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The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century

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3.18  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  40 reviews
In one of the most talked about books of the year,provocative cultural commentator Stephen Marche examines the state of male-female relations in the 21st century, with commentary from his wife, Toronto Life editor-in-chief Sarah Fulford.

On a warm spring morning in New York City, Stephen Marche, then a new father and tenure-track professor, got the call: his wife had been
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ebook, 256 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Trish
The cavalcade of sexual harassment accusations beginning with the Weinstein revelations brought the writing of Stephen Marche to my attention. In an op-ed piece published in the NYT (Nov 25, 2017), Marche asks us to confront “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido.” “The men I know,” he writes, “don’t actively discuss changing sexual norms…Men just aren’t interested. They don’t know where to start.”

If anything were designed to intrigue me, it would be this conundrum: that men cannot or will
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Margaret Sankey
Jan 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Growing up, I had a father so badass that in rural Idaho, when he led a Brownie troop, ran bake sales and taught my brother's Home Ec class for a couple of months, snide comment died fast. I was thus spoiled for the current state of gender relations, as modern two-career couple struggle with chore delegation, status of being a trailing spouse and take shit from their families about defying tradition in taking married names or staying at home with kids. Marche, whose column I have read in ...more
Holly
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I was disappointed with this book. It started off well, I learned some new things. However, as the book dragged on I found myself a bit confused by it all. So many elements were missing. For instance...Stephen can't seem to decide (at least IMO) whether or not gender stereotypes are biological or not... What I got from it was "boys will be boys and play with trucks...the best we can do is teach them to be decent". His reasoning is, amongst other things, "Well, *I* didn't teach him to ...more
Jeanette
This goes on my abandoned shelf. It's not for me. My culture, my society, my life- not an inkling of connection. There are NO mansplainers in sight or ear around my life.

Self involved 1st world problems. Parental self-analyzing to the nausea degree, IMHO. Man/woman relationship criteria for the long educated crowd?

The wife's notes were ok, although she too has been carefully, carefully taught. Where is the joy or energy of family life and connection as pivotal to the onus to have a relationship
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Jonna Higgins-Freese
There were good things about this book - important things, things I hadn't seen anyone else say. And then there was a lot of polished blather -- as I've said in other reviews, the kind of magazine writing that is pointed and polished and poetic and makes you feel as though something is being said until you stop to ask yourself what, exactly, that might be and realize it's: nothing.

The overall message, and it's one that can get lost in apocalyptic narratives, is important: the world has changed,
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Luke Crawford
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting and incisive.

"We need a men’s movement that understands the rise of women is a triumph for the species, one of the most unalloyed political goods ever achieved in human history, and who can acknowledge that this achievement does not require us to be ashamed of our masculinity."

But, I think his central point, and probably one of the more important things we need to understand if you want to understand his ideas of why we don't have the above is his idea of this "hollow patriarchy"

"We
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Toyin A
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I am not sure what I expected when I picked this book. I'm sure glad I did.

Initially, I thought it would just be a book about the difference between men and women, equality...you know, the usual gender stuff.

It was much more. Stephen shows how empowerment of women in certain scenarios are hampered or encouraged depending on the context.

He uses his own personal story as the "flex parent" in the relationship with his wife, Sarah. I particularly liked the notes at the end of each chapter by Sarah
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Sasha Boersma
If you've never put any thought into the different social constructs for men and women, you may find this book insightful.

For me, it felt like a diary of a guy coming to terms with being the one to give up his life for his wife's dreams. I became increasingly frustrated with who wife's commentary correcting him as a side note - why did he simply not edit his copy?

Too many facts. Not enough real anecdotes or research of stories of others.

