A new book about gender has created controversy, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. How would you like to know that women are the superior gender, and that we actually don’t need men at all?
I don’t think that’s what Sheryl Sandberg had in mind when she wrote Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Knopf, 2013). That’s a best-seller by the Facebook COO that I am familiar with, having read and presented a synopsis of that book at a Creative Communication Network (CCN) client site. Note: I can no longer do that under contractual agreement with Randy Mayeux, who presented it at the First Friday Book Synopsis and other CCN sites. and who has exclusive presentation privileges for the book. Regardless, there’s no way that Sandberg wanted women to eliminate men – but rather, to figure out how to co-exist with them, and how to get their “fair share.”
That’s not what Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy (Norton, 2015) by Dr. Melvin Konner says. His book provides evidence that men are more likely to commit crimes, die in accidents, and incite violence. To your great surprise, he also points out that men cannot reproduce without women. But, did you know that there is evidence that females can reproduce without males? You’ll have to get the book to learn how. (Hint: it’s not by humans.)
And the critics on Amazon.com are not happy. One consumer review, after giving it one star out of a possible five, remarks: “Konner practically salivates when considering a future without men.” That is in spite of a glowing quoted editorial review which says, “Women After All describes what future historians will surely recognize as one of the momentous transformations in the human saga: the decline of men’s political dominance, and with it many deplorable practices and belief systems. Engagingly written and persuasively argued, it shows how an acknowledgment of human nature combined with a long view of history can advance the human condition.” (Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, & author of The Better Angels of Our Nature.)”
Dr. Konner is a professor of anthropology at Emory University. He is actually one of the rare “Doctor-Doctor’s,” holding both an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard. He has written many books, perhaps the most famous of which was published in 2011, entitled The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind (Belknap Press). You can see a list of the titles and publication dates by clicking here.
From his own website, he describes why and what he does: “I apply science to human nature and experience, exploring the links between biology and behavior, medicine and society, nature and culture. Why do we do what we do, think what we think, feel what we feel? I find answers in anthropology, biology, medicine, evolution, the brain, childhood, history, and culture. I’ve often commented on medical ethics, health care reform, child care, and other issues, and I do that here too.” You can read some of his blogs on the site by clicking here.
This book contains great outrage at the historical indignities suffered by women. Sandberg may appreciate his call that treating women better will help men as well. But, it appears that there is not a great place at the table for men. And, the thesis that society will be better off without them may be difficult to swallow.
By the way, this is no best-seller. It is nowhere close to that on Amazon.com, and it does not appear on any list that I can find.
You can’t say the book is biased. It’s full of scientific data, trends analyses, and logical interpretations. It’s just that a book which exposes problems without giving much in terms of solutions is not going to appeal to very many readers.
You can expect to see more about this author and book very soon. It is an obvious choice for the “Good Morning America“s of the world, the Huffington Post, radio talk shows, and even some of the tabloids. If nothing else, Konner will make a lot of money and get famous.
The term “chreiai” is ignored and grossly underdeveloped in our professional literature.
Chreiai is a term that describes memorable statements or useful sayings that speakers use as topics that they can expand into rhetorical presentations.
I found this definition from Emory University website. You can access the site here.
chreia: A chreia (pl. chreiai) is a brief statement or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. If a chreia features a brief statement, that statement may be a thesis. There are three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.
In his book, The Gnostic Discoveries (Harper Collins, 2005), Marvin Meyer states:
“Chreiai continued to be used in the Middle Ages and beyond by students of rhetoric and grammar, but eventually among Christian rhetoricians chreiai lost much of their Cynic cleverness and wit and became domesticated. They turned into the serious statements of those engaged in the business of Christian theology and ethics, where there may be little room for cleverness and wit” (p. 60).
Not so fast! I think the examples he uses on the same page are pretty witty. I reproduce these here:
“Marcus Porcius Cato, when asked why he was studying Greek literature after his eightieth year, said, ‘Not that I may die learned but that I may not die unlearned.'”
“The Pythagorean philosopher Theano, when asked by someone how long it takes after having sex with a man for a woman to be pure to go to the Thesmophoria (the festival celebrated in honor of Demeter and Kore), said, ‘If it is with her own husband, at once, but if with someone else’s, never.'”
Meyer notes that even the words of wisdom offered by Jesus in Christian texts qualify as chreiai.
I am surprised how buried this term has been. Even our fellow blogger, Randy Mayeux, who went through seminary, then graduate training in rhetoric, and then in the ministry for twenty years, had never come across this term.
Yet, I find it descriptive, and perhaps useful as we look at clever sayings in contemporary books.
What about you? Does this interest you?
Let’s talk about it really soon!