GENDER: The Myth of Equality by

GENDER: The Myth of Equality

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One of the more graceful laments for the ""terrible, unnatural differences that have come between the sexes"" and led women to push for equality and independence. There are passages about love and sex that are beyond reproach. There are illuminating personal tales (a separation and divorce, a daughter's first menstruation); there are stylish quotes from Hemingway, GÃœnter Grass, William Carlos Williams. But there is also much to object to: against ""the myth of equality,"" surgeon Neely adduces all sorts of biological, endocrinological, and cultural arguments to the effect that a woman's proper fulfillment is in babies and a man's in providing and protecting the hearth. Anything short of that, says Neely, flouts biological imperatives. (Hence his strictures on professional women who postpone marriage and motherhood--from a fertility point of view, he considers them over-the-hill at 35.) Not that Neely is a macho materialist, finding genetic sanctions for male promiscuity or female coyness (in the manner of Marvin Harris or Robert Trivets); rather, he comes close to the pulpit, proclaiming the mutual need for completion and transcendence in love. His preachments lean more on Jung than on the Bible, however. There is much talk, for one thing, of the woman's animus (her masculine drives) and the male's anima (his projected feminity) as essential in a mature loving relationship. Those outside the pale include militant feminists--whose deviance Neely attributes to ill, alcoholic, or frequently absent fathers. Introverts--given to ""limited emotional development""--don't fare so well either. There are also factual statements of little or no validity: the claim that ""A plant--eating existence tends to make people very self-centered""; or the assertion, now much-contested, that only human females achieve orgasm and can have intercourse at any time. Neely's discussion of senility is muddled, moreover, and some of his endocrinology conclusions are questionable. So he cannot be counted on for factual accuracy, even in areas where his medical knowledge should shine forth. As for the rest, it will likely go over well with those predisposed--and leave others, however sympathetic with Neely's love-and-marriage message, still in basic disagreement.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Simon & Schuster