web site hit counter The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment

Availability: Ready to download

An explanation of recent sexual culture and the loosening of marriage bonds over the past 20 years.


Compare

An explanation of recent sexual culture and the loosening of marriage bonds over the past 20 years.

30 review for The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    A wonderful precursor to bell hooks's masterpiece The Will to Change , The Hearts of Men details the shifting and sometimes harmful expectations placed upon men in the twentieth century. Barbara Ehrenreich emphasizes the economic gender roles men worked to fulfill and avoid, how they derived their sense of self from their ability to serve as breadwinners, only to resent that designation later. Throughout this book she argues that deconstructing these restrictive roles (i.e., men as dominant b A wonderful precursor to bell hooks's masterpiece The Will to Change , The Hearts of Men details the shifting and sometimes harmful expectations placed upon men in the twentieth century. Barbara Ehrenreich emphasizes the economic gender roles men worked to fulfill and avoid, how they derived their sense of self from their ability to serve as breadwinners, only to resent that designation later. Throughout this book she argues that deconstructing these restrictive roles (i.e., men as dominant breadwinners, women as subservient housewives) would help both men and women, as Ehrenreich herself writes that "roles, after all, are not fit aspirations for adults, but the repetitive performances of people who have forgotten that it is only other people who write the scripts." I have one major critique of Ehrenreich's book: she does not touch on race at all. Thus, she ignores the immense struggles faced by people of color when it comes to coping with gender roles, as well as these individuals' impressive resilience. She does a good job of pointing out how a lot of housewives and conservative women (e.g., Phyllis Schlafly, ugh, why did she have to possess and spread so much internalized misogyny) hurt the feminist movement by clinging to women's predetermined role as submissive homemakers. However, she forgets to mention how race intersects with class and how white women dominated a narrative that should have included more women of color. Overall, a good book I would recommend to those interested in gender roles, economics, or feminism. Ehrenreich lays the groundwork for a lot of the more current work on toxic masculinity, so I thank her for rising above how the patriarchy perceived her and other women as nothing more than vessels for men. I will end this review with one of her closing comments, a well-written passage about working together to maximize our shared autonomy: "I can see no other ethical basis for a reconciliation than the feminist principle - so often repeated - that women are also persons, with the same needs for respect, for satisfying work, for love and pleasure - as men. As it is, male culture seems to have abandoned the breadwinner role without overcoming the sexist attitudes that role has perpetuated: on the one hand, the expectation of female nurturance and submissive service as a matter of right; on the other hand, a misogynist contempt for women as 'parasites' and entrappers of men. In a 'world without a father,' that is, without the private system of paternalism built into the family wage system, we will have to learn to be brothers and sisters."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This book does something very important. It shows that, contrary to a myth held in different forms by both feminists and their enemies, second-wave feminism didn't march into the 1960s to break up a settled relationship between the sexes, suddenly freeing women to experience productive work and form independent identities as men could. Instead, feminism corresponded to a male movement that was already underway, as American men rejected the stable breadwinner ideal they were expected to meet afte This book does something very important. It shows that, contrary to a myth held in different forms by both feminists and their enemies, second-wave feminism didn't march into the 1960s to break up a settled relationship between the sexes, suddenly freeing women to experience productive work and form independent identities as men could. Instead, feminism corresponded to a male movement that was already underway, as American men rejected the stable breadwinner ideal they were expected to meet after the Second World War. Conventional wisdom in the 1950s, Ehrenreich writes, held that young men would find fulfillment only in marriage and fatherhood. Psychologists and psychoanalysts like Hendrik Ruitenbeek, Therese Bendek, Erik Erikson, and R. J. Havinhurst popularized a conception of "maturity" that placed the role of breadwinner at the peak of male mental development and independence. By the early 1960s, however, it was becoming clear to some of them that this ideal was unpalatable to many American men, and that it even inspired neuroses. Frequently, the experts (and other cultural authorities such as novelists) strongly implied that the dread of the breadwinner role was evidence of homosexual tendencies, which were signs of arrested adolescence. Psychoanalyst Lionel Ovesey, for example, wrote a case study about a 23-year-old homosexual: "'He lived alone and his social existence was a chaotic one, characterized by impulsive midnight swims and hitchhiking.'" This young man, Ovesey continued, was uninterested in having a career (25). In fact, by the late 1950s, American novelists and sociologists were describing a new type of man: the "gray flannel rebel" who outwardly "lived by the rules" of domesticity -- married young, found a white-collar job, fit in at neighborhood gatherings -- but feared the flesh-creeping dullness of what