Snarky Behavior

Entries tagged as ‘media analysis’

What Makes a Scandal

April 15, 2008 · 1 Comment

Ezra Klein brings up a point that all journalists and bloggers alike should be cognizant of:  how to determine when a scandal “matters”:

The impulse, of course, is to follow each newstory as if its salience in the news cycle corresponded to its actual importance in the campaign. But that’s rarely the case. Time passes, comments are forgotten, new gaffes are made, and the election spins on.

Klein continues the post by discussing what particular features of a scandal tend to give the story “legs.”  Those features might be valid empirical observations to make, but it bothers me that they are of primary concern to a blogger at The American Prospect.

Now, I give Klein a lot of credit because he writes about what he is passionate and knowledgeable about (health care policy),  despite the fact that those posts presumably get far less click-throughs than the “hot” topics.  He is afforded the luxury of not having to write in feedback mechanisms, where audience response dictates the editorial direction of his content and analysis, precisely because he is not part of a “mainstream media” operation.

I also understand that a journalist, and especially a blogger, who digs his heels in the sand and plays the Lorax for any given issue (THIS IS IMPORTANT, DAMN IT!) is not long for this world.  People will move on to get their current events from someone who isn’t a one trick pony.

At the same time– and this really, really concerns me about the disconnect between an engaged citizenry and a “newsertainment” media– some stories (and scandals) that are important (in orders of magnitude greater than Bob Dole falling down stairs) are inevitably going to lack the grainy video or convenient sound byte required to stimulate peoples’ senses.  And that’s why we have an independent media (like TAP), to give those events the intention they deserve, to fall out of the lock-step of the mainstream press before the next cycle buries them.

To be honest, the reason I’m in a huff about this is because I just listened to an All Things Considered about a municipality in rural Alabama that floated extremely risky muni-bonds to cover a sewage system, and now is some $4 billion dollars in debt! That’s over $6,000 per person (and probably twice that per tax-payer)!  Anyway, at one point in the podcast, they interview a local journalist, who admitted to writing close to 100 articles on this issue, and he says something like:

“People keep telling me to stop writing about this.  They say, “can’t you write about something else?  This is boring!”"

Sometimes you have to hit people over the head to make them KNOW when a scandal is important.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , ,

If this isn’t “straight talk,” then what is?

April 13, 2008 · 1 Comment

At a recent fund-raiser in San Francisco, Obama was asked the question about voters in Pennsylvania:  Why doesn’t his campaign resonate with working class white voters?

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

While his response may have included some poorly-chosen words, for which he has since taken substantial criticism, it was at least an honest appraisal.   Consider the following:

America is often recognized for its diversity, but too often we consider this diversity as a melting pot (with the New York urban-ideal as the cognitive model) than as a heterogeneous hodge-podge of cultural identities.  Obama succinctly made this point at the 2004 DNC in his now famous “Red State-Blue State” speech (”we worship an awesome God in the blue states, and yes we’ve even got some gay friends in the red states”, etc.).

So for a wealthy donor from Marin county to understand the voting tendencies of a “fellow Democrat” pension-deprived ex-steel worker of Allentown, he/she needs an accurate explanation, and a good deal of empathy.  These donors are (in large part) the ones funding Obama’s campaign, which means they provide money for polling, focus grouping, message development, etc., and they have a right to expect an explanation of the results of that research

Right now we have a political system where the campaigns engage in election “strategies,” which CNN and others than attempt to decipher and decode, without explaining the underlying assumptions of those strategies.  It is taken for granted that Clinton “appeals” to blue-collar voters, because that is the demographic she is targeting (and resonating with).

When Barack Obama lets these donors peek inside the key-hole of voter research, he may seem like a detached social scientist professor– the Ivory Tower paradigm.  But the truth is that he cannot be all things to all people.  He can only try to understand and capture the concerns of the majority of the voters in his party, and assuming he wins the nomination, in the country.

It is not Ivory Tower to try to understand a group of voters with whom a candidate has no shared background, if the candidate’s efforts are genuine, so that he/she may better represent those voters.

On the other hand, nobody likes to be categorized and have their behavior and motivations analyzed.  The thing is, this happens all the time, in market research, in commercial advertising, and certainly in elections.

