There are two things about which I am obsessed with reading:
1: The current American president and the fascination with how many people can support him despite his inherent lack of honesty and character.
2: Far-left cancel culture, which has tried to take down liberals from Stephen Colbert to Matt Damon to Joe Biden for the transgression of not being sufficiently “woke.”
Which leads me to this column by one of my favorite writers, Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan is a man who defies categorization. He’s British but lives in America. He’s conservative but supported Obama. He’s gay but he’s married and pro-masculinity. He’s a Catholic but he is critical of the church and respectful of non-believers.
You can understand why I like him: he’s not a caricature. He’s thoughtful. Nuanced. Well-read. Can see arguments from multiple sides.
So when you click here, skip the stuff about Trump and read the piece about JK Rowling. It’s an astounding example of how untethered my fellow liberals have become when it comes to sex and gender. Sarah Silverman once had the Twitter mob after her because she made a joke that assumed that women had vaginas…until it was pointed out to her that transgender people didn’t so it was wrong to make such assumptions. This JK Rowling thing is just as nuts – and thankfully, it’s mostly blown over.
But the REAL reason I’m sharing this piece from December is because it alludes to Peggy Orenstein’s work interviewing teenage boys about masculinity and how far astray these young men have gone.
Per Sullivan: “Orenstein reports the following facts drawn from her meticulous research: Boys brag to each other about whom they’ve had sex with and compete for girls, they boast about how they screw around on girls, they tend to admire jocks and athletes and mock those less active in sports, they try not to cry in public. They admire “Dominance. Aggression. Rugged good looks (with an emphasis on height). Sexual prowess. Stoicism. Athleticism. Wealth (at least some day).”
Yup. A deep dive look inside American high schools to reveal that…teenage boys still act like teenage boys. I anxiously await the similar revelation that teenage girls can be mean.
Sullivan continues: “Orenstein — of course — has as a premise that masculinity is entirely a cultural or social construction that can be altered by reeducation. Hence the title of the piece, which refers to the “miseducation” of boys. But what if a hefty chunk of masculinity is not social or cultural but rather biological, genetic, crafted by hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection? What if so much of what she abhors — admiration of strength, envy of others’ ability to have sex with women, aggression, nonverbal forms of interaction, stoicism, risk-taking, mutual mockery, bawdiness — is intrinsic to being male? Because this possible alternative or complementary explanation is never raised in the essay, it is never argued against. If Orenstein could prove that men never used to be like this or point to a culture in which men are not like this, she’d be a lot more persuasive. Instead, you’re left with the sinking feeling that the essay is really simply a lament: that men are men, that they are different, that their world can be alien to women, and that their rituals and discourse and company are somehow inherently problematic in a way that women’s simply could not be.
“Men are not just hairy women.”
The boldface is mine. Indeed, that paragraph explains why I still have a job after 17 years. For all the power of the internet, all the research that’s reported and all the content that’s posted and reposted, for some strange reason, many women still can’t accept the fact that – as my peer, Alison Armstrong says, “Men are not just hairy women.”
Instead of judging and focusing only on the negative, I try to get my clients to see things from all sides. Without forgiving men of their worst sins – stalking, sexual assault, verbal abuse etc – how can we look at dating in a more objective way?
My client laments that a guy let her split the check. She never considers what it’s like to pay for two dates a week with women who have no interest in you.
My client laments that guys have lame profiles and intro emails online. She never considers how hard it is to come up with a winning opener to a generic profile on an app.
My client laments that men are looking for younger, thinner women. She never considers that she refuses to consider shorter, less wealthy men.
We know that men are notoriously bad at understanding women, but why do you think smart women are so willfully unable to accept that men may approach life a little bit differently – and that this difference isn’t inherently wrong?
Please check out Sullivan’s piece in New York and share your comments below.
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