And miss! Over at Ask Men, Ian Stobber wrote a list of what he considers obsolete man skills, and suggestions for replacing them. He writes: “Nobody can make you respect 21st century manliness if you don’t want to. But if you’re at all interested in being ahead of the curve and exploring how to be the kind of man who’s tops in the near future rather than the distant past, then read on to discover which skills are becoming obsolete, and what you should be looking to replace them with.”
The first allegedly outdated occupation Stobber cites is hunting, which he says has been replaced with factory farming. Ethical issues presented by factory farming aside, there is nothing specifically 21st century about industrial-scale production of food. Modern man has been alienated from his source of food ever since there was such thing as modern man.
Stobber’s suggestion to replace hunting with cooking is equally odd, as if it’s something men have not been doing since the dawn of time, or as if men couldn’t master both (and often do). In the West, restaurant chefs are still typically male, and the atmosphere in the kitchens tends to be pretty chauvinistic (albeit a lot is changing).
Sure, bourgeois Western women traditionally cook for their families, but did you know, for instance, that in Turkey women wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near meat for the fear that they’d pollute it? Cooking is a fun trade, suitable for both men and women and practiced avidly by both since time immemorial. I get to cook most of the time because I’m a stay-at-home mom, but my husband usually makes pasta on Fridays — it’s his thing, and it works out great for us all.
Again, What with the False Choices Here?
Next up, and sounding like a product of a hypermanaged classroom, the Ask Men author suggests replacing fighting with mediating: “Physical fighting literally doesn’t solve anything — it just leaves people angry and bruised, or worse.” Physical fighting has solved a lot of things— ending Nazism, for one—but that, of course, is circa 20th century.
Regardless, who traditionally does mediation? The majority of great diplomats known to history are men. Charles-Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand was a diplomat who, following the defeat of France in Napoleonic Wars, was able to negotiate a settlement as favorable to his country as if she hadn’t been the loser and aggressor.
Mediation has more gravitas when conducted by those who understand physical power and rules of engagement. It’s often repeated that, having fled the Nazi Germany as a little boy, Henry Kissinger has developed an appreciation for power that shaped his diplomatic skill. Likewise, having been in a brawl or two might help with small-level mediation techniques.
A Grab Bag of Ways to Start Fights With Your Wife
Stobber’s advice to take up coding in place of car repair seems a bit odd, too. I mean, computer programming is so heavily dominated by men, some overzealous feminists actually had to come up with the idea that it’s a “bro mentality” pushing women out of programming. Men obviously don’t need his advice here.
His most hilarious, and potentially most conflict-prone, idea is that men should learn to decorate instead of fixing things around the house. Don’t put down your power tools just yet. We women are more detailed, more in tune with trends, and typically like to be in control of the aesthetic part of nesting. Of course, men can train themselves to decorate, like women can train themselves to drill holes, but if a couple gets different visions for that bathroom wallpaper, things may get nasty.
Besides, don’t you guys know that we want you to take care of all the dangerous tasks, like climbing on the roof to check the gutters? (Kidding — be careful up there!) You think we’d be impressed by interior decoration?
Stobber tries to tell us that leadership is overrated, and that the workplace of the future will be collaborative. Yet people have been trying to institute collaborative workplaces in recent years — and failing. Take for instance, the Women’s March, which was immediately infested with anti-Semitism because in a flat organizational structure power was quickly usurped by the worst elements.
But that was us girls. Maybe men work better in groups than women do — good luck with that. Speaking solely for myself, I find leadership qualities in men both attractive and rare. Yes, there will be a place for collaborators in the workplace of the future, like there has been always. I’m not sure how “cool” these types would be, however.
Ever Heard of a Warrior Poet?
Although I generally agree that good fathers move beyond simple discipline into more meaningful relationship territory when interacting with their kids, I don’t think Stobber knows much about this advice topic either. He is not a father, yet he feels free to dispatch parenting advice. Such advice can be annoying even when coming from fellow breeders, but some single millennial boi? Give me a break!
Predictably, he comes up with this under the “communicative parent” rubric: “Don’t be the father who punishes his son for exploring more feminine things — he’ll resent you.” Or not. He might come to resent his dad for not teaching him normative male behavior.
I admire stoicism in both men and women. I also believe there are desirable ways to talk about emotions. For centuries, so many men have already found ways to express their feelings in most riveting manner. Take, for instance, my favorite poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:
You put your love on violins.
The vulgar put love on kettle drums.
But to turn yourself inside out, as I,
and become nothing but lips
this you can’t do!
That’s from “A Cloud in Trousers.” Nothing against the tender ones, of course, many of whom are remarkable poets in their own right.
Many women, including me, love the rugged masculine ideal, and to put it in opposition to all other kinds of masculinities is to erect a straw man. Men can be thinkers, and romantics, and negotiators, and they don’t need to give up ruggedness to get there. Conversely, ruggedness is not the sole manly quality.
There is obviously some kind of educational failure behind that Ask Men listicle. How can the writer know so little to think he’s proposing anything new?