MISOGYNY: The Male Malady

David D. Gilmore, Author . Univ. of Pennsylvania $26.50 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8122-3608-8

Misogyny has been endemic from biblical times to modern. Yet this male fear and loathing of women, says the author, is usually accompanied by positive feelings of "gynophilia"; he adds that, while men can get hysterical about being "polluted" by menstrual blood, some perform excruciating self-mutilation rituals mimicking menstruation. Why are so many men the world over so panicked by women? Gilmore (Mankind in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity), professor of anthropology at SUNY Stony Brook, eschews one-dimensional theories—Freudian, structuralist, materialist—in favor of a more encompassing paradigm of male ambivalence. Males are both drawn to females—sources of life, pleasure and heirs—and fearful of their power, he contends. They handle this ambivalence by attacking women. Curiously, Gilmore considers only the attitudes of heterosexual males, leaving the reader to wonder if homosexual men are equally misogynistic. Some may also wonder how women have shaped—or been shaped by—misogyny. (Some biblical women Gilmore cites as misogynistic constructs—like Delilah and Lilith—have been celebrated by women as models of heroism.) Gilmore asserts that women have no comparable "passion" against men (excepting feminists like Andrea Dworkin), but doesn't adequately back up the claim. While the first half of Gilmore's treatise is filled with hair-raising tales of women-bashing, the subsequent analytical chapters equivocate, preparing readers for his mild-mannered solutions: more "integration" of the sexes, more active fathering, teaching tolerance of ambivalent gender feelings. Meanwhile, much of his research seems to show just how viable misogyny has been. Gilmore's academic focus and style (albeit leavened with occasional wit) will largely confine this controversial and stimulating treatise to college audiences. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Paperback - 253 pages - 978-0-8122-1770-4
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-8122-0032-4
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