Or so says Mr. William J. Bennett, CNN contributor, ex-secretary of education under George W. Bush, and self-applauded smarty pants. His article on CNN.com, “Why men are in trouble,” displays an awkward photo of the back of a man’s head, his hands just as awkwardly holding up a PS3 remote. Apparently, men would rather stay at home and play video games when they should be out getting a job and making babies for women to take care of. Another mainstream finger-pointing at video games, another eye roll from us gamers.
Putting aside the fact that Bennett’s treatment of the success of women attempts to instill paralyzing fear into the hearts of his male readers (“They’re rising up! They’re going to overcome us all! Oh noes!”), I just plain disagree with his sentiment that men are becoming, well, lazy. Women are earning more college degrees? Women are obtaining more powerful and high-paid occupations? Good. The scales are tipping, as they always do through the course of human history. Who knows, maybe this is the universe’s way of trying to create the cult of the Stay-at-Home Dad, champion of semi-burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and teaching toddlers to play Mario Kart.
Social commentator (Really? We have those now? Do we pay them to do that, because I would make a killing) Hanna Rosin offers up a quote from her article, “The End of Men”: “Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed… The changes in modern labor — from backs to brains — have catapulted women to the top of the work force, leaving men in their dust.” Men should be fearing the she-dust, dust off their Hugo Boss suits and try to climb up after us, right? It sounds like the goal here is to scare men into responsibility, sobering them up with the idea that being the “dominant sex” and being the one to tote home the bacon at the end of the day means everything.
Bennett spins the article as an attack on modern media, citing movies and video games as promoting the stunting of male emotional growth. “The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Video games, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers,” he writes. Not all dudes in video games have the Squall Leonhart complex, sir.
Bennett ends the article by dragging America’s Founding Fathers into it, citing “industriousness, marriage, and religion” as the yardsticks by which to measure “male empowerment and achievement.” Seriously? His final quote is just as infuriating; he demands that we as a nation need to tell our twenty-something menfolk to ‘Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married.’ His idea of “manning up” is being the most cookie-cutter picture of organized society as possible. This sounds like a freaking Cosmo article. I say why give up something you love, something that makes you happy, just to fit in — there’s always a way to make it work if you truly love it. Don’t give up dudes, babies and 401ks are not where it’s all at. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get babies and 401ks but if you don’t it’s not Call of Duty‘s fault that you don’t. This economy is tough, and we all make it by the best we can. And honestly, I don’t mind making you a sandwich if you promise to help me beat the Water Temple.
The moral of this story, is stop blaming video games for everything. There are plenty of industrious men out there who happily have real world problems and still game (like, oh, everyone on this site). By poking your fat finger at video games and citing it as the cause for your fear of boobs overrunning the workplace, you’re not helping thing. Have you even picked up a controller? Didn’t think so, man.
William J. Bennett. Achievement Unlocked: Shallow Pig Brain.