Upside Down: The Paradoxes of Gender in the Twenty-first Century - Basic Editionby Robert Waring
In the early 1970's, feminism promised to remake the world for women and create a new cultural landscape where women have equality with men. But forty years later, this attempted reboot has not occurred. Only
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The Basic Edition contains the full text, but without access to the citations or hyperlinks to the original source material found in the Deluxe Edition.
In the early 1970's, feminism promised to remake the world for women and create a new cultural landscape where women have equality with men. But forty years later, this attempted reboot has not occurred. Only a small minority of women have ever self-identified as feminists, and women overall are less happy today. In many ways progress is now stalled. Has feminism failed, or have we been thinking wrongly about gender issues all along?
Both are true. Feminism sought too little systemic change and didn’t build a national consensus that it should succeed. Although the book The End of Men helped encourage the illusion that we’ve largely remedied gender inequality in America, in fact, we’ve barely begun. We need to rethink the effort, and start over. Upside Down draws on insights from evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, economics and political science.
This book itself is paradoxical. It embraces the notion of gender differences, but does not imagine the world necessarily improved if women were in charge. Rather, Upside Down proposes a dozen public policy changes that could make the world a better place for all, with the welcome side effect of aiding women’s advancement. The book also delves into the difficult divide of partisan politics and explains how various public policies affect women, thus empowering individuals to effect change with their energies, their money and their votes.
To set the stage for a new direction, the book relies on peer reviewed, scientific studies to describe eleven gender paradoxes – circumstances that based on feminism’s goals shouldn’t have happened, but did. Each of these paradoxes helps explain the causes of women’s continuing inequality in society, illuminates the harms, and suggests solutions. Did you know that as societies are becoming more egalitarian and behavior and opportunity are less constrained by gender, greater gender differences in personality are emerging and increasing advantages men have in attaining power and wealth? This runs completely counter to the feminist view that such differences are purely cultural. It has huge implications for women’s competitiveness.
Did you know that women are less happy today than they were forty years ago? And that women’s progress in business and government – which should be steadily improving – has by many measures completely stalled in the 21st Century? Even more disturbing workplace research shows that women discriminate against women more than men do.
Based on eleven years of meticulous research, Upside Down is filled with surprising facts to support its conclusions. For example, mothers-to-be who skip breakfast are more likely to have daughters than those who don’t. Even more curious is how this mechanism explains why women are less prone to violence than men. And on the topic of violence, many people are aware of the role played by testosterone, but did you know that a single dose often makes women more egocentric, less trusting and less collaborative?
The book’s proposals would increase women’s access to opportunity, influence and power. For example, part time careers should be available to all, in every field – family responsibilities are too big a counterweight to a full time career for many. Changing hearts and minds about gender issues will require advertising and public relations campaigns. Adopting the policies of countries where women have greater influence could help women gain influence here. The book’s unique mechanism for gender quotas in state legislatures also could accelerate change. Upside Down charts a course for feminism to regain relevance and create real gender equality.
(The Deluxe Nook Edition, priced separately, is a portal to research papers illuminating a wide range of gender issues. Many sentences in the book are just two clicks away from the supporting material on the web – journal articles, newspaper stories and video.)
- Robert Waring
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The author's book is a fascinating study of women and power. On one hand, it is a serious academic tome expertly suited for the classroom; and conversely, an emotionally charged epic for everyone about the underbelly of so called gender equality. Waring pulls no punches when describing how feminism has faltered. Young women today entering university or the workplace take it for granted they can be a doctor, lawyer,CEO or whatever they wish without delving into the history of past feminist political struggles. Yet the mounting frustrations of being able to achieve so much without the solid underpinnings of a strong societal movement have left women in limbo, and as Waring points out, less happy today than they were forty years ago. The author's proposals to advance women's opportunities beyond the facade are concise and expertly researched. The reader will find themselves engrossed in the rich material and hopefully rejuvenated about the possibilities of a better world.