Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Man crisis

With due respect to who Justin Bieber is on the inside, I’ve never liked his public image and the bad signals it sends about men and women in our culture. His cosmetic features, androgynous physique, designer clothes, and glam lifestyle complete the image of the synthetic man, a neatly packaged consumer product bought by preadolescent middle- and upper-class white girls with their parents’ money.

Bieber’s celebrity is the death knell of the strong, protective masculinity the pre-’60s generations grew up with. Lacking moral authority and respect for women, men have been reduced to merely the more violent of the two sexes. Thus, being “safe” enough for girls to feel comfortable around is the best modern men can hope for, the worst being the criminal justice system, Jackass, and Chris Brown.

No wonder marriage is in decline. Women want men they admire and respect, but they realize it too late to expect it from men who have been shaped towards timidity by a post-feminist culture. It is truly a man crisis, evident whenever you hear women bemoan the lack of “good men” or laughter at men’s shortcomings vis-à-vis women.

When Selena Gomez tells David Letterman she made boyfriend Justin Bieber cry, she earns applause from the audience and a fist bump from Letterman. I can’t imagine a remotely similar reaction had Bieber said he made Gomez cry. Even strong men cry when they separate from their girlfriends. But Bieber’s emotional vulnerability is a punch line, while darling Gomez is congratulated for moving on, presumably to a large pool of older Hollywood bachelors (who should think twice about entertaining her romantic overtures, given her lack of class).

Supply and demand rule the sexual marketplace as they do any other marketplace; it is just harder to match buyers and sellers because of the complex emotions involved and the lack of reliable data. Gomez may be realizing, as all postadolescent women do, that the man she grew up wanting is not out there. The synthetic man is an ill thought-out fantasy; its creators intended it to make them money, not satisfy women’s desires. In the younger Bieber’s case, there wasn’t enough there underneath the false veneer.

The principles of supply-side still work. One day, a man will come along and create a desire in Gomez she didn’t know she had. He will probably be older than her and certainly, to a degree, beyond culture’s ridicule. He will have had time to unlearn the falseness he has been taught. He will belong to himself, and she will admire and respect that.

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