The Atlantic, which appears to be doubling down monthly on its “End of Men” memes, has struck again with professional victim-whiner Sandra Tsing Loh’s latest piece “The Weaker Sex” (in this case, “weaker” referring to men who can’t keep above their wives’ hypergamous expectations).
She cites Liza Mundy, author of a book on female-breadwinner relationships.
“Instead of being a castrating, unmarriageable harpy, today’s reproductively and economically free female, Mundy asserts, is the trigger for a challenging but exciting new social order.”
Loh then spends the rest of the article contradicting Mundy by relaying anecdotes from her high-powered but entitled girlfriends about the frustrations of their kitchen-bitch househusbands.
I’m not going to dwell on explicating the details of the article because frankly, we’ve read it all before. But I will draw attention to two details.
First, the drawing accompanying the article is of a miniature man sitting atop a woman’s forlorn face, lowering a bunch of grapes into his mouth. Supine grape-eating is a longtime artistic shorthand for the idle classes. In this case, it’s hypergamy illustrated – to Loh and the other women in the story, a man who isn’t stomping his way up the career ladder in excess of her own workplace achievement is not just a smaller man, but a weaker one. (To sharpen the obvious double standard, check out the hysterics at any blog where the question is even asked if housewives are pulling their weight.) Gender feminists have long contended that male achievement and drive are actually signals of insecurity, that men have “fragile egos” that are damaged when they don’t achieve to their expectations (cue up the “compensation for a small penis” meme when you’re at it). In that light, it’s interesting to note how fragile women’s egos get when their men don’t achieve to their expectations.
Second, Loh reveals women’s compartmentalized desires, and to her (vague) credit, she admits that they are fantastic and wildly contradictory. STL insists that the high-powered women in her life secretly yearn for an untenable combination of “Four Husbands of the Apocalypse” (a seemingly-cute but grossly misused turn of phrase):
Mr. X: the financial partner. Not necessarily the financial provider—he’s more that calm, intelligent partner with whom to navigate the tedious financial technicalities of life—the 401(k)s, the 529s, the various faintly conflicting health-insurance plans. If you are a mother in our economic class (we all married sensitive, intelligent, professional men, rather than barflies), this man will typically be the father of your children. You will feel that you chose correctly, never mind that you are no longer married (hence the name: “Mr. Ex”).
Mr. Y: the feelings guy. He is all about the glass of chardonnay proffered with soulful active listening at the end of the day. “Pampering”—a vague enough word—may ensue, but the DPMs decide this needn’t include “massage” (as some “date night” guidelines arduously insist). We agree that any sensible human would prefer a massage from a professional. When your “mate” rubs your back, it’s impossible to relax while you anticipate what reciprocation will be required—five minutes of sex or, worse, a 20-minute massage back. This is a complex role; while it falls to Mr. Y to provide amorous relations if needed, for some—most?—women, it would be enough, or even preferred, for Mr. Y to function as the gentlemanly squire (Maurice Tempelsman holding umbrella aloft as Jackie O steps out of Doubleday into the rain). Or he could even be (or appear to be, although he says he’s not) gay. (David Gest, to the staff: “Liza will be home at 7 o’clock. Ready the Vosges chocolates, draw the bath!”—although of course, that ended, after 16 months, in lawsuits and allegations of beatings, herpes, etc.) (Doesn’t Sir Elton John have a Mr. Y?) (I’ll Google this.)
Mr. Z: The Brawny paper-towel man. This Mr. Fix-It wheels out the garbage cans, repairs the electronic garage-door opener, resets the computerized and (why?) tankless water heater.
Mr. Q: the cheerful intern. Mr. Q executes whatever tiny tasks you assign, without argument—he accepts a stack of envelopes and addresses them, picks up the dry cleaning before noon, is on call for 24/7 emergency carpooling, and, best of all, when handed a grocery list, returns with—get this—that grocery list’s exact items (“not Tropicana carton orange juice but fresh-squeezed Naked Orange Mango”).
The problem, of course, is that no one man can possibly be all four of these people. Mr. X is notoriously bad at processing feelings, Mr. Y is notoriously bad at fixing things, macho Mr. Z hates to be micromanaged, and Mr. Q does not actually exist in real life, although in modern marriages, husbands and wives often do treat each other as interns (“You pick up the dry cleaning!” “No, YOU should, by 5 o’clock! And put it on the United miles card, NOT Bank of America!”).
There are so many manosphere memes here you could write a graduate thesis. It recalls stitch-and-bitch meetings of the overpampered housewives known as “the noopsies” in the Fox series “The O.C.”
What I find bizarre here is that these women don’t seem to take any real joy or pride in their work – all of their kvetching is about how the home life is a failure. There’s no discussion of “I’m really proud of what I’m doing, but it makes it tough to have a good work-life balance.” There’s not even a whiff of “he just couldn’t handle that career was my first priority.” Just amorphous, unalloyed anger. This alone suggests the daytime emptiness of the career track, a grind that is ultimately unfulfilling and unrewarding to these people, except for the status and prestige they can use to demand higher-value men. Welcome, women, to the world we men have lived in for time immemorial.
(It is an interesting and ironic aside that even though we men so often define our self-concept by what we DO, as a group we’ve never sought to extract some overt “fulfillment” or “happiness” from our work the way today’s middle-upper class women have. Work is like marriage for them – its benefits are overpromised, and when the not-a-series-of-smiles reality of the daily grind comes clear, they complain they’re not haaaappy.)
