The Rational Male: Book Overview and Takeaways

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Rational Male" by Rollo Tomassi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The Rational Male book about? What is the key message to take away from the book?

The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi dives into how masculinity is threatened by the women’s rights movement. Tomassi asserts that men need to reclaim control of their lives by honoring their natural impulses to be independent, dominating, and sexually prolific. 

Here’s a brief overview of The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi.

Why Masculinity Is in Peril

In his book The Rational Male, Rollo Tomassi argues that women have been operating a feminine agenda since the late 1960s. This agenda has a singular focus: to tame and manipulate men’s natural masculine impulses. 

We’ll first describe the male and female sexual strategies that underpin the feminine agenda. Then, we’ll explore the feminine agenda itself and its ultimate consequence: women holding dominance. Finally, we’ll explain why men are complicit in supporting the feminine agenda.

The Sexual Strategies Underpinning the Feminine Agenda

To understand the feminine agenda, we first need to understand how men and women operate sexually. According to Tomassi, women and men are biologically programmed to execute two distinct sexual strategies. On the one hand, men are compelled to have sex with as many women as they can to ensure the continuation of their genetic line. On the other hand, women want to find the best possible mate—one who’ll pass down the most advantageous physical traits to her offspring, and who’ll serve as a great protector and provider for the long term.

To ensure she fulfills her sexual strategy, a woman is genetically predisposed to seek out the highest-status and most socially dominant man she can get—one with sufficient money, career success, and social influence. She constantly scans for the best-qualified man she can attract and never stops.

How the Feminine Agenda Operates

Ultimately, The Rational Male says, for women to successfully execute their sexual strategy, men must sacrifice theirs: They must settle down with one woman instead of “playing the field.” Therefore, the ultimate aim of the feminine agenda is to keep women in a position of power so they can manipulate men into prioritizing women’s needs and sexual strategies over their own. 

Women must constantly assess the qualifications of the men around them to ensure they’ve got the best protector and provider they can attract. To guarantee they are positioned to constantly assess men, women promulgated a narrative—through the women’s rights movement—that women’s needs and wants take precedence over men’s. This is why, Tomassi argues, we take for granted that “women come first” and expect men to set aside or suppress their ambitions, needs, and desires.

Why Men Are Complicit in Advancing the Feminine Agenda

As the feminine agenda took hold, women designed social practices—now dominant in our culture—that uphold the “women first” narrative. Tomassi asserts that those social practices now pervade every social institution and convention, including media, religion, law, and education. For example, in the judicial system, judges favor mothers in the vast majority of child custody cases, and they rarely require women to pay alimony even when they’re the primary breadwinners.

(Shortform note: As Tomassi notes in The Rational Male book, the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s did indeed result in significant changes throughout most social institutions to increase women’s safety and opportunities. For example, women gained increased access to education, politics, the workplace, birth control, and legal protection from domestic violence and rape. Despite these changes, gender disparities persist. In the judicial realm, gender stereotypes lead to laws and rulings that sometimes favor women (which Tomassi highlights) and sometimes favor men. For instance, only six countries in the world have laws that give women and men equal access to work rights.) 

Thus, men are socialized to view women-serving ideals and behaviors as normal—even desirable. In fact, Tomassi says, most men have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by the feminine agenda that they fully accept and perpetuate it. This is why most men agree that “real men” put women first and willingly sacrifice their own needs to accommodate women. For example, they believe they are “doing the right thing” when they financially and emotionally support a woman’s children, even when another man fathered those children.

How Men Can Get Their Masculine Swagger Back

Tomassi explains that men can loosen the grip of the feminine agenda and step into their power, but it’s a process that takes time. Men must become aware of their own value and embrace their natural masculine impulses.

We’ll look at the three main rules Tomassi outlines for men in The Rational Male book to recognize their value, have more sex, build better relationships, and feel good about themselves: postpone long-term relationships, don’t negotiate for sex, and keep women curious and uncertain.

Rule #1: Postpone Long-Term Relationships and Build Your Value

Tomassi advises men to remain single until their 30s, the time when their sexual desirability is highest. Delaying commitment will allow them to gain experience with many women so they’re better able to judge character and identify good female mating partners.

Rule #2: Don’t Negotiate for Sex

It’s essential, says Tomassi, that men refuse to negotiate with women for sexual access. Women control men by granting or denying sexual access, and men need to stay alert for any conditional offers of sex. For example, a woman might say, “We can have some fun later if you take me to that new restaurant,” or “If you stay home tonight instead of going out with your friends, I’ll make it worth your while.” When a woman negotiates for sex, it’s a test. She’s assessing whether a man is a strong protector and provider she needs. According to Tomassi, a man fails this test by succumbing to a woman’s demands. He sends the message that he needs her more than she needs him, surrendering his authority and losing the woman’s respect.

Rule #3: Keep Women Curious and Uncertain

Lastly, The Rational Male book argues that men need to be unpredictable by finding creative ways to pique women’s imaginations. Although women say they want a man who’s reliable and steady, they want a man who sparks excitement, intrigue, and mystery.

As soon as a woman thinks she knows all there is to know about a man, she loses interest. Why? When there’s nothing more to learn about a guy, she can continue scanning elsewhere to compare him with other men—always seeking the highest-status man available. But if a man keeps a woman guessing about what he’ll do or say, she’ll see him as independent, assertive, and exciting. As Tomassi explains, that compels her to be attentive and respectful, and she’ll continue investing energy into him.

The Rational Male: Book Overview and Takeaways

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rollo Tomassi's "The Rational Male" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The Rational Male summary :

  • How women use a feminine agenda to manipulate men
  • Why sex should never be a transactional arrangement
  • Why men don't need long-term relationships

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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