Can Feminists Cure What Ails Men?

 

“Boys need feminists’ help too,” declares Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti. Writing in the New York Times, Valenti worries that women are “protest[ing], run[ning] for office, and embrac[ing] the movement for gender equality in record numbers, [while] a generation of mostly white men are being radicalized into believing that their problems stem from women’s progress.”

Valenti cites the “manosphere,” the network of websites that peddle misogyny, and she’s right that it is disturbing. But Valenti undermines her case by citing the popularity of Jordan Peterson as more evidence of woman hatred. On the contrary, Valenti and other feminists would do well to remove their women-centric blinders and examine the situation of young men more sympathetically.

Valenti imagines that girls are doing great because when the mainstream culture gets them down, they can always repair to “feminist blogs and magazines” while “female college students who have critical questions about how gender shapes their lives can take women’s studies courses.” Actually, it’s very much an open question as to whether feminist interpretations of life make women happier. In my new book, Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense, I argue that in many respects it has made them less happy. Certainly, polls such as the General Social Survey suggest that women have become steadily less happy every year since 1972.

As for men, there is lots of evidence that the sexual ecosystem we’ve evolved since the feminist/sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s has left many men less fulfilled too. A small percentage of “players” may think they benefit from readily available sex without commitment, but many men are not so suave and find that forming relationships is out of reach. A fringe few describe themselves as “incels” (involuntarily celibate) and fulminate against women. As for the average guy, well, they are more likely to be out of the workforce, unmarried, and alienated from their children than any previous generation in American history. Deaths from suicide, and other diseases of despair are rising so steeply that overall life expectancy in America is declining.

Valenti imagines that feminist ideas can help men through “the rejection of expectations that men be strong and stoic or ending the silence around male victims of sexual violence.” In other words, an invitation to men to see themselves as victims, just as feminists have encouraged women to do for decades. Most women aren’t crazy about embracing victimhood – a 2016 YouGov poll found that only 32 percent of women identified as feminists — and men are probably even less likely to respond enthusiastically.

Perhaps men actually don’t want to be freed from the expectation of being strong? Perhaps they are attracted to Jordan Peterson because he is a refreshing voice of masculinity traditionally understood? I haven’t read him (one of his books is on my nightstand), but from what I gather he encourages young men to take responsibility for their lives and is critical of our culture’s feminist-influenced refusal to acknowledge differences between males and females. (I’m already sure I agree about that!)

What Valenti and other feminists do not see is that many of the traits they despise in modern men, for example, their expectation that they are “entitled to sexual attention” and their attraction to misogynist websites, are outgrowths of the sexual revolution that feminists themselves promoted. By devaluing marriage and family, feminists helped to create a world in which many men grow up without fathers. About 50 percent of American children will now spend some or all of their childhoods in a single parent home.

And while feminists spend a great deal of time and attention to decrying the flaws of men, they would be well advised to think about how crucial men are as fathers. This is no data to prove this, but it seems extremely likely that the majority of men who turn to the manosphere for guidance about how to be men – or to use Valenti’s phrase “get manly quick” – are growing up or have been raised without dads. MIT economist David Autor and his colleagues, among others, have shown that boys raised without fathers suffer even more than girls do. They compared fatherless brothers and sisters in Florida and found that the boys were less likely to graduate from college, have ambitions for their futures, or be employed as adults than their sisters.

Boys will always seek to be manly. It’s in their natures. Feminists do men (and women) a disservice by scorning it. Boys raised by good dads will find manliness in marriage, responsibility, and self-control. A better feminism would cherish those things.

There are 20 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    What she describes is precisely what men’s activists like Warren Farrell and A Voice For Men have tried to do, only to be denounced by feminist establishment figures as unalloyed misogynists. That’s kinda the whole point of Cassie Jaye’s documentary, The Red Pill.

    Is Valenti saying she wants the feminist movement to back off on their suppression of men’s activists and organizations?

    • #1
    • July 26, 2018, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Henry Castaigne Member

    I find it interesting how only white dudes seem to be incells or part of the manosphere and it seems like only white ladies seem to talk about feminism. There is some there there but I am not sure what it is. It is probably the least talked about racial disparity we have in America.

    • #2
    • July 26, 2018, at 1:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Guruforhire Member

    Feminists don’t even like feminist men.

    The problem is and will always be the gap between stated and revealed preferences.

