Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
August 10, 2008 Sunday
Kathleen Parker Wants to Save the Males
Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care, by Kathleen Parker, is a summary of how feminism's push to put women on an equal - or superior - standing with men has backfired. Parker writes a syndicated column that appears regularly on The Times-Dispatch's Op/Ed page.
The book, in true Parker fashion, is sharp, witty, and on point. She presents her case well, and her writing is engrossing and thought-provoking - to those who agree with her as well as those who do not.
Beginning with a history of the female empowerment movement, Parker explains how for the past 25 years, males have been indoctrinated from the schoolhouse on the idea "women good, men bad." She lays out the history of this phenomenon as she sees it, beginning in 1989 when Harvard professor Carol Gilligan claimed research showed that girls were drowning in a patriarchal education system. From that research, feminists and liberals latched onto the idea that girls suffered from low self-esteem. An all-out effort was launched to push girls to the front of the line and praise their every effort - often at the expense of boys.
Much of Parker's arguments put the plight of males squarely on the shoulders of these feminists and liberals as well as an ongoing campaign by Hollywood and advertisers to portray men as dolts and women as capable and efficient. Even schools have gotten into the act, rewriting textbooks that now devote as much space to women as to men. On this topic, Parker relates, "This is a nice idea, except that women simply haven't accomplished as much as men in the areas that make history. I know this is blasphemy, but there's no way around the facts. Women have done great things, no doubt. Radium! Madame Curie, you rule! ... Martha Washington was a great woman to be sure, but she did not, in fact, lead the American Revolution. George did, and it's his face, not hers, on the dollar bill. We have to try to deal with that."
Justifiably, Parker also points to the breakdown of the nuclear family for much of society's ills. Save the Males lays much of the blame for today's social ills on a perceived push to eliminate adult males from the home. She uses statistics and anecdotal evidence to show how men are increasingly portrayed as brutes who aren't to be trusted around women or children.
Yet, this push has been extremely harmful to the family. Parker points out that without a father figure in the home, it is challenging for boys to grow into strong, responsible men. Girls experience greater self-esteem issues without a father figure. With the number of kids growing up in fatherless households tripling since 1960, many children, girls as well as boys, suffer from the lack of a male presence. Parker contends that single women raising families on their own are creating a self-perpetuating underclass.
Parker explores topics such as the feminizing of men, the growing obsession with porn and with trampy women, and a hilarious chapter on the bizarre celebration of the female anatomy on college campuses, and she does so with a stinging humor - which is probably necessary to make some of these distasteful topics readable.
She devotes a fairly lengthy chapter to the role women play in today's military and offers compelling evidence that in combat and on deployed ships, women are often detrimental to the battlefield. Despite Hollywood's shining spin on women in the military, they are simply not physically equal to the challenge of war. Again, agree or disagree, her arguments have merit.
Parker does an excellent job of pointing out the many necessary, even noble characteristics that most men exhibit. Her premise is sound - the attitudes of many of today's women toward men, toward sexuality, and toward the family are hurting all of society, and children especially. The book will anger some and delight others - but it is often humorous, completely frank, and eminently readable.
- Robin Beres
Executive Assistant of the Editorial Pages
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Excerpts from what others are saying about Kathleen Parker's Save the Males:
New York Observer, June 27
In Save the Males, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker defends that least likely of underdogs: the American Man. Parodied in pop culture, disenfranchised by the family courts, emasculated by Lamaze class, and forced to endure crazy, empowered women "rhapsodizing about their vaginas and swooning over their inner goddesses," men today are raised in a culture that has turned against them, claims Ms. Parker....
Many of Ms. Parker's points about our culture's widely accepted hostility toward men are compelling. Men do grow up seeing themselves portrayed in movies and sitcoms as "dolts, bullies, brutes, deadbeats, rapists, sexual predators, and wife beaters" rather than competent heads of households, as they were in "Leave It to Beaver." And maybe they do attend schools that cater to girls' learning styles and - gasp! - teach a feminist-revisionist's version of history.... Boys are taught, by virtue of innovations such as the now-defunct "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," that they "are unfairly privileged by virtue of their maleness, and they will be punished for it."
Hilariously, she seems to think that by killing off real manliness, we've imperiled ourselves, that the rise of the metrosexual ("perfumed ponies") has left women vulnerable. "In the dangerous world in which we live, it might be nice to have a few guys around who aren't trying to juggle pedicures and highlights," she warns.
Are we really facing a future wherein our misguided struggle for "equality" leads us to impregnate men via politically driven science? Are [women] all shrews or exhibitionists, alienating and emasculating our husbands and suitors with our male-bashing and narcissism and keeping them from their children?
Might it be good to acknowledge that fathers are important and adjust divorce and custody laws to reflect that? To recognize and accept that men and women have intractable differences? To stop teaching girls that it's OK to mock boys? (It's a bad habit we don't seem to kick.)
The Guardian (London), Aug. 6
Here's the problem: When you get into a battle of the sexes, both sides have grievances. Society tends to denigrate men more openly than it does women, but then women are portrayed so routinely as hunks of flesh to be measured out by the pound that we only notice it happening to men because it's aberrant. Ultimately, you can carry on about culture, and what it does to self-esteem, how people see fathers, how they see mothers, how parents see themselves and one another; you can argue about this stuff forever....
The big mistake of this movement was not that it attacked men, nor that it turned us all into slags...but that it separated itself from socialism. It shouldn't have.
Fairness has not yet been established. Women still earn less than men (14 percent less full-time, 34 percent less part-time), still look after the children in 93 percent of parental separations, won't have fiscal equality in old age from the pension system for about 45 years. Men are ill-served by the NHS and die of unnecessary cancers, while women are screened much more often. Let's attack this stuff that we can measure, attack it even if we're not the victims of it, attack it even if it's conflicting, here favoring men, there favoring women, attack it because its tangibility is an open flank. The rest is just noise.