Kay Hymowitz was criticized for piling on men in her book, Manning Up: How The Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. I expressed concern about this issue here, as did Dr. Helen Smith, here.
I’m now half way through Kay’s book, and the text is far more balanced than the marketing of it would have you believe. Kay describes the advancement of women, men’s lagging achievement, the increase in antisocial behavior, and some of the societal forces (such as changes in the economy) that contribute to men’s declining state. I’ve got more of the book to read, but for the most part, it’s clear Kay tries to strike a balance between expressing concern about the prospects of a generation of younger men, sympathizing with some of the reasons for men’s decline, and calling on young men (and those who love them) to recognize that there is a problem with the self-defeating lifestyle that many have embraced.
Contrast Kay’s careful criticism with that of progressive icon Thom Hartmann. I recently appeared on Thom’s television show to discuss my article on the male-female wage gap. My point (that differences in wages aren’t evidence of systematic discrimination since many factors, including individual choices, affect how much someone earns) was frustrating to Thom who prefers to see the world as a patriarchal boondoggle and women as victims in the need of endlessly-increasingly government protection.
He wasn’t content, however, to just dispute the numbers or competing explanations for the wage gap. Thom went so far as to declare that since men were responsible for a century of wars, that for the next decade, all men should lose their right to vote. He insisted he was serious, and apparently had also proposed stripping men of voting rights earlier in the day when on the radio with my colleague, Romina. He also stated that testosterone was the world’s most dangerous drug (and clearly Thom likes the idea of government moving to exert more control over those infected with it).
It was hard to know where to begin to respond to such offensive inanities. There’s the guilt by association: that half of our population should be convicted for the offenses (to accept Thom’s presumption that someone is guilty of unnecessarily creating war in the first place) of a few elite political figures. Today’s young men were obviously not around to vote for the leaders who made the decision to go into Vietnam, Iraq, etc.
Thom’s willingness to belittle all men is more evidence of some of the societal forces that are surely contributing to many of the problems men face, as outlined in Kay’s book. Why is it that someone-someone supposedly sensitive to the effects of discrimination-feels comfortable in sending a message to all males that they are innately inferior to the other sex and don’t deserve equal rights as citizens? Why is it that society thinks it’s okay to tell my two-year old son that there is something inherently wrong with boys like him, that they are dangerous, and can’t be trusted? Why would we want to send the message that the world would be better off if only women were decision-makers and if men would just submit to them? Clearly, anyone who expressed such a sentiment about women would be (rightly) condemned.
Anyone who is concerned about how we are raising the next generation of boys should consider the implications of statements like this, and a society that is so willing to demonize and dismiss boys and men.
Some critics on the left have called me (and conservative women generally) self-loathing women. As if believing that women are capable of sustaining themselves absent massive government subsidy is incompatible with supporting womankind. Thom Hartmann’s man-hating rhetoric should be soundly condemned as the sexist bigotry that it is.