Is it a poor strategy to let people peek behind the curtain instead of relying on a lazy media as a proxy to interpret campaign messaging?  Haven’t the last few years taught us that “reality” is the favored-model of communication?

If this isn’t “straight talk,” then what is?

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Why is Tide the most expensive detergent? Is it worth it?

January 26, 2008 · 6 Comments

Waiting for the South Carolina results to come in, I am struck by how silly some of the pundit analysis comes across when dissecting voter preferences. 

Now that the field has been whittled down to two front-runners for each party, we are left with narrowly defined either/or considerations to explain the “rational choice” between Candidate A and Candidate B.  This reductive analysis seeks to find justifications for expressing preference between two similarly marketed products (i.e. Pepsi v. Coke). 

In fact, I just heard Keith Olberman refer to the “Clinton brand” as a potential panacea to the economic anxiety many voters are now experiencing.  Buying the Clinton “brand” thereby reinforces the voters’ self-image as someone whose primary concern for the future is economic security.

When people approach an election the same way they approach a consumer choice, it’s destructive to democracy.  It reduces the candidates, it atomizes the electorate, and it biases our “rational choice.”

But that’s neither here nor there… back to the question at hand.     

I ran across a conversation at Marginal Revolution asking the question:  Why is Tide so Popular? 

I thought… no really, why is Tide so popular?  Why do I buy Tide instead of Gain, which is cheaper?  What does Tide say about me, as a person? 

It’s more expensive, so I presume it’s the highest quality product.  I like to think that I can afford the highest quality, because I’d prefer that my clothes be as soft and clean and fresh as possible. 

But is that a reasonable assumption?  What if Proctor and Gamble just spends more on branding/marketing?  What if all laundry detergents are essentially the same mix of chemicals, with different bells and whistles? 

Well, here’s the breakdown, from the comments section.  VERY interesting stuff:

As a former market research service provider a Home and Beauty Care company most often butting heads with P&G in the Laundry Category, I have a lot of perspective on it based off findings. And bear with me, when it comes to market research I have pretty robust information:

* Echoing the sentiments and actual reports above of many, P&G detergents typically perform better in terms of both cleaning and the conditioning of clothing. Granted, we now wash clothes in modern america not to clean them per se, but to “refresh them”.

* The “mere refresh” needs as opposed to “Deep cleaning” being a priority opens the door for price segments in lower tiers for consumners: A&H, Xtra, Purex, Store Brands that do significant volume, even if dollars are more modest. Testimony to this is P&G has a 55-60% share of sales dollars, but a 40-45% volume share of sales since its products are premium largely.

* P&G manages their Fabric Cleaners, Conditioners (By the way, Downey is their brand and is by far number one conditioner), and Dryer Sheets (By the way, Bounce/Downey is the number one/two brand by far there too) as a massive portfolio, with each targeting certain segments:

** Tide is the best performer, most expensive, most high end benefits included.

** Gain is the experiential and frgrance brand, and has strong ethnic performance: quality and an experience. BTW, it challenges for status of 2nd biggest brand itself.

** Cheer is a the Color-Safe premium brand

** Dreft is the Baby, non-irritating brand

** ERA is the Budget Brand to compete in that segment

* Consumer segmentation studies and a Decision Trees suggests that with Laundry category the first decision is whether you are a Tide customer or not. Then, if not, you typically believe “All are the same”/”I am poor” and your decision is based on price. This harms mid-level brands such as ALL or Wisk that try and have a hybrid of some quality and innovation, but competitive mid-level pricing.

* Consumers pay more and get excited over high order benefits that Tide is a leader in providing new versions of on a yearly basis. What are those? High Efficiency, With Touch of Downey, With Bleach Alternative, With Color Protector, Free & Clear, Cold Wash, Scented, Various Sizes, etc. By the way, when you bu yany of these, note the number of loads per bottle changes (lower), even if bottle is same size. that’s their marging boosting! Only ALL sometimes comes out with benefits such as these first. (Small and mighty, anti-allergen)

* Shelf-Sets and sales are dictated by P&G due to their demanding share. If shelves were organized by TYPE rather than BRAND, it would help smaller brands and change consumer mentality about choice of product. Scented onlyt first, then High efficiencies, THEN with Bleaches, etc. Insrtead, you have the ubiquitous wall of orange taking up the whole section.

