January 16, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: In Defense of Boys: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a male.

As this column has often noted, feminists and conservative moralists alike tend to scapegoat males for social problems rather than, if we may borrow the phrase, “focus more on complex areas of causation.”

Blow’s way of expressing this sentiment, however, strikes us as particularly ugly. To characterize men as “incapable of valuing their own humanity” is the kind of invidious stereotype that would never be permitted on the pages of a respectable publication if one were referring to a racial or ethnic minority–or, for that matter, to women. And the masculine drive for conquest–also known as ambition–is very much a part of the human experience. It sometimes takes pathological or destructive forms, but then so do empathy and “emotional depth.”

Further, Blow’s stereotype is no more accurate than it is charitable. . . . These women are making coldly rational decisions about their own well-being and that of their children. It would be callous to fault them for not “fully valuing the humanity of a love interest.” Yet today’s elite culture, as represented by the New York Times, thinks nothing of propagating such crude and cruel characterizations of men and boys. The problem of family breakdown may or may not be tractable at all, but it certainly won’t be conquered by antimale prejudice.

No, but the Times’ readership seems to eat it up.