Much to the chagrin of a certain old-timey subset, traditional American masculinity is on its way out. Gone are days of the breadwinning hard hat wearers earning enough to support a wife that stays at home with 2.5 children; in 2014, the Haves wear bowties with short sleeved button down shirts and post pictures of their adopted three legged cat "Atticus" to Instagram while they wait for their daily webinar to start and the Have Nots drive their NOBAMA mudflapped trucks to the unemployment office.
Many vocal, thinkpiece-writing detractors blame this phenomenon— which has been cringingly referred to as the "feminization" of America — on feminists. But blaming women (a historically disenfranchised demographic) for fucking things up men (who have spent the last 10,000 years of human civilization in charge of most things) is pretty foolish. If we're looking at who is to blame for the death of American masculinity, we need to blame... men.
Via Forbes, libertarian thinker and blogger Rachel Burger makes the compelling argument that the reason boys have fallen behind girls at almost every level of education, and the reason that young childless urban women with college degrees outearn their male counterparts, and the reason that MEN ARE ENDING isn't because big mean feminists used all the power they stole from men in the 1970's to hairy armpit and henpeck them into fey submission. It's because we live in a capitalist society, and the capitalist economy that men of the twentieth century built and profited from also profited from shipping jobs that require traditionally "masculine" qualities overseas. She writes,
...feminists aren't to blame for this economic shift. After all, it was men who invented the Internet, who created and sold mass-produced computers, who shipped jobs overseas and who even fashioned social media. To blame women for the change in the male labor market is to feign ignorance of the realities of history. And in the West's new creative economy, physical labor is, quite simply, less valuable.
Like most wars, Suzanne Venker/James Taranto/ Camile Paglia/Christina Hoff Summers' WAR ON MEN was fought mostly by.... men. Specifically, post World War II men. Another reason to hate your parents, Generations X and Y, if you see the dearth of jobs requiring upper body strength as a bad thing.
As Burger points out, jobs available to American workers now are more likely to place a premium on compromise, communication, networking, and other skills women and girls are socialized to value more than men and boys. If parents want to groom men to succeed in a communication and service-based economy, argues Burger, then yeah they're going to have to socialize them to act more like "socially intelligent" girls. Because otherwise they'll get their wall-punching asses fired. You can't golf your way up the corporate ladder anymore.
Burger's piece adopts a bit of a *shrug* get used to it! tone, which I suppose applies to the changing nature of high-paying, corporate jobs that pay a living wage, but seems a little callous when applied to jobs on the lower end of the economic spectrum; the high paying, high skilled manual labor jobs that captains of industry went ahead and outsourced are being replaced by jobs in the service and health care industry that pay a hell of a lot less, pushing workers with lower levels of education even further down the economic ladder and opening up a precipitous gap between rich and poor. From this perspective, it makes more sense to call this aspect of the economic "war on men" what it actually is: a war on the working poor.
And it's interesting to consider the implications of Burger's argument as it relates to conservative nostalgia for the swaggering cowboy as embodied in such silly struggles as the fight against anti-bullying rules. If the economy has evolved into one that rewards "girly" qualities like social intelligence and collaboration, then conservatives who insist on making little cowboys out of their sons are literally setting them up to fail. And then get really angry about it.
But ultimately, Burger is absolutely correct in asserting that feminists aren't the primary force responsible for this particular set of changes in the American social fabric — the economy is. Blaming the so-called War On Men on women is as silly as painting oneself into a corner and then blaming the person who point out the paint color.