In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Race and Evolution | Main | Best-Ofs, 2007 Edition »

December 11, 2007

Gender Question

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

So now it's official American government policy to castrate young males?

The poster in the photo reminds me of a question that I've puzzled over for a long time. If my experience is any indicator, our educational system is currently turning out hordes of competent, bossy (er, confident), and pulled-together young women. (Uninhibited -- or at least strangers to shame -- too.) Meanwhile, the new young men emerging from high-powered schools seem sheepish, beat-up, and confused about how they might make any kind of contribution. In other words, the post-'70s feminist effect on American education has been to "empower" girls at the expense of boys.

But ... Well, has this been a wise policy? After all, by the age of 35 most of these dynamic, driven young women are going to want to have babies. Which will probably mean that many of them will be easing at least partway out of the workforce. Which in turn will leave America's public business in the hands of a generation of men who lack any sense that they're entitled to fight and lead. Is this a development that will work out for the general social good?



posted by Michael at December 11, 2007


That poster that says, "Respect Women" was issued by the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. It seems like a bit of an exaggeration to describe this as an attempt at castration and compared to some of their other rather grotesque posters (featuring the pummeled, bruised faces of dv victims), I can't say I find this concept (along with teaching your sons to do their homework & eat their veggies, also teach them it's a bad idea to punch out their girlfriend) particularly offensive.

As far as the sheepish, confused boys go - it seems to me that every generation features a lot of bellyaching from the old guard about these soft, effeminate boys we're turning out - I remember much of it from my elders saying it about those wussy long-haired hippies. I didn't care for them either, but I have to admit that all the concern was way overblown - most of these wussy, stoned, long-haired hippies grew up, became productive, and American business & innovation did not collapse. Same for the shempy, grungy slackers of the 80's & 90's. Quite the contrary.

Schools turn out dynamic, entrepreneurial young men every year. I would submit that a man who is rendered helpless & sheepish by the presence of high-achieving young women is also likely to feel this way in the presence of fellow men who outshine him & is so innately meek that he is unlikely to have "fought & led" in any environment where anyone exists that is not even meeker than he is.

Posted by: Greg on December 11, 2007 1:59 PM

You have a point. Greg has a point.

However, I would suggest that the correction for the problem is to pep up to confidence and energy levels of our young men, rather than deflate the young women so the men don't look so bad. Although, a little less bossiness would certainly be OK with me.

However, given the state of American industry,other than hedge funds, I would say that the traditional "fight and lead" males in America didn't exactly prove themselves to be rocket scientists---or, only for their own pocketbooks, not for "American industry."

Posted by: annette on December 11, 2007 2:11 PM

Greg - It *was* a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a deliberate exaggeration. Actually it was an example of "reactive" rather than "reasoned" speech. The argument part comes in the following paragraphs. Besides, the boy in the poster is, what, 12 years old? He's not exactly on the verge of abusing his wife. But you've got a lot of good points, of course. I'll venture a few observations for the sake of continuing the discussion. For one, hippie boys were fantastically "entitled" as males -- that was part of what set off the '70s feminist movement in the first place, the feeling a lot of women had that the lefty guys were helping themselves to all the goodies. As for the Xers ... I dunno, I haven't seen many of them take charge of much of anything yet. They seem to specialize in razzing the Boomers -- I can't figure out what else they do with themselves. But it could well be that the Yer guys will step up to the plate when the time comes, as you say. I wonder though if the more dynamic Yer guys don't just skip school (or drop out) entirely. So maybe if there'll be male leadership around, it won't come from the college crowd. Hmm.

Annette -- Yeah, no reason to tear down the gals, of course. I often *like* competent, dynamic women, and god knows I'm thrilled that the era of the whiney diva-martyr Boomer career woman seems to be coming to an end. Still, these shapeless, mumbling young guys with bed-heads full of videogames seem pretty pathetic, don't they?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 11, 2007 2:12 PM

You make this sound like an economic argument (women leaving the workforce to have babies). And I hate to second-guess you, but there's a lot of feeling in the first paragraph that has little to do with economics. Is your image of today's young women really a bunch of shameless bossy ball-busters?

I just don't see it. I think it's great that my women friends can make choices about their own life. Yeah, there's a conflict when it comes to parenting, but lots of people seem to be able to handle it. Who are the women and men that you base this on? I hope they're not just the ones on YouTube.

Posted by: JW on December 11, 2007 2:16 PM

Given the way that terms like "bitch" and "ho" are tossed around in the media culture as well as my daughter's middle school, I don't find a poster like this particularly offensive either. It's obviously aimed at parents, many of whom apparently aren't doing that great a job at policing their sons' language and attitudes.

Posted by: Steve on December 11, 2007 2:39 PM

That photograph was badly chosen. Can't find anything wrong with the intended message, though.

This is especially bizarre: "The argument part comes in the following paragraphs. Besides, the boy in the poster is, what, 12 years old? He's not exactly on the verge of abusing his wife."

Huh? 12 year olds are not on the verge of doing anything very serious. We still teach them not to lie, cheat, or steal, and generally to respect other people, because we believe (and maybe this is the result of a liberal conspiracy) that this affects attitudes later in life.

Posted by: BP on December 11, 2007 2:49 PM

JW -- Sorry, I'm not following your point. I got lost when you started trying to read between the lines. My argument's pretty simple. It goes this way: We seem to be creating a class of confident leaders (ie., young women) who are likely to work fulltime for a very limited period of time, namely up until they start having babies. We also seem to have created a class of rather inept and sheepish followers (ie., young guys) who will then be taking over the reins of public affairs. Is this likely to work out well?

Steve -- If so, it's interesting that it has come to a point where parents should be thought by the officials to need this kind of hectoring -- and that, when an official bureaucracy indulges in this kind of hectoring, no one should protest.

BP -- My comment about the age of the kid was a response to Greg's point about domestic abuse. The kid in the poster isn't on the verge of abusing a wife. He's too young for a wife. He's just a 12 year old in a sweatshirt. Meanwhile the poster (or the people behind the poster) seems convinced that every male is this far from becoming a gang-rapist, and is in near-desperate need of having a lot of fingers wagged in his face. It even seems like counterproductive psychology to me. Treat a kid like a crisis-about-to-happen and he'll be twice as likely to become a crisis, or so says my experience. Incidentally, one reason young boys act out a lot of "ho" and "bitch" fantasies, it seems to me, is precisely because they've been de-manned. Traditional forms of masculinity have been taken from them, and they've reacted by embracing cartoon exaggerations of masculinity. And I don't know about you guys but I hear "ho" and "bitch" coming as much these days from young women (who seem to find the words a hoot) as from young guys. They seem to get a kick out of the term "slut" as well.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 11, 2007 3:09 PM

In contemporary TV dramas, if you can stand to watch them, have you noticed that the women always initiate the sexual action, they're always the aggressors and most important, they're always on top. Then they quickly dismount in a huff. It seems that women do need men like a fish needs a bycicle, occasionally.

Posted by: ricpic on December 11, 2007 3:24 PM

MB, could you explain in more detail what you mean by "traditional forms of masculinity"?

You also still haven't explained how teaching a 12 year old to respect women is different from teaching a 12 year old any other basic moral value. It's not treating him as a "crisis waiting to happen," any more than teaching him to respect other people's property is treating him like he might be about to go rob people.

Posted by: BP on December 11, 2007 3:35 PM

Ricpic---only on TV dramas.

Posted by: annette on December 11, 2007 4:19 PM

I don't see this poster as treating boys like wife abusers or gang rapists. I see it as reminding parents to raise boys to be socially responsible.

Nannyish to be sure, and probably not very effective. Still, I know a few parents who could use reminding. On the scale of government outrages, this one doesn't register for me.

Posted by: Steve on December 11, 2007 4:30 PM

None of this socialization of girls to, ah, confidence, and boys to submission, has any effect once the shambling, sheepish boys are out of the hands of the boy-hating educational establishment. Boys become men, and end up doing what men do, rising to the top of every status hierarchy in society. And girls become women, and do what women do. (I won't describe what it is that 'women do''s a fruitless discussion.)

The boys shambling about, heads hanging, hands in pockets, generally drooping, mumbling and duh-ing teir way through life actually resemble my generation of teenagers (think the movie 'Dazed and Confused', set, I believe, in 1976). And yet...we stopped stumbling about, started washing our hair...and ended up running the world, just the way guys always do. So will the current, seemingly hopeless generation of young males.

They'll take over running things. They won't be able to help it, because they'll be men, and men can't help it. It's in our blood.

Testosterone vincit omnia!

Posted by: PatrickH on December 11, 2007 4:40 PM

You've all missed the problems of this poster. First, women commit domestic violence just as much as men. Second, domestic violence is not the overwhelming problem that feminists claimed. They claimed this long before any meaningful statistics about DV existed. In other words, the DV campaign was a propaganda campaign intended to further the ambitions of feminist women by attacking men with guilt. Classic Bolshevism. In the broadest terms, Marxist feminists used this campaign as an attempt to destroy the traditional family.

In fact, the feminist campaign got it all backward. The environment in which DV really flourishes is in those famous, wondrous "blended" families. Divorce and remarriage up the ante in DV considerably. Feminists began this propaganda campaign by attacking the traditional nuclear family as a breeding ground of DV. The traditional nuclear family is by far the safest environment in terms of DV. I have seen this in stark relief in Woodstock, where women drag one man after another into their household, have children with more than one man and inflict this parade on their children.

The feminist campaign is the extension of the civil rights campaign that sought to portray white men as uniquely given to evil (as if slavery were invented by white men in the U.S.). Leftist ideology is now based entirely around this concept, although in the wake of the gay activist movement, the evil eye has been narrowed to include only white hetero men. (You can pretend to be gay and number yourself as "oppressed," even if your father is a wealthy doctor. I've seen it.)

Conversely, violence and aggression are actively encouraged by the left when the aggressors are women, blacks and gays. This is seen as justifiable revenge. The Jena controversy, in which the left is congratulating a group of young black thugs for stomping an unconscious white boy, illustrates this quite vividly.

Traditional masculinity... well that was my dad. Head of the family, teaches his sons self defense and a code of honor, teaches respect for women... etc.

The wimpification of white men in the U.S. is absolute and can be viewed at its most nefarious in college and pro football where white men are just about absent. Steve Sailer has tried to explain this in various ways, but attitude is really what is at the heart of this. White men have been beaten into passivity and guilt. Black men were encouraged to take revenge and to be proud of being the aggressor. White men are being trained to be pussies, in a brain dead campaign of “enlightenment.”

I have to say that the responses to this, minus what Michael has had to say, are big steaming piles of crap. Every one of you has been beaten up and indoctrinated with a hallucinatory pack of lies. If you are white, hetero and male… well, you’ve been taking this beating for 50 years. And, your responses are preprogrammed to win the favor of the education and corporate communities. Frankly, it’s hard to survive without being a toe-licking wimp if you live in places like Manhattan or any college town.

In Woodstock, white men still run the community, but they are a peculiar and loathsome breed… what would be called “race traitors” if they were black. They rise in position in proportion to their quotient of self-hatred and their willingness to advocating handing over everything to blacks, women and gays. This makes the relationships between men extremely dangerous, ugly and mendacious. Most men you meet are pretending to be motivated by lofty ideals instead of raw self interest. This makes them vicious liars.

It's time for white, hetero men to fight back. Particularly in leftist communities, it's long past time to tell leftist women to go fuck themselves, and to learn to fight back against black men. I’ve been doing this for some time. It’s a matter of respect.

White men in leftist communities now pride themselves on being self-denying saints, and simultaneously rooting for blacks, women and gays to fight like mad dogs for everything they can get.

One of the reasons I thank God for the entrance of my late wife, Myrna, into my life is that she saw this clearly for what it is and she set about driving away the no good leftist men and women who are playing out this sick game. The funny thing was that Myrna, an immigrant Filipina, believed (as almost all Filipinas do) that an American white man is the best kind of man in the world. And we are.

The wimped out self-denigration is in some ways the best example of why white hetero men are so damned superior. White hetero men have a conscience. You find little evidence of this anywhere else. And it’s being used against us by very clever, very dangerous, very evil people.

Get a clue, boys. Stop being saints. Stop priding yourself on your idiot enlightenment. If you’ve got one of those worthless women in your life, get rid of her immediately and find a woman who wants to take pride in a “traditional” man. I won’t kid you. There’s a price to be paid. I think it’s worth it.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on December 11, 2007 4:57 PM

Whew, that was some delusional, racist rant from Shouting Thomas. Is this clown someone MB has linked to approvingly in the past? I guess I'm in the wrong place.

Posted by: Steve on December 11, 2007 5:09 PM

Note Steve's tactics. Be prepared to face assholes like this.

Nothing to do but to tell them to go fuck themselves.

Go fuck yourself, Steve.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on December 11, 2007 5:25 PM

"They seem to specialize in razzing the Boomers -- I can't figure out what else they do with themselves."

Isn't that enough?

A lot of this is just on the surface. Boys appear to defer to women, but I don't think they really do. And the aggressive women you describe may appear to be leading, but often I've seen that they're very dependent underneath it.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on December 11, 2007 5:35 PM

Before the "racist, sexist and homophobic" idiots descend en masse, men, here's a few things to consider.

