The war on men

That is the title of this article.

The article makes the following point:

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.
The so-called dearth of good men (read: marriageable men) has been a hot subject in the media as of late. Much of the coverage has been in response to the fact that for the first time in history, women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce. They’re also getting most of the college degrees. The problem? This new phenomenon has changed the dance between men and women.

And this:

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.
Now the men have nowhere to go.

Female anger is driving men away.

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.
It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.
It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek.

The solution, says the female author, is for women to become more feminine.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.
If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.

My wife, an ardent feminist in her own way, agrees with this article’s perspective. She has noticed a problem that most women have, which is that society says they should want metrosexual, sensitive men, but women really in their hearts want (somewhat) macho men. In effect, modern-day society has told women they should want Ashley Wilkes, but, like Scarlett O’Hara, when they actually can have Ashley Wilkes they realize they really want Rhett Butler.

Meanwhile, men are confused, not sure if they should act like Ashley or Rhett or something else entirely. This article makes the point that many of them are avoiding marriage precisely because of this confusion.

Another point: how does the “Proclamation on the Family” deal with these issues if at all:

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

It appears to me that the Proclamation is making another, more nuanced point: men and women are different, but in God’s eyes, there is room for individualism among both men and women. The key point the Proclamation seems to make is that both sexes have responsibilities to support and sustain each other. Rhett Butler is far from the ideal man, the Proclamation says. Instead, our model should be the humble, hard-working men who support and love their families and honor their wives.

What is the ideal model for women? Well, that appears to be much more controversial and open to discussion.

Please feel free to discuss, but please be nice.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

62 thoughts on “The war on men

  1. “What is the ideal model for women?”
    The really is an important question. I think the Savior answered it when he said, “even as I am”.

    Another model would be Eve. But we don’t have very much on her.

  2. We don’t “have very much” on any women, particularly our Heavenly Mother. I can be like the Savior in many ways — particularly with regard to character — but how that manifests itself practically speaking isn’t clear. And obviously there are many ways I cannot be like Christ at all.

  3. I really disagree with this perspective.

    1. The idea that people should surrender to their nature–men being more manly and women being more womanly–is part of what has led to a patriarchal system that oppresses women. In an enlightened Gospel context, this isn’t a problem. Men and women treat each other with respect. But the Gospel isn’t everywhere and feminism is doing much better to give women equal rights, broadly speaking, than the Gospel is. Do we reject the good that feminism has done simply because the Gospel could also do it? Why not embrace both?

    2. The article mentions that women used to be on a pedestal like it is a good thing. People on pedestals don’t get to make their own choices. They have to conform so that they can be shown off the way the people who put them on the pedestals want them to be. Whatever bad feminism may have done (a subject open for debate), it does allow women to explore possibilities men had never allowed them to try before. It has given them greater agency. This article wants them back on the pedestals. (!?)

    3. Contrary to what the article states, I don’t think any women want to compete with men in the workplace (minus maybe some few exceptions). They just want to work, but they are forced to compete with men because of the problems of gender inequality. Even so, I fail to see why it is a woman’s fault that being competative makes her less of an appealing marriagable choice for a man. Any man who has a problem with that probably should “man up,” not be scared, and ask a woman on a date that has chosen to do something more than sit around being as available as possible until a man notices her.

    3a. The article says women can solve this whole problem by “letting men surrender to their [nature].” Yeah. It’s women’s fault men are lazy or overly-sensitive. “Now men have nowhere to go.” Rhett Butler would have never have written this defeatest boo-hoo.

    This article is just another example of a man trying to paint feminism as some kind of evil and trying to get women to conform to the good ol’ days when they were pretty and baby factories.

  4. I was ready to gently clobber you until your last paragraph, with which I agree completely. I suppose that says a great deal about the level of defensiveness the whole subject creates in both sexes, so I apologize for the eyeroll.

    I can’t speak for every woman, but as a mature, single woman who has been married before, I can speak to what I would want, if I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted. It’s certainly neither Rhett Butler or Ashley Wilkes and I’m tired of it being an either/or (and this is why I just can’t stomach the whole Austen mystique – ugh). Since when must strength, in either sex, be competitive or dismissive? I would be looking for a strong collaborator, an individualized powerhouse capable of community, someone who understood that that power did not arise from unrighteous dominion but instead was distilled through thoughtful action.

    The doctrines and covenants of the gospel have everything to teach us about being both men and women, and I think the Proclamation does a wonderful job of it. When we leave this earth we will not care about worldly standards of parity. We will care about our mutual work in saving the souls of the human family, and that’s what the Proclamation addresses.

    Bah to the whole idea that there is either a war on women or a war on men. Of course Satan is warring against both. I don’t have time to enter *that* fray.