he invariably called "conformity" (29-30). Such a man might become alcoholic or indulge in unspoken radical ideas. Richard Yates's novel Revolutionary Road described such an uneasy young man; so did David Riesman's bestselling 1950 sociological treatise The Lonely Crowd, and William F. Whyte's The Organization Man, and Alan Harrington's Life in the Crystal Palace. What they were describing, Ehrenreich points out, was precisely "the masculine equivalent of what Betty Friedan would soon describe as 'the problem without a name'" (30). These mainstream authors, though, rarely saw a way out of the comfortably stifling dreariness of the American home. While these authors fretted, an overt masculine rebellion was already in progress. In December 1953, Hugh Hefner published the first edition of Playboy. In a perceptive analysis, Ehrenreich points out that Hefner positioned himself as the champion of men oppressed by the obligation to marry -- as the enemy not of women per se, but of wives and prospective wives. In an early issue, Burt Zollo succinctly explained the magazine's vision of liberation: "'Take a good look at the sorry, regimented husbands trudging down every woman-dominated street in this woman-dominated land. Check what they're doing when you're out on the town with a different dish every night'" (47). The magazine and its readers believed in freedom from the committed home. By 1956, Playboy had a circulation of one million, and its founders were millionaires by 1960. The Beats had a similar vision of masculine liberation, but unlike Playboy, they attacked middle-class employment as well as middle-class marriage. Contrary to the "Beatnik" stereotype, which suggested that the Beats were mild and effeminate, the real Beats celebrated raw energy and (generally nonviolent) forms of aggression as release from the confinement they endured in American society. Their escape included escape from domesticity, and provoked outraged reaction from not only conservatives but also Playboy writers, who saw the Beats as a rival rebel group. (Playboy, in a three-article series in 1958, claimed that the Beats did not enjoy sex.) Ehrenreich believes that the fascination many "square" Americans had with Beat culture suggests that their critique touched a nerve. Medical researchers also detected a male malaise in the 1950s, but they worried about the shorter life expectancy of the average male. When Ashley Montagu wrote in 1952 on The Natural Superiority of Women, he claimed that the Y chromosome was deficient, and that women were naturally healthier thanks to their "'two well-appointed, well-furnished X chromosomes'" (70). Soon, however, medical writers began to blame the male workday for early death. In 1956, Hans Selye began to publicize the idea that stress is responsible for heart disease, and in 1961 Fred Kerner popularized the idea with Stress and Your Heart. (When, in the 1970s, women began to enter the American workforce in large numbers, Selye warned that they would become vulnerable to the same heart attacks, ulcers, and high blood pressure that affected men.) But this had the disturbing implication that there was something wrong with the middle-class male ideal. Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman proposed, in research widely publicized in 1963, that some men had a "Type A" personality that was naturally disposed to take admirable male workplace characteristics to an extreme, even to the point of self-destruction. Men, therefore, did not need to worry about the postwar breadwinner ideal itself, but that they might have a natural vulnerability to excessive devotion to success. In psychology, however, a humanistic revolution was afoot. The Human Potential Movement and Gestalt therapy, under the influence of Abraham Maslow and Fritz Perls, respectively, suggested that personal growth might not find its peak in a particular family arrangement. Men and women alike should seek boundless growth in any fulfilling direction -- and men, therefore, need not conform to a stifling ideal of manhood within marriage and work. These developments set the stage for the sexual politics of the 1960s and following decades. In the counterculture of the 1960s, "anti-Communist machismo" was opposed with an "androgynous vision," and men began to wear long hair, flowing clothes, and flowers as signs of freedom. In the 1970s, the number of men living alone nearly doubled, to 6.8 million, and even some pornographic magazines stressed the value of liberating men from masculine stereotypes. (There was, in the 1970s, an interesting relationship between masculinity and class; the films of the period tended to equate machismo with ignorance and the working class, and relative androgyny with refinement.) And in the 1980s, Republican anti-feminists engaged in what Ehrenreich, in a nice but potentially misleading reversal, calls "backlash" against male liberation; Phyllis Schlafly portrayed men as naturally disposed to abandon their wives and lovers if not constrained by the law to support them. The great historical weakness of Ehrenreich's book is common to a lot of feminist literature: Ehrenreich seems to see the state of the American family at the beginning of her study as essentially stable. One never gets a clear sense of the reality -- that the middle-class career-breadwinner role was itself a fairly recent development in the 1950s. The male "flight from commitment" she describes was not a flight from an immemorial male role, but from a certain postindustrial and postwar state of mind. Thus, she does not distinguish very well between the different sorts of stability to which American men have been committed in the past, and to which -- if she is as ambivalent about male liberation as I think she is -- they might be able to reattach themselves in the future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie Suzanne

