Our Mailbag forum on male-bashing has spilled over to the web page of Mensactivism.org, a chat-room devoted specifically to combating male-bashing. It all started when a reader protested that our board member, best-selling author Christina Hoff Sommers, had used the words “male animal” in a recent lecture and also referred to women’s civilizing effect on men. I myself added that the attack on U.S. civilians in Fallujah looked like an all-male operation, so there might be something to what Christina said. I also commented that many men’s rights advocates seemed to be disgruntled divorced fathers complaining about having to pay child support–and since I believe that fathers should support their children, I couldn’t feel much sympathy with the plight of these men. (See our Mailbags for April 1, April 5, and April 6.)
So here come the guys from Mensactivism:
“The attitude is the irritatingly patronizing one of, poor little boys, let’s cut ’em a bit of a break. This won’t change until we confront women on their claim to moral superiority….When [Sommers] talks about ‘civilizing’ boys (the ‘male animal’), what she really means is training them to become the unquestioning servants of women….But eventually, men revolt, and the result isn’t pretty. It’s actually fathers, not mothers, who succeed in civilizing boys for they effect a gradual, rather than sudden, withdrawal from maternal influence. Ironically, the end result is better, not only for civilization but for women as well.”
“I am sure in their own way groups like IWF mean well but the truth is, they’re still feminists. They don’t care a whit about men except in so far as we are useful in some way to women.”
Look, fellas, I know that divorce is painful, and that many mothers awarded custody of the children abuse the process in ways that hurt men: moving thousands of miles away, cutting off paternal visitation rights, and so forth. But remember that the real victims of divorce are children. And children need financial support, if only as a token that their father still cares about them. Think about the future: Amid all the painful memories your children will have concerning their parents’ divorce, they’ll remember that their father was always there for them–even if maybe a bad ex-wife prevented them from seeing much of their dad. That’s why I don’t approve of taking it out on an ex-wife by withholding child support. Certainly the payments can hurt–but divorce is financially hard on everyone. It simply costs more to operate two households than one. But if I were a divorced dad, I’d want to be proud that I’d never let my children down, even if it cost me.
Which brings me to my second point. Contrary to what you you might think, I believe that fathers are essential to the raising of children, especially boys (which is again why I don’t think any boy should have to grow up believing that his father has deserted him–no matter what the boy’s mother does). When Christina (and I) talk about the “civilizing” effect of women on men, we’re talking about a different phenomenon: men’s profound need for women (and yes, women need men just as profoundly). Social observers from Margaret Mead to George Gilder have written about the high levels of antisocial behavior, depression, alcoholism, and suicide among unmarried men, and the tendency of all-male groups not subject to external discipline (of the military, religious, or business-organization variety) to foster dysfunctional behavior.
I myself live near several housing projects in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the welfare system and our elites’ approval of liberated, marriage-eschewing lifestyles, a weird form of self-imposed sex-segregation is the norm in project life: female-headed households huddled at home and rat-packs of teenage boys roaming the streets and getting into trouble, often of a violent nature. Last September, a neighbor of mind was mugged and murdered by a bunch of juveniles for the $2.50 or so he had in his wallet.
And by the way, what’s wrong with being a male animal? I’m a female animal.