  5. Bonnie, thanks for the thoughtful comment. If you are going to clobber anyone (however gently), please clobber Suzanne Venker, who wrote the article. I am raising the issue for discussion and don’t necessarily agree with the article. I definitely agree with the Proclamation, which makes different points in a different way and perhaps should always be our true guide.

  6. Danger of pointing out the battle cry that you get caught in the crossfire! Truly, I’m working on my tendency to engage in eyerolls, but it’s a battle within. I have such a sense of weariness about this battle of the sexes, and I know that’s peculiar to me. Sorry. 🙂

    Most everyone is familiar with Morgan Freeman’s excellent response to Mike Wallace about racism. I’m to the point that I think it’s the best response to sexism as well. Stop talking about it. That colors my responses to the subject. Sorry, once again.

    I recognize that we learn by talking about things and I need to be nicer than I often am, but it seems that this whole men vs women thing never gets any better. We make so much progress when we simply work side by side in common goals. Align all the feminists and chauvinists in a trench laying sandbags and everyone gets along. It’s probably a good thing to discuss and I probably should have clicked on instead of referencing even an inclination to a gentle clobbering. Don’t mind grouchy me!

  7. I’ve worked long and hard to become what I thought was a pretty ardent feminist man. 10 years into my marriage finding out that my wife resents much of it. “Sure, treat my career goals with equality and respect, value my role as more than a baby machine – but take the lead and even preside in a number of other ways. Be a bread winner and spiritual leader for our family.”

  8. The problems with the article still apply. The idea that if men act a certain way, it is women’s fault just doesn’t jive with anything I believe about a person’s (in this case a man’s) individual accountability.

  9. I appreciate a man who leads. But it is idiocy to think that leadership equates to Rhett OR Ashley.

    It just goes to show that people really have NO idea what it takes to be a great leader. We are so used to seeing the best at a job get promoted to leadership positions even when they have no leadership skills, that we think being the best at something is the same thing as leadership.

    This idea of a war on men couched in THESE terms makes me laugh. Oh, the poor men who don’t know anymore how to force or manipulate women into giving them what they want. It betrays deep dysfunction in the way the author sees male/female relationships. Unfortunately, she is in the majority.

    Rejecting this perception of male/female relationships is a lonely road, particularly if one is single. I have decided, as hard and rocky as the choice may be, to accept no one who objectifies me, either by putting me on a pedestal or by walking all over me. As a potential wife, I am not a role, I am a partner. Until I find a man who sees me and himself that way, it is better to walk alone.

  10. And, I’d also like to add, that the Proclamation makes that clear for anyone with eyes to see it. It sets out the primary duties of a family unit, and suggests which parent has the primary responsibility to meet those needs. But it also makes it clear that the duties are shared, and parents are expected to adapt around each other and work with each other to accomplish them.

  11. Ya, I hate the idea of any war on men – considering the real life war on many women around the world. And even here at home, the most privileged of women run into many built in obstacles in their pursuit of happiness. I do however, like to hear an acknowledgement of the tight rope that many men walk. This article seems to do that indirectly.

  12. To my mind, feminism was/is about offering choices to women (and men). Biology no longer meant destiny. In other words, just because I was born female doesn’t mean I have to be a full time wife and mother. For men, it doesn’t mean they have to be a full time provider, too busy to help with parenting and being a partner.

    The new roles, this new landscape is not easy to adjust to. Where my grandmother-in-law simply knew she would not have any personal success, financial security except through her husband and children…women today (in the U.S. and Canada) have different options.

    This isn’t a war on men. It’s ridiculous to assume that all women want men, and want them to be a certain way. It’s ridiculous to assume that all men want to take care of women.

    Changing social norms is difficult and uncomfortable. And throwing the concept of “love” in with social and cultural norms makes it even more complex.

    The original article lamented that women can’t find marriageable men, and that feminism is to blame. I believe the standard for relationships has changed. A
    person is no longer a good husband simply because they work for a living, aren’t abusive or an alcoholic (the past standard).

    Men and women both need to revisit their expectations for one another and better communicate. Sometimes that means that they don’t have a relationship or kids. And that’s okay. The global birth rate isn’t going anywhere.

    Part of feminism is accepting that a person can be whole without a relationship- a single person is not inherently flawed. All of this is not compatible with the Proclamation.

  13. I agree with much of what the author says. I don’t blame men for the situation women have found themselves in, but in the women themselves, especially my generation.

    We (I am including LDS women in this “we”) embraced many of the feminist notions of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I completely agree with women having a choice to have a career and be paid equally, have a strong voice in society, and higher education. However as mothers, in our either/or drive to empower our daughters, and help them achieve all the opportunities we may have missed, we have emasculated our husbands and especially our sons.

