A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Harvey A. Hornstein


Understanding Men's Romantic Illusions
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 Social psychologist Hornstein (Psychology/Columbia; Managerial Courage, 1986) looks at the inappropriate expectations that men suffering from the ``man-servant syndrome'' have of themselves and of women, and how these affect their relationships. Hornstein interviewed 150 men and women about their romantic relationships and observed a common illusion: Men are supposed to be dominant, forceful, and competitive, able to protect, provide for, and if need be, rescue women, who, in return, will reward them--make them feel like Prince Charming. The gap between this impossible dream and reality fills men with doubt and self-blame, making them feel like failures--ugly frogs rather than Prince Charmings. Hornstein categorizes three styles of ``man- servanting'' by men who are caught up in this illusion: ``ministers,'' who focus on providing for women, and who place them on pedestals and worship them; ``educators,'' who see women as incompetent creatures needing their guidance; and ``Lancelots,'' who want to protect women and dazzle them with their performance and demonstrations of power. Each of these man- servanting styles is analyzed and its inevitable failures revealed, often in the words of Hornstein's interviewees. Happily, the syndrome is not terminal: men can learn to recognize its danger signs as they appear and develop more satisfying ways of relating to women. To that end, Hornstein offers guidelines for breaking loose from its bonds. And, finally, he pleads for an end to the silent acceptance of an impossible ideal of what a ``real'' man should be. Let it be known: Prince Charming had problems too. An appeal for men's liberation that speaks to both sexes.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-09843-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991