The End of...Something

Hanna Rosin's piece in The Atlantic is titled "The End of Men," but a more accurate title might be "The End of Male Privilege."

Well, it would be a more accurate title if she'd ever managed to tease out the idea that struck me as a glaring omission from the piece: Privileged men's achievement gap, and the associated atrophy born of the observable resistance, or inflexibility, to make quick course corrections, is the inevitable result of a culture that continues to sell privileged men a patriarchal narrative of birthright entitlement, despite the fact that it is nothing but an empty promise of an illusory bounty in which most men will never share.

Simply: American culture continues to promise straight, white, cis, able-bodied men success and supremacy, in exchange for nothing but their being straight, white, cis, and able-bodied. But that shit just ain't enough anymore.

(Which is not to suggest that privileges of all flavors do not frustratingly remain compelling and material benefits.)

Our culture has progressed enough that most people cannot trade exclusively on their privilege, but not so much that the desperate, obdurate, and still-plentiful enforcers of the kyriarchy have stopped selling that possibility nonetheless.

The result is a lot of men who have been sold a bill of goods, and don't understand why everything's gone pear-shaped, and don't have the tools to set a new course, because the kyriarchy assured them their whole lives they didn't need those tools. They only needed to be men.

Privilege has robbed them of the means to succeed in a changing world.

And that is not all of which they've been robbed. Privilege has robbed them of the self-assurance hard-won by struggling to be proud despite one's marginalization.

It has robbed them of the unquenchable hunger for self-improvement that doesn't reside in the bellies of the privileged who are assured they are the Norm, the ideal to which marginalized people aspire, who spend their lives being heard and respected and presumed to be acting in good faith.

It has robbed them of the self-esteem conferred only by earned pride.

It has robbed them of the determination and flexibility and capacity to create one's own rules, honed during a lifetime of being told "You can't" and having one's ambitions deterred by the seemingly unnavigable barriers put in one's way by people who don't want to see one succeed.

It has robbed them of the ability to see when the game is rigged so that they will fail, too, and how to achieve, in defiance of the expectation that we will settle for less than we want, by carving out routes that are nontraditional and using strategies neither obvious nor logical by traditional standards.

Privilege tells them that those traditional standards are the best and the only standards—the standards that make men men—and coerces them into complacency by the damnable illusion that they have everything already that they will ever need, and need never expect more of themselves.

So if they are failing, it is someone else's fault and someone else's responsibility to fix.

Women never had that luxury, that burden.

[Related Reading: With All Due Respect, In Which Another Dunderheaded Dodobrain Fails Utterly to Realize Feminism is His Friend, Not His Enemy, Angry Men, Searching Men—and What They Can Learn From Girls and Queers.]

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