    As much as we may have believed this “new world” would make us happy, it has not. It should never have been either/or. G-d would have both sexes to be strong and equal. Also we need to accept that the sexes are fundamentally different in many respects. This does not mean we all go back to the stereotypical 1950’s role models. Women can be strong and feminine; men can be masculine and compassionate.

  14. I think there is a resurgence of the masculine and feminine in the past decade, which you can certainly see in various aspects of culture. Feminism has long since abandoned power suits, and aggressive manners in the work place. Feminine sensitivity is championed as a key leadership quality in CEOs today. The work place has become much more accommodating to women who have children than in past decades.

    Also, men’s fashions are changing to emphasize utility, strong lines, and classic types, as opposed to the sissy metro-sexual styles of a decade ago. Shows like Mad Men, and shows with “housewife” in the name have struck a chord with millions of people who identify with strong masculine or feminine types. Pipe smoking, artisanal shaving, beards, and other masculine stereotypes are returning.

    The new masculine and feminine is more sexually latent than in the 50s. It is conscious of sexual appeal, and plays up desirable attributes. It is not uncommon in today’s culture, to see the mom as “hotter” than the daughter.

    Modesty can be sexy. Traditional roles are sexually desirable. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our sexual desires are the greatest motivators for transforming cultural attitudes about gender roles. Long live hot moms, and sexy dads.

  15. Nate, while I agree that we’ve seen a comfortable shift back toward acknowledging gender traits rather than quashing them, I had a facepalm moment with it all becoming sexual. I get that the world is headed that direction, and your comment was about worldly cultural views, but I think wise disciples will take the gender traits as they occur naturally and sidestep the overt sexuality.

  16. I have a question. Do people seriously listen to the stuff that was quoted above? Why not just be yourself and not worry about the implications as much? Maybe that would be too simple, but it seems one could get lost and become miserable when trying to model their lives around an advice column (which this basically sounds like).

  17. Crystal, here is why I think it is worth listening to:

    There are a lot of lonely single women out there wondering why they are unhappy and alone. Many of them comment on this blog, and I know a lot of them myself in my personal off-line life. Many of these women look at the promises of feminism and wonder why it hasn’t brought them happiness. I would note that for some women the modern-day feminist movement definitely has brought some happiness. Obviously, we are all happy women can finally vote and that they have gained a certain amount of autonomy in the workplace and have more choices in their lives. Nobody wants women to go back to just being 1950s housewives (although of course this is what intolerant liberals always claim people want when they make any comment that does not fit a certain orthodoxy). This author comes up with an explanation that seems to make sense to some women. If I were to phrase it differently, I would say that women are doomed to unhappiness when they try to become men and compete with them rather than see that women are complementary and have different strengths and weaknesses.

    I would also add that the sexual revolution has created a lot of problems for women. On the one hand, they are “free” to take the pill and have sex without getting pregnant, but on the other they often find that when they do this it does not bring happiness but instead brings a lot of emotional pain. This “sexual freedom” thing is really not as liberating as many feminists predicted it would be.

    Meanwhile, we have created a very confusing world for men, especially LDS men. On the one hand, feminism has been “great” for non-religious men, who can hook up endlessly with women without commitment. Again, this will not bring them long-term happiness, but the culture keeps on celebrating the James Bond type of man who can have multiple one-night stands and find fulfillment (NOT!). LDS young men are told to wait until they are married, but if they live in the world they see most other men doing something completely different. And we need to recognize that men’s brains are wired differently when it comes to pornography and sexuality.

    All in all, the world is a difficult place for people to navigate these days. I think modern-day prophets do the best job of providing good, sound advice, but columns like this one also provide things to consider.

  18. The women who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s were told by their mothers to be a “lady” and a “good girl”. Many of these women, as teens and young adults, had bought into the sexual revolution. They rebelled against their mothers and vowed, that when they became a parent they instead would be “cool”. This is why so many young teenage girls, who do not have money nor access to transportation wear very sexualized clothing. Their mothers are buying these outfits for them, and giving them sexual freedoms they did not have as a teen. They think they are “cool” living out their teen dream thru their girls, unlike grandma, who was a major “square”.

    In the LDS church I see strong opinionated women, who are often control freaks, by sabotaging their husbands parental authority in teaching boys to be men.

  19. Geoff B.


    “On the one hand, they are “free” to take the pill and have sex without getting pregnant, but on the other they often find that when they do this it does not bring happiness but instead brings a lot of emotional pain. This “sexual freedom” thing is really not as liberating as many feminists predicted it would be.”

