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Men Are The New Women
Question…when exactly did it become socially unacceptable to be a man? Was the pinpoint moment sometime during the period between the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and the rise to notoriety of gyno-conspiracy hawk Gloria Allread (or is that “hawkette”), or is the culmination of some inevitable social evolution of the Great American Experiment? Whenever and however it began, the fact of the matter is that men have come to be relegated to what amounts to—at least socially—second-class citizens in what I believe to be in defiance of what nature intended.
Now go ahead…get out your insults of are you stuck back in the 1950s?, the do your knuckles bleed when you walk?, and the did your mother hurt you? Such emotional first response opinions would only prove my point. America has become a feminized society where not only emotionally-based values (i.e., ideas and beliefs formerly and exclusively held by women) have become the near universal values of a new hostile-to-masculinity “norm,” but have both usurped and supplanted the once masculine-based social values of American society to the detriment of male appreciation. What’s more, the social depreciation of traditional masculinity has become so interwoven into our contemporary collective psyches that we subliminally bash and un-celebrate what were once celebrated masculine values, which were once crucial to America’s strength as a nation.
Below are examples of 2 commercials currently being aired on network television. I invite you to watch both of these 30-second ads in their entirety and see if you can pick up on the relevant subtexts
In the first commercial, tongue-in-cheek humor is the vehicle (no pun intended) used to sell insurance. And as with a great many things, the woman voices her dissatisfaction with the decisions of the male. When he's had enough, he magically changes his significant other into a more idea woman for his tastes, based more on superficial appearance. She retaliates by changing her boyfriend into an equally superficial image of what she desires. She adds that "there's was nothing wrong with me in the first place" at the commercial's end--alluding to an undertone that a nagging, complaining, intolerant, verbally abusive shrew is supposed to the acceptable character of a modern woman, and that men are supposed to accept this reality. In other words, it's a God-given "right" for women to be who they are, but that the attitudes, thinking, and character of the modern male is somehow flawed.
The second spot carries the same message, albeit with greater subtlety. If noted, announcer makes reference to family members which we’re all supposed to be able to identify with in order to sell the automobile; “The wild and crazy uncle, the smart and efficient sister…” Again, for males, this caricature is supposed to represent who we are, while women are clearly the superior gender of the species. Even more, there is the more subliminal if not practical function of this spot of lauding women (while relegating men to the role of jester)—to take advantage of the fact that women are more eager consumers/purchasers than men, who have been disproportionately ravaged economically by the recent economic downturn in the economy. In most cases, women control the purses strings (as a result of more of them out-earning their male partners).
Consider how the male is perceived and portrayed in most comedy sitcoms. Women are portrayed as the level-headed, decisive, intelligent, and reasonable of the partners. Men, on the other hand, tend to be portrayed as dullards and bumbling half-wits whose every decision backfires so that the level-headed woman can come to the rescue and save him from his own decisions (think Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, et al.).
Now to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the social and economic progress women have made, but for a group of individuals who are more prone to making decisions based on feelings rather than facts, I simply do not believe it was meant for their attributes to be adopted by the entirety of society, least of all men. Are men better decision-makers? That’s not for me to say. But I will say that strength of personality, practical (rather than emotional) decision-making, the fortitude and daring to explore the unknown—both in the physical and intellectual sense—and a healthy dose of testosterone is what made and sustained America up until these recent men-move-over times.
If The Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown were still alive, he’d surely have to remake his classic hit, “It’s a Man’s World” to reflect this new reality…right after he’d have one of his shows picketed for not having enough female representation in his band!
(See also: "The Politicization of Gender In America")