Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Beginning of Men

Imagine a world without men. You wouldn't be able to read this: no computer, no computer screen, no Google, no Blogger, and no this blogger. Probably no chair you're sitting on, no air conditioner/heater that's making you comfortable in your room. For that matter, you wouldn't have a room--It and its materials were likely developed and installed by men: from the sub-floor to the roof. So are the penicillin that cured your venereal disease, the birth control pill that kept you from getting pregnant, the refrigerator that kept your baby's formula and your food fresh, the car that gives you freedom or the mass transit environmentalists prefer. Beyond necessities, men have given us information transmitters from the printing press to the television to the iPhone to the aforementioned Google, wisdom from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and Wittgenstein, Victor Davis Hanson to Christopher Hitchens. And let's not forget our revered Barack Obama. And lest all work and no play make dull boys and girls, men have given us entertainment from Shakespeare to Spielberg, Beethoven to Basie to the Beatles to Bono, Rembrandt to Rothko. You couldn't even defecate without men: What percentage of toilets would you guess were built, installed, and repaired, not to mention sewer lines cleaned out, by women? No less than lesbian feminist, Camille Paglia, wrote, "If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts." Here's a video that makes that point

Yet over the past 50 years, as a horrible side effect of the appropriate increase in women's opportunities, there has been an accelerating effort to diminish men. Indeed, the oppressed have become the oppressor. Previous posts have cited many examples but a few recent manifestations of that acceleration include President Clinton's Press Secretary Dede Myers', "Why Women Should Rule the World." and "New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's bestseller, "Are Men Necessary?"

But a recent and most troubling example is the The Atlantic Monthly's 2010 annual ideas issue. Picador-timed to anger the bull, it was released just before Father's Day. (Can you imagine a mom-bashing cover story preceding Mother's Day?) One of its stories: Are Fathers Necessary? by Pamela Paul. Despite a rich research literature demonstrating the importance of fathers, for example, this report from the federal government's Children's Bureau, based on merely one journal article, the author concludes that kids may well be better off raised by a single mother and even better by a lesbian couple than by a father. To make such an assertion is a head-shaker but to have such an assertion based on such flimsy evidence published in one of the nation's most prestigious magazines speaks to the pervasiveness of the accelerating chic of unjustified male bashing.

Remarkably, the Atlantic cover story (see picture above) goes even further. And perhaps not surprising, it is The Washington Post's "Story Pick." Its title: "The End of Men." Its core contention: men are better suited for the Neanderthal Era or at least the Industrial Revolution age--brawn and individual testosterone-poisoned competition. The article argues that today's success requires the woman's touch: collaborative, intelligent, reflective. And to think, all of the aforementioned modern discoveries were created by butt-scratching, hyperactive, cognitively crippled troglodytes without benefit of women's wonders.

The problem is that the male-bashing not only dispirits the intellectual men who read publications such as The Atlantic. Average men and boys receive an ever accelerating diet of male as boorish, sleazy idiot shown the way by wise women. We're in our seventh decade of man-as-oaf media: from Ralph Kramden to Homer Simpson. Even in the majority-male Superbowl audience, commercials present man as cretin: hopelessly impotent men who are literally in the doghouse, cowed by their woman master. Or they're mumbling supplicants begging for a woman judge's charity. Lest you think I'm cherry-picking, watch commercials: How often is the man superior to the woman?

Twenty-five years ago, when I began helping people choose their career, both sexes were equally optimistic about their future. Today, most of my female clients correctly believe the world is their oyster (except at the C-level, at which few women are willing to work the 70-hour weeks and move their families across the country to get the necessary promotions.) And my male clients are disproportionately despondent and/or angry--and not going to college. In 1960: the male:female ratio of college degree holders was 61:39. Today, in an era in which a college degree has become a virtual necessity, a mere hunting license for most decent employment, the ratio is 41:59 and projected to be 39:61 by 2020. (Source, U.S. Dept of Education, IES, 2009.) The male unemployment rate is now 20% higher than for women. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) For the same work (in quantity and quality) women, on average earn the same as men. Indeed, even the article, "The End of Men" points out that among Fortune 500 CEOs, women earn 40% more than do their male counterparts. And in the ultimate example of the pendulum having swung too far, despite men living 5.2 years shorter, most gender-specific medical research and outreach, for the last 50 years(!) has been spent on women. Since 1920, the average lifespan advantage of women has grown 400%! While, of course, one can point to examples of unfairness to women, it's simply dishonest to assert that today, men, on balance, have an unfair advantage.

