Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man
Author: Sam Keen
Publisher: Publisher: Bantam
Publication date: 1992
Size: 166 Mb
This book will come as a great comfort to men who’ve never had good relationships with women, and who would be relieved to discover that women can easily be blamed for all of their problems. On the other hand, any man who doesn’t feel compelled to treat women differently because they’re female and who has close female friends will find this book absurd. Keen aggressively asserts that women are profoundly different from men, going beyond the generally accepted gender differences to regard women as completely alien creatures. He unabashedly clings to the most cliched female stereotypes, unwilling to admit that not all women are hyperemotional and irrational. He even asserts that “irrationality” is an inherent female trait, and that men will have trouble dealing with women if they expect them to be rational. As a student of science who prizes rationality and logic above almost any other human trait, and as a woman, I found that extremely hurtful. Plenty of well-adjusted young men and women these days have a co-ed group of platonic friends where gender differences have little influence, but Keen would seem to imply that such friendships are impossible – that women are so profoundly different and incomprehensible that asking men and women to interact without much regard to gender is like asking cats and dogs to play together. Keen also neatly excuses sexism and misogyny, taking the blame off the individual man and placing it with society. In fact, just about any problem or shortcoming a man experiences, may, according to Keen, be blamed on a society where modern gender roles don’t benefit men (!), who have lots of natural animal drives that aren’t being nurtured (apparently women don’t have such drives, except maybe to make babies and cry a lot).
In a world where some women aren’t allowed to drive cars, hold office, and even go to school, and where the one commonality among all fundamentalist religions is the subjugation of its women, claiming that men are suffering because of the place of women in society is tantamount to claiming that whites are worse-off now that blacks have more rights. The public would be outraged if a book were released about how whites and blacks are so profoundly different and that the recent rise of blacks in American society has hurt the whites because whites have a certain inherent need for power and control. Why, then, is it still acceptable to regard the rise of women as a threat to men?
Any man out there who loves, respects, and looks up to women in his life will think Keen is a joke. Keen is making money off of pathetic, cowardly men willing to accept the idea of “women” as one single hyperemotional, overbearing, untrustworthy entity and more than happy to get permission to blame women for their own shortcomings. Men who are already struggling to communicate with women would be better served by seeking out intelligent, rational female friends than by reading a book that will only reinforce their biases and anger towards women.