Author and centrist Richard Reeves thinks so.
An advocate of
relational masculinity, Reeves believes men are moulded by their relationship with their community.
‘Relational masculinity contrasts with the masculine archetype of the Lone Ranger,’ he wrote in an
August 23 essay titled What Men Are For.
‘Masculinity,’ Reeves stated, ‘has always and everywhere been defined socially, in relationships, rather than by retreat.’
Whereas Lone Ranger masculinity (LRM) ‘isolates men through fierce independence.’
According to Reeves, this is a pale and destructive version of the real thing.
LRM is borderline dissociative. It disconnects men from their communities and bleeds dysfunction.
Thus, Reeves argues,
‘A man who lives in glorious isolation, providing only for himself, is not masculine at all.’
If Lone Ranger masculinity is a myth, what does relational masculinity look like?
It’s a ‘big question’ with no easy resolution, he said.
Especially ‘given the dramatic shift in the economic relations between men and women.’
Fruits of Feminism
Only 55% of men today are breadwinners, compared with 85% in 1975, with 40% of women filling what was once considered to be a man’s role.
‘The old male script, mostly centred on breadwinning, has been torn up,’ he explains.
Applauding the feminarchy, Reeves called this ‘glorious achievement’ the ‘greatest economic liberation in human history.’
Ever the centrist, he then tip-toes into the glorious revolution’s dark footnotes.
Men are lost.
The glorious revolution has ‘dislocated men.’
Stripped of ‘their distinct role as breadwinners, men are dangerously untethered from society.’
With the dislocation of man’s role as provider, ‘men are falling.’
Regardless of this, ‘there is no rewinding’ the revolution.
Reassuring the feminist faithful, Reeves adds,
‘It’s true that the lopsided economic conditions of women and men contributed to stable families.
wants to re-create that “inequality.”’ Nobody
The answer, he suggests, is for men and women to look at the ‘glorious achievement’ [revolution] together as an ‘opportunity.’
There is a place for men in the post-feminist utopia.
For instance, ‘norms and policies for paid leave for new dads, and
biased family courts, have a long way to go in honouring the vitality of their role.’
We can start by ‘strengthening pro-father policies,’ he states.
This includes tackling the gender gap in
suicide rates between men and women.
For example, research from
the International Men and Families Alliance in Canada found that divorced fathers had an eight times greater risk of suicide than mothers.
Apart from identifying LRM as a retreat from what it means to be a man, Reeves seems to think Lone Ranger masculinity is reactionary.
Heightening the cause for alarm, the modern LRM – isolated, insecure, inferior – is ‘culturally dangerous.’
Enter the ‘social father.’
The social father is a socialised man, ‘culturally tasked’ and taught to live out relational masculinity.
In other words, be a ‘man for others.’
Although Reeves’ response to the crisis in masculinity has merit, I’m not completely sold.
Three aspects of his approach hinder his sales pitch:
a persistent and nauseating need to acknowledge feminism, past, present, and emerging.
‘social father’ carries too much one-sided political baggage.
His tilt more to the Left muffles the necessity of blunt talk about the root causes of the problems.
Additionally, his ideas read like wishful thinking.
At the very least, they appear naïve to the misandry so inherent to the feminist activism he not only celebrates but coddles.
All this is odd, considering Reeve’s own admission that terms like “
toxic masculinity” are damaging men.
As Churchill once said, ‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’
Even Reeves notes, the ‘shocking’ reality that ‘four out of five people surveyed by Pew thought the term “masculine” was negative when applied to men.’
In another survey, “half the men, of all ‘races’,” think that society “punishes men just for acting like men.”
It is worth noting that more than 70% out of 688 responders to an MSN Newspoll believe masculinity is under threat in the United States.
Hence, a clear majority see the assault on men as socially harmful.
Technology has displaced man from his relationship with the land, and ideology has disconnected man from his relationship with woman.
To resolve the ‘friendship deficiency’, Reeves first needs to dismantle the systemic destruction of masculinity that is forcing men into isolation.
Prior to the 70s,
fatherhood delinquency was an extreme. The dad deficit was barely a blip on the radar.
Today, both are an epidemic.
Both have links to the radical feminist quest, not for gender parity, nor equality, but the eradication of men.
To his credit, Reeves is trying to provide a win-win solution.
While I concede his way forward makes sense, I don’t think Relational masculinity is a one-size-fits-all prescription.
Rather than replacing Lone Ranger masculinity with Relational masculinity, it’s often been a part of man’s vocation in life to bounce between both.
There is a time for a man to stand alone in his convictions, and a time for a man to share that load.
The hard part is learning when to wear one hat and stow the other.
Removing one to the detriment of the other could be a case of the cure being worse than the disease.
Photo by M Venter.