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The Way of the Superior Man: A Man's Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by David Deida. Plexus, 815-A Brazos, Suite 445-B, Austin, TX 78701, 1997; 224 pp., $23.95 (available as of this writing from Amazon.com for $16.77). Reviewed by Jordan S. Gruber.
Overall Rating for Men: 7.5 (out of 10)
Overall Rating for Women: 4 (out of 10)
Difficulty Level: 5 (out of 10)
Recommendation: This provocative but quirky volume is probably worth reading -- especially for men -- but much of its advice needs to be taken with a substantial grain of salt. Women, especially, may find themselves not understanding, or being offended by, parts of this book.
The Way of the Superior Man is a tremendously uneven book. On the one hand, some of David Deida's advice is red-hot and dead-on, some of his insights into male-female polarity are penetratingly startling, and some of his prose is breathtaking. On the other hand, the book is full of unsupported assertions, vast over-generalizations, simplistic formulas, and perspectives on women that at least most women (and a good number of men) would find absurd and even misogynistic. (A small anecdotal sample taken by this reviewer confirms this point.) Moreover, the overly-poetic writing often falls flat, and some of the verbiage is not only non-standard, but pretty darn unpalatable.
The book's subtitle -- "A Man's Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work and Desire" -- gives a fair representation of the main themes that are tackled. In a nutshell, Deida tells us that while men are and must be driven by their life purpose and work, women are and must be driven by relationship and love. From this axiom men can derive the following critical rule:
Your Purpose Must Come Before Your Relationship: Every man knows that his highest purpose in life cannot be reduced to any particular relationship. If a man prioritizes his relationship over his highest purpose, he weakens himself, disserves the universe, and cheats his woman of an authentic man who can offer her full, undivided presence.
Deida gives some excellent advice about finding one's purpose, being willing to do whatever it takes to live fully and freely, living just beyond one's "edge" (comfort zone), and using death as one's advisor. The difficulty, here, is that almost all of what he says is equally applicable to many women.
When he turns his attention to relationships and sexuality between men and women, Deida sounds a good deal like John Gray or Justin A. Sterling -- "What She Wants Is Not What She Says"; "Don't Force the Feminine to Make Decisions"; "She Doesn't Really Want to Be Number One"; "Don't Analyze Your Woman" -- except that he sometimes goes even further than these bastions of the men's movement and ends up with analyses that seem doubtful, questionable, off-the-wall, and occasionally offensive (to both men and women).
For example, in a chapter entitled "Ejaculation Should Be Converted or Consciously Chosen," we read;
One part of your woman is happy she made you come. She is happy you are relaxed and enjoying yourself. Another part of her is disappointed that you've allowed yourself to choose a temporary and pleasurable spasm over the endless ravishment of her and the world.... Every time she sucks you into an uncontrolled need to ejaculate, she has conquered you. She controls you and masters you. She is in charge, sexually, no matter what manly gestures you make before ejaculating. With a simple flick of her tongue, a sly moan, or a slurping tilt of her pelvis, she can drain you of life. And, deep down, she knows the world can do the same to you.
Now, while there are lots of theories that excessive ejaculation can harm men, the implication here that a woman can't genuinely enjoy her male partner's orgasm seems patently absurd. (And, again, a non-statistically valid survey conducted by this reviewer confirms that women are quite capable of taking great, authentic, empathetic joy in a male partner's orgasms.)
And yet ... the book is filled with a great deal of knowledge, power, and clarity. It seems likely that, in person, David Deida is a powerful and charismatic force; it very well may be that just as this review has unavoidably taken certain passages out of context, the very act of David Deida writing down his material may have taken it out of the context from which it has the most power and meaning. In other words, the written-down parts of The Way of the Superior Man that seem offensive, simplistic, or wacky might, in the context of a live men's seminar, contain extraordinary power and insight.
In sum, The Way of the Superior Man is probably worth reading, but it would be inadvisable to offer it to a woman or an untutored man as an exemplar of what the overall men's movement has to offer. It seems likely, though, that David Deida is marvelous in person, and if you are male and have the opportunity to see him speak, it would probably be well worth your while.
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