Thanks to a friend, I got distracted. This is not the blog I was intending to write.
Dateline: Tuesday. Moiself sees a link to a NYT article, posted by my retired  journalist friend, GR.
“After recent focus groups with Democratic-leaning voters on the economy; younger women on work, relationships and gender roles; and teenagers on school and their futures, we decided to talk to conservative men about how they see themselves and what they value. Most said they believed society is headed toward increased rule breaking and a “me, me, me” culture….”
introduction to These 8 Conservative Men Are Making No Apologies.
( NY Times, Opinion, “America in Focus” series.  )
Here is (part of) of GR’s introduction to the link:
“If we are ever going to bridge the divides in this country, I think it begins with understanding how others view themselves and the issues that confront all of us.”
I agree with that sentiment. I also find it telling that the “bridging the divide” talk always seems be one-sided, as in, flowing from Left to Right. As moiself commented to GR (before I’d followed the link to the article):
“Is there a conservative newspaper doing a focus group with
‘…8 liberal women making no apologies?’ “
My FB-comment conversation (with GR) continued after I started reading the article:
Thanks for posting this – I intend to read it all, but need a break right now, due to this part:
Tony (one of the focus group’s panelists):
“This country has become more feminized. It’s not the way it was when I was growing up. We started off talking about how the country has a weak image. They don’t call women the weaker sex for no reason. Men are necessary to maintain a vibrant society. And we’ve been feminized. No offense.”
(Focus group moderator)
“…who, if anyone, do you think views masculinity as a negative thing these days?
Christopher (another of the panelists):
“I support feminism, but I don’t support modern feminism. I think that modern feminism is focused on so-called toxic masculinity, and they are actually purveyors of men-bashing. And so I support femininity and feminism but not to the point where they’re looking to hoist themselves above men to try to make up for so-called patriarchy.”
Geeze, Tony. “No offense” he says, when he’s just called women “weaker” and has associated the feminine with weakness.
And Christopher says he “supports” feminism, but not “modern” feminism.
Maybe he prefers feminists of the 19th century, the Seneca Falls Convention era, where they had to fight for even the right to vote – which could only be granted to them by men?
I remember hearing in the late 60s-70s the same rhetoric, from men who claimed to “support” women and women’s rights but not those “man-hating women’s libbers….” With “support” like that, who needs equal opportunity enshrined in law?
While I appreciate the idea (and ideals) behind the America in Focus series, this particular one disheartened and frustrated me. Isn’t dialog supposed to be uplifting?
Those 8 Conservative Men ® may be making no apologies, but many of them are also making no sense. Take this shining example, when the conversation seemed dominated by the panelists’ complaints about (what they saw as) the changing definition and devaluation of masculinity. Running with the theme, the moderator asked, “Who, if anyone, do you think views masculinity as a negative thing these days?”
Danny (another panelist):
“Look at fashion. Look at the newer generation of how people dress, how men dress. There’s men, and there’s women, and there’s masculinity, and femininity. And there’s no reason to destroy one in order to make the other one better. I’m not trying to get into a negative men-versus-women thing, but I’m seeing masculinity under attack. And I’m seeing men wearing tight skinny jeans, with no socks and velvet shoes. And it’s cool to wear pink. I don’t mind wearing pink. It’s a cool color. And I’m not saying colors belong with a certain gender. It’s so funny — this is what we were talking about earlier: Every time you speak, you don’t feel comfortable enough to say what’s on your mind, where you have to almost give a disclaimer. I have no problem with pink. But when we go out to a club or a dinner or dancing, you see some of the younger generation wearing very feminine clothes, blatantly feminine clothes — so much so that we are almost trying to portray masculinity as negative.”
I have no problem with pink, says the man who goes on to reveal that he definitely has a problem with pink (or, at least, with men wearing pink), by mentioning that thing he doesn’t have a problem with twice more.
