By J. Steven Svoboda
My fellow National Coalition for Men (NCFM) board member and founder of NCFM’s Chicago chapter, technical writer Tim Goldich, has completed the first volume in a projected four-volume book on gender politics. (Full disclosure: I have advised the author on my thoughts about his book and provided some suggestions on recommended edits and marketing approaches.) This work–despite being the author’s first published book–is a masterly, towering achievement, which can be compared to Rich Zubaty’s similarly creative but somewhat more confrontational books and even to the best of Warren Farrell’s work. (Dr. Farrell himself, in an impressive testament to the book’s persuasive power, graciously provides a three-page preface introducing it.) It continues to astonish and refresh me how, having read perhaps 300 books on gender and masculinity over the past decade-and-a-half (and having reviewed about 175 of them), I can still read books that are such a delight to read and that have as much fresh, original thinking as Goldich displays in Loving Men, Respecting Women.
The author manages to provide many new insights while at the same time probably providing the most extensive annotated review I have ever encountered of previous works touching on gender politics from a pro-male or pro-egalitarian perspective. I admire Goldich’s facility, a la Dr. Farrell, at encapsulating his insights into pithy phrases. A couple of the ones that characterize the entire book appear in the book’s very first pages: “Throughout history, both sexes have respected men more than they’ve respected women. Throughout history, both sexes have loved women more than they’ve loved men.” And secondly, “in the benefits enjoyed and in the liabilities suffered, in the power and in the victimization, in the freedoms and in the constraints, it all balances out between Man and Woman–and it always has.” The succinct version of this latter phrase, “It All Balances Out,” appears in this all-capitals format at numerous times throughout the book and comes to seep into one’s conscience gradually, though personally I have–without quite consciously realizing it–long lived by this motto. I love this motto, which the author admits has, even for him (as it has also for me) required a leap of faith to believe. “It is a leap of faith. For both women and men, it is a constructive and magnanimous and generous position from which to proceed.”
Here are “four key statements” that the author lays out, in effect previewing the book’s path:
“One: At birth, members of both sexes are assigned roles, conditioning, and socialization that facilitate and ensure a world wherein men are more respected/less loved and women are more loved/less respected.
“Two: Historically, men have been no more empowered to escape their biology, role, socialization, conditioning, and concurrent fate than women have.
“Three: The two sexes, equally powerless and equally powerful, have plied an equal overall force of influence upon the world and upon each other, engaged in equal complicity and partnership in the sculpting of our world, and are thus equally responsible for outcomes both good and bad.
“Four: Throughout history the enormous consequences and vast repercussions suffered by women for being less respected have been matched in full by the enormous consequences and vast repercussions suffered by men for being less loved.”
Like me, the author is a veteran of the New Warrior training and–while he does perhaps overuse the “I judge” phrase–does a generally excellent job at incorporating its lingo without allowing it to take over the book.
In one particularly pointed passage, Goldich writes, “Accountability and compassion must go hand in hand. Accountability without compassion is ruthless. It is what we more often direct at men. It is respecting men but not loving them. Compassion without accountability is infantilizing. It is what we more often direct at women. It is loving women but not respecting them.”
The author adroitly points out that while the male suicide rate is a shocking four times higher than the female rate among teenagers and a stunning six times higher for young adults, “the `crisis’ of our nation’s girls continues to receive most of the official hands-on attention. It’s an example of what I call the Zero-Empathy-Toward-Men Rule…” The author provides a rapid-fire sequence of pithy, gender contrasts that are again reminiscent of Warren Farrell: “Though it is no longer politically correct to ask female office workers to make coffee, the same stereotyping has us asking male office workers to move heavy filing cabinets or climb rickety ladders to change light bulbs…. [W]e pass laws that protect women from `sexist remarks’ even as we fail to enforce laws that would protect men who suffer `a 600 percent higher incidence of work-related accidents… including over two million disabling injuries and 14,000 deaths per year.’  We focus on the mostly male-occupied tip of the pyramid where the imbalance in power between the secretary and The Boss is plain to see. We ignore the vast base of the human pyramid, but it too is mostly male-occupied.”
