studying 94-percent-male prisons
, parenting a man-child who chafes at authority but thrives on contact sports
, and opening my asr
to see the boys' share of bachelor's degrees
drop from parity to 40% in a generation, i sometimes worry about the state of young manhood.*boo-freaking-hoo,
say many of my female friends, deal with it.
whereas girls have struggled to overcome institutionalized discrimination for generations, boys are struggling with ... what? turning in their homework and showing up for class? so i agree that girls have it bad and maybe worse, but many parents of teenagers smell a problem brewing with boys
. it seems as though the dudes are trying to navigate a social space that is at once hypermasculine but also profoundly and relentlessly emasculating.
over dinner last week, a prominent visiting sociologist (also parenting a teen) observed that boys seem to be checking out of competition with girls (e.g., in school), retreating instead to the remaining bastions of all-male exclusivity and privilege. i don't have any data to support this assertion, but i think s/he's right. i suppose such bastions would today include sports such as football, some types of video games, and most pornography. oh yeah, and beer -- at least the beer advertised during football games.miller's man law
ad campaign is a clever tongue-halfway-in-cheek distillation of such impulses. i love the idea of assembling burt reynolds, a rodeo star, a pro wrestler, the hiker dude who sawed off his arm with a pocketknife, a motocross racer, a shade-tree astronaut, a railroad worker hit by a train, a punishing running back, a boxing icon, and a couple comedians to riff explicitly
on the rites of manliness. this is way
better than the insipid tastes great/less filling
debate of my youth (ok, bob uecker
was never insipid, but you get my point). instead of modeling manliness with football players such as bubba smith, they simply decree actual man laws.
it almost seems as though a smart sociologist (likely a smart beer-drinking female sociologist) had a hand in the new scripts.**
miller's website is well-developed, with video clips, bios, a manlawpedia
of visitor submissions, and a sort-of ticker with regional data on trends in handle-bar moustaches and black socks. such sophistication aside, i'm guessing that the men of the square table
might prefer actual beer
to miller lite. if burt ever gets to minneapolis, i'll hook him up with a pint of black water oatmeal stout
. my treat, as long as ol' burt calls me snowman
("we come this far, ain't we?").
finishing this post tonight, i was distracted by another gender dust-up
showing how young women still deal with issues that aren't (yet) on boys' collective radar: how should one dress
or pose for a photo
with a former president? this issue generated an acrimonious exchange between two smart, creative, and widely-read female bloggers and about 1,287,480,216 reader comments.
yeesh. i've personally hammed it up for a lot of cameras
over the years. i'll even admit that, in some pictures, i was deliberately trying to look attractive.
yet nobody has ever accused me of doing a three-quarter pose or posturing or positioning myself to draw attention to my best anatomical features (which are, of course, the arches of my feet). such powerfully gendered double standards provide a clear reality check for white males who sometimes overreact to any hint
of female advantage under conditions of equal opportunity.
as a boy, i can pretty much wear whatever i want when i meet with politicians (as long as "whatever i want" involves a blue suit, a red tie, and a white shirt). when an intoxicated john riggins
accosted a supreme court justice at the washington press club ("Come on, Sandy Baby, loosen up. You're too tight
), nobody even thought
to complain about his cowboy boots. and, because mr. riggins passed out shortly thereafter, the assembled crowd must have gotten a good look at them boots. if i (or riggo, for that matter) tried to look sexy in a picture with, say, condoleeza rice, the worst anyone would say is that i'm "creepy," or a pathetic narcissist, or maybe just a sad old dude.
nevertheless, i can't imagine that anyone would question my intelligence or scholarship or commitment to (whatever) the cause based on my wardrobe. in fact
, if mr. clinton or some other donor wants to endow a graduate fellowship
in my department, i'll happily pose in the alleged "tight knit top" worn by the blogger, or a pink bunny costume, or even a miller lite
t-shirt. for $25k, i might
even show my arches...*the table is reproduced as a figure by buchman & diprete in asr 71:515-41, p. 516. i sure wish the major journals of my discipline would permit immediate online access to reseach articles. who knows? somebody might be interested. **hmmm... is it you, kim? you and shelley seem to know a lot about beer.