Virtual Models and the Tired Trope of the War Against Men

Two more pieces up today.

At GMP, I respond to Tom Matlack and to this Meghan Casserly piece in Forbes. See It’s Not the End of Men, and We Still Have Work to Do. Excerpt:

As reported this week, men with children are doing more housework than ever before. We’re up to spending 80% as much time as women do on chores. That’s an undeniable improvement over where we were a few short decades ago. But again, a trend in the right direction doesn’t mean the problem of inequality has been licked. And as that same study found, women are doing much more than those statistics suggest, largely because women spend much more time than men multi-tasking. The fact that we’re doing more than ever before doesn’t change the reality that we’re still not pulling our weight.

There’s a long tradition in men’s writing (see Freud, Sigmund) of complaining that women’s demands are excessive and irrational. The modern iteration of that tactic is to point out how hard men are trying. What more could women possibly want? Don’t women have more opportunities than ever before? Aren’t men doing more domestic chores and showing more affection than their fathers’ generation ever did? Why isn’t that enough? When are these shrews going to give us a break, give us a cookie, and let “good enough” be sufficient?

Individual men are not called to be martyrs. (I don’t know any women who expect them to be.) But we can do better than point endlessly to all the things we’ve done right, as if they constitute a credit balance sufficient to discharge the debts from all the places where we continue to fall short. And make no mistake, we are still falling short. That men are up to doing 80% of the work—and that women are up to earning 80 cents on our dollar—indicates progress. But to use a football analogy, it’s still the third quarter and though we’re catching up, we need another couple of touchdowns to win the game. And some men sound like they’re ready to hit the showers.

At Healthy is the New Skinny, my column looks at the H&M virtual models controversy. See All Women are Real…Unless They’re Digitally Generated. Excerpt:

But models are more than just walking and talking mannequins. For all the real problems in the beauty industry, there’s a growing awareness of the tremendous potential that real (as in human) models across the size spectrum have to inspire us to think differently about our bodies. More and more current and former models – including so many of our HNS ambassadors are speaking out in favor of a healthier approach to fashion. We’re seeing a new generation of models emerge who are genuine role models, willing to share their joys and their struggles and their tools for living happy and complete lives. No computer image can do that.

For the sake of those role models – and more importantly for the sake of the young people who need those role models – it’s worth pushing back against the current H&M campaign. If we’re ever going to return the beauty ideal to something that’s sane, healthy, and attainable, we need real, human women to show it to us.

2 thoughts on “Virtual Models and the Tired Trope of the War Against Men

  1. I would be interested to see the spread on that housework data, in my own experience my sister in-law vacuums twice a day, and my sister is the only person I know to have gotten maggots in the kitchen within a week of moving into a new house. Both have partners and children (although not during the maggot incident). It just makes me wonder what the researchers data looks like

  2. Actually it occurred to me this morning that a better measure would be to test if the amount of housework done by women had been reduced, and to see whether the amount done by men correlated to that reduction

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