Danny, like some of the others in the group, does make several points moiself finds especially valid (and have addressed in this space many times), such as how labels and epithets (racist, sexist, homo-and other “phobics”) are so easily used by people, and once someone labels you, how do you refute it? Danny, a realtor, tells the story of when he was the president of a homeowner’s association board in his community, and
“…an Asian woman got into an argument with us. When I say ‘us,’ I mean the whole board. That night, she went and wrote a review on my business page saying that I’m a racist. My parents are Lebanese. I was beaten up every day when I was a kid because I’m Arabic….I’m not a racist….She wrote a nasty review, and Google won’t take it down, even though she wasn’t a client of mine. She’d never bought a house from me. She never did business with me, but she said that I’m a racist. That’s what’s happening today. And that never happened 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago. And you know what’s worse? You can’t stop it.”
Danny and others in the group also directly or obliquely referred to about how our language police culture (my term; not theirs) stifles expression and makes assumptions, and seemingly pays more attention to how you say something rather than what you are trying to say:
“…And I’m not saying colors belong with a certain gender. It’s so funny — this is what we were talking about earlier: Every time you speak, you don’t feel comfortable enough to say what’s on your mind, where you have to almost give a disclaimer. “
But then Danny negates his disclaimer, with further statements which indicate he really does think certain colors and certain styles belong with certain genders. His comment about how so much of the younger generation is wearing “feminine clothes” – uh, maybe because half of any generation is composed of females? But his usage of “the younger generation” indicates he’s talking about the younger generation of *males,* who by wearing “blatantly feminine” clothes” are “… trying to portray masculinity as negative.”
Oh Danny boy, the pipes the pipes are calling I just don’t get it. Unless there is a dude wearing a (pink, I bet) shirt with lettering which proclaims, “Masculinity sucks,” I don’t see how a choice in clothing portrays masculinity, or any “inity,” as negative.
(Focus group Moderator):
“How many of you think men have it harder than women these days?”
[group members Krupal and Danny raise their hands.]
“It’s like, you’re a woman, you’re given a trophy. If a guy does something, it’s not a big deal. If girls do the same thing, it’s like, you go! Girl power! I think her gender plays a bigger role, and it gives her more advantage these days — be it career or anything.”
(Christopher, a group member who didn’t raise his hand,
although IMO his comment indicates that he should have):
“I think that women have it a lot easier than men these days. What it feels like is that society is trying to make up for the times that women were oppressed, and it seems like it’s kind of going overboard.”
Ah, gee. Don’t let your gender pity party get in the way of reality, Conservative Guys Sans Apologies. Their statements of woe-is-me-as-a-man, without any attempt to cite data supporting their grievances, was as tiring to read as it was frustrating – and alarming – to consider. They really think that – that being a woman is an Advantage ® ?
Yo, Krupal: here is just a sampling of the *advantages* being a woman gets a woman, “be it career or anything.”
* According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in 2020, women’s annual earnings were 82.3% of men’s, and the gap is even wider for many women of color.
* Women earn less than men in nearly all occupations.
* Women earn less than their same race and ethnicity counterpart at every level of educational attainment
* Educational attainment is not enough to close gender earnings gaps. In fact, most women with advanced degrees earn less than white men, on average, with only a bachelor’s degree.
(“Facts About the State of the Gender Pay Gap,” US Dept. of Labor)
* Women still face significant obstacles when it comes to accessing the credit necessary to build and expand their businesses. Multiple studies indicate that women face a gap when it comes to getting funding. Though women business owners apply at similar rates to men, only 39% of women-owned businesses had a conventional bank loan…compared with 52% of male-owned businesses that received conventional bank loans.
* Gender discrimination persists, in the form of both gender stereotypes and unconscious gender bias. “What If,” the recent report on the gender credit gap, cites multiple studies between the 1980s through the present, indicating the presence of stereotypes that negatively affect women when trying to advance in the workplace, or when seeking traditional loans, or venture capital investment for their businesses.
( “Women and the Future of the Gender Credit Gap” )
* Although single women have lower average annual incomes, they are better at paying their mortgages, default less and usually make larger down payments than their male counterparts…. (yet) On average, women pay more for a mortgage through higher interest rate terms than male borrowers.
