The Decline of Males: The First Look at an Unexpected New World for Men and Women


Why have sexual and family norms of American society changed so dramatically in the last few decades? Lionel Tiger presents a unique perspective, offering arresting evidence that the real issue is reproduction, a biological process. He argues that the spread of effective contraception, controlled by women, gives them the sole power to decide to, or not to, bear children. Removed from the process of reproduction, men have begun to feel obsolete, resulting in their unprecedented ...

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Why have sexual and family norms of American society changed so dramatically in the last few decades? Lionel Tiger presents a unique perspective, offering arresting evidence that the real issue is reproduction, a biological process. He argues that the spread of effective contraception, controlled by women, gives them the sole power to decide to, or not to, bear children. Removed from the process of reproduction, men have begun to feel obsolete, resulting in their unprecedented withdrawal from family systems.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This provocative book raises questions about the awesome influences of nanotechnology and genetic engineering on the future of human sexuality and social structure. Highly recommended." —Library Journal

"Lionel Tiger, a pioneer of biological anthropology and developer of the concept of male bonding, here delivers a very well-researched and well-written brief for masculinism, which if successful, may gain parity with feminism and eventually transform women's studies within academia into what they should have always been, namely, gender studies."

—Edward O. Wilson, author of Consilience and Pellegrino University Research Professor, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

"This book, written without the ideological blinkers that obscure most contemporary discussions of gender, is full of incredible nuance and insight that will reward careful reading." —Francis Fukuyama, author of Trust and The End of History and the Last Man, and Hirst Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

"In an utterly persuasive book that must change the discourse on sexual politics, Lionel Tiger offers his startling perspective on humanity's future. By giving women unprecedented control of human reproduction, the new technologies of conception and contraception have already put men well on the way to becoming tomorrow's 'second sex'-with no reversal in sight." —Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? and W.H. Brady Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

"The Decline of Males is an extremely well and clearly written and powerfully argued account of the changing relations between men and women. The distinguished anthropologist, claims that the male faces obsolescence... I hope that the book is unduly alarmist, but I fear that it may not be." —Richard A. Posner, author of Sex and Reason and chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

"The Decline of Males will perhaps be tarred with the brush of 'backlash,' but it is no such thing. Lionel Tiger's vivid, readable account will help us all move forward to a time when equality between the sexes does not have to be achieved at the expense of men, children, and families." —Melvin Konner, author of Becoming a Doctor and The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, and professor of anthropology, Emory University

Library Journal
Stressing the framework of evolution, Rutgers University anthropologist Tiger (Men in Groups, LJ 8/69) explores the recent dramatic changes in human reproduction and behavior owing essentially to female-controlled methods of contraception throughout the industrial world. He documents a major shift in confidence and power from men to women, giving special attention to the profound social consequences. Tiger argues that males are now withdrawing from family life and feeling obsolete. A new family pattern, or "bureaugamy," is emerging: the mother-child unit (a return to the primary primate social bond) financially supported, in part, by a government agency. More and more alienated from the process of reproduction, independent males seek behavioral expression and emotional satisfaction in drugs, sports, pornography, and the military. Tiger also emphasizes the unspoken but important relationship between love and money. This provocative book raises questions about the awesome influences of nanotechnology and genetic engineering on the future of human sexuality and social structure. Highly recommended.--H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
John O. McGinnis
Lionel Tiger provides a rich description of our current politics and culture. In his view, they are both fashioned, one way or another, by the natural differences between men and women. Those differences are easily stated.
#&151; The Wall Street Journal
Kirkus Reviews
The Author's Reply

The reviewer for Kirkus - the most consistently negative and usually first review medium which is unfairly featured in internet services such as this one - responds to my book with allergies not argument. The reviewer begins with the revealingly ideological and pointlessly charmless assertion that I am a 'mad social scientist' because I introduced the term 'male bonding' which has in fact proved to be a durable part of the language because it describes a real phenomenon about real people. The review ignores the central concern of my book: why was the availability of good female controlled contraception in the 60's counterintuitively followed from the 70's onward by:

  • a surge in legal and illegal abortion
  • an unprecedented spike in births to single mothers - now about a third in industrial societies.
The reviewer does not consider the impact of a number of significant facts such as the political gender gap, that female income overall is growing and male [income] declining male income declining, and rather spectacularly that women are now 55% of all college and university students in America.