Goldich makes the original observation that “better than 80 percent of the crippled, amputated, paralyzed, disfigured, and otherwise disabled people that you see are male. For women, success is gravy and courage is optional. Only men who fail to show courage will be labeled `cowards,’ `gutless,’ and `spineless.’ Only men who do not succeed will be labeled `losers’ and `failures.’ Only men who fail to pay will be rejected as `cheapskates’ and `tightwads.'” Perhaps even more to the point, “Every year men are raped in prison by the hundreds of thousands. Or is it over a million? We don’t care enough about men being raped to find out.” A fact I hadn’t heard before: “Wisconsin spends about $1,000 per month on each male prisoner vs. $2,000 per month on each female prisoner.”
Goldich tabulates (and then goes on to explain what he considers to be no fewer than fourteen separate (if partially overlapping) sources of female power: sexual leverage power, beauty power, presumed innocence/moral authority power, majority vote power, net worth power, spending power, procreation power, domestic power, greater power to elicit empathy, power of protection under chivalry, power to shame, power of accusation/lawsuit, academia power, and the power of feminism itself.
Thus the author brings the reader to a full understanding of his thesis–we are all victimized in different ways, yet as a society and as individuals we tend to immediately “get” the types of victimization that affect females while hardening our hearts and turning away from victimized males. Correspondingly, we more easily respect males while finding it more challenging to respect females in the same ways.
Goldich very usefully devotes considerable time to breaking down in detail the myth that women are discriminated against in the pricing of certain things for which they tend to pay more, such as dry cleaning, suits, shoes and haircuts, showing the reasons for the differential costs based on genuine differences in cost between, say, dry cleaning a man’s shirt and a typically much more elaborate, delicate women’s blouse. Again showing his facility with the Farrelesque bon mot, the author concludes, “Thus, a bill to outlaw `gender-based pricing’ would actually create gender-politics-based pricing.” The author goes on to demonstrate that it is far from an accident that women require more costly services and products “related to augmenting femininity.” It is hardly a mystery, after all. “Only those who lack awareness of the many perks, powers, and privileges that go with femininity will be perplexed as to why women willingly pay more for goods and services that emphasize their femininity.”
The author provides a number of “issues downloads” addressing specific gender topics such as health (“If it seems that men have less to complain about, that’s only because men do less complaining”), education, anti-male discrimination and the “wage gap,” misandry and “male bashing,” the “glass wall” of reproduction/parenting, the sexual harassment industry, and beauty and sexual inequities. The author really shines regarding the wage gap in showing that “[w]hen anyone other than a feminist looks into the situation, the only authentic pay gap is revealed to be a reverse pay gap resulting from discrimination against men”. Even more creatively, Goldich goes on to point out that, “To the extent that men still feel the need to do whatever it takes to earn money and achieve “eligibility” in the eyes of women, the “wage gap” is really just the intrinsic-value gap in disguise.” The author is also at his pithy best in discussing sexual harassment:
In every seduction, a man’s efforts to change a woman’s nos into maybes and her maybes into yeses, have him walking a fine line between being forceful enough to be sexually exciting but not so forceful as to be prosecuted. The really scary part is that the difference between the two exists only in the mind of the woman he is pursuing….
The sexual harassment industry is a men’s issue because it is emblematic of the way women’s issues receive such levels of attention, action, and priority as to shut the equal-opposite male perspective out entirely.
The author provides some useful, general conclusions from all his detailed analysis: “As a rule, where feminists complain of women being less respected… the complaints are probably valid. Where feminists complain of women being less loved… however, they are probably turning a valid male complaint into an invalid female one.” Goldich is unafraid to tell us point blank that the rise of feminism is profoundly connected with the decline of men.
The author has no more patience with victim-masculists than he does with victim-feminists, and rightly so in my opinion. He again shows his skill at eloquent summations in writing, “The feminist victim-dictum is nothing more than ideology… leading perception… leading reality. It is carefully selected bits of reality–the negative bits of the female experience and the positive bits of the male experience–presented as if they constituted reality in its entirety.”