    Perhaps. But compare this to the situation women had before the pill, or the status of women in areas of the world where contraception is not widespread, such as the Middle East. If a women gets pregnant, she has to live with that decision for the rest of her life. The man only does if he is inclined to. Abstinence may be better than the pill, but the pill is far better for women than all of history before it. Women have always been sexualized. The pill, and feminism more generally, have simply helped women to avoid negative stigmas associated with sex and therefore carry less shame (which has always been unfairly tilted towards women), helped women avoid unfortunate consequences that men inherently get to avoid in cases of conception, and encouraged women to not think of themselves as sexual objects for men.

    The feminist woman has power over her body to choose whether or not to have sex. The pre-feminism woman dedicates herself to becoming the sexual desire of some man. If feminism has not provided the complete answer to women’s happiness, it has certainly helped them out of their passive social role.

    “I would say that women are doomed to unhappiness when they try to become men and compete with them…”

    This is an outdated feminism. You’re thinking back in the 70’s and around the Equal Rights Amendment. Third wave feminism, which represents popular feminism today, is based on encouraging men to be men and women to be women, not competition of the sexes. That’s part of the problem with the article you posted. It’s fighting a straw man; the old feminism, the feminism Elder Packer speaks out against. But it’s not around anymore, at least not popularly, so criticising it really doesn’t help us get past today’s problems.

  20. As one of those single women, (though I would hesitate to call myself “lonely”) I have a problem with “considering” the things this article lays out.

    In a nutshell, it claims that women are “competing with men” and this leads to men feeling “dismissed” and then goes on to suggest that the answer to this is for each gender to surrender to their respective femininity or masculinity. But what exactly is this supposed to mean? They never dare to lay that out.

    One is left to infer that “femininity” means letting the men be strong and take care of their women. But someone like me, single by choice, has suddenly found that failing to develop certain talents and good personality qualities—like independence and strength—is not a good trade-off for “a man.” Marriage has been redefined as a partnership in my mind, and in the minds of women like me. What’s more, as a single mom, I can’t AFFORD to accept a man who isn’t willing to be a partner, who is looking for a “feminine” woman to make him feel “masculine.”

    So while the idea espoused in the OP might be worth considering (all ideas are,) I don’t think there is much merit in it. Sure, following those ideas might get you “a man” or “a woman,” but a true partner? Doubtful.

  21. And just to illustrate that I put my money where my mouth is, the only two men I’ve had a relationship with which has ended with regret has been 1) because I refused to accept one’s control over my actions, and 2) because I refused to control him.

    I think phrasing male/female relationships in terms of roles and control is endlessly damaging.

  22. DavidF, if you are going to comment here be a little less arrogant about lecturing everybody about feminism. I was raised by a single mother in the ’60s and ’70s and know plenty about the issue. To give you one small example, my grandmother in SLC was sexually harassed by her employer in the 1950s and 1960s to the extent that she and my grandfather moved away from SLC to get away from the guy. I have two daughters and want them to have all of the opportunities they can in life. So tone down your lectures. Many readers here have real-world experiences that would probably trump yours and your remark shows the typical liberal intolerance I referenced above. Make the charitable choice to assume that people are commenting in good faith. Thanks.

    Your remark about birth control is a typical intolerant liberal comeback that really doesn’t have anything to do with my comment. I am not opposed to birth control and consider it a “right” for women to use birth control if they so wish. My point was that the feminist movement felt that hooking up like men would make women happy, and it has not. You need to read a lot more modern comments from feminists if you think the competition thing has somehow gone away. Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins and on and on are all about women competing with men. They see the world as a zero-sum game where if some man gets ahead some woman was oppressed. You may have read some feminist literature that talks about the third wave and somehow decided that is the real world, but sorry dude, it ain’t.

  23. Geoff B.

    I apologize. I usually pride myself on keeping a very neutral tone on hot-button issues, but you’re right and my remarks were over the top.

    I’m not really sure how my remarks show typical liberal intolerance. You’ll have to explain that to me. Here I think a clarification can explain my remarks. Please don’t take what follows as a lecture, but my attempt to explain my thought. I distinguish feminism from the work of feminists. All feminists embrace feminism, but not everything feminists say represent feminism. Bra burning, competition with men, and encouraging women to be promiscuous are not core principles of feminism, even though many feminists have advocated them. I personally believe it is important to note this nuance because different feminists movements, especially the second and third waves, would not agree on these issues.

    My main point in the last post is that I do not think it is fair to take a criticism of a certain kind of feminism and then use it to criticise feminism itself. The OP does just this, and perhaps I misread your comments, but I sensed that same thinking in them as well; hence my, admittedly over-the-top, reaction. But I do think that conversations on feminism easily get garbled up because we tend to think we all agree on what feminism is.

    My last post shows some things that feminism itself has accomplished that does not necessary correlate with the kind of feminism that the OP is denouncing. But by denouncing feminism in general (even if she meant a specific sort), she is also criticising the good points of feminism that I have brought up.

