on July 6, 2000
Men and Marriage benefits the modern reader in a number of ways. Providing excellent data and analysis on males and females in modern society, the book enables its reader to better understand the modern controversy over men and women's respective roles in society. Gilder feels that one of modern society's key problems is its denials of the differences between the sexes and, as a logical corollary, its denial of appropriate roles. He writes, "Though rejecting feminist politics and lesbian posturing, American culture has absorbed the underlying ideology like a sponge. The principal tenets of sexual liberation or sexual liberalism--the obsolescence of masculinity and femininity, of sex roles, and of heterosexual monogamy as the moral norm--have diffused through the system and become part of America's conventional wisdom." Gilder has also performed an invaluable service by providing relevant material for couples and singles. Gilder wants the single woman to u! nderstand that if she decides to sacrifice her twenties on the altar of career, she could easily find herself a celibate priest serving that altar for the rest of her life. Gilder reports that Yale and Harvard sociologists, after analyzing census data, concluded that a woman who waits until her mid-thirties only has a 5% chance of getting married. The author also has much to say to the single man. Of the most unique and striking of Gilder's observations on the sexes is his contention that the average single man struggles with an inherent irresponsibility that only marriage can cure. While this assertion may have had a secure, albeit covert, place in yesterday's conventional wisdom, Gilder boldly presents the thesis with impressive statistical support. Single men are 30% more likely than single women to be unemployed. If they get a job, the single man will make very little more than his single girlfriend, in striking contrast to the substantial earning power of the married! man who takes home 70% more income. Single college gradua! tes will normally earn about the same as married graduates of high school. Gilder suggests, "It could well be more important for an ambitious young man to get married than to go to college" (p. 63). Demographically, except possibly for the divorced, the single most disturbed group in the United States is single men. Between the ages of 25 and 65 the single man is 30% more likely than single women to be depressed. He is 30% more likely to exhibit a tendency toward phobias and passivity. The unmarried man is three times more likely to experience a nervous breakdown and 22 times more likely to be committed to an institution because of mental disease. And these statistics are not just cause for sympathy for the single man, but a cause for concern. For 90% of all violent crime is committed by single men even though above the age of 14 they only make up about 13% of the population. The statistics and analyses that Gilder provides on singleness leads to another vita! l area that he addresses. A theme that Gilder resounds with great force is the degree to which a healthy society is in fact dependent on the health of its families. He writes, "As a social institution, marriage transcends all individuals. The health of a society, its collective vitality, ultimately resides in its concern for the future, its sense of a connection with generations to come" (p. 16). While the first six chapters of the Gilder's tome, which focus on sexual roles, are easily worth price of the book; its remainder is a tour de force on the relationship of modern sexual thought and the ghetto, welfare, homosexuality, the workplace, education, politics, and biogenetic engineering. While many will view this work as an anachronistic throwback to the 50s, it's empirical support of its major theses gives the reader pause.
on November 4, 2002
This book is as true as the day it was first published. Men truly need women, as the author writes, to "socialize and civilize" them. Without the influence of women, men are left to their own devices, and become slaves to their passions, which generally results in what would be termed "anti-social" behavior. "Radical feminism" is not good for this country, or any other. Rather than trying to make the sexes "equal", we should appreciate the differences. The author notes it is these differences that make society "work". This book is a great little gem, and definitely worth your time.