1. A gay man introduced me to the writings of Warren Farrell, and insisted that I learn the realities of DV. He did this because (believe it or not) he loves me. You might be surprised to know what defines a man as gay is the fact that he can love other men. This man struggled with me for years to pull me out of the insane self-abnegation I was taught in college and in San Francisco, New York City and Woodstock.

So, the hell with the screamers. You'll find gay men for friends who don't play the left's insane game, and they are better people to know.

2. The incarceration rates for black men have skyrocketed during the era of white guilt. There is a one to one relationship here. White men have made themselves weak and defenseless. This invites attack. We are animals and the realities of the sandbox never disappear.

If you fight back against black men (that is, if any are actually in your life), you will find yourself, once again, associating with an entirely different kind of black men. This may seem contradictory, but the willingness to fight back enables me to play music in almost entirely black clubs and to play basketball in an almost entirely black gym.

The defenselessness of white men has been a devastating negative for black men. It's part of the reason so many black men are in jail.

3. The greatest feminist myth is that women who don't subscribe to their Marxist campaign are helpless, lower class, stupid women. This is complete nonsense. Drive the crazy leftist women out of your life and you will discover a wealth of traditional, religious women out there who make a good living, operate fearlessly in this world and are great in bed.

In other words, screamers, everything you have to say is a lie.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on December 11, 2007 6:06 PM

"...a big pile of steaming crap..."

I appreciate that phrase. It's got gusto.

I'm not quite sure what this thread is about but one thing I do know is that the Left is sick unto death and is hellbent on dragging the rest of us into the black hole it has dug.
I also know that when Man starts down a road He has to follow it to the bitter end: witness the communist horror.
When you put those two facts together they add up to the fact that we have entered a Time Of Troubles and that it will get worse, much worse, before it gets better. In other words the insanity will have to play out to the bitter end.
What do you do in the time between now and the time when nature starts to right itself? I'm sure ST, being a fighter, would dissaprove, but I think the only thing you can do is pass on the traditional verities (which include the traditional roles for the sexes) to your children if you have children, be a good example and don't give in to the lie, ever.

Posted by: ricpic on December 11, 2007 7:28 PM

A propos of nothing, I've rarely seen a debate on masculinity where the left-winger didn't first deny the concept, and then insult the right-winger for being deficient in it.

Carry on...

Posted by: Brian on December 11, 2007 7:42 PM

I don't see anything racist in any true sense of that word in what Shouting Thomas said in his first (or other) posts on this thread, Steve.

Instead I saw a very perceptive, if rather overheated (which isn't always bad) take down of unthinking leftist orthodoxy, of the kind that's far to prevalent today and far too little effectively challenged in our organs of propaganda (elite and many other colleges, many schools, Hollywood for the most part, and so on) - except in purely political journals and organs, or media debates, which is by far the least effective place to do so, for overall cultural effect.

I agree, Steve's knee jerk accusation and tactics above are loathsome.

Michael, you do indeed have a real point.

I'd simply add what ST obliquely refers to -- the post modernist leftist feminist culture underpinning (albeit at a low level of sophistication) so many of our public school teacher and esp. administrators and counselors, etc., these days 1) does undermine any specifically masculine self identity in young white boys; but that 2) I added the distinction of WHITE boys most intentionally.

I think a great deal of the attraction of rap and hip hop of various sorts among white boys (and girls) these days is because their masculinity cannot at all easily be directly challenged by this cultural marxist feminism.

Posted by: dougjnn on December 11, 2007 7:49 PM

I'm with you Shouting Thomas.

I'm white, I'm hetero and I don't give a damn. I don't treat women badly but I'll be damned if I'll let any woman pussy whip me. Furthermore, loosing my honour for a chance to get some sex is a no deal: I'll walk away.

In my experience no woman likes a man she can walk over. It's a paradox but it appears to be true. I like women; I like them a lot, and they're much more fun when they are intelligent and opinionated and classy. The classy ones also seem to like men that are men. It's as simple as that.

I don't believe in collective punishment and sure as hell don't believe in collective guilt. I didn't commit crimes against minorities or promote any hate and so when some minority member explains their continual under performance due to some injustice a hundred or so years ago, you know what, I don't give a damn. My family did it hard, they were the victims of ethnic cleansing, when my father came to this country he forgot about the past and got on with his future. But then again he had balls.

Posted by: Slumlord on December 11, 2007 7:50 PM

We have a son who is now in college and, in raising him, we never, ever, encouraged him to think of himself as "awaiting instructions." For philosophical reasons, we avoided that parenting style and, believe me, our son appreciates it. How anyone can think it is the government's business to encourage that style is utterly and completely beyond me. Verily, it is time for a revolution!

Posted by: Lester Hunt on December 11, 2007 8:49 PM

The gentlemen here are ranting; the ladies are demure. My father, a lawyer, used to tell me that lawyers who lost their temper in court would lose their case. I look at the timbre of these comments and think of cases lost. But he was born in 1895, and I in 1935, and these issues scarcely arose in our lives. Courtesy, civility, and some form of the Golden Rule served us well, and these were to be applied to both sexes.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on December 11, 2007 8:55 PM

Since there are so many hobby-horses loose in this debate, I might as well add my own. The real reason boys today are under threat isn't the presence of feminism in schools or public life, it's the absence of fathers in private life. Now, I'm aware that certain strands of feminism have inspired women to want to have children on their own, or in some instances to end basically good marriages because they were bored by their husbands - but that doesn't change the fact that many men have also given up their fatherly responsibilities. Or, increasingly, refused to take on any at all.

Posted by: alias clio on December 11, 2007 11:24 PM

Hollywood has become a cheerleader to this boyz to non-men trend. Movies and commercials portray young white males as bubble gummy (fat) slackers infatuated with video games, bongs, and gross humor -- while not just being immature, but actually waving the flag of immaturity proudly -- as a cause. A dose of this would be understandable, but a diet of it?

One would think some kids could start a movement by giving the finger to this Hollywood/corporate clown assignment. But there does not seem to be a rebellion. Street rap doesn't count; it is perfectly compatible to the mess with its rolex wearing, Cristal drinking consumeristic core. You can't have product placement at the revolution. And rap has many more problems than just that.

You think someone would rise up and ask the kids to seek something greater in and of themselves. Maybe even praise discipline just a bit. (All lefties plz insert Hitler Youth comments here) They've been handed a great inheritance, squandering it is worse than a crime.

Posted by: sN on December 12, 2007 2:00 AM

Hey-- to Michael's swipe at the Xers--

"As for the Xers ... I dunno, I haven't seen many of them take charge of much of anything yet. They seem to specialize in razzing the Boomers -- I can't figure out what else they do with themselves."

Sorry to disturb you during naptime but we've taken charge of everything. We're the operational management guys-- boys 'n girls both. We're the captains and majors and colonels of society.

We didn't inherit much of a legacy either. But let's not go there, shall we? We'll just get on with it and we'll let you get back to your nap, mkay?

