Understanding Men's Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men's Lives Paperback – 31 Dec 1997
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" Sheehy's advice, bolstered with demographic research, group interviews, medical commentary and personal testimony, is tough and wise."
--The New York Times Book Review
" SHEEHY HAS DONE IT AGAIN: engaged in a good deal of research, interviewed many of the right people, and then produced a beautifully readable, very useful guide to important aspects of adult human development. . . . The cumulative mass of her information, observations, and anecdotes is immensely impressive."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
" Her book will encourage and comfort many men, who--reluctant to confide in their friends or even in their wives--had imagined they were the only ones disheartened and confused by the thorny, arduous path from one stage of life to another."
"Sheehy's advice, bolstered with demographic research, group interviews, medical commentary and personal testimony, is tough and wise."
--The New York Times Book Review
"SHEEHY HAS DONE IT AGAIN: engaged in a good deal of research, interviewed many of the right people, and then produced a beautifully readable, very useful guide to important aspects of adult human development. . . . The cumulative mass of her information, observations, and anecdotes is immensely impressive."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Her book will encourage and comfort many men, who--reluctant to confide in their friends or even in their wives--had imagined they were the only ones disheartened and confused by the thorny, arduous path from one stage of life to another."
From the Inside Flap
Her stunning bestsellers Passages and New Passages brilliantly mapped the changes we live through from youth to maturity. Now Gail Sheehy guides contemporary men through the turbulent challenges and surprising pleasures that begin at forty. As a man crosses that threshold, he is bound to ask midlife's most troubling question: Now what? Work anxieties, concerns over sexual potency, marital and family stress, issues of power, all take on new urgency as men contemplate the decades ahead. But as Gail Sheehy reveals in this major new book, midlife is precisely the period when men are most likely to reinvent themselves and become masters of their fate. In Understanding Men's Passages, Sheehy offers all men--and the women in their lives--an essential guide to self-discovery.
Hundreds of bold, imaginative men--celebrities as well as everyday heroes--share here their most intimate desires, deepest fears, and most fervent cravings for renewal. Decade by decade, Sheehy uncovers the real issues facing men today: finding new passion and purpose to invigorate the second half of their lives, dealing with "manopause," surviving job change, enjoying post-nesting zest, defeating depression, and learning what keeps a man young.
Informative and inspiring, grounded in fact and full of fascinating life stories, Understanding Men's Passages is a landmark that will take its place beside Gail Sheehy's epoch-making Passages and New Passages.
Top customer reviews
The problem is that much of the psychology is old wine in a new bottle. Once upon a time older men were respected for their experience simply by virtue of having survived. Traditional family values, if faithfully followed, already give men a secure base which respects a man for what he IS rather than what he HAS. And finally, the pursuit of excellence, virtue in the classic sense, as an organizing principle in a man's life, is virtually dismissed in a paragraph except to arise much later in the book as a comment that artists and symphony conductors seem to have long and fulfilling lives. The author overlooks that for one who is in a calling instead of job, that joy of a job well done can exist for a production technician as well as a painter.
truth: the body of real things, events, and facts.
propaganda: ideas, facts, or allegations spread to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause.
I had heard some positive comments about Sheehy's book and being a 44 year-old man, was anxious to read it. While her chronicling of men's feelings are accurate, her "solutions" are lacking.
Whenever I read the book, I found myself depressed (even my wife noted that.) I finally realized that Sheehy's advice was really feminist, humanist ideology in a subtle disguise. In her view, the way for us men to successfully navigate our passages and transform ourselves is to accept the hard-core feminist agenda and to throw off the shackles of established religions. Of course she does not state that outright, but the images she paints in her book are of hapless men struggling in a society where women are gaining more prominence. If we don't accept the fact that men are losing power, we will not be transformed.
The real issue with which men are struggling is not about losing power, but losing respect. Men are criticized at every turn by women; discrimination against men is not only tolerated but is policy in many corporations; women make disparaging remarks about men in the workplace -- the type of remarks that would be offensive if they were made about women or a minority group.
