The Magazine

Unlucky Stiffs

Susan Faludi claims that our male-chauvinist culture oppresses even males

Oct 4, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 03 • By CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS
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Instead, we get safely vague references to the better future that might emerge. Masculinity, as "the culture" now constructs it, is as harmful to men as it is to women. Men have an "unmapped journey ahead," leading to "new ways of being men." At present, men are too preoccupied with being men. But as they "struggle to free themselves from their crisis, their task is not, in the end, to figure out how to be masculine -- rather their masculinity lies in figuring out how to be human."

Faludi claims that the poor, victimized men of America today have much to learn from the female veterans of the women's movement who have been successfully combating the culture for years. Of course, to learn how to fight the culture, men first have to want to fight the culture. But against what are they supposed to rebel? Against whom?

There really is no answer to such questions. All the author of Stiffed can do is repeatedly chide men for not going ahead and rebelling anyway -- for not, in other words, believing what Susan Faludi believes: that, against all evidence, American males are in crisis, American culture is profoundly oppressive, and that anecdotes from the edge ought to make us want to change the course of the entire stream.

Christina Hoff Sommers is the W. H. Brady fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.