The world is better when both sexes are valued. For every wife-beating, customer-cheating, sexual harassing guy, there's at least one ethical man, working hard to be productive and to support himself and his family. For every manipulative, hormonally crazed, girls-just-want-to-have-fun woman, there's at least one woman diligently striving to have it all: career, family, and a personal life. Good people all. People with real potential to make a better society for all.

Perhaps it might surprise the author of "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin, who overreachingly wrote that men's rights groups have an "angry, anti-woman edge," this head of a men's rights group, The National Organization for Men and my co-president, Dr. Warren Farrell, per our mission statement of advocating for fair treatment of men and women, believe it's time for a truce, one that's fair to both sexes:

1. We should end the gender-bashing, male or female, in the schools, colleges, and media, for example, statements that Rosin makes in her Atlantic cover story such as that men are "women's new ball and chain." and "Maybe...(male) DNA is shifting. Maybe they’re like those frogs—they’re more vulnerable or something, so they’ve gotten deformed.”

2. It's time to end intentional discrimination against both women and men: If we are to be honest with ourselves, isn't it time to stop:
  • giving women preferences in Small Business Administration female-set-aside loans,
  • requiring only males to register for the draft and to serve in direct combat (99% of US. deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been men)
  • women but not men allowed to have caucuses in corporations and government to facilitate women's advancement
  • having many social-service programs just for women, almost none for men
  • having "targets," virtual quotas for women hired but not for men
  • having female-set-aside scholarships but not for men
  • Women's networking and other organizations encouraged while such men's organizations called sexist with calls for the being disbanded.
  • and perhaps most important to the next generation, a school system that has replaced boy-friendly competition with girl-centric collaboration, boy-friendly adventure stories, with soporific-to-boys tales of girl relationships, and history textbooks disproportionately extolling women from Sacajawea and Pocahontas to Simone DeBouvier and Sally Ride while sparing no pages to pound home the evils of white men from Hannibal to Hitler, Joe McCarthy to Timothy McVeigh, and perhaps worst of all, an insistence on ever more seatwork, which when active boys can't endure, are put on a Ritalin leash at a ratio of eight boys for every one girl.
3. To the extent that men could use better communication and processing skills and more modern, collaborative leadership styles to accompany the more goal-oriented individualistic ones, instead of dismissing such men as unable to communicate, let our schools, colleges, and workplaces offer such trainings.

4. We appropriately celebrate women having options other than being a stay-at-home mom. Women absolutely should have the right to, on the merits, compete for jobs from carpenter to CEO. But we must now legitimate the full range of options for men: from at least short-term stay-at-home father to 80-hour-a-week scientist. The latter should not be pathologized as a "workaholic" but revered as a hard-working contributor to society. This should be the era of the multi-option man as well as of the multi-option woman.

5. It's time for serious Men's Studies programs at universities that aren't merely a male-bashing accompaninent to female-extolling women's studies program.

6. Is it not appropriate to pay due homage to men?: who do so many of the yucky jobs women won't do (from rodent remover to roofer) invent the things that women would likely not have invented. Should we not honor the contributions fathers make to parenting. for example, they often balance many mothers' tendency to not enforce limits. They often leaven mothers' protective instinct by encouraging reasonable (okay, occasionally not so reasonable) risk-taking. Here's to fathers and to, not the end of men but to the new Beginning of Men: the fairly treated, multi-option man.

12 comments:

ST said...

Well, I'm sure women would survive and even thrive if there never were (If humans evolved asexually, and there never were men, maybe humans wouldn't be woman, per se, but a trans gender of some sort), or all of a sudden men disappeared forever for some reason. Human life would just be different. I don't know about grass huts, there are plenty of women who could pull off the male-centric way of technological life we experience. Maybe it would have been on a smaller scale (if nothing more than the average height difference). And who says the industry and technology we experience today is any better than would have happened without men?

OK, enough philosophizing. I agree that there should be equal treatment for both sexes. What I see working in a corporate office, is if you are female or minority and have ANY inkling of management talent, they will move you up the ladder as fast as they can (mostly to satisfy EEOC ratio objectives). I'm not saying all these women/minorities are bad, and in fact some are quite good, it's just that's it's out of proportion. And I personally have no desire to move up the ranks, so they are not my competition, but I have to work for these managers. For every tyrant (male) boss we've heard about in the past, there are just as many tyrant, moody, and possibly manic depressive female managers. Collaboration? From my experience, most female managers I've worked for are "by the book" almost like in the army or a government office. Male managers (in general) are a little more easy going and don't have to follow the book to the T, they just want the work to get done.

