Book Review: "Are Men Necessary?"

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So, are men necessary?  That’s the question a book title asked me and you're right: I was sucked in.

According to Maureen Dowd, author of “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide”, ah, well men are not necessarily necessary and there’s quite a bit of evidence to support it!

The most notable reason is biological: the Y chromosome is shrinking (138), apparently like the egos of the masculine men in the subsequent age of the feminist takeover. 

The book is a tongue in cheek representation of feminist views that makes good points among the rhetoric of feminist dogma and philosophy.  Don’t get me wrong as I believe in women’s rights and first on that list is freedom of reproductive choice and health.  However, my feminist views don't fall in line with common feminist views (as in this book) and so I read the book purely for information worth noting, so I'll focus there.

Let's begin

The best segment of “Are Men Necessary?” was on the Y chromosome.  According to several doctors, experts, research and studies, the Y chromosome is not only shrinking literally but there have been several reproductive miracles from technological advances that have proven males are not needed for reproduction. At all. We know of the cloned sheep but more striking, Japanese scientists created a 'perfectly normal female mouse without using a male at all...it's not cloning.  They took the egg from one mouse, and then instead of mouse sperm, they took the DNA from another egg.  Bingo!', said Dr. Sykes, a leading British researcher on sex chromosomes (141). Mouse cock not needed. Imagine what this must do the the Mouse King? Certainly this shakes things up a bit.  Maybe Virgin Mary was in fact, a sweet tight one. The idea of artificial insemination by aliens is more realistic than the Bible version but we can debate that later.  Clearly, males were simply the prototype.

A few experts discussed a world without men and ultimately led to how it couldn’t really work in the idealistic “Wonder Woman/Diana Huntress” way we might imagine because "there's always a subgroup that becomes the aggressors" (145). Hence, in this case, aggressor females would essentially be “replacing” the males and their aggression. In other words, there is no stopping the natural order of control and submission. Even if we think equality, as in team effort, there still has to be less Chiefs than Indians or it doesn’t work so someone has to be in charge.  Therefore, in short, a world full of lesbians would eventually create a subgroup of “male-like” females and in that case, why rid of the males?  Gender isn't the problem.  Sex and communication and responsibility are actually the core weak points.  

Clearly the idea of an all female planet isn’t realistic on many levels but it does feed the mind the thought experiment of what if men did not exist?  Besides less lies and porn (we think), would it be more peaceful and frolicy? Would there be less violence and sports bars? Sex would surely be different.  The Lesbian Planet is ultimately what we would have, which suits, well, lesbians.  One researcher posits that eventually a new kind of gender would come about, this synthesized being of female egg and female egg. Being society is digesting the male/female/trans gender debate, why not bring on a new challenge to keep it interesting?  

The Cosmo Girl and the Modern Boy

It is men who make me feel like a woman.  Women make me feel like a friend and a mom peer.  There is no debate on this one.

What often leaves me disappointed is this continuous feminist discussion that leads to the subtle hit of the pretty girl or the one who likes to be a girly girl and thus the one who likes to give out to boys because pretty and girly and slut are apparently synonymous with each other.  The author drew an interesting vision for her readers when discussing Helen Curly Brown, the former long time editor of Cosmo magazine (back in the days when I still read it and at the height of its success).  Dowdy pointed to how devoted feminists in the 80s were on Capitol Hill fighting for women’s rights - for example, in the middle of the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas trials - and Brown’s magazine merely suggested a myriad of ways to “please your man” and how to entice the inner sex kitten to come out and play with him.  While written as respectfully as possible, the subtle hints of Brown’s girly support as “less than” was evident. Though the author mentioned Glamour magazine as headed into the sex crazed and sex selling genre following suit to Cosmo, it was not the case when I was reading it in the 80s that I can recall. I was a magazine collector to put it mildly.  It's all I had available pre-Internet days along with books to gain an education outside the boredom-sphere of public school education.  

I had a choice of Glamour magazine, created for “smart girls” called feminists and then Cosmo magazine, created for the “pretty girls” called potential sluts I learned later (the advertising didn’t come out that way in my mind back when I began buying them at 14 years old).  In reading both magazines regularly (I also read Discover Mag, National Geography, Conde Naste Traveler, the Enquirer and more), I eventually dumped Glamour in favor of Cosmo because the male bashing was thrown into every chance it could be.  I held the same view as Brown, Cosmopolitan's editor, that sexuality played a vital role in our relationships with men and that sex and being pretty was fun and worth exploring. 

Screw the grimacing feminists of Glamour magazine and the dirt they often saw around the male view doing little than throwing blame - and I considered myself a feminist but I didn't consider myself a feminist because I blamed men.  I considered myself a feminist because I was in favor of female reproductive and health choices as female rights and ultimately, that's the card women cannot ever give away again.  All else is negotiable. 

It’s not that those typical male views weren't true in action to women across the nation but it’s that many feminists didn’t seem to know how to take those male advances or sexualized views and embrace or reform them for their better good. Instead they dismissed, judged and shunned the sexuality behind them, and with it, a subgroup of women who basically catered to it.  I’m not suggesting that asshole men don't exist or that "boys will be boys" is the response for stupid, immature behavior but there have been truly few assholes in my life who have been males who have fit the mold of what feminists claimed men were like.  I found it confusing because I wondered where these men were?! 

