July 2010
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BY Sy Schechtman

Our two above proponents come from opposite ends of the generation spectrum of about fifty years ago. Casper Milquetoast was the acknowledged symbol of the obsequious, dubious, meek male with a droopy mustache and very hesitant demeanor; the very opposite of the “macho” female character that has suddenly evolved as the Alpha Female. A type that covers a range of dominant characteristics from quiet sure confidence to somewhat obnoxious overt loudness---the repulsive “ball busting yenta”. Casper was more then happy to get the coffee for the assembled group of women in the room who nodded only casually to being served by this dubious, humble creature.

Casper was a laughable outcast less than fifty years ago but even the normal macho male of that era now has lost a good bit of his bravado and walks carefully at times as if treading on egg shells. Mainly this is due to the unfortunate economics of the time, with male blue collar unemployment in our shrinking manufacturing sector seeming to be permanent. But very much involved also is the almost incessant drumbeat of women’s liberation and the cry of “equal pay” and the repressive “glass ceiling” preventing equal promotion of both genders. The combination of these factors, large male blue collar unemployment and effective women’s liberation pressure has turned our inmost aspirations slowly but surely in new directions. American parents are now choosing to have girls, not boys. And the concept of the male as the strong sole provider seems in grave disrepute. For the first time in American history the balance of the work force has tipped toward women. And many women, while still a distinct minority, who have already pierced the executive corporate levels, talk about their business lives as primary and perhaps husbands as secondary and the new “prime stay at home” child nurturers!

Not only are there more women in the work force than men, but in the crucial middle class area, which is the bedrock of our creative growth potential, the dominant trend is strongly on the female side, with women attendance at the college level comprising about 60 percent of the students. At somewhat higher levels according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 52 percent of managerial and professional jobs. They comprise 54 percent of all accountants, and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About about a third of physicians are now women, and the total of women dentists now practicing, or in dental school, is almost 50 percent. In the so called “hard sciences”, however, their progress up the career status ladder has been less spectacular, though far from minimal. Math, physics, and engineering, are still male dominated, which perhaps led to the ill fated, though definitely off the record, remark that Larry Summers, then Harvard president, inadvertantly made that perhaps women were not so innately endowed with superior ability in those fields. A mini fire storm of negative reaction to this supposedly anti feminist slur erupted on campus and beyond and Summers apologized profusely for these casual tip of the tongue thoughtless remarks. But the alpha female “take no prisoners” wrath of feminists prevailed and Summers, who had had a relatively successful, turmoil free term as president of Harvard from 2001 till 2006 was ousted after with a “no confidence” vote in 2010 because of the supposed slight to one aspect of feminine intelligence. A somewhat abject and meek apologetic Casper Milquetoast demeanor did not help in this instance. Fortunately, afterward Summers certainly recovered his usual positive and somewhat gently assertive maleness and is now chief economic advisor in Obama’s government.

However, in general, from the male point of view the situation is definitely embarrassing, or even depressing if one stills has, even at this late date some latent male macho feelings. We are getting close to a 60/40 situation with the females on top not only sexually, with the once traditional missionary position now almost discarded, but also most crucially in college admission. And so now we have “reverse affirmation action”!! Indeed, the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights is now investigating some private schools for what has been called “discriminating in admissions in order to maintain what they regard as an appropriate gender balance”. At the moment in some prestigious liberal arts schools now it is thought that being male raises the chances of admissions by almost ten per cent. And not because of being a big, brawny football player.!

There are still, however, some bastions of male supremacy where male excellence is still much respected. Top notch male chefs are considered still king of the culinary hill and in symphonic music women still are not yet eminent in the creative composing area. But they are flourishing in the performance realm with at least 50 percent of the players in the orchestral ranks, and a very generous mount of solo singers, and instrumentalists for opera and individual concert performance.

A somewhat unhappy corollary of all these triumphant feminine advances is evidently the decline in male sexual vigor. The hitherto macho male seems now perturbed by thoughts inadequate sexual performance with his female bed mate. The letters “E. D.” are now being bandied about with a knowing smile and slightly lifted eyebrow by the supposed cognoscenti

of current sophisticated modernity. Until rather recently the satisfied male participant was the prime goal of the lustful concupiscence. “She was very good in bed” was the smiling, satisfied male summation of the coupling act, meaning his orgasmic culmination, usually while his partner was still in the throes of pre climactic anticipation. There was a time in the not too distant past when this condition was not considered inappropriate for the female partner, having at least a sexually sated male by her side. But now most probably her need for fulfillment is heightened to the to the orgasmic level by the new doctrines of liberated feminism, which also urges her to demand to equal orgasmic satisfaction and not to meekly accept the dubious bliss of the limp hugs and kisses of a grateful and gratified husband or lover.

And so in many cases this leads to a situation known as “performance anxiety” where the male has to become too aware of his sexual actions, as if being tested and graded. Thus Erectile Dysfunction now a distinct clinical entity and at times, for the too introspective male, a barrier for uninhibited sexual fulfillment, as he gauges, in the actual act’s progression how he is “making out”. And lo! thus diminishing, for some, the spontaneous ecstasy supposedly to be derived. Even unto, what shall we say, I.P., for introspective impotence? And naturally in our opportunistic consumer oriented capitalistic system we have almost instant marketing salvation! Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra to overcome this male crucial performance dysfunction. The negative dire forboding ----“if the erection lasts longer than 48 hours, please call your physician”!! has propelled many anxious souls to accept this tantalizing challenge; so far many bold men have stepped forth, no one has died and the standing joke is of many successful results marred by too intrepid males pole vaulting out the window!

Now the rising demand is for equal pharmalogic effort on the part of the Big Pharma consortium to stimulate the supposed lower libido of older women. So far drugs tested to elevate this supposed lagging lower female libido level have been negative. Which could be a very positive result in the gradual human evolvement between the sexes in the face of the continued disrupting forces of modern technology. Let there still be some soulful as well as sensuous mystique still in our lives. The lion and the lamb may not lie down together peacefully but man and woman in blessed, amenable cohabitation is still society’s continued recipe. And still in some way a holy form of union.

And while both the Alpha Female and some form of Casper Milquetoast are necessary “book ends” for our culture the “battle of the sexes” will still be the positive and fruitful heart of our culture. And at appropriate times old Casper still in the missionary position.