Reframing The “Man Up” Directive As A Male-Anxiety Problem – Very Slick, Wall Street Journal

Dalrock recently posted on a series of works by foul-mouthed professional divorcee Susan Gregory Thomas, who burst onto the scene with an article about how divorce was so bad for her and her generation that she did it to her kids too. Her most recent offering is another man-up shaming article examining households in which the woman earns most of the money. Stories like these are nothing new (I wrote about one last month), and usually focus on female frustration in “feeling like the man in the relationship.” However, every one of these articles is met with loads of dismissive comments by men, and some earnest confusion on their part that feminism was supposed to be about women who wanted to be high achievers and backing away from outdated male-headship structures, so what are they upset about? Every time they get less angry and more dismissive, indicative of men simply leaving the building and not caring about women’s protestations at all.

This obviously creates a real problem in the whining world – how to reframe female frustration so it’s more palatable and less susceptible to attack and derision? How are these women going to get societal comfort and validation from being unhaaaappy if their own words keep exposing the logical fallacies of their solipsistic philosophy? Thomas has found the answer: you dispense with the female testimonials and frame each anecdote as a male-anxiety problem, thus employing men as ventriloquist dummies for hard-charging women’s hypergamous anxiety. The key syllogism in the story comes here:

Perhaps because men of this generation were raised in the wake of the women’s movement, a culture that introduced values of equality, many of them don’t seem to have a problem with their wives earning more than they do.

There’s one caveat, though: The men want their own salaries alone to be enough, in theory, to float the family. When they can’t meet this standard, they can feel enraged, shamed, explosive. And their wives often feel resentful and pressured.

All the examples flow from this thesis, that men are insecure about their wives’ achievements (more “you can’t handle a strong woman!”) and being the abusive beasts they are, they project their anxiety onto their wives who then become neurotic in turn. There’s no discussion about the females’ core feelings about carrying the financial load (many articles have revealed that generally speaking, they don’t like it), only their reactions to the “pressures” put on them by men who feel inadequate.

I have to say that is some brilliant rhetoric. If you only quote the men (and a select group of white-knightey men to boot), you don’t have to confront the decidedly negative true feelings of women in fem-dom relationships where men are either on a much lower pay scale, are unemployed or have dropped out of the workforce entirely to be househusbands. Such confrontations expose feminist falsehoods that men and women are the same and undercut the key feminist mythology that men are insecure about their dicks and that’s why they are threatened by an empowered woman.

There’s a couple things going on with men’s concern for “providing.” First is that men are generally aware of hypergamy at least on a subconscious level, and so they can sense that falling back professionally will destabilize their relationships. Second is that men are brought up with a whole lot of white-knight indoctrination about giving stuff to women as a mating strategy, from picking up the check on elaborate dates to saving multiple months’ salary for an engagement ring to buying houses and luxury cars for their wives, so it becomes an ingrained part of a man’s identity. This is what produces perverse extremes like men who think their manhood is measured by their wives staying at home – “no wife of MINE is going to work!” (To which the quippy response is “I got news for you – your ex-wife isn’t going to work, either.”)

It’s important to note that these “I gotta provide for the family” types tend to represent the more conservative/traditional social outlook. This provides a critical rhetorical shiv. If you can slip it past the goalie that female hypergamy creates instability in fem-dom relationships, you can hit personal and political points simultaneously by presenting the argument that it’s not women’s fault that their feminist reams aren’t coming true, and instead fall back on blaming those evil judgmental “conservative, traditional” communities that are pumping out men programmed to “oppress women.”

I’m surprised they are just catching on now, though – it’s long been a feminist rhetorical tack to project female-induced preference as pernicious male pathology. For example, framing the missionary position (widely preferred by women as an intimate and softly-submissive arrangment) as an unholy instrument of a male need for dominance. Or complaining that women are saddled with housework that men refuse to do when in fact women are the ones who want fastidiously tidy houses in the first place. You’ll notice that in light of the articles quoted, the latter appears to be a big fitness test – she asks you to take on more domestic tasks, then resents you for being too domestic.

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13 responses to “Reframing The “Man Up” Directive As A Male-Anxiety Problem – Very Slick, Wall Street Journal

  1. FL

    Money quote from the comments: “But feminism is supposed to lead to more prosperity and productivity.”

    Sure it does, if you don’t look at the results.

  2. Hey Badger, not to toot my own horn, but two things that irk me about this article is the 1) presumption women earn more/majority of degrees and 2) “Men are Intimidated By X”

    My response to #1 here:

    My response to #2 here:

    These myths have to be destroyed.

  3. Infantry

    Badger. You’re right.

