Sensitive, feminized and resentful, today's young men no longer
have the sexual authority to please a woman -- no matter how
much oral sex they perform....
Ann Marlowe at Salon
The polymorphously perverse, gender-is-just-a-construct future
that radical feminists and academics used to dream of has
actually arrived. Men no longer have any authority, either in
their own eyes or in women's, the genders are distinguished
socially mainly by stuff they buy, and eroticism has fled from
the bedroom to the store. It's sexier for most of us to go
shopping than to make love, and so we do....
...I suspect that there's a connection between the collapse of
masculine authority and the mainstreaming of S/M; neither
gender is too good at distinguishing power and authority, and
nostalgia for male authority can translate into fetishizing
symbols of power. Women secretly want men with authority, but
they fall for insecure passive-aggressive guys who view every
aspect of life as a power struggle, or for cranky killjoys or
...Thus the legacy of two decades of feminism in academia.
Younger people have bought into the idea that your lover or
spouse is a friend of the opposite sex -- although one who will
exhibit bad manners you wouldn't expect from your friends'
pets, much less your friends. The bad manners and androgyny go
hand in hand; along with the erotic aura, tenderness and
respect have disappeared. These young guys feel free to admit
to physical fears, grooming preoccupations and social anxieties
their fathers had the good sense to conceal, if they had them.
They dress like overgrown toddlers, in oversize T-shirts and
baggy pants, clothing that begs you not to take them seriously
as grown-ups. They're pussy-whipped and tamed by 30, but just
below the surface they seethe with hostility and resentment at
women, because they're quite aware that their girlfriends or
wives treat sex as a commodity to be doled out in return for
something better. Neither the young men nor the young women
enjoy it as much as they were told they would. Maybe the
situation is worse for the women because, after all, it's the
men who are more like women, not the women who are more like
...The women have won, if you've won when you have worse sex
than your grandmother did. Secretly they don't find these men
very exciting, either. And they don't feel feminine when
they're with them. What does "feminine" mean anyway, besides
the result of a lot of grooming rituals drag queens can do too?
Maybe it means having a baby. Sex is for corralling a man long
enough to secure a "commitment" and then a baby....
...The new American ideal is an equal relationship, satisfying
our craving for justice and for simplicity. When I hear
American women in their 20s and early 30s talk about their
boyfriends, they seem preoccupied with whether they do 50
percent of the dishes and whether they spend 50 percent of the
time talking about their problems and anxieties. Of course this
is compensation for years of institutionalized unfairness, but
it also sounds a lot like a defense against the powerful
feelings they have for the men they love....
...with the absence of tenderness and trust between men and
women, we're more and more inclined to banish deep emotion from
our post-patriarchal lives....
...What's often lost in the insistence on equality is quality
-- how the people feel about each other, how much love they can
give each other. We now feel queasy about the romantic language
of our ancestors, who used the metaphors of slavery and
devotion unabashedly. But is there another language with which
to speak of love? Love does involve two people putting
themselves in the power of each other. We've forgotten that
what we are looking for between men and women is fairness and
compassion, not identity, and there can be justice between
people who acknowledge that their balance of power is unequal.
The heterosexual act of love does involve women putting
themselves literally in the power of men. And we no longer
trust enough to do so.