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Question Time: Backlash, Frontlash, The End of Men?

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It’s Question Time again. I’ve been reading through Susan Faludi’s Backlash and her more recent book on men, Stiffed, as well as some of the discussion surrounding Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men and Kay Hymowitz’ Manning Up. Faludi, writing in 1991, obviously saw the 80s as a time of antifeminist backlash.

My question is how you would characterize the years since she wrote her book. A continuation of that backlash? A time of feminist resurgence, from the Riot Grrls up to Rosin’s predicted End of Men? A mixed period of progress and regression?

I’m wondering both what your general assessment of the situation is, and also what specific evidence you have — either hard data or personal experience — that underlies your overall view. This could be anything from data on employment segregation or the prevalence of rape to your sense of how media representations of women and men have or haven’t changed, or even how people you know have changed the ways they talk about gender. What do you think are the significant data points to look at?

The question isn’t just what has changed for women but what has changed for men as well — with my underlying question being: what if anything in the real world has changed that might be making the angry men we talk about here so angry? I think we can agree that most of their own explanations are bullshit, but could there be a grain of truth to any of them? Or something that they don’t see that’s far more compelling?

In the interest of spurring discussion and providing some data to work with, here are a bunch of articles responding to (or at least vaguely related to the issues raised in) Rosin’s End of Men, including a link to her original Atlantic article.  In addition, here are some posts by sociologist Philip Cohen challenging many of Rosin’s claims, as well as more general posts of his on gender inequality. (Feel free to completely ignore any or all of these; I just found them useful resources.)

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bagelsan
bagelsan
7 years ago

Llamas can guard sheep. Check!
Llamas can solve problems caused by a lack of llamas. Check!
I have never heard a llama ask for help. Check!
Llamas …um, continue guarding sheep. Check!
Llamas create wool, which makes awesome knitted garments. Check!

Fuck it, I’m gonna marry a llama.

katz
7 years ago

“The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.”

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
7 years ago

I’d rewrite one of his fantasy points as “a stubborn idiot asks for help last if ever”, but I guess I must just not be post-modernist enough.

cloudiah
7 years ago

I’ve heard that the Russians have a saying, “When a man gives a woman his heart, he loses her’s.” You “melt” an Alpha’s heart and what you have left is a Beta.

Just think it through:

* Woman desires an superior (aloof, indifferent, disdainful, dominant, etc.) Alpha male.
* Woman employs the nurturing-empathy described here to break past his defenses
* Alpha’s heart melts, he falls in love, he ceases to be aloof, indifferent, disdainful, dominant, etc.
* Alpha becomes Beta by doting on his lover
* Woman loses interest, and wanders away (hypergamy cannot be beaten)
* Beta (former Alpha) has heart broken

Hypergamy cannot be beaten, it can only be adapted to. Historically the adaption was a societal belief in the inherent superiority of men. In a society which accepts equality of the sexes as a default belief, males have to constantly prove and re-enforce their superior (Alpha) status.

Your tactic would only produce good results if used with a man who was aware of hypergamy and never let his love undermine his dominance.

“Just think it through” should be the next “And that’s real.”

Source.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

So… if one fails one of the Man qualifications, what do you then become? I’m just wondering. It must be quite difficult if you feel your gender can be taken away if you don’t fulfill a straitjacket of behavior.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
7 years ago

“Be a hero”

Nope, that’s not a lot of pressure to put on people or anything. No way setting that as the bar that people have to reach could possibly go wrong.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

@Gametime:

I owe myself ten bucks.

I had a bet going that Dvarghundpossen would stroll in and notice something totally wrong with my 101 philosophy stuff there.

Poo.

😛

@HowardBann1ster

it sort of makes sense. I mean, you explained it well, but the “if I can’t be the hero, I have to be the villain” thing doesn’t make sense. XD Not like, I don’t get what it means, I just don’t get black-and-white morality so much.

Because if I’m the Hero, I’m important, not just a meaningless cog. If I’m the Villain, I’m important, not just a meaningless cog.

It all grandifies me, makes me huge! I emcompass armies. I am Legion!

… it’s ego. It’s all ego.

