stephanie jones

Men Evolving Badly or Class and Gender Stereotypes?

In classism, families, feminist work, gender and education, politics, poverty, prison, sexism, social class on April 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

This post on Glenn Sacks’ blog supporting father-child relationships led me to Vanity Fair’s story Men Evolving Badly, a weak feminist attempt (by a man) to reassert and deconstruct the power of the penis among the super rich. Sadly, however, the writer generalizes this power to all men and does not engage with the class hierarchies in the U.S. My letter to the editor:

James Wolcott might claim to be a feminist given his perspective in “Men Evolving Badly” but he would be well-advised to step back and take a lesson or two in radical feminism. Just as he writes “The primary threat to the psychological well-being of most men (and women) isn’t sexual or pop-cultural but economic…” he reveals the limitations of his own class privileges when focusing his attention on the super rich. It may be true that the “odds still favor the penis-bearer” in the wealthy class, but take another look at the working-class and poor ranks in the U.S. and you might find another story altogether. Keep in mind the millions of men behind bars who were largely (90% or better) arrested during a time when they were living below the federal poverty level, and many because they had fallen behind in child support payments while struggling to keep a roof over their own heads. The “roof entry to the helicopter pad” is foreign territory within a context of deindustrialization and the feminization of working-class jobs where many men are lucky to find minimum wage jobs or day labor. Instead of focusing on the devolution of the narcissistic, power elite, take a walk through neighborhoods annihilated by the greed of corporations and financial institutions where fathers are playing soccer with their children in the street or crying behind closed doors because their wives left them, took the kids, and now they can’t afford child support payments. Radical feminism aims to end oppression of all kinds – you can’t look at privileged men in one class without recognizing the sufferings of men in another.

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