Why Men Are the Way They Are

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The author, who did his Ph.D. thesis at New York University on men’s changing roles in society in relation to women’s changing roles, asserts from the beginning that man’s primary fantasy is to attract as many beautiful women as possible without fear of rejection. Women, in contrast, he says, perceive as their primary fantasy the attainment of security and a family. How these fantasies mesh, or don’t mesh, is the basis for this book.

Through a look at advertising slogans and campaigns, Farrell shows how society plays up to sex roles based on these fantasies. Whether he is correct in supporting his theory that this is “why men are the way they are” is up to the reader to decide. Many of his arguments seem to be slanted a great deal in the direction he wants the reader to move, with no argument whatsoever regarding opposing theories.

In spite of such flaws, the book has many fine points. One interesting section takes popular cartoons and uses them to demonstrate the new sexism towards men: The roles have been reversed, and men are now the victims of comic stereotypes. Another section deals with common questions asked by women, such as how to get a man to express his feelings. Finally, there is a section on what is praiseworthy about men, for those who have forgotten.

Footnotes, bibliography, addresses for resource information, and even an index of questions enhance the book. The author has served on the boards of the National Organization for Women in New York City, the National Congress for Men, and the National Organization for Changing Men.