HOW MEN FEEL by Anthony Astrachan


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Too bad this long, sensitive report on men's reactions to feminism didn't appear 10 years ago. Today much of it sounds familiar--it's hardly a revelation that some men change diapers happily, while others Wince at the task. But Astrachan, distilling the result of nine years of research and 400 interviews, does provide up-to-date insight into the ""men's movement"" and other feminist-inspired arcana, and the personal testimonies that pepper the book (including the author's report on his own failed marriage) are honest and painful enough to demand attention. Astrachan's interest in feminism was sparked by the sexism his ex-wife confronted as a reporter for the Washington Post. Later, as his wife's free-lance career blossomed, he found himself in a confused stew of admiration and resentment, pride and envy--a common situation, he found after talking to other men. The pain men feel at the liberation of women crosses all social barriers, although Astrachan discovered it to be most acute among blue-collar workers and professionals. From the army to the board room, men experience fear, guilt, and shame at the demands made by women. Happily, the workplace also contains men who welcome--or who accept with a sigh--women co-workers. Astrachan found the same pattern in the home, where male chauvinism is countered by new ideas about men's roles. Astrachan's interviews provide a wealth of fascinating anecdotal material, but his ruminations on his harvest are less authoritative. He believes that the source of men's hostility towards women is their boyhood need to rebel against a strong mother--a shaky bit of psychological theorizing. This idea leads him to argue for equal male-female responsibility in parenting, without seriously examining the biological mandates that may be involved. Similarly, he treats abortion as a cut-and-dried feminist issue, although many liberated women oppose abortion for religious reasons. In sum, a smooth, in-depth, less-than-startling report on how men feel about the women's movement, by a reporter who seems to consider himself a ""new man"" (that is, a male ""finding pleasure and reward in the changes that women began""), and who writes from the ideological standpoint this entails.

Pub Date: July 18th, 1986
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday