The book is now publicly available, and I see in my (never huge) traffic stats that some people have been searching here for more information, so I'll throw in my two cents. I should note that what I read is a galley copy of the book, which is what the publisher Encounter Books sent me. In my experience, galley review copies usually contain the exact same text as the final version, though there are cases where some last-minute editing has been done. I'll assume this book didn't morph into something different.
The book's basic arguments are: (1) many men are avoiding marriage, fatherhood and responsibility more broadly (this is presented more as a premise than a conclusion); (2) they are doing so not because they are immature slackers but because they perceive, correctly, that law and culture have developed strong anti-male biases; (3) men should "fight back," i.e. be more assertive and activist in countering such biases in various ways, by demanding better personal treatment, lobbying for new laws, etc.; and (4) "going Galt" (consciously boycotting marriage and other involvements) has some merit.
My own experience has been that getting married and becoming a father (both during my 40s) were the best things I ever did. Also, I am not aware of any discrimination I have experienced in the workplace or during my education on account of being male. (Being a co-worker of an ex-girlfriend for some time was awkward, though.) So I am not the target audience of this book. I am not, however, inclined to dismiss the concerns Dr. Smith raises. Men being treated badly in divorce court is not an unheard-of phenomenon, even if I would like to know more about how pervasive it is; and the casual assumption that men are nitwits is an unfortunate pop-culture staple, even if one notices that dumb blondes and other female stereotypes are not hard to find either.
Still, this book would have benefitted from more statistics to buttress its anecdotes. At one point, after discussing a few interviews of students she did, Dr. Helen asks: "Do the experiences of these four men represent the norm for young men arriving on campus?" Reading this, I readied myself for some survey data, but instead the next sentence is: "I decided that the best person to answer this question was Christina Hoff Sommers." What follows is an email interview in which Sommers offers her impressionistic account of what college is like for guys. Excerpt:
Few classes are mandatory except freshman writing seminars. Unless the student is well-organized (and what boy is?) he will be too late for the reasonable course offerings and end up in a class where he has to read chick victims lit like the Joy Luck Club or Girl Interrrupted. A nightmare for many boys.Me: Stop kvetching. Also, isn't that bit about boys being disorganized a stereotype? Now let's move to an anecdote in the book about a genuinely serious matter. As quoted from a website called Parent Dish, a man writes:
I used to coach girl's soccer with my fiancee (now wife). I stopped because one of the girls (all of 8 years old) said:The man goes on to complain that as a stay-at-home dad he gets "odd looks on the playground," and he laments that such knee-jerk suspicion could prevent him from being involved in sport and activities now that he has a child of his own.
"I don't have to listen to you. I can get you in trouble just by telling people you touched me."
But, instead of passively withdrawing in the face of the 8-year-old's threat, what if he had brought it up with school authorities and her parents? He would've been taking a risk of being falsely accused, but that risk was there in any event. In fact, quitting might have made the false accusation more credible. "Going Galt" isn't all it's cracked up to be, if it means retreating into your own bitterness.
There is much to like in Men on Strike. Dr. Helen's goal seems to be to get men and women to practice mutual respect and consideration. I hope its readers focus on that positive aspect.