Summary: Some social issues are mind-bendingly complex, requiring books to describe their essence. A very few are illuminated by insights like bolts of lightning. See these two quotes doing that for the gender war. The first is familiar to those paying attention. The second is stunning, obvious, important — yet oddly unknown. It might change how you see masculinity.
A pure statement of third-wave feminism
“When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home.”
— Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) in her best-seller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013).
Sandberg’s advice to young women is rational. It allows women to have fun, then marry nice beta providers — dreaming at night of the Alpha lovers from their past (see this example from a hit TV show). It’s called “settling”, a rational strategy for women who have partied hard for a decade and now see “the wall” approaching.
While have fun then settle seems logical but cold, some women are more aggressive. They use Girls’ Game: romance the man, stage the party-of-her-life, marry, have kids, divorce when they are in school — then get community property, child support, and independence. The husband provides support during those first few difficult years for the children, then divorce. This gets the children she wants without the bother of having a husband after a few years of marriage). It is the logical strategy for women raised to value their independence above all else.
These strategies were an immense success for the women of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations who used them. Combined with increased access to higher education and careers, this is the closest any generation of women has come to “having it all.”
One important result: in 2005/06 less 60% of US adolescents (11, 13, and 15 years old) lived with both birth parents (per the OCED Family Database), the lowest level in the OCED. Today probably even fewer do.
The key to understanding toxic masculinity: logic
“If all masculinity is toxic then fatherless children must have an advantage.
“But if fatherless children are over-represented in prisons, then there is no advantage to being fatherless.”
Each day brings another barrage of articles about toxic masculinity — often defined as masculinity. But there is a class of women who have escaped toxic masculinity, raising their children in a more-or-less male-free home: divorcées. Those households are a control group. Comparing them with children of two-parent families (i.e., children who had Dads for most of their youth) shows the effect of toxic masculinity.
Oddly, the results of this massive social experiment have been known since 1992 — when Vice President Quayle gave his famous Murphy Brown speech about the ill effects of single parenthood (it is difficult enough for two parents). Although liberals condemned him for pointing out the obvious, years later they admitted the validity of his analysis. But they quickly put that knowledge down the memory hole.
The firm ground from which we can see the gender wars
The kaleidoscope of events bewilders us, allowing partisans to focus on the facts they find most pleasing. This makes communication difficult and complete analysis impossible.
Like a ball of string, the key is to first find the end. How do we know we have the end? Both parties’ behavior looks rational, without assuming the ones we like are mad (i.e., like the Joker) or evil (e.g., Hitler).
From these two insights we can build fuller and clearer pictures of the gender wars, and make more accurate predictions. That these two insights are contested shows that consensus understanding in America remains impossible. That will change, eventually. Let’s take that opportunity when it appears.
For more information
Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- A brief guide to the new war of the sexes. Both sides are 100% right.
- America’s war of the sexes gets worse. Here’s why.
- Origin of the gender wars — Analysis by Allan Bloom.
- The war on masculinity is a war on men.
- Feminists are right: sexism is the answer!
- Professor Suzanna Walters asks “Why can’t we hate men?”
The other front to feminists’ crusade: wrecking boys
By Warren Farrell (The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex) and
John Grey (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
I will be posting a review later this month. Until then, from the publisher…
“What is the boy crisis?
- It’s a crisis of education. Worldwide, boys are 50 percent less likely than girls to meet basic proficiency in reading, math, and science.
- It’s a crisis of mental health. ADHD is on the rise. And as boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women.
- It’s a crisis of fathering. Boys are growing up with less-involved fathers and are more likely to drop out of school, drink, do drugs, become delinquent, and end up in prison.
- It’s a crisis of purpose. Boys’ old sense of purpose – being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner – are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void,” feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification.
“So, what is The Boy Crisis? A comprehensive blueprint for what parents, teachers, and policymakers can do to help our sons become happier, healthier men, and fathers and leaders worthy of our respect.”