seems rife in Farrell's books, and also more cohesive than Farrell's arguments. This book tries very hard to make a balanced argument, and constantly points out that neither gender is inherently better than the other. Nevertheless, he does come off as slightly sexist at times, and there were a few indications that his male perspective has biased his arguments, what feminists call "male privilege." Many feminists are hyper-sensitive to these issues, sometimes to the point of hostility. For this reason, I would never recommend this book to a feminist. Instead, I would point them toward Ceasefire Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality and Who Stole Feminism.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    This book definitely makes you think about the reasons for inequalities between men and women as well as how men are used by our culture. Baumeister does a great job of presenting alternative explanations for issues like the pay difference between men and women. However, I feel like parts of the book could have been presented in much more sensitive ways. As a woman, I felt defensive in parts of the book and I think a lot people will be turned off by the way the information was presented.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Olga

    I didn't read the book, but i found an essay written by the author on is book and i was impressed. If you don't have the time to read all the 320 pages, just read the essay following the link http://www.denisdutton.com/baumeister... I didn't read the book, but i found an essay written by the author on is book and i was impressed. If you don't have the time to read all the 320 pages, just read the essay following the link http://www.denisdutton.com/baumeister...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This book isn't horrible, but despite the author's insistence that he's not a misogynist and that he's not trying to paint men as victims, he kind of is and the book kind of does. It's worth reading if you're interested in masculinity, but it's not exactly chock full of words to live by. This book isn't horrible, but despite the author's insistence that he's not a misogynist and that he's not trying to paint men as victims, he kind of is and the book kind of does. It's worth reading if you're interested in masculinity, but it's not exactly chock full of words to live by.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    3.6/5 1 star reviews are a bit unfair. However, the second part of the book is an excellent example of evolutionary theory misuse, and I understand the critique of it. Still, it is preferable to be able to discuss these topics and to what degree such interpretations as the author's bear relevance, or not. And he does make many good points. 3.6/5 1 star reviews are a bit unfair. However, the second part of the book is an excellent example of evolutionary theory misuse, and I understand the critique of it. Still, it is preferable to be able to discuss these topics and to what degree such interpretations as the author's bear relevance, or not. And he does make many good points.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Rutter

    There is no way to present the ideas in this book without looking sexist. People have lost careers saying these things. They are extremely unpopular. Does that make them untrue? Some of the things written here do appear to be false, but this is not a work of science. It's an essay. I do wish this were written more like a literature review and less like a pop-sociology book, but it certainly did not leave me wanting for things to think about. Things that I could be shunned for pondering aloud... There is no way to present the ideas in this book without looking sexist. People have lost careers saying these things. They are extremely unpopular. Does that make them untrue? Some of the things written here do appear to be false, but this is not a work of science. It's an essay. I do wish this were written more like a literature review and less like a pop-sociology book, but it certainly did not leave me wanting for things to think about. Things that I could be shunned for pondering aloud...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ian Pollock

