rom time to time, a book may be published which by rights should
be recognized as a flawed yet creative, courageous, well-documented
contribution to an issue of profound social importance. And yet
the book may be underestimated and overlooked due to a paradoxical
combination of its contrarian perspective and the natural-seeming
nature of its arguments and conclusions.
Cathy Young's contribution to ending the gender wars, Ceasefire!,
is such a book. The Russian-born journalist painstakingly
documents and then demolishes shibboleth after feminist shibboleth.
It is violence against MEN which is treated more callously by
society. Often, "even if it's the woman's fault, it's the man's
fault" somehow. The author skewers the current "moratorium on
One favorite pastime of Young's is calling the feminists on their
propensity for trying to have it both ways: women are weak analogs
to children when that is strategically advantageous, morphing at a
moment's notice into amazons as physically strong as the toughest
man when that claim will result in further advantages to women.
Women claim they are equal to men, often denying even obvious
biological differences, and yet they simultaneously imply or even
state openly that their sex is the morally superior one. Women
claim to be physical equals of men, except in the sphere of
domestic violence. Mothers complain that they want their husbands
to be more involved in child care, but they do not want them too much more involved.
Young reminds us that feminist tendencies harm women as well as
men. Placing nearly all blame for all societal problems on men
encourages women to avoid taking responsibility and becoming truly
equal partners of men. A man can be railroaded in a domestic
violence case even where the woman implores the authorities to drop
Young is not a lawyer but she devotes significant space to the
disastrous effects feminist dogma have wrought on our legal system.
She demolishes the so-called thinking behind modern court
interpretations of Title 9, the federal law whose recent
interpretations have forced the dismantling of men's university
sports programs in pursuit of a false equality. She documents how
grotesquely feminist concepts--rape shield laws, sexual harassment
law--have distorted our laws nearly beyond the breaking point,
thereby obscuring the genuinely grievous cases.
Without any particular justification other than political pressure,
special exceptions in certain areas of feminist interest have been
grafted onto time-honored legal principles. Meaningful
distinctions with real implications for the lives of thousands of
men and women have been eroded or eradicated. And the placement of
the sexual harassment standard in the eye of the beholder has
created an utterly unprecedented, subjective legal standard. So it
is that hugging your secretary after her mother's death becomes a
"crime" which can destroy a career. If traffic laws were modeled
on sexual harassment laws, she writes, "there would be no stop
signs or speed limits; you could be fined for failing to stop when
someone expected you to, or going at a speed that made another
Young is not afraid to cry from the mountaintops that of course
there is a difference between violent stranger rape and date rape.
Some rapes ARE worse than others, and some "rapes" aren't rape at
all. She supplies several dreadful stories documenting the harm
caused to innocent men, under the rape shield law, by utterly
frivolous or even vengefully false rape allegations. Our approach
to domestic violence, which refuses to consider relationship
dynamics and joint responsibility as contributing to domestic
violence, is of course exactly wrong.
Though not without her own blind spots in this regard, Young
skewers society's lack of compassion for men. Why does outrage
over rape trials typically only run in one direction, and fail to
encompass the false accusee whose life may be ruined despite
complete innocence? Why do we make it so difficult for men to
obtain adjustments in their child support after a job is lost or
wages are cut? We often define "primary caretaker" without even
thinking that this very concept excludes the provider role from the
definition of "care."
But Ceasefire! has some grave flaws too. Young is least compelling
when she talks about the men's movement which strives to correct
many of these wrongs. Unfortunately, she analogizes masculism to
radical feminism, and she dismisses the mythopoetic movement
without serious evaluation. Even more regrettably, she minimizes
the harm to males caused by such phenomena as circumcision,
football, and even reduced lifespan. In a generally well-
researched book she attempts to discount Warren Farrell's excellent
work documenting women's power in the home based on one possible,
relatively trivial error. Such an approach seems more akin to that
of the feminists whom the author, elsewhere in this book, so
rightly calls on their selective use of data.
In sum, I highly--if less than wholeheartedly--recommend Ceasefire!
The book contains much of value, and may offer more documented,
referenced information on masculist issues than any work this side
of Warren Farrell. Cathy Young does care about men, and those of
us who care about men have much we can learn from her.