After the onslaught of multiple feminist movements, the sexual revolution of 60s onward, and the gender bending movements of today, men find themselves in an oddly precarious position in society. Not only have these trends undermined men’s role as protector and provider; they have demonized manhood itself and hope to force a revolution in thinking. First, feminists simply requested equal political status with men through voting, then equal economic status through employment, then equal sexual status through contraception and abortion. Now, radical feminists and the LGBT community hope to erase divisions of sex altogether and demand equal natures, either through mass indoctrination (political correctness and “gender acceptance”) or subsidized sex-change operations.
Although difficult to believe, the original motivation behind these movements was to liberate women and thus make them happy. Feminist writers in the 19th century, like Charlotte Gilman, Margaret Fuller and Kate Chopin, lamented the drudgery and utter dullness of domestic life. Men would go out to their jobs, see the world, and vote for other men to maintain these social norms that locked women into the oppressive role of mother and wife, so the thinking went. Other writers continued to work with this theme like Henry Ibsen and Virginia Woolf, depicting the deep (often suicidal) sadness of womanhood as though this afflicted every woman.
After so many waves of feminism and cultural revolutions, probably more women experience sadness today than ever before. As Chesterton predicted in his essay “Woman,” women freed from monotonous domesticity now must endure the even greater monotony of corporate and political life that males are much better equipped to deal with than females. Women who want to stay home and take care of their children must now cope with the stigma popularly associated with such a choice.
Instead of addressing this reality by reconsidering their rejection of traditional roles, feminists today now demand that men change their very natures. This comes as a result of feminism’s past successes: the workplace has become feminized; the Church has become feminized; politics has become feminized; art and literature have become feminized; and morality and education have become feminized. Unfortunately, rather than having the intended effect of making women happier (which it hasn’t), this has only made men sadder.
Boys today grow up in a confusing world that has marginalized them completely. Often fatherless, they grow up with no actual role models except perhaps superheroes and hip hop performers. Their education only reinforces this denial of masculinity. Rather than reading about courageous virtuous men, they now read revised histories characterizing great men as cruel sexist pigs; rather than reading exciting stories about men going on adventures, they read boring stories about young women of color overcoming adversity; instead of seeing intellectual pursuits as a desirable component to a complete life for men, they only see sports as the only outlet for their manhood. Not surprisingly, many will end their education at high school at a loss with what to do with themselves while the girls go on to college, wondering where all the boys went.
Naturally, this type of childhood that feminizes men has stunted their growth and limits their ability to live as adults, hence the term “manchild.” The world has conditioned millennial men in their 20s and 30s to see their manhood as an escape rather than a vocation. Having pride in one’s strength, taking control in relationships or work, protecting those weaker than them, and befriending other men are considered sexist poses, not admirable traits of masculinity. Ironically, the manchild treats his whole life as an escape by abstaining from any responsibility and indulging in all sorts of vices like pornography, alcohol, drugs, casual sex, and physical and mental laziness.
As manchildren proliferate, filling the world with so much mediocrity and Judd Apatow comedies, some groups have decided to combat this problem by restoring a sense masculinity and spreading the message of manliness to men far and wide. Although some of these groups do so as a matter of morality and spirituality, like the Maccabees Society or the Knights of Columbus, many groups now populate the “Manosphere” as a matter of pride and (too often) vindictiveness.
The latter groups tend to appeal to the lower natures of men: their vanity, their sexual appetites, and their aggression. They objectify both men and women, substitute slogans and propaganda in favor of reason and depth, and vent a great deal frustration and anger. They often extoll Machiavellian principles in the workplace and at home, vaunting power and domination above honesty and charity. The more crass and brazen, the more it resonates with the legions of manchildren. While the message of male advocacy groups have helped somewhat in at least raising men from a pathetic inferior condition, it usually produces more chest thumping than chest filling.
The former groups, those with more defined morals and a religious mission, usually try to appeal to higher nature of men, their desire for honor, purpose, and self-sufficiency. They usually hope to foster communities for men and recover traditions of the past to help men live a better more moral life. Hence, they usually take a stricter stance against vice and weakness and often encourage reading history, philosophy, and scripture. There is also an emphasis on fatherhood, both physical and spiritual—patriarch is no slight, but a great compliment.
Together, these male-advocacy groups (for lack of a better word) have grown rapidly and have started to influence a wider audience. More and more women question the feminist agenda, recognizing that it leaves them less fulfilled and less empowered. More and more men cultivate a healthy fear of mediocrity, learning that this will make them more attractive to others. Both men and women are more willing to challenge the politically correct secular atmosphere that would effectively stifle concerns about distorted gender norms and family values.
However, with these changes comes more pushback from feminized radicals calling for trigger warnings, safe zones, gender-fluidity, an end to marriage, and even a return to socialism. While some commentators call the argument between these two sides polarization, it would be more accurate to call it confrontation. For too long, the general population shrugged and allowed these changes and have carelessly elected many of these types into power. Now, at least a few people will offer a defense.
Because this conflict will only grow larger and louder, those on the side of traditional masculinity (and femininity, for that matter) should invest more time in developing their argument and definitions. The mind should rule once more, not the passions or the appetites. The male movement will not go far on anger and resentment, nor will it suffice to simply react to new absurdities; it must define manhood and offer a path to a generation of young men needing something solid and clear. From that rational foundation, men can finally rediscover their own manliness and stop groping aimlessly in the hazy illogical fog currently dampening the developed world.