FOX News recently published an article entitled “The War on Men,” and its message seems to be gaining a lot of traction. The point of the article is a rather simple one: Men have been told to stop being men, women are surpassing them in education, salary, and career (making them feel inadequate), and because women have been “angry and defensive” a la Naomi Wolf, men feel displaced, aimless, and less inclined to marry. Consequently, many men have simply opted to take advantage of the Sexual Revolution and engage in recreational sex while generally abandoning marriage and ceding the ‘field of battle’ to women. In summary, the author writes, “Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.”
This seems to me to be a rather bleak defense of the traditional masculinity one presumes the author is defending. The argument that men are brave, strong, protectors of their families but morph into sniveling, sweat-pants wearing, X-box addicts the second women prove to be just as good at some things as they are seems to contradict the premise. The idea that the men are petty enough to get “pissed off” when women provide a bit of marketplace competition and promptly abandon the institution of marriage seems to be an indictment of the modern man, not a defense. My first thought when reading this article was not, “Yes, intelligent and successful women scare me and make me feel inadequate,” but rather, “Really? You think Gloria Steinem cut my balls off?”
Obviously, responding to an oversimplification with another oversimplification is not adequate in trying to unpackage and explain the so-called “war of genders,” and here I make no attempt to do so—simply to reject the author’s premise that feminists are totally at fault for the decline of men. Yes, feminism has undermined the traditional role of men in insinuating that their role was no longer necessary and that the family structure was outdated. Yes, feminism’s angry demands that men have no say in abortion and that they abandon their offspring has resulted in many men standing helplessly by while women eliminate their children in abortion clinics. And yes, yes, feminists have made a lot of angry demands on men. But that is a ridiculously poor excuse for hoisting the white flag and saying, “Yes, Betty Friedan. As you say.”
Obviously, there is much the article ignores. The fact is that a generation of men has been compromised by pornography, in which real women cannot compete with airbrushed (and increasingly twisted) fantasy. It only mentions offhand but drastically underemphasizes the fact that more often than not, men are simply taking advantage of the Sexual Revolution to fulfill their desires without feeling any need to take responsibility (evidenced by the thousands of women abandoned outside abortion clinics to deal with the fallout of their “one night stand” with a modern Casanova.) And the fact is that if chivalry is truly dead, then men killed it (or at best, it was an assisted suicide.)
Does that seem harsh? Maybe it is. But at the end of the day, men stopped opening doors for women, whether or not it was by request. And a feminist glare can be countered with simple explanation: “No, ma’am, I don’t think you’re incapable of opening doors. That’s precisely what gives the gesture value. See, if you were unable to open a door, the gesture would be meaningless. However, because we both know you can, and I choose to do to it for you, it becomes a gesture of respect towards you as a person and as a woman.”
To say that men have been destroyed by feminist demands is to say, essentially, that they decided to obey them. It is to ignore the fact that men are simply being lazy—they don’t need to engage in marriage or commitment for sex anymore. In fact, sometimes they don’t even need a girl. And an abdication from our role in society hardly seems to be the right way to assert our super masculine manliness. The author of this column suggests that for this problem to be fixed, all women have to do is “surrender to their nature—their femininity—and let men surrender to theirs.” While I see where she’s coming from, I think that a woman suggesting that women try to be less successful so that men won’t feel so castrated is the most unintentionally scathing indictment of modern man I’ve ever read.
To reiterate—this is not to ignore the real problems the author highlights. And it’s not to blame men for everything. There’s plenty of blame to go around here. I just happen to think that if men try to be real men instead of waiting for women to pander to their insecurities and assure them that they really are all that, that might prove a bit more attractive to the “femininity” in today’s modern woman than the patronizing solution being suggested here.
You want to prove you’re a man? Step up to the plate, and stop whining that you need respect. Earn it.