I have heard the similar topic on a variety of podcasts -
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Adam Fearnall
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an important book for me to read and by extension, I think, an important book for Marche to write. His willingness to write openly and honestly about his perspective on gender was helpful to read. I often feel discomfort or fear voicing some of my own thoughts about the topics that Marche discusses and have found myself working harder to find meaningful ways to express them since reading his book. Reading Marche's work makes me remember that it is okay to put controversial musings out ...more
Cassandra
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This one generated conflicted feelings in the book club (...and a healthy dose of hostility at the concept of men refusing to contribute more to domestic upkeep in modern times).

The idea of suppressing women being bad for capitalism was a new/interesting one to me, and on many subjects it felt like Marche was very thoughtful/"woke," but there was also somehow a level of smugness that we found grating.

Additionally, some of the scientific assertions were dubious to me. For example, Marche wanted
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Elize
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting thoughts about relationships in the 21st century. I would recommend all couples read this if both partners are working.
Julie Aquilina
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating. Almost like reading a theory book again back at uni - however, this was a tad more accessible. I like that each chapter had a unique focus. Definitely had me bringing up some interesting stuff at the dinner table each night.
Diana
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this one for our online book club at work, and it was pretty much just OK. I think Stephen Marche made some good points, but I think the book itself could have been more engaging. It was a bit academic and a bit dry. The whole thing was very upper-class hetero white people concerns, and also I think he thinks he's a bit more interesting/important than he really is. The book did give me some things to consider on the front of male-female relations though, and it was less mansplainy than I ...more
Kristine
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
The Unmade Bed by Stephen Marche & Sarah Fulford is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early February.

A real-life couple, Marche speaks of the coexistence of men and women (i.e. mansplaining as a way to minimize otherwise vital intragender topics, one's parenting style being different from that of their own parents, the availability of one's family having an effect on child delinquency, abundance of any kind of pornography that you can imagine, intimacy vs. desire vs. sexuality, division
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Rebecca Rosenblum
I thought this was actually going to be a book about housework and domestic labour. It wasn't, and I was very disappointed. I had other issues with the book it actually turned out to be, but I don't have the energy to enumerate those. FYI in case you also misunderstood the concept.
William Sedlack
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Marche's writings in Esquire and was excited to see this on Netgalley. Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley.

Marche has written a nice book on gender. It is amusing, informative, and well written. I've found myself talking with friends about it.

The footnotes by Marche's wife were essential to balancing Marche out.

Luise
A very honest, thought-provoking, witty and well-written analysis of modern relationships (at least those of the highly educated & high earners). However, I found the chapter on pornography quite disturbing and actually have trouble believing the stats. Let me know what you think if you read it.
CarolynKost
Jan 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book does four things well. It demonstrates that the urban left has become so jarringly provincial that it can’t even see the existence of opposing views, provides excellent examples of how not to use research, shows why it’s imperative to define terms and avoid ivory tower theory argot, and buttresses the worst conservative fears about the rapid devolution of morals in society. It may also illuminate the abysmal state of people's ability to interpret and apply research in the age of ...more
David
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
if I were more generous, could have gone with 3 stars -- let's say 2.5. fairly interesting juxtaposition of review of academic research on gender with first-person account of his own family, key nontraditional part being that he is the flex parent who squeezes in writing when he can and gave up a tenure-track academic job to move to the location of his wife's plum newspaper editing position.

The conclusions didn't seem remarkable [men on average watch a lot of porn online, but that doesn't
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Rachel
Apr 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Before I got to page 100, I had flagged so many things that made me miffed about this author that I had to stop reading. Grand generalizations without basis about, such as this:

"Of all the grand political fantasies of the twentieth century, the various ideologies that dared to reconfigure humanity, and came and went, leaving behind the fetid stench of their failed utopias, only feminism has left a tangible legacy in everyday life." -- p. 18

What about the civil rights movement, Mr. Marche? Has
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Lois Ann
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
First I will say, it takes a serious amount of chutzpah to put your married life and child raising out in print form-- solidified in that moment of history forever. I commend the author and his wife for trying to untangle the state of things in this format.

