The War Against Men by Richard T. Hise
It's Always the Man's Fault
A review of The War Against Men by Richard T. Hise
by Jeffrey R. Jackson
There is a particular understanding of the so-called gender wars that has been imparted to this society's collective psyche -- that women are angelic victims who are oppressed by men, their perpetual abusers. As such, women of recent generations have been brought up to "empower" and "assert" themselves against our "patriarchy," from which they strive to be independent by adopting masculine, competitive ways. At the same time, the men of these same generations have been raised to be less assertive and more sensitive -- in other words, feminized -- all in the interest of achieving "gender balance" or equality. As we are all aware, society has not been the same since.
Sometime last fall I came across a book review by noted syndicated columnist Paul Craig Roberts, which began, "According to Peggy Noonan, 'to be a man in this world is not easy.'" The piece continued by introducing the recent work of Richard T. Hise, a Professor of Marketing at Texas A&M University, who in 2004 had published his book, The War Against Men (Red Anvil Press, elderberrypress.com). As Roberts put it, "The war against men is real. It requires men to exercise care in choosing an occupation and in choosing a woman [to marry].... Hise cites statistics that indicate women today in their attitudes and roles are more like men. The complementary pairing of the two genders has broken down, making successful marriages increasingly rare. Women aren't men's life partners, but rivals favored by law."
I then read Hise's book. It is influenced by his Southern Baptist faith, and he is a staunch believer in traditional gender roles. But this work is not a polemic on why women should not work outside the home; instead it focuses on discrimination against men, which has resulted in a societal decline on a number of fronts, including: the economic, in which Hise presents evidence that female-led corporations disproportionately under-perform; the military, where female matriculation into certain areas has diminished its effectiveness; the political, in which women are more apt to support a liberal platform; health care, where women receive better treatment and more funding for their research (not to mention live longer) -- among other areas.
Perhaps most startling is that women are on the threshold of dominating most higher education and professional preparatory programs. Already 60 percent of college students are women. Hiring and wage trends also favor women. So where does this leave the young men of America?
As a 20-something single American male, this concerns me and every other guy in my demographic. It also concerns me as a Catholic, for Hise writes that Churches, "most predominantly...the Catholic and mainline Protestant...," are increasingly feminized, most ostensibly with the outnumbering of male worshipers by females, and the feminization of liturgy. (But as we will see, the problems in the Church with respect to feminization run much deeper.)
The bottom line is that nature is not intended to be socially re-engineered. But women have been elevated to an exalted status in America and throughout the Western world, the corollary being that the other gender must suffer a proportional decline. We must then examine the nagging query, going beyond the scope of Hise's book: How can men, who are forced to compete against women, still serve as family breadwinners in these conditions? And is this something that American women truly desire?
A Shortage of Educated Males: Hise writes: "In 1970, 58.8% of college and university students were male; 41.2% were females. In only a decade, women became the majority of higher education enrollees (51.4%). By 1998, their share had increased to 56.1%. By 2004...57.5% will be female. Judy Mohraz, president of Goucher College (Baltimore, MD), warned that at the present rate, there soon will be no more men in college at all and that 'the last man to be awarded a bachelors' degree would receive it in the Spring of 2067.'"
Warren Farrell, a former National Organization for Women board member turned men's rights leader, writes, "Economics majors [largely male] in top universities outnumber women's studies majors by roughly 10 to 1. Nevertheless, 54 out of 55 leading universities offer more courses in women's studies than in economics. What does this reflect?" Farrell continues, "The headline is 'Men are the oppressors, and women are the oppressed.'... The double standard resulted in speech-codes, scholarships for women-as-minorities ([they had] long been the majority), and a deeply anti-male atmosphere." Moreover, the content of women's studies courses -- 30,000 total nationwide, according to Farrell -- is focused largely on the dogma of radical feminism, that women are oppressed, that traditional marriage is "slavery," that all societies are "patriarchies," and so on. Four years worth of this type of indoctrination in women's studies had led to large portions of recent generations of American women learning to hate men.
Such man-hating culminates with the widely performed, vulgar, pro-lesbian, and above all anti-male play The Vagina Monologues. Begun in the late-1990s, the play, written by Eve Ensler, is now "celebrated" every year on V-Day (formerly Valentine's Day) on approximately 900 campuses across the nation, including more than 30 Catholic campuses, among them all the "big-name" Catholic universities (e.g., Boston College, Fordham, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Marquette, etc.).
The "New Housewife": It is safe to say that nowadays men and women do not relate to one another in the same fashion as in pre-feminist times, say, the 1950s. During that period, things were simpler: Men worked outside the home, and did whatever required physical strength, whereas women did most of the work inside the home associated with managing the household -- together constituting a complementary division of labor. Particularly noteworthy is the "Good Wife's Guide," which was published in the May 1955 Housekeeping Monthly, lending women 18 points to improve their wifely skills, including: "Be a little gay [i.e., cheerful] and a little more interesting for [your husband]. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.... Be happy to see him.... Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.... Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first...remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours...."
