Friday, July 8, 2016

James Brown – "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" (1966)

Man made the cars to take us over the road
Man made the train to carry the heavy load ...
This is a man's, man's, man's world

Every so often, 2 or 3 lines feels compelled to write a long, involved “think” piece on some complicated and controversial topic.

Whenever 2 or 3 lines does this, things never turn out well – especially when the complicated and controversial topic involves women.

But 2 or 3 lines never learns.  Hence, today’s post.

My choice of the 1966 James Brown hit, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” as the featured song for today’s post proves just what a well-developed sense of irony I have.  Because it is most definitely NOT a man’s man’s man’s world fifty years later.

To wit:

– Only 49% of college-age Americans are female.  But women are now receiving some 60% of all degrees granted by American colleges and universities.  (When men constituted 60% of the college population, that was viewed – and rightfully so – as a clear indication that women weren’t being treated as equals.  But have you heard any expressions of concern about the fact that the tables have turned and 60% of new college graduates are female?)   

– Women now dominate the service professions, while industries that have a higher proportion of male employees – like construction and manufacturing – are shrinking.  In fact, three-quarters of the eight million jobs lost during the Great Recession of 2008-09 were lost by males. 

– The number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters in every presidential election since 1964.  And the gap is growing, too: ten million more females than males voted in 2012.  (If you women out there don’t like the last half-dozen or so Presidents we’ve elected, you have only yourselves to blame.)

– Within a few months, women will likely be leading the governments of the United States, Britain, and Germany – the three largest Western economies.  (This is good news for American, British, and German males: it won't be our fault when things go FUBAR, which things always do sooner or later.)

In 2010, an Atlantic magazine cover story famously declared “The End of Men.”  

Perhaps the most startling fact noted in that story was how rapidly the traditional gender preferences of prospective parents around the world were changing.  According to that article, American parents who utilized a new sperm-selecting technology that enabled them to choose whether they wanted a boy or a girl were choosing to have a girl 75 percent of the time.  

Even feminists are realizing the pendulum has swung too far.

The Washington Post recently featured a column by Cathy Young, an “equity feminist” (that’s the best kind), who decried male-bashing:

[A] lot of feminist rhetoric today does cross the line from attacks on sexism into attacks on men, with a strong focus on personal behavior: the way they talk, the way they approach relationships, even the way they sit on public transit.  Male faults are stated as sweeping condemnations; objecting to such generalizations is taken as a sign of complicity.  Meanwhile, similar indictments of women would be considered grossly misogynistic.

For example, it is now common for women to complain about “manterrupting,” a neologism that is used to describe the supposedly common male practice of interrupting female speakers in business meetings rather than listening to what women have to say.

Kanye West "manterrupting" Taylor Swift
Here’s what a Time magazine columnist had to say about “manterrupting”:

[A]sk any woman in the working world and we all recognize the phenomenon.  We speak up in a meeting, only to hear a man’s voice chime in louder.  We pitch an idea, perhaps too uncertainly – only to have a dude repeat it with authority.  We may possess the skill, but he has the right vocal cords – which means we shut up, losing our confidence (or worse, the credit for the work).

But there’s a teeny-weeny problem with all the talk about “manterrupting.”  

While a 2014 study confirmed that male listeners interrupted female speakers more frequently than they interrupted male speakers, that same study found that female listeners interrupted female speakers even more often than male listeners did.  

Maybe “manterrupting” should be “femterrupting”?

More from Cathy Young’s Post column:  

Things have gotten to a point where casual low-level male-bashing is a constant white noise in the hip progressive online media.  Take a recent [online] piece titled, “Men Are Creepy, New Study Confirms.”  The actual study found something very different: that both men and women overwhelmingly think someone described as “creepy” is more likely to be male. 

Men Are Creepy, New Study Confirms

Imagine if a study had found that most people think that someone who is described as “cheap” is more likely to be a Jew.  Can you imagine a story reporting on the findings of that study being headlined, “Jews Are Cheap, New Study Confirms”?

What’s bad for the goose is perfectly OK for the gander when it comes to misogyny (bad!) vs. misandry (not a problem)  at least in the eyes of those feminists who view sexism as a one-way street.  They believe that gender-based prejudice isn’t sexism unless it’s directed against the oppressed and disadvantaged – i.e., females.  Since males hold the power in our society, they’re fair game.

Except for the fact that males don’t really hold the power any more.  Remember: ten million more women than men voted in the 2012 presidential election.  

That trend may sound like a bad thing for men, but it does offer one big advantage for males.  We’ll explain what that advantage is in the next 2 or 3 lines.

* * * * *
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was recorded back when males did hold the power in our society.

Officially, the song was co-written by James Brown and his girlfriend Betty Jean Newsome.  Brown later said she had nothing to do with the song, while Newsome claimed just the opposite and took the “Godfather of Soul” to court – unsuccessfully.

Betty Jean Newsome in 2007
The Village Voice published a long and sordid story about the Brown-Newsome relationship and the squabbling over who deserved credit for writing “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” in 2007.  Click here to read it.

Here’s my favorite paragraph from that article:

[Newsome] says Brown asked her to have a baby with him, but she rebuffed him, saying, "I ain't gonna be having one of your little monkey babies."  The Famous Flames, Newsome recalls, marveled at the fact that James didn't kill her right then and there.

Here’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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