A long time reader asked me to do a post on a recent article by Damon Linker titled Men are the worst. Here’s how they can be better. My initial answer was to decline, because Linker just isn’t worthy of rebuttal. The whole screed has a begging and pleading quality to it which left me feeling more sorry for Linker than anything else.
What is interesting though is how frequently throughout the piece Linker’s words sound like something I would expect from Pastor Driscoll. Driscoll is the master of the man up rant, so why is Linker’s piece so ineffective? After giving it some consideration I believe I’ve identified the problems.
The first problem is fairly subtle. Pastor Driscoll’s fundamental message is that weak men are screwing feminism up. While this is absurd it works for Driscoll because he is in denial that feminism ever happened. Because Driscoll is able to sell this denial, the absurdity of the message isn’t readily visible.
But Linker wears his feminism on his sleeve, so what would be very effective lines in the hands of Driscoll (or FoTF, or FamilyLife, etc) come out very differently. When Linker writes:
It is long past time for men to own their emotional lives and stop shirking responsibility for the brutish, disrespectful, and sometimes ruinous actions they undertake while under the sway of their unruly passions and drives.
It comes after he has already written:
Throughout our violent, sexist history, the world has had a very big man problem.
This brings us to Linker’s other and more serious problem. His piece isn’t framed as a call for men to regain their lost masculinity, but as a personal plea so that Linker can have the feminism he so desperately craves. He closes the article with a stomp of his delicate foot:
The woman you long to sleep with, like the world itself, owes you absolutely nothing. Let that be seared into the brain of every leering, groping, cat-calling, date-raping, would-be mass-murdering man in America.
That, and nothing less, is what it would take to solve my man problem — and ours.
Won’t some big strong man come rescue Linker from this torment?
What Linker doesn’t understand is the man up rant must be framed as a call to noble manhood by a heroic leader. Follow me and I’ll make men of you! While Linker gets some of the words right, he makes his plea from the position of a pouty faced damsel in distress begging to be rescued by the very men he is trying to exhort to man up. This will never work.