Yesterday was International Women’s Day – much fanfare and recognition. I, myself made a contribution. But today, here anyway, is Guy Day. The trusty January 30, 2023 magazine editor of the New Yorker in the Book Section reviewed a phenomena it called the ‘Masculine Crisis’.
Occasionally the Letters to the Editor provide the best synopsis, with added insights from a different perspective. It proved true in this instance. The February 5, 2023 edition featured a letter from Ioakim Boutakidis from Claremont, California. It shall be typed, in its entirety, slowly but steadily. The broken hand remains still sits in the colorful hand splint.
Synopsis is a brief summary of something. In this instance it is a summarization, abstract, out condensation, summing-up, rundown, roundup, abridgment, review.
“As a professor of child development, I read Idrees Kahloon’s piece on the difficulties faced by men and boys with great interest (Books, January 30th). My own recent research on young men has been largely data-driven; at many universities, the most salient characteristic of the people struggling the most is they identify as males. It’s taken an unfortunate amount of work to get people, even in my highly educated circle, to recognize the issue. I understand the resistance, which is often based on a genuine ignorance of the problem, political sensibilities, or even the feeling that this is somehow the just desserts of our culture’s misogyny. But, once I paint a picture of what society could look like when an ever-higher percentage of men are uneducated, unemployed, and looking for someone to blame, most people appreciate that this is an outcome that we should strive to avoid.”
Boutakidis’ letter says it all – a society to some extent governed by men who are “uneducated, unemployed and looking for someone to blame.”
The review, entitled What’s The Matter with Men may be found by following this link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/01/30/whats-the-matter-with-men?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorker.
The subtitle: They’re floundering at school and in the workplace. Some conservatives blame a crisis of masculinity, but the problems—and their solutions—are far more complex. The sub-subtitle: Gender equality, Richard V. Reeves contends, now calls for a focus on male deficits.
Kahloon is as excellent writer, as shown by the beginning paragraph. “First, there was Adam, whose creation takes center stage on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Then, fashioned out of Adam’s spare rib, there was Eve, relegated to a smaller panel. In Michelangelo’s rendition, as in the Bible’s, the first man sleeps through the miraculous creation of his soul mate, the first woman and the eventual mother of humanity. Many of our foundational myths are, in this way, stories about men, related by men to other men. The notion of female equality is, historically, an innovation. “Woman has always been man’s dependent, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality,” Simone de Beauvoir wrote in “The Second Sex,” published in 1949. “And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change.” Nearly three-quarters of a century later, that change has continued. By a variety of metrics, men are falling behind parity. Is the second sex becoming the better half?”
Many social scientists agree that contemporary American men are mired in malaise, even as they disagree about the causes. In academic performance, boys are well behind girls in elementary school, high school, and college, where the sex ratio is approaching two female undergraduates for every one male. (It was an even split at the start of the nineteen-eighties.) Rage among self-designated “incels” and other elements of the online “manosphere” appears to be steering some impressionable teens toward misogyny. Men are increasingly dropping out of work during their prime working years, overdosing, drinking themselves to death, and generally dying earlier, including by suicide. And men are powering the new brand of reactionary Republican politics, premised on a return to better times, when America was great—and, unsubtly, when men could really be men. The question is what to make of the paroxysm. For the revanchist right, the plight of American men is existential. It is an affront to biological (and perhaps Biblical) determinism, a threat to an entire social order. Yet, for all the strides that women have made since gaining the right to vote, the highest echelons of power remain lopsidedly male. The detoxification of masculinity, progressives say, is a messy and necessary process; sore losers of undeserved privilege don’t merit much sympathy.
Richard V. Reeves, a British American scholar of inequality and social mobility, and a self-described “conscientious objector in the culture wars,” would like to skip past the moralizing and analyze men in the state that he finds them: beset by bewildering changes that they cannot adapt to. His latest book, “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It” (Brookings), argues that the rapid liberation of women and the labor-market shift toward brains and away from brawn have left men bereft of what the sociologist David Morgan calls “ontological security.” They now confront the prospect of “cultural redundancy,” Reeves writes.”
I urge any, and all, to read the entire article. But, in the meantime, let us define two words found within the article. Revanchist is a policy of seeking to retaliate, especially to recover lost territory. Malaise is a a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify. It has several sad synonyms: uneasiness, melancholy, despondency, dejection, disquiet, anxiety, anguish, angst; lassitude, weariness, doldrums.
My third husband (now deceased) was most stingy with his compliments (to everyone, not just me). He once paid me a fine compliment (I thought at the time).
He: Alexis, you think like a man.
After reading these mirrors on today’s society, I am rather sure that is not a compliment but rather almost an insult.
I am so blessed to be living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This from the Al Jazeera: “On Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said that more than 15 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento region were under excessive rainfall and flood advisories.” I am becoming increasingly thankful to the Central Marin Police force and the residents of Marin County, California, the Marin County Superior Court etc etc. for the discrimination and persecution they heaped upon me during the months of 2022. Otherwise I would still be there getting wet (I prefer snow over rain), fearing for my life because of gun violence, living in a ‘lily white’ boring county with little or no culture, and afraid to get pregnant because abortions might be illegal. (I am, of course, joking about the later.) The apartment complex had a noisy pool – the undisciplined children had no ‘inside voices’ and would constantly be yelling and fighting. The noise from the pool not a problem. I was on the ground floor, close to the pool. In this building I am safe from flooding up on the sixteenth floor. Hahahaha.
Speaking of education I have decided not to take the online course offered by the Cambridge Muslim College – the diploma course in Islamic psychotherapy. Well, for this coming year anyway. Applications are open, however, the process is unwieldy with transcripts (dating back to my University of Alberta 1964 graduation – not only the U of A but more transcripts from three more universities for my post graduate education. Academically, I would not qualify in Islamic studies because my extensive knowledge has been obtained independently. I do not have a current CV – etc etc. etc. I am a visual learner, reading books is my passion. I am acquiring an extensive list of books on the faith obtainable from book stores both here and abroad. I shall have peace of mind. My graduate school experience was horrendous at London City University. I am convinced that the instructors at the Cambridge Muslim University are infinitely qualified and well motivated. However, when one’s trust has been ultimately destroyed by the likes of Julie Wheelwright, the ‘dean’ of the creative nonfiction program it is difficult to ‘try to love again’, the lyrics of a well known song. “The First Cut Is the Deepest” is a 1967 song written by British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, originally released by P. P. Arnold in May 1967. Stevens’s own version originally appeared on his album New Masters in December 1967. You can listen to it on YouTube. I am at this moment. It is a fabulous, though most sad song.
This has been a serious blog. Therefore cartoons will follow to bring cheer. It has been a busy day. I form intentions, in other words have a to-do list. Today there were 30 items., almost all have been crossed out. Not planning to blog – obviously that intention was not honored.
Me: I promised myself a day off. But now just finishing up the blog. I am addicted, but not a bad addiction I guess.
He: No it is not. I cannot wait to read it!