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Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes Collide

3.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,528 ratings  ·  252 reviews
Outspoken, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd tackles the hot-button topic of gender politics in this "funny, biting, and incisive take on women's place in American society today" (Library Journal).

Are men afraid of smart, successful women? Why did feminism fizzle? Why are so many of today's women freezing their faces and emotions in an orgy
Paperback, 338 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Berkley Books (first published November 8th 2005)
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Average rating 3.07  · 
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 ·  1,528 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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So after reading this, I'm no more clear on the Man Question than I was when I started. One thing I did learn is that good editors are necessary. And Maureen Dowd, unfortunately, did not seem to have one.

This book just did not work. I gave it two stars because I did wolf it down quickly, and because the experience of reading it wasn't actually painful. There were definitely parts in here that I enjoyed quite a lot. But the book -- with its stylized, beguiling cover -- was a huge disappointment,
Dec 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: light-hearted misandrists.
According to the author, "All men want a virgin in a gingham dress." Really? All men? Unlike Ms. Dowd, I do not feel qualified to speak to the desires of every man on the planet, but, speaking for myself, I can attest to the fact that I have absoutely no...idea what gingham is.

Ms. Dowd's reputation as an intellectual took a pretty big hit after this book was published. And it's easy to see why. The tone of the book is catty and trivial, and it consists of somewhat random and unorganized rants.

Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Maureen Dowd is a narcissitic pseudofeminist who publishes fluff and sells it to the mainstream as "feminism" based on chats she has over coffee with a handful of her ivy-league educated friends. She doesn't do her research and in my opinion her work ultimately contributes to the backlash against American women, undermining the progress of the feminist movement. She ignores the lives of real women in her lame attempts at wit. The only reason to read this book is to "know your enemy."
Kevin Shepherd
I'm not sure where to start? My thoughts on Are Men Necessary? are about as scattered as its premise. This is a cluster-cuss of politics, Hollywood fashion, evolutionary biology, cosmetic surgery, pop-psychology, pop-culture, and Darwinian anthropology. And it is all laid out in a stream of consciousness interspersed with conversational snipets from dear friends, former colleagues, past acquaintances and Maureen's mom. This has everything to do with Dowd's take on contemporary feminism and very, ...more
May 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
What’s not necessary is reading this book. If you want to read a really great book on the current state of women, read Laura Kipnis’s The Female Thing which actually provides a social, economic, political, and psychological analysis of the subject matter. Kipnis is not only a lot smarter than Dowd, she’s a lot funnier too. Don’t waste your time on this book. Dowd doesn’t have the focus and the rigor to write a book. She should stick to writing newspaper columns.

So, what the hell is Dowd trying
May 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: self-hating women
Hm. Ok, so you'd see the cover and think this book might ask if men are necessary. You know, a little sisterly solidarity. But what follows is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantsuit tour of pop and political history, ending with the more likely conclusion that women are petty, trite, oversexed backdrops to the ongoings of men's lives. Yikes!

When I was done reading about the women in Dowd's book I pretty much despised myself! (I was also left wondering how a NYT columnist gets away with so much silly
Nadine Jones
Dec 03, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
it's time to stop kidding myself: I am not going to read this. The only reason I have this is that a coworker brought it in and loaned it to me and that was over a year ago and she's since left the company and I'm still holding onto her book and feeling very guilty about it all. I am like a recalcitrant child when people foist books upon me unasked - [radio-friendly edit] I won't do what you told me to!! And I just don't like Maureen Dowd so I don't WANT to read her book, even though the subject ...more
Jul 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I learned nothing from this book because it says nothing. Well, nothing else besides how many names she has and what all of her friends and coworkers think about stuff. I'm not sure how the chapters are organized or what the actual point of the book is. It's a ramble, pure and simple. Not only that, it's a ramble that refers only to news articles (without ever citing specific dates or titles) from 2005. She makes her points from movies like Mean Girls (2004) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) with ...more
Jan 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book. And not because I believe men are necessary, but because Dowd spends very little of the book actually trying to answer that question. She spends the majority of it analyzing women's (which seems to only encompass white, middle and upper-class, heterosexual women) behavior and pointing out how silly, vain, and idiotic it is. She relies heavily on quotes and musings from her friends, colleagues and socialites (all presumably also white, middle and upper-class, though ...more
Mar 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
I stopped reading this book about 100 or so pages in because it is just so badly written. It didn't have anything original to say and was a waste of time.
Kathy Pedersen
Are men necessary? I don't know because Dowd never says one way or the other. What IS necessary is Dowd's mood improvement. Someone needs a nap.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?

I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh and I thought it might make a decent gag gift of sorts for a feminist friend. Of course, I needed to read the book before I passed it off. Only decent thing to do, isn't it?

I kind of wish I hadn't.

Generally I enjoy sociological tirades, however inflamed they are. I've a decent background in anthropology and I'm no stranger to strife between the
Nov 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Putlitzer Prize winner Maureen Dowd's New York Times column falls somewhere between journalism and satire. I am addicted to her columns as I am to sour lemon balls. In this book, the 56-year-old, never married Dowd distills the decades of experience she and her friends have racked up in the trenches of the battle of the sexes.

