Why Are Liberal Men Unhappy?

Last weekend AEI’s Arthur Brooks published an interesting piece on happiness in the New York Times’ Sunday Review. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but this observation (taken from the comprehensive work of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey) was particularly interesting and runs counter to perceptions fostered by pop culture:

For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

Fascinating. While I’ll let others comment on the happiness of conservatives, let’s address liberal men. Why are they so much less happy?

A core component of modern leftism is its comprehensive attack (and accompanying redefinition) of masculinity. This attack poisons how men experience their own nature, relationships, and purpose.

First, the Left attacks the very idea of what it means to be a man. Here’s a shorthand version of the Left’s view of masculinity (to borrow from a column my wife wrote): Men and women are the same, except when women are better. So when a young boys does what young boys do — play rough, show aggression, gravitate towards contact sports and more violent games and movies — they are greeted with howls of “No.” No talking. No pushing. No running. No fighting. No toy guns. No drawings of tanks and guns. No. No. No. Again and again, young boys are shoved into a quiet, more relational, submissive box. As the father of an active young teen boy, what I’ve seen from other parents — the unbelievable stifling — seems cruel.

Next, the liberal male often spends his relational life walking on eggshells, dating women and living in cultures that are constantly calling out any kind of behavior subjectively perceived as “male” or oppressive. So if a man gets angry at a woman, he’s just “mansplaining.” A man who asks for fidelity is “slut-shaming.” Assertions of will are subject to “privilege checks.” To enter the world of academia, for example, is to enter a world of social rules and customs that are impossibly complex because propriety is always dictated by the subjective feelings of the most traditionally powerless person in the room. The language of equality is a mere mask for a new hierarchy that explicitly seeks to place the male (especially the white male) at the bottom.

Finally, as a result of upbringing and relationships, liberal men often lack a distinctively masculine purpose. Ask most conservative men to define their roles — whether they’re firefighters or accountants — and they’ll often respond with words like “protector” or “provider” — even when they’re married to capable, strong women with their own careers. They’re glad for their wife’s success, but they view that success as independent of their ultimate responsibilities. Many liberal men would actively scorn such labels. Indeed, at the end of the day, many men are left with nothing distinctively male about them, aside from their biology. And they often feel a hole in their heart.  Indeed, a cottage industry exists to reconnect men with manly pursuits — often centered around experiencing real adventure for the first time in their lives.

These are hardly original observations, and Christina Hoff Sommers, in her 2001 book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men, and Helen Smith, in this year’s Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream — and Why it Matters (among others) have made a much more comprehensive case against the Left’s treatment of young men.

In its quest to destroy the patriarchy, the Left hurts mainly its own. We conservatives, on the other hand, oblivious to the latest trends in critical gender theory and content with complementary and mutually supporting gender roles, sail blissfully on as the happiest people in the land.

Read more on the Patheos Faith and Family Channel and follow David on Twitter.

  • Sven2547

    Good heavens, a nonstop string of straw-men. This whole exercise appears to be a lame excuse to attack (a crude caricature of) liberalism. Did you bother actually asking any liberal men why they’re “unhappy”, or what they think about masculinity? The answer appears to be no. It’s no more relevant than pointing out that a drunk man is often happier than a sober one.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      > straw-men

      Since when is accurate observation a strawman?

      • Sven2547

        Har har funny joke.
        Seriously though: Mr. French seems to know exceedingly little about what liberalism actually is or stands for. It sounds like he’s never actually spoken to a liberal about this subject whatsoever, he’s just taking down notes from Rush Limbaugh or something.

        • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

          Not joking.

          When boys are kicked out of school for pointing fingers and paper cut into the shape of an L, the joke is on your for your obtuseness.

          > liberalism actually is

          Let us know, because from what I can see, liberalism is as much a bunch of control freaks as the Rush Limbaugh types. One wages a war on men, the other a war on women.

          • Sven2547

            When boys are kicked out of school for pointing fingers and paper cut into the shape of an L

            What are you talking about, and how is that “liberalism”? I get that you folks love to blame every little thing on “liberalism”, but come on now.

          • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

            You don’t pay attention to the news of teachers abusing children under the pretext of “zero tolerance.” And you can’t define liberalism, even though you accuse others of being unable to define it.

            >you folks

            Who? Can you define that? Give it a try.

          • digigenocide

            You libtards are so afraid of gun violence that children are being suspended and expelled for biting their pop tarts in the shape of guns, wearing a t shirt with a weapon on them, bringing green army men to school, and playing cops and robbers. How is that not liberals faults? You people are the ones you fight for these policies to be put in place.

  • praxagora

    Do you engage in anything other that strawmanning?

    What I take away most from this article is not how offensive it is to liberal men, who wouldn’t recognize themselves from your hilarious descriptions, but how incredibly disrespectful and contemptuous your writings are to those who read you in good faith. You think that these people are idiots and you treat them as such.

    • David French

      Why are liberal men more unhappy than any other demographic cohort?

      • praxagora

        I have no idea – I don’t even know how to quantify happiness or to compare whether or not I am more or less happy than another person. I’m also not that interested. What I’m interested in is your article. I doubt that you and I agree on much about child-rearing, but I certainly believe that you operate in good faith as a father. It’s obnoxious that you won’t give the same courtesy to me.

        Here’s a tip; no parents try to stop their young boys from running because it’s a “masculine” trait. I have two kids, a boy who is 3 and a girl who is 5, and my observation is that running is the universal mode of locomotion for children of this age. Likewise I don’t tell either of them not to “talk” and I don’t care what either of them draws. They are running around the house right now shooting at each other with plastic guns that their grandmother got them for Christmas and having a ball.I will admit that I do discourage fighting, and pushing, but that has less to do with my desire to impose some sort of genderless hegemony on my son than it does with my belief that fighting and pushing are bad

        (because they are)

        I also expect fidelity from my wife and I know she expects it from me; just as is the case with all of my friends; almost all of whom are liberal college professors. I dislike “slut-shaming” but that phrase has much more to do with blaming women for getting raped than it does with standards of relationships (a fact that you know very well)

        I’m a member of the academic community, in one of the most stereotypically “liberal”: disciplines and your description of what it is like has no bearing on my experience. While I try to be sensitive to the feelings of those who have been “traditionally powerless;” the fact is that what I have found is that the academy is a place that encourages debate and expression. It’s also an institution that is absolutely dominated by white men, so I’m interested to know where you get your ideas about how it tries to put them at the bottom.

        Also,like almost every father, I feel immensely protective of my wife and children. I don’t know anyone who would scorn these ideas. I think that many people might scoff at the idea that they need to call themselves “protectors” or “providers” in order to make themselves feel manly, but that’ s a different issue.

        It’s probably pointless to spend this much time engaging

        • Dorfl

          I will admit that I do discourage fighting, and pushing, but that has less to do with my desire to impose some sort of genderless hegemony on my son than it does with my belief that fighting and pushing are bad.

          (because they are)

          I agree very much with this. Based on the examples given, the author seems to tacitly define ‘masculinity’ mostly as “being violent for no particular reason”, and then complains about how society has decided that masculinity – so defined – is a bad thing.

        • our.big.brother.is.watching

          You nailed it prof. I too am quite happy and content with my masculine role. I grew up and lived in a world where that was the norm, and still is in fact. The difference, however, I accept the strange nuances that society inflicts on what can be considered normal. My family has about as many societal aberrations as one can have and still function as anything close to cohesive. Normal would be somewhat subjective. One could say that Jerry Springer could come to my family for ideas. Oddly enough though, we all still accept each other regardless of our personal identifications or associations. It ocurrs to some that associations with identities demonstrating outright blatant masculinity like what one experiences from shows like “Larry the Cable Guy, or Duck Dynasty, or any host of shows that typify certain behaviors or mindsets), generally bring on a new condition called maculine phobia. What it really boils down to is something more like phallic envy from those who want to subject others to whatthey themselves have already succumbed to.
          Believe me, I never thought, growing up, that I would have seen, experienced, or encountered the social issues described in this article. Yet, here I am, speaking to this issue as somewhat a personal authority on the subject.
          The bottom line that most in academia seem to overlook, is this; one cannot remove the nature of mankind from its intrinsic nature and still come up with a utopian definition of what it means to be human. His article is a good candidate for the causes of the Hunger Games, or Kristalnacht. Endeavoring to achieve a level of human existance that voids the natural selection process, which I might add, was shoved down our collective throats from some nutcase named Darwin, by academia, not too many years ago, is an example of how mixed up this process gets when it is abnormally modified to compete with vogue suggestions of behavior.
          We do of course, have the power to genetically alter life as we know it and eventually I suppose we will create our own species that meets all the dognatic criterum that this person and those of his ilk espouse, but somehow I doubt it.