Posted by: Ex-pat in Dubai on December 12, 2007 5:39 AM

I don't know what to say about Shouting Thomas' initial post except that I laughed in derision when I read. A bunch of overheated generalities about nothing. I lost 5 minutes of my life reading it. DV by women is as common as DV by men? Uh-huh. Brilliant stuff.

More seriously, I want to pick up on what alias clio said. I think it's a really interesting question whether feminism is partly or primarily a response to what Barbara Ehrenreich termed "men's liberation" - the flight of men from traditional male commitments such as family, marriage, economic support of children, etc.

Posted by: jult52 on December 12, 2007 5:43 AM

Someone above mentioned this sounds like an economic effect, or that it's being couched as one; I vote for the economic case.

If men seem less manly today, maybe that's because we've devalued the kinds of work men used to take pride in---the tough, physical jobs that are by no means brainless labor, but which any man can master with practice.

Whatever such work we can't outource to men in other countries, we now offer at cut-rate pay to foriegn men we import. What's left for our own men? The tamest service and retail jobs, and various white-collar functionary positions; basically, we get to shift the paper and money around that gets generated by the real work done elsewhere in the world.

This is my life. I'm a 37yo white male university public relations officer. The last job I held requiring any physical skill and effort was a stint, right out of college, climbing trees and banding baby birds for a state wildlife agency. I loved that, of course, but you could not say that I was actually producing much work of economic value. I was playing in trees and spending your money.

Where am I going with this? Manly work makes manly men. Who would argue that what men DO is not the lion's share of who we are? I am also a husband and a father, a brother and a son, and I value all those roles. But what a man does for a living is how the rest of the world measures him. If we devalue manly work, we devalue men.

Posted by: Matt Mullenix on December 12, 2007 8:18 AM

Men today, white men in particular, clearly don't seem particularly courageous and risk-taking in a physical sense. For every man who, for instance, engages in a potentially hazardous "extreme" sport, there are many others who do nothing more physical than watch the game on TV while sucking down vast amounts of beer, nachos and chicken wings. This is not good. On the other hand, Patrick H's prior comment pretty well nailed things - men continue to run the show, so to speak. What this means is that deplorable as the decline in what I'll call the physical life of men may be, it hasn't yet changed the fundamental order of things.

Posted by: Peter on December 12, 2007 9:20 AM

The boomer feminists aren't to blame for the feminization of the American male-the boomer "men" are.

The "equal partnership" in modern American marriages has led to the blending (or blurring) of traditional roles, and I see it manifested every weekend at Starbucks, with the male hausfraus herding the children while mommy does her own thing, which in this case is usually riding the Stairmaster at the Y with their girlfriends. I see the jealousy in these poor guys' eyes-who is this middle-aged gorilla lounging over coffee and the paper, no ring or kids, chatting with the regulars or enjoying the company of that cute redhead? Where does he get the audacity to bust the mayor's balls about city business? Why does it seem that he's always laying a verbal beat-down on that loudmouthed liberal lawyer from San Francisco?

To paraphrase James Carville, it's the parents, stupid. My parents have lived together for 52 years now, raising 5 sons ranging in age from 50 to 29, and instilling in us that respect for others only comes from respect for ourselves. Said cute redhead has remarked that I was brought up correctly; this proves her to be a traitor to the modern Sisterhood because she expects doors to be held for her! My dad respected my mom as well as loving her, and it's only natural that the behaviors have stuck.

Fast forward 30-odd years, and we live in an entirely different culture. The free love/multiple marriage lifestyles of the boomers, aided by the MSM's promugation of the hip hop/welfare/ebonic/smack dat ho culture, has not led to "options" for their children, but instead "hooking up" in serial sexual relationships. I don't think any right-thinking parent brings their little girl up to be, in the nasty vernacular of the New Millennium, a "cum-dumpster", but if the reports from my nephew on the front lines at college are any indication, that's precisely what they are. Why do we wonder that boys now have to be told to respect girls? Are these girls "empowered" by their sexual experimentation, leading to healthy ideas about sex and relationships?

Shouting Thomas, you write of Woodstock, but here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts any old burg will put the idiocies of your home town to shame. My tiny city of 40,000 souls has a human right commission, fer God's sake! It's peopled with moonbats of the first water, and like you, I get to observe donkius liberalis in its natural habitat. One of these modern dad guys, the neighbor of a friend, was getting coffee last summer with his daughter, an adorable little pixie of about 3. He had her proudly attired in a Che Guevara t-shirt! He got a little pissy when I asked him if her Stalin shirt was in the wash, but being the good modern wussie, he slunk out the door to the laughter he so richly deserved!

Posted by: Brutus on December 12, 2007 10:21 AM

Whee, the passions! Fun to watch conversations like these catch fire.

One quick host-of-the-party request? Let's all cut each other a little slack, left and right alike. Gabbing at a blog isn't formal academic debate, and thank god for it. If elements of sounding-off, unloading, exasperation, and dramatic/comic hyperbole crop up, before attacking let's first make an effort to enjoy and appreciate it. (It's called "eloquence," folks.) Then, if we really feel called to do so, have at it. But it's far more fun to make room for emotional expression than it is to be "critical," let alone "censuring." It leads to a more lively discussion, for one thing. For another thing, a lot of what we're discussing is emotional experience ("what it's like to be a guy today," etc), so it only makes sense to welcome some emotionality into the discussion about it. Nothing wrong with organized thinking and reasoned debate either, of course. But there's room enough -- both in the world and at this blog -- for a variety of forms of expression. Let's all try to appreciate that fact. And if we occasionally forget that fact, well, that's OK too. But cheeriness and appreciation are definitely encouraged around here as a first line of behavior.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 10:51 AM

2. The incarceration rates for black men have skyrocketed during the era of white guilt. There is a one to one relationship here. White men have made themselves weak and defenseless. This invites attack. We are animals and the realities of the sandbox never disappear.

If you fight back against black men (that is, if any are actually in your life), you will find yourself, once again, associating with an entirely different kind of black men. This may seem contradictory, but the willingness to fight back enables me to play music in almost entirely black clubs and to play basketball in an almost entirely black gym.

The defenselessness of white men has been a devastating negative for black men. It's part of the reason so many black men are in jail.

Shouting Thomas just made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. What you're saying here is, apparently, that we (white men) would be more manly if we'd do more fighting and getting ourselves put in jail.

And Michael, isn't it Xer and Yer males who I keep seeing on the covers of magazines having made all the money developing things like Napster, YouTube and Google? I understand that this computer stuff isn't "manly work," and is therefore devaluing actual men who fight and get put in jail, but still, we are making a living.

