Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Right Man's Burden

Kathy Lopez, Grade 5, writes a book report:

I read a lot of contemporary non-fiction. Kathleen Parker's Save the Males stands out in a overcrowded field. With a light and clever hand, this southern lady works to save the males and Western Civ. "You'll laugh, you'll cry" may be a cliché but it's true here.

Save the Males has something for everyone. Young women will read Save the Males and have an appreciation for what their male contemporaries are up against. Mothers will read Save the Males and recognize a familiar story. Hardened feminists may read Save the Males and feel remorse. Men will appreciate that they're appreciated. Everyone should read, can read, and will enjoy reading Save the Males.

You'll spot the problem immediately: There are too many contemporary non-fiction books, but not enough that everyone can read.

Speaking of hardened, Publisher's Weekly summarizes the plot (Warning: Contains spoilers):

According to columnist Parker, men are an endangered species struggling against everything from mere hostility to literal emasculation. Starting in elementary school, where a teacher most likely a feminist will demand that boys sit still and listen and continuing through college, where freshmen must endure rape awareness workshops, men are besieged by disrespect. Belittled by bumbling portrayals in sitcoms, their importance as fathers is so devalued that they are perceived as little more than sperm and a wallet. Parker trots out the usual suspects — mass culture, unspecified feminists, The Vagina Monologues, Murphy Brown, metrosexuals and girlymen — to propose that a feminist campaign is afoot and eager to effeminize, denigrate and destroy American men. Although Parker's deliberate provocations make for lively reading, the majority of her claims are too fanciful and unsubstantiated to be genuinely thought provoking or even interesting (erectile dysfunction is caused by young, sexually aggressive women; women serving in the army put the nation at risk).

Funny. I've had the opposite experience, though not nearly often enough.

One wonders about the circumstances in which this happens -- Is it during sex with a young, sexually aggressive woman whose youth and enthusiasm disgusts you? While having sex with an old and/or sexually passive woman and wishing you were elsewhere? While trying to beat off surreptitiously in the Feminist Theory section of the campus bookstore?

And Parker's publisher doesn't make the tome sound any better:

Exploring our burgeoning "slut culture" and the vividly narcissistic prevalence of vagina worship, Save the Males softens no edges.

Well, that sounds painful. Next time, try a water-soluble lubricant.

Parker is angling to become the Bernie Goldberg of pathetic losers who blame their failures on the opposite sex. Frankly, anyone who believes that men or boys are victimized in American culture because of their gender needs her head examined. And anyone who blames the inability to perform on young, sexually aggressive women needs his head examined.

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