In the introduction, Dowd writes "I don't understand men. . . This book is not . . . a handy little volume of sterling solutions to the American woman's problem. . . I'm
May 26, 2007 marked it as didnt-finish
I'm reading this for my book club but I can only bring myself to skip around and read bits and pieces. She's a very readable and engaging writer, but I can't really deal with the subject matter. I get all angry and depressed.

It seems like her question is more "are women necessary"--men actually don't come off as badly as you might think. Women on the other hand, are either smart and rapacious and unmarriageable and constantly dieting, or dumb and pretty and married to CEOs and spend all their
Jul 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lady-made
I laughed a few times, but it was ridiculously stereotypical and obnoxious.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't a great book. And the answer is no.
Summer Lewis
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: women
When I read about how glib and non-chalant people are about sex, plastic surgery, women's bodies, infidelity, etc. I get a little sad. Are we really this shallow?
I wasn't a huge fan of it overall--but I did find a few quotes I liked.

Quotes from the book:
Little did I realize that the sexual revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the twenty-first century. The fewer
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Maureen Dowd fans, feminists
Shelves: non-fiction
I normally enjoy reading Maureen Dowd's New York Times columns because she is extremely critical, yet she somehow makes her criticisms entertaining and funny. Dowd seems to hate everyone -- she denounces nearly all politicians, regardless of their political party, age, race, or gender. (Although, she is more harsh to Republicans than Democrats.)

This book was written along the same lines. The title is misleading, as the book does not come close to answering the question "Are men necessary?"
Jul 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
To say I'm finished reading this does not mean I actually finished reading the pages. It means I can only stand to read so much crap before I loose my mind. If there were a way to not give it any stars that would be my rating. The first few chapters I felt like I could related to. I'm not ashamed to say that I am one of the confident and independent women she is talking about in the beginning. I'm sad to say that her opinion regarding how this confidence is one of the main reasons men stay away ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Break-up Blues Babes
I'm rushing through the library, desperately searching for an audio book for my drive from Reno to Portland. It must be shorter than ten hours. Non-fiction preferred, since the driving weather was reported to be sketchy. I didn't want to focus on the road and miss and important character development.

Looking, looking, looking.... nothing, nothing, nothing... wait! What's that cheeky cover with the aloof women? An author implying that women are independent and funky-awesome on their own? A
Rachel C.
I should be smack-dab in the middle of MoDo's target audience, front row in her choir - yet I found myself strangely unmoved by this book.

It's all about the problems of gender politics these days with none of the solutions. Dowd suggests, perhaps not incorrectly, that feminism is not just failing to make progress, it's actually moving backwards. The thought makes me angry and sad but Dowd also makes me feel helpless.

On a technical front, I think she needed a few more rounds with an editor. The
Jun 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Despite its delightful title, Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? turned out to be pretty disappointing, mainly because of the author's decision to silently frame all of her arguments from the position of a universal female perspective (read white, wealthy, educated, Western). And unlike Laura Kipnis, another liberal white American woman who writes about sex, gender, and love, Dowd doesn't show a hint of owning up to her position vis a vis class, race, privilege, etc. I've long suspected this, but ...more
Oct 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I shared Dowd's politics, but basically, I don't think she has any. Certainly she appears to have no substantive argument to support her claims. The book is choppy, makes no sense, and I would put her in the same category as Anne Coulter--a pundit without a portfolio.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This has an incredibly abrupt ending, which kind of retroactively lessened my enjoyment of the book.
It would've been great if Miss Dowd actually answered the question she chose for a title, though, wouldn't it?
May 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Dowd fans.
Shelves: 2006books
Too fluffy. Lots of clever turns of phrase but no substance.
Jul 08, 2007 rated it did not like it
Good title. Bad book.
Steve Scott
Jun 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
The audiobook starts with an announcement the book is to be read by the author. This preamble was read, of course, by the author. It was an awful foreshadowing of what was to come. Maureen Dowd’s soporific voice was inexplicably accompanied by the sound of crickets. I’m not joking. They used crickets. Why the producers thought that was a good idea is beyond me.

Why they thought Dowd was a good choice for a reader is also a mystery. Her voice was nasally, atonal, monotonous. Prosody was absent or
Lizz Elvira
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was originally given to me by my first boyfriend for, I believe, two reasons. He hoped that it would make me realize that he was necessary (he wasn't) and that my feminism was a passing phase (it also wasn't). I stumbled across it recently and decided to give it a read. There is a lot not so great about it. Dowd seems to put a lot of blame on women. Worse than that though, Dowd' s stories jump around quite a bit, seeming more like journal entries or individual articles. There doesn't ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
While a good read, knowing that this was written in 2004 makes it all the more depressing to read in 2019, given the current political climate and the latest election. The book owes no happy ending, but I spent the last chapter praying that there would be some hope, but unfortunately, given that Maureen Dowd can't be psychic, it just left for a very depressing end to the tale.
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Maureen Dowd is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times. She has worked for the Times since 1983, when she joined as a metropolitan reporter. In 1999, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her series of columns on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Dowd's columns are distinguished by an acerbic, often polemical writing style. Her columns often display a critical attitude towards powerful
“Settling is about not embracing what is best for you and accepting what you really don't want. When you settle, you accept less than you deserve. Settling becomes a habit and a way of life, but it doesn't have to be. According to Maureen Dowd, "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for” 15 likes
“I don't understand men. I don't even understand what I don't understand about men.” 9 likes
More quotes…