This of course

portends very significant future changes in the hierarchies of work,

government, public service and the like. For the past 40 years or so

a kind of male original sin as I describe it in The Decline Of

Males has turned many descriptions of men into harsh criticism. I

cite a New York Times interview with novelist Marilyn French who says

Men would have much better lives in they were more like women.

Imagine if she said catholics would have more fun were they more like

muslims or something similar.

Public disapproval of males and maleness has confused and troubled

men but they have neither wholly understood the situation nor been

able to create organizations to deal with their concerns. Unlike the

National Organization for Women, the Promise Keepers (for one

example) closed down last year for lack of finances.

In any event, there are major social and sexual changes underway

which will inevitably affect people today and parents of both girls

and boys who puzzle about the world in which their children will have

to fit. My book is an effort to capture these changes and understand

them with the depth and compassion they deserve.

I hope this suits your format. Use your judgement about whether or

not you want to add the comment about the anonymous nature of the

Kirkus review as a kind of separate comment.

Why does B&N insist on misleading potential readers by printing a bitterly unfair ANONYMOUS review from the unreliable Kirkus service...

Also recommended: Richard Posner, Sex and Reason; Edward O Wilson, Consilience; Kristen Luker, Taking Chances;David Popenoe, Life Without Father; C. Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?

—Lionel Tiger

The mad social scientist of biological reductionism is up to his old tricks again. Tiger, the anthropologist who 30 years ago brought us the notion of "male bonding'' (in Men in Groups, 1969) returns once again to a biological argument to explain the "declining'' influence of men in modern society. Tiger's theoretical premise is egregiously essentialist to those with a background in cultural theory (he likens these social scientists to Christian Scientists in relation to medicine)-we must "understand basic human nature'' before we can talk about economic, political, psychiatric, or feminist theories. In this particular instance, he wishes to relate the declining role of men in society to the advent of birth control, which puts reproductive power in the hands of women. His argument is stringently antifeminist-he calls feminism "female-ism'' and implies that we are caught up in the midst of a shift from male production to female reproduction. The basic implication is that if women stayed home and had babies, they would maintain the support and comfort of their husbands, they would continue to vote in the same manner as their husbands, and men and women would be less at polar extremes in the productive marketplace. Men are seen as cut out of the reproductive agreement due to the rise of hidden contraception, and thus they are rendered redundant and out of control. Tiger actually praises "welfare queens,'' whom he sees as rising up and revolting by staying home and out of the economy-to raise their children (conveniently ignoring the messy social, historical, and economic ramifications involved). One of the more annoying aspects of Tiger's style is that he constantly employs cultural examples in an attempt to support his biological arguments-he goes as far as employing the religious story of Jesus' birth to explain the biological "foundations of human emotionality.'' If you didn't buy the notion that male patterns of behavior are imprinted on a genetic level, then you probably won't buy this one either. .

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312263119
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 993,660
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Lionel Tiger is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University and author of nine books, including The Imperial Animal (with Robin Fox), Optimism: The Biology of Hope, The Pursuit of Pleasure, and Men in Groups.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2005

    A relic

    Mr. Tiger's attitudes, spread throughout the book, expose him as a relic from a past time. As a male from this generation, I don't feel any anxiety about a 'Decline of males', that phrase doesn't mean anything because it is simply looking at society from a male perspective, 'the decline of males' could simply be retitled, 'The rise of social justice.' His self-serving use of cultural exmaples to support supposedly self-evident biological truths further expose his lack of rigor. He admits at the beginning of the book that he could not have predicted--when he wrote MEN IN GROUPS--the rise of single motherhood, the gender gap, etc. and I think that inability should have clued him into the fact that his reasoning--and his framework--are flawed: he does not understand that biology is a hermeneutics as political as cultural theory. He jumps from one topic to the other with little connection and uses different frameworks to fit--or hammer--examples into his line of reasoning, which never really coheres beyond an odd, generalized disturbance with the fact that from his perspective women have been making gains, and men have been enduring losses--an obvious effect of the levelling of the HUMAN playing field.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    Very Interesting writing on the future of Males

    Upon finishing the book, I can say that the author has given the reader a very well rounded report on have Males have a hard future ahead. With women having more freedom today than in the past, men are having trouble fitting into the present lifestyle and finding a true need or place for them. I found that I would read one chapter at a time, and stop to think on it. The conclusion is very well done to tie all the chapters together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2002


    In an ideal world one would not have to play the gender card, but this is a good book; despite containing some controversial and admittedly untested theories.

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