Sexual Suicide

by Phoebe Adams
by George F. Gilder. Quadrangle, $7.95. It would be easy to poke fun at Mr. Gilder’s dissertation on the nature of the sexes and women’s proper role, for it is a freaky reversal of the Victorian claim that women are too delicate, too spiritual, to be subjected to contact with the mean realities of nondomestic life. Mr. Gilder argues that men are so inferior sexually, and so permanently terrified by the fact, that without the domesticating control and encouragement by women they would all collapse into suicide, madness, murder, and sloth. Therefore women should remain domestic. (He has, it seems, not noticed that his description of men, if taken seriously, indicates precisely the line of action that he fears: keep a few good studs for emergencies and incite the rest of the worthless creatures to exterminate each other. The superior sex, surviving, can be domestic or not, as they choose, but will not be obliged to spend their lives, willy-nilly, as caretakers to dangerous lunatics.) But in spite of some curious reasoning and a splendidly unrealistic view of economics, Mr, Gilder’s book is interesting. He writes well. On some points he is very shrewd indeed. And at bottom he is propounding, however torturously, the sensible notion that men and women are equally valuable, both to each other and to a truly well-functioning society—a category in which he does not include the current patriarchal state of our affairs.