The Best Quotes From “Why Men Are The Way They Are”


Warren Farrell became interested in the women’s movement and as he learned more about it, he became more and more sympathetic to it. As Farrell heard complaints from women about men, he became interested. Why were men behaving like this? What was the reasoning behind it? Over time, as he did more research, he came up with the answers and turned it into an outstanding book, Why Men Are the Way They Are.

Because the book defends men, some people may assume it’s anti-woman or conservative. Actually, my perception is that Farrell is actually a little bit to the left-of-center and the book doesn’t take shots at women or feminism. It’s just an intriguing alternative viewpoint with a lot of truth to it, that surprisingly few people have previously considered.

Together, we came to understand how we beg men to express feelings, but then when men do express feelings, we call it sexism, male chauvinism, or backlash. — XXVII

Women are still taught to be sexually cautious until two, three, or all four conditions — attraction, respect, emotions, and intellect — are met. Many women add fifth and sixth conditions: singleness and status/success. And many add a seventh, eighth, and ninth: the man must ask her out, he must pay, and he must risk rejection by initiating the first kiss, being the first to hold hands, and so on. (If he doesn’t risk kissing her, she is likely not to kiss him.) Men are socialized to want sex as long as only one condition is fulfilled — physical attraction. — P.13

Not many a man ever expects an attractive and successful woman to whom he feels intellectually and emotionally connected to ask him out the first time, pay for him, and keep making advances until he responds. Many women expect these conditions, which are beyond the limits of men’s fantasy lives. A man often feels subconsciously that a woman’s minimum requirements are greater than his wildest fantasy. — P.13

In real life, Linda Evans exclaims that for the right man she’d “quit acting and stay home all the time.” Which was, in fact, what she did. Career by option and wealth by marriage. Which would have made her the fantasy of millions of women who would like to have it all — including softness — by marrying a man who has it all but has become hard in the process of earning it. …The fantasy is marrying in a minute what he earns in a lifetime. — P.36

When women are at the height of their beauty power and exercise it, we call it marriage. When men are at the height of their success and power and exercise it, we call it a midlife crisis. — P.103

Dr. Donald Symons found that, cross culturally, men judge women primarily for attractiveness while women find men attractive only if social, economic, and political status criteria as well as looks are met. Women, he found, often perceive a “man shortage” much larger than is warranted statistically — because far fewer men meet their greater number of demands. — P.104

He and she become selective at different points; she can be selective when he wants his primary fantasy — sex; he can be selective when she wants her primary fantasy — commitment. — P.105

Both sexes work on their “lines” before they appear onstage. His lines are a lifetime of work; her introductory “line” is her appearance — or her lack of lines. Just as careers give men power, so beauty gives women power. But just as the comparison between herself and the most beautiful women makes a woman feel powerless, so the comparison between himself and the most successful men makes a man feel powerless. — P.106

Why did he want a black Porsche? Because he never saw an ugly woman get out of one. — P.106

Exactly what makes the beautiful girl/woman image so much more powerful than other products that are also advertised? Other products, like cars or beer, occupy only a tiny portion of our subliminal seduction; the beautiful woman exists wherever a woman is pictured. Why? Because the marketing researcher knows the male does not feel worthy of her. And if the marketing researcher can make the man feel that buying the product will give him hope of being worthy of her, he will buy the product. — P.111

Male Message 1 is subconsciously experienced by the boy like this: “Some girls in my class already look like movie stars. If they wanted me as much as I want them, then I’d know I was okay. They are genetic celebrities. I am a genetic groupie. — P.111

How does a boy learn to bridge the gap between the genetic celebrity’s power and his feelings of powerlessness? To make him feel less like a puppy dog begging for a morsel? He learns Male Message 2: “I must do something — perform — to earn my way to equality with the genetic celebrity’s first natural resource — her attention. I must defend against the genetic celebrity’s rejection by performing to attract her respect. — P.112

Girls are also desirous of male attention and feel they have to earn it by being attractive enough. Most girls do not feel they are attractive enough to get easily the boys they want for what they want them for. The more attractive a girl is, the higher she sets her sights. For her, there’s also a gap. She feels her other options — like becoming student-body president — will not have the same impact on her as a boy. — P.115

Like the average girl, the beautiful girl, or genetic celebrity, also has her own experience of powerlessness. “This guy keeps pestering me,” she may complain. “He follows me to my locker, waits for me after school, asks me out, makes comments about me to his friends…I wish he’d drop in a ten-foot hole.” She experiences this as harassment if she’s not interested. The average boy looks at this harassment, sees it as attention he would have to work all his life to get. For him, this is just the price of being a genetic celebrity. Her complaints sound to him like the complaints of a Princess Diana. — P.116

In another socioeconomic class, men who drop out of officer training also find the women who love them dropping out of their lives. I live near Camp Pendleton, one of the largest military bases in the United States, just north of San Diego. One man after another has told me that there is “no way personality is as important to a lady as my rank.” — P.133

