Are men necessary?

New book sparks debate

"Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide," the recent controversial release of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has spurred discussion among men, women and other columnists across the nation.

In her 352-page commentary, Dowd questions females' status 40 years after the women's liberation movement. She examines the effectiveness of White House officials versus the way Americans view women of power.

She criticizes women's modern obsession with plastic surgery and the dated dating games they still play. She argues that men are becoming obsolete because of new technological advances such as artificial insemination and cloning.

Local men and women weigh in on the debate and put in their 2 cents on, "Are Men Necessary?"

He said

By Brandon Johansson

When Craig police Chief Walt Vanatta started in law enforcement 35 years ago, female police officers were a rarity.

Now, about 25 percent of the officers at the Craig Police Department are women.

The department's female officers are better than male officers at communicating and defusing tense situations, particularly those involving male suspects, Vanatta said.

"They kind of alleviate the need to be macho right off the bat," he said.

But if women can be better than men at a job such as being a police officer, a job historically dominated by men, are men even needed?

For local men, the answer is a resounding "yes."

"We're relationship beings," said Mike Spies, of Craig.

Spies lives with his girlfriend, and they share chores, such as cooking and cleaning, but the relationship goes far beyond sharing duties, he said.

The 22-year-old co-manager of Serendipity Coffee Shop said most people, male or female, need a significant other in their lives.

"Some people can be successful on their own," he said, but those people are the exception.

Seth Young, 28, said he likes to think he's necessary, but he isn't always sure.

"I'm single, so apparently I'm not," he said.

Bud Nelson, of Craig, has no doubt he is necessary.

"I think I'm needed, I think I'm necessary," he said.

The 65-year-old veteran said he even has proof that his wife needs him: He spent Thursday afternoon cooking dinner and doing laundry while his wife was at her parents' house.

Nelson, who is post commander at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 in Craig, said he supports equal rights across the board. He said he supports the military allowing women to fight on the frontlines, an issue on which veterans disagree.

If men can't handle fighting side-by-side with women, that's the male soldier's problem, he said.

But just because women are able soldiers and can work in jobs they weren't allowed to hold a century ago, it doesn't change that women need men and men need women, he said.

"I think we still have a role," Nelson said. "We all need a partner, and we all need someone to love."

She said

By Michelle Perry

At 29, Katie Grobe is happy being single. She has not yet found the right man, and that's just fine.

"I think there are some women who define their existence by men," Grobe said. "I don't feel like I need a man, because I'm a strong enough woman on my own."

Gwen Kemerly was married 18 years and has been divorced for 15. She enjoys the single life.

"I don't have to answer to anybody," she said.

Kemerly, 53, said women must be emotionally ready to wed and that an increasing number of women are finding that place later in life.

The median age for a woman's first marriage was 20.8 years in 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Now it's 25.

Kemerly said she thinks women are taking more time to have fun.

"(My ex-husband) said to me the night we got married, 'You know, you have to watch the things you say now because I'm responsible for you,'" Kemerly said. "I took it as, he's now the boss. Once you marry them, they think they own you."

Kemerly said men have their own admirable qualities -- namely, logic -- and women have theirs -- adaptability, for one. The two genders complement each other, she said.

But author Maureen Dowd argues male scientists may be researching themselves out of necessity. Artificial insemination and cloning are making men nearly obsolete, she said.

"I think that's sad," Kemerly said. "I think you need that balance, despite what science can do."

Helen Loyd, 82, said she and her husband were equal partners in raising their children. Loyd did not work outside the home but was active in politics.

In the 1960s and 1970s, she helped launch the local chapter of League of Women Voters and was the first woman to serve on Craig City Council.

"A lot of women wouldn't run. ... I don't know whether they didn't feel adequate or what," Loyd said.

She said that at the time, the men accepted her position of power and said they appreciated the equality.

Grobe said she thinks men are entertaining and give different perspectives on issues than women do. At the forefront of men's necessity is manual labor, Grobe said.

"Quite frankly, the only reason I would want to get married is so someone will shovel my driveway and mow the lawn," she said.

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