Posted by: i, squub on December 12, 2007 10:55 AM

BP -- Sure. Think of what used to be called "courtship." The traditional dance of courtship (however rasty it often got) provided gals and guys with ways of approaching each other, enjoying each other, and testing out what a relationship might be like. But (for a variety of reasons, feminism among them) trad-style courtship has been tossed in the wastebin. So what has become of the fact that gals and guys are still gonna try to get together? The whole frenetic, hooking-up, spring-break, get-plastered-and-screw thing, and the "game" thing that Roissy writes about. It's every man and gal for him/herself, with no help from traditional forms. Another example might be patriotism. Once upon a time, straight square guys could straightforwardly, squarely root for their country. They had books, shows, movies, and songs to pour that energy into. These days patriotism has been made to seem evil, and John Wayne is dead. But those testosterone energies are going to come out anyway, no matter how much the schoolmarms try to scold it into nonexistence. The result is stuff like "300" -- a hyperbolic, fratboy, cartoon version of a "rooting for Western civ" culture-event.

The remake-humanity utopian dreamers seem to think that a world where testosterone is completely suppressed is a possibility. Note the words on the sweatshirt of the kid in the poster I linked to: "Awaiting instructions." If that isn't an expression of scoldy, blank-slate dreaming, I don't know what is. But experience suggests (and evo-bio is proving) that genes, hormones, and drives will out no matter what. So it seems to me that we'd be far better off letting go of the blank-slate dream, and valuing constructive rather than destructive expressions of energies that are gonna express themselves anyway. Try to suppress them and they'll go berserk. Allow for (and respect) time-tested constructive ways of expression, and most guys will make the honorable choice. The real choice isn't between "everyone being a safe eunuch" and "fascism." The real choice is between John Wayne (manly, quiet, dignified) and "300" (frenentic, cartoonish, out of control).

Ex-pat in Dubai -- Hey, thanks for providing such an apt example of the kind of clueless razzing I was talking about! Sorry to hear you find being born into Western civ such a burden, by the way. Me, whatever my misgivings, I sort of appreciate hot and cold running water, modern dentistry, and a slowly-inching-upwards income. Oh, I like movies a lot too.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 11:06 AM

I, Squub -- Yeah, it's a good point. I have the impression though that, while some Y guys are indeed finding ways to prevail and hit it huuuuuge, the Xers are already a spent force. At least in my lib-arts business that's clearly the case. "Attitude" and "razzing the boomers" both seem to have had their moment, leaving the Xers adrift, caught between the self-important, running-the-world Boomers on the one hand and the cheery "we were born with computers"/ "we have a ton of great ideas" Yers.

In any case, the gold ring seems to be being passed directly from Boomers to Yers. And the Xers I see seem plenty bitter to be waking up to that fact! Exceptions (as ever in making Huge Generalizations) allowed for, of course.

What are you noticing about how the Xers and Yers are doing in your neck of the woods?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 11:17 AM

My goodness...this is a passionate subject, huh?

And, for all the talk, I do think Michael's basic point about wishy-washy, mumbling, uncertain young men seems evident all around us---it's just a fact. We did remove a lot of the traditional male role models and road signs and didn't replace them with anything except "no matter what you do you probably will (a) get it wrong or (b) get screwed over anyway by a group with more entitlement." The women who were busy insisting on their oppression and getting candidates elected over the last 30 years certainly did not prove themselves to be kinder, wiser or gentler leaders than the men they (sometimes rightly) railed against. It's like FOX News---they didn't want "unbiased" reporting---they wanted right-leaning reporting. They didn't mind the bias, they just wanted the story to be their own. People don't really mind that someone is entitled, as long as its them!!! It's true over and over again.

BTW---the biggest problem I have with Michael's original poster is that it really doesn't address the "problem." If Johnny in the poster is seeing an engaged father figure who is responsible, in all likelihood, Johnny will be, too. If Johnny is watching Daddy get drunk and slug mommy, then all the posters in the world talking about "respecting women" will likely not counter that day-to-day example. Johnny is not "awaiting instructions"---not by the age of 12. He's already gotten plenty, from the examples right in front of him.

Posted by: annette on December 12, 2007 11:47 AM

Michael, when Doug Coupland introduced the term "Gen-X", he intended it for people born between approximately 1962-68 - tail-end baby-boomers, in other words. I think that's probably what you mean, but am not sure. If I'm right, then the important fact to remember about that group (full disclosure: it's my age cohort), is that there were so many of them in comparison to the early Baby Boom group, and in comparison to the next large age cohort to hit the job market.

Most other comments on the generations are mere generalization with not much substance, but the economic truth about Gen-X is that it was caught between the early Boomer group who blocked the advancement of their juniors at every turn, and the massive decline in the birth-rate whose effects began to be felt as Gen-Xers entered the workforce.

The 1980s were (after 1982) a time of economic expansion, but only in certain regions and certain industries. For me and my friends, that was a rough decade of short-term jobs and limited prospects. Remember how high interest rates were? Nobody got married because nobody could afford to buy a house. I didn't even know any married people of my own age, as I've said elsewhere, until I was in my 30s.

Posted by: alias clio on December 12, 2007 12:19 PM

Maybe I'm a touch sensitive, or maybe it's the fact that the post follows mine, but was that niceness screed directed at me, MB?

"A new international poll, taken in 14 countries, asked: "Which do you regard as more important-free speech or social harmony?" Response: 56% said free speech, but a full 44% favor social harmony."
-The Boston Herald 12/12/07

Count me among the 56%.

Leaving aside the respect for others opinions, Twain, Menecken and me don't let the pusillanimous among us get in the way of expressing ourselves. A "respect for others" warning is not something I'd expect from someone continually linking to Roissy's site!

Posted by: Brutus on December 12, 2007 12:56 PM

Annette -- Always interesting to see real feelings surface, isn't it? That's a great point about the poster too.

Clio -- FWIW, and whatever the encyclopedia definition is, for people in the media biz the cohorts informally divide into Boomers (60 down to upper 40s), the Xers (mid-lower 40s down to early-mid 30s), and Yers (25 and younger). (I feel a little sorry for the people who fall into the cracks!) For cliche purposes, Boomers are the National Lampoon bunch, Xers are the Ben Stiller/Winona Ryder crowd, and Yers are Web 2.0. Subtleties go completely unrecognized. My own bunch, for instance, is Boomers-who-came- after-the-fun years, but we never get talked about. We arrived in college as the final hippies were leaving and left just as the '80s sharks were starting to show up. We arrived on the job market during the worst recession since the Depression (ie., mid-'70s), and we had our little moment in the pop-culture sun with punk. But we were very aware even at the time that when the media went on about "the Boomers," they weren't talking about us, who were stuck with stagflation and trashed campuses. They were talking about our older siblings, the ones who'd rebelled, torn down curricula, and then helped themselves to all the groovy jobs. Incidentally (small but fond bit of kidding here) don't Xers ever tire of going on about how tough things were for them? The '80s were an era of rather dramatic economic recovery, after all. All eras have their challenges, of course. But arriving on the job market during a boom is hardly the worst fate a generation has had to face.