    As a side note, Dowd is something of a cultural anomaly. Because she is such a vocal critic of most other feminists, I don’t think she is a good example of feminism of the last couple decades. As for Gail Collins, nothing I have read from her makes me think she advocates competition with men. Perhaps some of her earlier writings of which I am not familiar with?

  24. OK, DavidF, no problem. I actually agree with you that the OP does overly simplify a complex issue. If I can find some time I will track down some Gail Collins columns that I found objectionable. As for liberal intolerance, this is the tendency to automatically assume the worst motives from people who don’t speak in a politically correct orthodoxy. The usual response is: snark, sarcasm, outrage and arrogant lectures rather than calm, polite discourse. Ain’t gonna happen on this blog.

  25. Who is unhappy? How is that measured?

    I wouldn’t say it was feminism that encouraged people to sleep around. It seems to me that there was a rejection of the Victorian status quo of wives and mistresses. Laws were reformed so women could make choices and leave their philandering husbands. Birth control meant women could space out their children and were less likely to die in childbirth.

    I read this article as a return to Fascinating Womanhood and Men of Steel and Velvet. That may work for some couples, but it’s not the ideal.

  26. Did you read the contrary viewpoint posted at the bottom of that article, Geoff? It rings truer to my experiences, though I disagree with some of her points, too. Marriage does not bring happiness, no matter how much people want to sell it that way. Unhappy single people will be unhappy married. Those who are happy single have the capacity to be happy married. All “marriage” in general does is enhance whatever capacity you already have.

  27. I won’t comment on the merits of the article, because my opinions make people angry. (I agreed wholeheartedly with the points the authoress made and I think this topic NEEDS to be discussed in the open.)

  28. Michael Towns, there is room for politically incorrect opinions here, as long as they are in good taste, don’t directly attack others, etc. Liberal intolerance is also held under control here, so there is actually room for people to have discussions.

  29. I attended an annual Women’s Summit with the Texas Diversity Council a couple of weeks ago. One of the intro speakers was talking about all the strides that women have made, and with comments others made, there was kind of this “rah rah women, boo men” feeling. But then the speaker said, “But we need to help the men catch up to us – because otherwise we won’t have anyone to marry! I say that as a single woman trying to find a husband”. I had the thought, “Yeah, this is the opposite side of the coin, ladies”.

    I do agree with this statement in the article: [men] can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever.

    This is the new normal, and yes, women did this to ourselves.

    I am not sure I agree with the conclusion that the solution is to “surrender” to our femininity. I think that was a poor word choice on her part that gives the image of “The Surrendered Wife” or Fascinating Womanhood. That’s not where we want to go as women. And we don’t want to emphasize our differences in highly sexualized ways. But, I do like your conclusion of the Proclamation on the Family. I think that works well.

  30. People may not like this woman’s conclusions. And yet they are based on the following:

    “As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I’ve spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who’ve told me, in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same.

    Women aren’t women anymore.”

    In other words, this woman has done her homework and has spend 13 years studying the issue. Perhaps some of us can be a tad bit more humble and acknowledge the fact that she has some genuine cachet and might…just possibly….know what she’s talking about?

    Of course, people can feel free to totally disagree. Caution is advised, for Elder Christiansen said this in October:

    “…a common thread running through these analyses is that in many societies today men and boys get conflicting and demeaning signals about their roles and value in society.”

    He is darn right. And the author of the article is correct, if not in her conclusions, than at least in her description of the problem.

    Men and boys are marginalized in today’s society and denigrated. Women and girls are applauded, often at the expense of men. It’s that whole competition thing that Elder Christofferson and this author go into. Yes, it is there, and yes, I’ve personally seen it. Women are being taught that in order to succeed in life, they need to act like men and men need to submit to this “new normal”. This all stems from progressive political notions that are rife in our public schools, media, liberal echo chambers, etc.

    I applaud this woman for her research and am very grateful that Elder Christofferson devoted his talk to this relevant topic.

    I also want to say fiddlesticks on this notion that women shouldn’t “surrender” to “femininity”. Um, why not? Please explain to me why it’s wrong for men to be “masculine” and women to be “feminine”?

    “I think phrasing male/female relationships in terms of roles and control is endlessly damaging.” — SilverRain, we talk of roles ALL the time. Is husband not a role to you? Are the words wife/mother/sister/brother/dad….are these just silly words or do they really mean something. We speak of the role of the father in the home and the role of the mother. We speak of the husband/wife relationship. As song as men and women want to live together, there is ALWAYS going to be roles to assume and some give and take, and yes, the give and take means that I acquiesce when my wife doesn’t want the bonus money to be spent on a nice toy, or she “submits” (oh, evil word) to my counsel if I believe that a certain movie is not appropriate for the children. We all do this in just about every relationship with humans. It’s a part of human nature. I assume you have a replacement for how humans fundamentally treat each other?

