A Review of 'What Do Men Want?: Masculinity and Its Discontents' by Nina Power
I laughed when I was asked to review a book called “What Do Men Want?”, written by a woman. Before Trump went down the escalator 2015, you could visit the checkout line of any supermarket and see an array of woman’s magazines with hot women on the cover, containing article headlines like, as Dave Chappelle phrased it, 100 Ways to Please Your Man by 'Some Lady', where he proceeds to explain that men are not that complicated (so true). This undertaking has been attempted by women before, yet I don’t know any woman who references a book written by another woman as her anchor for understanding men. In fact, the women who truly do understand men have either lived with or slept with a lot of them. The same is true of men who have a great understanding of women.
Few women understand what men want because women have a, let’s say, selfish relationship with the truth. What a woman feels in each moment is the truth, always was the truth and will always be the truth, until they experience their next emotion. Their model of the world is entirely subjective and each event is part of a narrative that relates to them, whether it does or doesn’t in reality.
I’ve never heard of Nina Power before I was asked to review her book, so “What Do Men Want? Masculinity and Its Discontents” is my first acquaintance with her point of view. Nina very much has a woman’s point of view in the sense that she is naturally a socialist. She wants everyone to get along. She wants this thing to work out well for everyone. It’s cute. It’s endearing. This natural yearning is something that very few women can reconcile given that they’re born equipped with the hormonal tools that improve their success as mothers, which is to excrete whichever hormone that manifests compassion. When a boy scrapes his knee, his mother’s natural impulse is to say “You poor baby. Come inside, I’ll clean that up for you.” while the father may lovingly give his son a light kick and say “You’ll be fine. Get back out there and keep playing.” This is a good polarity in the home, bad when implemented in society. This biological difference between the two sexes explains why COVID-19 was handled the way it was and is proof that we live under a matriarchy.
Progressivism works so effectively post-19th Amendment because the left has hijacked women’s nurturing circuit. Women can detect a victim, assign an enemy to that victim, then declare that the enemy should be killed by a man. For Nina Power, women and the modern man are the victims, Capitalism is the enemy, and the man who can undo his toxic masculinity (caused by Capitalism, of course) is the one who should kill it.
At the same time, women are, by design, the darker sex. They’re born with a weakness-detection mechanism, aimed at all men, which rank orders them by character and potential. Women can size a man up at his core based on his presence alone. Yet while women are the darker sex, they don’t have the stomach for life’s dark truths. It’s best to shield women from these things, because women are a lot like children. It’s not within their realm of responsibility. Leave the harder, darker tasks to men.
While women’s sexual selection mechanism is to ruthlessly select men based on their character and potential, men also have a ruthless sexual selection mechanism for women, which is to rank them physically and then pursue them. This difference in sexual nature is something that Nina Power is unaware of or genuinely curious about, along with many other aspects of how men operate.
Let me cut to the chase. “What Do Men Want?” does not genuinely try to understand what men want. Nina leaves the reader waiting until the last (and shortest) chapter to explain what she thinks men want, which is that men want to be fathers and good men. Nothing particularly mind-blowing. Nina did, however, ask a group of her male friends what men want. They gave it to her straight.
When I asked male friends what they thought men wanted, they answered with, among other things, the following: ‘Tell me when you find out’, ‘A pleasant woman’, ‘To be left alone’, ‘Pussy’, ‘To hang out with my male friends’, ‘To be a good man’, ‘A shed’, ‘A woman who will let me by myself’, ‘An easy life’, ‘Nigella Lawson’, ‘Why are you asking me? I’m a rubbish man’, and ‘A beer.’
I had to google who Nigella Lawson is — not for me, but WB.
For some reason, Nina didn’t take these answers from the source (living, breathing men) seriously, nor did she try to explore them. She glosses over them and then proceeds to write another 140 pages on her thoughts about men and capitalism. A more useful book could have been written that tries to explore these answers, as there is a significant answer to ‘why?’ for each of them, but that wasn’t what took place here. Nina wrote this book to academically ‘go off’ on her issues with men and Capitalism. This book was written for women who are resentful towards men, male-feminists, and academic socialists.
Reading ‘What Men Want?’ as an Expert on the subject (a man who knows what he wants) was not easy to get through. It felt like an educated, jaded, high IQ woman ranting to another educated, jaded, high IQ woman. As a man who knows what he wants, this book was not particularly gripping. If I were sitting with Nina in person as she explained her points to me in person, I would have been nodding my head while enjoying my drink, checking out other women at the bar, and maybe would have disagreed with her if I got bored.
‘What Men Want’ is not a fundamental analysis on the nature of men from a philosophical, biological, sexual or psycho-structural point of view. Why? Because Nina’s political views are inextricably wound into her work. She couldn’t help herself. The words ‘capital’, ‘capitalism’, and ‘profit’ are peppered throughout each chapter.