Why would a wife have to do any of this for her husband? Because he was her provider. There are some women today who still happily abide by this. But two-thirds of wives are now in the civilian work force, and women have largely renounced housework and childrearing. For many of today's housewives, staying home has taken on a whole new identity.
Trend-spotter Marian Salzman, credited with identifying the new wave of dandy-like "metrosexual" men, has more news: Younger American and British middle- and upper-middle class married women are beginning once again to opt to stay home -- but this time, with a catch: as long as they don't have to do any housework. As Sarah Womack tells us, these women are "princess-style 'domestic divas' who effectively exploit their husbands" (The Daily Telegraph, May 11, 2004).
However it might be packaged, it is still women's lib -- women are empowered to do what they feel like at the expense of their families and husbands. Salzman continues: "In reality, they are domestic divas who want the flawless kids, courtesy of the nanny; a spotless home, thanks to a cleaning service; and a reputation for being a fabulously put-together homemaker...." It is imperative to note that Salzman makes abundantly clear in her study that women she considers "domestic divas" do not include mothers staying home to care for young children, or traditional housewives assuming the "Good Wife's Guide" protocol. Rather, "domestic divas" are wives with a couple of older children in school or no children at all who do not submit to their husbands. The runaway hit TV program, Desperate Housewives, profiles five modern-day suburban American housewives (not working women) who, putting it mildly, reflect many of the tendencies of these "domestic divas."
Meet the quasi-feminist: She's not of the same ilk as prior generations of feminists, who abandoned feminine traits and sought an "equal-partner marriage," dividing household chores between herself and her husband. The quasi-feminist, usually of the X or Y generation and a college graduate, expects all the benefits of women's lib while simultaneously exacting the traditional benefits of womanhood; that is, she expects her man to be a "good provider" in achieving a level of expected earnings and social status. She wants to have her cake and eat it too.
John Townsend, an anthropologist who teaches at Syracuse University, presents a substantial explanation of mate-selection patterns in his book What Women Want, What Men Want (Oxford University Press). Based upon his surveys and interviews of hundreds of professional students of both genders -- with a concentration on medical students -- Townsend determined that modern career women are still quite preoccupied with marrying up, or at the very least at their own social level, regardless of her earnings and ability to support herself. "High-status women such as doctors, lawyers and business executives are at a disadvantage in this competition [for suitors] because they resist marrying down, and the pool of single men who meet their standards is relatively small." Conversely, Townsend discovered that men in training for high-level occupations are far less interested in a woman's status, often stressing instead the importance of finding someone with whom to settle down.
The State of Our Unions 2004, the annual report based on a Rutgers University study of the current status of marriage in our society, focuses on the phenomenon of delayed marriage for men. The study's authors, Professors Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe, revealed that college-educated men on average marry at close to age 30, as opposed to age 23 in 1970. Of today's men who delay marriage, 47 percent are doing so until they own a house, with 40 percent stalling until they can afford a "nice" (i.e., expensive) wedding. Curiously, the report stipulates: "Slightly more than two-thirds of all men disagree with the statement that 'the main purpose of marriage is to have children.'" Why then own a house, except to impress a woman?
These tendencies stand in large contrast to men of prior generations, who generally managed to marry prior to receiving their degree and becoming professionally established, probably while living in a modest apartment in the interim with their wives and even children. So, what ever happened to the axiom, "Behind every great man is a great woman"?
Marriage and Divorce: The liberated female gender of modern Western society has yet to come to grips with the reality that the higher women rise in the marketplace, the farther down the totem pole men will slide, attenuating his capacity to be the principle breadwinner. In a sexually egalitarian society, something like half the women will find that they have not married up, and given their materialistic preoccupations, this sets the stage for divorce.
Figuring prominently into this discussion are the rates of marriage and divorce, giving a clearer outline of where things are headed for men in this society. The aforementioned Rutgers annual marriage survey determined that marriage rates since 1970 have declined by 40 percent, with the average of first-time marriage for men being driven up due to these new cultural realities. The report further claims that the divorce rate stands around 50 percent. Some estimates claim that the divorce rate has actually climbed as high as 60 percent.
But how and why does divorce occur? We know that it has proliferated since "no-fault" divorce was first authorized in 1969 -- in complete sync with the feminist movement. George Mason University School of Law professor Margaret Brinig and Simon Fraser University economics professor Douglas Allen surveyed 46,000 divorce filings spanning four U.S. states. The study found that women initiated divorce twice as often as men, with an appendage to the study revealing that a minuscule amount of the divorce filings stemmed from abuse claims.
