Feminism Fallout: Has Our Ascension Made for Less Manly Men?

November 15, 2011  |  

Don’t we just love to romanticize the old days? I mean, just look at today’s hit shows: for instance, think of Mad Men and the very far second best and now defunct Pan Am. The women are presented to us so dainty, well-coiffed, demure and oh-so-subtly Hot; the men, Ken doll handsome, large and in charge, playboys, but with a heart of gold. Look beneath the nostalgia and you’ll find those seemingly perfect women drinking themselves down a bottle of wine alone at home, or claustrophobic from the confines of her station at work, while the husbands (at least the successful ones) have three-hour lunches laced with Smirnoff Premium Vodka. When they finally stagger home after feeling up (and possibly boinking) the secretary, they pat their children on the head, and then maybe pound the wife in the head.

So make no mistake; I hold no illusions about what used to be when I say that, while I cheer for the accomplishments of women, a little part of me mourns the death of the well-chiseled man–remember him? The one who’d slay dragons for the princess; the guy who held the door and threw his raincoat over a puddle so your feet would stay dry, the dude who would rather swallow his own tongue before he asked, “Can we go half?” on a first date, which he initiated.

Le sigh. In an attempt to get men to “get in touch with their feminine side,” many have languished there a bit too long, and now we’re switching roles like never before: more women are enrolled in universities than men. Boys are dropping out of high school like flies in a room full of Raid. Innumerable awkward pauses fill the air as women and men struggle for who should open the door to building these days, while some men don’t even bother. Seats aren’t offered, and more women are starting to propose to men. Men now get manicures and pedicures, and some even get their eyebrows threaded.

Women–not just black women–are bemoaning the lack of good, marriageable men who want to settle into the husband and daddy roles, but with no more societal pressure to commit, why would they bother?  One psychologist and author squarely blames the Women’s Liberation Movement on the reason for all the namby-pamby man-children more Madames encounter these days.

“In other words, the very changes that helped to bring men and women closer together are simultaneously tearing them apart,” says Steven Carter in his book, Men Who Can’t Love: How to Recognize a Commitmentphobic Man Before He Breaks Your Heart. 

How on earth could this be? I mean, why would a woman’s ability to leave the kitchen and secretary pool to become head chef and the CEO be cause for men to be so squeamish? “Back in the ‘good old days’ it was bad form for a young man to remain single for too long. With some exceptions, the bachelor’s lifestyle was not a coveted one,” Carter says. Nowadays, it’s the preferred way of doing things.

Carter argues that the Women’s Liberation Movement, the sexual revolution, and all the non-committal sex that goes along with that has had some unintended consequences, because 40 years ago, “the louder the body screamed for fulfillment, the more one found oneself being propelled down the only legitimate road that would silence those screams.”

Bottom line: less has been expected from men, while more has been expected from women. Marry for sex, work three jobs, open a door, pay for a date, or throw their rain coats over puddles. And this is becoming more what more women are doing these days, not men (aside from the ladder of course, can’t mess up a good raincoat).

Ah…it would be so much easier if we ladies could have our cake and eat it…

Christelyn D. Karazin is the co-author of “Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed” (to be released April 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community.

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