But why are men so liable to react violently to being disrespected, while women, who are arguably disrespected far more often in society at large, mostly just roll with it?
Women and girls face systemic sexist disrespect from childhood to the grave. There’s all the obvious, blatant stuff, like sexual harassment, videotaped rape and misogynistic rap music, not to mention getting paid three-fourths of what men do for the same work. Or, for instance, being told by men who become presidential advisers, like Larry Summers, that we are as a group no good at math and science.
Then there’s the endless dissing that is so subtle that, unless we’re students of gender politics or like to walk around gnashing our teeth all the time, we just ignore. In that category, off the top of my head, go things like a television series glamorizing female prostitution, media obsession with female politicians’ clothing, women’s work-life angst, and our own preoccupation with weight, hair, beauty and aging.
Before Tamerlan and Dzhokar made their big move last week—as literal angry white men, being from the Caucasus—I had been trying to get my head around how put-upon some men seem to feel. Whenever I write about things like misogynist bullying, videotaped rape or benevolent sexism, I get attacked for being anti-man by commentators who invariably blame the effects of feminism for any and all bad male behavior.
They always like to remind me that women commit domestic violence too. Oh yeah! Run for your lives to the nearest shelter, all you abused husbands!
I realize that great thinkers like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, have studied this subject much more than I, and come to the conclusion that men are, in fact, at an end. I don’t agree with that. I think such theories merely give aid and succor to the aggrieved, hair-trigger whiners among them.
The notion that men have come to an end is false. Yes, the world’s need for their traditional services—lifting heaving machinery, bringing home the bacon, playing football—seems to be on the wane.
But men are still very much in control and in charge. No woman has ever been Senate majority or minority leader or whip, let alone U.S. president. Men alone own the boardrooms of Apple, Tesla, Exxon, Shell and BP; every single airline; and seven of the 10 most powerful venture capital firms, including Union Square Ventures, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, Shasta Ventures and Blackrock. Every director and music adviser of the New York Philharmonic has been a man, along with every director of the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony and London Philharmonic. There’s not even a single woman in the upper ranks of the Westminster Kennel Club.
New Republic writer Lydia DePillis has created a new Tumblr page called 100 Percent Men, a visual inventory of the many realms not yet entered by a woman. It includes all of the above, as well as the current CLIO Awards jury, the top editorial staff at Talking Points Memo, and the editor in chief’s office at the New Republic. It would take an entire section of this paper to list them all.
Yes, men have had to cede some control. Wives go to work, women get to pick their mates (in America; apparently the Tsarnaev brothers’ sisters were bartered off by mom and dad in the time-honored old-country tradition), women get to choose whether to bear children (in most U.S. states), and women now make up one-fifth of the U.S. Senate. Oh, and in America, men who beat their girlfriends, like Tamerlan, can get arrested. Small advances for womankind, but for some entitled men, this is all it takes to make the world seem utterly off-kilter.
What can be done about a peculiarly male persecution complex too vast and entrenched for anti-bullying programs? We might simply have to live through this era, as these men—be they homegrown right wingers who feel slighted, angry misfits, dissed gangstas or jihadis enamored of vestigial honor cultures—slowly evolve or die off. If they don’t, pressure-cooker bombs may soon be the least of our woes.