of Male Power
Why Men Are The Disposable Sex
(Simon & Schuster, 1993) 446 pages.
"The weakness of men is the facade of strength;
the strength of women is the facade of weakness."
quoted pg 27 The Myth
of Male Power.
"..shatters and rearranges our way of seeing the world that it gives
us a kind of ideational vertigo, a dizzying new way of seeing what has always
been before us but which we have not been taught to see....there are little
bombshells on every page. Our view of men and women throughout history and
in our current society will never be the same."
- Howard Halpern, PhD, Past President, American Academy of Psychotherapists.
"Impressive and important. A long overdue rejoinder to women's cry
of 'victim' and 'backlash'."
- Nancy Friday, author of Women On Top.
Everyone's path in life is their unique own. Personally, when I went through
major life changes in 1992, I found myself on the fringe of New Age ideology
learning much of benefit to me, particularly at that point in time. With
hindsight, I can see now that New Age ideology tends to look at people's
qualities in terms of gender. I accepted this at the time, and it was an
interesting conceptual model, but fatally flawed. What this did was reinforce
harmful gender stereotyping.
After a year or so of New Age ideas, I had pretty much decided that I was
very much attracted to 'feminine' energy, and put off by 'masculine' energy.
I found I had more in common with women than men, I stopped watching the
news sports reports because it was all men's sports. I even started being
put off by characteristics developing in my four year old son! Something
wasn't right. There was something I wasn't understanding about the difference
between the genders and how these differences manifest themselves. To explain
that here is not my aim; you'll have to get The Myth of Male Power
for that. It was Warren Farrell's book that put my gender
perspective into balance and helped me see gender issues in an enlightened
Warren Farrell's stated aim (or one of his aims) in writing his book is
the achievement of intimacy between the genders, which comes by understanding.
Much of human behaviour can be understood better if we recognise 'primal'
traits in each of the genders. Put a bit simply, whether by nature or nurture,
men tend to be 'protectors' and women tend to be 'nurturers'. Understanding
this trait, which can be seen throughout the sub-human species, we can learn
much about the human condition. Farrell is not affirming these primal roles,
but claims they are appropriate under certain conditions. We do not live
under those conditions today.
When this point is understood, we can look at the societies of our parents
and grandparents in a different light. With a bit more understanding and
less judgementalism. What modern or even past feminists may have called
sexism or chauvinism may have been better described as chivalry or a desire
to protect females, however misguided or unnecessary.
In page after page, chapter after chapter, Warren Farrell reveals mind-boggling
facts that show that, contrary to the claims of the 'victim-feminists',
women get preferential treatment in many areas of society, and that, as
the title of the book indicates, men's power is a myth. Example: statistically,
men make up far larger numbers of prison inmates. Is this because men are
innately more criminal? Or is it because (1) women are considered less as
suspects in crimes? or (2) women suspects do not usually receive the same
degree of interrogation as male suspects? or (3) courts are far less likely
to convict a defendant found guilty if that person's gender is female? or
(4) a woman's prison sentence is likely to be significantly shorter than
a male's for a comparable crime? or (5) when women have a male 'partner
in crime', the male invariably takes the rap?
If men are the powerful sex, why do they make up 6 out of 7 suicides? Why
do we accept that men, and men only, being sent in vast numbers to die in
war? Why are 9 in 10 workplace deaths males? Why does breast cancer research
receive over six times the funding that prostate cancer research does? Why
do women live longer?
The book spends considerable energy showing how women have gained power
by assuming a role of victim, hence the quote at the head of the page and
on the homepage. Women can often get their way by adopting a role of learned-helplessness.
My only criticism (for want of a less harsh word) of the book is that in
it's attempt to show the multifarious ways in which men are victims, perhaps
it's going a bit in the way of the way of victim feminists: the 'poor me'
syndrome. I'm not suggesting Warren Farrell is perpetuating another victim
mythology. It's more likely that in his attempt to be thorough, he sometimes
gave more examples of men's misfortunes than were necessary. I sometimes
found myself skimming through the examples after I'd read three or four
under a given topic.