* Also, P&G’s budget for discounts and specials is much larger, as well as tie-ins with its other leading brands Febreze, Downey, and Bounce that synergistically boost each other.

This all said, the biggest challenge for Tide and P&G go-forward is the changing face of the US consumer (Hispanic, etc.), the rising costs of raw materials (partial petroleum basis for liquid detergents), sales rise only as population does (no new markets or consumers), quality ceasing to be a key differentiator.

People alluded to Heinz’s dominance as well – there are small chips in the facade, they always must remain vigilant. Remember, Heinz doesn’t compete with Ketchup only – it competes with all condiments. mayo, Vinegar, Ranch, Mustard…Staying relevant is important.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , ,

Dropping Knowledge: On Guilty Liberals

December 9, 2007 · Leave a Comment

I found this gem while researching my paper on Globalization.  From “In Defense of Globalization,” by Jagdish Bhagwati:

I also think that an altogether new factor on the scene that
propels the young into anti-capitalist attitudes comes from a different,
technological source in a rather curious fashion. This is the dissonance
that now exists between empathy for others elsewhere for their misery
and the inadequate intellectual grasp of what can be done to ameliorate
that distress. The resulting tension spills over into unhappiness with the
capitalist system (in varying forms) within which they live and hence
anger at it for its apparent callousness.

Today, thanks to television, we have what I call the paradox of inversion
of the philosopher David Hume’s concentric circles of reducing
loyalty and empathy. Each of us feels diminishing empathy as we go from
our nuclear family to the extended family, to our local community, to
our state or county (say, Lancashire or Louisiana), to our nation, to our
geographical region (say, Europe or the Americas), and then to the world.
This idea of concentric circles of empathy can be traced back to the Stoics’
doctrine of oikeiosis—that human affection radiates outward from
oneself, diminishing as distance grows from oneself and increasing as
proximity increases to oneself. In the same vein, Hume famously argued
that “it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole
world to the scratching of my finger” and that “sympathy with persons
remote from us is much fainter than with persons near and contiguous.”

What the Internet and CNN have done is to take Hume’s outermost
circle and turn it into the innermost. No longer can we snore while the
other half of humanity suffers plague and pestilence and the continuing
misery of extreme poverty. Television has disturbed our sleep, perhaps
short of a fitful fever but certainly arousing our finest instincts.  Indeed,
this is what the Stoics, chiefly Hierocles, having observed the concentric
circles of vanishing empathy, had urged by way of morality: that “it is the
task of a well tempered man, in his proper treatment of each group, to
draw circles together somehow towards the centre, and to keep zealously
transferring those from the enclosing circles into the enclosed ones.”

At the same time, the technology of the Internet and CNN, as Robert
Putnam has told us, has accelerated our move to “bowling alone,”
gluing us to our TV sets and shifting us steadily out of civic participation,
so that the innermost circle has become the outermost one.
So the young see and are anguished by the poverty and the civil wars
and the famines in remote areas of the world but often have no intellectual
training to cope with their anguish and follow it through rationally
in terms of appropriate action.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Blogger’s Imperative: Always Consider the Alternative

November 16, 2007 · Leave a Comment

Reader’s Note:  I intended to post this on the Huffington Post but in retrospect it’s probably too meta.  I do think that there is a place for ombudsman-like impartial eye for bloggers, especially as blogging sites become primary destinations for news and information.

The Huffington Post’s recent admission of first-time profitability marks an important occasion in today’s media landscape. 

More than any other outlet, the Huffington Post represents what Al Gore terms “the Marketplace of Ideas.”  The web-site’s only compensatory incentive to its contributing bloggers is the platform itself, a conduit through which competitive voices can be heard and considered.  The opinions that most resonate with the readership rise to front-page prominence, while lesser viewpoints simply fall by the wayside. 

A general imperative for consumers of information is to “always consider the source.”  In this sense, the Huffington Post holds a powerful comparative advantage over established media outlets, which are increasingly characterized by thinly veiled ideological slants or biases, or are otherwise beholden to the advertising interests that sustain their business models.  That is to say, opinions on the Huffington Post can be evaluated on their face, with a lesser degree of suspicion as to the vested interests or motivations of the authorship.

