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Posted June 25, 2013
Review: ‘A Gender Handbook for Western Man’ by Elder George
Why is it that one side of public discourse is usually better presented than the other one? Thus in the left corner of the gender debate
you have a well-researched, engaging book ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’ by Sheryl Sandberg and in the opposite
corner - Elder George’s pamphlet (66 pages plus essays, which served as drafts, 196 pages in total is not a book).
Elder George (EG) explains life, universe and everything in his “15 Maxims”, which remind of a generic ancient mythology,
where the picture of the Universe is a mechanic extension of everyday life. According to EG, everything, starting from the Galaxies
and ending with subatomic particles, is either male or female; the first is active and dominant, the second is passive and receptive
– this is the natural, patriarchal order.
The author blames all Western society ills on the perversion of this fundamental patriarchal principle, illustrating it with fable-like
examples from nature and some very biased 'facts'. For example, the explosion in number of US prisoners (mostly male, but he
doesn't mention this) and high level of the depression among women (again, there is no statistics for men) are the result of the broken
down patriarchal society in general and women with ideas above their natural place in particular. The author waxes lyrical about
a primitive societies, where women “cook, clean, sew, mend, wash, nurse, and nurture“ and men, according to Elder George,
do nothing, waiting for a lion or to attack, so women can tell them to organize the defense.
He decries a necessity for a male to work in routine jobs, 9 to 5, while he should sit around and contemplate abstract thoughts women
are incapable of. Working emasculates men, leading to the chaos we are in. We should renounce this unnatural state of things and
all go back to the noble savage society, where only women work; otherwise we are doomed.
Just as printing press led to the explosion of different quality publications including anonymous religious pamphlets, which try
to persuade the reader to embrace The Sacred Truth using quotes from the sacred text, digital revolution lead to the proliferation
of self-published treatises like “The Western Man” - badly written without any research. EG says in the preface that you don't need
research to understand and accept his Universal Patriarchal Truth.
But even if contradictory evidence such as high level of prostitution in countless ancient civilizations and raise of mass-consumption
of antidepressants among women in more patriarchal American post-second World War society are too much to expect from
a polemic publication, reader could expect the scientific facts such as an alleged non-existence of electrons without a nucleus or
simultaneous presence of tigers and lions in Africa and America, to be checked, if the facts illustrate a point. Even more the reader
deserves to know basis of completely incorrect assertions such as “all female organisations fail”, while nuns' monastic orders
are 1,500 years old.
And even a purely speculative publication should be well-written to have a chance of an impact on a reader, but EG's thoughts are not
clear. For example, there would be no point in the “Gender Handbook” if, as the writer states, the western man had no concept of
gender. What he probably means is that the current gender roles are incorrect. The spelling and punctuation could be better as well
- my favorite typo/wrong title is 'Forward' instead of Foreword and it is really a Preface.
“The Handbook” should be reclassified from “Gender studies”, because any scholarly element is absent . Summarising, I prefer
religious pamphlets to this treatise it for the three main reasons: The pamphlets contain quotes from the best gems of human culture,
professionally edited and almost never openly misogynistic.
Dr. Victoria Doronina, a non-depressed, married mother of one