    What The Feminine Mystique was for women, this book is for men. The back cover critics explain my sentiments so well, I'll present them here: [The book] not only explodes some pervasive beliefs, it affords an invigorating reading of American culture through the last three decades." Ehrenreich explores new relationships between men and women and explains why the old way is no longer acceptable. My favorite quote from this book, which once resided on my refrigerator for months, is "Roles...are not f What The Feminine Mystique was for women, this book is for men. The back cover critics explain my sentiments so well, I'll present them here: [The book] not only explodes some pervasive beliefs, it affords an invigorating reading of American culture through the last three decades." Ehrenreich explores new relationships between men and women and explains why the old way is no longer acceptable. My favorite quote from this book, which once resided on my refrigerator for months, is "Roles...are not fit aspirations for adults, but the repetitive performances of people who have forgotten that it is only other people who write the scripts." Awesome, enlightening book. Will help change your perspective about gender roles and relationships between the sexes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Theilen

    "Feminism" is a word I've heard, it seems, my entire Christian life, or at least the past half of it. I am not a feminist, nor am I interested in so-called "equality" with man, but there came a point, as of late, where something in the form of defensiveness has risen up inside me when it comes to feminists. I don't care who it is, when I see somebody continuously being beat up, spoken poorly about, without so much a single helping hand of kindness extended in aid, my eyes water, my skin tingles, "Feminism" is a word I've heard, it seems, my entire Christian life, or at least the past half of it. I am not a feminist, nor am I interested in so-called "equality" with man, but there came a point, as of late, where something in the form of defensiveness has risen up inside me when it comes to feminists. I don't care who it is, when I see somebody continuously being beat up, spoken poorly about, without so much a single helping hand of kindness extended in aid, my eyes water, my skin tingles, and my chest burns. Standing with my tribe my mind asks, “Who are these women and why are they so hated by my people?" Barbara Ehrenreich, feminist author of The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment, attempts in her book to show how women were not the first or only ones to "flee" from the traditional gender roles of marriage and family with man (husband) as breadwinner and woman (wife) as homemaker/mother. Though often witty and at times sarcastic, she does not appear to be writing in a "gotcha" or blaming kind of way, but in a way that says, “Look. You guys don't appear to be all that happy or healthy in this arrangement either. Is there not anything we can do to work together toward making life a little better for all of us?" In the first few pages, and pardon the excessive quotes, the author provides the reader with a glimpse into her perspective and personal experience: "When I was growing up in the fifties, everyone acknowledged the 'battle of the sexes' in which women 'held out' for as long as possible, until, by dint of persuasion, sexual frustration or sudden pregnancy, they 'landed a man'... "To a young woman of spirit, the battle of the sexes seemed to be a degrading exercise that was hardly worth the prize. From what I could tell of my mother's life, 'victory' meant a life sentence to manual labor, relieved only by the intellectual challenge of family quarrels. Yet the grown men around me were, if anything, even more prone to bitterness, and fond of declaiming on the theme of marriage as a 'trap' for men and a lifelong sinecure for women. Throughout my childhood I was mystified as to what forces propelled people--especially women--into the 'battle' of courtship and, beyond that, the prolong hostilities of wedded life. "The answer, when it was finally revealed to me later in life, had as much to do with economics as biology. Women were, and to a large extent still are, economically dependent on men. After all, a man could live on his own. He might be lonely, unkempt and nostalgic for home-cooked food, but he would, more than likely, get by. A woman, on the other hand, would be hard pressed to make a living on her own at all. If she had spent her college years changing majors in pursuit of 'Probables", or her married life changing diapers, so much the worse; she could expect to enter the labor market as a saleswomen or a waitress earning something near the minimum wage. So what was at stake for women in the battle of the sexes was, crudely put, a claim on some man's wage... "The fact that, in a purely economic sense, women need men more than the other way around, gives marriage an inherent instability that predates the sexual revolution, the revival of feminism, the 'me generation' or other well-worn explanations for what has come to be known as the 'breakdown of the family'. It is, in retrospect, frightening to think how much of our sense of social order and continuity has depended on the willingness of men to succumb in the battle of the sexes: to marry, to become wage earners and to reliably share their wages with their dependents. In fact, most of us require more comforting