The Boston Globe Op-Ed page is the gift that keeps on giving. Today a couple of professors (one a professor of Journalism at Boston University, the other a scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center…we are talking soft-studies here) publish an essay with the unpresumptuous title “New truths about real men”. They begin their argument as follows:
“The news about men in the year just past was dismal. A high-profile court case saw a husband (Scott Peterson) convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. CEOs at Enron and Worldcom stand accused of defrauding employees and investors. NBA players waded into a crowd, fists flying. Then, to put the icing on this poisonous cake, the Department of Labor reported that the working woman spends twice as much time, on average, as the working man on household chores and care of children.”
Does that sound faintly like an argument with a woman? Can you follow the logic? What? You don’t quite see how these are related? Then keep eating the cake. While I am still licking the icing, I might mention a few other male-caused disturbances of 2004 which don’t get as much ink as Laci Peterson; like one episode of genocide and mass rape in Darfur, the slaughter of hundreds of elementary school pupils in Beslan (does anyone remember?), or prankishly poisoning a political candidate in Ukraine. Tisk, tisk, tisk. Nasty boys. We men spend our time plotting, murderering, and plundering, and then top it all off by leaving dirty dishes in the sink. The profs continue:
It gets worse.
Yes, it does.
At home men are seen as lazy slugs and at work are viewed as old-fashioned, kick-butt bosses. In school, boys’ verbal abilities lag far behind those of girls. As parents, males are thought to lack parenting abilities. Expanding paternity leave is pointless, since males are programmed to have little emotional attachment to their kids.
Males lack empathy with others. If a friend approaches them to talk about problems, they change the subject or make a joke. In relationships they don’t have a clue. They are faithless wretches “hard-wired” by their genes to be promiscuous.
Is this picture accurate? Happily, new research shows that it is not. Indeed, real men manage to escape the stereotypes much of the time.
Phew! Glad for that! We can escape our fate, guys, at least much of the time. The profs go on to cite a half-dozen recent sociological studies which give evidence that our gender is not nearly as bad as our rep, and then conclude:
It’s time to jettison the idea that males are clueless oafs who come from the planet Mars. Men, like women, are perfectly able to be people-oriented leaders, caring parents, good listeners, and true friends in time of need.
Thanks for this much-needed assurance, ladies. I am bursting with self-esteem.