Remember when the battle of the sexes was a laughing matter?
The phrase war between men and women was meant in a lighthearted way, mostly. It described an ineradicable truth of human life, plain to everyone but best spoken of indirectly. It is this: The two halves of our otherwise terrific species aren’t really suited to each other, even though the replenishing of our kind depends on their close, to say no more, association. The unavoidable pickle—the tension between the incompatibility of man and woman and the urgent need for man and woman to get along and then some—has traditionally been understood as comic. To view it otherwise is too grim a prospect. And besides, we have reasoned, it’s just the way things are, so what the hell.
Great artists from Aristophanes to Shakespeare, from Molière to Ira Gershwin, understood the war this way. The humorist James Thurber summed it up in a series of drawings explicitly titled “The War Between Men and Women.” Each piece illustrated a signal event in the ongoing struggle: “The Fight in the Grocery Store,” the “Capture of Three Physics Professors,” the “Surrender of Three Blondes,” and so on.
“It’s all in good fun,” Thurber seemed to be saying, “I hope.”
Thurber’s series was first published in 1934, in the backwash of what progressive historians call First Wave Feminism—the feminism of Susan B. Anthony and suffragettes and temperance advocates and other assorted crabby grannies in bonnets and high collars. Roughly two generations later Second Wave Feminism rolled in to make sure everyone knew that relations between the sexes were no laughing matter. (The summary joke from this unhappy period: Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? A. That’s not funny!) Second Wave Feminism was the feminism of grim Gloria Steinem and scary Germaine Greer and no bras.
A real eye-opener about the feminist cultural demonization and trivialization of men, and the consequences.
I recognized that there was a vast disparity between the funding amounts and promotion levelsfor the two cancers — despite the nearly equal number of deaths from each of these illnesses. Knowing men would never organize to complain, I decided to “rebel against the matriarchy” for them.
Little did I realize I was engaging in “men’s rights” activism, as outlined in Dr. Helen Smith’s new book, Men on Strike: Why Men are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream — and Why It Matters.
Long-time readers of Legal Insurrection recognize that when I write about “feminism”, my goal is to ensure women empower themselves by getting the full story on any matter and then making fully informed decisions. While I was aware the rate of marriage in this country was going down and the number of single-parent households was going up, I never connected it to men making their own set of informed decisions.
Therefore, Dr. Helen’s book was a real eye-opener.
As an unabashed capitalist, I recognize that rewarding desired behaviors and punishing unfavored ones is a successful strategy. The book clearly outlines how modern feminism demonizes men as “potential perverts”, punishes them with fiscally punitive court decisions in divorce and custody cases, and trivializes the needs of males in educational and college settings. The result is a decline in traditional and positive male behaviors.
In fact, Dr. Helen often references The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. I read the book shortly after having my son, and it inspires me to be pro-active in his education and ensure he has alpha-male role models. It also influenced my incipient activism.
Dr. Helen (the wife of Professor Glenn Reynolds) uses much information gleaned from herPajamas Media website.She offers the testimony from her comments section to discuss the reasons our men are opting out of college, marriage, and fatherhood. Part of the reason is that today’s society has empowered women’s sexuality while controlling men’s via the legal system (e.g., being sued for childcare for children not their own). One 23-year-old offered the following perspective:
“I think girls a long time ago, maybe forty or fifty years ago, were doing less cheating and were more trustworthy. Now girls are like guys used to be. I would say that eight out of ten girls are ‘sketchy’ and about six or seven guys out of ten are those girls can trust”.
Dr. Helen notes that middle management is now comprised predominately of women, and many of them favor women in hiring and promotions. Over 90% of the genetics counselors are women, who do not feel the need to inform male partners of the results of DNA tests. Women dominate in higher education at every degree level.
Society has evolved into a “girl’s club”.
What is the ultimate impact? Dr. Helen cites the Costa Concordia tragedy, which made it seem like chivalry is dead because men saved themselves as their boat sank. Interestingly, at the time, I had an online discussion about “What Became of Real Men” with a paid expert on masculinity about the event.
Dr. Helen rightly points out that when you reward the “Uncle Tims” at the expense of the “White Knights”, and decry masculinity as evil, then self-serving behavior will be the result. She notes, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”
I hope to keep up the battle for “men’s rights” in my own way: Inspiring women to make healthy choices and respect the wonderful differences of masculinity. Here is one of my many rewards — being surrounded by a group of dashing warriors, who treat me like a queen and make very special memories for my son.
Leslie Eastman with San Diego’s Lanciari, costumes by Ovidia 550 AD