Dr. Helen

Why All the Negativity Towards Men?

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Is it possible to read an article about men without the tone taking such a nasty or negative spin? Here are a couple of examples: I was reading the New York Post and came across a piece by Steve Cuozzo called “NYC should stop coddling young white bros on bikes.” Okay, fair enough: I’m not crazy about bikers who don’t follow the rules of traffic etc. But why does the author have to discriminate against men in general and white men in particular?

“More protected bike lanes!” was summer’s war cry for take-no-prisoners cycling advocates. But the roughly 98 percent of New Yorkers who get to and from work by other means than bicycles need protection from the young, testosterone-fueled white males who comprise the vast majority of two-wheel desperadoes….

Cycling isn’t just a guy thing — it’s a white guy thing. Despite lack of data, anyone can see that in a city that’s 55 percent nonwhite, black, Latin and Asian faces on wheels are relatively scarce. (The exception is hard-working food delivery people, for whom access to bike lanes makes their backbreaking jobs somewhat less risky while ensuring that more affluent citizens won’t have to wait too long to get their General Tso’s chicken.)

So because the cyclists tend to be male and white, it is reason enough to do away with bike lanes, etc. It might be that bikers in cities should not have so much protection and amenities, but the decision should not be a sexist, racist one, it should be made based on other factors such as traffic flow, actual percentage of accidents and other incidents etc.

Yes, bikers’ behavior can be poor and often is, but women are more prone to road rage. Where is the article entitled, “Cities should stop coddling women in cars”?

Another example of this anti-male negativity is in a relationship article telling men to brush their teeth:

Teeth, teeth, TEETH, TEETH.

The other day, I saw a familiar lament on Reddit r/relationships. “My husband does not brush his teeth,” a 41-year-old woman wrote, “and I’m at my wits end.” She describes his horrible breath, how she has told him she doesn’t want to kiss him, and that when she nags him enough to do something about it, he swishes mouthwash around for a second and thinks that’s enough. …

Which all points to one piece of the puzzle of why men don’t brush their teeth: because they can. Maybe the important part of these studies isn’t that men are less likely to brush and visit the dentist, but that women are more likely to. And that’s because women tend to be judged more harshly for their appearances and habits. None of the men I spoke to said they’ve faced any consequences for not brushing their teeth, aside from the occasional scold from their dentist, when they decide to go. Neil has been told his breath is bad on occasion, but masks it with gum, and Peter says no one has ever noticed. Most of them have also had the luck of not developing cavities or gum disease so far. Unless there are going to be consequences for your actions, why change?

Not to bring every heterosexual relationship back to emotional labor, but men have an easier time not taking care of themselves until “forced,” as Colin said, usually by a partner. But men, if you’re doing this, the women (and probably some other men) in your life are at their wits end. McKenna, a 23-year-old woman from Atlanta, says she dumped her boyfriend after six months largely because he wouldn’t brush his teeth. “I mentioned it to him once or twice, but he reacted like I was trying to control his life,” she said, and they eventually broke up after she felt like a nag for asking him to keep up basic hygiene standards. Maybe that’s the consequence men need to face before picking up the toothbrush.

The article started out looking for answers as to why men don’t brush their teeth and ends with a negative spin which is men don’t have any consequences. And women do? Where is the article lamenting how young women get out of traffic tickets by crying?

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. This negative, misandric slant towards men will not bring about any positive results, but it will make the author of such articles and their mean-spirited comrades feel better, at least for the moment.