The successful “networked democracy” that the Huffington Post has achieved is certainly a worthy cause for celebration.  However, as the outlet gains prominence and increased readership, the very model which has made it a success threatens to dilute its cause and purpose.  Let us consider future challenges to the web-site:

  1. First, the extremely low entry-barriers for contribution arouse cause for concern as to the quality of the product, and a super-saturation in the “marketplace.”
  2. Second, the powerful reach of the outlet provides opportunities to amplify and distort opinions and ideas that are simply bad or ill-informed. 
  3. Third, the insular debates of the community may devolve into an in-group dynamic that threatens the logical norms by which arguments are framed.
  4. Fourth, the “publish or perish” cycle accelerates the process of due-consideration of important ideas and arguments.  1,800 writers are constantly competing for the advancement of issues to “the next topic.”
  5. Fifth, and most importantly, the high number of contributers and low-entry barriers for contribution diminish the accountability of each individual to provide responsible, well-reasoned opinions.  A democratic exchange of ideas shouldn’t be throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.  It should be at once a constructive and critical exercise. 

With respect to the fifth point, let us remember and consider the words of the late Norman Mailer, who explained its danger to Charlie Rose:

“Democracy is noble, and because it’s noble it’s always in danger.  Nobility is always in danger.  Democracy is perishable.  I think the natural government for most people, given the perversities and the depths of human nature, the ugly depths, is facism.  Facism is a natural state.  Because it’s easier.  It’s easier, and if you have any resentment, your resentment can be focused.  The hardest thing in a democracy is knowing whether your resentment has any point to it or not.”

Mailer’s words ring true posthumously in the current context if we consider this web-site to be a “networked democracy.”  It is far easier to focus our opinions and resentments around polar arguments than it is to find a constructive point of departure from these criticisms.

If then it is the imperative of the informed consumer of information is to “always consider the source,” it seems the imperative of the blogger is to “always consider the alternative.”  The strength of any democratic exercise lies in the extent to which all parties recognize their rights and responsibilities to maintain the integrity of the democratic structure.  Mediocrity, group-think, laziness, distrust, subterfuge, and a lack of comity – or reciprocity in constructive arguments – threaten to degrade that structure. 

The expansion of the blogger’s legitimacy therefore must be accompanied by a self-disciplined commitment to provide high-quality, progressive, and well-reasoned opinions.  Although we are all entitled to our own opinions, and assured the right to express them, we must also recognize our responsibility to do so constructively, lest our “networked democracy” degrade into “networked facism.”

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , , , , ,

The Self-Entitled Generation

October 5, 2007 · 3 Comments

Ok, I’ll bite.

Boston Globe writes article on “The New Me Generation.” Says young people are narcissistic and over-value their own opinions and intelligence, the result of being coddled during the “self-esteem” boom of the hippie child-rearing era. Quotes “professor” from San Diego State to prove this thesis.

(Let the record show: this is a professor from the same university that sent out a press release for its record high graduation rate — at 57%. And yes I can bash on the Aztecs since both of my parents were grads. It might be the only university on the planet where people come out dumber than they already were coming in. Well, maybe Chico too.)

I used to really be into generational studies that categorized large swaths of people into one sweeping evolutionary movement. It made me feel as if I were part of a some sort of historical progression. Like my friends and I were on the cusp of distinguishing our collective legacy.

Not any more. That stuff is all crap. Let me explain:

One thing you learn as a writer (er… blogger) is that, given time constraints and writer’s block, it sometimes becomes very difficult to write anything of insightful substance. So you make something up.

One thing you learn as a student (er… yeah, student!) is how to recognize weak arguments and lazy research. (Note: It’s usually your own).

One thing you learn as a young person entering a work-force hyper-saturated with baby-boomers that should’ve retired five to ten years ago is that old people love to think that they know what makes the young Turks tick. That’s why the eat up these “What’s With Kids Today???” pieces.

These types of quasi-social science articles are no different from my BS blog posts, aside from the fact that they quote people to substantiate their claims, whereas my arguments are self-substantiating because I’m a self-entitled, narcissistic, genius.

It is quite possible that the boomer generation, having lived through a tumultuous period themselves, in which they were distinctly defined by homogeneous characteristics, and having today aged in such a way that they are one big moving bio-mass of Merril Lynch targeted advertising, can only conceptualize its proceeding generations in categorical terms.

