"The world today is not the one Baby Boomers grew up in," complains Providence Journal
editorial board member M.J. Anderson. In a column
stoking the ever-smoldering ashes of class division, Anderson wonders whether the lamentable change "is not, entirely, an accident." Well, perhaps not entirely.
Of course, Anderson isn't shaking her finger at Boomers, generally, for damage wrought to our culture. The non-accident to which she refers is the one that she claims has widened the "gap between rich and poor" and made a myth of upward mobility. If anything, she sees the Boomers' social vision as an inadequate populist antidote to the conspiracy perpetrated by America's ultra-rich: "incomes for working families ... would be nearly stagnant if, 30 years ago, women had not headed for the office in droves." Curiously, her economic analysis doesn't address whether the introduction of droves of new workers into the market had anything to do with the stagnation of each individual's earning power.
To delve into such questions would be to plunge into a pool of taboo topics that the Boomers' legacy requires to remain unrippled. Indeed, media's back-room accomplice in cultural manipulation academia arguably contains an entire macrodiscipline devoted to proving the pool's surface as smooth as the glass that some still claim overarches the female career ladder. Take, for example, Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men,
a new book containing, according to the Amazon.com review
quoted on Marriage Debate Blog
, a discovery "as heartening as it is startling":
- Female-headed households may be even better parents for boys than households with men
- Sons from these families are growing up emotionally stronger, more empathetic, and more well-rounded than boys from "traditional" mother-father families
- While more in touch with their feelings, these boys remain boyish and masculine in all the ways defined by our culture
Cornell Professor Peggy F. Drexler, Ph.D., "listened to all the dire warnings" that coincide with the common understanding of family dynamics, "but her training as a research psychologist told her she had to see the evidence." Her training, it appears, also told her to define health the way in which a liberal woman would. The supposed cultural norm for boyishness and masculinity, in other words, seems suspiciously aligned with an idealized, feminized culture, with the remnants of our troglodytic, patriarchal heritage defined out. A Health magazine interview
with Drexler hardly contradicts this impression (emphasis added):
They're the kind of boys that most women would want to marry—or wish that their fathers were like.
They seem to have the whole range of masculine and feminine qualities. They're extremely boyish boys; they all play sports, and many are captains of their teams. But for them it's also OK to cook, garden, coach younger kids on a team, help a friend, and express dismay over someone's discomfort. These boys are comfortable with emotions, and they're independent.
Even putting aside the utopian subtext in the notion of emotional hermaphrodites (with "the whole range" of gendered qualities), the psychology behind Drexler's research evinces the same enlightened subjectivity that Anderson's sociology brings to her economics. In contrast to Anderson's dark portrayal of the crony-capitalist game of rigged competition, however, Drexler's appeals to emotional strength, empathy, helpfulness, and dismay at discomfort all ring pleasantly in the ear. But what do they mean?
The answer is that progressive social change might yield results congenial to progressive ideology. Unfortunately, the interview's introduction proves Drexler's study to be even more illustrative of the liberal approach to social engineering than just the use of noncommittal phrases to win a debate by insinuation. The sample group of 32 San Franciscan households was not random. "Many of the moms are well-educated, older, and have devoted a lot of thought to how to parent." It is on the basis of this relatively elite group that Drexler has concluded that female-only parentage will produce "exceptional men," as the book's title puts it, "super men," in the Health
How the "inclusive" family model plays out among the other 99 percent of the demographic pie is another matter. If tax cuts, bankruptcy laws, and deregulation can have disparate effects across classes, surely parentage can, as well. No workers' union or tiered tax structure will ever provide middle and working class families with the resources to fill neighborhoods with surrogates for the mothers and fathers who populate the childhood memories of Baby Boomers. Perhaps those memories should be added gently to the pool of things about which it's best not to speak.