Nina sees men and women as purely social constructs rather than biological. This fundamentally flawed and inherently Marxist assumption is one of the key issues with her book. Men and women are both social and biological, but significantly more biological than social, and it’s clear that Nina does not have an understand of the sexual nature of either sex. I didn’t read anything in the book that indicates Nina believes men and women have their own desires, grounds for attraction, and needs from the opposite sex that they cannot escape from, discounting the fringe exceptions.
I will give Nina some credit. Nina is part of the lucky generation who experienced at least 25% of their lives without the internet. Nina seems acutely aware of the lack of fun, spontaneity and ‘in real life’-ness that has been bled dry from society and the result is mostly a world of people sitting at home, alone, bored, staring at their phones.
Without wishing to mythicize the recent past, there was definitely a sense in which we understood that we were all worthy of a decent piss-taking, and that it was positive to laugh at oneself as well as others, especially if done in good humour. I continue to believe that men and women must be able to mock each other for their excesses as individuals or as a group without hating each other, and without taking disproportionate offence. I honestly think this kind of ribbing operates precisely as a kind of safety vale to ward off greater misery and resentment.
Nina was probably a lot of fun at the pub. I bet Nina knows how to take a man down a peg or two in an effort for him to neg back and create some sexual tension.
It’s also clear that Nina is a post-leftist. Nina sees that things have gone off the rails and that some groups have become Sacred Cows, yet she still maintains her communist model of the world.
There are…some groups one is ‘allowed’ to denigrate, and others it is forbidden to criticize.
So Nina is not an enemy of the dissident right but I certainly would not call her an ally either. We take our wins where we can and are selective about who we choose to be /ourbritishfemalephilosopher. Sorry, Nina, you’ll have to ditch the communism in order to be allowed to join the based group chats.
I’m going to highlight a few of Nina’s views that stood out to me. Two beliefs that Nina has which are irreconcilable with that of the dissident right.
Nina Believes #MeToo Was Justified
If men have benefitted in the past, let us imagine a kinder way of redistributing their gains for all, rather than entering into an ‘endless exchanges of cruelties’. Let women be the bigger man.
You can see Nina’s communist point of view here by way of believing in ‘redistribution’ and the idea that one group ‘gained’ while the other suffered. This is the fundamentally flawed assumption of the communist, as well as the view of someone who doesn’t understand that there are such fundamental sexual differences between men and women that it’s best to look at each other as different species entirely. Men were doing what they naturally do best (providing, protecting, being aggressive) while women were doing what they naturally do best (home-keeping, raising children, being pleasant).
Since women have become liberated, they now think that they can be men and are now entitled to the same rewards as men for what they’ve have always done, which is work, despite the consequences on themselves, men, and how society functions as a whole.
In this regard, the #MeToo movement could be read from one angle as historically inevitable, as part of the usual process of the shift in social mores that periodically occurs.
I was waiting, perhaps naively, for Nina to address women’s role in the assumptions underlying the #MeToo narrative. Primarily, that women are attracted to men in power, women compete for men of high status, many work relationships are often instigated by women flirting with powerful men (particularly men who are higher than them in the organizational hierarchy), dressing explicitly sexy at work causes men to pursue, an inevitable sexual tension forms when you’re in the same room with someone you’re attracted to every day, and that sometimes things go down after happy hour. But that would be me expecting a woman to have a sense of responsibility for her actions, and like children, they cannot.
Campaigns like #MeToo, for better or worse, make people think twice about what is and isn’t appropriate.
To quote Patrice O’Neal (the greatest comedian of all time), “inappropriate is a vaginal word.” This word reminds you of an underfucked librarian shhh’ing you at the library or your kindergarten teacher scolding two boys for roughhousing, demanding that they play nice. This moralistic finger-waving, yes, may prevent some things that are ugly from happening, but let’s talk about Harvey Weinstein for a moment, shall we?
Harvey Weinstein didn’t put a gun to anyone’s head. Those women cared more about advancing their career than they cared about not having sex with an unattractive, obese, powerful man. What they essentially did was declare themselves prostitutes for a few nights in order to maintain their place on the red carpet. Is dangling a fat juicy carrot in front of a woman in order to get sex from her something that men should do? Personally, I would never want to have sex with a woman who I don’t feel is potently attracted to me. But those women were adults. Pretending like they were in a life-or-death situations before they decided to have sex with Harvey Weinstein is sheer nonsense. If the destruction of Harvey Weinstein’s did anything, it proved that women are generally incapable of having their own agency.
The word ‘inappropriate’, and the fear of being accused of doing something ‘inappropriate’, stifles men. This word could be applied to anything. As we’ve seen, ‘inappropriateness’ ranges from making a genuinely unwanting girl feel very uncomfortable to telling a girl at work that she looks good today. If you work at Netflix, ‘inappropriate’ means looking at the opposite sex in the eye for more than 5 seconds. Wielding this word kills a man’s spirit, his initial sexual drive, and his natural impulse to want to fuck a woman who he’s attracted by flirting with her then seducing her. And what kind of world do we live in now? We live a pandemic of neutered men and underfucked women because #MeToo and the liberation of women did immeasurably more harm than good.
Nina Did Not Address The Consequences of the 19th Amendment
Western economies largely do not require large amounts of physical labour. This has an impact on the values of our culture at large. If it is positive that men are less ‘manly’ than they were in the past, then that is part of our cultural evolution. But far better to note what has been lost, than to pretend that this is the only way things must henceforth be.
Yes, this is true. But Nina is missing the inherent global shit test that came with the liberation of women. When you give women the right to vote, to participate in competitive organizations with men, and to hold positions of power, then they are going to do everything they can to try to whittle men down to a little nub. This happens naturally in relationships, ask any man in one. Women’s nature is to test men to see if they are weak, if they can overcome a woman’s chaotic nature, and then put them back in their place as the more naturally submissive, pleasant and agreeable sex. Combine that with the political forces that benefit from a population of weak men, then you are sitting in the world we’re all quite familiar with. A world where you must stay at home wearing a mask while watching propaganda about George Floyd in the name of safety and compassion.
Nina Believes We Live Under A “Patriarchy”
Patriarchy purports to identify the relations of property under which we have, and live lived for centuries. The word conjures images of the inescapable and long-term oppression and subordination of women by men; of asset ownership right down to the wombs and children of women; of moral dominance by men and the exclusion of women from public life and education.
So, what, in the final analysis of #MeToo? Was it a victory against patriarchy? These moments of collective reckoning and punishment might have served a cathartic, purifying function. Terrible things happened, and now we have entered into a collective kind of ‘we don’t do things like this any more’ moment.
Yes, there are less Harvey Weinstein’s around. But there is less flirting at work. More walking on eggshells. More men being petrified of what the consequences may be if he walks up to a woman in public and hits on her, out of fear of being slapped for saying something “inappropriate.” The lines are beyond blurry and the only way to correct this is to directly oppose the destructive consequences of #MeToo: men being more aggressive with women and not hiding their demonic attraction when it arises. Ask a hot woman when was the last time a man hit on her in person. I’m open to other suggestions.
Nina seems to understand the negative consequences of what feminism has done to men. However, she only wants to keep the ‘nice’ parts of manliness.
By dismantling patriarchy, via tote bags or otherwise, we have also collectively done away with all the positive dimensions of patriarchy as well: the protective father, the responsible man, the paternalistic attitude that exhibits care and compassion rather than simply places constraint on freedom.”
Nina doesn’t consider the darker elements of men that has been gutted by the liberation of women. The potent, sexual element. The protective, violent element. The parts that women are attracted to, whether they admit it or not. Yes, the protective father and responsible man are all indeed positive aspects of manliness, but men are not inspired by “care and compassion.” They’re inspired by the message by Bronze Age Pervert in Bronze Age Mindset. Nina didn’t consider the formation mercenaries as a positive aspect of manliness, a man’s natural inclination to protect his family and community by any means necessary. Nina didn’t talk about a man’s desire to explore, to conquer. Why? Because a man who is adventurous does not benefit a woman at all, this impulse is inherently a threat to her. This aspect of a man’s will is what all women seek to destroy, as it puts them at risk of a man abandoning them and their children. This is an understandable impulse, but it needs to be tamed.
As Meghan Murphy puts it in her discussion of Planned Parenthood tweeting about ‘mentruators’, ‘You see, the reason patriarchy exists is because men decided they wanted to control over women’s sexual and reproductive capacities. Not people’s sexual and reproductive capacities — women’s.
While I agree with Nina’s enragement with the tranny ideology, it seems that she genuinely believes what Meghan Murphy is saying here. The idea that men for thousands of years were conspiring together saying “Fellas, you know what would be awesome? To control women’s sexual and reproductive capacities.” is simply absurd. What did men want to control? Woman’s chaotic nature. That is what men wanted to control. They understood it well. Men didn’t give women rights because they know what would transpire if they did — the world we live in today.
Nina strikes me as an IDW-type: she wants her Leftism, but not too much. Like the IDW, she doesn’t recognize that Cthulhu always swims left, and the Revolution doesn’t stop at a line in the sand.
I salute you reading this terrible book and saving me from suffering through it.
I try not to read anything from the past 40 years, unless I've been thinking about it for a long time and know it's going to deliver fascinating insights. There's a significant recency bias — I think it's better to read classics that have been around for centuries, rather than these ego-driven academic hacks who will get published and immediately forgotten.