Once a man has raised his consciousness, he slowly understands that Alan Alda is loved not because he’s sensitive, but because he’s successful and sensitive. — P.134

Think of how often we read of men throwing themselves into cold rivers or hot fires to rescue a woman. We hear of women performing heroics for the sake of a child — but try to recall one example of a woman doing that for a man, even her husband. — P.135

Why are men so afraid of commitment? Chapter 2 explained how most men’s primary fantasy is still, unfortunately, access to a number of beautiful women. For a man, commitment means giving up this fantasy. Most women’s primary fantasy is a relationship with one man who either provides economic security or is on his way to doing so (he has “potential”). For a woman, commitment to this type of man means achieving this fantasy. So commitment often means that a woman achieves her primary fantasy, while a man gives his up. — P.150

Men who “won’t commit” are often condemned for treating women as objects — hopping from one beautiful woman to the next. Many men hop. But the hopping is not necessarily objectifying. Men who “hop from one beautiful woman to another” are usually looking for what they could not find at the last hop: good communication, shared values, good chemistry. — P.153

The meaning of commitment changed for men between the mid-sixties and the mid-eighties. Commitment used to be the certain route to sex and love, and to someone to care for the children and the house and fulfill the “family man image.” Now men feel less as if they need to marry for sex; they are more aware that housework can be hired out and that restaurants serve meals; they are less trapped by family-man image motivation, including the feeling that they must have children. Increasingly, that leaves men’s main reason to commit the hope of a woman to love. — P.159

As some women began to see their fantasy of better homes and gardens as drudgery (Cleaner homes and housework), they made shifts in their fantasy. But they expected men to pursue the remaining housework and child care as if it were part of men’s fantasy. It was presented to men not as a fantasy, though, but as “you’d better do it or you’re a chauvinist.” Men became fearful of committing to a fantasy that was never theirs. — P.164

Devotion in exchange for financial support disappears when financial support disappears. How can a man sense whether a woman will react that way? A hint comes in a survey of women married to doctors published in Medical/Mrs., which indicates that the doctors’ wives, by their own evaluation, wanted security from marriage more than anything else. According to Colette Dowling in The Cinderella Complex, “The conflict and hostility they exhibited toward the men who provide them with all this security is stunning to behold,” yet many of these wives were considered devoted. — P.182

Twenty years ago, a father was barred from most delivery rooms. Now he is expected. A family man was basically an absentee father. Today a family man is expected to be a working father. Twenty years ago, millions of married women didn’t think beyond “giving a man sex.” Today sex is also for women. Twenty years ago a woman may not have known what an orgasm was. Today she expects multiple orgasms, simultaneous orgasms, sensitivity, and sensuality. Expectations have changed. And in the process, yesterday’s bonus can become today’s disappointment. — P.185

Women are often killed in horror movies. Why horror movies? Because the very purpose of the horror is to break taboos — that is what creates horror. Killing a woman is taboo. Killing a man is not. In westerns and war films men are killed left and right, yet they are not called horror films. — P.227

In short, he gets sex and she gets sex. If that is considered unequal, we can see why men are afraid of commitment. — P.240

If a man has sex with too many women without the apparent intention of committing, he, like Ted Kennedy, is seen as a “womanizer” and an “exploiter of women.” Why? Doesn’t each woman agree to have sex with him? Or is it assumed she is being used because she gets nothing more than sex? –P.250

Most men do back off when women initiate. Just as women back off when men initiate. The more a person initiates, the more rejection she or he will get — and the more likely he or she is to get his or her ideal partner. People who initiate are selecting people they want, not necessarily people who have an interest in them. So they get rejected. It is not always because the man cannot handle a woman initiating. Most men, if interested, love it. — P.253

“He asked me out, therefore he pays” is just a double jeopardy of the male role: he must not only do the asking, he must pay. It’s two conditions he must fulfill to be equal to her company. — P.277

Don Juans are often quite sensitive to women — not to what women say they want, but to what their experience with women has taught them women respond to. — P.279

Like parents, mentors are often not only not appreciated but even rebelled against. — P.291

When we hear the phrase “the battle of the sexes,” there is an unspoken assumption that both sexes have been blaming equally. The battle, though, could easily be called, “The female attack on men” not “the male attack on women.” There is a distinction between responding to blame and initiating it. Men have changed less, but they have also blamed less. — P.308

If you think he is changeable, the big problem arises: Creating the change without sacrificing the romance. If only one of you is changing, you become the therapist. Therapists who sleep with their clients take grave risks. — P.316

In an experimental setting, the Condreys asked observers to comment on the feelings expressed by a nine-month-old infant. If the observers were told the infant was a boy, they labeled the crying “anger.” If they were told it was a girl, they labeled the exact same crying by the same child at the time “fear.” — P.334

Men have learned to feel okay about getting the “intimacy” of feeling needed by a woman who is financially deprived; in contrast women have received a conflicting message in their attitude toward men: they want men to need them yet feel neediness is unmanly. They “turn off” to a man they feel they must “mother” — so only a little leeway is allowed between his showing neediness and being “too needy.” — P.359

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