If 1992 was considered the “Year of the Woman,” maybe we should consider 2016 to be the “Year of the Man.”
Or, at the very least, the year the empire struck back.
Much has been written this year about how the plight of “working-class white men” impacted the 2016 presidential election. But while much has been said about class and race, the part of the title about them being men has garnered less attention.
That is surprising, inasmuch as so much was written about this trend before the 2016 election. In 2012, I wrote an essay titled, “The Silent War on Non-college Educated White Men,” which was largely based on the publication of books with titles like Men on Strike, Manning Up, and The End of Men.
To be sure, not everything about this backlash is positive or empowering. Recently, Vox published a piece about “How the alt-right’s sexism lures men into white supremacy.” There is some obvious truth to this; chauvinism is a strain of the alt-right.
But that backlash is just one aspect of this story. And just as we should be sensitive to the plight of the factory worker or coal miner who lost his job, the truth is that a lot of men are finding themselves emasculated by (1) an economy that no longer needs them, (2) a popular culture that portrays them as either buffoons or predators (see MTV’s New Year’s resolution for white guys), and (3) an environment where increasing numbers of college-educated women see them as “unmarriageable.” Marriage and work are both civilizing influences; remove them and what you get is what you got. These men retire to their parents’ basements and get lured into video games, porn, and, in some cases, unseemly and angry political movements. The results are both sad and predictable.
Six years ago, the sense was that men would just wear pajamas and drink hot chocolate—in other words, slink off into that good night, relegated to a status as an obsolete model born in the wrong century. Whether you view 2016 as one last gasp—or as a harbinger of things to come—Donald Trump stood up to political correctness and won. And by winning, one thing is certain: Trump has made traditional masculinity great again.