alternative descriptions of the bond between men and women. We romantacize it, as in the popular song lyrics of the fifties where love was an adventure culminating either in matrimony or premature death. Or we convince ourselves that there is really a fair and equal exchange at work so that the wages men offer to women are more than compensated for by the services women offer to men. any other conclusion would be a grave embarrassment to both sexes. Women do not like to admit to a disproportionate dependence, just as men do not like to admit that they may have been conned into undertaking what one cynical male called, 'the lifelong support of the female unemployed.'" I felt like I was in over my head with this book. By no means would I consider it a must-read, and written in the early eighties, basically you could say not much as changed. I felt the similar calm frustration and despair you'd have if someone were to pull out of a drawer a mango-sized ball of tangled necklace chains and say, "Sort this". There comes a point, and I think I've reached it, when going backward in time you hit a dead end. You can try to make sense of it, you can try to understand, you can turn every rock and read every book, but in the end, ultimately, you've got to turn around. There is no hope here. There were helpful parts. I was particularly interested in the less talked about sexual revolution that would blight our culture just as sure as the one to come. Before the days of boys being drugged with Ritalin so students and teachers could survive school, another kind of masculinity was deemed to be toxic. There was a chapter devoted to male stress due to economic pressure and their internal drives to compete and succeed. Men, particularly male breadwinners, began experiencing more heart attacks. It was burden and responsibility that was toxic to men, and leading the way in this charge was none other than the openly anti-marriage Playboy magazine in its 1953 debut issue. Hugh Hefner writes, "We want to make clear from the very start, we aren't a 'family magazine'. If you're somebody's sister, wife or mother-in-law and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to you Ladies Home Companion." "But Playboy was more than a publishing phenomenon, it was like the party organ of a diffuse and swelling movement. Write Myron Brenton called it the 'Bible of the beleagured male'. Playboy readers taped the centerfolds up in their basements, affixed the rabbit-head insignia to the rear windows of their cars, joined Playboy clubs if they could afford to and, even if they lived more like Babbits than Bunnies, imagined they were 'playboys' at heart. The magazine encouraged the sense of membership in a fraternity of male rebels. After its first reader survey, Playboy reported on the marital status of its constituency in the following words: 'Approximately half of Playboy's readers (46.8%) are free men and the other half are free in spirit only.'" The book was also helpful in getting a feminist view of the "alt-right" and "anti-feminists". Completely unsympathetic in their views, it was very easy, for the women especially, to decry the attacks on marriage and family. From the comfort of their middle-class subdivisions and loving marriages, they were simply fighting, not for all, but for themselves. Ultimately, I think feminism began, and strangely morphs and continues, as a labor to ensure a life in which women are never vulnerable. To that end feminism is doomed to fail. I also think, however, as Christians discussing the issues related to feminism, we could do with a lot less condemnation and extreme moral outrage, and more speaking to the heart of the truest need. At the end of her book, Ehrenreich identifies the need for restoration of trust and loyalty between the sexes. To that I say, “To each his own.” The Gospel alone is the agent of change.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I was hating the book a lot, and somewhat regretting that a good review had led me to read it. In the final chapter it turned around a little bit, so the last 12 pages were better. It also switched to more of an economic analysis, which I think plays more to Ehrenriech's strengths. For the previous chapters of psychology and sociology, it felt more like she was missing the point over and over again. She probably knows that George Gilder is trash now, but she should have been able to see it then. I I was hating the book a lot, and somewhat regretting that a good review had led me to read it. In the final chapter it turned around a little bit, so the last 12 pages were better. It also switched to more of an economic analysis, which I think plays more to Ehrenriech's strengths. For the previous chapters of psychology and sociology, it felt more like she was missing the point over and over again. She probably knows that George Gilder is trash now, but she should have been able to see it then. In large part, I think the issue is not just that this book focuses on men, but it felt like the author was looking down on feminists along with them. There is plenty to criticize in the movement and movers of the era (the text was originally published in 1983), but the way to do that is by bringing in intersectionality, not sticking with the dominant view. Therefore, the main thing I gained from the book was some insight into Phyllis Schlafly (which does not change my opinion of her).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stewart

