Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Of Mirrors and Men

So, there was that Kay Hymnowitz "Where Have All the Good Men Gone?" article, its most notable success being that it has somehow managed to piss of both misogynists and feminists all over internet.

In the article, she argues that now that "pre-adult" ladies are "the first sex," "pre-adult" men have no motivation to grow up. What she seems to be telling us is that now that it's no longer a given for middle and upper-class women to stay home and keep house for their husbands, these women have robbed men of their role as providers and, therefore, of what it means to be a man.

I have many thoughts about this but, don't worry, I'll make this brief.

See, the very next article I read after Hymnowitz's piece was this one, about "the world's biggest family," which consists of one man, his 39 wives (who share his bed on a rotating schedule), and their 94 children. In the article, one of the wives says, of her husband:

"We stay around him as he is the most important person in the house."

This article contains a photo of the man in the forefront, with the rest of his family behind him, much smaller in the background. Clearly, he is A Man. Oh yes. He is. And that's Very Important.

Mary Daly once noted that Virginia Woolf once noted "that women are condemned by society to function as mirrors, reflecting men at twice their actual size" (or 39 times their actual size, as the case may be).

Hymnowitz's narrative suggests that this reflecting-duty is still somewhat inherent in what it means to be a woman.

Her article doesn't provide any solutions to this latest man-boy crisis (you have to buy her book for that!), but it's not too difficult to connect the dots and conclude obvious way to make men men again is to re-center men and build them back up by re-stuffing them with the stifled potential of women on the grounds that men's egos can't handle more accurate life-sized reflections of themselves.

And we better do this ASAP or else or else or else.

For, within this implication lies that trusty old Men Are Wildebeasts threat. If women aren't better at taming men and making sure we know they're Most Important, men won't be capable all by themselves of acting decently, since they're all man-children running around on pure id (and Star Wars obsessions, apparently, WTF?).

Although I am not convinced that women are now "the first sex," I will concede that in many ways, for many women, Things Have Changed from when both Daly and Woolf made their Looking Glass observation. Indeed, I reckon that what Hymnowitz sees as a problem is actually an issue of shattered glass.

I further reckon that that's not a problem at all. As we sweep away the debris, isn't it about time for us to stop defining ourselves in opposition to the "opposite sex"?

No comments: