Reading “In Defense of Women”

I select this book purely for its name, the kind of judging a book by its cover, which I confess that I’ve always practiced even if I hate myself doing that. Mencken is mostly jesting and never being serious. So some of the negative reviews are really taking him too seriously, which he had no intention of ever being in such a position. Sometimes I feel he genuinely believes what he writes, and sometimes I feel that he says something that’s exactly the reverse of his belief, just to be funny. He says that women are superior to men, but I don’t think in his heart of heart he believes that. Probably he just says that to be contradicted, to be humorous, to be polite, or to be all the above. He really believes that men and women are very different. He thinks it is due to women’s intuition, but I think intuition is just a euphemism for women being weird, in a good way, and different from men.

I cannot reconcile the image of him being both a Nietzsche admirer and a woman admirer. The two just cannot coexist in one man, unless there’s a layer of human complexity that escapes my understanding. Let me think which writer is a true admirer of women’s superiority. And the name immediately jumps into my mind is Cao Xueqin, whose female characters are described in their superb ability in poetry, management, scheming. However despite their cleverness most of them suffer defeat and disappointment in life. However Cao Xueqin’s praise of women seems to be uttered from a height of social position of men, which the author perches loftily and securely, which women cannot dream of reaching. In such a position, he can sing women’s praise without ever being threatened by them.

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