Thursday, June 18, 2009

Men in Decline

Following a reader's advice, I decided to forget the New York Times and read something different for a change. In USA Today, I discovered an article by David Zincenko titled "Decline of the Americal Male." The tone of the piece made me feel sorry I ever abandonedthe NY Times. Zincenko's article speaks more to the decline of journalism than to anything else.

The really sad part is that the piece provides very interesting and, in my view, important information on the difference between the way the recession treats men and women. There is a lot of data that I was glad to find out. Unfortunately, these facts are accompanied by the journalist's comments and are used to support his blatantly anti-feminist agenda. As a result, it's difficult to take aanything Zincenko says seriously.

This is how Zincenko introduces himself at the beginning of the piece: "someone who has spent his career working to save an endangered species men". Grammatically, the sentence makes very little sense but ideologically it is even harder to comprehend. Men are not separate species, they can't be endangered by themselves. If men are extinct, so will be women.

Zincenko continues to whine about "the endangered male" for a while until he comes to the real root of the problem: women's liberation. Over the past century, he claims, women have gained a lot, while men have lost. The data he provides actually contradicts this statement but who cares about a little thing like facts when you need to promote your ideology. Since most families now have two working adults, Zincenko recognizes, men have a sefety-net in the form of their spouses' salaries and benefits in case they find themselved unemployed. That should be a good thing, right? But, somehow, Zincenko sees this as evidence of male decline.

Next, the journalist proceeds to analyze the reasons for generally lower life-spans for men. This is an incredibly important topic that, in my opinion, should be discussed and researched. Unfortunately, Zincenko comes up with a way to spoil his argument yet again. The reason why there isn't enough research into male health issues, he claims, is that now it's the "payback time" for women. Apparently, the implication is that women are preventing this research from being conducted in order to take revenge on men for centuries of exploitation. Of course, it's hard to take any part of Zincenko's analysis seriously after such paranoid (and extremely badly written) statements.

Another annoying feature of this piece is Zincenko's eagerness to manipulate the facts to boost his conclusions. Men live shorter lives than women, we all know that. There is no need, however, to compare an average lifespan of an African-American man to that of a white woman in an attempt to pretend that race doesn't matter. Black men are likely to live 11 years less than white women not just because they are men but because of racial discrimination they are subjected to their entire lives. Let's not pretend that we don't realize this.

Of course, I'd take an open chauvinist like Zincenko over a fake liberal like Douthat any day of the week. It's sad, however, that wherever one goes for information a little dose of fact is garnished with such an amount of ideology that even hard data become impossible to swallow.


Anonymous said...

The whole that paper sounds like some superpower (government? global feminist conspiracy? masons?) has put the men into the situation they are in, as if the men do not have much control over their lives...
The only thing I can agree with is that it would be nice to have some government office specializing in mens' health.
P.S. I am male. :)

Clarissa said...

I'm also discovering how important it is to include little disclaimers in my posts: I'm not a baby hater, I don't torture cute fluffy kittens, etc. 'Cause you never know what people will decide to read into your words. :-)

Anonymous said...

What a silly article! If more men than women initially have jobs, then it's logical than more men would lose jobs in a recession. So what is he getting all heated up about?

Clarissa said...

A little insignificant thing like statistics doesn't really interest anyone any more. We see it in the breastfeeding study and we see it here as well. Of course, before computing how many people lose jobs according to gender, it would make sense to take into consideration how many had jobs in the first place. You can't lose what you don't have.

But let's not allow science get in the way of ideology!