    Baumeister makes a good case that the rhetoric of gender politics has become unmoored from reality and selectively blind to, among other things, the lives of men. (One quick proof of this is that despite participating in the workforce in close to equal numbers, over 90% of workplace deaths occur among men, the gender with the supposedly huge advantages in every sphere. Clearly, things are not THAT simple.) He claims that men and women are biologically different in interesting ways (mostly related Baumeister makes a good case that the rhetoric of gender politics has become unmoored from reality and selectively blind to, among other things, the lives of men. (One quick proof of this is that despite participating in the workforce in close to equal numbers, over 90% of workplace deaths occur among men, the gender with the supposedly huge advantages in every sphere. Clearly, things are not THAT simple.) He claims that men and women are biologically different in interesting ways (mostly related to motivation rather than ability), and that this specialization is useful. If you want a one-sentence summary: culture IS sexist. It infantilizes women - that much is true, but it also treats men as disposable. How strongly men and women want to object to these things is a different question. I found this book more interesting as a statement of the hilarious biases of gender politics, than as a serious exposition of gender differences from a scientific or philosophical perspective. A lot of the science is pretty handwavy. For example, supposedly gender specialization is "good for the group" and so selected by evolution. But although natural selection *can* act at the group level, the effect is almost always incredibly weak (because even men and women in a group who *don't* specialize can benefit from the marginally more specialized genetic variant men and women). Nonetheless I recommend this book as an excellent collection of heresies about gender, some of which are spot on, that should serve as a useful corrective to the pious common wisdom.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    I found the first quarter of this book really insightful and entertaining, but after that the author begins to diminish the very real accomplishments and struggles that women have had. This is an example of what turned me off about the book: One dramatic and revealing contrast concerns giving birth. What could be more feminine than giving birth? The birthing process has always been central to women’s lives, and for the thousands of years when men and women had separate social spheres, giving birt I found the first quarter of this book really insightful and entertaining, but after that the author begins to diminish the very real accomplishments and struggles that women have had. This is an example of what turned me off about the book: One dramatic and revealing contrast concerns giving birth. What could be more feminine than giving birth? The birthing process has always been central to women’s lives, and for the thousands of years when men and women had separate social spheres, giving birth was quite definitely in the women’s sphere. Usually, men were completely excluded. They were not welcome and usually not even not permitted to be present. All the information and knowledge about the birthing process were kept to women alone. And then something curious happened. Gradually, after a long time, men were permitted access, and by using the male methods of pooling information and letting rival theories compete, men discovered ways to make the birth process safer. Male medicine has been able to change the birthing process so that many mothers and babies survive who would otherwise have died. It was mainly men, developing their theories about medicine and germs and painkillers and how the body works, who ultimately figured out ways to make childbirth safer, less painful, and less lethal for women and their babies. Indeed, these improvements came relatively fast, when contrasted with the thousands of years during which women held a monopoly on information about birthing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    William

    I read this book because a favorite online magazine of mine was having a discussion of it. After getting about halfway through, I simply had to give up. Frankly, I'm amazed at the high rating this book has. The author simply goes on and on and on about nothing in particular. He makes some good points, but instead of moving on, dwells on these points, restating them, for several more paragraphs. As an editor, it makes me wonder if he had to reach a certain number of pages before being published. Th I read this book because a favorite online magazine of mine was having a discussion of it. After getting about halfway through, I simply had to give up. Frankly, I'm amazed at the high rating this book has. The author simply goes on and on and on about nothing in particular. He makes some good points, but instead of moving on, dwells on these points, restating them, for several more paragraphs. As an editor, it makes me wonder if he had to reach a certain number of pages before being published. The author also spent a lot of time apologizing if he offended anybody, but the people who are likely reading this book are likely already on his side, and besides that, if you're writing a book about how society exploits men, you are going to likely offend some people. I made it halfway through this book, and I don't think I'm going to go any further. I had a lot of hope for this book; perhaps that was my problem -- too high of expectations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Illuminating. Extremely thought-provoking and sparked many conversations with friends. This book helped me better understand my husband, feel more compassion for men, and learn about culture. Highly recommend. Thank you for your work, Mr. Baumeister.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gabriele

    Spoiler alert! There is.