    Sorry for the long post, but this is a very important topic, and there are delusions amok in our society about this stuff. It sorta gets my goat.

  31. Michael, while I agree with most of what you said (it’s pretty challenging raising strong boys in a culture that constantly makes fun of men) and I think the author’s encounters with this subculture are accurate even if all her conclusions aren’t, I can’t say that I think we have to talk about this *as a war on men.* When I made my point a few days ago about Morgan Freeman’s comment about racism, I was talking about discussing this from in front of the barrel of the gun.

    In over two decades of political action work, I discovered that you can never succeed if you’re fighting *against* something, but you have a real shot if you’re fighting *for* something. The same is true in addiction treatment. People don’t just stop cold turkey; they replace their addictions with positive replacement behaviors. If we want to talk about something, we are most likely to succeed at real change if we talk about collaboration.

    In collaboration, roles naturally fall into place because people define them in ways that work well for them, and because it ceases to be about them and is about their goals, the battle is over. That’s what the Proclamation does so beautifully: it’s about the children, the family unit, and the society. It’s not about women *or* men, it’s about women and men working together. Being distracted by the battle on women and the battle on men illusions is like thinking that the military-industrial complex isn’t behind every war on earth. We can’t fall for that. Collaboration, unity, is our only chance, but also our greatest power. In light of that, we can stop talking about the battle, and together turn on the Adversary.

    Okay, I’m *this* close to sounding the cry for a PAC. Apparently it’s not been long enough since I was out of politics.

  32. Michael,

    I agree with the premise of Elder Christofferson’s talk, and I agree that there has been a shift in our culture as to how men behave, and in many ways it has not been positive.

    The problem with this author is that she takes a correlation—increased equality for women, juxtaposed against men becoming overly sensitive and unambitious—and asserts a causal relation between these two trends, where feminism is the cause of men being slackers. Is it possible? Perhaps. But she hasn’t made a convincing point. The article presents this as a given, but it isn’t (essentially the argument of my first post). Furthermore, I think a lot of people, including many feminists, would like to see women embrace their femininity, but this article strongly implies that for women to do so correctly, they ought to go back on the pedestal they were on before feminism pushed them off. I think that is grossly misguided (essentially the argument of my third post).

    Finally, I’m not convinced by her authority on the subject. Again, she has observed two trends of which, if they are correctly understood, do not necessarily have a causal relationship. And all of the observational data she has collected doesn’t make her theory correct unless she can tie it together convincingly.

  33. In the author’s defense, the title is probably — indeed, most likely — a pithy response to the utterly shameful faux “war on women” that Mr. Obama’s cronies foisted on us this year. I seriously doubt that she, or anyone, really takes the “war” part seriously. It’s a catchphrase designed to capture interest.

    ” It’s not about women *or* men, it’s about women and men working together.”

    I totally understand what you mean about the Proclamation, and you are absolutely right, with the above exception. I do believe, strongly, that if individual men and women’s needs are not being met (emotional, spiritual, social, what have you), then they are not going to be able to work together as well. Fundamentally, men and women need to individually become what old Maslow said was “self-actualized”, except in a gospel framework. Yes, married men and women and their children, all sealed, get to heaven as a family unit. However, individuals matter a great deal, and the Proclamation also states clearly that our sex preceded our entry into mortality.

    Sex matters, after all. The maleness and the femaleness of our identities are of eternal, profound significance. I reckon we might not want to diss that.

  34. DavidF, your points are noted. Correlation indeed does not mean causation.

    However, I hasten to point out that correlation doesn’t necessarily imply absolute lack of causation either. Do we need more study? Absolutely, I welcome it.

    It might be wise to remember William James’ trenchant remark: “As a rule we disbelieve all facts and theories for which we have no use.”

  35. Who’s dissing that? 🙂

    I haven’t said anything about casting aside roles; my view is that if we stop fussing about roles, people have nothing to fight against, and they work with what comes naturally – which is these natural traits listed in the Proclamation. However, the minute we talk about *roles* people get their panties in a twist and we have a battle on. Talk about getting a job done and people create natural roles to accomplish that job.

    Single people (of which I am one) who follow the spirit will find ways to be anxiously engaged in good causes. They will probably follow the outline of the Proclamation because all good can be circumscribed into one great whole. Demanding that women behave more like women is demeaning, just as it’s demeaning to demand that men behave more like men, because both are already trying to do that. Ask either or both to get a job done and they’ll each behave like the men and women they are.