As an individual who fervently supports the concept of gender equality,
I absolutely recommend this book as essential reading. It is the best of
several books that I have read on the subject of gender equality, and has
changed my whole outlook on a subject that has subtle ramifications throughout
all aspects of society. The new understandings that one can gain from this
book can certainly improve one's understanding of both genders. The book
is well written in easy language, with extensive bibliography and index.
Also recommended reading on this subject, Who
Stole Feminism by Christina Hoff Sommers. Similar subject, but
from a feminist's perspective.
Other books by Warren Farrell include: The
Liberated Man (1974) and Why
Men Are the Way They Are (1986).
Warren Farrell taught at the School of Medicine at the University of California,
and also taught psychology, sociology, and political science at Georgetown,
Rutgers and Brooklyn College. He has had a background with the National
Organisation of Women and has been on the boards of three American men's
organisations. He has formed more than 600 men's and women's groups.
(Coalition of Parent Support)
Dr. Warren Farrell is the author of many books, including two award-winning
international best-sellers, Why Men Are The Way They Are plus The Myth of
Male Power. His most recent books are Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t
Say, which was a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and Father and
Child Reunion about how fathers can be successful at both work and home.
His latest book, just published this year, Why Men Earn More: The Startling
Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It, helps both employers
and employees understand what makes a company want to increase an employee’s
pay. His books are published in over 50 countries, and in 10 languages.
Men Earn More
Father and Child
The Myth of Male
Hear What Men Don’t Say
Why Men Are The Way
The Liberated Man
Three Judicial Biases About Moms, Dads and Children
I am in the process of planning a teleseminar that has evolved from a combination
of my research for Father and Child Reunion and my expert witness
work on custody issues.
When I do expert witness work, I confront three biases from most judges
that I was also surprised to see proven invalid when I did the research
for Father and Child Reunion. The first bias is the stability bias; the
second is the mother bias; and the third is the 'If-the-couple-is-in-conflict-joint-custody-will-not-work'
bias. All of these biases apply to post-divorce parenting.
The Stability Bias.
Judges understandably reason that amid the instability of divorce, children
are best stabilized by staying in the home they are accustomed to with the
parent who has been the primary parent. I call this "geographical stability".
The research shows that geographical stability does not create psychological
stability. For children of divorce, geographical stability is "one
parent stability"; this article explains why "one parent stability"
is psychologically destabilizing. For example...
Studies show that after divorce the children who do best psychologically
have about an equal amount of exposure to both mom and dad--especially if
both parents live near each other, and there is no bad-mouthing. The psychological
stability of two-parents equally involved leads to the children also doing
better academically and socially, and being healthier physically.
Why does two parent stability trump geographical stability? No one can
be 100% sure, but a blend of research and observation offer clues. Three
quick assertions in quasi-headline form...
First, the job of a child growing up is to discover who it is. Who is it?
It is half mom and half dad. It is not the better parent. It is both parents.
Warts and all. So we are not talking here about fathers' rights, mothers'
rights or even the child's right to both parents. We are talking about a
new paradigm: the child's right to both halves of itself.
Second, children with minimal exposure to one parent seem to feel abandoned,
often psychologically rudderless.
Third, dads and moms, like Republicans and Democrats, provide checks and
balances. Moms tend to overstress protection; dads may overstress risk-taking.
There has to be a balance of power for the child to absorb a balance of
both parents' values. One parent dominating tends to leave the child with
a stereotyped and biased perspective of the values of the minority parent,
and ultimately a lack of appreciation for that part of itself.
The Mother Bias.
Most judges do believe children do best with both parents, but if they must
live with one, mom is given the edge. In fact, the new research I report
in Father and Child Reunion very clearly shows that children brought up
by dad are more likely to do better psychologically, physically, academically
and socially than those brought up by mom.
I will explain in the teleseminar not only some of the twenty-five measures
that create this counterintuitive conclusion, but also what dads do unconsciously
that so often works to the benefit of the child. At the same time, I will
also explain why it would be erroneous to conclude that men make better
dads than women do moms (e.g., dads usually have more income).