  19. 4 out of 5

    psychonout

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I used to call myself a feminist but, like many men and women, I have grown uncomfortable with the label, given what it has come to mean. ---------------- Men are more likely than women to work full-time rather than part-time. On average across the population, men are more ambitious than women. They work harder and put in hundreds more hours per year. Men are less likely than women to take a few years off during the crucial career-building years of their thirties. Men take bigger risks than women. I used to call myself a feminist but, like many men and women, I have grown uncomfortable with the label, given what it has come to mean. ---------------- Men are more likely than women to work full-time rather than part-time. On average across the population, men are more ambitious than women. They work harder and put in hundreds more hours per year. Men are less likely than women to take a few years off during the crucial career-building years of their thirties. Men take bigger risks than women. Men are more willing to sacrifice other sorts of career benefits, such as freedom from travel requirements, low stress, and even personal safety, for a higher salary. Men are more likely than women to negotiate for a higher salary. ---------------- One of the most interesting books about gender in recent years was by Norah Vincent. She was a lesbian feminist who with some expert help could pass for a man, and so she went undercover, living as a man in several different social spheres for the better part of a year. The book, Self-Made Man, is her memoir. She is quite frank that she started out thinking she was going to find out how great men have it and write a shocking feminist expose of the fine life that the enemy (men) was enjoying. Instead, she experienced a rude awakening of how hard it is to be a man. Her readings and classes in Women’s Studies had not prepared her to realize that the ostensible advantages of the male role come at a high cost. She was glad when it was over, and in fact she cut the episode short in order to go back to what she concluded was a greatly preferable life as a woman. The book she wrote was far different from the one she planned, and any woman who thinks life is better for men will find it a sobering read ---------------- Why do we keep needing new laws? Shouldn’t there be enough laws by now? But fixing one problem often creates another. Often there is no single correct solution to a social problem. That is because of tradeoffs. The better you make things in one respect, the more of a problem you create in something else ---------------- Chapter 2 proposed that gender differences were likely tradeoffs. The focus was on abilities: why nature might make one gender better than the other at doing something. To be good at one thing might detract from being good at something else. ---------------- There are several advantages to focusing on motivation when we talk about differences between men and women. For one thing, it’s less poisonous to discuss. If men and women do different things, it’s more a reflection of what they like and want to do, than of what they are capable of. Policy implications are also muted. If you thought women were less competent than men at something, you might be justified in not wanting to hire one. But if the differences arise because most women don’t like to do something, then the one who’s applying for your job is obviously different, and you don’t need to worry. ---------------- All these things reflect motivation. Men want to succeed more, they work longer at it, they care about money more, they make decisions based on money more, they are more willing to make sacrifices to succeed, and they negotiate more extensively for money. No wonder they earn more ---------------- In general, though, the fate of most males is to live in nearly total celibacy and to be a biological dead end. ---------------- Of all humans ever born, most women became mothers, but most men did not become fathers. ---------------- Nature plays the dice more with men than women. Men are nature’s playthings, nature’s guinea pigs. ---------------- Men blunder around, seeking independence, getting into fights, doing other things that sabotage their relationships, at cost to themselves. Essentially, men are just poorly designed human beings. ---------------- As we move men and women into ever more similar, intermixed lives, men have begun to cry more, but before about the 1960s American men knew not to cry, and I believe this was the standard male role for thousands of years. And for good reason. ---------------- In short, for the kind of social relations men create, it is often more important to be capable than to be lovable. It’s especially important to be capable at something relatively rare and valuable. That takes agency. ---------------- In fact, most law and morality can be understood as rules for settling the inevitable conflicts of social life by some means other than letting the bigger, stronger person do and have whatever he wants. ---------------- The difference between a computer by itself and a computer connected to the Internet is revealing. It is the same machine but it can accomplish a great deal more when it is online. This corresponds to what happens with brains and culture. The human brain can accomplish quite a bit on its own. Yet that same brain can accomplish a great deal more when it is connected to culture. ---------------- Nature does not really want anything, but animals who do not care about survival and reproduction will not survive and reproduce as well as those who do, and so eventually all animals will be descended from the ones who strove earnestly to survive and reproduce ---------------- Let’s also question the assumption that men and women are basically enemies. In fact, as I’ve said, I think that assumption is wrong and that men and women mostly like each other and help each other and get along pretty well. In particular, men don’t see women as their enemy. Throughout the history of our species, when men have banded together, it was mainly against other groups of men. ---------------- When the women had their monopoly on information about childbirth, they passed it on via their one-to-one contacts and relationships: from mother to daughter, and sometimes from one midwife to her client or to another individual woman training to be a midwife. And as I said, this was sufficient to get the job done, and successfully