One of the major “hot-button” topics in the gender dialogs is how men are changing in the 21st Century or what some people refer to as “the New Masculinity.” This can be defined as an alternative or future set of male or masculine values in Western society that are meant to deviate or separate themselves from historical and/or traditional male or masculine values. The “old or traditional masculinity” is often defined by feminists as one that has been destructive and/or harmful toward modern society in general and women and children in particular. The one facet of this discussion that has been in particular focus is how men are rejecting the traditional gender roles and dropping out of the societal expectations that have “defined” masculinity.
As many people who follow MRA dialogs may have noticed, social discussions of gender roles and “so-called” masculine values are secondary to the mainstream MRA debates of legal inequality. However, it stands to reason that we take up that angle of discussion, especially because of the recent attacks against men based on many of us (especially our younger brothers) rejecting their traditional roles as family providers and even rejecting the concept of the traditional family. In light of the current economic and social changes in the western (US in particular) gender arena, the fate of the “New Masculinity” is of major interest to feminists of all stripes and if we wish to remain relevant in our own future, it should be of major interest to us as well.
When women began to reject their historical roles in the “traditional family,” it was lauded as a progressive step forward for women and equality. But when men began to do likewise, suddenly it is being framed as another way that men are hurting women. Feminism is touting itself as being the gatekeeper of gender re-examination for both sexes and quite a bit of evidence demonstrates that there is a significant opposition against men taking the same steps toward rediscovery that women did — especially without feminist supervision. You always read about feminists seeking to eliminate the gender roles that bind both men and women. You would probably expect that they would celebrate that men are seeking paths beyond traditional gender roles. But as the two articles show, that is anything but the case.
I posit that the above articles illustrate and typify a significant feminist viewpoint about men reexamining and redefining their idea of masculinity, as well as rejecting the traditional feminine expectations. And what these articles and others like them show is that feminists like Hymowitz, Marcotte, and others (including male feminists like Jackson Katz and Hugo Schwyzer) don’t like it one bit. And thus the true motivations of a significant number of feminists (second wave and beyond) are revealed. Their “feminism” was a movement meant to redefine the conventions of gender in favor of women. According to their feminism, the political and social changes that were being implemented were meant for women to better themselves.
However, the needs of men were not considered with those broadly-wrought changes in Western society and even now, male concerns and needs are an afterthought by those who continue to advance and maintain those changes. Furthermore, as these two and many, many, other similar articles by like-minded feminist thinkers suggest, the considerations and needs of men are still only second to the considerations and needs of women. But now that men are doing the same thing, it is a huge problem…for women. Like the women in the 70s, men do not want to become “family providers” or even engage in the act of creating families. Furthermore, they do not wish to embrace the historical roles that men have held in human society. They seek to look to their own interests and learn to enjoy life outside of the occupational “rat race” which has been the traditional direction of western men. But worse yet, those men who still choose to follow that traditional path have found more and more economic, legal, and social roadblocks preventing them from doing so. Despite the issues regarding the changes that men have lately experienced with economics, mental, physical, and social health, the primary motivation for these recent articles which examine these problems with men “dropping out” of society and becoming unemployed and uneducated, is how these issues affect women.
Still don’t believe me about feminists getting riled up when men start asking the “wrong questions?” Scoot on over to the Good Men Project and holler at founder, Tom Matlack. His former feminist “allies” have collectively like a wounded piranha because of a conversation he had with them (Marcotte, Harding, Ponzer, Schwyzer, among others…including the culturally irrelevant Rosanne Barr) regarding a simple question he asked: “Why can’t women accept men for who they really are? Is a good man more like a woman or more truly masculine?”
This whole situation is telling of one truism: male feminist allies are welcome as long as they are useful and they know their place. Tom Matlack got a little too cozy with his so-called equity feminist friends, forgot himself, and the result has been an ugly mess over on the GMP. Matlack and his CEO, Lisa Hickey have been doing everything they can to try to salvage the incessant slamming that GMP has been getting by the feminist sphere. If they would listen to me, I would tell them to grab their collective cojones, weather the storm, and stand by their convictions. But I expect that they will do anything but….
More and more of the public perception of men is colored in a far less favorable light than in the past. Commercials show men as hopeless buffoons or cruel-hearted hecklers. Fewer and fewer “relationship movies” paint males in an equally elegant light as their female co-stars. However, some directors are breaking away from that stereotype and showing more realistic men. Men like Judd Apatow (who Ms Hymowicz also mentions in her above article), Greg Mottola, and Seth Rogen, have made a career of lampooning the “new masculinity.” But these movies make a point of showing their male foils moving past their personal flaws and at the same time, embracing their own maleness in a manner that eventually showcases in good faith the men that they truly are. In short, these filmmakers are using their movies to examine masculine values and viewpoints outside of feminist oversight and therefore, certain feminists (like the ones I mentioned) choose to take issue with these movies.
What this all reveals is that there is a problem within feminism with men trying to achieve awareness and transcend the historical limitations placed upon our gender. While there are feminists out there who probably do not agree with what is being done to men in their movement’s name, until they finally gain the courage to speak up and do something about their misandrist colleagues, they are equally complicit in this act of blatant marginalization.
However there is something else that all of this is saying: we are becoming effective enough to worry many of these feminists to the point where they are actively working to try to deter us from seeking our own enlightenment outside of the feminist paradigm. More and more men are seeking out their own paths to transcending the traditional bindings that have been placed upon us and that many of these feminists are trying to keep on us.
And finally we get to the title of this article. With the coming of the New Year, men need to find a way to sort out the mess that masculinity has become. And the first step is putting paid to the quaint notion that the answer to men’s rights is “more feminism.” That’s like saying the answer to lung cancer are more cigarettes. All of us as “brothers” need to work it out; we need to get ourselves together and solve the problems surrounding our gender. We need to seek out those people who are asking those questions and work with them to find the answers. We need to support each other as men and males. We need to be mentors to our boys, brothers to our fellow men of all creeds and colors, and most importantly, we need to be willing to embrace the newly emerging modes of masculine life. And more importantly, we need to do it before the feminists do it for us.
We can do this…as men and as brothers.
Like the song by the late Willie Hutch says: “Brothers gonna work it out! Brothers gonna work it out!”