But, in the end (spoilers) she's accepting that he doesn't see mess the way she does and hence accepts that he'll never get his dirty socks in the hamper and he says their parental chores are equal because he 'plays' with the kids.

Playing is
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Will
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not a great book. It’s supposed to be a book about feminism and gender equality from the perspective of a married man, with his wife providing notes.

Instead, it’s a collection of magazine think pieces. And what I mean by that is that the author is more interested in his sentences and his soundbites than in his thesis. His chapters on patriarchy and fatherhood are solid, where he talks about money and jobs and status... but it goes downhill very quickly in his chapter on porn (Dworkin?
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Kristin
I heard the author on MPR and knew I had to read it. Men, women, complications. Written primarily by a man, but with footnotes by his wife, who I wish would have commented more in the book.

I didn't necessarily buy into all his explanations, but I appreciated his openness and candor.

p. 10: The problem with mansplaining as a term is that men also have to deal with mansplainers. Mention you have a doctorate in Shakespeare, and they'll tell you everything they learned about Romeo and Juliet in
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John Medendorp
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked it (that’s what 3 stars means!). It’s a challenging and fascinating book. Very postmodern. I think that it could just as easily have been subtitled “My Messy Truth” rather than “THE Messy Truth.” Marche weaves together anecdotes from his own life and history with statistics, study, and reflections on relationships, sexuality, feminism, masculinity, gender roles, and parenting. I don’t really know what he’s aiming for insofar as any “agenda” might be concerned. He definitely has opinions, ...more
Annie Kookie
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Stephen Marche ruminates on males and females and what that means, present day, from our history to our ideas of what will be.

One thing that stood out to me (that was not necessarily reflective of the books theme, but also was, in its own way) was the author’s reflection of his own personal moments. He reflected on them so sweetly and really captured the love and intimacy of his own relationships in snippets throughout the book.

There were spots in which my eyes glazed over and I lost myself in
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Fabrizio
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall this is a good book to explore the many challenges, heterosexual couples within a certain privileged context, face in our current time. The author is brave enough to explore a set of often controversial topics, through his family life. His candour is commendable. His partner (and editor) provides excellent remarks in footnotes, and it is through her eyes we get to see the challenges working women face now and faced in previous generations. It is also through her eyes, we find balance in ...more
Rieta
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The cover of this book somehow had me believe I might have a light, humorous look at modern relationships. That wasn't the case. Mr. Marche is obviously very intelligent but I would have appreciated a little dumbing down here. He had some good points but I had to read some sentences a couple times to get the gist of his thoughts. I appreciated his chapters on the sharing of housework and the education system in regard to gender. Just lighten up a bit, please.
Lillian
Jun 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
the topic is intriguing - but his treatment of the topic is really hard to get through.
I enjoy reading about gender and politics and "the battle of the sexes" but he just made the topic dull.

did not finish.
Kathryn Bagg
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often eye-opening for this reader, born in the 40s and married in the 60s. Marche gave me a deeper understanding of my children's relationships. I found some of the chapters more interesting than others, but overall he did a great job.
Katie Alexandra
Nov 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. Picked it up on sale, not for me.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SCPL Online NonFi...: Final Thoughts 6 7 Jul 08, 2017 05:08PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: The Housework Controversy 1 6 Jun 28, 2017 01:49PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Online Outrage 1 5 Jun 22, 2017 01:56PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Straight Camp and Toxic Masculinity 1 6 Jun 20, 2017 01:46PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: The Praise Gap 1 8 Jun 14, 2017 08:11AM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: The Hollow Patriarchy 5 6 Jun 13, 2017 12:45PM  
SCPL Online NonFi...: Mansplaining 3 7 Jun 08, 2017 09:45AM  

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Stephen Marche is the author of The Unmade Bed (2016), The Hunger of the Wolf (2015), Love and the Mess We’re In (2013), How Shakespeare Changed Everything (2012), Shining at the Bottom of the Sea (2007) and Raymond and Hannah (2005). He's written for nearly every newspaper and magazine you can name.