The End of Something

Disclaimer: For those who will willingly misunderstand this/quote me out of context let’s just be clear, the following is satire meant to mock society’s typical misunderstanding of feminism as only out for the rights of women (a misunderstanding subtly woven through the article I am responding to) and the ways in which our society remains patriarchal, even as women manage to gain power. I do not hate men, in fact, none of the feminists I know do… many of them even are men; intelligent, motivated, and successful men who would also roll their eyes at the premise of the Atlantic article I will now analyze.

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I would like to announce my retirement from feminist (or whatever the hell I am these days) blogging.  I just got the memo, via The Atlantic’s not at all hyperbolic piece entitled The End of Men… are you ready for the good news?! Women are now officially in control of America and, as such, there is no longer a need for feminism! Time to put down the protest signs & pick up a sandwich (lovingly prepared by a now-subservient man person, of course.) Except… wait a minute… maybe I should analyze the article a bit before commencing with the feasting. You know, for old times sake.

Might as well…

Point One: We don’t like boys anymore. In fact, parents who choose their child’s sex in a lab tend to favor female children, even up to 75% of the time!

“Now the centuries-old preference for sons is eroding—or even reversing. “Women of our generation want daughters precisely because we like who we are,” breezes one woman in Cookie magazine. Even Ericsson, the stubborn old goat, can sigh and mark the passing of an era. “Did male dominance exist? Of course it existed. But it seems to be gone now. And the era of the firstborn son is totally gone.”

First of all, just for a sense of scale: less than half of all fertility clinics in the US allow parents to choose their child’s sex. Out of the group of parents who go to a clinic in order to get pregnant, and opt for an embryo screening, only 9% of them choose their child’s sex for a completely non-medical reason. [Source]

Yes, the era where women were chastised, even killed, if they were unable to produce a male child is over (at least in the United States) but why does the author of this piece automatically assume that the era of the firstborn daughter is quickly being ushered in? Call me a skeptic, but I’m not quite convinced by a teeny tiny minority favoring female children.

Point Two: Our society is shifting towards a professional environment that favors typically “female” characteristics like communication and teamwork, plus the recession has hurt more male-dominate industries; for the first time women suddenly make up the majority of the workforce.

“Earlier this year, for the first time in American history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs. The working class, which has long defined our notions of masculinity, is slowly turning into a matriarchy, with men increasingly absent from the home and women making all the decisions. Women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools—for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women. Indeed, the U.S. economy is in some ways becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill.

The postindustrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength. The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus—are, at a minimum, not predominantly male. In fact, the opposite may be true. “

So… let me see here… the author is claiming that traits which, historically, have been encouraged in women and discouraged in men are suddenly becoming more relevant and useful than brute manly strength in today’s society? Shit… that sounds a lot like gender norms coming back to bite men in the ass.

This doesn’t seem like much of a crisis to me: either develop the skills needed to work in the industries our economy needs, or whine about it. I mean, how many times have women been told we need to adapt to the masculine norms perpetuated in professional industries like medicine or business?

Let’s look at those fifteen job categories… oh wait, I can’t because the article does not go on to explain where these numbers came from. Regardless, no “female dominated industry” is putting up No boyz allowed signs. The simple solution to this, simply seems to involve men taking a page out of Rosie’s book and bending some gender norms… it would certainty be easier to solve this “problem” with an influx of male nurses, etc, etc than it would be to restructure the entire economy to start favoring traditionally “male” careers again. Then again, maybe that’s just my silly feminist bias talking.

Point Three: More women are going to community colleges than men!?

“In 2005, King’s group conducted a survey of lower-income adults in college. Men, it turned out, had a harder time committing to school, even when they desperately needed to retool. They tended to start out behind academically, and many felt intimidated by the schoolwork. They reported feeling isolated and were much worse at seeking out fellow students, study groups, or counselors to help them adjust. Mothers going back to school described themselves as good role models for their children. Fathers worried that they were abrogating their responsibilities as breadwinner.”

