Prime Is There Anything Good about Men? Author Roy F. Baumeister –

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 like women, nor our women to be 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. Oh dear This book was recommended to me by the Goodreads algorithm why , and being amused by the obvious boorishness of the book s premise I decided to give it a try, if only for sheer entertainment But it reads like the bitter vitriol of a 4chan rant Perhaps I will return to this book and read it in small amounts Really, though, I protest the characterization by other reviewers that the first half of the book is acceptable By his own admission, the book probes how culture exploits men He begins by saying that women seek entrance into the giant systems that men built and that men do not do the same thing because systems built by women do not existI strongly suspect there is no point in debating with feminists Is this line supposed to be a charming nod to the age old idea that women cannot be lucid and are therefore incapable of rational argumentation He proceeds instead to frame the book as a dialogue with an Imaginary Feminist.Some reviewers have noted that the book becomes progressively defensive and antagonistic I have a hard time imagining. 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 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 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 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 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 productive means. 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 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. 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 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 Risks And To Exhibit 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 Men Than Women Die In Work Related Accidents, Are Incarcerated, Or Are Killed In Battle Facts Nearly Always Left Out Of Current Gender DebatesEngagingly Written, Brilliantly Argued, And Based On Evidence From A Wide Range Of Disciplines, Is There Anything Good About Men Offers A New And Far Balanced View Of Gender Relations 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 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 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 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. 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 feministsThat 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 downMoreover, 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 womenThere 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. 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 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. 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 ignorant person just for reading his book. 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 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