In New York Post, on June 8, 2008, an article by Christine B. Whelan, a University of Iowa sociology assistant professor caught my attention. She wrote about the weakening of the male’s traditional role in American society, partly as an offshoot of the female liberation movement. Whelan touched on Kathleen Parker’s book: “Save the males: why men matter, why women should care.”
Two weeks later, I saw Parker talked about her witty insights in O’Reilly Factor at Fox News. Her social critique on the American male-bashing culture which deludes us into thinking that men are dull and short-witted was convincing. She said society’s put down on the male gender which has influenced our media and school, is part of the feminism’s collateral damage. This leads us to undervalue the role of fathers and mislead us to believe they’re unnecessary.
Far beyond the days when oppressed mothers fought hard to gain their right to vote, the feminist movement seeks to redefine the role of women in terms of gender equality. It covers issues like employment, reproductive rights, abortion, domestic violence, discrimination, same-sex marriage, divorce, maternity leave, and sexual harassment.
Though majority of the feminist movement’s agenda has led to the betterment of society, there are unintended adverse consequences. The goal of equality in some places has been exceeded, and men find themselves gradually waylaid in the curb, feeling less equal and less appreciated than before.
In America, feminism has resulted to some marginalization of the male. The normal rambunctious boys who have been stereotyped as loud and unfocused are taught to assume girlish roles which efface and deride the differences of the sexes.
With women’s success in the workplace, men’s role has been trivialized. The belief that the “father knows best,” is becoming a thing of the past. Seeing the male role as dispensable, women enter into same-sex marriages; they conceive children using sperm donors and raise families as single parents. These make men appear less important.
In the Philippines, the same male-bashing culture exists. We have a clever woman president in the person of Gloria M. Arroyo. We have a sluggish senate and ineffectual congress dominated by men whom Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago disparagingly calls “idiots and numskulls.”
Like Santiago, more of our women with higher education compete for positions high in the job ladder. Asserting their independence, Filipino women have bolted out of the house in huge numbers to seek jobs locally and abroad, leaving their husbands at home to care for the children.
How many times do we see Filipinas become the family breadwinners, their husbands assuming the roles of house-fathers? What could be the consequence of men not taking their responsibility at heart—acting like perpetual “little boys” who refuse to grow? When did we notice the emasculation of men in doing kitchen-work and laundry while our women read, think, and assume complex decision-making tasks? In rising numbers, why are the men, content to act as drivers, errand boys, and companions, ready to follow the female “commander” of the house?
Parker doesn’t only blame feminism for this attitudinal change and “role reversal.” She thinks there are adult males out there who remain immature, preferring to hang around with friends, refusing to work. Averse to take responsibility, these men indulge in idle talk, do leisurely text messaging, play cards, videos, or watch TV.
Yet Parker cautions this should not be. For without the strong male figure, the traditional provider and society’s pillar, our families are bound to suffer. There is a chasm in not having fathers in the household. That’s why she (as most of us do) believes men, the bulwark of the nation, are certainly worth saving. =0=