Fade
7 years ago

Ah. Being one of those normal people isn’t good enough, I guess? X|

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

RE: CassandraSays

No joke. Though speaking of toxic masculinity and the stupid shit it can get you into, you should’ve seen me and my husband when we first started dating. He was so used to a hetero dynamic where the woman was supposed to do the communicating, and I was just fail at everything. It was funny in a, “Wow, it’s a wonder we managed to get together at all” way.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

@cloudiah:

So “just think it through” guy is positing that A) alphas and betas are a thing B) if an alpha falls in love, he LOSES, C) because women, amiright?

This is beautiful logic. These guys are totally consistent and not garbage monsters at all.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
7 years ago

@ LBT

Actually I just had a lightbulb moment when you said that. I wonder if part of the misogynist dudebro fear and confusion about gay relationships is based on that idea that it’s a woman’s job to do the emotional work. In that paradigm, no woman = no warm fuzzy bonding stuff, since men are assumed to be crap at it.

Fibinachi
Fibinachi
7 years ago

… Fight club is a romance novel. The movie is a romantic comedy about the dangers of obsession.

It’s not a great call to arms about the sad state of today world, it’s a mockery of the notions of archetypical, super masculine behavior (“My perfect world… the clothes on you back is what you’ll live in and die in… no ATMS, no credit ratings, just you and your spear… Dead by thirty”. From memory, near the end, discussing the future).

I love Fight Club. I think it’s a great movie. The book is so-so, as is most of Chuck Palahniuks work in my opinion (… Seriously. Being descriptive isn’t being a writer, man!), but I don’t love it because it inspires me to go start my own cult, bomb Starbucks and declare myself the last progeny of a lost father and the windblown wreck of time tossed haphazardly from place to place. Tangent.

Also? I quite like Ikea furniture. I find it very functional.

People who use it as a call to arms frighten me. I don’t feel frightened by a lot of things, since an emotional dead state and the inability to feel is part of being a robot, but someone who misses the point of an entire book so much is frightening. Latching on to what is being mocked is strange.

I’ve heard stories about Palahniuk doing interviews, and people walking up to him and asking “So hey, man, where’s the local fight club?”, thinking it must be a real thing, thinking it must be the answer, thinking somehow that it’d make them more… something. Imagine that.

The murderous, cult-like, obsessive behaviour all generated to get the attention of a girl you couldn’t otherwise get the guts to talk to and someone reads that and latches on to it, and wants to find out where he can go to generate this secondary personality that will allow him to be great?

I guess writing it out like that it isn’t too surprising.

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

“Also? I quite like Ikea furniture. I find it very functional.”

Idk wtf the topic is at this point, so I’ll just chime in to second that.

And say that I like alpacas more than llamas, because my gloves and hand warmers are both alpaca (shit LBT, you didn’t get to see my frankengloves!)

Kittehserf
7 years ago

“@cassadrasayss, I use the term “Hero” to shame myself and only myself. If I am doing something criminal then i’m not being a Man according to my own standards. One mo’ this is an internal dialog.”

Budmin, why do you see the need to treat Being A Decent Ordinary Human Being 101 as Being a Hero? Why do you have to make it such a big deal? Do you really need to shame yourself into not doing something criminal? Is criminal behaviour something so appealing, or is something wrong with you that it’s harder not to do something that’s criminal (which may or may not mean directly harmful to other people)?

And if your “this can apply to women” disclaimer is genuine, wtf are you so fixated on the Man = Hero nonsense?

It’s all very well to say this is an internal dialogue, but seriously, you’re not the protagonist in anyone else’s life, and this chest-thumping stuff pretty much imposes a male-female dichotomy and I’m guessing would have toxic effects on those around you. For that matter it would have them on you: wtf sense is there in doing the “never ask for help” thing? That’s where you get blokes who never ask the way when they’re lost, on a minor level, and on a serious one, blokes who die a lot earlier than they need to because they’re such Manly Men they think it’s weak or girly to go to the doctor when they’re sick.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

I’ve heard that the Russians have a saying, “When a man gives a woman his heart, he loses her’s[sic]

Well, whoever thinks that’s a general thing is stoooooopid.

