Shirts bearing the motto "Boys are stupid — throw rocks at them" are marketed to tween girls; recent TV shows portray men as idiots (see Cavemen, Carpoolers) and wimps (see Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle); and more women are starting families with little to no male participation. So where does this leave men? Purposeless and hopeless, says syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, whose new book, Save the Males, argues it's time to give back some of the power. Go ahead, roll your eyes. We're for anything that makes that hapless Mr. Mom slouching behind his CEO wife stand up straighter. Parker's suggestions:
PLAY NICE. "Feminism has always been important to me," says Parker, who as a '60s teen thought that anything helping women was progress. Then she had a son and decided we'd gone overboard. "Boys hear how awful they are day in and day out," she says. "We seem to understand that girls need high self-esteem to perform in school and society, but we pretend that boys don't." Teachers need to dial back their girl-coddling, she says, and society needs to better balance boys' needs with girls'.
RAISE THE BAR. If you expect nothing of men and assume the worst, they're likely to oblige. "Guys have no responsibility," says Parker. "They're getting as much sex as they can possibly ask for, and as far as they're concerned, nothing is wrong." We need to ask more of them and give them something to shoot for — other than horny Guitar Hero champion.
BE PRO-DAD. Thanks to artificial insemination, the rah-rah-ing of single motherhood, and the ever-worsening prejudice against fathers in custody hearings, dads have no power in the family, argues Parker. She says we need laws to prevent dad from being pushed out: "We should honor the role as much as that of mom." Please note: Gawking at photos of Brad carrying Pax on his shoulders doesn't count.
IT'S RAINING ON MEN:
30 to 40% of all American children sleep in a home separate from their fathers.
60% of bachelor's degrees awarded in this country in 2012 will go to women.
4 prime-time, family-focused shows (in a study of 102) portrayed the father as present and involved in his children's lives.