Jack Myers * Inkshares * March 1, 2016 * 327 Pages
Advanced Reader Copy provided by Amazon Vine.
The premise of The Future of Men is that women are gaining power in business, politics, LIFE, so men need to adjust accordingly. Myers argues that women are better educated, more collaborative, and more socially intelligent than men; generally speaking, their skill sets are better suited for post-industrial society, and so they are moving on up in the ranks. He argues that men must change their ways, maybe even become more like women, so that they can thrive in a world where women dominate. And he suggests men do several things to adapt to this new paradigm. They can learn to multitask, get organized, admit mistakes and tell the truth, learn to ask for help, pay attention to details, show concern for other people, use more words to communicate, and think about the feelings of others.
I suppose I agree with Myers, in theory. Yes, I can see that women are educating themselves and working their way up in their careers. More women are in positions of power. Women may still not make as much money as men, but they have a presence in the work force like never before. And that changes things.
Unfortunately, though, Myers makes some pretty crazy arguments about who men currently are. In his opinion, “most men today, no matter how enlightened they may believe they are, continue to exhibit and foster the same behavior as men have throughout the ages.” What types of behaviors are those, you ask? Oh, well, you know, just the usual, says Myers. Most men today enjoy sexist jokes, and they flirt with young, attractive women. They don’t listen or respond to their female bosses. They cheat…like, all the time. Oh, and they have a destructive and “EMBEDDED instinct to lie, contradict, and obfuscate the truth.” (Emphasis mine.) How can he possibly make a claim like that? ALL men are liars and cheaters? It’s ludicrous. It’s reductionistic and insulting, honestly, to the men who have actually made the effort to be caring, empathetic, and family-centered.
Ironically, I think my favorite part of this book was the part NOT written by Myers. At the very end, there is a section called “Stories from a Woman’s Heart.” It’s basically a small collection of essays written by various women sharing their perspectives on “the evolving man.” This section is short, but heartfelt. (Yowza, Mary M., you put it all out there, girl. Your essay is powerful.) I especially appreciate Chapter 30, written by Carol, because that chapter FINALLY mentions a topic that I wish had been addressed in the rest of the book: supporting men’s families in the workplace. I firmly believe that nothing is going to change if men aren’t allowed to, say, take paid paternity leave or take paid time off to care for a sick family member. Shoot, women are barely granted that “luxury.” I see family support in the workplace as THE major hurdle to jump if we really want healthy men and healthy families.
At any rate, this book was a pretty major disappointment. I think Myers is on to something: men’s place in American society is changing. But, unfortunately, his explanation as to why and how really misses the mark.