Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Glenn and Helen Show: Kathleen Parker on Why Men Matter

Hmm . . . didn't know anyone thought men didn't matter. The podcast is below.

First, though, you can read a review of Kathleen Parker's new book in the New York Post. I'm sure there is some partial truth to all of this, but I think there is still a great deal of power that men have over women in this culture -- until we fix ALL the imbalances, we are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes. At least she does hold men accountable for their own part in this.

Here's a taste of the review of "SAVE THE MALES" - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD (ER, ANY) MEN:
Are men necessary? In 2005, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who authored a book by that title, said no. Women are soaring to new heights in education and the workplace -- and men are intimidated by this success, she argued. And who needs them anyway when modern technology created the sperm bank? In Dowd's world, men might be headed toward practical extinction.

"Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care" is Kathleen Parker's sharp and witty criticism of the American male-bashing culture, where boys are thought of as bad and girls are lauded as good. Parker rails against women like Dowd who perpetuate this misandry that has seeped into media, schools and family life.

Never heard of misandry? It's the idea that men are inferior to women, but it's not commonly used. While many of us know the word misogyny -- the hatred of women -- few dare to argue that men might not get a fair shake.

Parker asks readers to take a second look: Teenaged girls wear T-shirts that read "Stupid Factory: Where Boys Are Made" and sitcoms like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Simpsons" are driven by plots of husbandly stupidity and wives saving the day. When we embrace the stereotype that men are mamma's boys, invalids and bumblers, we're falling into a dangerous trap: We're emasculating the men we profess to love.

What happened? When did we stop thinking of men as strong providers and decide they were stupid and unnecessary? Parker describes this "trivialization of the father" as "feminism's collateral damage," arguing that father knows best went out of fashion with poodle skirts. In an era of blurred gender roles, "as we devalue the strong masculine type, we reward the feminized male." Parker quips that we've taken "the apron-men and the power-women and turned them into cultural icons of virtue and courage."

The "Sex and the City" generation of women expects little from men, Parker argues, and men have acted accordingly: "Random hookups," and no-commitment relationships create a culture where "men have been delivered from the expectation that they behave honorably" and in turn, "females hurt by men's lack of attention react in ways that ensure further alienation," pushing men out of family life and diminishing their contributions to society.

Even more pressing, Parker asks "Where did daddy go?" Today, a third of all American children sleep in a home where their father doesn't: A generation of fathers has been marginalized from family life by divorce laws that favor mothers and a culture that celebrates single motherhood, Parker claims.

Read the whole review.

And here is the text from the podcast featuring Parker talking about her book.

They used to say that it was a man’s world, but you don’t hear that much any more. Women outnumber men in college, get preferential legal treatment in many areas, and in general seem to be doing better, while boys lag girls in education and men generally seem to be doing worse. Should anyone care?

Yes, says Kathleen Parker in her new book, Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care. We talk with her about what’s going on, why the condition of men matters to women, and why many men are afraid to speak out. Plus, Barack Obama on fatherhood.

Listen to this podcast
Or download The Glenn and Helen Show: Kathleen Parker on Why Men Matter.

For another, somewhat male-centric (masculinist is the word they use) take on this issue, see this old article about Warren Farrell from Salon.


Save the males!
Men are going the way of the dodo in our feminized society, says Warren Farrell. And that's not good for either sex.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Amy Benfer

Feb. 6, 2001 | Warren Farrell, the feminist, had two houses, including a "gorgeous, gorgeous" home in the country. He drove a Maserati. Every article he wrote about women for the New York Times was published, without exception. When he made presentations at conferences, he was offered teaching positions in departments where he "was not even qualified to teach." (His doctorate is in political science, not psychology, the subject of his five books.) He was the only man to be elected three times to the board of NOW in New York. He was invited to appear on Phil Donahue's talk show no fewer than eight times.

Warren Farrell, the masculinist, has one house, which he does own, but it's "nothing phenomenal." He drives a 1989 Nissan 240SX. Nothing he has written about men for the New York Times has been published, without exception. The college professors have stopped calling and so have the feminists (although to this day the bio on his book jackets still begins with his NOW credentials). During his last appearance on "Donahue," Farrell says, he started to address men's issues. And that was, well, his last appearance on "Donahue." Phil didn't want him back, and Betty Friedan, if she didn't actually want him dead, would probably have preferred to see him muzzled.

It's hard work being a gender radical, especially when you switch sides.

Farrell says he was "100 percent" feminist in his thinking until sometime in the mid-1970s. At that time, he was leading anti-sexism workshops on college campuses across the country, most of them sponsored by feminist organizations. Farrell made men participate in "beauty pageants" to make them see what it was like for women to be judged on their looks alone. The feminists were good with that; they loved him; they sponsored him; they took him out to dinner and told him how wonderful he was.

But Farrell also wanted the women to see what it was like to be a man. Men, according to Farrell, "take 152 risks of rejection from first eye contact with a woman until intercourse." He decided that women should have to participate in a role-reversal exercise in which they were forced to ask a man out. The feminists did not like that. According to Farrell, most of them, after watching the men go through the beauty contest, walked out when it came time to participate in the role-reversal "date."

But Farrell's biggest argument with feminists came in the mid- to late '70s, when, one by one, NOW chapters across the country came out in support of giving mothers primary custody of children in cases of divorce.

"I said, 'Uh-huh. I see what this movement is about. It's about women having choices, not about fairness,'" recalls Farrell. "I definitely agree with choices for women, but I do not agree with choices for women when they eliminate choices for men. Rather, I think that the sexes need to make choices that lead to the maximum amount of win-win for both sexes."

Divorce, according to Farrell, leaves men who are dependent on women for their emotional lives with a gaping "love void" that must be filled. After his divorce with the feminist movement, Farrell experienced a political love void, and into it stepped men -- angry men, wounded men, men who want to be "nurturer-connectors" but who, according to Farrell, are simply viewed as "killer-protectors."

For Farrell, the stereotype of men as "success objects" came to feel just as pernicious as the stereotype of women as "sex objects," a fact that he believes has been ignored both by feminists, who see men as the keepers of power, and by traditional women, who rely upon men to support them.

Warren Farrell, masculinist, writes books that tend to make headlines because of their often inflammatory content, but that doesn't mean they are always taken seriously in a culture that views "men's issues" with derision on the one hand, and as a last, vicious grab for patriarchal power on the other.

Read the whole article.

I think Farrell has some good points, especially when he is talking about getting men more involved in raising their children. But I don't really see this as a reason to bash feminism, but rather as a reason to bash our particular form of capitalism, which still (like it or not) values men more than women in the work force.

It's harder for men to stay home with with kids (although the children most certainly benefit from the father-bonding that this would allow). Several European countries allow paternity leave -- we should, too.

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