* Woman desires an superior (aloof, indifferent, disdainful, dominant, etc.) Alpha male.
* Woman employs the nurturing-empathy described here to break past his defenses
* Alpha’s heart melts, he falls in love, he ceases to be aloof, indifferent, disdainful, dominant, etc.
* Alpha becomes Beta by doting on his lover
* Woman loses interest, and wanders away (hypergamy cannot be beaten)
* Beta (former Alpha) has heart broken

Even if alpha and beta was a thing that list is still stupid. If I were going to use the terms, I’d call Louis an alpha less ‘cos he was once one of the most powerful kings in Europe than ‘cos he’s himself, and holy shit, finding out he loves me too was the BEST. Loses interest? Breaks his heart? Fucking morons, seriously.

Also watching a cricket match when there are only six players and they don’t know a whole lot about it is the funniest thing ever. (Family picnic last night.)

Kittehserf
7 years ago

@LBT: “So… if one fails one of the Man qualifications, what do you then become? I’m just wondering.”

You become a llama, of course.

Which is quite cool, because as well as the things listed above, they’re really good at spitting in the eye of anyone they don’t like.

Falconer
7 years ago

Fight Club? Is that the movie where Helena Bonham-Carter is all gothy?

Did you ever see The Matrix? I hear it’s a good movie.

budmin
budmin
7 years ago

@Bannester I didn’t accuse you of being an Objectivist, I just wanted to know if you’ve checked out her work.

The other part is about how many young men are identifing with characters. charismatic anarchists like Durden/Joker/Bane etlc. Not to say that those ate my only options. Other then that you are right. I am seeing the world in a self discribed morally hypermasculine way and I’m perfectly cool with that. Moral relativism scares the shit out of me.

budmin
budmin
7 years ago

Spell checking and typoes may very…

katz
7 years ago

Budmin, where on earth do you get the idea that you have to be either hypermasculine or relativist? I’m absolutely with you that relativism is not a very good idea. But why, of all things to anchor your beliefs to, did you pick your penis?

Bob Goblin
Bob Goblin
7 years ago

So, the only alternative to moral relativism is hypermasculinity? Sounds like someone is listening too closely to the voices in his penis.

Also, where are all these Durden/Joker/Bane wannabes? I mean, other than the handful who shoot up movie theaters now and then?

cloudiah
7 years ago

But why, of all things to anchor your beliefs to, did you pick your penis?

Ouch! Good thing his beliefs are so lightweight.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

“Sounds like someone is listening too closely to the voices in his penis.”

Dammit Bob, I was enjoying that cup of coffee!

katz
7 years ago

His beliefs aren’t that interesting–just a bunch of talking heads.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

“His beliefs aren’t that interesting–just a bunch of talking heads.”

::side-eyes katz::

Did you mean to put that image in my head?

cloudiah
7 years ago

But katz, he’s so EDGY. I mean, TYLER DURDEN.

Fibinachi
7 years ago

Well, the world we live in would be boring to base your thoughts on. Might as well model your life after a fictional charismatic anarchist or a dashing heroic figure from a pulp novel or some charming, dominant vigilante from a comic.

I mean.

What could the repercussions of that that possibly be? It’s easier and neater and everyone knows what I mean when I say I’m a coyote and I feel like Tyler Durden really spoke to me and the Joker is an awesome guy.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

This is one of those times when knowing zip about popular culture and films generally feels like a plus.

Bob Goblin
Bob Goblin
7 years ago

Budmiin, have you seen Fight Club? You do realize the protagonist wins only when he kills Tyler within himself and joins hands with Martha as an equal, right?

Or did we watch a different movie?

Kittehserf
7 years ago

Fibinachi – you’re a coyote?

Tip: don’t buy stuff from Acme.

Just sayin’.

katz
7 years ago

This is one of those times when knowing zip about popular culture and films generally feels like a plus.

The Matrix and Fight Club are both movies that make teenagers go “OMG, you’re all so brainwashed! WAKE UP SHEEPLES!”

That is all you need to know.

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

You know, I love V for Vendetta…my head canon is a combo of the book and the movie, but “you can’t kill an idea” is TRUFAX. V, however, is a royal fucking asshole about half the time, and murderous all the time. Like, I’ll take the parts Anon has already swiped and forego blowing up parliament.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

Teenagers and those who never grew out of that phase, aka MRA whiners. 😀

But wait, wasn’t Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Shouldn’t MRAs hate it?