in general. But the large male networks of shallow relationships, marked by competition between men with different theories and by other men paying attention to who won these competitions, were able to make progress in ways that intimate one-to-one relationships were not. ---------------- The standard line goes that men are the masters and women are their servants or slaves. OK, says Farrell. When a master and slave are ready to go out for the evening, who holds the coat for whom, and who assists whom in putting it on? Who, master or servant, opens the door for whom and lets the other walk through it first? Who is served first at dinner, while the other waits? Who, master or slave, toils to make the money to support the other’s protected life inside the comfortable home? If danger arises, who, master or slave, must face the risk and possible sacrifice of life and limb to protect the other? ---------------- In general, the world’s cultures were created by men. And as I have sought to emphasize, culture was not created because of men working together against women, as the Imaginary Feminist likes to claim. Instead, it was groups of men working together and against other groups of men. Women had several roles in the process. Women helped men in many ways. Women were often the prize that inspired men to take the chances of creating new institutions in their quest for wealth, power, and greatness, because women prefer men who have those things. Much of what men do is ultimately aimed at appealing to women ---------------- It is a sad irony that today we look upon men as being collectively guilty for their roles in creating culture, because it is not sufficiently welcoming to women. Yet women failed to create culture themselves, needing instead access to what was built by the men, and in some cases ending up resenting them for it. ---------------- And most men know that in an emergency they would be expected to die willingly so that a woman could be saved. ---------------- The Imaginary Feminist is quick to claim that our culture values men more than women. It will therefore seem surprising to hear that the reverse is correct. Some men, perhaps, are treated as highly valuable, though we shall stop to ask whether even they get precedence over women in having their lives saved in an emergency. But for the majority of men, there is little question, and they know it. Their culture considers them expendable. Men are more expendable than women. ---------------- Even women and children’ is short for, “it’s kind of bad that grown men get killed, but it is much worse for a woman or a child to be killed. It would have been better if only men had been killed.” ---------------- Ideology may assert that men are as valuable as women, but the facts indicate otherwise. A man who believes the official story is headed for disappointment and surprise if it is put to the test ---------------- I think he had decided long ago that you may love your country but it doesn’t love you back and will sacrifice you in a heartbeat for its projects, even if these are completely senseless ---------------- Catherine Merridale’s Ivan’s War. ---------------- The culture sought to keep them going with vodka rations. Merridale said the ration wasn’t enough to get drunk, so sometimes small groups of soldiers would take turns. The group would give all its vodka to one man, who could get properly drunk. The next night, it would be another’s turn. Bad luck meant being killed just before it was your turn to get everybody’s vodka. Naturally there were often tendencies to delay reporting combat deaths, so that the dead guys’ vodka could be obtained and shared by the others. ---------------- Polygamy has been practiced in most cultures in the history of the world, and the current enforcement of monogamy can be seen as relatively unusual. There is a feminist protest against polygamy, as if polygamy puts women at a disadvantage. The objection seems purely symbolic, however. It is hard to see how women are worse off under polygamy than under monogamy, if all else is equal. Many women might prefer to be the second or third wife of a rich, successful man rather than being the only wife of an unskilled laborer or even of an assistant manager of a convenience store. She and her children might live much better being supported by the wealthy man ---------------- It’s going to be rough for young men in the future. The organizations favor women, based on the fake belief that these are needed to counteract male conspiracies, backlashes, and the like. Women are looked after and are given support networks. Men are on their own, just as they always were, except now they are at a systematic disadvantage against women too. The only thing men still have going for them is their own resources: the agentic self and the male ego. Plus the strong, almost desperate drive of the hardworking guy who knows he is expendable and will be dumped unless he produces. ---------------- In the United States, only slightly more men than women work, but thirteen men die in the line of work for every woman who does. ---------------- He probably thought that in this age of gender equality and fair treatment for all and so forth, “Be a man” and “Be a woman” would be equal, parallel things to say. Yet they weren’t. She was a woman already, and she knew it, and he did too, and she did not have to prove it. But once his manhood was questioned, he would have to do more to prove it than simply say “I am a man!” in a loud voice. ---------------- Manhood must be earned, and finding out that you are more feminine than masculine is a sign that you have failed to earn it. It attacks your core self in a way that women can scarcely appreciate. After all, telling a woman that she resembles a man is not nearly so threatening, according to these studies ---------------- men. The pattern holds true even today. The men in the top echelons of the culture may amass fortunes and be able to buy beautiful houses with spectacular furnishings, but they have precious little time to enjoy them, because they are working long hours. More generally, the culture gets the most benefit if the topmost men work passionately hard to enrich it. ---------------- In order to make a serious effort to achieve greatness, at least in today’s highly competitive American society, one has to make sacrifices and risks that are out of proportion to the likely rewards, and in that sense it borders on irrational or pathological. Some men and occasionally women put forth that