Brutus -- No, the timing was odd. I loved your comment, I was just making a kind of general announcement. I'm all in favor of vervey and stinging expression, btw. It's the reflexive angry-snapping-back that sometimes follows that could often be moderated. Taking a long deep breath before hitting the "post" button is often a good idea, don't you think? But no I wasn't responding to your comment at all.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 2:24 PM

"A new international poll, taken in 14 countries, asked: "Which do you regard as more important-free speech or social harmony?" Response: 56% said free speech, but a full 44% favor social harmony."
-The Boston Herald 12/12/07

That Boston Herald question is bogus. I believe in both: free speech, and social harmony.

The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand-in-hand. Without free speech, there is no social harmony - only social intimidation.

EU countries proscribe free speech, and get very little social harmony in return. Same in Canada, if you're following the Steyn affair.

Posted by: PA on December 12, 2007 2:34 PM

MB: "These days patriotism has been made to seem evil, and John Wayne is dead."

I think we've entered alternate-universe territory here. I don't know what planet you're living on Michael (planet Manhattan I guess), but based on my experience this isn't remotely true for 95% of the U.S. Patriotism is as prevalent and out in the open today as it has been since its resurgence in the 1980s. More so, in the days and months following 9/11. (Since then a nasty stupid war and nasty stupid leadership have taken some of sparkle away.)

John Wayne dignified? In some of his movies, I guess, though even back in the '40s and '50s he was a bit of a cartoon. In later years, he was shameless, an embarrassment (McQ anyone?). Would you say he was more manly, quiet and dignified than Cary Grant? Of course you would have to, given the absurd terms of your argument. But hey, guess what? There were different standards of masculinity, even back in the glory days of manhood! (When were those exactly?)

Side note: Digitization aside, "300" was no less frat-boy ersatz and frenetic than something like "Rambo II," from a quarter-century ago.

This whole "wussification" debate strikes me as clueless, bordering on demented. Talk to your dads and grand-dads. Every generation has been viewed as "wussy" compared to previous generations. Vietnam wasn't nearly as manly and dangerous as WWII, which wasn't nearly as macho as WWI. And now the GenYers fighting and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq are the wimpiest yet. Marlon Brando was one of the original wishy-washy mumblers. To a certain type of guy, the only real man is one who knows how to kill and skin a bear, you'd have to go back to the caveman to find the only honest man-woman courtship rituals, etc., etc.

Those time-tested modes of masculine expression and courtship? Newsflash: they change with the times. They were as different in Elizabethan England and the court of Louis XIV and the early American West as those periods and cultures are from today. Imagine, they even differed between classes and countries--just like today!

How about this: male/female relationships and standards of masculinity are ever-evolving and culture-based things? And somehow the species soldiers on, despite castrating admonitions like "respect women." Strangely, lots of these suppressed men in their '20s and '30s aren't going berserk. They somehow manage to hold down decent jobs and marry "aggressive" women and have kids. I know some of 'em. They strike me as quite manly. (But then I'm a leftist wuss, busily crushing the psyches of two sons.)

Posted by: Steve on December 12, 2007 3:12 PM

Steve -- I'm not sure why you raise Cary Grant in relation to a discussion of patriotism. And I'm impressed that your p-o-v is so grand that you can shrug at such developments as digitization (arguably one of the two or three biggest changes ever in the nature of the media) and the current almost 60-40 ratio of girls-to-guys at colleges. (First time in history!) To some of us, these seem like worth-taking-note-of phenomenona.

But - though I'm happy to agree that the Bushies have shown themselves to be a bunch of clowns -- I'm unsure what your point is. Patriotism plays the same role in official culture today as it did in, say, 1955? You gotta be kidding. Compare textbooks from the different eras. That today's young males are the same as young males have always been? Well, in the sense that they're young, dumb, and full of cum, sure. But they're also different -- as Annette and others have said in this thread, many people find the evidence all around us. Many of these young guys know perfectly well that they've had the "manliness" kicked out of them. There's a posting at the top of Roissy's blog right now that's sorta about the pussification of American life, and what a bitch it is to be a guy at such a time. Feel free to close your eyes to all this. But it's not like it's a big secret to the rest of us.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 3:35 PM


Your response to the propoganda poster seemed a bit overwrought to me, too. Propoganda is always insulting, but this didn't seem much more so than the average.

There is a whole surrounding social structure that has gone away, which supported the old gender roles. My wife stays at home with the kids, and it's much harder now, I think, than it would have been 50 years ago. One reason is that most families around here have two incomes, so they bid up the prices of houses and everything else. Another reason is that we're a thousand miles from the nearest family member, so we don't have the kind of automatic support/playmates/babysitting that we might have had, if we'd stayed where either of us grew up.

And a lot of the traditional gender roles had plenty wrong with them. But we haven't quite worked out what to replace them with.

Posted by: albatross on December 12, 2007 3:40 PM

Er, your dates aren't wrong, exactly, Michael, but they're a little bit off. Here's a Wikipedia citation:

In the wake of the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis, stagflation began to afflict the economy of the United States. Unemployment had risen from 5.1% in January 1974 to a high of 9.0% in May 1975. Although it had gradually declined to 5.6% by May 1979, unemployment began rising again thereafter. It jumped sharply to 6.9% in April 1980 and to 7.5% in May 1980. A mild recession from January to July 1980 kept unemployment high, but despite economic recovery unemployment remained at historically high levels (about 7.5%) through the end of 1981.[5] Inflation, which had averaged 3.2% annually in the post-war period, had more than doubled after the 1973 oil shock to a 7.7% annual rate. Inflation had reached 9.1% in 1975, the highest rate since 1947. Inflation declined to 5.8% the following year, but had edged higher. By 1979, inflation had reached a startling 11.3% and in 1980 soared to 13.5%.[6][1]

A brief recession occurred in 1980. Several key industries—including housing, steel manufacturing and automobile production—experienced a downturn (from which they did not recover through the end of the recession, in 1983). Many of the economic sectors that supplied these basic industries were also hard-hit.[7]

Determined to wring inflation out of the economy, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker slowed the rate of growth of the money supply and raised interest rates. The federal funds rate, which was about 11% in 1979, rose to 20% by June 1981. The prime interest rate, at the time a highly important economic measure, eventually reached 21.5% in June 1982.[2][8]

Which sounds worse to you - the mid-1970s or the 1980s? Who can start a business or buy a house with interest rates at 21.5%? The recovery didn't have much impact on younger workers, unless they had degrees in information technology or business. I tried to go that route, but my talents didn't appear to lie in that direction. Also, the recovery took several years longer in Canada, thanks to our government's policies.

