Several readers pointed out the anachronism in the Stanton quote I included in my last post:
Ask any young woman how she vets all the nice young men who approach to decide who will advance to the bonus round of an actual date. She will ask if you rewind your VHS tapes before returning them to Blockbuster, or just pay the fee.
The 1990s VHS/Blockbuster reference however is deliberate by Stanton. Stanton is showing off how with the times he is, that he knows what is happening now. He may as well have written:
Unlike you squares I know what the hep cats are doing today! They aren’t going to the malt shop to sock hop like we did in the 1990s!
I write that because the 1950s dating norms Stanton assumes his audience will be shocked to find are no longer practiced weren’t practiced in the 1990s either. Even worse than that, what he is describing wasn’t really what was going on in the 1950s. Stanton’s dream of a world where unmarried women are queens holding court, deciding which gallant suitor to bestow her favors on exists only in his imagination.
Stanton knows this, but the lie is too tempting because by telling it he can puff himself up in comparison to the loser men of today. The implication is that in his day, men were men and women were glad. Something mysterious has happened to men, while women have only become more fabulous! Stanton closes his essay with a claim that young men today are different than young men in the past, because older men have failed to mold them into real men (men like he was at their age):
Rest assured, our problem today is not raising toxic males. It’s raising passive males. Those are males who are not even sure what the right thing to do is, much less possess the courage and assertiveness to know when to demonstrate it or how. Masculinity can only be taught, encouraged, and even demanded by the previous generation of both men and women. Men teach and call younger boys up into it, and women set before the young male what he must do if he wants a shot at them.
The culture that says, “We don’t know how to turn these boys today into men” is tragically passive as well. We need to be men, all of us, to hitch up our collective trousers and teach our boys what manliness is and what it is not and demand they act on it. If nothing else, there’s a whole generation of young women hoping someone will step up and do so.
But Stanton isn’t consistent with this narrative. In his lecture Marriage is a feminist institution Stanton claims that men have always been shiftless losers, and it is only due to women marrying shiftless losers and making them man up that anything ever got done in the world. He offers the example of Jamestown in 1611, which he says was foundering until women came over and married the passive colonists and made them into men:
In Jamestown the mother country sent men over to start the colonies in America as an economic venture. They expected the colonizers to come over here and start creating and start growing stuff, making stuff, sending it back to the mother country, and riches would happen. Well they sent this guy Sir Thomas Dale in 1611 to go over to Jamestown because no checks were coming to the mother country from the colonies…
He reported back to the mother country: The men are involved in their usual daily work, which is bowling in the street…
What happened was the mother country said we know how we can get the men working. We’re not going to send drivers, you know crack the whip and get them working, we’re going to send women. And the women, the men will be interested in the women, and the women will set the tone for what the men should do. You know what, before you have access to me, I want a nice cabin, and I want to be able to cook stew, tomorrow. So the men have to start doing, and that’s what they did. And one thing led to another, the women got men to work, they got them to buckle down, and 200 years later, boom. We have America, one of the greatest nations, the greatest nation in the world. Why? Because women showed up, and got men doing what men are supposed to do. That is what marriage does.
So which is it? Did something mysteriously happen to men in the last few decades that made them (in Stanton’s mind) shiftless losers? Or have men always been shiftless losers, and Stanton’s recent screed is just a long winded way of yelling get off my lawn?
It gets worse, because Stanton offers himself as an example of a shiftless loser that had to be made into a man by his wife:
My situation, I grew up as a skateboarder in the panhandle of Florida. Surfer. I was a good kid, didn’t get involved in drugs, didn’t do bad things. But that was my life. School, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in that. So I continued in that, after I got married and Jackie said, “you know what Glenn, here’s how it’s going to be” and what did I do? Okay, I guess I’m going to have to go to college. I was scared to death of college. Didn’t think I could survive there. Didn’t think I could compete there. But this woman was making me do something, this either or, so I went and did it and I became a better person.
Again, I would have never imagined that I get to do the things that I get to do today. Written a number of books, things like that. But I am who I am because Jackie said not you can do it, you will do it. And every man here knows that that’s true. So the bargaining chip for the man is, it’s going to work out better for me if I be what she wants me to be.
It’s quieter at home, she’s more likely to make the kind of food I like, I’m going to get physical access to her more often, and that sound simplistic, but there are those things. So the guy’s bargaining chip is to be a guy, and guess what he finds out it works pretty well for him. And that he’s happier than his “free” bachelor friends.
Here is the video segment the quote above is transcribed from:
Stanton regularly refers to himself as a passive loser in need of constant direction of his mommy-wife. In his brief bio at Boundless Stanton says that he never picked out and bought an item of clothing for himself until he was 28. This is one of the most important things Stanton wants you to know about himself:
Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. Glenn is the author of four books and a contributor to nine others. He’s a huge Bob Dylan fan, loves quirky movies, and picked out and bought the first piece of clothing for himself when he was 28. Glenn and his wife, Jacqueline, have five children and live in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Although his narrative changes whenever expedient, there is at least some consistency to Stanton’s message. While Stanton wants to pose as the only real man in the room, he clearly has deep feelings of inadequacy as a man, something he projects onto other men of all eras.
Related: Stanton’s dilemma