Christy Wampole in the New York Times: Guns and the Decline of the Young Man.
I'm hard-pressed to pick what is the worst passage in this piece, but I've narrowed it down to three solid contenders:
I believe that it is indicative of a sort of infection spreading in our collective brain, one that whispers to the American subconscious: "The young men are in decline." They were once our heroes, our young and shining fathers, our sweet brothers, our tireless athletes, our fearless warriors, the brains of our institutions, the makers of our wares, the movers of our world. In the Western imagination, the valiance of symbolically charged figures like Homer's Ulysses or the Knights of the Round Table remained unquestioned since their conception. However, as centuries progressed and stable categories faltered, the hero figure faces increasing precarity. Even if we consider the 20th century alone, we see this shift from World War II, when the categories of good and evil were firm, to later conflicts like the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, involving a disparity between what the government believed to be right and what much of the civilian population did. Does the heroic young man still make sense today, or has his value already been depleted?
The angry white man has usurped the angry black man. [Bonus Garbage Points to the New York Times for using that as the pull quote.]
For those of us who belong to a demographic that is doing increasingly better, a trained empathic reflex toward those we know to be losing for our gains could lead to a more deferential attitude on our part and could constitute an invitation for them to stay with us.Wow, right?
This article is what happens when you don't understand (or don't care about) the difference between "maleness" and "male privilege." When you treat gender parity like a zero-sum game. When you wax nostalgic for a history that never existed. When you carefully elide how the kyriarchy has robbed privileged men of both a way to define themselves that is neither oppressor nor oppressed and 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.
The problem is not that we have failed to empathize with privileged young white (straight, cis, middle class) men. The problem is that have built a culture around not expecting them to empathize with anyone else.
[H/T to Shaker Amy. See also: Echidne.]