Where the boys are 2006: The Sunday Times

Broadsheet's weekly roundup of the Sunday New York Times.


Rebecca Traister
April 25, 2006 1:20AM (UTC)

You say you want manliness? Ho ho ho! The Sunday New York Times is just oozing with manliness! Well, mostly in Sunday Styles. But still.

First, the paper's lower testosterone entries. There was an extensive story by Robin Toner on the nightmarish Pennsylvania Senate race between two antichoice candidates, Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and Republican Rick Santorum. It was mostly about the ways in which Democrats are continuing to move toward "big-tent" policies when it comes to the party stance on abortion, most of which they pretty up in "prevention" messages. To be clear, I'm all for prevention and understand that it is an absolutely vital factor in women's rights to control their own reproduction and health. It's just that so is abortion.

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There was a chilling little piece in the Week in Review about how Germany's working women have not traditionally been encouraged to become mothers. Instead, they've been labeled "Rabenmutter," or "raven mothers," a centuries-old term for bad parent. But now that the country has a female chancellor in Angela Merkel (not a mother) and a female minister for family affairs in Ursula von der Leyen (a physician and Rabenmutter to seven kinder), von der Leyen is working on policies that would encourage working women to have kids: tying parental-leave benefits to income so that higher-income families would have more incentive to reproduce, shortening leave time to encourage women to get back to work, forcing fathers to take two months of leave in order to get full benefits, and extending day-care hours past noon.

In the Duke alleged-rape coverage, there was a roundup by Byron Calame about the paper's coverage of the case, in which Calame pronounced the Times mostly on target. There was also a useful timeline compilation of what we know so far about what transpired when on the evening of March 13, from the arrival of the two exotic dancers at the party, to the time stamps on the photos of the accuser, to the ATM receipts of Reade Seligmann. One detail revealed here that I somehow had missed elsewhere was a neighbor's report that he heard one of the white men shout after the two black dancers as they left the house, "Thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt."

Now, to the guys. First was an interesting piece in the Education pullout section about the four remaining all-male colleges in the country, and how they've come to seem rather progressive what with all the worry about men falling behind academically.

And then there was the Styles section, with a front-page trifecta on the state of manliness. First up? Male socialites. Second? Men who pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to go to hardship-deprivation-action camps where they behave as if they've survived plane crashes and starvation and gory injury and crawl around on the ground in face paint to channel their inner men. Are these guys trying to get in touch with their soldier brethren, fighting in Iraq? Nope. They just want to pretend they're on "Lost." OK, timeout: This is somehow supposed to enhance masculinity? I can't think of anything less appealing than a guy with a few extra hundred dollars who chooses to blow it on re-creating a plane crash that, in real life, would be a horrible tragedy. Seriously, it's not feminists who are robbing anyone of their manhood; it's stupid stunts like this.

And finally, an off-season wrinkle on the old football-widow chestnut. NFL draft weekend is apparently making unsporty women feel unloved and abandoned. According to the Times, even the staunchest of lady football fans is bored by the weekend-long, action-light televised draft event, while male football fans turned it into its own weekend-long carnival of sloth.

I decided to call "bullshit" on this story, and phoned Broadsheet friend and go-to Steelers fan (not to say crazy person) Sara Culley, who in my experience has never encountered a football-related event, tradition or piece of paraphernalia that did not require observance, purchase or at least her undivided attention. Does Culley watch draft weekend? "I don't," she told me. "My internal NFL bell goes off when it's August preseason so I don't really pay attention in between. I need a break." Huh. Then I called my rabid Eagles-fanatic friend, Caleb Wheeler, who confirmed that he loves watching the draft, and would have been looking forward to watching it this weekend had someone (ahem, me) not scheduled a coed baby shower that will require him to miss part of it. His dismay was politely restrained. "I was disappointed that this baby shower was happening during the draft because I would have watched it, yes," he said. "I think men are really into it. That's true."

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So when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. And in this case, after a comprehensive scientific study of two of my friends, it looks like I am wrong, and the Sunday Times is right. Until next week, Sunday Times, until next week!


Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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