    And there are plenty of jobs out there to do in society, whether or not one is working on a family at this very moment.

  36. “Demanding that women behave more like women is demeaning, just as it’s demeaning to demand that men behave more like men, because both are already trying to do that.”

    I see it differently. I acknowledge where you are coming from, however, I can also see the good that comes when we demand that men be real men. We can quibble about what a “real man” is, but few will argue that real men are males who are brave, virtuous, responsible, honest, hard working blokes. We used to call these manly virtues, not because women couldn’t be brave or responsible, but because the assiduous practice of the above turns boys into men of honor.

  37. But this is exactly my point, Michael. I am a brave woman. I want both my boys and my girls (I have 3 of each) to be brave. When we begin demanding traits of men and women and differentiating them, we get into trouble, because Christ personified all good traits, as does God, both the Father and the Mother. The minute you demand that women be demure and followers (which are honorable traits for either gender) you begin a crooked path. There really are not male traits and female traits, any more than there are concrete-set male roles and female roles, other than priesthood and motherhood, not that I am equating the two for another can of worms. The key is that we are to be one. It’s repeated all throughout the scriptures. I know that you’re saying that men and women must be wholly formed individuals before they can be one, but I don’t fully agree. There’s a wonderful article out there on marriage age and how once marriage was the foundation out of which grew individual perfection, but now it is the capstone added to individual perfection, and people are waiting to marry. This is the danger I see in demanding that men and women be these wholly defined and autonomous beings before they talk about being one. In the work of becoming one they define their autonomy.

  38. ” When we begin demanding traits of men and women and differentiating them, we get into trouble, because Christ personified all good traits, as does God, both the Father and the Mother.”

    And yet I hold that we are in trouble *precisely* *because* we are not asking men to be men, and women to be women.

  39. We don’t differ on the destination, Michael, but the path. I say we become fully formed men and women by working on becoming one, by losing ourselves to find ourselves. We know that we are going to become fully formed men and women in the service of the Lord. I think demanding that men be men and women be women sets men as the center of the universe instead of setting God there. If we serve God, we will become what we are supposed to be. If we try to become what we are supposed to be for our own sake we will not, because, paradoxically, we cannot find ourselves by looking for ourselves.

  40. Bonnie writes: “When we begin demanding traits of men and women and differentiating them, we get into trouble, because Christ personified all good traits, as does God, both the Father and the Mother. The minute you demand that women be demure and followers (which are honorable traits for either gender) you begin a crooked path. There really are not male traits and female traits, any more than there are concrete-set male roles and female roles, other than priesthood and motherhood, not that I am equating the two for another can of worms. The key is that we are to be one.”

    Bonnie, I am having real problems understanding what you are saying here. If your point is that people need to concentrate on just being good people, then fine. But it appears you are trying to argue that sexual distinctions don’t matter. I have to disagree there. I believe that you bring out the full potential of individuals by realizing that their distinctions have strengths. So, for example, you teach young men that real men are gentle, service-oriented, kind but also gentlemen who honor, appreciate and build up women. There are portions of this that are similar to what you teach young women, but you don’t teach young women to be gentlemen. So, when you say there are no male traits or female traits, I must disagree. I probably am misunderstanding your point, but the way you state it sets off 1,000 alarm bells with me.

  41. Oops. It sets *individuals* as the center of the universe.

    Here’s a perfect example. Whose fault is rape? There is a meme circulating that says, “I need feminism because my university teaches ‘How to Avoid Getting Raped’ instead of ‘Don’t Rape’ at Freshman Orientation.” See what happens when we begin to segregate responsibility? We get a stupid battle over who has how much responsibility. What if we taught, “Be Anxiously Engaged in Good Causes, and Don’t Tease and Don’t Force” to both men and women?

    By teaching how to avoid getting raped courses we are not only preparing women to defend themselves against those beastly men, we’re subtly saying that it’s the woman’s responsibility to ensure that men don’t rape them. We are all free agents. I understand that many men find many women angry and frightening. A few of them probably are. But it is not all women’s responsibility to make men feel good about themselves.

    It is ALL of our responsibility to make EVERYONE feel good. That doesn’t happen by insisting that women be a certain way or that men be a certain way. It happens by encouraging them all to be good.

  42. Geoff, what do you teach young women? You teach them to be gentlewomen. Graciousness is a trait for either and both sexes. My point is that when we stop talking about male and female traits, people resort to THEIR OWN TRAITS, their own strengths, and male and female traits will naturally arise because nobody is fighting about “you think I have to be this way” anymore, which would be great, because it’s really adolescent.

  43. ” I think demanding that men be men and women be women sets men as the center of the universe instead of setting God there.”

    God is a man…..

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  44. Not only that, but He’s the Man of men, a real man’s Man. His tears WILL cure spiritual cancer.