          “Git Er Done”

    • David French
    • digigenocide

      Here’s a though. Maybe liberal men are so unhappy because everything offends them. Look at yourself for example. Your crying over an opinion piece from a pretty unknown writer on a site no one gives a damn about.

  • http://www.rightistwriting.com/ Paul Briggs

    As an observation, I truly notice the feminine qualities of the far left men. I have not studied this area, so it is simply observation. And, it is only safe to assume that this is a result of upbringing. I was raised in a Liberal family and I am softer and more gentle than many of my Conservative counterparts. Over time, I have grown more masculine, as I became a husband and then, father. These stages, encouraged by my wife, helped me grow into provider and protector.

  • http://www.rozyhomemaker.blogspot.com/ Rozy

    Here’s one woman, married to a conservative man, mother of four boys, and one girl, who agrees with you. One of the reasons we chose to homeschool was that normal behavior for little boys is considered wrong, disruptive and needful of medication. Do these other readers not watch or listen to popular media (TV & movies)? Traditional gender roles have been under attack and change for decades. We are always thankful to know that there are like-minded people out there raising children whose world view is similar to ours; and we feel confident that truth and righteousness will prevail in the end. Thanks for staying strong and sharing your views.

  • Dorfl

    Ask most conservative men to define their roles [...] and they’ll often respond with words like “protector” or “provider” [...] Many liberal men would actively scorn such labels.

    My response to such labels depends entirely on what’s put into them. A father who says…

    “I shall protect my family! I will make sure that the electric outlets are child-proof, that everything toxic is stored where toddlers can’t get at it, that the smoke detectors always have charged batteries and that we have a functional fire extinguisher. I will teach my children how to swim, how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre and to wear a helmet while riding their bike – no matter how stupid it looks.”

    …will have my full respect.

    On the other hand, a father who says…

    “I shall protect my family! I will buy a huge gun so I can defeat bad guys threatening my family in epic gun battles.”

    …I’ll scorn just as actively as you accuse liberal men of, because this alleged man has never mentally left adolescence.

    • our.big.brother.is.watching

      Spoken from the viewpoint of never having had your home invaded or all your possesions stolen. The article was right on target and your comment proves it.

      • Dragblacker

        He talks about movies distorting perception of reality. Maybe he’s let movies distort his view on “crazy” gun-owners and 2nd Amendment advocates.

        • our.big.brother.is.watching

          Amen sister, their problem is that they take their cues from their more feminine touchy feely counterparts. No offense intended, but real men appreciate women who can fend for themselves, not apologize for being strong and capable, and still know how to present themselves in a ladylike manner. You know, the way we were taught in the olden days when men were men, and women were women, and everyone knew the difference. The older I get, that distinction escapes me anymore.
          I am not offended by stranger than fiction lifestyle choices, going mainstream, as long as it does not become a mandatory alternative to my own personal choices. That however is the mandatory teaching today in our schools, that diversity is acceptance, but must equally be taught and fostered as well. But hey, I am going to croak before too long, and the world left behind will be just that, behind or in it.

          • Dragblacker

            Well I’m a male, so that would be ‘brother’ :p

            Whenever media wants to present the “new woman” to the masses (while still having this notion that it’s pre-1968 and America is in some kind of Dark Age) she always just ends up being a sex object to the idiot boys watching who swears and behaves just like any other degenerate anyway. That’s not someone to look up to unless vulgarity is now a standard. It’s even worse if the woman is a minority and/or it’s a minority-centric show or movie.