Conflict-- especially bad-mouthing-- hurts all parenting arrangements. The
more the conflict, though, the more important it is for the child to see
both parents about equally, because conflict leaves the child vulnerable
to feeling that the parent it does not see has abandoned it-- does not love
her or him. The less the child sees a parent the easier it is to form a
negative and caricatured stereotype of the unseen parent. This leads to
the child feeling negative about that half of her or himself.
Finally, a system that says, "If the couple can't get along in court
how are they going to get along enough to share the children?" creates
an incentive for the mom to initiate conflict. Why the mom? The Mom Bias
teaches mom that if she can erase the joint custody option, she is more
likely than dad to be given custody of the children. This awareness creates
an incentive for a mom who wants full custody to not co-operate with the
The three biases in combination lead to many options after divorce not
being considered. The teleseminar and Father and Child Reunion explore some
of those options.
My experience thus far is that virtually all judges are focused on doing
what is best for the children, as are most moms and dads; that the above
responses to these biases address the issues that prevent judges from giving
more priority to securing both parents' equal involvement; that once judges
know this, their rulings are much more likely to incorporate this prioritization.
For more information on the teleseminar, email Eric
Bio of Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
Dr. Warren Farrell began his research on gender issues in the ‘60s.
His first book, The Liberated Man, was published in 1974. It was from the
women’s perspective and the feminist perspective. By the ‘80s,
he began noticing that men were feeling misrepresented, and his award-winning
national best-seller, Why Men Are The Way They Are, was written to answer
women’s questions about men in a way that rings true for men. The
New York Post calls it "the most important book ever written about
love, sex, and intimacy."
By the ‘90s, Dr. Farrell felt the misunderstandings about men had
deepened and become dangerous to the survival of families and love. He confronted
the misunderstandings head-on with the award-winning The Myth of Male Power,
a book the The Library Journal ranked as “better than Robert Bly’s
Iron John or any of Betty Freidan’s works.” (His books are published
in over 50 countries in 13 languages.)
By the turn of the century Dr. Farrell wanted to provide the sexes with
the tools to communicate-- in particular to hear personal criticism from
a loved one, especially when given badly. That was the take-off point for
Hear What Men Don’t Say, a selection of the Book-of-the-Month
Club. By 2001 Dr. Farrell completed research he had been working on for
13 years on the conditions under which children of divorce are most likely
to be raised successfully. That book, Father and Child Reunion, has renewed
the commitment of many dads to be with their children, and its research
has helped judges understand the importance of dads.
Warren’s most recent book is Why
Men Earn More:
The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap -- and What Women Can Do About It.
It documents why the pay gap is not about discrimination but about 25 differences
between men and women’s work-life decisions.
Warren has appeared on over 1000 TV and radio shows, and been interviewed
frequently by Oprah and Barbara, and by Larry King and the late Peter Jennings.
He has been featured repeatedly on 20/20 and in The New York Times, in People
and Parade, on CBS Sunday Morning and NBC Nightly News, in Forbes and The
Wall Street Journal, and on the Today Show, the Tomorrow Show, and even
To Tell The Truth. He's never appeared on Desperate Housewives.
Warren Farrell’s understanding of both sexes is symbolized by his
being, on the one hand, on the boards of four national men’s organizations,
and on the other hand, being the only man in the US to be elected three
times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women in
New York City. Similarly, he has started over 600 men's and women's groups,
and over 200,000 women and men have attended his workshops worldwide. He
is the only person chosen to speak at both of former California Governor
Wilson’s 1995 conferences – his Conference on Men and his Conference
President Johnson chose Dr. Warren Farrell as one of the outstanding young
educators in the United States. (The man's been around for awhile!) He has
taught political science, psychology, women’s studies and sociology,
and most recently taught at the School of Medicine at the University of
California at San Diego. Dr. Farrell has been chosen by the International
Biographic Centre of London as one of the World’s 2000 Outstanding
Scholars of the 20th Century and, in quite a different take, chosen by The
Financial Times as one of the worlds top 100 Thought Leaders.
