Doyle’s War: Save the Males. By R. F. Doyle. Forest Lake, Minnesota: Poor Richard’s Press, February 2018. www.amazon.com. No price stated on book, but website gives price for book as US 149.95. 352 pages. Review by J. Steven Svoboda.
Richard Doyle, longtime editor of the Liberator newsmagazine (may it rest in peace), is a revered veteran who has been toiling away for the better part of six decades on behalf of men’s rights. Among other recognition he has received, the National Coalition for Men has honored him for his considerable achievements. In recent years, Mr. Doyle has turned his efforts to pen the book Doyle’s War: Save the Males, which has gone through title changes and almost continual revisions by the author since its first appearance. (Full disclosure: I have spent some brief yet treasured time with Mr. Doyle and am deeply impressed by his commitment, achievements, and persistence. This review of the latest edition updates my 2006 review of the first edition, my 2007 review of the fourth edition, and my 2014 review of the sixth edition.)
One thing one hopefully learns in working on “men’s rights,” which in my view is more properly viewed as “everyone’s rights,” is that political categories and indeed, demographic categories of any sort, need not and should not divide us. What we need today more than anything else is someone who can speak with authority and knowledge, and Mr. Doyle provides both in spades. His “purpose is to rescue men, not to denigrate women.” Almost so obvious that it need not be stated but in these days, who can be faulted for caution and care?
As the author himself notes (“This is not a polished, professionally written Ph.D.-level tome”), what you will not get in this book is the most smoothly written, balanced, open-minded book in the history of writing about men and masculinity. Doyle is his own man and calls things as he sees them. Few readers are going to agree with the author on all particulars. What a relief! Instead we get an often delightful, occasionally short-tempered, and definitely opinionated writer prepared to challenge even those of us who have been working for genuine gender equity for many years. Such a commitment to truth and justice that has endured so long is truly worthy of our admiration and indeed, our profound respect and thanks.
Thankfully, the author has reworked what in earlier editions was a somewhat abrasive introduction that was a bit lacking in nuance. The new introduction lays out for us Doyle’s perspectie while hopefully hanging onto readers that might otherwise have been lost, who instead will find that there is plenty of gold to be panned from this book.
For an esteemed old-timer, Doyle has done an impressive job integrating recent developments into his book. Several recent examples of female violence against children are included as many still do not realize that women’s equality also encompasses their capacity and propensity for family violence, which is comparable to men’s. The discussion of the 2014 fabricated Rolling Stone rape story is apposite. He points out the ludicrousness of the 2013 repassage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in a context in which rates of sexual violence have fallen by 64% (!) in the past decade. Recent examples the author has collected of certifiably insane sentences pronounced against men by various courts are in themselves worth several times the exceedingly modest price of admission.
The senselessness of prosecuting prostitution customers (“johns”) but not prostitutes is exposed amidst a more general context of the criminalization of sex and of male sexuality. Some dreadful stories are offered up of an eighteen-year-old boy working at a carnival being convicted for literally doing his job of buckling children into a carnival ride, and of a boy convicted for accidentally urinating in a girl’s presence. Also included are a number of updated stories regarding female criminals and the courts’ willingness to bend over backwrads to avoid punishing them for their crimes.
Mr. Doyle has a knack for deftly crystallizing the essence of a thorny situation. For example, he points out that under existing no-fault divorce law, “a person could lose an ancestral farm worked by his family for generations to a tramp mate of a few years and not even be permitted to raise the issue of her conduct in the marriage.” On the next page, he succinctly sums up the confluence of diverse forces that have teamed up to put countless men through the living hell of divorce and lost contact with children: “An unholy alliance of the divorce system and feminist philosophy has been instrumental in relieving women of marriage obligations, while assuring them of its advantages and denying them to men.” Later we learn of an unbelievably sad and unfair yet all too typical eight ball that one man confronted: “It’s crazy; one branch of the human services department told him he could no longer see the girl [his daughter] because he was not the father, while another said he owed over $10,000 and couldn’t have a driver’s license because he was the father.”
I can’t think of another book I have read that so efectively addresses so many areas that are generally neglected by authors and are swept under the rug by society in general. One is the high cost of divorce, which must be a compelling topic in these financially challenging days, even for those who manage to avoid compassion for the sad victims caught in the jaws of divorce court. Over a decade ago, we learn, the annual cost of American divorces was over $30 billion, and doubtless that figure would be much higher today. A second usually overlooked topic is female police officers, who, the author tells us, participate in several times more shootings than do males. Doyle provides some updated examples of this as well as of (males) wresting guns from female officers and shooting someone whose death would otherwise not have occurred. A third issue that many folks have stopped talking about is the pro-female discrimination that facilitates female participation in the military. The same performance level earns women higher grades than men and promotions over men who may in fact be superior officers. The military has fallen so far that, Doyle notes in this updated edition, male soldiers are forced to wear “pregnancy simulators” to teach sympathy for pregnant soldiers!
Mr. Doyle provides generally excellent if intermittently grumpy and idiosyncratic summations of pertinent issues, reading somewhat like a rumpled, less erudite (but who isn’t?) version of the late Daniel Amneus. The author’s proposals near the end of the book are often fresh and engaging, and frequently provocative, while varying in practicality for actual implementation. Mr. Doyle suggests creating defaults for custody awards that are based on the age and sex of the child. Younger children will tend to be placed with Mom, while older kids, particularly boys, will live with Dad, while some room is included for consideration of individual circumstances.
The author has a point, and it’s one that is not made as often as it might be despite its obviousness, that when something is incentivized, there tends to be more of it. So it is that welfare has incentivized wives to separate from their husbands without as much fear of economic problems as they would have in a world without welfare. So it is that families are divided and children get less time with their fathers and often also less time with their mothers.
Mr. Doyle and I will never fully agree on politics, and that’s fine, but I do wish he would curb his tendency toward partisan shots cross the bow, as it will needlessly limit his audience. The same goes for his strong views on abortion and homosexuality, the former of which I respect and which I enjoyed reading and found thought-provoking up to a point. The latter is becoming increasingly out of step with the acceptance in recent years of gay marriage.
On the other hand, what an excellent juxtaposition Mr. Doyle found, contrasting the Florida court’s ruling preventing a man from having a voice regarding his wife’s abortion with many states’ requirements that a man seeking a vasectomy have his wife’s written permission. The author ably justifies his provocative contention that women have a higher obligation to chastity, and makes some interesting proposals regarding marriage a few pages later.
If you have a pulse, you simply must not miss reading this truly unique book for its insightful suggestions and fiery, quirky summary of the current state of males. It offers the reader a ride worth many times the ticket price and receives my highest recommendation.
NCFM PR Director Steven Svoboda book review, Save The Males by R.F. Doyle
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