            You may be gone but I’ll still be here with my fellow so-called Millennials. This year makes the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1. I’m starting to think 2011, with the Arab Winter and Paris Commune-esque Occupy protests, was our 1905 (the first Russian Revolution that “failed”). Things will get worse in the next few years; the upcoming 100th anniversary of the founding of the USSR will not go unnoticed, if you ask me.

    • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

      > gun…I’ll scorn…never mentally left adolescence.

      Thanks for the confirmation of French’s observation about the level of verbal abuse the Left uses against anything masculine.

      • Dorfl

        I’m criticising men who act like boys. You are choosing to pretend that’s an attack on males who act like males. What it actually is, is an attack on adults who act like children.

        • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

          No, you’re not. You’re trying to infantilize normal male behaviors to further a political agenda of disarmament.

          • Dorfl

            I’m not American. I can’t further any political agenda that will ever affect you in any way.

            I am saying that a person who believes that a gun is something more than an expensive and unusually dangerous toy – that it actually provides a net increase in their family’s safety – hasn’t got a grasp on the difference between “awesome action scene in Hollywood movie” and “plausible real-world scenario”.

          • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

            I didn’t call you an American, your political agenda of disarmament remains the same. Maybe you can go to Switzerland and rant in Geneva. As PBS puts it, the “Swiss have an entrenched gun culture and most of them are vehemently opposed to gun control.” Let us know how that turns out.

          • Dorfl

            You’re still assuming that local issues of American politics – like gun control – are relevant to me. I haven’t addressed whether gun ownership should be legal or not in anything I’ve said. Nor will I. My interest in law ends at my own country’s borders, and I will only discuss that with countrymen.

            What I have addressed is whether gun ownership is actually useful. I’m arguing that it’s not. Guns are like my swords: they are expensive but nice to own and maintain, they are fun to play with if you like that sort of thing, they are dangerous and should be stored away from children. But anyone who thinks they are a good way of dealing with threats has let movies erode an important part of their understanding of reality.

          • our.big.brother.is.watching

            Have you ever been attacked or had your home robbed? Expensive; indeed they are, and are becoming more so. Toys; hardly. Defending oneself, one’s family, , community, or nation, can hardly be called a game, in which toys are employed as defensive mechanisms. More people are killed and maimed every day by cars and hammers, but not even MADD, SADD, DADD, and all the other ADD’S seem to worry about that, and while we are at it, where is your voice of protest against the daily carnage taking place on our streets? Should we not also ban your automobile for the very reasons you cite against a constitutional right? To top that, a firearm is indeed a constitutional guarantee, owning a car or driving is not protected, yet if we go after your ability to use a car because so many are being killed by them, we already know who will head the protest lines, now, don’t we? Liberal, leftist hypocracy on parade here. Don’t you have a can of spaghettio’s to heat or something?

    • Y. A. Warren

      Happiness is not a really definable term because it can be so fleeting. Perhaps it would say more if people were asked if they have a sense of purpose.

      Protection takes many forms. The pretense that all men will have to physically fight for their families is very outdated. Heroism is in many ways simply being available for any and all that has to be done in bringing up a family and creating community.

  • Laurence Lu

    When you take a subjective poll in the first place, when you say ‘very happy’, well, I don’t expect someone to be smiling the whole day like he or she’s high. People tend to exagerrate things by nature. But say it’s relative, one factor is that it’s quite possible that people do such things ‘because god gave them happiness.’ Well, ignorance can be bliss! Oh, and nice generalization. I would say that being ‘very happy’ would be practically a perfect life, exuberant all the time (dopamine does not allow that, so we’re pretty much on people for how their bias views themselves), and that I’m surprised that there is a significant statistic that say that at all. Technically speaking, the people who think less and are likely more ignorant tend to be more extreme in labeling. I don’t think there is a large gap between those who consider themself ‘very happy’ and those who consider themself ‘somewhat happy’. For the other end of the scale, I quite sure that you’ve got people self-pitying their okay life and saying that it’s terrible. I wonder, does this have something to do with relative deprevation and human nature. Just digging in to the subconscious here, as your assumptions that imply that it is a decided in the full consciousness on such a subjective and varied scale are nothing but biased towards your own.