How I Began the Discovery thatMen Earn Less than
Women for the Same Work
I promised that in April I would answer the question, “If male bosses
are to blame for discrimination, why are women who own their own businesses
earning only 49% of their male counterparts—that is, why are women
netting less when they are their own bosses than when they have male bosses?”
As I explored businesses owned by women versus men, I discovered that nowhere
is the male-female difference in priorities clearer than in the difference
between these businesses. I discovered how running one’s own business
tended either to follow what I came to call “the high-pay formula”
in exchange for lifestyle trade-offs, or follow “the low-pay formula”
in exchange for lifestyle payoffs.
I began to scout around. I discovered that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
found as long ago as the early 1980s that companies paid men and women equal
money when their titles were the same, their responsibilities the same,
and their responsibilities were of equal size—for example, both regional
buyers for Nordstrom’s, not one a local and one a regional buyer.
But although this was published in the official publication of the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, I had never read of the study in a single paper
or heard of it in the media.
To my surprise (in those years of my innocence), once gender equality was
found, the gender comparison was not only ignored but never updated.
At the same time, a longitudinal survey found that when women and men started
at the same time as engineers; worked in the same work settings; with equal
professional experience, training, family status, and absences; the female
engineers received the same pay. It too was neither publicized nor updated.
I began to see that we study what gets funded, and what gets funded depends
a lot on what’s likely to be found.
“Is it possible,” I asked, “that men and women have different
work goals and treat work differently?” If so, would pinpointing these
differences be more helpful to women than assuming male bosses didn’t
As I freed my mind to consider alternative perspectives, I vaguely recalled
a statistic in Jessie Bernard’s The Future of Marriage, one of the
favorite books among the early feminists. I had half-registered this statistic
at the time, but probably discarded it from full consideration because it
created too much cognitive dissonance with my assumptions of discrimination
against women. I pulled it off the shelf for a second read.
Yes, there it was, in an appendix: Census Bureau figures show that even
during the 1950s, (which Alex studies in ancient history class!) there was
less than a 2% pay gap between never married women and men, and never-married
white women between 45 and 54 earned 106% of what their never-married white
male counterparts made.
I thought about these findings in relation to affirmative action. Obviously,
this was prior to affirmative action. In fact, this pay equality had occurred
even prior to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. And prior to the current feminist
I was sure this example, though, was an aberration. I began checking. Of
course, almost all studies showed men earned more, but as soon as I checked
on unmarried women who had worked every year since leaving school, I found
that they too earned slightly more than their male counterparts—and
that was as far back as 1966. And in 1969, even as I was claiming discrimination
against female professors while doing my doctorate at NYU, nationwide, female
professors who had never been married and never published earned 145% of
their counterpart male colleagues. This is not a typo: The women earned
45% more than the men.
A feminist colleague objected with a half-smile, “Never-married women
are winners; never-married men are losers.” She clarified, “I
mean never-married men are not as educated, are less likely to work hard.
That’s why women don’t marry them. Never-married women can take
care of themselves, so they don’t get married.”
I checked. Sure enough, never-married women were more educated. So, I decided
to check out the latest data among educated men and women who worked full-time.
The results? The men earn only 85% of what the women earn; or put another
way, the women earn 117% of what the men earn.
If all these findings had a common theme, it was, “It’s marriage
and children, stupid!” Well, with each chapter of Why Men Earn More,
we’ll see more about how our paycheck is influenced by our family
role, and how we can use this information to tailor our family’s need
for our income versus our time.
When I shared these findings with some of my colleagues, the response (aside
from having fewer colleagues!) from a couple of them was, “Not so
fast... it’s really the part-time women who are subject to discrimination.”
Maybe. So I checked that out, too.
To get 2004 data on part-time workers required obtaining unpublished Census
Bureau data. I was surprised at what it revealed: a part-time working woman
makes $1.10 for every dollar made by her male counterpart. (Men and women
who work part-time both average 20 hours a week.)
Now that we have a sense that the world is not about discriminating against
women to benefit men, I will give us in our May column something we can
all use to help our daughters, mothers, wives or female partners earn more:
my “11 top tips on How Women Can Earn More,” as culled from
Why Men Earn
More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap-- and What Women Can Do About