    • #3
    • July 26, 2018, at 1:42 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Stad Thatcher

    Mona Charen: A small percentage of “players” may think they benefit from readily available sex without commitment, but many men are not so suave and find that forming relationships is out of reach.

    Mona Charen: Boys will always seek to be manly.

    I think this “small” percentage is larger than you think. Given a man’s primal nature to mate indiscriminately and the growing numbers of boys without good fathers to set an example, a lot of boys grow up to be “players” rather than responsible men.

    As for boys always seeking to be manly, I wonder how true this is given the slowly growing numbers of male-to-female sex change operations these days. One commenter on another post suggested this is due to all the attention being paid to advance women these days, and males see being a man as being a “loser” in life . . .

    • #4
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:20 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Caryn Member

    The only feminist I would recommend any man listen to, at all, is Camille Paglia. Jordan Peterson appeals to me, too, so he’s not just for “misogynists.” As does my manly man husband. Not necessarily in that order, of course. 

     

    • #5
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Terry Mott Member

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    What she describes is precisely what men’s activists like Warren Farrell and A Voice For Men have tried to do, only to be denounced by feminist establishment figures as unalloyed misogynists. That’s kinda the whole point of Cassie Jaye’s documentary, The Red Pill.

    Is Valenti saying she wants the feminist movement to back off on their suppression of men’s activists and organizations?

    Good question.

    We’ve had decades of feminists attacking and/or seeking to infiltrate any and all male-only organizations, from the Augusta golf club to the Boy Scouts.

    • #6
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    Mona Charen: Boys will always seek to be manly. It’s in their natures.

    I hope you’re right, but I have my doubts. It will take a very long time to eliminate the genetic predisposition towards manliness, but selective breeding will eventually take its toll. The more immediate concern is that social expectations and the reduced availability of masculine role models will result in boys stiffing their manly impulses. I’m not suggesting we’re doomed, but I’m concerned.

    • #7
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Caryn (View Comment):

    The only feminist I would recommend any man listen to, at all, is Camille Paglia. Jordan Peterson appeals to me, too, so he’s not just for “misogynists.” As does my manly man husband. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

    One might also suggest Christina Hoff Summers, Katie Roiphe, and Janice Fiamenco (though Fiamenco probably doesn’t self-identify as a feminist).

    Also, of course, Cassie Jaye.

    The women of HoneyBadgerRadio are also good folk.

    • #8
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Henry Castaigne Member

    • #9
    • July 26, 2018, at 2:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Terry Mott Member

    Chuck Enfield (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: Boys will always seek to be manly. It’s in their natures.

    I hope you’re right, but I have my doubts. It will take a very long time to eliminate the genetic predisposition towards manliness, but selective breeding will eventually take its toll. The more immediate concern is that social expectations and the reduced availability of masculine role models will result in boys stiffing their manly impulses. I’m not suggesting we’re doomed, but I’m concerned.

    I’m not sure how effective “selective breeding” will be if feminists and feminized men tend to reproduce at a lower rate than the norm, as seems to be the case.

    • #10
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    I’m not sure how effective “selective breeding” will be if feminists and feminized men tend to reproduce at a lower rate than the norm, as seems to be the case.

    You’re probably right. Selective breeding will only reduce the masculinity of the upper classes. Lower class men may remain macho and grow in numbers. Not sure that’s much consolation though.

    • #11
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. John Seymour Inactive

    As long as Mother Nature continues to be a b*tch at times, there will be a need for toxic masculinity.

     

    • #12
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:21 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  13. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Mona Charen: . Feminists do men (and women) a disservice by scorning it. Boys raised by good dads will find manliness in marriage, responsibility, and self-control. A better feminism would cherish those things.

    This column begins with a category error (that there is a thing called “feminism,) and it ends with an appeal to purity fallacy: “A better feminism.” That’s sort of like saying “socialism has never been properly tried.”

    For specific issue after specific issue we see that reformers were co-opted by radicals and that the net result was the destruction of useful social institutions – and that the values and intended goals that drove the movements were always moving to the Left.

    The mentally ill are on our streets as the result of Alinskyite tactics carried out by radicals with crazy ideas about mental health, who used coopted well meaning politicians and doctors. The real goal was the elimination of civil commitment and of mental institutions.

    The environmental movement is another case in point.

    So are the ideas that led to the Great Society and the destruction of the black family.

    And the same is true for feminism. Universal suffrage is arguably implicit in the Constitution. So is equal work for equal pay. Women who wanted that for themselves, men who wanted it for their wives and daughters were co-opted by, and (mostly) unwittingly advanced, a destructive ideology. They were useful idiots.

