Okay. Read this if you can stomach it, if you can even get past the title. It’s chock full of unction toward the subject it secretly despises. The author, Joan C. Williams, claims to be rethinking masculinity, but don’t expect any zeta-male revelations in her words. Ms. Williams is trying to turn men into women, and women into men. She is going to fail, as men (for the most part) enjoy being men, and women (I think) enjoy being women. For men, this means holding down a job if you can. I don’t always like what I do for a living all that much. It certainly isn’t my dream job, but that puts me safely in with the majority of men. We work to take care of ourselves and to feel useful. Now get off our backs, woman.
Maybe Joan didn’t get the memo, back when she was just Joan C. (in the Pre-Williams Era). Every young woman, upon the commencement of her monthly visitor, receives a memo that states as follows:
“Humanity springs forth from your body. Feed it, love it, nurture it, and give it truth and freedom. This is very important. Always remember: Little humans are not trophies or toys.”
Apparently, Ms. Williams, like a great many other women, threw the memo out. Unfortunately, women are not compelled by law into reading the memo and then forced to display a comprehension of its contents during oral exam. This lack of death-oriented coercion is proving detrimental to their kids. Their little trophies and toys are now growing up mighty pissed. I don’t blame them.
Ms. Williams is deeply concerned that women do not yet make up half of everything under the fucking sun. She paints her disappointment in terms of “helping” men to be more nurturing, to work less and knit more. She’s faking it. (Probably not the first time.) Williams’ disappointment is actually that women don’t yet display more manly qualities. Her feminist outlook betrays something vitally important to understanding social engineers in general: she is a misogynist. Where women naturally excel — homemaking, early childhood care, beautifying, verbal communication, emotional expression — they ought not to go anymore, according to feminists. Put on some pants, girl, and grab that power drill!
The article laments that some jobs for men do not require them to be “high on people skills.” Really? Okay, so back when I drove a (literal) rust bucket ‘89 Buick Skylark, I overheard a mechanic talking to his coworker about my car (whose signal stick I had to reinsert into the wheel shaft with my hand whenever I felt like signaling): “The brakes are shot, the radiator’s shot, the steering’s shot…” He didn’t know I was within earshot. But let me tell you about this man’s “people skills.” When I finally traded in the rust bucket for a Honda Accord (not much of a trade — the dealership took the Buick off my hands for free), I brought my new car to this brakes-are-shot mechanic for the death-oriented state’s mandatory inspection. When he gave it a rave review, I said, “It’d better pass inspection for what I paid.” He got that interminably cute, straight-guy grin on his dirty face, and said, “Still have sticker shock, huh?” That’s all the people skills a guy needs. He was honest, and he got the job done. As much as I enjoyed Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei’s fictional character in “My Cousin Vinny,” I don’t need a sexy girl mechanic to open up to emotionally, or even flirt with. I need a mechanic to fix the damn car. (I prefer a sexy boy mechanic, but if the girl’s the only one who can fix it… Oh well. Fine. …When does your brother get back from Cape May?)
Then suddenly, Williams displays a basic conception of what it means to be a man: “Hard-driving lawyers, neurosurgeons and investment bankers—indeed, all historically male high-status jobs—also require some version of assertiveness and single-mindedness. In other words, such jobs are designed around masculinity and men.” By all means, let’s have a little less assertiveness at hand when the female neurosurgeon has her other-than-single-minded fingertips on instruments that are probing my goddamned brain! If an assertive and single-minded woman wants to play God in my skull, that’s just fine if she graduated at the top of her (mostly male) class. But looking for “equality of opportunity,” “equality of access,” or “equality of Williams’s petty concerns” does nothing for someone whose life has been reduced to undergoing a difficult and dangerous brain operation.
One of my favorite films is by a great Chinese director named Yimou Zhang (a fellow penis owner). The English title is “To Live!” starring the incomparably beautiful Li Gong. (Tomei comes close, doesn’t she?) In my opinion, Gong should have gotten an Oscar nomination, but regardless, what follows is a spoiler: Gong plays the mother of a young woman who is pregnant. She and her husband sit outside the hospital room where their daughter is giving birth, sent into the hallway rather unceremoniously by hubristic young female medical students. You guessed it: These medical students are in charge of the hospital during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The end result of the medical students being put in charge of the asylum is the unexpected hemorrhaging of the expectant mother after the child is born. Where assertiveness and single-mindedness were required, there was none to be found. You know how that part of the movie ends now. If not, you can live the horror vicariously by watching this.
Oh, but C. Williams isn’t advocating for medical students to be put in charge; what she really wants is far more serious. Look at the jobs she mentions above: doctor, lawyer, banker. These are three of the first occupations to be regulated by the government, which is why each of them is such a high-paying job: Once you regulate, you reduce the supply of people who can do the job. This artificially raises the price of doctors, lawyers, and bankers, since demand is not reduced along with supply. It’s Economics 101, and you can be sure that feminists, along with all other progressives, never elect to take that course.
