Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where have all the male feminists gone?

As you can see, I've been ranting a lot lately about my singlehood. An old friend who recently re-opened communication (i do love email) read my bit on not getting lucky, and sent me this article:

What's A Modern Girl To Do?

I suppose there's some comfort in knowing that I'm not alone. (I know it's a rather long article, but if you have 15 minutes and require a bit of procrastination, I do recommend you read it.) Small comfort, though. It gets at the heart of what I've been complaining about, and it offers some explanations. It even attempts to answer the question I've been asking: What am I doing wrong? Apparently, doing is what I'm doing wrong.

I am one of the thousands of black turtleneck-wearing, birkenstocking, make-upless feminists who are discovering, rather painfully, that while career successes are a huge advantage to men in the dating world, they are of equally huge disadvantage to women. Shit.

It would seem that my mom was wrong when she assured me that when I grew up the boys would stop being afraid of me. It pisses me off that so many men are so intimidated by intelligent, assertive women. One woman in the article mentioned that her mother told her that she had to choose between being a great mom or having a great career. How come we never tell men that? Boys grow up fully believing that they can and will have careers and families. But men are intollerant of women attempting both because years ago they heard their sisters being offered an either/or choice. My mom was bang on about one thing: she said it doesn't matter how many feminist daughters we raise if we don't also raise feminist sons. (Mom raised one. He got dumped by a girl "for being too nice.")

There are feminist men out there. Men who don't demand that their women make a choice; men who are as supportive of their wive's careers as they expect their wives to be of their own, men who are not only not intimidated by intelligent women, but who are bored by simpering bimbos and who prefer the company of equals. (How novel!) I've known four such men in my life. Two are my father and brother, one was a teacher in high school (first crush on older man!), and the other is married to my best friend, so he's off-limits. Are the any more? Where have all the male feminists gone?

Male feminists are dead, and we have killed them. As a culture, we no longer value men who value women. We glorify clicker-hogging, (cheap) beer-swilling, grunting sports freaks; loveable cavemen who bumble through relationships and are not to be blamed for their stupidity ("He's just a man - he can't help it!"). We nurture and coddle these post-modern gorillas who have become the 21st century icon of masculinity. These men use power tools (ineptly), eat Frito Lays, wear flannel, and refuse to be held responsible for their social faux pas. They get away with it because we let and encourage them. We have become a society that worships men who speak in monosyllabic grunts (see Homer Simpson and Tim Allen). In just 50 years we've come full circle. We abandoned "One of these days, Alice, one of these days... pow! Right in the kisser!" in exchange for "You see this [ring]? That means I own her!" (Homer Simpson). These attitudes are once again being portrayed as cute and loveable, and we eat it up in spades.

Sensitive men, on the other hand, are nancy-men, wussies. To be intellectual is to be gay, the antithesis of masculinity. (See Will of 'Will & Grace'). To be called "sensitive" is to be insulted. How many intelligent, career, male characters can you think of from prime-time TV comedies? Friends is a good example. The show has been running for over 10 years. My generation went all through high school and college watcing it religiously. It has both reflected and helped define acceptable social behavior for offspring of the baby-boomers. There are three male characters, with varying degrees of intelligence. At the bottom of the IQ chart is Joey. Joey is adorable. Everyone loves him because he is so clueless, and cluelessness is the hot thing in men. He fucks up, but he means well and he's always sorry and he tries realy hard and he just can't help it (he's a man!), and so we love him. Next up is Chandler. Slightly smarter than Joey, slightly less incompetant. Chandler is smart enough to attempt to be manipulative and play mind games, but not smart enough to do so successfully. (If her were, he'd be Monica.) So he bumbles along and fucks things up and we forgive him because he tries real hard and he can't help it (he's a man). Last and least is Ross. Ross is the only one of the three with an advanced degree. He's the only male we ever see at his job. (The others are employed, but the camera does not follow them to work. The conclusion is that their careers aren't as central to their lives.) Ross is an anthropological scientist and university lecturer. (That's nerd-speak for "nerd.") He's also a whiney, wussie, neurotic, hypochondriac momma's boy. He winges when he gets a paper cut, pouts and throws temper-tantrums as well as his toddler son, and is everything but manly. Manliness and intelligence have become mutually exclusive concepts.

So what is a modern girl to do? Maureen Dowd never answers the question, but I'll take a stab at a possible solution. Apparenlty there are a whole lot of us women out there who are undateable, undesisreable, and unmarraigeable. If no one wants us, lets want each other. I value intelligent company, assertive friends, thoughtful conversation. There's nothing our anatomy lacks that a credit card and a trip to Toys in Babeland can't rectify, and unlike Joey Tribiani or Homer Simpson, I know where a clitoris is.

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