DOASKDOTELL BOOK REVIEWs of Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power, Marianne Legato’s Why Men Die First


Author (or Editor): Farrell, Warren, Ph. D.

Title: The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex

Fiction? Anthology?  

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster

Date: 1993

ISBN:  ISBN 0-671-79349-7; CIP 93-18894

Series Name:

Physical description: hardbound

Relevance to HPPUB: Psychological polarity and gender roles

Review: Clinical psychologist Warren Farrell conducts relationship seminars for heterosexual couples to help them deal with the interchange of roles and (to borrow from Rosenfels) polarities within their interactions.

His chief thesis is an interesting mix of ideas already developed in opposite ways by Gilder and Rosenfels, and it is powerfully focused. While conventional society provides men with the illusion of "power," society actually requires men to cower in all kinds of submissive behaviors, to be reliable defenders and providers of women and children. Even the corporate rat race demands submission. Government, he argues, is actually stacked against men. No wonder women outlive men today by about seven years, whereas in 1920 the difference was one year. In his last chapter, Farrell actually proposed an Equal Rights and Responsibilities Amendment (and improvement upon the Equal Rights Amendment which failed). Farrell does sound like a libertarian to me.

Although Farrell's book is written for the mainstream straight world, it has powerful implications for gays and for understanding homophobia. To wit, young men are forced to believe that their "power" actually melts into a roughshod, reckless readiness to sacrifice themselves for women and children. Gay men welch on this ukase and, with their worshipful narcissism, seem to mock the whole thing. Gay men remind straight men that they can fail, and all so easily, and wind up impotent, with no "masculine" identity left. Masculinity, it seems, is like two inches of snow on a sunny yard on a 40-degree day.

The March/April 2003 issue of The Liberator: Defender of Men, and Men’s Health America report that Farrell’s propose interview on the Donahue show was cancelled because “when feminist leaders had been invited to also appear on the show, they threatened the producers with the shrill allegation that ‘Feminism is opposed to rape and the battering of women; so if you have him on, you’d better take responsibility for making women even more vulnerable.’”  Even among different factions of liberal and progressive camps there can be gross intellectual dishonesty. 


This is a good place to mention the children’s book, Oliver Button Is a Sissy, by Tomie De Paola (Harcourt Brace, 1979). It has been set to lyrics and music by James Shorter and has been performed by some gay men’s choruses. When performed, it provides an exhilarating song valuing diversity; after all, Oliver Button becomes a Star by advancing his own talents. The “Oliver Button is a Satr”video is reviewed separately at this site.

Then there is the Fox Searchlight/Independent Film Channel film Boys Don’t Cry, produced for just $2 million. Hilary Swank won best actress in the 2000 Academy Awards for playing an apparently trans-gendered woman. Teena Brandon, who “masqueraded” as a man and eventually brought down a violent (downright gory) end upon herself from some rather insecure “white trash” males.  In fact, sometimes I was not sure that she really was trans-gendered, rather than a freedom-seeking lesbian.  With her high-pitched voice and body-hairlessness, she did portray what young men used to dread as “gender fraud.”  Straight young men in the olden days didn’t want to know about such things. I did not have that much sympathy with this particular character. But the question here, again, is what would drive young men to mutilate and kill over “knowing” someone who is “different.”  You could say that they feel that their masculinity is threatened by the impersonation, but that’s not likely. Perhaps they are reminded of their own possibility of failure. But I think another important reason is that “different” people remind insecure young men of their own powerlessness and expendability, of their own “duty” to sacrifice a lot of their individuality and potential “difference” in order to join warrior cults, to provide for women and children. What angers a “trooper” about a “faggot” is that the trooper might have to give his life and the “faggot” will get off scot free, without being the worse for wear.

Marianne J. Legato, MD, FACP. Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-60517-8. 252 pages, hardcover. This book makes an overwhelming case for taking into account major biological and genetic differences between men and women, that help explain why women live longer, and why females are the stronger sex. The later part of the book examines the conventional wisdom on health advice, even on matters like loss of erectile dysfunction. At one point, she even suggests that the pattern of body hair is an important indicator. Socially, the book makes a good complement to Farrell’s book.  Blogger discussion.      


Related Reviews: video: Oliver Button is a Star


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