The End of Men? 

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Part 1: The Deconstruction of Masculinity

By Wayne Allensworth

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. C. S. Lewis “The Abolition of Man”

Many of our young men no longer find the prospect of marriage and fatherhood a very attractive option. In the post-modern age, everything is at least conceptually optional. This has concerned me for some time, but conversations with a number of twenty-something males have set me straight. Apart from complaints about their not being able to find a young lady who wants marriage and children to be part of her “life trajectory,” I have often heard responses registering somewhere between “You really don’t know how it is now, do you?” and “You’ve got to be kidding.” When I’ve asked them to elaborate, the party line goes something like this: Why should I get married? Fathers/husbands get no respect; the wife can divorce you at any time for any reason or no reason (as a result of “no fault” divorce); you then face bankruptcy; she gets the children—and you get the blame. As well as likely alimony and child support payments. So, old man, why should I get married?

We know that something is dreadfully wrong with our boys and young men. Or that there is something in the air that is dreadfully wrong.  There is, for instance, convincing evidence available suggesting that our environment, our groundwater, the air we breathe, and our food, is poisoned by chemicals with feminizing properties, chemicals known as “endocrine disrupters.” Plastic containers may be to blame. Pesticides, herbicides, medicines, and more contain them, and these chemicals can disrupt the balance of the human body’s endocrine system. Their presence is a plausible explanation for a significant part of the problems we are witnessing.

And what are those “problems”? The apparently accelerated maturation of girls and delayed maturation of boys; the rapid increase in male to female “trans-genderism”; the listless, demoralized state of our boys and young men who are spending hours in fantasy combat online; their academically dropping behind girls in our schools; their lack of initiative; and their avoidance of responsibility. Many of them are falling into one of two distinct polarities on the post-modern male spectrum: either that of a video game addicted computer geek or a boorish, ill mannered, also video game addicted thug, with the two poles blending together somewhere in the middle. Regarding a chemical/environmental partial explanation of the state of our young men, this may be another instance of technology playing a key role in the sad state of affairs we face. And we can’t readily vote ourselves out of that. Exposure to such chemicals is endemic in a technological/industrial society.

I do not mean to dismiss all our young men as a lost cause. And while many of them do need an old-fashioned kick in the pants, there is far more to the story than a 21st century wave of lackadaisical males: these seemingly puzzling behaviors cannot be adequately analyzed separately from the social, political, economic, and, as mentioned above, technological/industrial milieu these young men were raised in. It appears that the traditional arrangements of our civilization have proved to be fragile and subject to, in historical terms, relatively swift disruption. What we are witnessing is nothing less than the steady, but in many cases, deliberate, “deconstruction” of masculinity. 

Take a look around you. If we can disengage ourselves from the everyday push and pull of our lives, and focus our attention even briefly, the fractured evidence for a deliberate attack, like pieces of a mosaic, can be assembled. A discernable mental picture takes shape. A 2013 best seller penned by feminist Hanna Rosin, The End of Men, for instance, celebrated the displacement of men in the workforce by women who were, we were told, breaking “glass ceilings”—and showing that men were not necessary to our economic wellbeing. The chorus of Rosin supporters was delighted, ecstatic. They said that women were smarter, more “flexible,” and had more “people skills” than men.

But that is not all. Our popular culture, as shaped by mass media, most often casts the father figure as a bumbling, decidedly un-hip, boob. When “the dad” does have any backbone, it is most often in his designated role as oppressive patriarch, the hated heavy hand that discourages the dreams of his high-flying daughters, who long to be combat pilots, firefighters, CEOs of multi-national corporations, or president of these United States, anything but primarily a wife and mother. Women, we are told, now outnumber men on college campuses, while young women reportedly out earn young men in many metropolitan areas. Ads for military recruitment place women in non-traditional roles front and center. Meanwhile, no one tells us who will build or maintain our roads, dams, skyscrapers, or other infrastructure. Who might take on the often extremely dangerous tasks that are overwhelmingly performed by men. Psychology Today seemed puzzled by the predominance of men in such jobs, but I think most of us aren’t.

Our schools, ever mindful of lawsuits, practically outlaw rough play by boys. The emphasis in education has changed as well: cooperation takes precedence over competition, while therapeutic “values” are trumpeted as superior to stern virtues. Girls tend to be more receptive to this atmosphere and the boys fall behind. Apparently, boys do not like competing with girls: when the girls dominate a certain field—say, the Student Council or the Honor Society—boys will drop out or avoid taking part in any activity they sense is feminized. But what if schooling itself is seen by our boys as fundamentally feminine? If learning, diligence, and attentiveness are suspect, since displaying such qualities would make a boy’s masculinity subject to question? Mind you, this is not something that our boys think through. It is most likely a part of our human nature. It is as if we were—and I think this is self-evident—made to fulfill our natures, in this case as boys becoming men.  And when the environment does not support, nurture, and encourage positive and constructive avenues for the expression and fulfillment of that nature, we falter, falling into negative, destructive paths of expressing ourselves. 

The deconstruction of masculinity has certain aims, and these aims are being pursued and achieved. Conservatives have taken for granted that masculinity in a civilized society is automatically channeled into what seemed like self-generating institutional roles—marriage, fatherhood, leadership—without understanding the fragile nature of those roles and of civilization itself. And make no mistake, the attack on masculinity is an attack on civilization. It is part of an attack that has gone on throughout history. And girls and women are as much its targets as boys and men. 

When men are degraded, losing status as fathers and husbands, and when our laws practically encourage the dissolution of the family, then everyone loses. The unhappy results of deconstructing masculinity and the accompanying feminization of our society are becoming quite clear. As the family dissolves and the roles of the sexes are turned on their heads, do women, to say nothing of men, appear to be any happier, more fulfilled, or even psychologically stable than under the much maligned “patriarchy”? The answer, dear readers, is apparently “no.” Without men as providers and protectors, the male is “typecast” as emasculated loafer or, in a more immediately dangerous mode for our women, as predator.   

This is the milieu we live in now. There is no single cause that explains the “end of men” as some have gleefully announced. But the roots of the attacks on “patriarchy” are the same as those of the rebellion in the garden and at the Tower of Babel. The attacks on men and fathers are part and parcel of an ancient rebellion against the ultimate Patriarch. The principle of total equality springs from this rebellion. When feminist heroine Sandra Fluke protested that the absence of subsidized contraception was an attack on her freedom, she was merely asserting that principle: if women are in any way hampered in the pursuit of what the “liberated” self wants (by having babies, for instance, which explains the obsession with abortion) and are, therefore, not on an equal footing with men, that intolerable situation must be remedied. Since inequality is inherent, it is no surprise that the radical feminists hate masculinity itself (the “patriarchy”) and all natural differences between the sexes. They resent this natural order, and the tradition of a creator God who made it. Anything that is a restraint on absolute equality—the family, private property, churches, physical inequalities—has to be destroyed, ameliorated, or controlled by “woke” totalitarianism. The ends of the revolution require it.   

The individual is thus considered an autonomous and self-creating being who must, in order to be absolutely free, have the power to remake himself/herself and his/her environment—so we get “trans-gendered” people, “homosexual marriage,” girls on football teams, women firefighters, and women now being promoted as generals and admirals in the military. The military bureaucracy has attacked its own masculine values and this must be so if the war on masculinity and patriarchy is to be seen through. Yet the ideological deconstruction of masculinity is nevertheless but one aspect of this war, which must be supported by structural changes in technology, economics, and politics. This structural assault will be taken up in part two. 

Chronicles contributor Wayne Allensworth is the author of  The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood

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Wayne Allensworth

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