So… let me see here… you’re saying a sense of responsibility arbitrarily assigned based on gender kept fathers from going back to college for more schooling? A sense of gender-based responsibility…. could we maybe call that a “gender role.” Yes? Gender roles again?! I’m beginning to think feminism may still be necessary…

Point Four: Women are getting into all colleges, even private ones more than men. Also, at those schools, they tend to be achieving more than men!?

“Guys high-five each other when they get a C, while girls beat themselves up over a B-minus. Guys play video games in each other’s rooms, while girls crowd the study hall. Girls get their degrees with no drama, while guys seem always in danger of drifting away. […]

UMKC is a working- and middle-class school—the kind of place where traditional sex roles might not be anathema. Yet as I talked to students this spring, I realized how much the basic expectations for men and women had shifted. Many of the women’s mothers had established their careers later in life, sometimes after a divorce, and they had urged their daughters to get to their own careers more quickly. They would be a campus of Tracy Flicks, except that they seemed neither especially brittle nor secretly falling apart.”

Well, shit… how are we going to deal with a cultural lack of male motivation and emotionally stable female academic/professional successes. The world was not set up for well-rounded women and lagging men!

I mean, dealing with centuries of privilege and dominance can make it hard for men who suddenly find themselves unable to succeed without trying so hard, simply because they are men. Suddenly women are being afforded opportunities to succeed, and there is *gasp* more competition, leaving some men unable to adapt and, thus, lagging behind. How do we fix this?

“In 2003, a study by the economists Sandy Baum and Eban Goodstein found that among selective liberal-arts schools, being male raises the chance of college acceptance by 6.5 to 9 percentage points. Now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has voted to investigate what some academics have described as the “open secret” that private schools “are discriminating in admissions in order to maintain what they regard as an appropriate gender balance.”

Right… we start handing them shit again, simply based on the merit of having a penis. The “land of opportunity, pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps” motivational bullshit that women and minority students have been fed for years in lieu of actual assistance with actual disadvantages actually created by a patriarchal society seems to fall away when men are the ones under-achieving.

“A typical female applicant, she said, manages the process herself—lines up the interviews, sets up a campus visit, requests a visit with faculty members. But the college has seen more than one male applicant “sit back on the couch, sometimes with their eyes closed, while their mom tells them where to go and what to do. Sometimes we say, ‘What a nice essay his mom wrote,’” she said, in that funny-but-not vein.”

They’ve stopped trying, so we get society to try for them. Brilliant, just fucking brilliant.

Bottom Line: Women are gaining power and men don’t like it.

“Men have few natural support groups and little access to social welfare; the men’s-rights groups that do exist in the U.S. are taking on an angry, antiwoman edge. Marriages fall apart or never happen at all, and children are raised with no fathers. Far from being celebrated, women’s rising power is perceived as a threat.”

I can’t speak to the welfare thing, other than to question the author’s interpretation. Surely more women are on welfare than men, but is that because of a welfare bias towards women or is it because women, who are still more often the primary/only childcare provider in a family and who are much more often regulated to lower-paying industries, tend to need the welfare more?

Men have less social support because of (say it with me) gender norms which is something that feminism works to address.

As for the rest, are we really going to blame women’s success for absentee fathers and a decline in marriages? Really?

“But Edin thinks the most compelling theory is that marriage has disappeared because women are setting the terms—and setting them too high for the men around them to reach. “

Yes, yes we are… because this is what it comes down to: us damn women, with our damn motivation, and high-standards and success are ruining society because men apparently can’t keep up. How dare we.

Clearly the only solution is for women to stop trying so hard! To employ a metaphor (thus, utilizing my vagina-endowed verbal skills further) we must stop sprinting so the men of our society can keep their leisurely pace but still catch up because, sure, a female marathon winner is cute when it happens every once in a blue moon but to be beaten by a girl half the time, or maybe even more!? Blasphemy.

[Article spotted via Jezebel.]

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