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A friend of mine just sent me an article from the New York Times that says upper-income men no longer want to have sons, because they're too terrifyingly masculine. Can this be real?
Phil Buntz, Milwaukee
Is it real? Is that a serious question? Get real, Phil. This is America, 2017. I'm reading the Drudge Report right now, as I often do when I want to see how the End of the World is proceeding. For me, it's become like reading Revelation, without all the confusing symbolism. Here are just a few representative headlines: Don't have California secede, divide it in two! … Death of the porn star: humans replaced by "virtual actors" … New fad: adult swaddling therapy.So yes, it's real. The Idiocracy has turned on its afterburners. Whatever you expect to happen, lower those expectations by factoring in unprecedented vulgarity, shamelessness, and stupidity—then expect the unexpected, which will come to pass. Nostradamus predicted the world would end in 3797. He clearly was a heedless optimist.
The offending article you point to is authored by one Andrew Reiner, an English professor who is also, God help us, writing a book about masculinity. (Not to be confused with other recent books about dying manhood like The End of Men, Angry White Men: American Masculinity At the End of An Era,and The End of Men: A Novel.) In his Timespiece, Reiner states that when his son Macallah was born five years ago (I couldn't make up that name, though his poor son probably wishes I had), Reiner's students asked him how it felt to be a new father. He blurted out that it was "terrifying … all I can think about is bullying … this boy's going to be raised to feel and express his vulnerability. That's a curse in this culture."
Is it? Because last I checked, no vulnerability in our culture goes unexpressed. Our liberals are out in the street, complaining about one perceived injustice or another, every other day. Our president tweets incessantly about all the alleged mistreatment he is suffering at the hands of the media and his enemies (both real and imagined), while conservatives express hurt and confusion that anyone dare question our Dear Leader. If our country was encapsulated now by one infantile syllable, it would be: "Wahhhh!" We have become a nation of whiners. The problem, it seems, is not that we don't express ourselves, but that we never stop.
Remember when grandpa used to dispense wise clichés like "Grin and bear it"? Sorry gramps, we don't do that anymore. We've traded out for "grimace and express it". The traditional hallmarks of "manliness"—bravery, stoicism, physical courage—have been discounted for some time now, and are damn near being criminalized by the likes of Reiner and The Emasculators.
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