Relationships themselves in general are the asshole of our lives, not a specific gender.  And truly, no matter what gender, we all want some sexual or feel good or loving attention.  This is human nature.  To downplay it is downplaying a human need for a balance of emotion that makes us healthier and usually happier.  

To quote the Cosmo editor herself:

"I was accused of hurting the cause [feminist movement] because I was still talking about women as though they were sex objects.  But to be a sex object is a wonderful thing and you're to be pitied if you aren't one... I have this possibly benighted idea that when a man finds you sexually attractive, he is paying you a compliment...when he doesn't, that's when you have to worry"(172).

I agree. However, I do want to make note that "sex object" today is a far cry from what it was back in the 70s and 80s when Brown described it.  (Research into more modern porn has been an eye opener which I'll discuss in future posts)

The last notable section of the book I want to bring up (though there are more, just not as interesting for me to write about) is then Men's Health Magazine editor in chief, David Zinczenko's comments about how men, confused by feminism, are becoming less masculine and more feminized: 

"Society sends men confusing signals.  Society tells men to be more like women, more sensitive, more caring, more thoughtful. And you know what happens then?  They end up in 'Styles of the Times' in stories about why men are becoming more like women, ordering wine by the glass as well as the bottle"(184).

Ed Needham, Maxim's then editor, however, describes men as simpler: "Eating, sex and sports are the Europe, Asia and Americas of the male mental map.  That doesn't leave a lot of room for much else" (185).

I agree there too.  

In Conclusion

It’s wonderful for a man to love and admire a woman.  It really is, and vice versa. Ultimately each have strengths and weaknesses built up from evolution of our biology and our culture, so not everything we dislike about the opposite sex can change.  However, there’s something to be said about the value of getting wet for a man who can love and fuck too, one who can balance the caring with the masculinity that makes his Y chromosome worthy in the first place. That's just as much pressure on males as females have to be a porn stars in the bedroom and Madonnas in the public-sphere.

I fear one unfortunate direction we may be headed into in the long term based on all this science and evolutionary change is men will be "downsized" to less than and as such, their innate masculine testosterone aggression – their fight for their place in this world and dominated by their own flood of hormones and genetics – will eventually seep into culture as perhaps it has seeped already via slices of modern day Internet pornography, specifically. No debate porn is growing in violent and degrading exhibitions towards women and it's worth pondering that in part, it may be an unconscious reaction males desire a place to express the masculine-power feminism has boxed inside them further than society itself has.  Don't blame it ALL on the porn industry when it is the private consumer who decides what ultimately gets produced and what doesn't.  

Will the modern male come to learn what it means to be a "weaker", second sex themselves or to be put down and used? Outside dominatrix quarters, it doesn't happen much, does it, that men are "put into place"? Maybe now it is more so with the #metoo movement but we also face a very touchy and sensitive society these days that it's hard to tell who was getting revenge for past mistakes and who was actually in the wrong.  I am not defending the assholes but remember, women can be bitches so take your pick on the gender scale. I'm equal on shitty people here. Gender makes no difference there.

How best to exert this growing male subordination (and the unconscious anger behind it) but to act out violently via sex through a Millennial Pornography Lens onto women or to humiliate or degrade the very femaleness that seems to lure men in like a siren’s call but acts out like a black widow onto them?  Men are in a precarious position. 

Perhaps there is a Karmic spirit for the females but I like men for their masculinity and women for their femininity and clear strength and superiority over men (childbirth and motherhood).  Why would a woman want to be a man when the right man can cater to her inner woman?  Maybe what we need to look into is what defines a female being, looking like and feeling like a woman rather than just being female? 

In porn, men have a place to outlet their Y chromosome bullshit.  It has been proven that more porn consumption lowers rape practice and not the other way around.  Men need sex and women are taught to not need sex but modern times shows they cater to their own sexual objectification more and more (i.e. sexting, porn live cams, loose attitudes on sex and hooking up, etc. )  Women don't go around raping men: women seduce them. As anthropologist Helen Fisher, author and expert on love and mating said, "...every time a man is sleeping around, he is sleeping around with a woman.  It's basic math..." (141). What I'm saying is that heterosexual women need men because ultimately they need what men offer and what they offer is different for each one; however, the baseline is feel-good-attention that revolves around Human Sexuality.  Females have enough friends, thanks.  Furthermore, female friends' compliments don't go as deep as the guy's compliments and that's because the opposite sex adds the erotic element all females need to feel like an extra dose of woman.  Girl looks pretty, guy gets hard, they have sex, life is good (total reality until the kids come). 

Yes, men are very much needed.  Their lies and bullshit aren’t but that’s not a male thing.  That’s a relationship thing and it extends to all of us so let’s call it out where it truly sits. Until technology takes over our bodies and minds for clear benefits or Borg-like control, we still need each other in our utmost humanity in its physical form.  For some, it is primal and primal often equates to some form of aggression or control (or surrender and submission).  Really we are tapping into the humanity of our sexual selves. What is needed more than the discussion about our need for each other is lessons on communication between the two, both inside and outside the bedroom. Now that's a harsh "C" word for any relationship, female or male.

Next up, do we need pornography as much as we need men?  I’ll be reviewing “The Porning of America” by Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott next. It's the best book I’ve read since my review of "Sex at Dawn" (an even better book).

Hope I offered some interesting thoughts for you to ponder today. Back to painting I go. 

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