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Warren Farrell

Dr. Warren Farrell (1943-present) is an American author of seven books on women and men’s issues. His books’ contributions cover twelve fields—history, law, sociology and politics (The Myth of Male Power); couples’ communication (Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say); economic and career issues (Why Men Earn More); child psychology and child custody (Father and Child Reunion); and teenage to adult psychology and socialization, (Why Men Are the Way they Are and The Liberated Man). All of his books contribute to women and men’s studies and critique the image of the sexes in the media. For example, about his most recent book, Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?, the publisher, Oxford University Press states "A perfect book to get students thinking and debating... ideal for courses in gender studies, sociology, psychology, economics, feminist philosophy, and contemporary moral issues."


Farrell holds a Ph.D. from NYU and an M.A. from UCLA in political science, plus a B.A. from Montclair State University in the social sciences.

As a college student, Warren Farrell was a national vice-president of the largest student organization in the U.S., the Student-National Education Association, leading President Lyndon B. Johnson to invite him to the White House Conference on Education.[image] While completing his Ph.D. at NYU, he served as an assistant to the president of New York University.

University Teaching

Dr. Farrell has taught in five disciplines (psychology; sociology; political science; women's studies; gender and parenting issues) at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego; the California School of Professional Psychology; in the Department of Women’s Studies at San Diego State; and at Brooklyn College; Georgetown University, and American University. He also taught political science at Rutgers.[image]

Feminist Period

When the women’s movement surfaced in the late 1960's, Farrell’s support of it led the National Organization for Women’s New York City chapter to ask him to form men’s groups to “educate the men.” The groups’ success (he eventually formed more than 300 men and another 300 women’s groups around the country) led to his becoming the only man to be elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women in New York City (1971-74). [image] In 1974, Farrell’s wife at the time became a White House Fellow, and he left his teaching at Rutgers and involvement with N.O.W. in New York City to move with her to D.C.

During this period--his feminist period--Farrell wrote op eds for the New York Times and appeared frequently on the Today Show and Phil Donahue Show, and was featured in People (magazine), Parade (magazine) and the international media. This, and his women and men’s groups, one of which had been joined by John Lennon, inspired The Liberated Man, a book written from the feminist perspective that nevertheless introduced the parallel to women as “sex objects:” men as “success objects.” [image]

In the seventies and eighties Farrell developed his trademark role reversal audience-participation exercises designed to get the sexes to “walk a mile in the others’ moccasins.” Best-known were his “men’s beauty contest,” in which every man was invited to participate in “the beauty contest of everyday life that no woman can escape;” and the “role reversal date” in which every woman was encouraged to “risk a few of the 150 risks of rejection men typically experience between eye contact and intercourse.”

Farrell Discovers Men's Issues and Redefines Men and Women's Power

By the early ‘80s, the role-reversal exercises, and the women and men’s groups, allowed Dr. Farrell to hear women’s increasing anger toward men, and men’s frustration at being misrepresented. He wrote Why Men Are The Way They Are to answer women’s questions about men in a way he hoped rang true for the men. Due partially to Oprah’s support, this became his best-selling book.

By the late 80’s, Dr. Farrell felt the misunderstandings about men had deepened and become dangerous to the survival of families and love. He spent six years re-examining everything he thought he knew about the sexes. The result was The Myth of Male Power.

The Myth of Male Power became known for its research and its paradigm shift about male and female power. Farrell redefined power as “control over one’s life,” saying “men learn to define power as feeling obligated to earn money someone else spends while they die sooner.” Farrell argues that “men's weakness is their facade of strength; women's strength is their facade of weakness.“ He claimed it was less accurate to see patriarchy as dominating women than to understand that the needs of survival led to institutions that controlled both sexes differently, such as male-only draft registration. He concluded that we had much less need for a women's movement or a men's movement, but needed instead a gender transition movementto make a transition from the rigid roles of our past to more flexible roles for our future.

Analyses such as these led The Myth of Male Power to become both his most-praised and most-controversial book. In the fledgling discipline of men’s studies, it is considered the classic.

Farrell Expands to Couples' Communication and Child Custody Issues

The increase in divorces in the 80’s and 90’s turned Warren Farrell’s research to two issues: the poverty of couples’ communication; and children’s loss of their dad in child custody cases. In Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, he developed a method called “Cinematic Immersion” to overcome what he felt was a biological inability to handle personal criticism.

To address children’s loss of their dad in child custody cases, Farrell wrote Father and Child Reunion, a meta-analysis of research on what is the optimal family arrangement for children of divorce. He documented some twenty-six ways in which children of divorce do better when three conditions prevail: shared parenting; close parental proximity; and no bad-mouthing. This provided the basis for his making shared parenting his primary platform when he ran for Governor of California in 2003.

Farrell Redefines the Pay Gap and the Empowerment of Women

By the turn of the century, Farrell felt he had re-examined every male-female issue except the pay gap. His research for Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap - and What Women Can Do About It documented twenty-five differences in men and women’s work-life choices. Common to each of men’s choices was earning more money, while each of women’s prioritized having a more-balanced life. He concluded that “the road to high pay is a toll road;” that the gender pay gap was often reversed when those twenty-five choices were accounted for; and since a better life is more important than money, men have more to learn from women than women do from men.

Incorporating Men's Studies into Gender Studies

Dr. Farrell’s most recent book, Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?, published by Oxford University Press in 2008, is a debate book with male feminist co-author James Sterba. Farrell felt gender studies in universities rarely incorporated the male gender except to demonize it. This book was Farrell’s attempt to test whether a positive perspective about men would be allowed to be incorporated into universities' gender studies curriculum even if there were a feminist rebuttal.

Expanding His Base

Farrell’s books tend to make both international news and controversy. However, his recent collaborations with Ken Wilber, John Gray, and Richard Bolles have introduced his messages to more diverse and receptive audiences.

Current Activities

Dr. Farrell’s current foci are conducting couples’ communication workshops being an expert witness in child custody cases, and researching a forthcoming book (The Boy Crisis).

Private Life

Warren has two daughters, Alex and Erin. He lives with his wife, Liz Dowling, in Mill Valley, California (near San Francisco), and virtually at

Published works

  • The Liberated Man ISBN 0-425-13680-9
  • Why Men Are the Way They Are: The Male–Female Dynamic ISBN 0-425-11094-X
  • Myth of Male Power ISBN 0-425-18144-8
  • Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying Myths, Creating Love ISBN 1-58542-061-1
  • Father and Child Reunion ISBN 1-58542-075-1
  • Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap — and What Women Can Do about It ISBN 0-8144-7210-9

See also


External links

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