(“The Gender Gap: Women As Mortgage Consumers,” NWRB )
* Gender bias persists in health care…. One in five women say they have felt that a health care provider has ignored or dismissed their symptoms, and 17% say they feel they have been treated differently because of their gender—compared with 14% and 6% of men, respectively.
* Studies show that women’s perceptions of gender bias are correct. Compared with male patients, women who present with the same condition may not receive the same evidence-based care. In several key areas, such as cardiac care and pain management, women may get different treatment, leading to poorer outcomes.
(“Recognizing, Addressing Unintended Gender Bias in Patient Care,”
Duke Health/Referring Physicians )
* …gender in tech has often been governed by a set of interlocking, and surprisingly fine-grained, sorting systems…. women were less likely to be promoted than men, and when …promoted, it was frequently into jobs that seemed to separate them further from the core business of the company, and toward ‘soft’ and ‘people skills.’
* When it comes to who gets promoted how in Silicon Valley…there’s still an assumption that ‘anybody can be a manager, but not everybody can be an engineer.’… female tech workers get frequently shunted onto management tracks…or even into HR, even though they have the same degrees and training as their male engineer colleagues.
(“How Sexism is Coded into the Tech Industry.” The Nation, 4-26-21)
* Gender-based price discrimination…when one gender is charged a different price than another gender for identical goods or services…negatively affects women more often than men…. Gender-based pricing exists in many industries, including insurance, dry cleaning, hair, clothing, personal care products.,,,
* Consumption taxes on certain products but not others have also been viewed a form of gender-based price disparity. For example, in the USA, Australia, and the UK, tampons are often subjected to a consumption tax, while related products such as condoms, lubricant, and several other medical items are exempt from the tax.
( “Gender-based price discrimination in the United States,” Wikiwand )
* An estimated 91% of victims of rape & sexual assault are female and 9% male. Nearly 99% of perpetrators are male.
* Around the world, at least 1 woman in 3 has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family or is her partner.
(“Sexualized Violence Statistics,” CalPoly Humboldt)
Read it (the transcript of the focus discussion) y’alls selves, and draw your own conclusions.  My summary: these eight conservative men have noticed that Others are taking steps up the power ladder, and thus they  don’t feel in charge anymore. They make some valid points about language police/cancel culture (that women and liberals also experience, not just male conservatives). But, seemingly without any self-awareness as to their male privilege (a term that would probably have their manly orbs crawling home to daddy, howling with men-are-being-cancelled! outrage), they see the writing on the wall… and instead of stopping to read it or consider what spurred the writing, they’re just concerned about protecting their own rung on a rickety, rusting ladder.
And this concern with their own status comes from a group that kept saying, without any irony moiself could detect, that one of the things wrong with our culture today is
“We are the most selfish, self-centered, entitled culture. Everything is me, me, me.”
I kept waiting to read at least one of them commenting on how sexism and/or racism is a problem in the USA today. Nope. 
* * *
Department Of And One More Thing, Guys
“Toxic masculinity” is a phrase several men in the focus group identified as being irritating to them. Although the expression may be relatively new, what it describes – the personal and societal repercussions of living in patriarchal systems – has been around for a long time. Wake up and smell the (ED, medically enhanced) coffee, dudes: Patriarchy is also poisonous to the very people it enshrines in towers of power.
” ‘Toxic masculinity’ doesn’t mean that men are toxic or that masculinity is de facto toxic. Rather, it means that extreme forms of traits traditionally associated with masculinity, like aggression and stoicism, are toxic. Right-wingers, however, like to pretend the phrase is an attack on men because it’s a quick way of derailing a conversation about rigid gender norms, and allows them to pretend that feminism is some sort of plot against men….