    @monacharen‘s appeal to an illusory purity (“a better feminism”) is worse than a waste of time.

    I admire her quixotic devotion to standards that were destroyed (in large part by the movement to which she appeals for improvement) but if she really wants to see what’s going on, she needs to read university catalogues and spend some time on Tumblr. Or if she doesn’t have a strong enough stomach for that, and few do, she could read Stacy McCain’s Sex Trouble and/or his blog posts in that category.

    • #13
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:36 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    I find that discussions by men’s activists on this subject have a habit of going too far with their use of the word “need”.

    Clearly, there are men who grew up without a father who have done quite well in life. My dad’s father was killed on D-Day, for example, and yet my dad didn’t grow up to be a mewling quim.

    It may certainly be best for boys to have fathers, and fathers certainly shouldn’t be separated from their children except for the most extreme circumstances, but the word “need” is by definition an absolute term and therefore I think the rhetoric of “need” can be unhelpful.

    It’s also, arguably, an inherently left-wing impulse to equate a best practice as a necessity. One perennial error of the Left is to confuse “goods” with “rights”, and that’s what I see when people overuse the word “need”.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #14
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. low key Inactive

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    For specific issue after specific issue we see that reformers were co-opted by radicals and that the net result was the destruction of useful social institutions – and that the values and intended goals that drove the movements were always moving to the Left.

    Indeed.

    • #15
    • July 26, 2018, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. toggle Inactive

    Just asking : If I don’t read NYT op-eds, Feministing.com, or “manosphere” websites, should I ?
    Trying to complete my reading list for this August vacation.
    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • #16
    • July 26, 2018, at 7:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Henry Castaigne Member

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    I find that discussions by men’s activists on this subject have a habit of going too far with their use of the word “need”.

    Clearly, there are men who grew up without a father who have done quite well in life. My dad’s father was killed on D-Day, for example, and yet my dad didn’t grow up to be a mewling quim.

    It may certainly be best for boys to have fathers, and fathers certainly shouldn’t be separated from their children except for the most extreme circumstances, but the word “need” is by definition an absolute term and therefore I think the rhetoric of “need” can be unhelpful.

    It’s also, arguably, an inherently left-wing impulse to equate a best practice as a necessity. One perennial error of the Left is to confuse “goods” with “rights”, and that’s what I see when people overuse the word “need”.

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    That is an incredibly fascinating point. I will say that if boys don’t need fathers they practically require male guidance to thrive.

    Your story about your father is illustrative. Sons whose fathers have died tend to do better than even adopted children. Even when a dad dies he still helps to civilize his boys. General MacArthur was tucked in by his Mom and every night she told him to remember, “That his father was a great man.” 

    • #17
    • July 26, 2018, at 11:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Michael Brehm Member

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Feminists don’t even like feminist men.

    The problem is and will always be the gap between stated and revealed preferences.

    What you said, and also self-described male feminists are sexual predators. I’m not even going to qualify that statement.

    • #18
    • July 27, 2018, at 6:01 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Stad Thatcher

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    Christina Hoff Summers

    Definitely her too. Buy her book Freedom Feminism. It’s a good read . . .

    • #19
    • July 27, 2018, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Stad Thatcher

    Terry Mott (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    What she describes is precisely what men’s activists like Warren Farrell and A Voice For Men have tried to do, only to be denounced by feminist establishment figures as unalloyed misogynists. That’s kinda the whole point of Cassie Jaye’s documentary, The Red Pill.

    Is Valenti saying she wants the feminist movement to back off on their suppression of men’s activists and organizations?

    Good question.

    We’ve had decades of feminists attacking and/or seeking to infiltrate any and all male-only organizations, from the Augusta golf club to the Boy Scouts.

    Augusta National was on the road to admitting blacks and women anyway, when the left started their crusade against the club. Then Chairman Hootie Johnson explicitly refused to change the club’s position when confronted by a bunch of whacko feminists, led by some woman named Martha Burke.

    His position was to avoid even the appearance of caving. Ten years later, when the first women were admitted (Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore), Burke claimed credit for her “movement” making the club “cave”. Not so.

    The point is to stand up to the assault. Go ahead and have the debate, then decide, “We, the BSA, have decided admitting girls is not in the best interests of our organization.”

    They caved instead, and the world is worse off for it . . .

    • #20
    • July 27, 2018, at 6:22 AM PDT
    • 3 likes