WHAT IS A MAN? WHAT IS A WOMAN? by Morton Hunt

WHAT IS A MAN? WHAT IS A WOMAN?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this generally commendable exploration of just which abilities, behavior, and personality traits are and are not sex-linked, Hunt does an excellent job of showing how ideas of men's and women's work differ in different cultures and how our culture reinforces ""appropriate"" responses (dependency in girls, independence in boys)--yet he doesn't seem totally convinced by his own good arguments when he accepts as certain that ""tendencies are in genes"" though specific behavior patterns aren't. And though he points out that the differences are quite small compared to what they used to be, he doesn't doubt that ""hormones make most men more competitive than most women"" and that female hormones account for greater mood swings in women. A chapter on sex traces Western attitudes from the old double standard to today's freedom and equality, yet ends with the statement that ""most well brought up young women"" are virgins at marriage--citing studies (including Kinsey) published in the Fifties! An intelligent chapter on ""the modern muddle"" attributes present sex-role conflicts to transition and advises clearly that ""going back to the old ways won't work""; it's better to ""move on ahead and fully change over to the new models."" Yet again Hunt emphasizes that ""it still seems natural""--and probably always will--for women to do ""most of the nest building and food giving,"" and that women's bodies make them more interested in their homes and personal matters than in large social or philosophical issues. Nevertheless Hunt does sort out the old and the new in sex role models and sex behavior with a lot more good sense and clarity, and a lot less conservative bias and banality, than most who take on the job of advising the young. (Burgess-Kohn's Straight Talk. . . [p. 799, J-201] is a recent, typical example.) And giving young people of both sexes credit for the ability to draw their own conclusions, you can be confident that they'll find this a helpful, even liberating treatment of a complicated subject.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1979
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux