On November 8, 2005, Maureen Dowd came out with her book, Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide. And although parts of the book are very specific to 2005, I thought it’d be worthwhile to go back and re-examine these topics 10 years later. Conversational and anecdotal, Are Men Necessary? is a kind of informal discussion about dating, politics, popular culture, and even genetics. For example, one chapter is devoted to the decline of the Y chromosome and the eventual extinction of men as a sex in 125,000 years. And while the title is meant to grab your attention, the author basically answers the question early on with a joking quote from her mother saying, “Men are necessary for breeding and heavy lifting.”
Here are a few other quotes from the book that stood out to me.
- Whether or not American feminism will be defeated by American conservatism, it is incontrovertibly true that American feminism was trumped by American narcissism.
- We’d liked to be like men in the way they can look good in many ways, whereas women are expected to endlessly replicate themselves at twenty-five, a la Goldie Hawn and Heather Locklear, until they look like frozen reproductions of themselves.
- I learned covering Geraldine Ferraro’s vice-presidential bid that the reaction of women to extraordinarily successful women is also ambivalent, with as much hostility as sisterly pride.
- The bottom line? Men don’t want it all and women do.
- Choosing between work and home is, in the end, a problem only for those who have a choice.
In 2015, these statements still seem pretty accurate despite a good amount of social change over the last decade. The much discussed Can-Women-Have-It-All debate continues. Contentions over feminism and prominent women seeking elected office are only going to intensify in the coming year. And American narcissism always seems to outpace American social progress. But the good news is men and women still have 124,990 years left to work on it.