According to Time, all men are inevitably “angry.” The only way to stem this drastic tide of “angry” men is to raise them as follows: “At a young age, this should be done explicitly, in organized forums for discussions at school,” Faith Salie writes. “It must be done relentlessly and organically, in our family homes. Parents must invite their sons to be sad, afraid, hurt, silly and affectionate, and must embrace them as often as they snuggle their daughters. Sweet boys learn early on that they can defend themselves against loneliness by reaching out and asking for support rather than turning into people who, literally, grab for power. Sweet boys evolve into open-hearted men who aren’t confused about consent and sexual boundaries, because they experience women as equals.”
This, of course, implies that parents of boys naturally tend to push them away and train them to act more like Spartans preparing for perpetual warfare than, well, the children they are. Girls, on the other hand, can be as “fierce” as they like. And if “fierce” requires Spartan parenting skills, I guess that means girls should be, what? Hugged less? Shown Beyonce videos on a repeating track beginning at birth?
Salie exhibits the kind of feminism that held women back in 2017. This was the year in which what was once a powerful cultural movement against gross gender-based inequalities fully pandered to the outrage of its rulers, a minority class of rich, white women with no real problems and plenty of time to kill. Although 2017 is ending with the image of an Iranian woman boldly removing her hijab in a public square, it will forever be defined by the image of American WASPs marching on D.C. in pussyhats. Such is the legacy of a movement defined by women too rich to do any real work and too sheltered to ever experience true suffering.
Hence, the biggest battle in the mind of the American feminist is the one being waged against “angry men.” Forget the fact that for every Harvey Weinstein there is a Chip Gaines or a Linda Sarsour for that matter. In the mind of the American feminist the true battle is being waged, as Salie suggests, in kids’ clothing stores across America:
Walk into any baby store, and you’re greeted immediately in the boys’ department by brown and neon green layettes festooned with sharks, trucks, and footballs. Onesies for newborns declare, “TOUGH LIKE DADDY.” The boy taught from infancy to be tough is emotionally doomed… The clothes marketed to my daughter feature unicorns, rainbows, rockets, dinosaurs, and sequins in every color imaginable. They are whimsical and sparkly.
Permit me to get truly feminist for a moment and suggest that even the mythical powers of the unicorn are phallic, as is the fencing foil Salie’s daughter crafts out of a kite. But, if a girl is in charge of the pointed object in question it’s perfectly okay. Salie isn’t arguing in favor of gender equality; she’s arguing in favor of stripping all men of their sense of an autonomous self. According to Salie, it isn’t the man himself, but the man who holds a position – any position — of authority that is truly evil.
Don’t let Salie’s thinly veiled call for (male) empathy fool you. There is no room in her movement for empathy for girls who are forced to defend themselves against the persecution of Islamic clerics, forced genital mutilation, or sex slavery. American feminists don’t talk about having empathy for those women. They simply hashtag them and move on to fight the real battles taking place in select Carter’s and Children’s Place stores all over the country: the battle over whose logo t-shirt is truly the toughest.
2017 isn’t just the year feminism failed women. It is the year feminism failed men. Even more sadly, it is the year feminism encouraged mothers to fail their boys. Raising a child should never involve stripping him of his independence, let alone holding him up to a standard rooted in stereotypes. But, I suppose that’s what happens when you bind yourself to a movement so limited in scope and function that your pussyhat blinds you from looking past the end of your silver spoon—or Target receipt.