Are Men Necessary? When the Sexes Collide

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Four decades after the women’s liberation movement, men and women are still circling each other as uneasily and comically as ever.

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By Maureen Dowd

Four decades after the sexual revolution, nothing has worked out the way it was supposed to. The sexes are circling each other as uneasily and comically as ever, from the bedroom to the boardroom to the Situation Room. Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist, digs into the Y and X files, exploring the mysteries and muddles of sexual combat in America.

In chapters that sparkle, startle, and amuse, she explains why getting ready for a date went from glossing and gargling to Paxiling and Googling; why men are in an evolutionary and romantic shame spiral; why women have reeled backward in many ways; why men may be biologically unsuited to hold higher office, given their diva fits and catfights, teary confessions and fashion obsessions; why women are fixated on their looks more than ever, freezing their faces and emotions in an orgy of plasticity that makes the Stepford Wives look authentic; why male politicians and male institutions get tripped up in so much monkey business; why many alpha women from Martha to Hillary can have a successful second act only after becoming humiliated victims; and why the new definition of Having It All is less about empowerment and equality than about flirting and getting rescued, downshifting from “You go, girl!” to “You go lie down, girl!”

In addition, Dowd explores not only how many of these shining feminist triumphs soured, backfiring on women, but also how Hillary, a feminist icon busy plotting her campaign to be the first woman president, delivered the final blow to female solidarity herself.

Women’s liberation has been less a steady trajectory than a confusing zigzag. Feminism lasted for a nanosecond and generated a gender tangle that has bewitched, bothered, and bewildered men and women for 40 years. With this book, the battle of the sexes will never be the same.

352 pages. Hardcover. 2005.

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