A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who could fairly be described as a feminist. Not a conservative feminist — a feminist in the traditional sense of the word.
I remarked to her that over the last few decades, women’s ideals, in everything from dating, to careers, to their life in general, have changed quite a bit while men’s ideals, hopes and dreams have been much more static over that same time period. She agreed and said feminism hasn’t done a good job of “helping men” reach their potential. My response to that was that when it finally arrives, she probably won’t like the men’s revolution any more than most men enjoyed the feminist version.
I was reminded of that as I read Dr. Helen’s piece at Pajama’s Media, “Manning Up or Wimping Out: Men Don’t Exist to Serve Women’s Desires.“
After 45 years of being told they are pigs, sexist, and good for nothing, men have quit trying to please others, so they slap on a baseball cap and don’t talk much. And with good reason.
…What do you have to offer these men you call child-men if they do man up? Are you going to ensure that they have fair access to their children should they divorce? Will you make sure that they aren’t hauled off to jail if the wife makes false accusations of domestic violence? Will you let them keep the earnings and property that they worked for over years rather than have them turned over to their wife, even if she cheated and was abusive? Will you shield the millions of men who live in fear of their significant other but have nowhere to turn for help? Will you make marriage, in other words, as valuable to men as you think it is for women?
I doubt it. What Hymowitz and other authors in this area — see Kathleen Parker’s Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care for another example — seem to want is for these men to marry women and make them happy. Rather than recognize that they are autonomous beings who are living for themselves and fulfilling their own needs and not a woman’s obligations, these analyses of the “man problem” seem to be all about what women want.
The changes that have occurred in the last few decades have opened up a lot of possibilities for women. Women are now even more educated than men on the whole, they can thrive in the work place, and their views are much more represented in politics, entertainment, and society in general. Those are good things. However, you could also make an excellent argument that American society has become over-feminized and that the playing field has been generally tilted in favor of women. Most women wouldn’t see it that way…but, that ties into the point I’m going to make. Most men, even if they don’t have the cahones to say so, don’t look at the feminist movement or the changes that have occurred over the last decades the same way that women do.
That doesn’t mean that the average man wants women to be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen — that’s simply not true — but it does mean that we tend to be much more aware of the negative aspects of liberal feminism. For example, the ugly side of the liberal feminist movement is that it’s anti-men, victim oriented, and is designed to make men serve women’s desires. It’s very “Boo-hoo, the patriarchy is keeping me down! Men have it easy, while we have it hard! Where are all the good men and why don’t they listen when I berate them about their flaws?”
So, what happens when men start to react to the feminist movement or worse yet, mirror the uglier aspects of it? It has already started to happen in some quarters. The slackers who’ve given up, work menial jobs, live in their parents’ basements, and play video games and watch TV all night are one facet of it. Fifty years ago, they might have gotten a job in a factory, gotten married, and settled down to raise 2.5 kids. But today, being a generally good guy and having a decent paying job is generally just a prerequisite to a relationship as opposed to the whole kit and kaboodle. Rather than work through the other half-dozen requirements women have added since the sixties, some men have decided it’s easier to drift.
Another facet, one that I think is going to become much, much more prevalent in coming years is the “game-theory-loving,” “we’re just products of our evolutionary nature” men. Never heard of them? Well, you will, because they’re pitching a message that will sound as pitch perfect to a certain type of man as the liberal feminist spiel does to a certain type of woman.
These guys tend to be misogynistic, victim oriented, and focused on making women serve men’s desires — which are much more sex oriented than commitment oriented. If you’re a woman, that probably sounds utterly appalling. If you’re a man, you probably either think it sounds like fun or you hope they end up joined at the hip to Amanda Marcotte/Gloria Steinem clones one day, because they deserve each other.
What women should realize is that eventually, the culture is going to dramatically shift for men the same way it did for women in the sixties. When that happens, women aren’t going to be “guiding” the shift, nor are they likely to be big fans of how it ultimately plays out, because the underlying aim of a genuinely powerful men’s movement is going to be to take back some of the power that men feel like they’ve lost over the last few decades.