Friday, May 27, 2016

Where do men fit in a feminizing world?

I have blogged for the longest time about shrinkage.  No, not that one, but the shrinking world for men.  I have even tagged plenty of posts with "save the males."  I have blogged and talked in plenty about how the male identity is in crisis.

Most men--old and young--simply do not know what their roles are in a rapidly changing society.  Muscle power is rarely needed anymore to bring home the tofu, er, bacon.  Lesbians don't care for men.  Education and work are all about talking and communication, from which the old-style grunting men run away.

A few years ago, my much older neighbor/friend commented, during one of our many coffee-chats, that television sitcoms portray males as grown up boys who never became real men.  The male characters in popular sitcoms like Everybody Loves Raymond or the King of Queens were only a little better than kids who had been potty-trained.

It is one heck of a crisis, yet fully grown boys seem to worry only about that thing!

In my classes, I have often remarked. to any student who was even half attentive, that the story of economic progress over the last two centuries--like the Great Enrichment that Deirdre McCloskey talks about--is pretty much a story of women.  The role of women, which was tightly circumscribed by men in cultures all across the world, started changing for the first time ever.  It started slowly.  And then it picked up steam.  And now, here we are, with men falling behind.

Thanks to such a worldview for a while now, I was not surprised--not even a tiny bit--to read Tyler Cowen's take that "the contemporary world is not very well built for a large chunk of males."  And it will get worse for even more men. And this is now playing into the fascist's demagoguery:
Trump’s support is overwhelming male, his modes are extremely male, no one talks about the “Bernie sisters,” and male voters also supported the Austrian neo-Nazi party by a clear majority.
Not news to me.

What I found to be interestingly new is where Cowen goes from there:
One response would be to double down on feminizing the men, as arguably some of the Nordic countries have done.  But America may be too big and diverse for that really to stick.  Another option would be to bring back some of the older, more masculine world in a relatively harmless manner, the proverbial sop to Cerberus.  But how to do that?  That world went away for some good reasons.
If this is indeed the problem, our culture is remarkably ill-suited to talking about it.  It is hard for us to admit that “all good things” can be bad for anyone, including brutes.  It is hard to talk about what we might have to do to accommodate brutes, and that more niceness isn’t always a cure.  And it is hard to admit that history might not be so progressive after all.
What percentage of men are brutes anyway?  Let’s hope we don’t find out.
Yes, let's hope that we never, ever have to find out.

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