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Pitt was Tyler Durden even. So yep, they should, but he’s a manly manly break for society and blow it up kinda guy (literally, the movie ends in an act of terrorism that I’m amazed Americans still like after 9/11…like somehow blowing a ton of shit up at night is all the different, politically motivated terrorism is apparently much more acceptable when it’s a good looking white guy)

Kittehserf
7 years ago

smh …

Fibinachi
7 years ago

Nah, it’s more acceptable because it’s so profoundly unreal. And it targets credit companies, at night, with no casualties – it’s more an act of demolition than terrorism, really.

It’s actually one of the things I like about the book and movie. Despite everything sucking, and everyone being a complete fool, at least they aren’t haphazardly throwing away the life of the people they are ostensibly trying to help.

Still needs to go to jail for plusungood years, of course.

budmin
budmin
7 years ago

@Katz_Budmin, where on earth do you get the idea that you have to be either hypermasculine or relativist?

Mostly Rand..

@LBT: “So… if one fails one of the Man qualifications, what do you then become? I’m just wondering.”

I’m won’t sugar coat this. The Men who’ve develope a social network of supportive friends and family will most likely learn to adapt and start again, the rest will hurt themselves and others by internalizing the shame.

Well this has been a real gas so let me just reiterate my original statement. Men are retreating into pop culture. they feel attacked by multiple aspects of the world around them, Feminism gets the lions share of the blame and it’s only going to get worst.

TTFN..

Kittehserf
7 years ago

Budmin, maybe SOME men are doing that. But you’re talking about a subset of those who are into Western popular culture. That’s hardly “all men” or even “all US men”. It’s not even “all men who are into Western popular culture” since we’ve got representatives of guys right here who aren’t acting the way you describe.

Also wtf believe anything that disingenuous hypocrite Rand says?

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Budmin’s a Rand fanboy? Everything is explained. What a maroon.

Sure, buddy, blame your failures on feminism. That may go over well with the MRM crowd, but it’s a steaming pile and you know it,

Fade
7 years ago

@Budmin

And why are men feeling attacked?

Shiraz
Shiraz
7 years ago

“That’s what postmodernism gives you.”

Says the guy who doesn’t know what postmodernism is.

“To me, the backlash against feminism revolves around modern young men having a tough time formulating positive male identities. They find themselves at odds with Academics who see masculinity as an unquantifiable pattern of enforced behavior.”

Masculinity is unquantifiable? You’re making this harder than it has to be, fella.

“They’re confronted by Feminist who see masculinity as being problematic at best and often times a scourge on humanity…”

I’d like a citation on this. I don’t think you understand the ideas you’re attempting to criticize.

“… added to an industrial age that’s decreasing the value of traditionally masculine labor…”

OK, that would be the whole human race that’s slighted. See, ’cause we’re past the first half of the industrial age. We’re the digital age now — and computers take lots of peoples’ jobs. Travel Agents? Barely a thing anymore, for example. Also, remember the Agricultural Age? Men and women worked those fields, buckaroo. How do you think women felt when they lost those gigs?

“…coupled with the saving grace of Pop Culture where the heroic ideal of Man is still intact…”

Meh. Yeah, lot’s of “Nice Guys” grew up to become movie producers, so the heroes are still there, but mostly I’m seeing a lot of comedies about man-child protagonists. Also, pop culture does not belong just to you and your demo; everyone wants to be represented on the screen.

“So we/they escape into pop culture (movies, music, comic books, video games, porn) and defend these Masculine identities from the perceived attacks of feminist critics.”

I escape into pop culture too, despite the imperfections.
I didn’t realize Tony Stark was anti-feminist, by the way, or what, he’s a means to escape feminist critics. But wait, his number one confidant is Pepper Potts. Is that misandry? He shouldn’t have to listen to a girl, for god’s sake. Whooa, what the fuck? Black Widow? Misandry. No wait, is that what you meant?
You seem to need a lot of ego fluffing. Wouldn’t it be easier in the long run to be whoever you want to be and accpet women are human?

“I don’t see an end to this social entropy. In all likelihood these men will probably end up as wards of the state, but oh well, that’s life.”

What men? You mean you? Lots of guys don’t always feel their egos are inches away from being thrown into an imaginary furnance run by straw feminists.

Kittehserf
7 years ago

“an imaginary furnance run by straw feminists.”

Just as well it’s imaginary. Running a furnace when you’re made of straw would be an OHS nightmare.

Shiraz
Shiraz
7 years ago

Kitteh…EXACTLY!

😉

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Fibinachi — yeah, I guess you’re right, as far as revolution via blowing shite up, Fight Club did go the most…justifiable? route. Not that it shouldn’t still be a crime, but they were after institutions, not people. (And I realize my comparison was shitty, but I’m a New Englander)

pecunium
7 years ago

A man is a hero.
A man solves problems.
A man ask for help last *if ever.
A man must protect & provide for those he love.
A man must create value before he is to be considered valuable by the community.

These of course, are my own opinions but they impart a structural foundation of what many would view as a productive moral code.

How is that a moral code?

Value to whom? Never asks for help? Solves problems? (like where to put the paper towel holder? Or what’s for dinner?).

I think you meant “450 representatives”. Unless you consider male politicians to Men first, with Male interest as their only goal.

You think wrong. You said the landscape in which “masculinity” is framed is dominated by feminists and academics; who put women over men. You ignored what I said those men were doing (hint, it wasn’t failing to put male interest in second place).

Because they aren’t being told by “Feminist and Academics” that “The Heroic Ideal of Man” is a right and proper thing, and the way to run one’s life?”

<a href =img33.glitterfy.com/12117/glitterfy2193958T831D30.gifBINGO! (FTFY)

@Howard Bannister Maybe I need to remind you that this is an internal monologue not some enforced declaration…LOL

Maybe you should use your “Inside Voice” for your internal monologue.

Aaliyah
7 years ago

Yet another victim of the HTML Monster. Tsk tsk.

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

BINGO! (FTFY)

FTFY, the sequel: FTFY goes meta

🙂 (you know I kid, right?)

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

…how funny would it have been if I borked the HTML on that? XD

Brz
Brz
7 years ago

@Pecunium

You orignally said “That kind of stuff is unknown, even in France. No one knows that a pedophile writer have been interviewed by a gay activist in a well-known left newspaper to say of much he loves 8-years-old boys and how much he hates those mothers who try to forbid him to bang their sons”.

But the article is about how he hates the social structure of the family. He blames the “atmosphere of asexuality”, which keeps him from having sex with children (because women, and mothers and grandmothers make up the primary period of rearing he says affects them. At it’s most charitable this is what he means by, “the by product they become”, [which yes, I did misread. As I said, French is not my native language, it doesn’t change the thrust of the interview] means they are the primary targets of his ire).
[…]
But I did what you asked. I read the french, and it shows you were playing fast and loose with your interpretation of the meaning.

You really don’t fear ridicule, do you? You first accused me of having deliberately altered the meaning of the passage of the text I quoted by eliding a phrase, when you realized that the elision didn’t change the meaning, you, then, accused me of having elided the rest of the text (which is a good definition of what a quote is) and neglected the context… and the context is that he didn’t hate mothers in essence but the “human by-product into which women are transformed”, wow, huge different, I’m such a disingenuous ill-intentioned liar for having omitted this detail…

But you have good reasons to not fear ridicule here : most people here would rather jump under a truck than admit that I’m right on something and admitting that you lied in order to accuse me of being disingenuous would be like admitting that I’m right on something, so it’s not like you have to fear of being called on your bullshit, huh?

the real problem is that you are lying about things

You had an opportunity to prove one of your accusation and you failed, the rest of your accusations is like this one : gratuitous unfounded accusation.
You’re a little bit paranoid, a little bit dense and I’ve just discovered that you’re also a show off who would rather make ridiculous arguments rather than admit that he’s wrong.

P.S: I’ve never lied about anything here, you can say that I’m creepy, that I’m an asshole or whatever, that’s your call, but I’m not a liar : I’ve always been frank.
You on the opposite… You have a little tendency for showing off, like exaggerating a little bit your French reading skills, isn’t it?(You understand French like a understand Spanish, i.e approximately).

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Brz — leaving out “[mothers are] a human by-product” is rather a huge omission. Like, go tell your mother she’s a human by-product and report back on the results. Seeing how I prefer not to be screamed at, I’ll pass on trying it.