The most frustrating about New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante's Sunday column, "After Hurricane, a New Calling for Mothers" is not that it's sexist. It's that she so easily could have avoided being sexist. People? Volunteering to help other people, because they have the time and resources to do so? Great! Newsworthy! Heart-warming! But Bellafante (and her editors, who deserve honorary Decrees) decided it was critical to their journalistic project to insult and exclude fathers. To say nothing (literally, never mentioned) of alternative parents of any kind. Twice nominated, once victorious: This Decree's for you, Ginia.
"Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the ascent of women does not portend the end of men. It offers a new beginning for both." So argues Stephanie Coontz in the New York Times most emailed article (as of this morning), "The Myth of Male Decline." Though polemics on the tanking of men as a gender abound these says, Coontz has some real talk—and some real data—to suggest there is a lot more to the "end of men" story.
The headline alone is enough to bring on an eye-roll headache: "Are Modern Men Manly Enough?" And the head-desk-inducing subheaders will only make it worse: "Where are the Meat and Potato Men?" "Rediscover the Don Draper Within" and so on. The Times is no stranger to trumped-up trend pieces, and the photo accompanying this article, of a man getting a—gasp!—pedicure, says it all ("it all" being: this is a gender panic piece because WHY ARE MEN GOING TO BEAUTY PARLORS? Real quote from this series: "We don't need to see you [men] in the nail salon; you have the barbershop."). Frankly, with all of the hand-wringing and gender policing, this New York Times opinion piece reads like, well, like it was written about women. After all, women are usually the ones whose very being is called into question by the mainstream media, especially in relation to men (Are you pleasing him in bed? Is your job a turnoff? Are you womanly enough?). But just as there's no one "real woman," the notion of a "real man" is bogus. Not that the Times agrees.
I only ever flipped through Archie comics while waiting in line to buy groceries, bored by the overwhelming whiteness of Riverdale and confused by Jughead's hat. But it always seemed weird that a series about such a squeaky-clean golly-gee group of teenagers revolved around something as potentially controversial as vague polyamory. The series is over 70 years old, and its technology has changed with the times (Betty blogs and Veronica snaps pictures with her camera phone) but its gender politics are completely outdated. Betty's worship of Archie is portrayed throughout the series as admirable loyalty rather than creepy unrequited dependency, while Archie's inability to retain even a casual commitment to just one girl is framed as… completely normal. So this week's Douchebag Decree goes to you, Archie Andrews, you sly dog. Make up your mind.