These are also the top three professions in the “private” sector that are normally put in charge, or that are normally consulted first by those who are put in charge. Are you getting it now? It’s not so much about redefining masculinity, it’s about getting more cock-owning doctors, lawyers, and bankers to work less, stay home more, and create vacancies for women to fill, when they feel like it, so that they can also get rich and be in charge.
Pretty devious of her, isn’t it? Well, I’m on to her, and now you are, too. Why didn’t she mention coal miners, long-shore fisher-“persons,” and cell phone tower repair-“persons”? Surely, it has little to do with these three jobs being held almost exclusively by men, but far more to do with these three jobs being the most deadly. If women rushed into these jobs, there would ultimately be fewer women in the workplace. We can’t have that. We’ve still got this glass ceiling to deal with.
If men are more assertive and single-minded than women, so be it. What women excel at also enhances life for men and women. Therefore, “[b]readwinners married to homemakers earn 30 percent more than those in two-job families and encounter favored treatment at work.” There’s your answer, woman. Now shut up.
Where women excel, and we’re so not supposed to say this, is in creating a loving home environment for the young. Men can do it, too, just like women can hold down jobs. But we’re talking in general terms about where the different sexes excel. This is why Williams is never going to get anywhere. She is pointing out a fact and demanding that the fact change to make her feel that all’s right with the world.
When I was a kid, pregnancy commercials always featured an expectant couple, or shots of a woman alone, all anxious and excited about what might be growing inside of her. They were always positive in their portrayal of a hoped-for pregnancy. (Oddly, even though pro-choicers have made great strides, I don’t recall any of the actresses crying out, “I have a fetus! I have a fetus!”)
At some point, this changed. I don’t know when, but I do know why. Before I got rid of that horrible, poisonous instrument, I saw a commercial where a woman looks at the results of the test, and then breathes a sigh of relief into the camera: “I’m not pregnant,” as if to say, “Thank God.” (Oddly, even though pro-choicers have made great strides, I don’t understand her anxiety, since abortions are safe, legal, cheap, readily available, and cause no long-term physical or psychological damage, right?)
But the worst offender was a commercial showing a woman standing in a board room (full of stereotypical men) with a pointer. She glanced out the window, spied a stork, and freaked. In that moment, in that very moment, I thought to myself, “What the hell kind of foolish woman wants to stand in a god-awful board room all day long instead of following a little toddler girl around as she discovers snails, weeds, a ball, the cat, and the books on the lowest shelf?” Tell you what, ingrate. When you finally push out the thing you don’t want, give her to me. I’ll be her boyfriend for the first ten years of her life. Here. Take the stupid pointer. You can pick up where I left off, on the third slide about quarterly rates. You are such an idiot. (By the way, when are these pregnancy test companies going to get around to showing a coal-mining woman freaking out about seeing a stork at the entrance to the mine?)
There will be plenty more anxiety and bemoaning, until this generation of women dies out, alone in nursing homes, with no one visiting because the few of them that stopped to push out kids didn’t bother visiting with them very much when they were young. I’m not saying they deserve it; I’m merely going to warn them that they will reap what they have sown, and then bemoan it.
I have a sister who considers herself a feminist. Let me tell you what this “feminist” and her husband accomplished:
They got married before they graduated from college. Their first apartment was scummy, with a long commute to school. My sister turned it into a home. They moved to Florida for his graduate work. They moved back in with his parents after that, and he found a job, with another long commute. She ensured that they seamlessly blended into an already-established home. They moved into an apartment that was under a split-level that was converted into a construction business in front. She turned that into a home. They saved their pennies and bought a house, which was quickly turned into a home. They sold the house and moved across country with the promise of a better job for her husband. They rented a house, which was turned into a home fairly easily, given the huge stone fireplace in the living room. This is where their two kids turned hopelessly cute. Just cute as hell. They continued saving their pennies, and bought another house. They’re staying put, with a brand-new second story, in a house that was turned into a home.
My sister stays at home and has stayed at home in virtually every home she made since she got married, even though she sends her kids to government school every day. She cooks, cleans, sews, renovates, decorates, organizes, and plans the finances. They are now rich, and living well below their means. Sadly, they are not equal. My sister’s cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating, and financial wizardry is inferior to her husband’s having to sit in front of a computer for hours every day, typing words into programs. And now I feel like telling Ms. Williams to shut up again. But she won’t:
“A key agenda for modern feminism is to work with men to decrease the penalties encountered by those who flout the expectations that stem from conventional masculinity.” No, that’s not your key agenda, ma’am. You’ve already raised the specter of government intrusion into private businesses if the owner of that business doesn’t like the performance of one of the guys he’s paying for the express and up-front purpose of getting specific work done. The key agenda of modern feminism is to turn women into better men than men are, and secondarily to emasculate men who refuse to go along. It’s a little girls’ tea party gone horribly wrong. Actual little girls, along with actual little boys, suffer the most.
Now let me tell you what I believe is the essential difference between men and women. I know I’m making a huge generalization, but I see very little evidence from any individual man or woman that leads me to believe otherwise. The difference is: When men see something that needs to get done they start doing. They may start off by debating, but more often than not, one or two of them will get ants in his pants and start doing. Then the other men will quickly follow. This is good. Why? Because stuff will get done.