Having effectively demolished the false paradigm of male power and female victimization in the first half of his book, the author goes on to “shed light on the full range of the female shadow (from gray to black).” Goldich makes it clear that he is undertaking this task “not to denigrate Woman but rather to exonerate Man as moral inferior and sole source of evil.” He points out that no-questions-asked drop-off centers for women to anonymously rid themselves of their infants dramatically illustrated our refusal as a society to grapple with and confront the phenomenon of women selfishly dumping their own offspring. The coining by the medical community of “sudden infant death syndrome” and “Munchausen syndrome by proxy” shows society similarly providing “easy out[s] for mothers who kill [or abuse] their children.”
The author builds a convincing case that, “To whatever degree of validity one can argue that if there were no men there would be no war, one can argue with equal validity if there were no women there would be no war.” He later writes some beautiful, evidently heartfelt analysis sympathizing with even the soldiers forced to abuse enemy soldiers: “It is a terribly difficult concept to wrap our minds around, but the truth is, all these men, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Allied soldiers, all were victims. And all deserve our sympathies. Even the ones driven to unspeakable acts of cruelty deserve our empathy. None of these men entered the world with the intention of becoming monsters. They were made into monsters.” In the end, Goldich unassailably concludes, “the vast majority of the most evil horrors that human reality can inflict have been inflicted upon men.”
If the author is a bit more conciliatory and fair-minded than the relatively irascible Zubaty, he is a bit more inflammatory and confrontational than is Farrell, lacking that author’s genteel patina. Thus it is that Goldich can memorably contrast men’s historical deal with their current deal:
Historically/traditionally The Deal society offered Man read something like this: You risk and absorb all the very worst of it; occupy the dark side of the world and human nature and take on all that is most profoundly harsh and hazardous; in exchange, society will compensate you with extra credit and prestige. Under feminism the New Deal offered Man now reads: You continue to risk and absorb all the very worst of it; occupy the dark side of the world and human nature and take on all that is most profoundly harsh and hazardous; in exchange, society will compensate you with nothing.
He shows that we haven’t looked at female power primarily due to sentimentality, which trumps logic.
Another plus for this author: he makes what is almost certainly the best use ever of the writers that preceded him, ably and succinctly summarizing the key contributions of literally dozens of earlier authors on masculinity and gender. I enjoyed the author’s specific examinations of the dynamics of the relationships between John Lennon and Tiger Woods and their wives. Goldich also intrigued (and depressed) me with his detailed analyses of Joe Biden’s support for only women’s rights in the wake of his severe physical abuse by his elder sister, not to mention Barack Obama’s remarkable lack of sympathy for any male concerns contrasted with the President’s huge alignment with feminist issues. He also does a great job chronicling in depressing detail the horrific toll feminist politics has taken on the effectiveness and morale of our military.
The author sometimes verges in the direction of the long-winded and repetitive though as this book evolved to its final, published form, he greatly tempered this tendency. I personally liked his tone and arguments and so didn’t mind the reinforcements of them.
Unfortunately the physical package in which the book appears does not even come close to matching the superlative message Goldich is offering. The tiny, perhaps quarter-inch-wide outside margins are unsightly and limit one’s ability to make marginal annotations, which many readers are going to want to do with this fine book. Admittedly minor details with the footnotes such as repeatedly failing to add a period after the term “Ibid.”, inconsistent capitalization practice, and nonstandard citation formats are collectively distracting and give a regrettable (and incorrect) impression of a slightly slapdash, amateurish author.
I can only end a review of this truly magisterial book with a quote of one of its central theses: “1) For every female complaint there is an equal-opposite male complaint. 2) For every female complaint there is female complicity.” The author finishes the book by providing a useful, practical list of actions that can be taken in order to promote gender reconciliation and recognition that It All Balances Out. We can do no better than to rush out and buy his book and do our best to implement Goldich’s recommendations. Three cheers for one of the most important books on true gender equality that has ever been written.