One of my favorite things is finding a really interesting article and realizing that I’ve already written a blog post about it. An even better thing is finding that the article links to a different article that I have also blogged about!
What am I talking about, you ask? Well, I stumbled upon this, a post in The Sisterhood about men’s decline in interest in Judaism compared to women. The post features an interview with Sylvia Barack Fishman, a Brandeis professor and author of the study that chronicled the growing gender imbalance. It’s an interesting article, and I especially admired her reluctance to blame feminism for men’s declining interest and to instead emphasize that just because men’s roles must change as women move into the forefront of Judaism, they do not have to be erased—that now that Judaism as a whole is no longer a “boys’ club,” there need to be niches for men, just as women have in places such as synagogue sisterhoods, etc.
It also sounded quite familiar—perhaps because of this, one of my earliest blog posts, titled “The Shifting Gender Paradigm.” In it I wrote about an interview with Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, in which he said very similar things to Barack Fishman. I guess it just goes to show that a lot of people have been noticing this gender shift, and that people are starting to want things to change.
But wait, I mentioned that there was another article! The Sisterhood article was a response to this article in The Atlantic called “The End of Men,” written about what the author sees as women’s continual climb towards a dominant role in society and men’s increasing decline. She talks about the gender imbalance at colleges today (way more women than men), and how more and more women are getting jobs in finance, law, medicine, etc. And she ends the article with this:
Of all the days in the year, one might think, Super Bowl Sunday should be the one most dedicated to the cinematic celebration of macho. The men in Super Bowl ads should be throwing balls and racing motorcycles and doing whatever it is men imagine they could do all day if only women were not around to restrain them.
Instead, four men stare into the camera, unsmiling, not moving except for tiny blinks and sways. They look like they’ve been tranquilized, like they can barely hold themselves up against the breeze. Their lips do not move, but a voice-over explains their predicament—how they’ve been beaten silent by the demands of tedious employers and enviro-fascists and women. Especially women. “I will put the seat down, I will separate the recycling, I will carry your lip balm.” This last one—lip balm—is expressed with the mildest spit of emotion, the only hint of the suppressed rage against the dominatrix. Then the commercial abruptly cuts to the fantasy, a Dodge Charger vrooming toward the camera punctuated by bold all caps: MAN’S LAST STAND. But the motto is unconvincing. After that display of muteness and passivity, you can only imagine a woman—one with shiny lips—steering the beast.
I read that, and I was immediately taken aback at how much it resembled my blog post about the Superbowl and the Mancession. I wrote about how the recession that we’re in has shaped up to be somewhat of a “mancession,” as it has put more men out of work than women—and men have been, supposedly, taking it hard emotionally. Because of that, I speculated that men are feeling a growing sense of being emasculated, and that the Superbowl ads (many of which had an air of trying to prove masculinity) reflected that.
Sometimes there really seems to be nothing new under the sun. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing—while it’s always refreshing to read about an idea for the first time, it’s also kind of invigorating to read about an idea for the second or third time and to read other people’s takes on the same concept. And more than that, it serves, for me at least, as a kind of validation; the fact that other people (people who know much more about these issues than I do) write and think about similar ideas shows that even if the ideas are completely wrong, there is something legitimate enough about them to garner so many people’s attention. So I just thought I’d link to these articles so that other people can read them and see what other people have to say, and maybe revisit the ideas that I touched upon a while back.