There is one etiology of divorce that trumps all others: money. If a husband does not sustain an expected level of earnings as the primary breadwinner, the marriage usually dissolves. As Farrell notes: "When a man believes he is expected to earn more [than his wife], and downsizing leads to a man earning less, it can lead to a marriage becoming a mess.... If she is not accepting of him earning less,...the result is a marriage in trouble." This doesn't begin to address the realities of divorce court for American men, where many find themselves involuntarily sodomized by the feminist-sympathizing legal system, where men usually lose child custody and half of their assets.
A feature in the November 2003 New Yorker entitled "Alpha Women, Beta Men" chronicles the corollary to the husband's social decline: wives as primary breadwinners. "In 2001...wives earned more than their spouses in almost a third of married households where the wife worked. Yet this proud professional achievement often seems to have unhappy consequences at home." The story describes these out-earned men as feeling emasculated, quoting several wives and divorcées who describe their relationship with their non-breadwinner husband as "parental."
Is Catholicism Anti-Male? Among Hise's claims is that American Catholicism is a feminized institution, permeated by anti-male interests. The author correctly notes that female worshipers and lay participants at Mass far outnumber males, with female altar servers outnumbering males, along with the proliferation of female pastoral assistants, the domination of formerly all-male Catholic colleges by women students, and the disproportionate participation of young women in parish youth programs. This paints a very bleak picture for the future of Catholicism in North America and western Europe -- as Wood and Hise both refer to a study demonstrating that the lifetime religiosity of children is best determined by whether the father, not the mother, is religious.
What is the basis of this feminization? We must look to the priesthood itself -- namely, to "gay" priests. Available statistics suggest that between 30 to 60 percent of the priesthood in America is homosexually oriented, an astronomical range when contrasted to the estimate of two to three percent of the general population being of that orientation. The practical effect of their mere presence is the emasculation of the Church.
Spiritually speaking, it's not just clerics or liberal Catholics who are colluding for feminization. At Franciscan University of Steubenville (which has a 60 percent female student body), theology professor Scott Hahn believes the Holy Spirit is a feminine entity and that Adam's Original Sin came about as a result of his failure to protect Eve from the serpent (whom he says is really a dragon). This radically re-tells the story of man's Fall. The Original Sin wasn't, according to Hahn's suppositions, the serpent tempting Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, followed by Adam doing so only with Eve's coaxing. Hahn's fairytale version of events produces a two-fold notion: that Original Sin had nothing to do with Eve's eating the apple, and that it was Adam's fault for not protecting Eve, making Adam, not Eve, the primary sinner. With feminism, it's always the man's fault.
Conclusion: In his book's final chapter, Professor Hise offers men some advice: "In regard to the financial issue, I think it is mandatory that you and your future wife hammer out and sign a prenuptial agreement." On this point Hise is wrong, as prenuptial agreements greatly diminish the sacredness of the nuptial bond, making divorce more likely. Marriages should be about perpetual partnership between a man and a woman, not about "what's mine is mine." However, as men have come to be viewed as "cash cows" by this society to be freely looted in the name of women's liberation, Hise's position is understandable.
Perhaps a good rule of thumb is this: If a man feels he needs a prenup, then chances are he is subconsciously anticipating the marriage to fail in advance of its taking place, in which case he should simply not marry his fiancée. Certain things might cue him in to these problems -- if she is career-obsessed, has expensive habits and tastes, has existing debt that she is unable to resolve on her own, and so on. Let's face it: So many college-educated American women of marrying age today are implacably materialistic and fixated on status, so when her own earnings don't do it for her, yours will have to do. And if not, some other guy's higher income will -- that is, after she abandons you and takes half your net worth in the divorce settlement.
The Church should also start taking stock of these issues. A great way to curb the incidence of divorce among Catholics, and the travesty of easy nullity granted by marital tribunals, is for parish priests to make hard judgments of couples' initial viability for the Sacrament -- this would entail asking probing questions of engaged couples, such as "what would happen if he ever lost his job?" or "who will be responsible for domestic tasks if he is the primary breadwinner?" At the center of any marriage should be the intent to procreate, which is not at the top of the list of most couples these days who do get married. This alone would constitute grounds for invalidity in annulment proceedings, but it is the job of parish priests to initially detect the wrong intent for marriage. In the end, pastoral authority should be exercised to deny the Sacrament to unsuitable couples temporarily or permanently -- just as the Sacrament of Holy Orders is postponed or denied to unsuitable priestly candidates.
Overall, in spite of women's expansive career opportunities, it has now been shown that many women nonetheless look to men to function as primary breadwinners. But women's matriculation into the marketplace -- often eased by affirmative action and quotas -- has culminated with man's diminished role within it, followed by his diminished capacity to be the sole or primary breadwinner. Presently, women are poised to accelerate their gains; men are positioned for further decline. All of this supports the case that American society should re-evaluate the role of women, both in the workplace and in the household.
The War Against Men