As Kansas City teacher and social worker Mustafaa El Scari tells the down-and-out deadbeat dads in his fathering class, "All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain't even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she'll call 911." Excuse me, exercise your authority? Are men really so brittle that they can't imagine a more fluid, flexible, loving, egalitarian way of relating to women and children than "because I said so"? Can they really not take advantage of the expansion of female-dominated working-class jobs like nursing and food preparation? (Actually, aren't most restaurant cooks already men? And if nursing sounds too girly, how about physician's assistant, EMS tech, phlebotomist?) Why should it be that women can change but men cannot?
Perhaps boys just haven't had enough incentive. The old ways worked so well for so long, so much of life was rigged in men's favor: all they had to do was show up. It can take a few generations for the new reality to sink in. Unfortunately, society at large isn't doing much to help. American males are bathed from birth in pop culture that reveres the most childish, most retrograde, most narcissistic male fantasies, from misogynistic rap to moronic action movies. Where would they get the idea that they should put away the video game and do their homework? That social work or schoolteaching is a good life for a man? Girls get a ton of sexist messages, too. But even if they grow up hating their bodies and dressing like prostitutes, they know that if they don't want to end up waitressing, they've got to hit the books and make a plan.
Hit the books. Make a plan. Boys can do that.
at The Nation