Posted by: alias clio on December 12, 2007 3:58 PM

Way to set up some straw men and try to change the subject there Michael. My reference to Cary Grant was clearly in reference to your setting up John Wayne as a manly gold standard. And that goes to my larger point as well: the minute you move beyond vague generalities about what wusses young men today are and have to actually define "manliness" (John Wayne! He's manly!), your argument falls apart. John Wayne wasn't the only ideal male figure, even 50 years ago. Or 100 years or 300 years ago.

"I'm unsure what your point is" Hey, look, I included a handy thesis sentence! "Male/female relationships and standards of masculinity are ever-evolving and culture-based things." And previous generations have always derided later generations' standards of masculinity.

Posted by: Steve on December 12, 2007 4:07 PM

Even if it's true that there's a girls-to-guys ratio of 60:40 in colleges today (is it really that high?), I just don't see it as downfall of Modern Man. Male college students are more likely to be studying marketable subjects, while females predominate in the fluff departments. In any event, men have a much better ability to earn decent livings without college (esp. in the skilled trades) than do women.

Posted by: Peter on December 12, 2007 4:15 PM

Incidentally, it's amusing how the insult terminology has become more debased over the years. Today it's "pussies." A few decades ago it was "sissies" and "pansies." Previously it was "Momma's boys" and "pantywaists."

Also, it's telling that Michael uses 1955 and John Wayne as his ideals. Older generations always point to their era or their parents' era as embodying the values to which we should all aspire. Self-hating Boomers currently look to their parents' era, but that'll probably change as they get older.

Posted by: Steve on December 12, 2007 4:27 PM

PA-I defer to Heinlein about free speech and social harmony-who decides what's "free"?

For me, I do.

Posted by: Brutus on December 12, 2007 4:50 PM

Albatross -- What I guess you see as "overwrought" I put there as "comic exaggeration." But whatever the case, I think all your points are right on the money, tks.

Clio -- Interesting to learn that Canada's recovery came along a few years after the US's, but the Wikipedia excerpt you include seems to confirm my account. Namely, that economically the '70s sucked; that in the early '80s, after Reagan and Volcker tightened belts, the economy shot up. In other words, the '70s were a decade of unbudgeable stagflation, and the '80s were (after a couple of years of pain) a decade of dramatic recovery. You guys had a couple of years of difficulties? (Namely '81 and '82.) Heck, me and my friends had an entire decade of 'em! (Oil embargo in '73 to the Reagan recovery of '83.) Reagan was elected, after all, to put an end to "the '70s."

Steve -- Is there a mirror around? Can I suggest you take a brief look in it? You talk about me having John Wayne as "an ideal," yet accuse me of setting up straw men. (John Wayne is no ideal of mine. His persona and his movies do make a nice contrast to "300," though.) You claim to dislike name-calling yet throw around terms like "self-hating." There's this little thing called "projection" that you might want to take a look into too.

Peter -- Yeah, I suspect you're right. A lot of the more driven and focused guys are coming out of tech fields, or maybe just bypass school entirely. Doesn't make 'em any less bed-heady, though, does it?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 5:22 PM

You wrote that Wayne was "manly, quiet, dignified." Obviously I'm crazy for thinking that you hold him up as an ideal.

I can understand you not wanting to engage my arguments, Michael, but denying what you actually wrote doesn't really work on a comment board.

Posted by: Steve on December 12, 2007 5:37 PM

Steve -- You really do specialize in reading a lot into what's on the screen and then arguing with what you imagine you've read!

So far as John Wayne goes, I wasn't voicing personal opinions or preferences. I was contrasting one way of expressing testosterone (formal, traditional) with another (frenzied, cartoonish), and I was doing so in the context of a discussion about testosterone and patriotism. None of it's got anything to do with me or with my ideals. (I'm not hugely patriotic, at least not in the team-spirit sense, and I've never been much of a John Wayne fan. My testosterone tends to steer me more more in the direction of art and topless beaches.) But many guys do have a strong drive to 1) feel like a good guy and 2) root for the good guys. Deny 'em a dignified way of expressing this drive and they'll turn to undignified (and maybe even destructive) ways of expressing it.

Your example of Bush and the Iraq War is a good one, I think. As you note, there's a lot of "rooting for our team come hell or high water" going on. It's stupid and crude, but I don't think it's bad-natured. I could be wrong, but I think that a lot of the cheerleading that's going on is happening because a lot of guys feel that America doesn't give them much else to cheer for, let alone many chances to cheer and wave flags. (And many guys want to be able to do that.) Perhaps if they did have more chances to feel good about themselves, their drives, and their homeland, they could cheer for their team and wave flags but wouldn't feel compelled to act so defiant and stupid when it comes to boondoggles like Iraq. But I don't think such a state of affairs is likely to come about if our government continues to treat boys as wife-beaters-in-the-making.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 5:54 PM

Men of any and every generation look down on "youth". I mean, think about it. We're men. They're boys. Boys are wussier than men. Their faces are smooth and not-too-hairy; their hair isn't dry as brush, or just plain gone; their voices are high and piping; and their eyes still carry the shock of realizing they are moving into a world that doesn't give a damn whether they live or die.

Of course the kids today are pussies compared to us men now! But are they are any pussier than we were when we were "youths"? It's like comparing apples with, well, young green apples, I guess. Give'em time. They'll toughen up.

And the peak of the Boomers, demographically speaking, is that cohort that came of age in the seventies, not the eighties, even the early ones. My birth year, 1957, is, I believe, the absolute height of Boomer birthedness. My gen doesn't have a letter! We're so out of it, we don't even have a name! We're the real Boomers, and we don't even have that!

Gawd. I remember Stiv Bators masturbating with a microphone circa 1976, while screaming, "We're the Blank Generation, and we got nothing to say!"

We do, of course. But I understood then, and still understand now, that nihilistic sentiment, in a way that 60s (faux) Boomers never will.

Posted by: PatrickH on December 12, 2007 5:56 PM

Michael, for a guy who seems to pride himself on his openness to freewheeling commentary, you have a really maddening way of dancing around, ignoring, and distorting opposing arguments. Let's roll tape on what you actually wrote before:

"Allow for (and respect) time-tested constructive ways of expression, and most guys will make the honorable choice. The real choice isn't between "everyone being a safe eunuch" and "fascism." The real choice is between John Wayne (manly, quiet, dignified) and "300" (frenentic, cartoonish, out of control)."

Gee, sounds to me like you're saying that Wayne represents a "constructive" model for young men and that emulating him will result in them making "the honorable choice." Note that "dignified," "constructive" and "honorable" are not value-neutral terms, and I'm not imagining or distorting your association of them with Wayne. Hell, many of the other commenters here endorse these hearty retro values. Why try to weasel away from your appreciation of them?

