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Save Yourself

Blaming feminism for male irresponsibility is irresponsible.

By 9.15.08

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Save the Males: Why Men Matter and Women Should Care
By Kathleen Parker
(Random House, 240 pages, $26)

AFTER READING a half dozen tomes on the American male, here's what I know. Men are lost, self-destructive and need saving. Except for the patriarchy, which still dominates society and keeps women second-class citizens. Girls are short-changed at school. Boys are short-changed at school. Which way you lean probably depends largely on which chromosomes you carry.

Kathleen Parker is an exception. To Ms. Parker, author of Save the Males: Why Men Matter and Women Should Care, pretty much all of men's problems are a result of a misguided radical feminism. Feminism has neutered men and deprived them of their noble, protective role in society, and she is on a mission to reverse this metaphorical mass castration no matter the cost: "When I tell my women friends that I want to save the males, they look at me as if noticing for the first time that I am insane. Then they say something like: 'Are you out of your mind? This is still a male-dominated world. It's women who need saving. Screw the men!'"

If feminists continue to view women as victims, martyrs, mystics or saints, men are similarly cast in multiple roles. One view is that the male is a cold fish, narcissistic, averse to the responsibilities of fatherhood, though happy to spread his seed far and wide. Ms. Parker's males, by contrast, are "domesticated to within an inch of their lives, attending Lamaze classes, counting contractions, bottling expressed breast milk for midnight feedings....The exemplar of the modern male is the hairless, metrosexualised man and decorator boys who turn heterosexual slobs into perfumed ponies." Undoubtedly such men exist, but the real problem adults are not Parker's maligned metrosexuals, but the deadbeat dads, the absentee fathers, the misogynistic hip-hoppers, and the adult male children who populate the kindergarchy. And to blame feminism for their behavior seems to me to be taking a page from the liberal playbook and the height of irresponsibility.

But not even I think today's male could have sunk to such depths without the helping hand of government, our toxic pop culture, and female enablers. Parker, too, is ready with her own roll of usual suspects. Topping the list is radical feminism, which has elevated "single motherhood from an unfortunate consequence of poor planning to a sophisticated act of self-fulfillment." Maybe, but I doubt motherhood, at least for many rural or inner city girls, is a sophisticated act of self-fulfillment. It is rather a rite of passage and a way to collect government handouts.

Parker is much more on the mark when she talks of the effect on men of the kindergarchy:

We've managed over the past 20 years or so to create a new generation of child-men, perpetual adolescents who see no point in growing up. By indulging every appetite instead of recognizing the importance of self-control and commitment, we've ratified the id...Our society's young men encounter little resistance against continuing to celebrate juvenile pursuits, losing themselves in video games and mindless, "guy-oriented" TV fare -- and casual sex. The casual sex culture prevalent on university campuses -- and even in schools -- has produced fresh vocabulary to accommodate new ways of relating: "friends with benefits" and "booty call."

Manliness is to many a quaint notion, like chivalry or modesty, so it's no surprise we expect less and less of our young men, and no surprise that they are happy to oblige. If today's female is convinced she'll be better off without the modern male it is not because men are obsolescent, but rather because they stubbornly refuse to grow out of their frat boy phase, and what woman needs that headache? If a guy can't bring something valuable to a relationship, why should a woman bother? "What we expect from them is boorish, simian behavior that ratifies the antimale sentiment that runs through the culture," Parker writes.

A brief look at the statistics illuminates just how broken today's male is. As of year-end 2006, there were 1,479,726 men in U.S. state and federal prison, compared with 115,308 women. Nearly half of marriages end in divorce. A third of parents entitled to court-ordered child support aren't getting it from deadbeat dads. But the most damning development is how more and more women, in particular educated, middle-class women, are choosing to live alone and do without families rather than risk their happiness on someone who whiles away the evenings crushing empty beer cans against his head and playing Nintendo. There is even a neologism coined to describe this new female lifestyle choice: freemales. Two-thirds of British women say they can enjoy a happy and fulfilled life without "Mr. Mediocre."

In the past twenty years there have been several responses to this challenge: The Promise Keepers, The Million Man March, Men with Drums, but the women-hating crisis has only deepened. The challenge has now been taken up by conservatives, who are taking on the role of classical feminist leaders, and bucking the cultural trends by encouraging respect for women, demanding that women not be objectified, exploited and degraded, and that men grow up and take responsibility. Demanding respect for women obviously is not a departure for conservatives, but calling for a new feminism (or a return to classical feminism) and taking up the largely abandoned pro-woman platform, is the clearest sign of how messed up things really are.

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.