I said that Sheehy's promotion of feminist ideology was subtle -- subtle until she launched her attack on Bill McCartney and the Promise Keepers. I attended two of the large rallies upon the invitation of a good friend and found the movement contrary to my Roman Catholic sensibilites. Actually, aside from the exhilaration of being with 50,000 men in one place, I found very little that I liked about Promise Keepers. However, Sheehy goes way beyond expressing her dislike for them and their founder, Bill McCartney. Indeed, she portrays them as a militaristic group of zombies marching in lockstep with their leader. Some examples:
Sheehy refers to "Bill McCartney, the messianic former football coach". With the following observation, Sheehy makes a sweeping indictment of McCartney (she sounds like a Republican going after Bill Clinton...): "Coach McCartney, who has long been a supporter of Operation Rescue, the militant antiabortion organization responsible for violence in clinics...."
She describes the men attending the "Stand in the Gap" rally in Washington, D.C.: "In all this hairy, high-testosterone crowd of decididedly heterosexual men with bulky shoulders, thick necks, and mostly short hair or buzz cuts, there is no commotion, no snacking, no conversation. They stare straight ahead. Most wear Promise Keepers baseball caps with the bills turned straight forward and white T-shirst with sayings such as "Let go, let God." "...they are hypnotically quiet in the brilliant sun." Sounds like a group of Nazis, doesn't it? And at the rallies I attended, there were plenty of tall skinny guys with narrow shoulders and stylishly long hair.
Earlier in the book, Sheehy states that "Men need ways and places they can get together with other men...." But she criticizes Promise Keepers for their "pointed exclusion of women." Come on Gail, is it only appropriate for men to get together in feminist-approved gatherings? At the Promise Keepers rally, I think Sheehy saw what she wanted to see.
Sheehy implies that Americans are behind the times in terms of family structures: "Americans are more reluctant to give up the traditional family role structure than are people in many other countries..." according to an international Gallup Poll. "Nearly half of the Americans surveyed said the ideal family structure was one in which only the father earned the living and the mother stayed home with the children, compared with only about one fourth of those polled in Germany, India, Lithuania, Spain, Taiwan, and Thailand." I dare say, we better change our attitudes if we want to keep pace with Thailand, that beautiful country where families sell their daughters as sex slaves!
Sheehy writes that men today assume "spectrum of postures", "not as neat pigeonholes but as different expressions of manhood in contemporary life. A man may move from one to another depending on his mood or circumstances." But despite her disclaimer, she well manages to put the pigeons in the holes. From her descriptions of the pigeonholes, uh, "postures", it is difficult to imagine men moving from one to another, especially depending on the their moods!
The postures: Resurgent Angry Macho Man (RAMM - isn't that cute?), Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG), Dominant Male Model (DOM), Messenger of God (MOG)(this is where she places Promise Keepers), and Partner and Leader (PAL).
Apparently, Sheehy prefers PAL because she has nothing disparaging to say about it as she does the other pigeonholes, darn it!, I mean postures. She describes PAL as a "true grassroots movement" where "men are finding ways of bonding in small groups that form spontaneously." "In these small groups, men are encouraged to act as partners as well as leaders, rather than being led by any higher authority.... They are not bonding for the historical purpose of attacking or defending turf but as chosen brothers (oh, brother!) who can offer one another support and solace.... They are part of the new flexible network society that has been given great impetus by the Internet and the World Wide Web. Today, it is easy to create one's own attitudinal tribe.... Men are rediscovering their faith on their own individualistic terms...." Sheehy is another of those voices who place the individual at the center of the universe rather than a higher power, Allah, God, or supreme being. She pushes the propaganda that if you cannot or will not abide by the teachings of your faith, heck, you can start your own. And the fact that she advocates the impersonal media of the Internet cheapens her message that much more.
Sheehy calls herself a "cultural interpreter", but with this book, she appears to aspire to "cultural reformer."
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