    Those who have experienced and/or read about the past 60 years in American life would probably agree that the institution of marriage has changed dramatically. Men and women are marrying later, some not at all, and the nuptial agreement, explicit and implicit, between the participants is much different from when Harry Truman was president. Most recently, marriage has been opened up to same-sex couples. “The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment” by Barbara Ehrenreich, pu Those who have experienced and/or read about the past 60 years in American life would probably agree that the institution of marriage has changed dramatically. Men and women are marrying later, some not at all, and the nuptial agreement, explicit and implicit, between the participants is much different from when Harry Truman was president. Most recently, marriage has been opened up to same-sex couples. “The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment” by Barbara Ehrenreich, published in 1983, examines many of these changes to marriage and the belief systems that supported it, in a book that ranges from the 1950s to the early 1980s. We Americans in the early 21st century are living with the consequences of the revolt against the family-wage system (wage-earning husband and stay-at-home wife) of 40 and more years ago. I experienced firsthand many of the cultural changes that Ehrenreich reports on in this book. She writes in her introduction, “I will argue that the collapse of the breadwinner ethic had begun well before the revival of feminism and stemmed from dissatisfactions every bit as deep, if not as idealistically expressed, as those that motivated our founding ‘second wave’ feminists.” Ehrenreich recounts the rebellious prose of Playboy magazine (“‘Playboy’ was not the voice of the sexual revolution, which began, at least overtly, in the sixties, but of the male rebellion, which had begun in the fifties.”) and the nonconformity of the Beats. She describes the ideas of the counterculture of the 1960s and the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and their effects. She ends the book writing about the backlash against these ideas by the Far Right in the late 1970s and later. There are many ideas in the book that merit comment, but let me mention one. Ehrenreich spends several pages on what I would call the misuse of the words “mature” and “maturity” as metaphoric bludgeons to pummel those who dared question the conventional behaviors expected of young men and women. “In the wisdom of mid-century psychology, ‘the rebellious person is also an immature person,’” she writes. Not only everyday American men and women in the 1950s and 1960s were condemned by the word “immature” but classic American writers. Kenneth Lynn is quoted commenting on Henry David Thoreau’s most famous book, “Almost every episode of ‘Walden’ reveals an astonishing immaturity.” The use of “mature” as a verbal weapon to enforce conformity, or at least to try to force behavior that the user of that word wants, continues today, but not nearly as much. “Commitment” is another word that is used as a weapon (usually by women) to try and produce wanted behavior (usually from men), but that is another story. Cited in “The Hearts of Men” are many academic and popular works (a “massive weight of theory”) of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Many of these ideas are laughable from our perspective, ideas that are mostly speculation, facile theorizing, and pontificating dressed up as expert opinion, based less on real-world evidence than other written works also full of speculation and pontification. These efforts often were apologias for conventional wisdom. Ehrenreich makes an effort to be fair to men and women, shows a proper amount of skepticism (a lot), and follows the evidence to wherever it leads. The result is a book that is creatively destructive, a cultural history that is an intellectual stimulant for readers to question the conventional wisdom of our times.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    When I picked this up and noticed the publication date--1983--I wondered if it would be terribly dated and useful only as a comparison for how much things have changed. Sadly, too many of its points are still all too timely. And many of the trends Ehrenreich identified in the 80s have persisted and worsened in really depressing ways. It's a quick read (less than 200 pages, excluding the index) and really useful for analyzing someone like Jordan Peterson or the Incel movement. Discussing men's libe When I picked this up and noticed the publication date--1983--I wondered if it would be terribly dated and useful only as a comparison for how much things have changed. Sadly, too many of its points are still all too timely. And many of the trends Ehrenreich identified in the 80s have persisted and worsened in really depressing ways. It's a quick read (less than 200 pages, excluding the index) and really useful for analyzing someone like Jordan Peterson or the Incel movement. Discussing men's liberation--from crippling financial obligation for dependents, from military conscription and threat of death, from mindless conformity, from heart disease--Ehrenreich notes, "men had nothing to lose but their authority over women." Somehow, that was too high a price to pay.