    • Biff T. Financial

      Well-said as to the subjectivity (and arguable lack of utility) of a poll in which people grade their own “happiness.” I’d be much more interested in having an impartial arbiter grade the happiness of individuals and judge correlation with political persuasion. Of course, the results of such a study would be marginalized immediately with ad hominem attacks upon the impartiality of this arbiter (e.g., “who is he and what’s his agenda?”).

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com/ Paul T. McCain

    Be advised, Brian Bowman will come to dominate this blog site via his obsessive-compulsive blog posting. Just get him started on his Thomas Jefferson religions and … watch out.

    Just a friendly warning.

  • Biff T. Financial

    Know what kind of people are happiest? Independents. Why? Because they aren’t beholden to either vacuous and impotent political persuasion. If you’re following a politician on anything, you’re doing it wrong.

    And, while I am neither liberal or conservative, an easy pat response for a liberal to this silly article would be “Conservatives are happier? Sure. Because ignorance is bliss.” That’s not my opinion – i could care less about politics, and have sincere concerns about the rationality of anyone who thinks of politics in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys” – but there’s a reason why people use the expression “he’s as happy as a mongoloid.”

    • our.big.brother.is.watching

      Are you happy as a mongoloid, or are you stereotyping another protected class like gays, and feminists?
      Old saying; “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything”. Sounds like you have illustrated the exact meaning of that phrase in a perfectly independent manner, with your post.

  • Fraga123

    Liberal men are unhappy because there are not enough footie pajamas for them. Nor enough hot cocoa.

  • Ivan

    I like shining the light of truth into the eyes of the ignorant. The gaping PC hole isn’t news. Enslaved men are stuck in the destructive mental loop of feminist hijacked liberalism. What’s interesting conservatives are not free from bra-burning insanity. They keep playing same catch up PR game with liberals and lose because liberals are louder. Not to mention conservative ideas of masculinity are far from liberating. The insanity of the right is maintaining same ideological infrastructure libfem have been exploiting for years! Traditional masculinity is the foundation of male exploitation. That’s why Free Men and Men’s Movement does not align with conservatism.

  • Male Positive Media

    Duplicate post deleted.

  • Juan Arevalo

    I am a single father raising two girls on my own. I am aconservative, and a mens rights activist. I am teaching my two girl to reject feminism for it is self serving, dishonest, and hatred towards men. Feminist hate having children anyways. The children of feminist sometimes grow up hating their mothers. Third wave feminism will die a screaming hate filled death. Gentlemen, remember to show your sons and daughters how wrong and hateful todays feminism is. Stand together against the hateful left and they will fade away. Lies and hate cannot win over truth and love. Already the.feminist left feel their grasp slipping, it’s only a matter of time. Time is against them.

    • our.big.brother.is.watching

      I raised two children on my own too. I get it it and know the walls and hurdles a man has to jump in order to placate the jacklegs running the system. They grew up with decent values, in spite of a system bent on turning them into stste property.

  • Male Positive Media

    The liberal left tends to view men and masculinity through a Cultural Marxist lens, in which traditional men represent the bourgeois oppressors and women the oppressed proletariat. In other words, it’s the application of Marxist principles to relations between men and women. (The same applies to whites, heterosexuals and the wealthy). Under such a system, men are constantly reminded of how “bad” and “oppressive” their gender is, which can only be demoralizing to them to say the least.

    The conservative right tends to view relations between men and women from a traditional perspective in which men are esteemed in a conditional sense i.e. if they are good protectors and providers for their women and children. So men who are successful under this system would presumably be respected by conservatives, but at the price of putting the needs of women and children before their health, safety and general well-being.

    Still, this article is a refreshing rebuttal to the usual mainstream media male-bashing.

  • Nicholas

    I’m a pretty happy liberal man. And I love Jesus. Fancy that! And I’m sure there are millions of happy men around the world who would be considered liberal by American standards (being that this is a relatively conservative country).

    • our.big.brother.is.watching

      I remember Tiny Tim tip toeing through the tulips too. This used to be a conservative country until it became racist, bigoted, homophobic, tea party freaks as labeled by you happy folks who probably should be wearing those white coats with extra long sleeves that buckle in the back


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