If you ever wanted to incite a gender war, look no further than the folks from Male Studies. A seemingly sexist, not-terribly-academic bunch, it seems that in their “field” longing for the days of loin cloths and chest-pounding masculinity doesn’t make you out of touch.
We’ve written about Male Studies before (here and here), but even still, I was ignorant to the depths of their delusion. Last week, however, The Observer had a fascinating, terrifying (albeit hilarious) account from the “Male Studies” conference that took place recently at the New York Academy of Medicine.
As a side note, this is a conference I nearly attended out of curiosity. After reading Jonathan Liu’s account (which it should be acknowledged has one of the all-time funniest headlines: It’s Raining on Men: Balls Deep at the Conference on Male Studies), I can see that this would have been a potentially disastrous idea that ended with fisticuffs. Because good lord, those Male Studies folks seem like a bunch of truly angry conspiratorial wackadoos! (and you’re talking to gal who likes a good conspiracy theory now and then).
Among my favorite tidbits of psychosis from the conference:
“What made girls and women so successful,” Mr. Finley [a professor of psychology at Florida International University] continued, “was basically social engineering. Girls and women claimed they were being discriminated against. … They got a lot of positive feedback, they got tons of resources, they got the educational system readjusted to their learning style.”
“As we all know,” Mr. Garcia [former AOL executive who wrote The Decline of Men: How the American Male Is Tuning Out, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future] said, “when boys are growing up, the way teenage males define themselves is against their mothers. They want to be not-Mom. So what do you think happens when Mom works?”
Also, there’s this gem of an insight: “Emasculation is a national blood sport” and “girl power” and “girls rule” t-shirts are cruel and humiliating to boys, pointing out that they don’t, in fact, rule.
As far as I can tell, this conference was just plain-and-simple misogynist backlash against women’s recent successes combined with old-fashioned pining for the days when gender roles were more clearly defined. And actually, that’s really sad, because there are some very honest and compassionate conversations we should be having about why men’s academic achievement seems to be declining, and what it means for all of us that men have faired worse in the economic downturn. I mean, that impacts all of us, and the whole makeup of the family, right?
But sadly, the blame for all that is wrong in the world seems to have been laid at the feet of women (who – perhaps the Male Studies folks didn’t notice – in the lower economic strata aren’t doing too well themselves!)
Although I think the beliefs of the Male Studies disciples are still thankfully on the fringe, I fear that they represent a tension brewing as we try to understand what changing gender expectations mean for all of us.
Read Jonathan Liu’s hilarious full article here.