01/25/2012 06:11 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Men Are Not the Enemy


You've heard the drumbeat before and its static drone is growing wearisome: Women are surpassing men as men fall behind. The seemingly relentless drumming has even spawned The Good Men Project, founded by men who have been all but forced to defend "guys today." The community represents "smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded" men, striving "to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace" in the face of modern society's insistence that good men have all but gone extinct.

This recent onslaught of attacks against men rivals second-wave feminist man-bashing, rendering any defense of men -- let alone good men -- rare, if not revolutionary.

While the Betty Friedan feminist advocates of the 60s vindicated themselves with "the problem that has no name," modern women are vindicating themselves with scattered statistics indicating that female students are earning more college degrees than male students, or that women's earnings are growing at an unbelievably faster rate than men's.

I have fallen victim to this gender vindication myself, often claiming in past articles that today's women are outshining a generation of immature men, resulting in a parallel generation of lonely young ladies. And, to some degree, this is true, as it was partially true in 1963 that a "woman [was] handicapped by her sex." But, as Betty Friedan shrewdly went on to caution (and paradoxically contradict) in The Feminine Mystique, "Man is not the enemy."

While today's modern young woman stands atop her ivory tower, asking herself "Where Have All The Good Men Gone?", she fails to recognize that while she is understandably unhappy, she is not without fault.

When in college, I had a friend who was constantly arguing as to why so-and-so was some version of "bad," thereby justifying her random feuds and knack for "falling out of touch." Her arguments were compelling enough and I often found her reason for being mad at so-and-so disturbingly rational. Then, after the fateful day she admitted to having "very few good friends," I realized, her predicament likely had less to do with everyone else's shortcomings, and more to do with her own.

Essentially, if the odds are stacked that high against you (50 enemies to 1 friend), you've simply got to be doing something wrong. The same logic applies to romantic relationships: While there are legitimate grievances the fairer sex holds against its modern male counterparts, women are not blameless.

If I had a dollar for every time one of my single girlfriends lamented being single, I'd have lots of dollars. I'd also be quite flush if awarded a dollar each time one of the same women insisted, "Yeah, he's nice, but I'm really not looking for anyone right now."

At first I sympathized -- if not to say identified -- with the internal conflict repeatedly unveiling itself in casual "girl talk."

Perhaps modern women have so valorized brute independence because they have been so consistently let down by the aforementioned "bad boys." Or, perhaps it's simply liberating to insist -- repeatedly, as if attempting to convince others as well as yourself -- that you neither need nor want anyone. Whatever the case may be, rational or not, I have, and continue to, empathize.

However, rather abruptly, I also began to empathize with men.

This quasi about-face was spurred by the shamefully obvious realization that there are some wonderful, caring men out there. Men who pick up the check, plan fun dates, work hard, call their moms... you get the idea. These men are not hiding in the library stacks, clutching onto their pocket protectors for dear life. They're at the bar, trying to buy the girl with her nose in the air a drink.

Perhaps both genders are perpetuating the disagreeable dating cycle: Men are "bad" because women are "bitchy," and women are "bitchy" because men are "bad." Unfortunately for the gents, while both are to blame, ladies have the current advantage of being able to hurl stats and relentless blame in the form of four-page editorials to vindicate their complaints.

Transferring responsibility when circumstances are disagreeable is an all too human tendency. But, redistribution of blame seldom solves the problem, both at present and moving forward. It's time to give guys a break. While there are some bad apples out there, we ladies aren't exclusively full of "sugar and spice and everything nice."