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Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Save the males

Kathleen Parker's Save the Males is written by an American former feminist. I owe her an apology as I have been giving her the wrong Christian name for the last few days as she is Kathleen not Katherine. I decided I wanted to read both sides of the gender debate and picked this book as it received a fair amount of media coverage a few months ago.

Aside from the fact that it is very American she does raise some interesting issues. I do agree with her that some of the extreme feminist views around do no one any favours and don't represent the views of the majority of mainstream feminists. Men are necessary - whether in the workplace or in the home. I have no problem with that at all. Men and women have different but complementary skills. I have never seen all men as potential aggressors as American society seems to see them.

The author argues women need to take a back seat and encourage men to take their rightful place in the world. I'm afraid I could not recognise the picture she paints of a society where men are down trodden and excluded from family life as well as taking second place to women in the workplace. She mentions a statistic about men between the ages of 15 and 35 spending 2.75 hours a day playing computer or console games as being an indication men are not wanted and excluded from mainstream society. I thought they did that from choice myself as I'm sure there are jobs they could be doing about the home instead.

I also disagree with her about the trend for single mothers indicating women prefer to go it alone without men in their lives. I'm not sure it is a safe assumption to draw as the single mothers I've known have all said they would rather not have to muddle along on their own but that the relationship with the children's father had broken down to the extent that it was no longer viable. They have all said without exception that their children needed contact with their fathers and did everything they could to promote and encourage it.

I thought the best chapter in the book was the one debating whether women should be front line fighting troops. She argues that they shouldn't because they are a liability not an asset and can only weaken a fighting force. Would Boudicca's troops have agreed with her? What about the Amazons? I can understand where she's coming from but what happened to picking the best people for the job regardless of gender? Equality to me does not mean putting people in jobs to which they're not suited and I don't believe this was ever what feminism was about. If women are not strong enough to do the job then they don't do it. This has got nothing to do with discrimination in my book but is a simple matter of horses for courses.

I found the tone of some of the book a little patronising to both men and women which spoilt some otherwise good points.

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