Book Review, gender, men

Book Review: Stuff Women Can’t Do

41r9jghvsilStuff Women Can’t Do: 25 Things We All Know Girls Can’t Do (But We Pretend They Can)

By Niles and Frasier Mercado

When I first saw the title of this book, I thought it surely had to either be a joke or a ridiculous, poorly written diatribe. But the title amused me. Also, my ten-year-old daughter wanted to know what it said, so I picked it up on my kindle.

First, let me say that I am married to a strong, hard-working, athletic, and intelligent woman and have two very strong, determined, and intelligent daughters. I’ve said lots of times that there’s less crying, less drama, and more competitiveness on the girls’ sports teams I’ve coached than on the boys’ teams of the same age. I’m around lots of awesome girls, and I’m one of their biggest fans. So, I’d be one of the first to correct someone who implied that they were in any way inferior.

But that’s not what these authors are doing. It would be hard to actually read this book and give it a one-star review. However, I have just finished reading a one-star review from someone who obviously didn’t read the book. The book’s authors say time and again that they are making general statements which cannot be refuted by specific exceptions. But what does the reviewer do? They provide an exception, backing up one of the claims of the authors: “Women do not understand generalizations.”

“The reason why men know that women do not understand generalizations is because when they (men) make general comments, the most common response is to provide a few exceptions.”

While Mercado & Mercado do list and explain 25 things “we all know girls can’t do,” they are really making bigger, more important points through humor and hyperbole. Before we dismiss them as idiots, we should make an effort to understand their message. After all, does it really matter whether or not, in general, women can’t move without help, can’t write good comic strips, or “can’t not mess up Ghost Busters?”

Despite the title, this book is less about women and more about men. How, as another author recently wrote, American society is trying to destroy masculinity. Mercado writes:

“It’s not that women are inferior to men, but the things that are uniquely masculine are not appreciated.”

What do our boys see on TV? I grew up watching television shows that portrayed husbands and dads as bumbling idiots (Al Bundy). Commercials were and are the same. American men are, for the most part, free game. Yet we’d better not express opinions about anyone else.

So that’s one point of this book—men are not worthless, even when American society (beta-males included) says they are.

Also: “Men and women are different and the differences are largely not a ‘social construct’ but are differences that are mimicked throughout the mammalian order of species.”

Notice that there’s nothing in this about one being better than the other; the authors only say there are differences. Can we honestly disagree?

Women have many strengths that men don’t have, and men, in general, don’t deny it. Why is diversity celebrated? One reason is because different people contribute different strengths, therefore making a stronger society.

As I said, people can try to pick apart the details of this book, but the real message is hard to argue with. There are things that are primarily masculine. Men tend to be better at those things (in general). Therefore, men are still an important part of society. And along those lines, young boys should not be forced to conform to all things feminine (through female dominated institutions such as school, church, soccer), but should be allowed to be boys without being shamed.

This book is well-written; the arguments are clear and logical. And the authors (with the help of the significant women in their lives) have bravely started a discussion that needs to be continued.

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About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love life, good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemmingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.

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