To go along with getting the work done and the over-pushed collaboration theme, I agree that many of the successes in this country are from the "anti-social", nose to the grind stone, gritting the teeth, working 80 hours type of people who had a break through. Collaboration (again)? Nothing ever gets done. It's a bunch of meetings and trying to get everyone on board to create a mediocre piece of work (whatever the project is). I work on the execution side, and when all is said and done, it's the execution that actually gets it done. All the pondering and theorizing is basically just glorified guessing. You could guess and do almost as good a job. And I work in the world where there's also mathematical modeling, which is even more glorified guessing. To be truthful, it does work to a point, but what would happen if we fired all the modelers (saving money) and just used common sense. I wonder how worse off we'd be? Look how great the mathematical models worked that created the financial bubble that just burst! (And by the way most of the math modelers where I work are female Chinese, just to be fair).

Jeffrie said...

I'm a woman, and since about high school, most of my friends have been men. I can't explain why, but I just seem to relate to them better than I do to the average woman. Besides the many conveniences that I enjoy today, not to mention the freedom to enjoy them, men are responsible for providing me with friendship, discipline, and belief in myself (the latter two courtesy of my father).

My father & I have definitely had our differences, and there have been times when I couldn't even talk to him. But more often than not, he has been the one, and sometimes the only one, to believe in me and my capabilities. He was the one, more than anybody else, to encourage me to educate myself. Though he provided me with a lot, he encouraged me to rely on myself first.

I would be in a very different place today if not for my father and the other men in my life (the ones I have known and the ones I will never know but still make my life better). I would never want to know a life without men, and they deserve to be respected & honored as much as women do.

Seraphim said...

Here is my letter to the Atlantic editors:

Imagine the outrage if the cover had proclaimed "The End of Women", and the article asked, "Are Mothers Necessary?"

The bad news for the Atlantic is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about its contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to it.

ALP said...

I am disturbed by the trend of mothers of young boys who seem terrified of the naturally aggressive, risk-taking, messy and sometimes chaotic bent some (if not most) young boys have. They seem determined to squelch it out of them. If they are successful, where will we get the next generation of fire fighters, search and rescue workers, EMTs, police officers, ect... and men for a host of other risky, dangerous jobs?

Jeffrie said...

You're not alone in your thinking. There are some people, including women, who are critical of the Atlantic's articles.

One of the articles points out, as you have, that people have been stating it's "the end of men" for years. Sometimes I wonder if it's less of a declaration and more of a wish.

Anonymous said...

"The End of Men" actually symbolizes the end of intelligence at The Atlantic. How any magazine could publish such a profoundly idiotic article is beyond belief.

Joan said...

Now wait a minute...how did you know about my venereal disease?!?

Jeffrie said...

How far can the need to give everything the feminine touch go? Well, somebody at the Washington Post thinks we now have "our first female president."

Maureen Nelson said...

Hanna Rosin's article is a lament. I can't believe you missed that. As for the father piece, I agree studies comparing apples to oranges are no good. I think two-gender households are ideal, even though you couldn't prove it from my experience.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and informative article. You realize you're taking on the big machine who want to manipulate the minds of the masses. That's why the article gets rejected or totally ignored. It combats the poison too effectively.
I am approaching the two month time limit after writing Senator Lautenberg about the overt discrimination towards divorced dads. It is an absolute disgrace that this "justice" system uses witchhunt techniques in this day and age. They create victims for profit.
Regardless, if he doesn't answer I'm writing another letter, and another, and another until he answers why he allows this corruption to go on.

Anonymous said...

That about sums it up. I've talked with my son about this in order to steel and prepare him. It may not have been necessary: he keeps the Navy's F-18s flying, and a pilot can't have the plane until my son signs his name on the bottom line.

Incidentally, the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional in it's very title (unequal protection.)

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that the many articles you refer to frame feminism as a zero sum game. I agree with most of your policy prescriptions because they support the same kinds of choices for men as for women. For example, why should a C-level employee be expected to work 60+ workweeks unless he wants to, in an absence of pressure? For that to realistically happen, we'd have to analyze such values as competition, status and family expectations. Both men's and women's mistake has been to frame these issues as ones that benefit only one sex.

 

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