If you can’t tell, I have a reading habit. I haven’t read “Manning Up” yet, but I’ve certainly heard a lot about it. Earlier this month, I was intrigued by a Forbes Magazine piece by Megan Casserly called “Why We Need to Stop Bemoaning the End of Men.” What I found interesting about it, like most of the coverage of the masculinity crisis, is that it was penned by a woman who basically says that writing about economically-driven shifts in gender roles as if men are becoming women is, in itself, sexist.
So why is asking for equality, the “end of men?” Why is asking our partners to be partners emasculating?
Because despite the case-by-case expectations of equality in gender roles, culturally we haven’t let go of the paternalistic authority of men over women. And stories about the “decline” of our men-folk aren’t making things better for any of us.
How a thinking person could champion a woman’s strides towards equality in the same breath that they criticize men for becoming less than as a result is beyond me. The double-standard—that a women can and must demand her seat at the table to be a real woman but that a man giving up his to clear dishes makes him less than a real man—is just so outdated.
I appreciated Megan Casserly’s thoughts as much as I liked Hanna Rosin’s piece in The Atlantic in 2010 on the same topic. I don’t think men are ending any more than women are being created by their modest economic and educational gains. The”mancession”, the masculinity crisis and other ways of saying that men have been allowed to be boys for longer than women were allowed to delay maturity intrigue me because they have all become part of the animosity leveled at unmarried women. It’s not true that the more successful women become the less men know how to be men, but it is true that patriarchy demands that white men are breadwinners with women and children as dependents. So the idea that more and more men at the top of that hierarchy are struggling financially and falling into dependent roles (once reserved for women) demands thorough and continuous investigation. I believe in there, somewhere, is one of the reasons that people have become so fixated on single women and making them feel bad for their success.
I hope to be a voice that celebrates us, though, in the New Year and for however long the coverage of unmarried women continues to be skewed in the direction of women fixing themselves. Thanks to the readers I’ve heard from already — looking forward to more conversations in 2012. Happy New Year!