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Former Today show men's correspondent Bob Berkowitz enlightens readers with the know-how of an investigative reporter in this no-holds-barred report from the males of America ...
Former Today show men's correspondent Bob Berkowitz enlightens readers with the know-how of an investigative reporter in this no-holds-barred report from the males of America that divluges their innermost secrets, and shows women how to improve their relationships with husbands, lovers, and other men in their lives.
Somewhere between the invention of lite beer and lite beef, the ultimate "lite" product made an appearancelite men.
Less fat, mom tender, and tastefully dressed, he was the ideal product for the 1970s. A man for all microwaves, Women chewed on him for a while, but in the end spit him out.
While it lasted, the vogue for lite men did have an effect. The flabby, tough, and tasteless standard of macho excellence began to change. Taunted and tutored by feminists, we started to appreciate two-income households, female orgasms, and quality time with the kids.
There have been a lot of ideas floating around about men; we picked up on some of the best and watered down our worst instincts.
We're not lite. We're not perfect. But we have changed.
Women have changed too. I'm probably going to touch off a my-change-is-bigger-than-yout-change contest by saying this, but here goes: I've always felt that women overestimate how much they've changed and underestimate how much men have changed. And it's easy to see why. lite life-style of women has been radically altered. By comparison, men are still living in the Edwardian Age. We go to work and come home in the same old way. We re-create and procreate in the same old way.
Women, however, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, were swept out of Kansas by a tornado of changing values, economic conditions, and sexual mores.
They can take credit for making some of these changes come about. But many changes occurred because Of circumstances beyond their control. Similarly, men have been swept along by the tides and the tornadoes. We've changedbecause it was easier to change than to fight the change.
But in one key area, where it would be much easier not to budge, to hang on and slug it out, men are making a series of especially difficult changes. Men are giving up power. In going about it, some of us are more graceful than others. The diehards oppose equal pay for equal work (talk about lost causes!). The rest of us are saving our ammunition to snipe at the changes that really go against the grain, and the choice of targets depends on who's pulling the trigger. Fred may blaze away to keep his club from admitting women. Joe can't stand the thought of a woman in the White House. Bruce won't work for a woman.
The guerrilla war against change is being waged by women as well, and men are getting caught in the cross fire because women refuse to take the Power that they have every right to claim.
Example: picking up the bill for dinner during a date when men and women go out today, even some hardcore feminists fall into a time warp, and the spirits of their mothers and grandmothers take control of their bodies as soon as the check comes. Their arms are Paralyzed and they just can't manage to reach out for that slip of paper. Many women are unable to overcome this disability. They still expect the guy to pay.
"He's making more money than I do" doesn't cut it. First of all, that's not necessarily true anymore. Second, if one of your girlfriends calls with a luncheon invitation, I doubt whether there's a comparison of W-2 forms over coffee and dessert to determine who pays.
Example: the reluctance to initiate social and sexual encounters with men. It is a traditional male role that many women pull back from. If he doesn't call, she sits at home. If he doesn't come on, she doesn't get off.
Men are confused by this off-again-on-again passivity. Hugh, a landscape contractor, had a very short-lived affair with one of his clients. It lived exactly three dates. The first two were the predictable get-acquainted encounters, but the third, with the relationship warming, was full of promise until Hugh showed up at Kit's office to take her to dinner. As they left the building, she asked where they were going to eat, and he said he hadn't made a choice, thinking that they would discuss it as they drove. Kit refused to speak another word for the next twenty blocks. She was furious. Baffled, Hugh figured Kit had been having a bad day. He tried to share some of his "horror" stories about the job, but she obviously wasn't listening. "Okay," he finally asked, "what's wrong?"
"Don't ask me to choose a restaurant. I want you to make those kinds of decisions," Kit said. They ate in a pizza franchise that night, and it was the last time they saw each other.
What turned Hugh off, I suspect, was that, after finally "graduating" to relationships in which he was not expected to dominate at every turn, after getting comfortable with negotiation and compromise, Kit was a reminder of the way things used to be. What was most damaging to Hugh's ego was an implied criticism that he was somehow neglecting his duty as a man.
Courtship patterns change quickly on the surface. Underneath, there is a core of values and beliefs that remains fixed for longer periods, perhaps as long as a lifetime. The conflict creates tension, and to relieve it we-men and women-resort to all kinds of dodges. We avoid commitments. We adopt "liberated" life-styles. We turn celibacy into a philosophy. We find somebody else to blame for the problem,
Penny was organized. Make that o-r-g-a-n-i-z-e-d. She bad a genius for staying on top of the details of life. Ben was her exact opposite. He was a study in confusion: The checkbook was never balanced; tax records were a mess; the bills never...What Men Won't Tell You, But Women Need To Know. Copyright © by Bob Berkowitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.