The first post in this series can be read here.
Sifting thought the ideas offered in The Feminized Male, one finds both insightful bits and cognitively dissonant bits, which is often the case when feminists hit on a truism without following it through to its logical conclusion due to their cognitive dissonance. There is also a sense in which the scholastic work involved here seems to be launched from a faulty premise, but it’s still early.
Chapter 1: Male Misfits
The quote I cited in the introductory post was from this chapter. The opening salvo is that boys are being vastly underserved by modern institutions, thus creating vast numbers of men who don’t fit in anywhere. The author makes a point of noting that increasing numbers of young men were protesting against the educational establishment, and rightly so. Those that weren’t protesting vocally, she asserts, were rebelling in more destructive ways. She pointed out the lopsided imbalance of behavioral issues between males and females using every available statistical metric (social and school problems, accidents, prison rates, etc.), and ended with my original quote [here expanded through the end of the chapter]:
More troubled by social roles and sex norms as well as genetics, modern men lead a rougher life than women. More is expected of them and their emotional outlets are more limited. They must fight – not cry, tremble, cream, or run. They must stay cool, take care of themselves, keep their own counsel. They are under more pressure and have fewer escape valves. Often institutions that rear them -especially home and school- do not help them become men, but on the contrary feminize them, keeping them dependents and minors.Thus many males are stunted in normal masculine growth and, rebelling against the conspiracy, become outsiders and misfits. For rebel and conformist alike, the stress finally shows itself in the male’s shorter lifespan- sixty-seven years against the female’s average of seventy-four.
Chapter 2: Masculinity and Its Adversaries
This chapter began with a very interesting quote, which piqued my curiosity immediately.
Look for a woman at the bottom of our troubles, the French say- cherchez la femme. Look even deeper, I say, and you will find a man. What my husband claims I am doing in this book is blaming men for putting women in a position where they can feminize young boys. He seems to think it’s a little funny that I should end an inquiry (as I shall) into the emasculation of men with a strongly feminist theme.The Feminized Male, Sexton, p. 12
It’s not only funny, it’s predictable. Thankfully, I bought this little book used and not new. I’m sharing with you as I read, so there is still opportunity to be pleasantly surprised with gems of value. However, I approached this book with certain assumptions which are showing themselves erroneous. One expectation was that evidence of where we were headed was laid bare long before red pills, honey badgers,Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power, and even before Herb Goldberg. I fear we may another case of “right diagnosis, toxic prescription”.
To be fair, as is often the case with books such as these, there are several insightful turns and opportunities to think more deeply and nuanced thoughts about complex issues such as navigating a world with increasingly eroding sex distinctions. The very notion of “increasingly eroding sex distinctions” sounds quaint given the state of the post modern West, but we’re looking backward from the ashes, so the errors in logic are much easier for us to spot.
Despite my unease with the ending of this chapter, which basically lays out the same old tired feminist argument that men and women would both be better served if there were more women in traditionally male dominated fields, this bit of wisdom stood out:
A boy who follows female norms can confidently be termed less masculine than one who follows female norms. From evidence to be found in this volume and elsewhere, it appears that male norms stress values such as courage, inner direction, certain forms of aggression, autonomy, mastery, technological skill, group solidarity, adventure, and a considerable amount of toughness in mind and body.The Feminized Male, Sexton, p. 15
After taking a short detour to offer requisite caveats (the author’s own father, for instance, was both a professional boxer and a man who enjoyed embroidery and poetry during his leisure), she notes:
As it is, I believe, the maleness in boys is being too constrained by schools and other restricting forces in the society.ibid.
In the most politically incorrect yet insightful portion I have read so far, Sexton also takes time in chapter 2 to contrast feminized males versus “sissies” and both against homosexuals. The feminized male may or may not be a “sissy”, although many are, and the feminized male may or may not be homosexual. In her rubric, the entire concept of the feminized male is rooted in personality, assertiveness, and communication traits.
I’ll end this portion of my analysis with what I thought was another great point. Namely, that the push towards white collar desk jobs and away from physically demanding jobs for men has exacerbated this trend of men behaving in more feminized ways. She notes that the work men do has an affect on their overall personalities, and that this begins at younger and younger ages:
Office jobs and organizational life also frequently demand unmanly amounts of submission and inactivity; in this respect too, society feminizes men. Schools prepare these boys for these emasculating white collar jobs [she notes this most heavily a middle class phenomenon] by confining them to deodorized hothouses, rewarding the best desk-sitters, and, when not antagonizing them, converting the more restless males to the clerical way of life.The Feminized Male, Sexton, page 18-19
This chapter had potential, but was ultimately ruined by Sexton’s irresistible urge to interject the necessary feminist dogma about how much better it would be for men and women alike if technological career spaces were more “humanized” by a greater presence of female workers. Perhaps she will address it as we continue to read, but it was not lost on me that she never considers that a certain amount of masculinizing women would be necessary to dramatically increase the numbers of women in particular career fields.
Until next time…