effort, and society benefits from their efforts, but we cannot properly hold them up as ideals of the good life ---------------- The male ego is nature’s answer to the ultimate futility of most male lives. It enables each male to think that he is different, that he will not be one of the failing or mediocre majority. ---------------- Hence a successful culture needs ways to motivate men to work harder than is good for them and to take risks and make sacrifices that are not really, objectively wise for them. These may range from sacrificing family time to the point at which the father misses out on his children’s lives, to charging forward in the front line of an attack on a fortified enemy position ---------------- The career is a relatively modern form of work. Its focus is on building the record of achievement, status, and success. Essentially, the careerist is motivated by what he or she can put on the resume. The work is not necessarily enjoyed for its own sake, but neither is it done merely for the sake of the paycheck. The career mentality looks at work as a way of glorifying the self. This can be an extremely useful attitude for the culture, because it motivates people to work hard at jobs that are not necessarily all that satisfying. The career mentality enables the culture to harness the male ego to serve that motivational function. One works in order to accumulate the record of promotions, awards, and other tangible or symbolic achievements. ---------------- Verbal putdowns typically take the form of humorous insults. The target is expected to accept the disrespect in some gracious way. Among peers, the usual is to respond with a cleverly worded insult of your own. When these come from superiors, the only effective strategy is to join in by making a self-deprecating joke, thus weakening the insulting content by elaborating the joke aspect. Nonetheless, this pattern of response requires the man to say negative things about himself to others. ---------------- The intelligent woman sees men wanting to watch pornography and thinks, I don’t want pornography, so why do men want it? She thinks, it can’t be because men have a stronger desire for sex than I do, because my sex drive is just as strong as men’s. Therefore there must be something else, something oppressive and hateful ---------------- The fancy theories about how men are engaging in oppression of women when they masturbate to porn are all an attempt to paper over one of the gaping holes in the feminist analysis, all stemming from the fundamental lie that says women want sex as much as men. But many well-intentioned people were fooled into accepting that lie as truth, and so they were at a loss at how to explain the obvious facts. ---------------- One classic study sent student research assistants out on campus to approach fairly attractive people (of the other gender) at random with the line, “I’ve been noticing you around campus and I think you’re attractive. Would you like to go to bed with me tonight?” More than three-quarters of the men said yes. Not a single woman did. ---------------- Nature saw no point in letting men be happy with the sex they’ve already had. Over the ages, the male population descended from the most insatiable ones, who continued to pursue every opportunity for sex and who spent their lives trying to rise to the top of the social hierarchy so they could have more sex ---------------- A man who wants to pay off his debts by money earned from getting women to pay him for sex had better have a Plan B ready. ---------------- Modern societies extol the power and value of love. Songs, films, books, and other sources repeat endlessly the theme that love will last forever. This is itself somewhat odd because most research shows that the passionate, romantic form of love is at best a temporary phase that is likely to subside in a matter of months or at best a couple years. ---------------- The culture promotes the belief that love will burn strongly and passionately for the rest of your life, in order to get men to agree. When he makes the deal, he is high on love, and sharing his earnings for life seems a reasonable price to pay for having this wonderful feeling (plus great sex) forever. He does not realize that his commitment to pay will likely last far longer than the elation of passionate love ---------------- The culture and the women need to work together to take advantage of the men when they are most vulnerable, namely when they are at the height of passionate love. They need to maintain the men’s illusion that this love they have is precious and will last forever if they are willing to make a permanent financial commitment. Likewise, they should sustain his illusion that this one woman is his soul-mate and that if he loses her by failing to offer marriage in a suitably manly manner, she will go off and marry someone else, and he will have lost his best and perhaps only chance at happiness. ---------------- One stereotype of forty-something married men is that they go through a midlife crisis and either buy a fancy car or have an affair with a beautiful young woman. The conventional wisdom is that this reflects man’s insecurity and immaturity. He cannot accept getting older, so he does these silly things. ---------------- Men will get no sympathy from women on this. Most women cannot imagine how much men want sex, as I have already said earlier in this chapter. One can try to make an analogy. Tell a woman that she is allowed to see her children only three times a month, for 10 minutes each. ---------------- Everything conspires to make the young man promise eternal sexual fidelity. Masses of evidence show that relatively few men can actually deliver on such a promise. When contemplating marriage, the young man should perhaps refrain from self-deception and honestly ask himself what he is going to do in twenty or indeed ten or perhaps even five years, when his wife no longer wants sex with him more than once a month, or when he no longer desires her (but still wants sex). Is the only solution to divorce her, at a huge financial cost, and start over with another, younger woman? ---------------- Throughout human history (and prehistory) and a long way further back in evolutionary history, females have faced much better reproductive odds than males. Yes, the fortunate few males enjoy privileges and successes beyond what most females can attain, but the majority of males face a rough life of hard competition against long odds and, ultimately, biological failure

