The Female Collaborators Of Clueless Masculinity
The latest 'No news here' study on men's undateability ignores the problems with women, and how we continue to raise boys
In more nothing-news-here from the 'Water Is Wet' department, a recent study on dating determined that the number of chronically single men continues to grow as women say "Nuh-uh," to any who have consistently failed to meet what they've been saying they want for literally several decades: Emotional connection, ability to communicate, shared similar values.
The yeah-duh conclusion that women are now pickier and not 'settling' for men also notes <yawn> that marriage/partnership often benefits men more than women, and that women, especially single, childless ones, are leading happier lives without men or children.
Having vowed never again to set foot in the online dating world, which has been an utter 21-year waste of time, I decided to never-say-never earlier this year and give Facebook Dating a try. It's the I'm-already-on-Facebook lazy lady's choice.
I can report nothing has changed since 2001. Men remain consistently clueless about women and regularly put their most snooze-inducing foot forward. With the exception of one slightly weird guy, the rest still couldn't make conversation, and still don't grasp the concept of basic common courtesy. Were they just lazy? Makes it easy to filter the time-wasters down to two or three who weren't egregiously mediocre.
Even the scammers couldn't be arsed to ask for money. Sometimes I gave the suspects some rope in case they were truly some English-challenged guy living in Toronto. Many wanted to move to WhatsApp where I figured they'd start the scam but they never did.
The only person who acted like a scammer wasn't--the weird guy effusive with compliments, even when I told him they made me uncomfortable. He kept talking about how much he was thinking of me and wanted me to text him photos of myself in summer clothes (No, find your wank material on YouPorn). He was classically flakey, like failing to confirm a text asking if we were still on for our first meeting (so I didn't go) and that was the end of that. Later he resurfaced and denied having having blow me off and I said, "Review the text thread." Google proved he was real, though, living in the area.
He was different, at least.
It's not all 'toxic masculinity', although that's where it starts - the masculine notion that what defines a 'real man' is being as unlike women as you can possibly be. The women's movement has propelled women's autonomy and independence to the point where we no longer rely on men anymore to survive, at least until we all vote for Gilead. Men haven't evolved nearly as fast, and it's not all their fault, either.
The fault, dear Brutus, lies not just in men, but in women, too, that we are as remarkably un-self-aware.
Dazed and confused by divorce
Many men, after decades of marriage, get blindsided by divorce, especially as they inch closer toward retirement. They eagerly anticipate the end of their desolate office drone days and can stay home with the gal who's been bitching for years about his lack of availability. She's finally getting her wish!
But What's-Her-Name's had enough of the last forty years' drudgery too. The kids are gone and she's done with the whole marriage thing.
Guess what departing wives cite as their reasons for wanting The Big Split?
Emotional unavailability and lack of communication. Which they've been providing as the good supportive wife for all their marriage. Traditional masculinity dictates men should depend solely on women for it. One writer called it ‘emotional gold-digging.’
The deal, as men understood it in the '70s and '80s and '90s when they got married, was that their responsibility was to provide for the family and be a good father. The diff was that men have never been, and still aren't, much concerned with equality of work at home. The old Enjoli perfume ad from the 1970s lied like Donald Trump to the National Archives about how women can 'have it all', with a job and a family. The biggest lie is the man's off-camera voice volunteering to cook for the kids.
The problem of clueless masculinity doesn't reside solely with males.
Female Problem #1: Many men want to be more emotionally available and communicative, but don't know how or women won't let them
Women sometimes react to emotionally vulnerable men by shaming or rejecting them. Research shows that boys are about the same as girls at expressing their emotions until about age four, when they begin to learn to shut down their emotions and not be so 'girly'.
They come to rely on logic and 'rationalism' while girls are left free to be as emotional as they want. The result is men become too reliant on skills that aren't always applicable to human, emotional problems, and women fail to develop their logic and rationalism skills which would serve them better rather than reacting to everything emotionally and 'irrationally' - one of men's top (valid!) complaints about women.
I can certainly see the disconnect between what women say they want and what they really want. I had a friend when I was a young hedonistic clubber who said she wanted a man who wouldn't hit her, and who would treat her well, but--she found the 'nice guys' too boring. She liked macho he-men who thought women were their personal property.
It's an evolutionary trade-off: Hercules was great for protecting you from harm, but today he's more likely to be the source of the harm.
Women who want emotionally available men might need to consider who they find attractive. 'Alpha' males may be incredibly hot but should you take them home to Mother? Many crave power and control and that includes over her. Is she willing to make that trade-off? Case study #1: Nicole Simpson. Case study #2: Rachel Evan Wood.
Men who can communicate and be more emotionally supportive are what angry incels call 'beta males', if said males aren't angry incels. When I watched hypermasculine action hero movies, the heroine rode (never drove) or walked hand in hand with the hero into the sunrise or sunset, and if Stallone was the star it was clear communications skills would never manifest in their relationship. I pondered the real 'happily ever after' in which she was miserable with him after the relationship luster wore off. When she's struggling with her demons late at night, where is he? Can he hold her and tell her it's all right? Can he sympathize with her? Or does he pull away because he's tired and there she goes again...
