The war on men has been ongoing for a couple decades now but they haven’t done it alone; they’ve had a compatible sidekick, namely the mainstream media. The New York Times played its part well this week, perpetuating a war on the patriarchy with not one but two zingers that attack both young boys and older men.
Uh huh. pic.twitter.com/AvGUQAIr8d
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) November 26, 2017
The war on men starts early, evidently.
In an astounding piece on “gender fluidity,” called “His Eye Makeup Is Way Better Than Yours,” author Bee Shapiro writes how more young boys are being encouraged to embrace their feminine side by wearing makeup and growing out their hair:
“What you have now are millennial moms who have grown up in an era where gender is more fluid,” [salon owner Cozy] Friedman said. “Millennials are very in tune with empowering their children.” For example, she sees a wide range of hair lengths on boys. “It’s not unusual for boys to sit in the chair, take out an iPhone and show a picture of what they want their hair to look like,” she said, adding that they start around age 6. “There are many role models for them to look to now.”
Shapiro asserts that young boys wearing makeup and feminine clothing is a growing trend and a healthy, positive one at that. It’s also one that can lead to children deciding that they are transgender. While the former is likely true, and some young children do suffer from gender dysphoria, it’s estimated the number of young people who are “transgender” is less than 0.15 percent—hardly a dominant figure or growing trend. More importantly, it’s not a healthy one either. This pediatrician likened encouraging children to transition to child abuse, because children are not at an age where they can fully understand nor make life-altering decisions about gender.
Still, the sexualization of young boys who haven’t even reached puberty, by encouraging them to wear makeup, seems not only odd, but emasculating. It’s as if Shapiro is hopeful or glad to see a segment of society eradicating boyness or any trace of developing masculinity altogether.
The next message pushed by the Times in the same week focused on grown men and their libidos. In “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido,” author Stephen Marche argues that the tsunami of sexual assault allegations against everyone from Harvey Weinstein to Al Franken all point to one thing: Men are monsters because of their libidos. He writes:
[T]he accusations aren’t against some freak geography teacher, some frat running amok in a Southern college town. They’re against men of all different varieties, in different industries, with different sensibilities, bound together, solely, by the grotesquerie of their sexuality…Almost all are uninterested or unwilling to grapple with the problem at the heart of all this: the often ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido.
Marche acts like it’s so simple and yet so profound: Men rape and denigrate women because of their natural sexual desires gone awry. The author continues:
The masculine libido and its accompanying forces and pathologies drive so much of culture and politics and the economy, while remaining more or less unexamined, both in intellectual circles and in private life. […] The men I know don’t actively discuss changing sexual norms. We gossip and surmise: Who is a criminal and who isn’t? Which of the creeps whom we know are out there will fall this week?
Marche gets two things right and one (very big) thing wrong. Male libido is truly a beast of a thing: It’s a raging, dominant factor in many men’s lives from puberty until. . .well, for some men, until the grave. To women, male libido can be equal parts daunting and mysterious, compelling yet curious. Is this really what drives men? Though the psychologist Sigmund Freud originally defined libido as “the energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude… of those instincts which have to do with all that may be comprised under the word ‘love,’” modern society has come to think of it simply as the thing which compels men to pursue sex under all circumstances and at all costs. So Marche gets that right. Libido is a driving force in men. The other thing Marche gets right is that some men become predators. In fact, most sexual predators are men. This is also true and obviously deeply concerning and dangerous.
Where Marche goes completely awry is in connecting the two; correlation doesn’t equal causation. While a sexual predator may indeed have a roaring libido he can’t keep in check, that doesn’t mean all men with libidos will become—or even have the potential to become—sexual predators. In fact, many professionals say rape in particular is not just about sex or libido at all but control, dominance and power.
But Marche suggests that there is little hope for taming the male beast:
What if there is no possible reconciliation between the bright clean ideals of gender equality and the mechanisms of human desire? How can healthy sexuality ever occur in conditions in which men and women are not equal? How are we supposed to create an equal world when male mechanisms of desire are inherently brutal? I’m not asking for male consciousness-raising groups; let’s start with a basic understanding that masculinity is a subject worth thinking about. That alone would be an immense step forward.
What’s sad about both of these articles running in The New York Times in the same week is that they wage a war on men from both angles. We can’t push boys to look like women while begging the rest of humanity to sit down and look deep into to the male psyche to understand him and his libido. On the other hand, what these pieces lack in a genuine ability to look at boys and men and appreciate them for their gender, they make up for in their ability to push a very distinct, damaging narrative: The end of men is near, and we will hasten it. This is not only obviously damaging to our boys and men, but also to society which needs good, healthy men who are comfortable and strong in their masculinity.