    While you’re spending so much of your time eloquently explaining things that other men can only ‘feel’, just make sure you don’t invest too much in the cause. I only say this because I don’t want you to martyr yourself down the MRM hole like others that have gone before you.

    Would be nice to see an article about the best in (deserving) women. You’ll appreciate the balance in yourself when you write it.

  4. Spoos in August

    I think part of the reason the collapse of single-male-income households hasn’t been framed as male anxiety as much up to this point is that it’s still a relatively recent phenomenon. Men didn’t have to worry as much about that aspect of masculine prlerformance because, when the economy was still good, their salaries were at least sufficient to allay hypergamous impulse for a time. The disproportionate impact of the recession and lack of appropriate response (to avoid angering the women’s lobby) has further undermined that initially precarious position.

  5. Thanatos

    “While you’re spending so much of your time eloquently explaining things that other men can only ‘feel’, just make sure you don’t invest too much in the cause. I only say this because I don’t want you to martyr yourself down the MRM hole like others that have gone before you.

    Would be nice to see an article about the best in (deserving) women. You’ll appreciate the balance in yourself when you write it.”

    You poor deluded bastard.

    It would be far better for ten million men to “martyr themselves down the MRM hole”,than for those same men to be crucified in family court and go on to unwillingly fund the machine that destroyed them and will destroy others.

  6. Anonymous Reader

    Badger, very nice analysis. I’m slowly getting to the point where i regard pretty much any criticism of men by women as merely projection. “Insecure about status”? “Afraid to commit”? ” Prone to sudden rages?” “LIkely to resort to violence?”

    Whom do we see in the modern world that these really attach to, eh? For example, are there any men in public life or the writing world ever refer to their wife as a “kitchen bitch”? Or is that loving term the sole property of strong, independent, wimmin like Ms. Tsing Loh? I could go on but won’t.

    My first go-to tool in analyzing anything written by a woman in the opinion world now is going to be “Which of your own behaviors are you projecting onto men now?”.

  7. One women begin earning better than 60% of all earned wages, perhaps we can convince them that they no longer need to fuel the hypergamous slut arms-race with our tax dollars. God knows how many of their bastard womb-turds we are supporting.

    I’d be more inclined to hand over my tax dollars to these slutty single moms if they would at least show up once in a while at my place to fix me a sandwich or dust the furniture.

  8. @Professor Ashur

    Professor! It’s so nice to see that you are still around. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, I would appreciate it very much if you could shoot me at email at 22to28(AT)gmail.com.

    “I’d be more inclined to hand over my tax dollars to these slutty single moms if they would at least show up once in a while at my place to fix me a sandwich or dust the furniture.”

    Rule number one of civilizations: Men pay for everything.

    Rule number one of modern civilization: Remove the benefit to men for doing so from men, but keep “rule number one of civilizations” in place as well. Then just hope for the best and browbeat any male who marches to a different beat for his failure to man-up.

  9. sunshinemary

    it’s long been a feminist rhetorical tack to project female-induced preference as pernicious male pathology.

    It’s also that feminist rhetoric creates preferences in women that they don’t really have. Rationalization hamsters didn’t use to have to work quite so hard because there wasn’t such a huge disconnect between what a woman thought she should want versus what she really wanted.

    Truthfully, I think most women deep down don’t want to be careerists, but we’ve painted ourselves into a corner here. We’ve said that this is what we wanted, and now that we have it and hate it; we have to pretend like it’s we really want but it’s not good because men are screwing it up somehow. It’s embarrassing to admit that it’s all been a huge mistake.

  10. gdgm+

    Might be a typo in the OP above:

    “…you can hit personal and political points simultaneously by presenting the argument that it’s not women’s fault that their feminist _reams_ aren’t coming true”

  11. i’m 100% serious when it comes to providing….for Brody. lol.

    with ANY woman i come across the frame is, “sweetie, what the hell do you bring to the table? how can you enhance my existence? and sex is NOT enhancing it.”

    the WSJ can suck it. “female anxiety”? keep telling yourself that. the pushback is def building, and it doesn’t bode well for “modern women”.

  12. blogster

    @ sunshine mary

    true. hypergamy and the vague, undefined satisfaction and inherent insecurity of being responsible for provisioning and financial security has been contorted into men not puling their weight. of course they fail to, or do not want to, connect the dots – were men to ‘man up’ and earn more, there would be further gender discrimination implied and calls for more ‘équality’. there would be a continuous ratcheting up of rheotric and policy, a never ending state of dissatisfaction.

    you’d get to a ludicrous scenario where millionaire go-getter investment banker vps are dissatisfied because hubby is ‘only’ a partner in a respectable accounting firm pulling in ‘$600,000′.

  13. blogster

    undefined *dissatisfaction*

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