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I have enjoyed and admired Barbara Ehrenreich’s books for many years, so I thought I would read one of hers from 1983. Ehrenreich begins Hearts of Men by examining how in the 1950’s most men lived by the “breadwinner ethic” and moves to an exploration of how that ethic collapsed, which may have been good for men but it was terrible for women. In the first chapter, Breadwinners and Losers, Ehrenreich skillfully uses newspaper and popular magazine articles to articulate cultural expectations for m I have enjoyed and admired Barbara Ehrenreich’s books for many years, so I thought I would read one of hers from 1983. Ehrenreich begins Hearts of Men by examining how in the 1950’s most men lived by the “breadwinner ethic” and moves to an exploration of how that ethic collapsed, which may have been good for men but it was terrible for women. In the first chapter, Breadwinners and Losers, Ehrenreich skillfully uses newspaper and popular magazine articles to articulate cultural expectations for men. Her main point is that just as women felt trapped in the housewife role, men felt just as trapped in the role of family provider. Her next two chapters focus on ways men in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s began to rebel against the provider trap. I agreed with her that the “playboy” rebel role was an adolescent fantasy, but I didn’t agree with her that the “Beats” were a marginal group with little cultural influence. One of the best chapters that follow explores how the male escape from the provider role was accelerated by research into male heart attacks (including, type A personality research). Another great chapter - the best in the book - is a feminist critique of Fritz Perls and the Human Potential movement. Ehrenreich insightfully points out that while it was very important for men to move from conformity to growth, women were overlooked in the movement. Succinctly, she explains that while it is great if men decide to “do their own thing,” such freedom is not allowed for women, who have responsibility for the children. I thought that in the next chapters Ehrenreich took this point too far and was unfair in evaluating the men’s movement in the 1970’s. She belittled men’s new interests in physical fitness and living a less competitive life by comparing it to “liberation is a hot tub.” The book ends with insightful chapters exploring more valid impediments to equal freedoms and economic opportunities for women - the right wing, religious conservative movement in America.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    Unstereotypical gender sociology: traces the male revolt – years before the sexual revolution – against the comparably rigid breadwinner social role inflicted on them. At the time it was too universal to have a name; it was just known vaguely as 'Conformity' or 'Maturity'. On the white-collar worker: Their labor had a ghostly quantity that made it hard to quantify and even harder to link to the biochemistry of blood and tissues. Its key virtue is that she sympathises (more with the Vidals and Rot Unstereotypical gender sociology: traces the male revolt – years before the sexual revolution – against the comparably rigid breadwinner social role inflicted on them. At the time it was too universal to have a name; it was just known vaguely as 'Conformity' or 'Maturity'. On the white-collar worker: Their labor had a ghostly quantity that made it hard to quantify and even harder to link to the biochemistry of blood and tissues. Its key virtue is that she sympathises (more with the Vidals and Roths than the Menckens and Kerouacs, obviously - but in general too). The key thesis: In psychiatric theory and popular culture, the image of the irresponsible male blurred into the shadowy figure of the homosexual... Fear of homosexuality kept men in line as husbands and breadwinners; and, at the same time, the association with failure and immaturity made it almost impossible for homosexual men to assert a positive image...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ercilia Delancer

