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Profusely Praising Priapi

Michelangelo’s David, a classic sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze in Florence, Italy. Yes, he’s nude. Get over it.

Please permit me to perambulate a path of profound and possibly perverse priapic prose, perhaps puckering playfully before man’s pride.

Oh, I do like guys. I like how they smell. I like how they look. I like how they feel. I like how they act.

I like it that they’re simple and direct. I like it that they’re crazy and obsessed. I like it that they’re often totally clueless. I like it that their motivations are usually pretty transparent.

But not everyone likes guys. Some people think that they’re obsolete.

In the current issue of The Atlantic magazine, Hanna Rosin heralds “The End of Men:”

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. … What if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women?

I don’t want to over-simplify Hanna’s thesis, but her essential argument seems to be:

  • “Male” qualities such as physical strength, decisiveness, and craving for adventure were most useful in pre-industrial societies. They are much less significant in post-industrial societies.
  • “Female” qualities such as social intelligence, patience, conscientiousness, and nurturing have now become more significant than male qualities.
  • As a result, women are displacing men as the dominant sex.

I put “male” and “female” in quotes because both sexes have all of those qualities. On average, men are physically stronger than we are and they have less social intelligence. On average, we are more patient and systematic than men. But there is so much variation between individuals that generalizations can deceive us.

Because men and women are different (on average), each tends to do some things better than the other. And I really don’t like that word, “dominant” — at least, outside of certain recreational contexts. 🙂

The world needs dreamers and adventurers. They’re the ones who risk their lives on crazy theories that, 999 times out of 1,000, aren’t true. But it’s that 1 time out of 1,000 when they’re right that moves us forward. And men are more prone to take those crazy risks than we are, though we can do it, too.

The world also needs patient, careful, systematic thinkers who can work together in teams and support each other. Without them, the discoveries of dreamers and adventurers would never get put to work for everyone’s benefit. We are more prone to do it than men are, though men can do it, too.

As for whether women or men are better adapted to life in post-industrial society, Hanna has a point. But it depends a lot on the job and the situation. And when women have been disadvantaged by unfair circumstances, we’ve pushed for change to correct those circumstances.

We should do no less for men if they’re now in the same situation.


Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

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