Skip to main content

Sexodus and Paper Tigers

I love Milo Yiannopoulus's viral two-part series titled "Sexodus". It is one of the few nuanced, well-researched articles that attacks feminism and defends men's rights without descending into vitriol and misogyny.

My journey with the men's rights movement (aka "manosphere") started with Wesley Yang's Paper Tigers. The New York Magazine's feature article from May 2011 blew me way. He examined how internal and external cultural biases stunt the social and economic growth potential of Asian American men. It was a mainstream unveiling of a phenomenon almost every Asian American guy has personally experienced - the bamboo ceiling and discrimination.

The 9,000 word essay wasn't just a rant. Yang provides a complex, well-researched portrait of both victims of the bamboo ceiling and positive examples of Asian American men who broke through. After reading it, I felt more hope than sadness because light was piercing an area that's been dark too long. At the end of the article, Yang encourages Asian American men to defiantly forge their own way and "dare to be interesting".

That's the same feeling I have about the Sexodus articles.

Both are sympathetic to the plight of men. It's also not a rant but rather light shining on a dark place. Except in Yiannopoulus' case, he is pointing the finger firmly at feminism:
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.
I remember Yang's article mentioning Neil Strauss' seminal book on the pick-up artist community, The Game. I fell in love with the story. It's arguably the most popular men's self-improvement book, only it's written as a memoir.

After finishing Strauss' book in 2011, I discovered the Manosphere and bloggers like Roosh and Heartiste. I felt like my eyes were opened. The manosphere describes the experience as "taking the red pill" (a reference from the movie "The Matrix). I began blogging in 2012 with posts like this. I imagined myself as being defiant and interesting - championing the traditional complementarian view of gender roles while fighting the matriarchy. I thought I could be a Christian and part of the manosphere.

But I was wrong.

The men's rights movement is way too angry to be rational. There's truth that men tends hurt as anger and this victimized rage is evident throughout the manosphere. I found it increasingly difficult to read the blogs because of the hatred, vindictiveness, and most of all, insipid whining. This evidenced itself in manipulative tactics such as "running dread game" - keeping a woman in a state of anxiety or fear concerning the relationship-  or "qualifying her" - challenging a woman's self-esteem as a means of seduction. Then there was the anger and bitterness at everything women do - believe what she does not what she says, women only dig jerks, it's better to ignore women, blah blah blah. Pretty soon everything bad that happens is because of women or feminism. It got tiring.

I agree feminism has issues but whining, hatred, and rage does not help address the problems. I read Helen Smith's Men on Strike and her premise that men are behaving rationally by opting out of dating and marriage is somewhat compelling but does not sufficiently justify the phenomenon. No one behaves on purely rational terms.

In the end, men desire what all humanity was created for - connection. And we seek connection through companionship. Neil Strauss points out a fascinating irony in "The Game": these desperate men, united together to become better with women, found themselves spending most of their time bonding with each other. Through all their work as pick-up artists, Strauss discovered he was ultimately cultivating male friendships. 

In our church's men's group, we went through the Authentic Manhood series a couple years ago. The manual discusses how men often use props to facilitate bonding - a mountain climb, fantasy football league, construction project, road trip, or athletic event/endeavor.

I wonder if the pursuit of women is one of the most effective props for male bonding.

Ever since junior high, a mark of deepening intimacy among guys is broaching the topic of which girls you're crushing on. It feels like objectification but it's not. Being able to discuss women means having actual relationships with women to discuss. Most of all, misery loves company. And there is no misery like romantic travails.

What's unfortunate about the Sexodus is men are opting out of relationships with women - which robs both men and women of a huge opportunity for connection and companionship. And yet the great potential of the Sexodus is men bonding as friends because they're under attack. 500+ readers wrote Yiannopoulus privately to express gratitude, support, and relief knowing they are not alone. Lastly, given the cultural biases, I'm confident Asian American men are disproportionately over-represented in the Sexodus.  

Today, I'm not in the "man up" camp with Mark Driscoll, who castigates men for evading leadership in the workplace, church, and home. Nor do I blame women and feminism for everything like Roosh. Rather today, my goal is to restore a high view of both biblical man and womanhood. And my specific calling is to build male friendships - both in my own personal life and in my ministry, to model and encourage men to become friends. To that point, I don't mind discussing ethical game principles as a prop for male bonding.

What if my marriage serves the purpose of growing my male friendships rather than the other way around? After all, it appears the New Testament spends far more time teaching about the fellowship of brothers than about marriage.

To this point, strengthening ties between men serves as a prop for deepening men's relationship with Jesus Christ. God provides the church, the body of Christ, as the means by which our relational needs are met. Thus, the most interesting way for an Asian American man to avoid being a paper tiger is to love Jesus and love men sacrificially. Marriage is a significant but optional prop for the other two. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Short Buffed Asian Guys (SBAGs)

I've always wanted to be tall. That didn't work out so well and I've settled for getting bigger. So now I lift weights, a pastime that I've taken up in fits and starts over the years. I thought about drinking protein shakes to get huge. Judy said no. She said I don't want you to become one of those guys. The Short Buffed Asian Guy (SBAG). It seems I'm not the only one to consider this approach. Legions of SBAGs testify to this. And it seem like the shorter you are, the more muscular you have to be in order to compensate for one's lack of height. I don't know any tall buffed Asian guys (Jeremy Lin does not count - he clearly has a neck). So what's with this phenomenon? First, Asian men are on average shorter than American men. And in my book, anyone 5'8" or under is short (which includes me). There are all kinds of insecurities that go with being short, especially for men. You look up to people. You make less   money . You fee