    This is getting to be a tiresome task for me, that is, reviewing books and giving a lower than desired rating because the author has failed to include any minorities in its research. I love everything that Barbara Ehrenreich has written, and even love like this one, but for the love of God, where are the minorities and lower class males in this book? Is it really possible that the author chose to focus her research on the middle class male only? For what purpose? Throughout history, many men have This is getting to be a tiresome task for me, that is, reviewing books and giving a lower than desired rating because the author has failed to include any minorities in its research. I love everything that Barbara Ehrenreich has written, and even love like this one, but for the love of God, where are the minorities and lower class males in this book? Is it really possible that the author chose to focus her research on the middle class male only? For what purpose? Throughout history, many men have chosen to walk away from their wives and children chafing as they were from the constrictions imposed on them by society. Men in the lower social-economic scale, and minority men, have left families behind because of their inability to support them properly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Gillette

    The argument is that after the Second World War, white men in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe revolted against the traditional duties of masculinity. Raising and supporting a family came to be seen as a trap, cutting men off from realizing their full potential, enjoying their relatively high wages, and finding personal fulfillment. I'm vulgar enough to want to trace the material conditions at the root of this shift, but I definitely think she has a point -- she certainly demonstrat The argument is that after the Second World War, white men in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe revolted against the traditional duties of masculinity. Raising and supporting a family came to be seen as a trap, cutting men off from realizing their full potential, enjoying their relatively high wages, and finding personal fulfillment. I'm vulgar enough to want to trace the material conditions at the root of this shift, but I definitely think she has a point -- she certainly demonstrates to my satisfaction that the kind of mass ideology of libertinism associated with the sixties began for men in the fifties. For Ehrenreich, the second wave of feminism was in many ways a reaction to this tendency. That goes against the narrative as it's usually presented, but I think there's clearly something to it. And it makes sense that privileged professional-managerial types would use the greater freedom they enjoyed under postwar capitalism, and that those left out of this hedonistic project would eventually want to participate. I don't remember if she goes into the politics of birth control, but certainly I can imagine that the effect would initially be greater sexual freedom for men, rather than the more generalized sexual freedom of the counterculture imaginary. She highlights the progression from the individualistic revolts of Beat writing and the "Gray Flannel" types to the more generalized social movements that followed: it's an interesting distinction, one not emphasized enough. I need to go back to it to examine her writing on the "men's liberation" movement. I think it's important scholarship, in light of certain odd corners of the internet these days. In the seventies and eighties, no less! So, then, male sexual freedom has come to be regarded as more and more important over the last sixty-five years, while the patriarchal family has lost the ability to enforce itself on participants to libertarian values, to capitalist mass-culture encroachment, and to affluence, all without losing its centrality in most people's lives. A conflict between two opposing versions of the Male Good Life (the Playboy and Father Knows Best models) continues, without any real hope for resolution being offered to suffering, confused males, much less to the women whose bodies are often viewed as a battleground or a prize in this war. It's really quite a good book. Laying all of this stuff out certainly helps me think about it, and she digs up lots of interesting stuff I wasn't really familiar with. (It's amazing how alien the pop culture of even the eighties can seem, once you dig down into it.) Barbara Ehrenreich: hurrah.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    One of the most interesting things about reading works of social commentary written long ago (this book was published in 1983)from the vantage point of the 21st Century is that you can better judge the validity of the author's arguments. Barbara Ehrenreich's book The Hearts of Men knocks it straight out of the park in this regard. The central premise of the book is that the second wave feminist revolution of the late 60's and 70's that led loads of women into the work place was made possible by One of the most interesting things about reading works of social commentary written long ago (this book was published in 1983)from the vantage point of the 21st Century is that you can better judge the validity of the author's arguments. Barbara Ehrenreich's book The Hearts of Men knocks it straight out of the park in this regard. The central premise of the book is that the second wave feminist revolution of the late 60's and 70's that led loads of women into the work place was made possible by men in the 50's and early 60's abdicating from the "breadwinner" role. The premise sounds a little nutty, but the book is meticulously researched and Ehrenreich's razor sharp analytical insight draws a very clear picture that goes beyond the struggle for gender parity in deep into the heart of the human existential dilemma. This work deserves to be celebrated as a feminist classic along the same lines as The Feminine Mystique.