Whenever someone argues why men are such monsters to women, they invariably invoke the hated strawman, a sexist word if ever there was one. Whether it’s the “too exhausting” argument that men feel entitled to women’s bodies (no, they don’t; they’re just horny, because hormones, except nobody wants your body because you’re yucky) or whether women are entitled to change their mind the day after sex (of course they are, because rape is whatever a woman decides it is), it’s based on some cartoon characterization of men’s motives. After all, aren’t men nothing more than what women tell us we are?
Is this worth more than a head shake and chuckle? An op-ed in the New York Times by Brookings Institute’s Richard V. Reeves and Isabel V. Sawhill wants to free men from the burden of having a sense of humor. They call it “Men’s Lib!” Yay. Who doesn’t like “lib”?
SO far the gender revolution has been a one-sided effort. Women have entered previously male precincts of economic and political life, and for the most part they have succeeded. They can lead companies, fly fighter jets, even run for president.
This, per the authors, is because women want to be more like men. Not like women allowed to be who they are, to achieve as much as they’re capable of achieving. Nope. It’s that they just want to be more manly. Can you guess what’s coming?
As painful as it may be, men need to adapt to what a modern economy and family life demand. There has been progress in recent years, but it hasn’t been equal to the depth and urgency of the transformation we’re undergoing. The old economy and the old model of masculinity are obsolete. Women have learned to become more like men. Now men need to learn to become more like women.
Not “want to,” but “need to.” Because masculinity is “obsolete.”
Will this transformation be good for men? In the long run, we think so. But in any case they don’t really have a choice. Recent changes in women’s status and in the economy aren’t going to be reversed. Men must either adapt or be left behind.
After all, the dinosaurs died out, right? And so must men. Oh wait, the analogy is worthless. What else you got?
These disturbing trends have led many observers to call on boys and men to regain their competitive edge over women, so they can once again be successful breadwinners and leaders. But that’s the wrong message. Rather than trying to recreate a patriarchal past, men have to embrace a more feminine future.
Instead, some men, especially those with the bleakest economic prospects, are retreating into what some scholars have labeled “hyper-masculinity.” At the extreme this leads to violence and misogyny, and may be a form of compensation for low status or loss of respect.
Or perhaps the same trend lines apply to everyone, male and female, and have shifted the burden to men, as well as women, to work harder, smarter, better in order to be the best they can and achieve as much success as they merit. If there aren’t a lot of well-paid factory jobs for men, then there aren’t a lot of well-paid factory jobs for women either. Sucks to be Rosie the Riveter these days.
Did that not occur to you guys?
The male malaise starts in the classroom. Girls have overtaken boys at every stage of education, with higher grades from the early years through high school and college. Men are now a minority on college campuses, accounting for 42 percent of graduates.
Too bad, then, that they prefer to major in French literature and gender studies rather than physics. Should men do so as well?
The greater success being enjoyed by girls results not from superior intellect but from better study habits. Girls typically demonstrate more focus, effort and self-discipline. Boys and young men are more likely to be distracted by video games, or even derailed by drink or drugs.
So girls are dumb but hard-working, while boys are drunken, addle-brained gamers? Who knew? And that’s why women are getting all the really cool STEM jobs, and men are refusing to become nurses (because the name hurts their feelz) and teachers, the HEAL jobs, because they’re unmanly?
Until men seize opportunities in these “pink collar” sectors, they will continue to lose out in this dynamic area of the labor market. Women currently dominate the sectors expected to produce the most jobs. Unless the gender imbalance in the 30 fastest-growing occupations changes, women will take up a million jobs that would otherwise have gone to men.
Nothing prevents men from being as manly as they want to be, and still being a nurse or teacher. And if that’s where the jobs are, then men are free to shift their major from drugs to early childhood education. But what does any of this have to do with men becoming women?
The way forward, we believe, is for men to embrace and adapt to the new, more androgynous world. There is no point in harking back. The world in which high-paid manufacturing jobs could support a family, and where women were expected to focus only on being wives and mothers is gone. Women have shown they are ready for this transition. But what about men?
The fallacy is that women want to be men, rather than women who can put to use their intelligence and skills in ways that were denied them when their future prospects were limited by their Mrs. Degree. It’s a lie.
The notion that we’re all better off being androgynous assumes that the lie of gender being a social construct is true. Women don’t want to be men. They just want to be women with opportunity to go as far as their abilities will take them. And men don’t need to wear dresses to survive. They may need to work harder to compete, but there is nothing unmanly about that. And as for the whole marriage gap, blame that on the internet. Nobody meets a spouse while playing Candy Crush in their bedroom.