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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Interview With Warren Farrell, Author Of “Why Men Are The Way They Are.”

Warren Farrell has spent his life on impossible task. No not cold fusion, finding life on other planets, or getting the NY Jets to another Super Bowl. Dr Farrell has been working on a much more difficult problem.  He has been trying to get men to understand women and women to understand men.

Dr. Warren Farrell began his research on gender issues in the ‘60s. His first book, The Liberated Man, was published in 1974. It was from the women’s perspective and the feminist perspective. By the ‘80s, he began noticing that men were feeling misrepresented, and his award-winning national best-seller, Why Men Are The Way They Are, was written to answer women’s questions about men in a way that rings true for men.

My friend John Hawkins of Right Wing News has just conducted an interview with Warren Farrell. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

  • Farrell on the pay gap between men and women. So, for example, men and women who have never been married and never had children — those woman earn 117% of what the male counterparts earn even when you control for education, hours worked and years in the workplace. So the pay gap occurs between men and women, only after men and women get married. Then women increase their time with the children and men increase their time with the workplace. Then women want choices that allow them more flexibility and more fulfillment and more ability to be with the children. Men make choices, too. They may go from making a lower salary to a higher salary so they can support not just themselves, but also their wives who are working less on average and their children who need their help.
High pay, I explain, is basically a toll road. You pay 25 different tolls like working more hours, working on jobs that are less fulfilling, working on more hazardous jobs, working on weekends, working at night, commuting further distances to get to a city that pays more, taking sub-specializations like in medicine…You might take a specialization that deals with cardiac problems and life and death issues rather than pediatric issues or psychological issues where you can control your appointments.

So basically the gap in pay in between men and women is a statement of the increased obligations that men take on under certain conditions — supporting wives or children. Therefore, it should be acknowledged as an increase in male obligations for which men should be praised, rather than criticized as if it were discrimination against women. If anything, it’s actually discrimination against men. 
  •  Farrell on who really has the power; Men or women.   Yes, yes, it’s giving me a good challenge. Basically what I’m saying in The Myth of Male Power is that power is about control over one’s life.
I once remember meeting a woman at a workshop who heard me say that and said, “Huh, let me run this by you. I’m a female in my 40s who is a medical doctor. I earn a good amount of money, but I became a medical doctor because my father was a medical doctor and originally my brother was going to become one. When my brother decided not to become one, my father was so devastated that I chose to become one. Then my father started paying so much more attention to me and focusing on me so much more that I couldn’t tell him the truth, that I really didn’t want to become a doctor. I, like my brother, wanted to become a writer. So I kept it to myself because I loved the attention which I interpreted as love. Now, long story short, I’ve become a medical doctor and given up what I really wanted to do. I guess I really don’t have control over my own life. I guess feminists would say I have power and you would say I don’t have power. Is that accurate?”

I said, “Yes, I’m afraid that that’s accurate.” And I said, “Do other people in the room feel that that’s accurate?” Virtually everybody in the room, female and male, raised their hand and said that yes they could see that the real power is about control over one’s life. Then I said to the woman, “What you’ve done, the decision you’ve made, is a decision that virtually every man has made. He’s learned from society that he will be loved, respected and more attractive to females, more respected by his parents and his peers, more honored by everybody if he earns more money.”
  • Farrell on why marriage is less appealing to men. Nevertheless, there are many men whose fear of getting married is based on many things. One of which is that they see that their dad was married when he was younger, but now he lives in an apartment while their mom lives in a home. The mom got to raise the children, which they interpreted when they were younger as “dad was just not interested,” but then as they got to be age 18 to 25, their dad eventually let them know that he was extremely interested and showed them court documents about how he fought in court to be involved with them, but how the mom resisted that involvement. So the man starts saying, “Wow, if I get married to the wrong woman, I could end up like my dad. My dad thought he was in love with my mom at the time and my mom was in love with my dad. Then my dad ended up not getting the home, not getting the children, having us feel that he hated us or was at least neglectful of us, him being depressed and disappointed and paying child support for children he couldn’t see in a home he couldn’t live in….” That gets pretty depressing for some boys that feel they could fall into the same pattern. The reason it isn’t even more depressing for many men is that when a man falls in love, he believes his woman will be different and oftentimes she is. But, sometimes she isn’t.

There is much more in this great interview.  Click Here to go to Right Wing News and read the entire interview.

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