We hurt our boys when we teach them that being a man means suppressing your emotions and treating women as an inferior species, to be dominated and controlled. And toxic masculinity doesn’t just hurt men, it kills them. In America, for example, men are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women – a phenomenon many experts attribute, in part, to the fact that men are told they shouldn’t express emotion or admit that they feel vulnerable, and therefore are less likely to seek professional help. “
(“Toxic masculinity doesn’t hurt men – it kills them,”
The Guardian 6-1-19)
Patriarchy grants numerous benefits to men as a group, and imbues men with a sense of entitlement, (implicitly, or overtly in some cultures  ) as The Favored Gender. And that preference comes with a steep price, with a statistic that is worth repeating, and more.
“Men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women…. They have more academic challenges and receive harsher punishments in school settings. They’re the victims of 77 percent of homicides (and they commit 90 percent of them).
One cause for this consortium of maladies, the America Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men  suggests…is ‘Traditional masculinity’ itself — the term refers to a Western concept of manliness that relies — and sometimes over-relies — on stoicism, dominance, aggression and competitiveness.
‘Everybody has beliefs about how men should behave…We found incredible evidence that the extent to which men strongly endorse those beliefs, it’s strongly associated with negative outcomes.’ The more men cling to rigid views of masculinity, the more likely they are to be depressed, or disdainful, or lonely.”
( “How ‘traditional masculinity’ hurts the men who believe in it most,”
The Washington Post, 1-13-19 )
Patriarchy bestows privileges upon men as men, but profoundly harms individual men in many ways, including:
* Patriarchy pressures men to eschew distinctiveness in favor of fitting into preconceived boxes – to conform to a constricted definition of masculinity, under which it is not a given quality. You are not masculine simply by virtue of being male; your masculinity must continually be proved and reinforced, by competing with other men,  and engaging in risk-taking behavior – the latter of which also discourages or discounts seeking help and engaging in health-preserving behavior. Translation: Men are less likely to go to the doctor for physical ailments, or seek counselling support for mental health issues, and are more likely to stop taking medication for chronic or life-threatening illnesses than are women.
“Numerous studies have shown that men who adhere strongly to patriarchal ideals of masculinity are more likely to endorse and use violence against both women and gay men—those who are seen as ‘feminized’ and ‘lesser‘.”
…patriarchy upholds norms and behaviours that are neither attainable, nor desirable, and in the process we all suffer.
( “How Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too,” nextgenmen 1-13-21 )
C’mon, guys, it’s not “men-bashing women” who are after you. Y’all’s hurting yourselves.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Toxic Masculinity Edition
Why was #45 so insecure about his masculinity?
He was diagnosed with electile dysfunction.
Dude, if you have to have sideburns to prove your masculinity
…then you need to grow a pair.
Why are weeaboos  the opposite of the patriarchy?
Because instead of treating women like objects, they treat objects like women.
What kind of bread does the patriarchy serve at their dinner parties?
Traditional gender rolls.
* * *
May you never have reason to fear your “inity” is threatened;
May you try to initiative and maintain dialog, no matter how face-palming it can be;
May you not deny thinking of elephants when you are soooooo,thinking of elephants;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Ah, but do journalists ever really retire? Not the good ones, like GR.
 The transcript in the article is excerpted; there is also an audio tape of the entire discussion.
 Other people who are not conservative men.
 Not even the three black men on the panel, one of which mentioned being called Sambo (often a substitute for “Uncle Tom”) or the equivalent at some point in their life.
 Do an internet search for the phenomenon of “son preference” across cultures, for a depressing eye-opener.
 Arguably, some would say – *certainly, *I would say – you can put “engaging in warfare” in that category. Men’s deaths in combat far outweigh those of women…although, since men start the overwhelming majority or wars and either volunteer themselves to participate in it (and usually prohibit women from “combat” roles), or conscript their fellow men, that seems somewhat “fair,” or at least logical. However, in war, civilian casualties always outnumber military casualties…and who, during wartime, are the civilians? The vaunted “women and children” whom the fighting men say they are protecting.
 Weeaboo – a (usually derogatory) slang term for a Western person who is obsessed with Japanese culture, especially anime.