Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, by Kay S. Hymowitz

Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, by Kay S. Hymowitz

Read this review at Publishers Weekly

Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys

Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys
Kay S. Hymowitz, Basic, $25.95 (187p) ISBN 978-0-465-01842-0

What do Adam Sandler movies, Maxim magazine, and South Park have in common? According to journalist Hymowitz’s unpersuasive polemic, they are compelling evidence that “crudity is at the heart of the child-man persona,” an increasingly ubiquitous personality type among men age 20–40 who don’t grow up because they don’t have to. Weaving together the socioeconomic and cultural paradigm shifts of the last half-century, Hymowitz identifies the appearance of “a new stage of life” in developed societies–pre-adulthood–where the traditional life-script: grow up, marry, have children, and die, is now: “What do I want to do with my life?” But in a world where social demands no longer equate manhood with maturity, frat dudes, nerds, geeks, and emo-boys can remain in suspended postadolescence, while women, whose biological clocks are ticking, are forced to choose between single parenthood and casting their lot with a “child-man.” It’s a provocative argument that Hymowitz advances with considerable spirit, but she conflates character with maturity, and her blaming feminism for the infantilization of men wrests more power and control away from men, suggesting that they can’t develop a sense of responsibility without a woman’s help.

Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good, by Mark Matousek

Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good, by Mark Matousek

Read this review at Publishers Weekly

Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good

Ethical Wisdom: What Makes Us Good
Mark Matousek, Doubleday, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-52789-7

Matousek (Sex Death Enlightenment) makes a case for why human beings are inherently ethical creatures in a provocative book that suffers from uneven execution. Wired from birth with “mirror neurons” that function involuntarily, and cause us, for instance, to tear up when others cry: “Emotions, not reason,” Matousek asserts, “are the bedrock of ethical life.” Drawing on philosophy, neurological and psychiatric research, anthropology, pop psychology, and mysticism, he debunks the belief that organized religion is a necessary framework for an ethical sense, and demonstrates that moral behavior evolves out of a complex interaction between our built-in empathy for those we identify as like ourselves, and the way we respond (or don’t respond) to the supposedly abstract suffering of those we deem as “other.” In the hands of an Oliver Sacks, this braiding of the scientific, moral, and anecdotal could be revelatory; Matousek, however, repeatedly substitutes opinions and inferences for fact, sapping his argument’s credibility and his reader’s patience.