If that’s the case, let me set the record straight: young people are diverse. They are smarter than ever, but in many ways they are more ignorant than ever. We aren’t self-entitled because we were coddled, but because our parents never gave us the same opportunity to screw-up that they had. The kids quoted in this Globe article undoubtedly were placed on the fast track to success from day 1, in what I’ve called the “hyperbaric chamber” of pressure, applying to colleges, participating in “resume boosting” extracurriculars to make them “well-rounded.” From day 1, we’ve learned to game the system.

Moreover, we live in an age of information, and we’re consumers of it. We’re more socially networked than our parents. We are much more comfortable with technology, and the tradeoffs of privacy. So in that sense, we certainly share some traits.

However, we also live in a long-tail environment. Cable television gives us hundreds of options of sub-divided mass culture from which we can choose to identify with. We are in many ways too diverse to categorize.

So sure, while there may be some “go-getting” narcissistic self-entitled douchebags out there, they are certainly not random or representative of an entire generation. They are just the most ostensibly obnoxious, and easily accessible (for reasons of self-promotion) to lazy journalists looking to get quote-substantiation for their hack-pieces.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , ,

The Washington Post Either Doesn’t Know What News Is Anymore, or Doesn’t Care

July 31, 2007 · 3 Comments

Yesterday my boss directed me to an article she read online at WaPo titled “For the ‘I Like Turtles’ Boy, 17 Seconds of Fame.”

I didn’t get it.

Although the kid did remind me of an child I saw recently at Cracker Barrell who stared at me throughout my meal, making pterodactyl noises.

My boss admitted to me that she couldn’t identify just what exactly compelled her to send me the link, other than (maybe) to confirm that this actually constituted “news” worthy of being covered by the Washington Post. In the ensuing conversation, we decided the following:

  1. 1.) It’s not, in any stretch of the imagination, news.
  1. 2.) The fact that WaPo reported it as news is an indication of how muddled and directionless print media’s response has been to the Age of Information. Instead of leveraging the brand to harness the public’s wanderlust in an internet over-abundant with breaking news and information, the old-guard media is entering the fray of the unwashed. Hey WaPo! I don’t want a snarky blogger on staff, ironically dismissing important issues! I can already get that, (much better in fact), from The Onion, or The Daily Show. You know what I want from you? News and analysis! It’s not that f-ing hard!
  1. 3.) Online news-reporters, as a profession, are the worst kind of hacks. They are consumed by information overload because, unlike 95% of the rest of the population (myself excluded), their job entails endless surfing of the internet. This reality wouldn’t be so dangerous if the writers didn’t assume that their readership base engaged in the same idle web exploratory habits. [See my previous post on news "bloggers." Or don't. See if I care.] Online news-reporters may be “linked” in to the early-adopters, but they’re still neglecting the lemmings and luddites.
  1. 4.) It’s also painfully obvious that online news-reporters are held to a lower standard of editorial review. This is partially a result of information overload, but mainly seems due to the fact that online writers don’t need to “fill inches” for a layout editor. They run with “all the news that’s fit to print… and then some.”

Frankly, this kind of online reporting is like adding a buffet table to a five star restaurant. Sure, it might get more people in the door. But, do you really want them there?

Before you know it, your classy establishment is Reno, Nevada. And your WSJ is being bought out by Fox News Corp.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , ,

The "Pirannah Swarm" and the Media Cycle

July 28, 2007 · 1 Comment

Yet another product of our ever changing media landscape is what I like to call the “Pirannah Swarm.”

The Pirannah Swarm is the media’s tendency to swarm a juicy story as soon as it breaks, analyzing the story to death in a matter of days (or hours). Lacking fresh meat, the swarm will then proceed to cannibalize itself, attacking its own members for their vapid over-consumption of banal stories that amount to dry filler.

The cause of the Pirannah Swarm is easily divined: newsertainment demands “breaking” stories. To grab eyeballs, news must be new. In a long tail consumer environment like cable television, network and cable news outlets cannot risk dwelling on stories for too long lest they risk tedium and lost viewers.

The risk of the Pirannah Swarm is that the production of news now falls into a framework such that SOMETHING must be the daily “lead-story,” even if the nature of the news doesn’t warrant the attention. When CNN calls everything “breaking news” or a “crisis situtation,” it collectively desensitizes its audience from recognizing true breaking news or real crisis situations. A classic “boy who cried wolf” paradigm.