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Ehrenreich's book explores various versions of what has loosely come to be called the "men's liberation movement" and the public discourse on men's role as breadwinners and supporters in the Western family from the 1950s to the 1980s. It's a grim picture, as one of her underlying arguments seems to be that whether public discourse focuses on men being the responsible primary breadwinners or valorizes those men who break the mold and embrace "irresponsibility" (like the Beatniks, Hefner's vision Ehrenreich's book explores various versions of what has loosely come to be called the "men's liberation movement" and the public discourse on men's role as breadwinners and supporters in the Western family from the 1950s to the 1980s. It's a grim picture, as one of her underlying arguments seems to be that whether public discourse focuses on men being the responsible primary breadwinners or valorizes those men who break the mold and embrace "irresponsibility" (like the Beatniks, Hefner's vision of the playboy, or the hippies), as long as the sexist assumptions of the society remain in place they merely adjust and replicate the same basic structures. The last chapter gives some pragmatic courses of action--Ehrenreich is usually a pragmatist writer--but even in a slim volume it's a pretty depressing (if illuminating) read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    Written in the 80s and probably out of print, this book is an excellent cultural history chronicling not just American male psyches but also relationships. It's especially fascinating to read about the evolution of the breadwinner role, and the various rebellions against it, including Hefner consumerism, the Beats, and the hippies. Absolutely great companion to watching Mad Men, and also thought-provoking given the way earning/working has evolved for women. Ehrenreich is always highly readable, Written in the 80s and probably out of print, this book is an excellent cultural history chronicling not just American male psyches but also relationships. It's especially fascinating to read about the evolution of the breadwinner role, and the various rebellions against it, including Hefner consumerism, the Beats, and the hippies. Absolutely great companion to watching Mad Men, and also thought-provoking given the way earning/working has evolved for women. Ehrenreich is always highly readable, although this early work sometimes veers towards the academic. But she's got too strong of a voice to stay there long, and the book is overall enjoyable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Though this book was written in the 80's, Ehrenreich's ideas are still very relevant today. She explores the social relations between men and women and suggests possible solutions to make our society more equitable and just. Many men and women are put off by feminism and turn their nose up to the idea, but this book let's the reader see that feminism helps both sexes and it benefits all of us in the end. Though this book was written in the 80's, Ehrenreich's ideas are still very relevant today. She explores the social relations between men and women and suggests possible solutions to make our society more equitable and just. Many men and women are put off by feminism and turn their nose up to the idea, but this book let's the reader see that feminism helps both sexes and it benefits all of us in the end.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    American men were bailing out of marriage BEFORE the feminists started trashing it. The significant thing about Playboy is not the pictures of women (they are there to remind readers that they are not gay) it's the message of how much STUFF single men can buy for themselves. American men were bailing out of marriage BEFORE the feminists started trashing it. The significant thing about Playboy is not the pictures of women (they are there to remind readers that they are not gay) it's the message of how much STUFF single men can buy for themselves.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I was required to read this, but it was quick, easy, and even entertaining at times. While I didn't love it or deem it "Very Good" because I would never have picked it up on my own, I love Barbara Ehrenreich's writing style. She's one of my favorite scholarly authors. I was required to read this, but it was quick, easy, and even entertaining at times. While I didn't love it or deem it "Very Good" because I would never have picked it up on my own, I love Barbara Ehrenreich's writing style. She's one of my favorite scholarly authors.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Cohn

    Reread part of this recently (Aug 2007) -- wow, what an excellent bit of cultural studies. Not just motivated by idle curiosity (gee, is Madonna subversive?) but dramatically relevant to just about everything in American political and intimate life. Nice going, Barb.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Gender were all effected, don't we want to know how? This book looks at gender and its cause & effects. Good analysis of the relationship between the sexs. Gender were all effected, don't we want to know how? This book looks at gender and its cause & effects. Good analysis of the relationship between the sexs.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Heather Clitheroe

    It's on my supplementary reading list for my upcoming class. Pretty interesting book so far. It's on my supplementary reading list for my upcoming class. Pretty interesting book so far.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The male perspective on being pushed into marriage. Apparently it sucks for them too.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Cool review of responses to work and marriage 1950's-1980's Cool review of responses to work and marriage 1950's-1980's

  23. 5 out of 5

    Keith

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  27. 5 out of 5

    Juneko Robinson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alliyah

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cadie

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.