"I watch 'Masterpiece Theatre,' and I'm not gay!" Readers sound off on Andrew Hacker and his "antiquated" views of men and women.

Published March 14, 2003 9:31PM (EST)

[Read "A Very Few Good Men," Sheerly Avni's interview with Andrew Hacker, and Laura Miller's review of his book "Mismatch: The Growing Gulf Between Women and Men."]

I really hope Hacker's book is better than his interview in Salon. Is a man who got married in 1955 really the best person to evaluate contemporary relationships -- especially the prospects of a 32-year-old woman?

His examples of the hardships women today face make the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" look like friggin' Darwin. Women have it rough because guys don't want to watch Henry James adaptations? If I'm not mistaken, Henry James himself was actually a man. And his take on sports was good, too -- men have been playing sports since they were 10 and won't tolerate women in their ranks? Ummm, you know, some girls take time out from playing with dolls to win a soccer match.

I was thinking about getting his book, but I have this crotchety old geezer for a neighbor who offers his views on young women for free.

-- Mike Baugh

Bah on Hacker, and good on Miller. The more you point out the differences between men and women, the more the opposite sex seems to become some incomprehensible, threatening alien. Really, we all just want to be happy and supported and loved, right? I'm 29, well-educated, female, and a veteran of several rewarding, long-term relationships. Seems to me that part of demanding equal rights and opportunities also means accepting that the man doesn't necessarily have to make more money than you or be smarter than you. Maybe he should even be way hotter than you.

I've also met plenty of guys who aren't hoarding power, wanting to be No. 1 at home. They'd love to give up the rat race, stay at home with the kids, watch sports, and have their MBA-toting wives bring in the dough for the both of them. Heck, some of them have OCD and really dig vacuuming.

-- Valerie Wu

Hey. I'm a sensitive guy. I watch "Masterpiece Theatre" and discuss it afterward. I can even cry. And I'm not gay. And I'm not even hideously ugly, but let me clue you in on a little secret: Many women don't want what they think they want.

First: If a guy acts like a girlfriend, it's virtually inevitable that some day, somewhere, the words "Don't be a baby" or "Why can't you be a real man?" will enter the conversation. Or, even better, the woman will go find a "real man" and discuss it with Mr. Sensitive. The irony is that, most likely, this kind of guy will get his feelings hurt. Feelings. Got that?

Second: American business is run like a sport. You're either on the winning team or you're not. The idea that merely playing the game and doing a good job might be useful attributes is greeted with raised eyebrows and snickers about skirt wearing.

It's not about being a woman; it's about not being a jerk. If you're not a jerk, then you won't go anywhere. Get it right, OK? Lots of men who aren't jerks hit the glass ceiling too. Lots of successful women are every bit as obnoxious as their male counterparts.

Finally: Let's distill this. In this country, at this time, "Kill, kill, kill" is in vogue. "Nurture, do a good job, expand horizons" is not. Wait ... It's never been.

It's not about women and men. It's about "Winner takes all -- kill the other" versus "Let's play a game for fun and profit."

-- Oswald Neimon

I have to say there's a lot of truth in what this fellow Hacker is saying. As male I can honestly say that I have limited interest in the things most women seem to want to talk about. Interest can be feigned but if it's not there, it's just not there.

-- Thomas

This article is the perfect accompanying piece to your Matches Made in Hell series. Even a cynic like myself is surprised at how many men take women they know are vegetarians to steak places. In my experience men have been that dense. There is nothing lonelier than being with someone who has no interest in you and just wants to talk about how cool some action movie was. (And it is never one you have seen. In fact, you will tell him you have never seen it, and he will still go on for about 40 minutes, while you stare into your coffee.) Unfortunately, I do not think Mr. Hacker's book will serve as a wake-up call to men. Instead it will just remind women of how slim their pickings really are.

-- Pessimistic Single Girl

What is this dithering gasbag trying to say? When asked what do women really want? he goes on about their "potentialities," barely keeping himself from bursting out laughing. What he means is that they want husbands -- but now that they've overeducated themselves, women are going to be bored with the dull-witted clods they've got to choose from, and left to watch "The Golden Bowl" on "Masterpiece Theatre" with their gay friends. When was the last time this guy turned on a TV? What are the husbands watching, "CHIPS"?

-- Michael Fallon

I take great exception to Mr. Hacker's claim that only gay men do "feminine" things like watch "Masterpiece Theatre." As he himself points out, all of his "research" took place among the people he has surrounded himself with.

By contrast most of my closest friends are straight men, and all of them are secure enough in their identity to do as they wish rather than confine themselves to an antiquated stereotype like that. They cry in public if they're upset, are wonderful cooks, discuss everything under the sun including their emotions, and are more nurturing than all the women I've known combined. They are also all either in long-term relationships with happy women, or in the process of finding, to quote my boyfriend, "a soulmate."

Shame on Mr. Hacker for perpetuating the revolting stereotype that all wonderful men must be gay based on what he saw in a restrictive older generation. Shame on Salon for supporting such nonsense by tossing him an easy interview. This is the sort of article that makes me happy that I don't waste money subscribing to your zine!

-- Denise DeGraf

By Salon Staff

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