I’ve now read two reviews of a new book that is getting attention, Women After All. While both the reviews were well-written and both highly praised the book, I’m bored by it before I even open a page. The thesis of Melvin Konner’s book seems to be that women are great; men are unnecessary at their best, but most of the time they just destroy civilization. As women become more influential - ta da! - the world will be a better place.
I did chuckle about one aspect of the Wall Street Journal’s review. A few pages earlier in the newspaper, an article about the enduring affection women have for Jane Austen novels appeared. You could call it, reality meeting fantasy.
Aren’t you tired of the gender wars? As far as I’m concerned God already answered the question of whether men are better than women or women are better than men. He could have created one man and many women. That statement would have been open to interpretation. Are men valuable while women are breeders or are women valuable and men’s sole purpose is to impregnate them? He could have created many men and one woman. That would have been open to interpretation too. Are men valuable but a female is needed so that procreation can occur? Are women so valuable that a stable of men is assigned to work for her?
What God did instead, is create one man and one woman. Initially, “male and female He created them,” and on another level he created man and from his body brought forth woman. (You can hear the ancient Jewish wisdom on this in Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden) Both sexes are created in His image; the sexes are different and incomplete without the other. A world where masculinity has exclusive rein is a perversion of the ideal, as is a world where femininity rules.
If the reviews are accurate, Konner’s book celebrates a world of female ascendancy, where men acknowledge the superiority of feminine qualities and adopt them. This la-la land ignore the Jane Austen conundrum. Women who argue that they are capable of doing anything a man can do, and do it better than a man can, still seek to be loved by a great man, one they can look up to and respect. Mr. Darcy has his flaws, but he exudes traditional masculinity. By contrast, women reject en masse the feminine men they try to create. When men cross the line and become too feminine, women don’t desire them as mates. Neither turning women into men or men into women is a successful strategy for civilization. Do we really have to repeatedly obsess over failed ideas?