The preponderance of women I meet daily make a point of trying to be men, and ill-bred men at that. If you are familiar with Sir Compton MacKenzie’s statement that “Women do not find it difficult nowadays to behave like men; but they often find it extremely difficult to behave like gentlemen,” you will know what I mean. [bold added]
I would phrase that slightly different. Since the ’60s we have given women cultural permission not to act like men but to act like boys.
Our entire culture has become infantilized to a historically unprecedented degree. Changes in technology, wealth levels, institutions, law and culture mean that any adult can live in an extended childhood all their days if they wish. In this regard, women and men have the same options.
However, for women I think this evolution is more extreme. The capital-F feminist movement of the post-’60s era set the wrong goals. Women, they claimed, should have the right to engage in the same behaviors as “men” without facing social sanction. Women should be able to be sexually promiscuous if they chose. They should be able to pursue their careers and ignore family if they chose. They should not have to accept responsibility for creating and raising children if they chose. “Men,” they argued, had the right to do all these things, so women should as well.
However, the feminists made a critical error. The behaviors and freedoms they so coveted were not those of “men” but of boys. In traditional society, feckless immature males slept around. Immature males pursued careers at the expense of family. Immature males avoided the responsibilities and obligations of creating and raising children. Traditional culture called adult males without such responsibilities “men” merely out of courtesy.
Feminists concentrated too much on the supposed freedoms that “men” enjoyed, without realizing that true manhood, like true womanhood, came only at the point where the child stops putting himself first and instead binds himself to serve the welfare of others. As all true adults know, and vainly try to teach the young, adulthood and freedom have little to do with one another. All men feel the tug of the boy in their hearts all their days, but every human culture grants full adult status only to those with obligations they cannot surrender at will.
By holding up the immature male as the exemplar of masculinity, feminists did females a disservice. They drove females far further down the road of infantilization than males traveled. Modern society encourages and glorifies behavior in females that traditional culture fought so hard to suppress in males. At the same time, it still requires more-responsible behavior from males. Too many adult males, ready to make that final transition to full-fledged manhood, now must contemplate the very real possibility they will find themselves yolked to female versions of their younger, immature selves.
In the end, we’ve traded womanhood for boyhood.
I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Narcissistic childishness sells any product, from cars to political ideologies, because it appeals to our selfish fantasies of life free of obligation and restraint. I fear that when the dust settles women will find they suffered more for this foolishness.