For the last few years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in various media sources. The well-established cry for women’s equality seems to have taken a not-so-subtle turn to become a celebration of women’s newfound primacy–or even an outright advocacy for it.
Some will probably take my failure to share in the exuberance as evidence of misogyny. After all, our computer-saturated society has become insufferably binary, where if you disagree with someone’s “self-evident” statements, you’re judged immediately to belong to the despicable opposition. However, I have no problem with the idea that women are better than men. Physically, women are far better looking than men. A naked woman, even a woman who doesn’t have the “perfect” body according to the definition of Hollywood, is a sight of beauty that never ceases to inspire and interest. A naked man, on the other hand, is boring unless he’s in very good shape. His body generally offers nothing to look at, leaving one’s eye to be drawn to the imperfections: his belly sags, his abs are flabby.
Non-physically, women are capable of doing the same things men can. They can engineer, do research, manage people, manage finances, invent, run companies, and run countries. The traditional advantage that men had, their physical strength, is no longer required to support human life, having been supplanted by machines. There is no longer anything special about being a man.
Nevertheless, articles like the cover article for the March 26th edition of Time this year are annoying. The article is called “The Richer Sex” and features the summary “Women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners. Why that’s good for everyone”–i.e. good for both men and women. The author championing this idea is, even better, a woman. That’s right. A woman is telling America’s men why it’s good for them that women are assuming the position of primacy in society.
In the words of the author, Ms Mundy, “Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men…The primary role men have played since they departed the cave in pursuit of bison and woolly mammoths and marched forth in flannel suits to earn paychecks in the Mad Men era will be passed to women.” Notice the evolutionary rhetoric used here, implying that with the advancement of society has come the elevation of women over men.
She notes that in seeing the ascendancy of women, “many men may experience an existential crisis.” But here, just like everywhere else, women are rising to the occasion. “Married women…go to great lengths to praise their stay-at-home husbands for what they do…Activities that might have been considered hobbies will achieve a higher status. A wife talks about her husband’s blog as if it were a book project. Heavy meals and showy cooking are gratefully received and complimented, even as many women secretly long for a simple meal of steamed vegetables.” What does this remind you of? Maybe mothers talking to their two-year-olds? “Good job, Jacob, that’s a wonderful, um, whatever that is.” How would this article sound if it was talking about white people praising black people for working in low-income jobs?
Deciding how to balance everything equally is no easy task. Take Michael and Rose. “When Michael…[got] a new job, Rose still earned twice as much as he did. Should she continue to let him do the bulk of the housework? Or was she obliged to make sure it was 50-50? Even though he was a better cook and cleaner?” I don’t remember ever seeing a public discussion where men were permitted to do less than 50% of the housework when they had the higher-paying jobs. And I certainly don’t ever remember anyone daring enough to publicly suggest that it made sense for women who were better at cooking and cleaning to shoulder a greater percentage of it (other than those kooky fundamentalists).
As women become overwhelmed with the demands of work and home, “in many families, there is a new realization setting in. The notion of perfect equality in all tasks, work, wages and power was never realistic”–yet that never stopped anyone from pursuing it as long as men were primary in society.
The truth seems to be that men haven’t been primary for some time now. One of the statistics cited by the article involved who is more likely to determine how money is spent in the home. For families where husbands earn more than their wives, in 36% of cases the woman was more likely to, while only in 35% of cases were the men more likely to–even though more of the money is theirs! But women aren’t so foolish–in families where the women earn more money, in 46% of cases the woman was more likely to determine how the money was spent, as opposed to the 21% of cases where the man was. As Michael found out when he approved an expensive procedure for his and Rose’s pet cat without asking Rose for permission: “‘I was kind of upset about it,’ [said Rose]…’I did kind of feel like, You just spent a bunch of my money without telling me.'” Gone is the idea that doing housework entitles a person to some independence in the expenditures.
Men have become increasingly useless in our society. Articles like these only serve to further grind their noses in the dirt. And the hypocrisy of the article is offensive. Let’s stop pandering to modernist ideas of social engineering and start trying to understand what’s wrong with this machine we’ve built. Maybe then we’ll find a way to connect to something greater, something truly alive.