Tom Matlack doesn’t think anything’s ending, he just wants us to remember what makes us men.
This piece is part of a special series on the End of Gender. This series includes bloggers from Role/Reboot, Good Men Project, The Huffington Post, Salon, HyperVocal, Ms. Magazine, YourTango, Psycholog
Have you ever met a guy who might as well be dead? You know, the guy who puts his hand out there for you to shake, but he doesn’t shake. He just lets you crush his wet, weak palm. He speaks in a whisper, and he’s so pale you’re not sure if he’s a ghost or a man.
No, I am not talking about albinos (who, in my experience, tend to be quite macho in their own way). I am talking about limp-wristed eunuchs. The ones that somehow have more money than god, a gorgeous wife, and might have even found a way to reproduce.
Sure, there doesn’t seem to be any semblance of whatever we’ve come to expect from a man in these men. And, well, that’s fine. But there doesn’t seem to be anything to these guys. They’re just there, not portraying any sense of self, not really portraying anything at all. They’re empty vessels, and that’s it. If you’re nothing, are you a man?
Men have pretty much cornered the market on true evil throughout history. Sure there have been your crazy queens here and there, but when it comes to raping and pillaging, us guys have done it all. Equality for women has been a long, hard pull.
Here in America there are finally signs that women are not just even with, but better than men—at least statistically, when it comes to education and employment. Men still dominate the top spots, but it looks like our days are numbered.
Amidst all this history of sexual abuse and with the emergence of female superiority, the very idea of gender is coming under attack. Men across the country are being neutered for supposed sins of our very maleness.
I have often thought that being macho is a good thing, that dads bring something to parenting that mom’s can’t, and that there is nothing wrong with a uniquely-male definition of goodness. For those views, I have been told that I am, fundamentally, part of the problem, not the solution.
But for me, the challenge facing us today is reasserting what it means to be a man—and a women. I am a feminist. I believe in equal rights, no matter what. But I don’t believe that means men and women are the same or that all men should pay for the sins of our misguided brothers.
Single-sex education is extremely successful because boys and girls are fundamentally different, learning in different ways, with different needs, physically an emotionally. As adults, too, we have different approaches to the same problems. We’ve certainly learned that a woman’s approach can be superior to a man’s in many instances.
From the very beginning, the point of the Good Men Project has been to highlight the countless ways men—as fathers, husbands, sons, and workers—display a uniquely male form of goodness.
That’s why all this “end of men”—and “end of gender”—talk is so offensive to me. Having heard hundreds of inspiring stories from my brethren, finding their voices as men despite a world that has been turned upside down on them, I can’t imagine the point of sweeping those individual lives of courage away with a broad brush of supposed gender failure.
Yes, men and woman can all do the same things—well, almost all of the same things. But it’s how we do those things that make us fundamentally male and female. We can get to the same point, achieve the same goals, but we get there in different ways. That’s how we maintain that essence of masculinity or femininity.
Being a man is more confusing than it once was, with gender-bending examples all over the place. But gutting us of our balls because women are succeeding at an increasing rate, or because some men have or continue to commit a preponderance of gender-based crimes, is fundamentally missing the point.
Gender isn’t a zero-sum game, nor is it a concept that needs to be annihilated. Just because women are succeeding, it doesn’t mean men are failing. The game is changing, and the playing field is leveling out. But it’s not because guys are losing and women are winning. It’s because we’ve all—men and women—worked to get to a point where it’s fair—or fairer—for all of us. Men aren’t going away, and now, more than ever, we need to look deeply into what it means to be a good man. And whatever it means, it means being something.