'Women and the relationship between the sexes....' 'Women's Intelligence and the Masculine Bag of Tricks...' In Defense of Women by H. L. Mencken In Defense of Women is H. L. Mencken's 1918 book on women and the relationship between the sexes. Some laud the book as progressive while others brand it as reactionary. While Mencken did not champion women's rights, he described women as wiser in many novel and observable ways, while demeaning average men. According to Mencken's biographer, Fred Hobson: "Depending ...
'Women and the relationship between the sexes....' 'Women's Intelligence and the Masculine Bag of Tricks...' In Defense of Women by H. L. Mencken In Defense of Women is H. L. Mencken's 1918 book on women and the relationship between the sexes. Some laud the book as progressive while others brand it as reactionary. While Mencken did not champion women's rights, he described women as wiser in many novel and observable ways, while demeaning average men. According to Mencken's biographer, Fred Hobson: "Depending on the position of the reader, he was either a great defender of women's rights or, as a critic labelled him in 1916, 'the greatest misogynist since Schopenhauer', 'the country's high-priest of woman-haters.'" The original goal of Defense was to help clarify Mencken's views on women, garnered from an inconsistent and confusing reputation in newspaper columns, various reviews, and several plays. Along with Marion Bloom and Kay Laurell, Mencken gathered material for his book not from libraries and universities, but from saloons and hotels. The original title for Defense was A Book for Men Only, but other working titles included The Eternal Feminine as well as The Infernal Feminine. Originally published by Philip Goodman in 1918, Mencken released a new edition in 1922 in an attempt to bring the book to a wider audience. This second edition, published by Alfred Knopf, was both much longer and milder. In general, biographers describe Defense as "ironic" it was not so much a defense of women as a critique of the relationship between the sexes. Topics covered by the book included "Woman's Equipment," "Compulsory Marriage," "The Emancipated Housewife," and "Women as Martyrs." Women were gaining rights, according to Mencken - the ability to partake in adultery without lasting public disgrace, the ability to divorce men, and even some escape from the notion of virginity as sacred, which remained as "one of the hollow conventions of Christianity." Women nonetheless remained restrained by social conventions in many capacities.
Among the things I'd take to a deserted island would be sardines, crackers, German beer and the works of Henry Mencken especially "In Defense. . ." All of the above the best of good company, all tastes somewhat acquired.
This is a book that may very well require searching out that dictionary you bought freshman year. It may also require overlooking the occasional puzzling rant: Mencken takes issue with the physical shape of women. Go figure.
It will likely change your thinking about marriage an institution the tenants of which according to H.L.are at best misconstrued by men and in sobering fact exploited to the nth degree by women.
"In Defense. . ." cleaves the sociological phenomenon known as the battle of the sexes anew: Mencken versus staid, smug convention - on one side those who are can appreciate a sardines, crackers and German beer approach, on the other the familiar scenario constructed by purveyors of the likes of Good Housekeeping and Brides Magazine.
Where did I put that lid lifter?
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