When I was writing the End of Men I mulled over many reasons why men in certain segments of society were dropping out of work and family life: the end of the manufacturing era, the housing crisis, their unwillingness to get a college degree. I talked to hundreds of men and pondered their stuckness, their general sense that they were ill equipped for the modern economy and didn’t quite know how to fix that. I arrived at an imperfect explanation that men were suffering from some kind of “masculine mystique,” trapped in an all too narrow set of social roles which were no longer serving them well. What I did not consider was that the true and complete answer was right under my nose, or more precisely, all over my face, staring back at me from the mirror. The reason men could not move forward was ME.
I am angry. I am angry and resentful. I am angry and defensive and resentful and men do not find that attractive. The worst part is, I did not even know that until I read it in a FOX news story called “The War on Men” written by Suzanne Venker, niece of and frequent collaborator with Phyllis Schlafly. This story has been very popular on the site for many days because it explains so much, so many dynamics that Schlafly tried to make us understand during the course of her long and patient career but which apparently are even more true today.
Venker’s jumping off point is a Pew study showing that the share of women ages 18 to 34 claiming a successful marriage is “one of the most important things in their lives” has risen since 1997 from 28 percent to 37 percent, while the share of men saying the same has dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent. At the same time, women have become more ambitious than men. Two-thirds of young women ages 18 to 34 rate career high on their list of life priorities, compared with 59 percent of young men. You might wonder, what do these nice young men now give a shit about, if its not family or work? (Halo 4 was not on the list). But this is not where Venker went with it.
But what if the dearth of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is – hold on to your seats – women’s fault? ... After decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.
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.
I knew that women had become more educated. I knew they were steadily earning more money. I knew they had gained a lot of power of late, and sometimes even more money and power than the men around them. But I did not realize they had become so powerful that they could mess with the men’s DNA. How did I miss that? How has J.J. Abrams not made a movie about it?
Unfortunately, Venker is somewhat enigmatic about how to reverse this problem, beyond a few vague clues. Women, she says, “have the power to turn everything around” (Duh, of course, we have ALL the power). “All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.” Surrender to my femininity. Surrender to my femininity. I get the general idea but what does it mean, like, in practice? Not wear pants so much? Let my hair grow. Ask my boss to pay me a little less? Open to ideas.