June 3, 2007

Well, If You Have To Ask...

I hate articles like this.

Are men, like sharks, starting to be useless?

I've noticed you get these kinds of op-eds whenever a quirk of nature comes along (in this case, a female hammerhead shark who apparently gave birth without mating) that seems to cast a bad light upon the male of the species. Never mind that this parthenogenetic behavior is extremely rare, and has never been observed in mammals. Some--inevitably male--smart-ass writer just has to speculate about what this might mean for humans.

In this case, the writer is throwing out a list of whiny, supposed-to-be-funny "reasons" why men shouldn't be cast aside just yet. To wit:

We can lift really heavy things.
We look so cool smoking a pipe.
We can cage fight. (Immediately retracted.)
We are super good at starting wars.
We are way awesome at loud noises.
We can eat like crazy.

If these are all the reasons he can come up with, one wonders why he, as a male, is still around to write about them.

Articles like these are invariably smug, condescending as all hell, and generally sexist to boot. For instance, under the "starting wars" section, he expands his thought as follows:

These heathens can't be reasoned with and must not be appeased. Women, or lesser males, may be tempted to talk with the savages, or think there's a middle ground of co-existence. Yeah, right..and Melinda was the best singer on American Idol (not that I watch it). [Oh really? Then how'd you know her name, or the fact that it was generally conceded that technically, she was Idol's best singer?]

Lock and load, we say! If not, prepare to polka all night, ladies.

Ugh. Despite his protests, obviously this is someone suffering from "Alpha Male" syndrome. He's trying to laugh and joke his way out of it, but he's sure not succeeding. Look how women and "lesser males" (those who actually have consideration for others' feelings) are linked in his mind. Notice how those old words "heathen" and "savages" are so lightly tossed about. Intentionally or not, he reminded me of the era when those words were used to such devastating effect against Native Americans.

Finally, he seems to have fallen prey to Male Entitlement Syndrome--a hidden (or sometimes not-so-hidden) frustration that the attention is not always on the menz:

If the most terrifying creatures alive--think Shark Week--are nothing more than useless relics, we may as well order up a no-whip, hazelnut, non-fat chai and turn on Desperate Housewives. The end can't be far away.

O horrors! A fate worse than death.

Perhaps this was intended to be a parody. It didn't turn out that way, at least for me. It would have come across far better had the writer acknowledged the fact of the "macho landscape," tried to explain it, and attempted to argue why men need to dismantle society's expectations of "Alpha Males."

Then, perhaps, he could have accomplished something.

No comments: