Men are Obsolete: Another Myth of the Culture Machine

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And so it goes for women determined to prove that in the historic struggle for equality and a lighter laundry load, the second sex has come out on top, resulting in unprecedented role reversals – giving women an edge in educating, managing and thriving. Are females simply better designed to rule a postindustrial society?

That’s the question posed in a recent article in The Atlantic called “The End of Men”, which maps out the makings of a powerful society of fierce, hard hat toting Amazons taking over as the dominant sex “with shocking speed.” It’s no wonder, we are told, that the ratio of couples requesting girl babies at sperm banks is 2 to 1, a sign that we are looking to daughters as the future. Is China listening?

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The piece tells us to look at the job numbers: In early 2010, women were the majority of the workforce for the first time in US history; there will be three women for every two men earning a college degree this year; and most managers are now women. In studying various entities like corporations, governments and professions such as medicine and the law, it seems to follow that those promoting women are the savvy, progressive and prolific. They are investing in the future and the future is brains, creativity and empathy over good old boy networking and brawn.

As Atlantic author, Hanna Rosin, puts it: “Feminism has pushed women to do things once considered against their nature – first enter the workforce as singles, then continue to work while married, then work even with small children at home. Many professions that started out as the province of men are now filled mostly with women – secretary and teacher come to mind. Yet, I’m not aware of any that have gone the opposite way. Nursing schools have tried hard to recruit men in the past few years with minimal success. Teaching schools, eager to recruit male role models, are having a similarly hard time. The range of acceptable masculine roles has changed comparatively little, and has perhaps even narrowed as men shied away from some careers women have entered.”

In probing the trend of a generation of males who lag behind, especially during a recession that is leaving them unemployed and in failed marriages, Rosin points to the observations of Jessica Grose, who wrote in Slate about Omega Males and the Women Who Hate Them: “Men are still tragically unable to retool. The image of the American woman has gone through several upheavals since the 1950s, but the masculine ideal seems fixed in cultural aspic.”

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While the numbers might prove women have a greater propensity for reinvention and growth of all kinds, they don’t signal that men are becoming obsolete, which is yet another damning myth that goes further to divide rather than unite the species. Sure, the ones from Mars still rule countries and make decisions to go to war, to pad the pockets of corporations, to rape both sexes, and to make weapons widely available to the wrong people.

But it doesn’t mean there aren’t good men out there. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our husbands and our sons, our brothers and first cousins. Meantime, it is widely argued that there are plenty of women who emulate bad male behavior, and they are just as damaging as the macho, gun slinging hunters. Perhaps the point isn’t that we don’t need men, but that we don’t need men who have the wrong image of what it means to be a dude, nor women who take on the same stereotypes (i.e power brokers in DC or brutal p.e. teachers).

Whether omega or alpha, the key seems to be balance and sensitivity when it comes to advancing in postindustrial society, knowing when to let down your guard in order to grow. Anyone who has experienced couples therapy knows that a spouse who opens up and shares is a good communicator; that the spouse or partner who listens well is a good student; that the spouse or partner who lets down defenses and explores new approaches is the one most likely to evolve.

The same analogy applies to work and relationships. Stagnant, uptight, defensive, vague, competitive, suspicious are traits clung to by those needing to play it safe. Men have been taught that playing it safe is the best way to go to come out of any situation unscathed. But that seems to be the rub, the so-called aspic that binds them. If anything, men need to emulate good female behavior which seems to come instinctively. Is a good man hard to find? Not if he is under the influence of a good man and a good woman.

Images: Alex E. Proimos; Zazzle; NYU Local

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.