Without a proper scale of news evaluation, all events become muddled. Politicians engage in historionic theatrics… and get away with it… because we have been dulled to consider rational conversation. We become suspicious of all moral indignation- even legitimate moral indignation– as political theater. And we pass on “breaking stories” until they’ve survived the gauntlet for more than a few days in the public’s consciousness.

Newsertainment weakens our democracy. It allows for creep of authoritarianism because the free press passively allows itself to be wagged or distracted by those in power. When editors and producers are making decisions to run or bury stories based upon their popular appeal instead of their political importance, we all suffer.

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , , , , , ,

What’s the Matter With Boys?

June 3, 2007 · Leave a Comment

Oh my god he’s wearing a pirate shirt. Damn you Captain Jack Sparrow!

One of the media trends I’ve noticed working in education is the perceived “crisis” amongst boys in today’s society. We have a landmark piece of legislation called “No Child Left Behind” which puts greater attention on those children who are at risk of being “left behind” in the classroom. And the media has collectively decided that group of greatest concern is “boys.”

I’ll get to that in a minute. Let me first say, while the Nietzsche/Ayn Rand side of me chafes at the impulse to achieve universal mediocrity at the expense of excellence, I am more closely aligned with the idea of a government providing a safety net for all its people, even if it means a myopic and obsessive focus on the lowest common denominator.

Unfortunately, it is the scare tactics of “A Nation at Risk” that speaks to policymakers and encourages them to properly address and fund any program, especially when you’re talking about education at the federal level. “A Nation at Risk” (Reagan’s term) pitted US students (implicitly, the future US workforce) in a cold-war context against Russian students. Comparative math and science scores scare (or as I like to contextualize it, “introduce a knowledge gap in the minds of”) policymakers, who then take appropriate measures in the name of “competition.” This changed curriculum, but not necessarily pedagogy, and today you still see a huge distribution and gaps amongst demographic groups in terms of educational outcomes.

President Bush makes a similar case, although his approach is slightly more nuanced. He feeds off of Freidman’s The World is Flat to make our competitive enemy the entire Asian continent. Nothing like the nebulous term “globalization” to get a Republican’s pulse ticking.

Mr. Bush has also made a play at the guilty liberal conscience with what he calls “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Meaning, if you accept the status quo, you are a “soft” bigot. Who’s going to argue with that? Whoever came up with that phrase deserves a medal. Because, despite Bush’s record low approval ratings, NCLB continues to be his diamond in the rough in the domestic realm.

Now, back to the “boy crisis”: it’s been reported on ad naseum by the major weeklies. Boys exhibit behavioral problems in the classroom; boys’ preferred methods to learn and socialize are being actively ignored; ADD and learning disabilities are over-diagnosed; the formative importance of recess is being neglected; boys are pursuing and attaining higher-education at a much lower rate than girls; and boys are failing and dropping out at a much higher rate than girls.

Reading between the lines, the “boy crisis,” as positioned in these articles, is implicitly to blame on the feminist movement. According to this argument, the over-abundance of females in the education profession actively encourages female achievement. The lack of male role models in this environment is therefore damaging to boys.

This attitude of reverse discrimination has permeated our greater understanding of gender roles in contemporary society. Yesterday the Washington Post ran a story “What Does It Mean to Be Manly?”:

…while catching up with or surpassing men at school and at their first jobs, young women have dumped much of the feminine to embrace the masculine traits that they think represent success.

This has left some young men wondering what it means these days to be a guy. Should they, can they, explore their softer sides in a country that places less value on the feminine than ever before?


“In trying to empower the girls,” Sandborn says, “we implicitly sent a message that the guys were not as good. Women succeeded in creating positive new roles for themselves. What we haven’t come up with is what a positive image of a man would be.”

Is this really a necessity? I’m no expert on identity, but it seems the less discriminated you are for your outward appearance and characteristics, the less concerned you are with shaping and defining yourself by them. Shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal?

If “the masculine traits that represent success” can no longer be gender defined as masculine or feminine, isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that moving toward MLK’s “content of your character” ideal? Why is this perceived as a crisis?

Categories: Uncategorized
Tagged: , ,