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

Roy F. Baumeister, Oxford Univ., $24.95 (312p) ISBN 9780195374100
Drawing on psychological and sociological theory in what he acknowledges is an essayistic rather than scholarly work, Florida State psychology professor Baumeister addresses gender roles and equality in a simplistic and even baffling book (as an example of male-female cooperation, he writes, "Most men voted to extend the vote to women," overlooking how long it took before men agreed to cast that vote). The reason men dominate culture and rule the world, he observes, is not that men are superior to women or have designed patriarchy to oppress women but rather that culture grew out of male relationships, which resulted in large structures containing many people (whether to engage in trade or in war), and thus men were always in charge. Whereas women, in Baumeister's view, seek close one-on-one relationships that are not culture-building. The author's belief that future cultures will be better off if they recognize and accept the differences between men and women can sound an awful lot like a "separate but equal" argument. Ultimately, though, Baumeister's repetitious and circular arguments fail to contribute any fresh ideas to the gender debate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
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