March 31, 2013

"The idea that having a capacity for empathy, for expressing and understanding emotion, is part of being a normal male..."

"... is fundamentally contemporary and a way of asking that men learn a traditionally feminine virtue. When men were in an unquestioned position of control in the economy — when the bedrock of the nuclear family was a single male wage, a flow of income largely unavailable to women — there was less force compelling men to make themselves attractive mates through understanding the feelings of others and expressing affection. The Asperger’s population is 90 percent male; it’s likely that one reason Asperger’s got 'discovered' and then 'boomed' is that the rest of us have been slowly revising our expectations of men."

Benjamin Nugent, "American Nerd: The Story of My People." (Kindle Locations 1840-1845).

19 comments:

edutcher said...

Wussification.

Gahrie said...

If there was a behavior in which 90% of the performers were female, would we diagnois/label it as abnormal?

madAsHell said...

Soon, we will have a cure for white males.

Paul Zrimsek said...

We've always had a capacity for empathy, for expressing and understanding emotion. What makes us weird is we take a break from it once in a while.

creeley23 said...

Soon, we will have a cure for white males.

I recently discovered that Keith Jarrett, the jazz piano genius, is actually white, in spite of dark coloring and carefully tended afro for most of his career. His ethnic background is Irish and Hungarian.

But he kept his whiteness quiet. When it eventually came out, Ornette Coleman said to him, "Man, you've got to be black!"

Jarrett replied, "I know. I'm working on it."

Jarrett is extraordinarily bright and probably fits the nerd diagnosis as well any jazz player.

commoncents said...

This is Big: President Obama Booed at Washington D.C.s Verizon Center:

http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com/2013/03/news-blackout-president-obama-booed-at.html

ricpic said...

Yes, it was sheer hell all around when one income supported a family.

sydney said...

Interesting theory about Asperger's, but I'm not buying it. I suspect the rise in diagnosis was linked more to the availability of extra funds for schools if they could label their students with some sort of "disability."

Robert Cook said...

"Yes, it was sheer hell all around when one income supported a family."

I assume you're being snarky, but the important thing to note is that many families could afford to live on one income.

That this is significantly less the case now should clue you in on how much working people have been hosed by our "betters" over the last 30 or so years.

And it's getting worse.

ricpic said...

Hey Cookie, you can't have your beloved elephantine "compassionate" state and NOT have a destroyed dollar.

edutcher said...

Asberger's is the mal de jour, supplanting ADD and Epstein-Barr.

Elliott A said...

@edutcher At least Epstein-Barr is a real disease.

n.n said...

Nugent's problem beings with Nugent. Until Nugent embraces his inner It, then Nugent will continue to suffer confusion over the nature of It.

Are all experts fanatics who dream of material, physical, and ego gratification?

What utter nonsense. This is untempered prejudice with an ulterior motive.

Tari said...

Why do so many people talk about that mythical past in which women did no work? It's like when my 10 year old says "back then" and you have to make him clarify "ancient Egypt or the 1920's?" But no, relations between the sexes vis a vis work were always like (a) upper class Victorian society or (b) middle class 1950's American suburbia.

Mind you, I'm not saying women had power in the workplace "back then", but by and large, neither did most men.

In any event, it's just generally insulting to ignore the fact that, with 4 grandmothers between my husband and me, all 4 of them worked. 1 worked in a candy shop, 1 cooked for a restaurant, 1 taught piano, and 1 took in laundry. And I have a feeling that we're more representative of the norm than not, which is why I bring it up at all.

Dante said...

Soon, we will have a cure for white males.

Perhaps 15 years ago or so, our regional Newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, had an article that actually suggested giving men estrogen. I kid you not.

Well, the recent post Ann had from "Girlwriteswhat?" pretty much tells the story. Men compete because it attracts women. In the past with a club, and today in other ways.

Women generally can all reproduce, at least with hominids, and guess what, they haven't gone down the same evolutionary path (thank goodness). Not to say there aren't exceptional women out there, but that they haven't been selected for their exceptionalism.

And the smartest of the women I've met has a son with Asperger's syndrome. He spent a summer with us, though my wife was rather upset after he explained that our four year old was the "enemy," and came home to find him beating a knife on his hand while standing over him. He's an MIT grad in physics, with all the disdain for dumb people that Sheldon of Bing Bang theory has, but it's real.

CyndiF said...

This guy's history appears to go back to the 1950s and stop. For most of recorded history men have expressed emotion and empathy, much of it directed toward deep friendships with other men. I suspect the ancient Greeks would have said that women lacked sufficient capacity to express truly deep emotions. Rather than rediscovering a forgotten truth, Nugent's statement sounds extremely modern to me.

Pastafarian said...

I usually glance over a post before reading it, and in this case, at first glance, I thought the excerpt was from Ted Nugent.

So as I started reading it, I thought: Yes, this is something Ted Nugent would say. Then as I continued, I thought: Wow, this seems really well-thought out and carefully expressed for Ted Nugent.

I think maybe there's something wrong with my brain.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

If there was a behavior in which 90% of the performers were female, would we diagnois/label it as abnormal?

Yeah. Uterine cancer. Breast cancer.

WTF is wrong with you?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Interesting theory about Asperger's, but I'm not buying it.

I remember a strong finding recently about its link to the increased age of fathers and mothers, which is just as interesting and more plausible.