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Re-imagine your trend journalism

October 13, 2010

I’m not quite sure what the hell made me think that actually reading one of the latest trend pieces about How Men Need To Change would offer an accurate assessment of the “problem”, but I thought it would. After 6 pages, most of what I got was some advocating for political policies, pop-culture references, and of course blame directed at men that supposedly just don’t do enough to make life easy for women.

“Most guys, in fact, don’t even need rescuing—at least not yet. They’re still overrepresented in business and government, earn more on the dollar, open bigger movies[…]

When are we going to get over this saddening meme that because men are highly visible in the tiny ruling class, the experiences and feelings of regular not-ruling-class men can safely be invalidated and made invisible? Does the individual man mean nothing to these people?

“Meanwhile, the number of fatherless kids in America has nearly tripled since 1960, and the percentage of men who call themselves stay-at-home dads has stalled below 3 percent.”

The good news is that this truth has been identified in the article at all, but the bad news is that not only has the reason behind the fatherless numbers been conveniently left out, but this truth is immediately dropped in favor of Sweden’s paternity leave policies, leaving some readers to wonder just what (if not the ever-looming specter of misogyny) caused all of these children to be without fathers in the first place.

“Baby time is simply not seen as masculine. The only way that perception will fade is if men who are already living double lives as dedicated professionals and parents “come out” and start writing their senators and petitioning their HR departments.”

“Coming out”? Really? Was there really no other wording available to suggest that working fathers could stand up and speak their minds to those in power besides by using an obvious double entrende?  May as well go for unapologetic gay advocacy, or would that require too much bravery from the advocates of the New Macho?

“The problem is that men, unlike many women, still feel limited to a narrow range of acceptable roles—a range that hasn’t kept pace with the changing employment landscape.”

You know, after quoting “Meet The Parents” and Susan Faludi, you’d think that maybe these writers for a mainstream publication would want to talk to some regular guys to get an idea of why they feel so limited to a narrow range of acceptable roles. At least I would think that, but what do I know? I’m not part of Government or Business, so I must not be worth thinking about until I offend enough women, right? As two contemptible wretches in a Slate article would have us think, it’s perfectly fine (and dandy) to “question” the sexuality of a man that is close to another man and make cliched jokes about them.  Shouldn’t these women be re-imagining masculinity so as not to feel threatened by closeness between men or men trying to widen their narrow range of acceptable roles?  I can’t imagine the push for more male nurses to count for much if they can’t actually be considered men working a job as opposed to must-look-manly men working a girly job with a side of “I’m not gay, I swear, please don’t beat me to death”.

“If men were involved fathers, more kids might stay in school, steer clear of crime, and avoid poverty as adults.”

True, but how society go about increasing the number of involved fathers? By imposing top-down political lunacy on them? By listening to fathers of all types and providing incentives that make sense? By constantly heaping shame on uninvolved fathers, hoping that will do the trick? Simply wishing for it won’t make it happen, and the wrong solution will only make matters worse.

Articles like this, written by clueless yet wealthy guys (though I’d rather call them contemptible wretches too) that can get away with ignoring the majority of the men that make up the lower- and middle- classes will always get it wrong, if only because they don’t have to experience what being a man in the rougher parts of society is like. For goodness’ sake, a woman writing on the glamorization of rap gets it better than these guys, and I hadn’t even heard of Urban Belle magazine before now.

So, why did I think I’d find an honest, accurate look at what’s affecting men in that article in the first place? Probably because I wanted to give the writers too much credit. That’s something I won’t be doing again as I’ll approach all articles concerning the decline of men in mainstream publications with lots of healthy skepticism. If these writers so wish to disrespect men by ignoring them and their opinions, then those writers deserve all the criticism and disbelief that they will get whenever they propose some “new” kind of masculinity.

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