SEXUAL SUICIDE by George Gilder


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Sure as night follows day Women's Liberation was bound to precipitate a male counterthrust and Glider's is as provoking and maddening a polemic as any we've encountered to date. He may not know it, but he shares a good many feminist views, in particular his contention that male sexuality -- when not harnessed and subjugated to the ""long-term rhythms and perspectives"" of the woman -- is a wayward, transient hit-and-run phenomenon of hedonistic opportunism and impulse. Gilder asserts categorically the sexual superiority of women (""males are the sexual outsiders and inferiors""); in fact he has very little good to say about his own sex -- left to their own devices men are asocial, predatory and dangerous to society. But the conclusions he draws from all this are not only startling but downright perverse. Using a smattering of idiosyncratic anthropology, he concludes only traditional monogamy can save the man; and marriage is the bedrock of Western Civilization. Ipso facto, Women's Lib and its goals -- abortion on demand, child-care centers, equal pay for equal work -- will be the ruination of us all. Anything that takes the woman out of the home will add to the male sense of redundancy, impotence and rootlessness; take away his age-old role as protector and provider and he will turn to drugs, pornography, marauding, rape and killing. ""The steady erosion of the key conditions of male socialization"" which we are today witnessing will cause general social disintegration. As a symptom of the masculine identity crisis this is a very poignant book. As a critique (brief) of the shallow shibboleths of Open Marriage it's right on. But the remedies for male anomie which Gilder proposes (in all seriousness) would return women to abject dependence, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Which is about as reactionary a non-solution as we can envision.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co.