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

    I was very excited to read this book not because I thought there’s nothing good about men but because I was excited to find out what else is great about them. By the time I reached the end I was left with the distasteful argument that men are nothing but sexual beasts that care only about sex. So I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. And to be honest his assertions do make me a little bit angry. But the gist of it goes like this: there are a lot of men at the top because men created cult I was very excited to read this book not because I thought there’s nothing good about men but because I was excited to find out what else is great about them. By the time I reached the end I was left with the distasteful argument that men are nothing but sexual beasts that care only about sex. So I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. And to be honest his assertions do make me a little bit angry. But the gist of it goes like this: there are a lot of men at the top because men created culture. Men created culture to compete with other groups of men to win at copulating and spreading their genes. Men are competitive and women are not so men go for the glory or their demise, there isn’t an in-between thing kind of situation. His evidence is that there are also a lot more men at the bottom in prisons, addicted, and more mentally ill (including retardation). Therefore women are sandwiched between these two extreme opposites and is easy to see how men dominate both as a cause if their greatness and their fall (think power and richness and power and rape). Also he states that women in this way are protected while men are exploited and he provides evidence from disasters such Titanic and war where men have to face death while women are granted survival just solely by the gender possession. He thinks that it is wrong and exploitative. I’m ambivalent about his assertions because his assertion that men created precisely because they couldn’t possibly do it by themselves. They would have just killed each other in the process. Perhaps men did it but not by themselves. Without the support of women they couldn’t possibly succeed. Women provide the help the men need when their are in trouble, also comfort. The women are men’s biggest cheerleaders. The author brings statistics that are either inaccurate or biased to his theme. He claims the family’s study that men think more about sex than women. That is true, but they also think more about sleep, and food then women. Therefore men think more about fulfilling basic needs. However, the last part was conveniently left to illustrate precisely the point that men are basically sexual beasts. Also, with regards to mental illness it’s not gender segregated except psychopathy which can be misdiagnosed in women and assigned to bipolar disorders. Also his metaphor about stallions is a major turn off. Horses don’t cooperate, humans do. Horses don’t raise their children together, humans do. Horses don’t have infants that need constant attention for years, humans do. Basically to bring an animals’ sexual behaviors to illustrate humans proves no basis for me unless these animals bear some rather important degree of similarity with human species such as voles who have similar relationships with regards to mating and raising their children. When I say similar I mean they meet, they pair, they stay monogamous and raise their babies. Also they cheat and also they separate and “divorce” etc. The author claims his goal is not to stir up the gender difference gap and make waves. But that is exactly what he does when he makes absurd claims such that men are beasts that only care about sex and can’t control themselves therefore it is acceptable and understandable why some societies solve this problem by veiling women and performing genital mutilation. In this tumultuous time when men face lots of pressure from feminists and women that call them up for their misdeeds the author asserts that: Wait a minute, men also are exploited but in a different way so, stop saying men exploit you, that’s not true. Men compete with each other and you are basically collateral damage. #eww

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frank Lindt

    Although the title is a tat provocative (and is mainly used as a sales driver), Baumeister makes excellent points in this book. The general tendency in society nowadays is to single out and point to female (under)performance in certain areas. Differences in salary and influential positions are a couple of the topics on which there is intense gender debate. Men, in general, have higher salaries and occupy the more prestigious job positions. Baumeister points to data that shows that at the very bo Although the title is a tat provocative (and is mainly used as a sales driver), Baumeister makes excellent points in this book. The general tendency in society nowadays is to single out and point to female (under)performance in certain areas. Differences in salary and influential positions are a couple of the topics on which there is intense gender debate. Men, in general, have higher salaries and occupy the more prestigious job positions. Baumeister points to data that shows that at the very bottom of society (i.e. being homeless, death through work) men are also overrepresented. A lot of these differences can be traced back to culture. If you are interested in the economics of sex and the massive transition that the current young men will have to deal with (abundant sex while young and relatively less sex while older due to lower female sex drive), this is definitely a book that you should go for.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bowdoin

    Reader in group–During winter break I chose to read something that spoke loudly about my gender. In "There Anything Good About Men?", Roy Baumeister takes a courageous stance that few would, ultimately answering the question of how cultures flourish by exploiting men. He does not argue that one gender is superior to another but takes the stance that both genders need each other, women need men just as much as men need women. With numbers of insightful comments that challenged the way I think, th Reader in group–During winter break I chose to read something that spoke loudly about my gender. In "There Anything Good About Men?", Roy Baumeister takes a courageous stance that few would, ultimately answering the question of how cultures flourish by exploiting men. He does not argue that one gender is superior to another but takes the stance that both genders need each other, women need men just as much as men need women. With numbers of insightful comments that challenged the way I think, this book provides a refreshing look on gender relations. I recommend this for all to read even if the title may not be sound so inviting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim Ballmann

    The first part of the book was pretty interesting, and challenges some commonly held beliefs between men and women. That was for the first 100 pages. After that, he takes the same points and beats the reader over the head with them over and over. This isn't something I'd recommend to a lot of people unless they are extremely interested in gender differences and warn to read a different opinion. The first part of the book was pretty interesting, and challenges some commonly held beliefs between men and women. That was for the first 100 pages. After that, he takes the same points and beats the reader over the head with them over and over. This isn't something I'd recommend to a lot of people unless they are extremely interested in gender differences and warn to read a different opinion.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    It is clear this is heavily biased against women. The author increasing insults women through out without any evidence whatsoever. You hate women, we get it. The idea that any sex is inherently lazy or not a hard worker is such bullshit. I was thinking this book was about how a sexist society can actually hurt both women and men, but it was a bunch of whining.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    So good I wrote something on the back jacket.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon Højlund

    This is a superb book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the origins of masculinity. I think many men may feel a sense of relief from reading it since the underlying theories have a lot of explanatory power with respect to the general situation of men in societies around the world. I also believe that feminists who are accustomed to consider the unique challenges faced by women, might expand their thinking and improve the accuracy of their analysis from reading this book. Not because one pe This is a superb book. I recommend it to anyone interested in the origins of masculinity. I think many men may feel a sense of relief from reading it since the underlying theories have a lot of explanatory power with respect to the general situation of men in societies around the world. I also believe that feminists who are accustomed to consider the unique challenges faced by women, might expand their thinking and improve the accuracy of their analysis from reading this book. Not because one perspective overrules the other, but because there are (at least) two genders, and the full picture is only seen from multiple perspectives. In my view it should be required reading on any university class on gender. The true merits of the book is to stimulate your thinking about why things come to be the way that they are, and what challenges lie ahead. It's pretty well argued, so the fact that you might find it provocative means that it's challenging your beliefs, and hence just makes it even more worthwhile reading and challenging it back with your thinking.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Neil H

    There is an instinctual reaction to all the men behavior vs female behavior, which is revulsion.. I recoiled at the idea put forward showing women as domesticated and non creative, no aspirations on a professional level. There are many times I want to out down the book as I perceived it to be sexist and perhaps it is. But, I look all around me and it is somewhat reflected. But I can say that in my locale; Singapore. Women are provided with a backdrop of contributing to the family fiscally and th There is an instinctual reaction to all the men behavior vs female behavior, which is revulsion.. I recoiled at the idea put forward showing women as domesticated and non creative, no aspirations on a professional level. There are many times I want to out down the book as I perceived it to be sexist and perhaps it is. But, I look all around me and it is somewhat reflected. But I can say that in my locale; Singapore. Women are provided with a backdrop of contributing to the family fiscally and there are encouraged to work. Whether they succeed to the better part of their professions as well as the men, I can't say. But there requires a changing worldview of what woman can accomplish when the paternalistic patriarchal prejudice is gone I would love to see this study being pursued in the future. I'm not convinced that men are the caretakers of risk taking anymore then I believe that men cannot be good house husbands.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hans Sandberg

    Yes, there are a lot of good things about men which Roy Baumeister is eager to remind us, and he is certainly right that it's not fair to compare only the highly successful elite of the male population with women in general. For every man at the top, there are plenty of men in prison, on death row or dead on the battlefield. That said, Baumeister relies on crude and simplistic cultural, economic and political models, which in the end makes the book worthy of its demagogic title. Yes, there are a lot of good things about men which Roy Baumeister is eager to remind us, and he is certainly right that it's not fair to compare only the highly successful elite of the male population with women in general. For every man at the top, there are plenty of men in prison, on death row or dead on the battlefield. That said, Baumeister relies on crude and simplistic cultural, economic and political models, which in the end makes the book worthy of its demagogic title.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adakin

    Must Read for young people This book was a great read, filled with unapologetic non-PC truth, backed by a science and peer-reviewed studies. Communists won’t enjoy this one, but do they enjoy anything?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Didn't finish Didn't finish

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