  45. It’s because he was free to explore the GIFTS of spirit he was given not because anyone told him what he was supposed to be. And he probably discovered a great many of his gifts in his MARRIAGE.

  46. Here is the follow up article by the same author in response to the feedback she received. I think it does a good job of explaining what she means by “surrender”, and I have to say I think she’s right!

  47. I don’t think there’s an ideal model for women or men. There’s a threshold of tollerence and there’s a series of needs to be met. Feminism created disorder, it didn’t create a new order. It did that by obsuring the interests and intentions of both parties. Now, neither sex really gets the other and frankly guys aren’t impressed with girls and girls aren’t impressed with guys. Both sexes have spent their whole lives dealing with their interests and their concerns, and they’ve never turned around and never studied the opposite in earnest.

  48. Phil wrote: “Both sexes have spent their whole lives dealing with their interests and their concerns, and they’ve never turned around and never studied the opposite in earnest.”

    But Phil, that’s one of the major driving forces behind the feminist movement: to help women understand who they are outside of the perceptions of men. The idea is to reimage what women are so that when they are presented back to men, they are more than what the male-dominated culture has imagined them to be. So you get things like women’s studies to see how women shape society, and an attempt to get away from the view that women are incapable of competing anything but the roles assigned them, and that the female body is a provocative temptation for the honest man, and so forth. These sorts of views of women have always impeded the study of women in relation to their own intrinsic worth.

    “Feminism created disorder…” True, but maybe that’s because the old order needed disrupting. If so, then feminism, broadly speaking, should be praised.

  49. DavidF,

    Everything you said about modern “women’s studies” is pure bunk. At the most generous, you are offering an extraordinarily biased and slanted view of what academic women’s studies are about. They are some of the most hateful, mean-spirited people in academia today. They offer nothing but resentment and envy.

    If women (according to “progressive” feminists) need “women’s studies” in order to feel good about themselves, that says more about them than it does about patriarchy or patriarchal institutional negatives in general.

  50. Michael Towns,

    I’m surprised by your characterization of women’s studies programs.

    Women’s studies programs (WSP) have lead to research and awareness of incredibly important topics. For example, much more is known about rape because of WSps (see for example here:, I recently read an article about the UN taking an official stance against female genital mutilation, a fairly well studied topic in WSPs. A couple of my teachers at BYU showed how a state’s treatment of women correlates with how violent that state is against its neighbors, a fascinating and enlightening topic housed in the context of a WSP. Please don’t take offense, but I don’t think you know very much about what WSPs actually cover. I urge my same caution to you as I have to others before: feminism is a broad movement with many facets, and some of them have shown real merit. It’s unfair and misguided to paint feminism with large brush strokes and condemn the whole thing out of hand.

    “If women (according to ‘progressive’ feminists) need ‘women’s studies’ in order to feel good about themselves, that says more about them than it does about patriarchy or patriarchal institutional negatives in general.”

    As I mentioned, women’s studies covers a lot of topics. And it says a great deal about both women *and* patriarchal societies (One of the main points of third wave feminism is that men too are limited by unhealthy ideas of gender norms). The whole purpose is to raise, analyze, and discuss mainstream, long term gender biases that force people into constraints that society has forced upon people. I agree that some of the conclusions that some feminists have drawn in the last few decades are wrong, but I’m not sure how the pursuit of the objective I described above is a bad thing.

  51. DavidF, good restraint on this subject. I (kind of) agree with Michael Towns’ sentiments but definitely not the broad brush rhetoric. I can’t imagine anything more dull (for me) on the benefits/problems with women’s studies, so I won’t be joining it the debate, but I want to praise you for responding to a very strong, opinionated comment with restraint and logic. That is how you win debates, not through outrage, which is very often the response you see to opinions like Michael’s.

  52. Thank you Geoff. It’s finally snowed in the last couple days, and that seems to have cooled my head off.

    And in truth Michael’s argument has forced me to support a position that I had just taken as a given, so it is good for me as well.

  53. DavidF,

    I didn’t paint a broad brush against feminism, but against “WSPs”, which, according to some in depth articles I’ve read, are some of the most virulently sexists and anti-free-thought places in academia. They are bastions of the absolute worst strain of political correctness in universities these days.

    Have they done ANY good? I’m sure. Nobody on earth is 100% pure good or pure evil.

    But my point was to counterbalance your assertion that women’s studies in general is a benign, salutary influence on people. On the contrary, they are usually anti-family, anti-men. And as a man that leans towards traditional, conservative values, I find it hard to stomach.

    Again, it isn’t feminism that I find abhorrent; it’s the strains of feminism that find official refuge and sanctuary among ivory towers of conformity.

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