Second Class Citizen: A second-class citizen is a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there. While not necessarily slaves, outlaws or criminals, second-class citizens have limited legal rights, civil rights and economic opportunities, and are often subject to mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their putative superiors. (from Wikipedia)
I am a white male… and I am not a second-class citizen. That statement might be obvious to most people but apparently Suzanne Venker sees a war on men that is invisible to the masses. While I originally was too angry and annoyed with Venker’s post I have decided to respond as a white male who disagrees.
First (and maybe most importantly), to call men “second class citizens” is an insult to people who have endured systematic abuse and mistreatment in the past. There is no legal system that discriminates against me due to my gender. I don’t worry that being attractive will get me fired or being unattractive will prevent me from getting a job. People do not assume that I have a lower paying job in an office simply because of my gender. I don’t worry the police are going to shake me down or harass me because of the color of my skin. Venker’s statement that “the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence” is not true in my personal experience. Maybe Venker has some scientific studies to back up her points but she certainly isn’t sharing them.
Venker states that male bashing is “rampant and irrefutable” within sitcoms and in the media in general. American men are pounced on and dads are portrayed as idiots. While there are certainly many dumb and loving dads in sitcoms it is intellectually dishonest to use this as the sole media measure as how men are treated poorly in the media. I don’t watch a lot of sitcoms but I know some do include “dumb dads” but they also tend to portray stereotypes that greatly benefit men. Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill, The Simpsons, and Modern Family all include men who could be seen as overweight with wives who are “eye candy”… I can’t think of a single instance where an overweight female is married to a fit/sexy man in a sitcom (please correct me if I’m wrong). TV is fiction, it is flawed, and it gives people fantasy versions of reality… but it is not attacking men. Men’s roles may be changing but that change is not necessarily bad or “war”.
After Venker’s two sentence no proof attack on media she starts blaming schools from Kindergarten to college. She says that curriculum are centered on girls, rather than boys (citation needed). She also takes issue with Title IX in college and gives a couple of vague examples of the negative consequences of IX. I agree that there are problems in our public education system, but those problems are not because of some sort of secret liberal attack on masculinity. The problems stem from trying to find universal solutions to complex institutional issues. We desperately need more innovation, experimentation, and adaptation to the modern age in education. We need colleges to be able to specialize and assist students to find what they are passionate about, what they can use in a future career, and teach them to know the difference between the two.
Yes, the pendulum has swung away from a hard-core “Man’s world”, and in some cases I believe things have gone wrong, but overall the changes in society have been positive. The world isn’t “Man’s world vs Woman’s world” it is “A world where we are treated as individuals vs a world where we are treated based on our genitalia”. Venker’s hyperbolic spew does nothing to make the world a freer, more equitable, peaceful, or prosperous society… quite the opposite, it only reinforces tribalism based on what is between our legs and attempts to maintain a failing, sexist, discriminatory social order.