I still don't know what to make of your repeated claims that patriotism is under some kind of assault in this country. I went to a Fourth of July celebration in our city of 100,000 that was an orgy of flag-waving and "proud to be an American." And it's enclaves like this where support for the war runs highest. Blaming war support on lack of opportunities for flag-waving (or castrating schoolmarms?) seems 180-degrees wrong to me.

Posted by: Steve on December 12, 2007 6:57 PM

Steve -- Sigh. Since you're determined to obsess over picky word-choice matters, back at ya ...

You said that I held John Wayne up as "an ideal." Your words. But I didn't hold John Wayne up as an ideal. I held his style of manliness up as an alternative to manliness expressed "300"-style. Earth to Steve: Saying "Here is a constrast. In my opinion, option one is more constructive than option two" is a looooonnnnnnng way from saying "Here is my personal ideal." You read the "ideal" thing into what I was saying, as you're reading much else into what I'm saying. Here's a comparison. Saying "Peanut butter is different than jelly and I like it better" doesn't tell anybody anything at all about what my "ideal" food is. Pork loin? Chick peas? No way of knowing.

The reason I'm making a point of dodging your arguments (nice catch!) is that they have nothing, or almost nothing, to do with what I'm saying, or have said. It's a way of trying to steer you back to dealing with what's actually been said instead of with what you imagine has been said. (It's an old debater's trick.) Interested as always in the tales and ideas you volunteer. But if you're going to try to lure me into arguing with you, I am going to respond by trying to get you focused on what my points actually are.

But I'm happy to give up trying if your preference is to carry on private arguments with whatever voice it is that you're carrying around in your own head, namely the one that continues saying "John Wayne is my ideal." Steve: That's a voice that you've created saying that. It ain't my voice.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 12, 2007 7:27 PM

To get back to the main subject, I think changes in male behavior are caused by internal motivations as well. I am convinced - and I think many of my GenX cohorts agree -- that older, more traditional men have disproportionately isolated, unhappy later lives. It's not a lifepath that I particularly admire or crave. In contrast, older women tend to be quite happy. These are generalities and there are plenty of exceptions of course but I think it is true in many cases.

Posted by: jult52 on December 13, 2007 3:49 AM

To Michael's observation:

"In any case, the gold ring seems to be being passed directly from Boomers to Yers. And the Xers I see seem plenty bitter to be waking up to that fact! Exceptions (as ever in making Huge Generalizations) allowed for, of course.

What are you noticing about how the Xers and Yers are doing in your neck of the woods?"

I'm not sure what the "lib arts biz" is, but I suspect it is far different from the media sector that I operate in. I think there are natural sympathies that extend from Boomers to Millenials and bypass Xers like me. That's fine. I follow Howe's Generational pop-sociology theory put forth back in the early 90s-- it really seemed, as much as any generalized approach like it can, to capture the emotional essence of the generational struggles. I believe Xers are fundamentally the reactive type of generation. Our values are necessarily different. Not better-- just with different perspectives. But I must admit the passive/aggressive commentary irks a bit.

Can you honestly tell me that an entire cohort is bitter and bitchy because we were too late for one party and too early for the next? We're the backbone now and we carry the load-- that's just demographics.

You must really work with a bunch of wussy Xers to have adopted this perspective. Take a trip beyond the confines of the "lib arts biz" and you may find most Xers just getting on with it. All the ones I know are less interested in what the Boomers have done or think than taking on the challenges of our own generation-- one that is increasingly wresting control from the dear ole darlings of the 60s & 70s...

Posted by: Ex-pat in Dubai on December 13, 2007 4:00 AM

Regarding John Wayne ... the Duke was an older man and nearing the end of his career by the time I was an adolescent, maybe things were different when he was at his peak, but neither I nor my friends regarded him as an ultra-masculine hero. He was instead a cartoonish, almost comical sort of character, not unlike Sylvester Stallone is today.

Posted by: Peter on December 13, 2007 10:28 AM

After all, by the age of 35 most of these dynamic, driven young women are going to want to have babies. Which will probably mean that many of them will be easing at least partway out of the workforce.
If they're lucky. Many will find, or indeed are already finding, that their marriage prospects, when they finally decide they are ready, are poor. These high status, high-achieving women usually aren't any more willing to marry down the status ladder than their mothers or grandmothers were. The more accomplished they are, the smaller their pool of acceptable mates, while the more accomplished a man, the larger his pool of acceptable mates. This confident, competent woman finds that after spending her 20s and early 30s making her fortune and playing the field, the few men in whom she would be interested are more eager to marry a 25 year-old teacher or nurse who is more attractive, more fertile, and possibly less jaded by years of failed relationships. So she may well not have children at all. To the extent that feminism has driven men out of school, it is in this sense doing women a grave disservice.

Posted by: Cyrus on December 13, 2007 7:57 PM

Cyrus: I wouldn't worry about these women, they'll be fine - according to this year's Current Population Survey, for example, women who have graduate degrees and/or top salaries are more likely to marry than their less accomplished sisters. Among 35- to 39-year-old women, for example, about 88% of these high flyers have already married. It's not surprising - high achievers tend to come from the middle class & up, where marriage is the norm, so they tend to incorporate marriage & kids into their plans and make time for them. As Kay Hymowitz wrote in Marriage & caste in America:

"One possible answer is especially pertinent to the Marriage Gap: educated women know that they’d better marry if they want their children to succeed academically, which increasingly is critical to succeeding in the labor market. The New Economy may have made single motherhood a workable arrangement for high-earning mothers in purely economic terms, but it made a husband a must-have in terms of child rearing. No one understands better than an Amherst or Stanford B.A. that her children will have to go to college one day—the bigger the college name, the better—if they are to keep their middle-class status. These women also understand how to get their kids college-bound. Educated, middle-class mothers tend to be dedicated to what I have called The Mission, the careful nurturing of their children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development, which, if all goes according to plan, will lead to the honor roll and a spot on the high school debate team, which will in turn lead to a good college, then perhaps a graduate or professional degree, which will all lead eventually to a fulfilling career, a big house in a posh suburb, and a sense of meaningful accomplishment."

Posted by: LT on December 13, 2007 9:44 PM

according to this year's Current Population Survey, for example, women who have graduate degrees and/or top salaries are more likely to marry than their less accomplished sisters.

While I concede that Moureen O'Dowd is an anomaly and a self-made caricature of the can't-find-a-man-and-is-bitter-about-it overpriced spinster, I do wonder if that survey compared apples to apples, in terms of race.

Posted by: PA on December 14, 2007 7:49 AM

when i first saw that poster i was taken aback, and i was filled with contempt for it. i still am. glad to see i'm not the only one.

Posted by: randy on December 21, 2007 4:23 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?