THE TIDE IS TURNING, AND NOT THE WAY THEY WANT
There is one silver lining to this latest tripe from The Atlantic – the comments are absolutely eviscerating.
When men tore apart Kay Hymowitz’s WSJ piece almost two years ago, I knew we were getting somewhere. People also turned up their noses at that stupid “why women can’t have it all” piece a few months back. The worm is really turning, guys are tired of this women-can’t-make-up-their-minds bullshit.
Whether it’s the Manosphere influence or we’re just riding atop a nascent wave of disgust (probably somewhere in between), people are waking up.
For any man to stay married to any of the women portrayed in this article, the women would have to be the equivalent of the “best hooker in Bangkok” in the bedroom. The net negatives of spending your days with such unpleasant witches could only be offset (and even then not indefinitely) by regular, on-demand sex that rivaled the Sultans of ancient Eastern empires. No women can make enough money and provide enough golf opportunities to possibly offset the sheer annoyance of having to spend your days with the type of women the author describes (or the author herself, for that matter). No wonder “financially dependent men” tend to cheat more. If you were shackled with any of these women, who wouldn’t cheat?
How about these?
I can’t believe the Atlantic prints this type of sexism. That’s all this is, a sexist rant by a sexist woman, with little relevant to say except for attacking men. Reverse the genders and this would never be printed. It’s a sad state of the world when you only have to be aware of sexism when it’s against women.
This stuff really does need to be printed. I am a young male working on a professional degree and I am quite unprepared for the women I have been meeting. This article has helped me to make my mind up about one woman I have been on the fence about and has exposed the thought process for many women I will be encountering. We males need this information.
There’s even a comment about r/K selection, classic evo-psych (not going to quote it but it’s there).
Men don’t want what they’re selling. As one Nils Meyer puts it:
Yeah I think if you shack up with a woman like this, your whole life is a competition. First you gotta compete at work, then you go home and you gotta compete against your wife, and against the husbands/boyfriends of all her friends, against Don Draper, Edward Whatshisface, the dude from 50 shades of Grey, a selection of sex toys and the four husbands of the Gynocalypse.
Reminds me of one of Bruce Springsteen’s best live performances: “all day long you gotta prove it your boss, at night you gotta go home and prove it to your wife, on the weekend you gotta prove it to your kids…it just seems the joke’s on you, it never lets up.” (Monologue begins at 1:20)
There’s one factor in this I dislike: there seems to be an attitude that these women should shut up and appreciate how good they have it. I don’t entirely agree. These women have such contempt for men, such blinding hatred for the paeons who have dared displease them, that I think we should encourage them to speak their minds more. Educated men, the target mates for these women, need to know what women really think of them when we don’t live up to the gender roles expected of us, even as they protest that they shouldn’t held to gendered expectations themselves and as they subtly and overtly shittest us into helpmeet-househusband roles we’re destined to be resented for. (Not that they really need any encouragement to print more of this junk, have you browsed a bookstore lately?)
I’ve heard rumblings that the pendulum is swinging in another direction, that the youth of the Millenial era are eschewing the models of their parents and will usher in a new era of intersexual cooperation and collaboration. I’m not buying it one bit – Boomers had that same youthful idealism and look at how they turned into greedy, self-indulgent beasts in their collective middle age. And I still go out to bars and pubs and concerts and see Millenial kids playing the same failed hookup script in their late 20’s, with no real concept of how to relate to one another. However, I don’t think a tide of fem-dom relationships is upon us, firstly for the reason that the piece itself tells us that the women doing it really don’t like it.
THIS WILL NOT STAND
Articles like these are how I know Hannah Rosin’s “End of Men” meme is not really going to come true. Don’t get me wrong – we’re not going into some kind of pre-war trad-con throwback. Women will have careers – forget feminism, the economy demands it, and women who are good at it will find their rewards there. Some women will have quite high-powered careers. But as far as becoming partners and C-level execs, or owning your own practice, most women whatever their talents will not enjoy that lifestyle, both because it doesn’t leave time for other things women value (which has been acknowledged) and because it places them in a status position where very few men can satisfy the basic hypergamous instinct to look up to their mate (which in polite company has only been discussed fleetingly by James Taranto of the WSJ and is otherwise an unspeakable blasphemy against mainstream feminism).
Women still want to get married and have children, and they’re not going to sign up for jobs and career tracks that are, from the horse’s mouth, lots of bother and trouble and little personal fulfillment save for voluminous cheerleading from sheltered reporters and feminist writers and a vaguely envious look from other women who on balance are probably mostly jealous of the type of super-alpha men you get to mingle with.
You don’t need some angry article like this to show off the misery of that lifestyle, either. The popular culture has already been exposed, in meme, to this type of woman – Miranda, the homely attorney from “Sex And The City.” I’m thinking of that scene in the SATC movie where she indignantly tells her husband in mid-thrust, “just get it over with already!” so she can get back to her legal brief. (She later finds out her sexually desperate husband had a one-night stand to relieve himself, after which she inadvertently breaks up Carrie’s wedding by mouthing off to the already-reluctant Big about the unwisdom of marriage.)
Miranda and the author of this piece are what happen when Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown meet reality.