The Feminization of American Culture part 3

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – The Feminization of American Culture part 3

The Feminization of American Culture part 3
Regular Contributor

his process of femininization manifests itself, though somewhat differently, when you turn on the TV or watch a movie. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, leading men were, as a rule, infallible: think of Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind, Cary Grant in North by Northwest, or Fred McMurray in My Three Sons. But no longer. In family comedy, the father figure has metamorphosed from the all-knowing, all-wise Robert Young of Father Knows Best to the occasional bumbling of Bill Cosby and the consistent stupidity of Homer Simpson.

A mature adult nowadays is someone who is comfortable talking about her inner conflicts, someone who values personal relationships above abstract goals, someone who isn’t afraid to cry. In other words: a mature adult is a woman.

Commercially successful movies now often feature women who are physically aggressive, who dominate or at least upstage the men. This description applies to movies as diverse as Charlie’s Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In today’s cinema, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, all the leading women are strong and all the leading men are good-looking.

A transformation of comparable magnitude seems to be under way in the political arena. Military command used to be considered the best qualification for leadership–as it was with Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle, and Dwight Eisenhower, to name only a few. Today, the best qualification for leadership may be the ability to listen. The feminine way of seeing the world and its problems is, arguably, becoming the mainstream way.

In 1992, Bill Clinton ran against George Bush p?e for the presidency. Clinton was an acknowledged draft evader. Bush, the incumbent, was a World War II hero who had just led the United States to military success in Operation Desert Storm. Clinton won. In 1996, Clinton was challenged by Bob Dole, another decorated World War II veteran. Once again, the man who had evaded military service defeated the combat veteran. In 2000, Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain competed for the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain was a genuine war hero whose courageous actions as a prisoner of war in Vietnam had won him well-deserved honors and praise. Bush, on the other hand, was alleged to have used family influence to obtain a position in the Texas National Guard, in order to avoid service in Vietnam. Once again, the man who had never experienced combat defeated the military veteran. Moral of the story: It’s all very well to be a war hero, but in our modern, feminized society, being a war hero won’t get you elected president.

Conversely, being a draft dodger isn’t as bad as it used to be. A number of authors have recognized the increasing feminization of American society. With few exceptions, most of those acknowledging this process have welcomed it.17 As Elinor Lenz and Barbara Myerhoff wrote in their 1985 book The Feminization of America, “The feminizing influence is moving [American society] away from many archaic ways of thinking and behaving, toward the promise of a saner and more humanistic future…. Feminine culture, with its commitment to creating and protecting life, is our best and brightest hope for overcoming the destructive, life-threatening forces of the nuclear age.

I think we can all agree on one point: there have been fundamental changes in American culture over the past fifty years, changes that indicate a shift from a male-dominated culture to a feminine or at least an androgynous society. The question is, what’s causing this shift? Some might argue that the changes I’ve described are simply a matter of better education, progressive laws, and two generations of consciousness-raising: an evolution from a patriarchal Dark Ages to a unisex, or feminine, Enlightenment. I’m willing to consider that hypothesis. But before we accept that conclusion, we should ask whether there are any other possibilities.

11-22-2006 03:12 PM

Re: The Feminization of American Culture part 3

I prefer Peter Griffin to Doc Savage. He’s just funnier.

I do not like George W. Bush. I voted against him. Twice. It didn’t matter.

And I agree wholeheartedly with the last two paragraphs. Can we get there without alienating half the country, though?

01-09-2007 12:52 PM

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