There are men who are up for the task, but women don't always notice them, or appreciate them. Granted, these men may be hiding themselves well behind an ill-considered dating profile of mediocrity. Many could use a crash course in self-marketing/self-promotion.
Women who are tired of emotional islands must change their value system to appreciate and find attractive men who exhibit more self-awareness than your average rock, or clueless, toxic feminist.
Men need gentle, supportive help in getting in touch with their emotional life more. We owe it to them.
Women have escaped the bondage of toxic femininity since First Wave feminism, much of which has been accomplished with the help of numerous male allies who've mentored us, recognized the challenges we faced, and if they didn't always 'get it', they got it a lot more than the ones who bitch on social media that 'feminism ruined everything'.
The modern world demands a lot of everyone. Men are trying to adjust to a world in which women share the jobs, financial management, and political power. Women are trying to adjust to a new world of female agency and power. Not all are ready for it, including many on the left who pay it lip service, but would rather do anything except manage their own life as though they had agency.
Thousands of years of patriarchy doesn't change overnight, and women still have a long way to go before we eliminate it between our own ears. Male allies have mentored us, pushed us, prodded us to become the best person we can be, and we have to do the same for them.
Men are really, really good at seeking and receiving power. Which, let's face it, women are still quite uncomfortable with.
We're really, really good at communication and emotional vulnerability. And men will play catchup for awhile. We've proven we can learn. So can they. Neither of us is smarter than the other.
Female Problem #2: We are still raising misogynist boys
Women, as a whole, continue to unconsciously collaborate with misogyny and 'the patriarchy'.
I've written about the woman who aided and abetted sex trafficking (who wasn't Ghislaine Maxwell), the women who enable rapists, perpetuate rape culture, who make it harder to believe women, who make excuses for abuse, and worst of all, continue to raise misogynist boys.
Collaboration with The Patriarchy (dun-dun-DUUUNNNN!!!) starts when they're babies, when we don't crush the budding misogyny that's probably at least a little wired into their brains after thousands of years of it being the norm, and what they learn from mass culture. We don't challenge four-year-olds expressing hostility to femininity and saying they don't like girls.
Even as a small child, I wondered why mothers weren't more offended by their baby misogynists' attitudes.
"I'm a girl," I'd have reminded my son if I had one. "You got a problem with that?" When he was old enough I'd remind him he's here because of a girl, and that no male enters this world without one - the parent who does the most work in conceiving a baby, since she gestates it and pushes it out between her legs, then feeds it with her body.
If I had been my aunt when my male cousin prohibited me from joining him in his treehouse because, 'No girls allowed,' I would have told him - even a small child - that the laws of this country dictate no discrimination on the basis of sex, and if his treehouse doesn't allow girls, then it doesn't allow boys either, and to get down RIGHT NOW until he's rethought his policy - and if he doesn't, his father and I will dismantle the treehouse.
You'd be surprised how fast you can crush misogyny when there are real consequences.
Nothing has changed since I was growing up. New parents can find plenty of advice on dealing with misogyny in boys - and how to raise non-misogynist boys - on Google.
But when I Googled 'How to raise a non-misandrist daughter' and 'How to raise a daughter who doesn't hate men' I found nothing about how to raise girls without toxic feminism.
A certain prominent feminist, author of several books and returning talking head on the news with the loss of Roe v. Wade, was someone I found on the blogging platform Medium and who I quickly muted. Almost everything she wrote was whiny victimist crap, and she said she was raising her young daughter to be a 'feminist'. I rolled my eyes thinking how much this kid would grow up hating men like her mother who never met a woman who was responsible for her actions, or a man who wasn't.
Women aid and abet misogyny by feeding it with misandry, the way some antiracist and transgender activists chase off their allies with their own bigotry and hatred.
As we challenge men to be better men and to support women more, we need to become better at supporting those men who genuinely want to ally with women - not just against sexism but against the very real threats we face together - climate change, economic inequality, the outsized power of billionaires to dictate and fund toxic government policies, and most of all...freedom from male violence.
Toxic masculinity fuels unhealthy emotional denial in men, and toxic feminism encourages an enduring false feeling of powerlessness and victimhood. We'd do well to ask ourselves how much we are the problem with undateable men, too.
Because I'd call most of these guys 'clueless' masculine rather than 'toxic' masculine. Trying to escape your own prison can feel like getting lost in a video game where you can't find your way out to the next level. If we're so sure we want emotionally available, communicative men, maybe we'd better start considering whether we want them as much as we say, or perhaps not like my old friend.
When I'm not pondering whether I might not, in fact, be happier if I had a partner (be careful what you ask for), I help women and others reclaim their power on my website, Grow Some Labia.