Not very long ago, I had occasion to attend one of the most repugnant gatherings of mammals I have ever been called upon to cover during my long career as a journalist. The event was the First International Men’s Conference, which took place in
These are the guys who paint their faces and gather around fires in Indian sweat lodges where they bawl their eyes out and trade stories about the irreparable harm their fathers did to them as children. These are the guys with cute names such as Coyote and Shepherd Bliss; the guys who bang dainty little drums named “Serenity” or “Lone Wolf” while listening to audiotapes such as “Exploring Sacred Emptiness” and “Deepak Chopra’s Breakthrough Workshop on Quantum Healing,” amid the fragrant aroma of frankincense and Dragon’s Blood. These are the most pathetic losers I have ever met in my life. And I grew up in the same town as the 1960 Phillies.
Obviously, everyone associated with the men’s movement deserves to die a slow and painful death. Grown men who smear paint on their faces, go out into the woods chanting weird incantations to the Yoruba god Hepwa, and blame their dads for the fact that they grew up to be utter losers clearly deserve to be hanged from the highest yardarm in Her Majesty’s Navy. Yet the men’s movement would not be so scary if one sensed it was merely a subcultural blip-an oddity confined to loony academics and deranged folksingers from
The notion that the preposterous men’s movement could somehow infiltrate and subvert the American business community is almost too horrifying to contemplate. But I think we should ponder it anyway. If the weepy, moping, self-emasculating philosophy of the men’s movement ever took root in corporate
But Wang fils could find the perfect out for his leadership failures in the bosom of the men’s movement.
Instead of blaming the market, the cost of materials, the unions, the suppliers, the press, or Wall Street, Wang could merely rationalize: “I failed as chairman of Wang Laboratories because my father failed to
initiate me into the mysteries of manhood. My breast is burning with a quiet rage that I cannot extinguish; my soul has been ground into the dust because of the toxic gender myths imposed upon me by my dysfunctional father. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to the sweat lodge to engage in some mythopoetic dancing with my good friends Iron John, The Boy Who Would Fly As An Eagle, and Shepherd Bliss.”
Fred Wang is not the only corporate failure who could profit from the men’s movement. Any mutual fund manager who watched his portfolio decline by 33 percent in a single quarter could point to “the inner dragon” that forced him to “confront his own shadow.” People who regularly are interrupted at work by their inner dragons don’t have time to read publications such as Value Line or Barron’s or Investor’s Daily, and would probably be hard-pressed to keep their eyes on the Quotron machine.
Management science also would be profoundly transformed by the men’s movement. Classics such as “In Search of Excellence” and “What They Never Taught You at the
This new mentality would also filter into the boardrooms of
Is there any way to prevent the men’s movement from infiltrating
Joe Queenan is a regular contributor on business issues, corporate culture, and financial follies to Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal.