Friday, December 16, 2011

Being A Dude Is Hard

Are you familiar with the Good Men Project? I wasn't until one particular post on the website got some publicity. Its title is "Being A Dude Is A Good Thing." That made my hair crawl a bit because its obvious corollary would be "Being A Non-Dude Is Not A Good Thing." Though of course I know that it is not intended to be that way. But still: I never go around muttering to myself "Being A Goddess Is A Good Thing."

The real reason for that title seems to be that the writer of the post believes men are blamed for everything (and, as an obvious corollary, women are blamed for nothing):
As the founder of the Good Men Project, I am the butt of my share of jokes. Guys in high places love to take pot shots at me, laughing at my silly little obsession.


I’ve been doing my own soul-searching during this last week as a series of articles broke out on our site about the end of men, gender war, and whether or not men have made enough progress collectively to be considered “good” (that’s not exactly how others defined it but that’s how I think about the issue underneath it all).
Amidst all this comes the question of blame.
Why do men get blamed for everything? 
Emphasis mine.

It's hard to continue the analysis after that bolded bit, because men, as a class, are not actually blamed for everything.* In some parts of the world men, as a class, are blamed for very little.

Now, I could go on writing about the things women, as a class, are blamed for. But that's not for everything! And still I think it's for many more things than men, as a class, are blamed for, especially if we limit the blame to the class of uppity women**.

The reason for all those italics is that you gotta be careful about generalizing. The writer generalizes to an extreme extent. He also implies that everyone blames men for everything.

Then there's that reference to the end of men. I wrote about that silly article earlier (first post here, second here), but men are not ending so you can stop worrying about that possibility. Even male dominance is not ending. It's very healthy on the global level (Egypt and so on) and even in the US the number of female presidents is still a perfectly round number.

Onwards and downwards. In the blog post, I mean. Here's what has happened and what caused it:
One close friend jokes, “When speaking to my wife I always make sure to look at the ground in deference. And I make sure not to make any sudden movements.” I’ve watched him. He loves his wife.
He’s a very competent human being. But with her he’s decided the only way to survive is to submit. The female view is the right view. The male view just gets you into trouble.
So where does the blame come from?
My unscientific theory is from a fundamental disconnect between men and women at the micro level. Men know women are different. They think differently, they express emotion differently, they are motivated by different things, they think about sex differently, and they use a very different vocabulary.
Why can’t women accept men for who they really are? Is a good man more like a woman or more truly masculine?
There is "the female view" and then "the male view". The individuals are no longer individuals. They are randomly drawn from two boxes, one pink and one blue, and they can't speak the same language! So they speak the female language and the man submits. There is no human language.

Let's see. Individual differences are unimportant and the idea that people do, in fact, communicate across that chasm of gender is unimportant. The ultimate explanation is biological, of the men-are-from-Mars-and-women-from-Venus type. Sadly, the writer never tells us how men really are. Does masculinity mean dominance over women, for instance? I would really like to know.

I'm not criticizing the kind of angst this post reflects. It must be hard to know what the dude rules are, these days. But there's a tremendous problem whenever "masculinity" is defined as "what women are not" because the next stage often means embellishing it with adjectives such as brave, honest, assertive and so on. Then those adjectives become part of "what women are not."

Having said all that, I quite agree that the popular culture representations of men as beer-guzzling idiots are nasty and I also agree that both boys and girls should be encouraged to get as good an education as they can. I have never met a feminist who wouldn't agree with me on these issues.

* The real danger of the Internet sites where like-minded people gather is that shared concerns become validated and reinforced, even when they might not be realistic concerns. This may not matter in many cases, but it does matter when it comes to some hate sites (not referring to the site I link to here).

**Off the top of my hat, women are blamed (by some or by many) for bad mothering outcomes, bad parenting outcomes, working for pay when they should be at home, wasting their human resources if they stay at home with their children, having children just to get on welfare, not being able to negotiate a good salary, not having the drive to succeed, not having the skills needed to do mathematical or technical work, not having enough testosterone to succeed in financial jobs. Some groups blame women (though not usually men) for having sex outside marriage and for not being a strict enough gatekeeper when it comes to sex. Women are also still argued to be ruled by emotions rather than intellect, while men are assumed to be ruled by cold logic only. Feminists have been blamed, by some, for the end of the Western culture, for the death of the white race, for the end of men, for the end of family, for latchkey children, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism among women, the unhappiness of women and on and on and on.