Oh, God. I’ve got to tell you this one: Years ago, my parents took apart an old grand piano (it really was no good) and set the pieces out by the trash. Three garbage men stood around the giant metal harp (which contains the piano strings), debating how to lift it into the garbage truck. My mother watched them stand there for quite a long time. Then she went out (this is a woman who knows almost exactly where a woman’s strengths are) and spoke to them.
“Hi, guys. That sure is heavy isn’t it?”
“Yes, ma’am. It sure looks it.”
“Yeah… My husband and 10-year-old daughter had a heck of a time hauling it out here.”
Without another word, the harp was picked up and thrown in the truck. Therefore, men also do to prove themselves men. Women do not suffer from this malady. It is an exclusively male phenomenon: proof of manhood.
Women want things to get done, too. But they seem to want to understand the emotional side of it all as well. They want to feel included, to make a contribution, to be rewarded for what is contributed. They are, far more often than men, quite comfortable in a supporting role. They want “equal” access, until they’ve changed their minds. Then they want to opt out, like when a baby needs to be pushed out and fed for a few months. Then they want back in. (Screw the kid.) They do not want to be forced to make up their minds permanently. A man frequently has to make up his mind and stick with it, even burning bridges in the process. Men who can radically change careers in mid-life, as far as I’m concerned, have the biggest dicks.
Men will break their backs at work. They will poison their lungs. They will lose fingers. They will work for eighteen hours straight. They will not complain. I’m not advocating that men cut themselves off from their feelings, nor do I think it’s wise to disregard signals that your body will send to you when you’re damaging it. I am simply stating a matter of fact. This is how men are, and oftentimes, due to the way the world is currently run, this is what’s to be expected. It’s not going to change anytime soon, no matter how much feminist legislation is passed, no matter how many guns are pointed at business owners. If Joan C. gets her way, if women fill all the vacant slots for doctors, lawyers, and bankers, and cease working as secretaries, waitresses, and factory workers, there will be no more feminist legislation pointed at business owners, because it will no longer be a concern.
I’ve had male and female doctors treat me. I prefer men to treat me simply because of the level of non-sexual intimacy encountered with most of my clothes off. But if the woman has the answer, I’ll gladly pull ‘em down in front of her. Just fix it, doc. So I guess the essential difference between me, an individual man, and Ms. Williams, an individual misogynistic/misandristic woman, is that I don’t care what sex you are, just give me results.
Ms. Williams cares a great deal about what’s dangling or hidden between the job-holder’s legs. In other words, Ms. Williams doesn’t care about results, technique, likability, dependability, imagination, health, capability, knowledge, awareness, or any of the other things the rest of us look for when paying for the services of a working person. If it just so happens that the majority of competent and reliable workers continue to be men, so what? The barricades for women were removed a long time ago. Ms. Williams’s complaint is about men and women who haven’t changed the way they think. They’re never going to.
Chew on this, Joan C.: “An early experiment involved showing photographs of human babies to single men and women, married men and women who were not yet parents, and men and women who were parents. The women showed strong pupil dilation when viewing these pictures, regardless of whether they were single, married and childless, or parents. The men, in contrast, showed pupil constriction if they were single or married and childless, but showed strong dilation if they were parents. In other words, the childless human male who coos over someone else’s new baby is probably merely being polite, but the female means it [emphasis mine]. Not until the human male actually has a baby of his own does he start responding with truly sympathetic emotion to other people’s infants. The human female, on the other hand, even before she has bred [sic] seems to be primed for maternal reactions.”
Try blaming that on a culture with an “outdated” view of masculinity. We’re pummeled so hard with expectations of manhood that our pupils refuse to dilate for other people’s kids. Feminists sure have an uphill climb, especially given one of the closing sentences: “Since, in all the examples mentioned, the subjects of the experiments were unconscious of what was happening, either to their own pupils or to those of their companions, it is likely that we are dealing with a basic, inborn response of the human species [emphasis mine].” Hope you’ve got your boots on for that hike, girls. If you need a guide, chances are he’ll be a dude, with a precious little girl at home anxious for her boyfriend to walk in the door. There ain’t nothing wrong with that. Pay him.
One of my earliest memories of my mother is sitting next to her on the couch watching “Sesame Street.” It was safe, warm, calm, entertaining, and I learned to count to twenty in Spanish: veinte. I looked at my mother with love. She stayed home with me for five years until I was sent off to government school. She will enjoy visits from me until she is gone, no worries. Nothing Ms. Williams offers women compares to what women give children. No female neurosurgeon had better accidentally tweak the part of my brain that remembers that day watching “Sesame Street,” or I’ll sue. I have few finer memories. Ms. Williams would ensure that I have one less.
B.R. Merrick writes for “Strike The Root” and “A Voice for Men,” lives in the Northeast, is proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes, and in spite of the poisonous nature of television, God Himself will have to pry his DVDs of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” out of his cold, dead hands, under threat of eternal damnation.