First it was The Atlantic magazine's cover story; next it was David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, and now, the esteemed Munk Debates in Toronto having the gall, (some would say hutzpa!) to invite four women to debate the obsolescence...and then posting results that claimed the "pro" side won!
Of course, male sperm is being collected, for considerable dollars, in sperm banks, making it both technically possible and societally condoned for women to conceive and deliver their "own" offspring without having the impediments of having to "raise another child" in a husband.
And, of course, the graduate schools of too many universities are tilting to a majority of female students, having abandoned the 50/50 ratio nearly a decade ago, and the 75 (male)/25 (female) demographic decades ago.
And, of course, there are examples of super-women, at least that is how too many writers portray the female heads of corporations who serve as chief executive/mother/wife/friend...and for them and for their circles of influence, we can all be grateful, given that they provide a role model for our daughters who no longer are literally or metaphorically constrained by a glass ceiling that caps their dreams and ambitions.
As for the obsolescence of men, well, we, men and women, have a lot of work to do, collectively and assertively, to bring some dignity, self-respect and self-confidence to the male portion of our population...and there is not a lot of time!
So long as the loudest and most politically correct voices in our culture begin their "story" with the determined, and malignant and bullying concept that men have oppressed women for centuries, we will continue to have a problem. How dare the feministas pawn that bullshit on an unsuspecting and mostly somnolent media, and culture. It just is not, and could not be true, given the difficulty of herding men into a joint effort of such complexity.
First, men have been more than a little occupied, in their narrow and too focused minds at least, on things like finding and securing food, and warding off enemies to their families and communities, and scratching out some kind of "living" in various iterations, depending on the nature of available opportunities, agrarian, industrial, military, and even marginally artistic, and more recently technologically and even more recently, entrepreneurially, to consider, as some principal plank on a gender agenda of their own, to even take into consideration how women might feel about the historic division of labour and roles, more defined in some cultures than in others.
Oh, there are still too many organizations that are "male exclusive" in reality, if not in policy. One such institution is the Christian church, in which male leadership, especially in the Roman Catholic brand, is engraved in granite, and, once again, premised on an interpretation of "scripture" that begs serious debate and scepticism.
Men are, it is both true and tragic, more fragile and dependent that we would like to admit.
Men are, it is both true and tragic, detached from their emotional lives, and the language that would help to connect them to that part of their beings...and also resistant to the changes that would only free them and their partners should they open up to and embrace their emotional lives. It is OK, but not history-making, for Joe Clark to appear on national television to criticise the Harper government for having no interest in "soft power" and for having put all its "eggs" in the basket of hard power, (a minimal criticism) but the real import of that statement is not unpacked, even by an interviewer as sensitive and "hip" as Strombolopolous. What Clark is saying in effect, is that the definition of masculinity that restricts a government to hard power (the military, the hierarchical and the formalities), while ignoring soft power, (the diplomatic, the informal and the relational). Clark's persona is so un-macho that inspite of his incredible determination and persistence, he nevertheless has been the ridiculed joke among males in Canadian political history, much to our own loss.
Similarly, Bob Stanfield, another "progressive conservative leader," who suffered from too much "unconventional" behaviour and image, (eating a banana, for example on national television during his leadership convention) while merely telling the world he was comfortable in his own skin, and not dependent on the requirements of a politically correct perfect image.
Trudeau, also unconventional, nevertheless wore the cape of a mysterious character of fiction, or the headband and robes of the bohemian world traveller, and the pirouette (in tails) in the presence of the Queen (albeit behind her back) as his way of never falling victim to the male-generated slur of "wimp" or "gay"...the long-time enemy of all western masculinity, once again to it everlasting shame.
By taking the "high road" and by pointing their individual and collective fingers at "men" as jerks, a..holes, and the many other epithets hurled with impunity and immunity by women at men, both individually and collectively, women are taking the very steps that would see their premise become their prison.
Where are the women who know, deeply and profoundly, that men live and die for the opportunity to be loved by a woman, and who, in their apprehension of that truth, are unwilling to betray that trust by manipulating one man, or all men, into thinking that their only or best route to equality is to compete, to denigrate and insult and to effectively drive men from the "field" of even wanting to be in the game?
Where are the women, (and certainly not the "Real Women of fundamentalist Christianity) who embrace the complexity that is and has always been masculinity. We are much more, and also much less, than a penis and a bag of testosterone. We are much more, and much less, than a gun-toting hunter, or an armored weapon vying for victory in a military, or a corporate or an educational, or a sexual war (either real or simulated). We are increasingly wandering in a fog of both uncertainty, siloed from both other men and clearly from too many women, at least collectively...and if and when one of us attempts to cross the line and embrace the totality, including the vulnerability, of our authentic emotions, through a search for spirituality or a pilgrimage into self-examination, we are condemned by too many other men, and idolized by too many women, starved for our kind.
So, in effect, we are competing with other men (both the 'evolved' and the stagnant variety) for a life partner, while we compete with other men for the decreasing number of vacancies in the employment in all sectors of the economy, and with the 'tin ear' of most political and thought leaders who take the public position that anyone (or group) that complains about their lot is a victim, an archetype completely anathema to the persistent, and persistently ensnaring archetype of a reduced and constricted definition of masculinity.
To the women who are reading this, in all countries, I implore you to 'take the hand' of the man in your life, and to walk with and to talk to and to listen to and to encourage him to listen to all the intimacies and intricacies of all of the stories you have to tell, both those of obvious import to your lives and those that seem most trivial. Some time along that path, your man will open, just a small crack in the hardness of his armour, to your deeper and unresolvable complexities, without having to worry about trying to "fix" you or the problem or complexity you are presenting.
Eventually, even C.S. Lewis, the English professor at Oxford, was opened to his own vulnerability, inspite of his "up-tight" and granite persona, encouraged and enabled by his austere and frigid faith and intellect, through the complexities of a women's love, acceptance, and even adoring truths.
And if Lewis is capable of such a thawing, so then are all men, including your scribe.
And if Lewis can become a role model, then that role model is available, along with other Joe Clark's and other Leonard Cohen's and other Earle Birney's and other "stars of battle of the blades" where the macho-hockey-player learns the demands of the artistic and much more complex figure-skating competitions and trainings, in front of millions of previously closed eyes and minds and hearts.
And if that can happen in Canada, perhaps our example can be caught by others in different cultures, for different reasons and purposes.
And both the male and the female stereotype that excludes the other can eventually give way to a model of androgyny that would serve all of us much more effectively and much more tolerantly.
The End of Men
Be it resolved, men are obsolete…
November 15, 2013
From the Munk Debates website, November 19, 2013
Since the beginning of human civilization, men have been the dominant sex. But now, for the first time, a host of indicators suggest that women are not only achieving equality with men but are fast emerging as the more successful sex of the species. Whether in education, employment, personal health or child rearing, statistics point to a rise in the status and power of women at home, in the workplace, and in traditional male bastions such as politics. But are men, and the age-old power structures associated with “maleness,” permanently in decline? Or do men still retain significant control over the workplace, the family and society at large, including women? In sum, where are the sexes headed in the 21st century?
To find out, the Munk Debates will move the motion: be it resolved men are obsolete...
To find out, the Munk Debates will move the motion: be it resolved men are obsolete...