Flexible women and rigid men
I recently had coffee with a friend at a cafe next to City Hall on a sunny autumn day. We faced each other with steaming cups of Americano coffee, but we didn’t have much to chat about. After a long silence, my friend abruptly asked me a question. “So, who do you think will win?” He apparently thought I would have some more information about the presidential election since I work at a newspaper. “If I knew the answer, I would have opened a business as a fortuneteller,” I replied. We laughed and took long sips of coffee.
After talking about some of our other friends, we ran out of things to say. “Let’s go somewhere and drink soju,” my friend suggested. We jumped out of our seats and left.
During our conversation at the cafe, I noticed two women sitting across our table. One was talking and the other was listening. She must have had a lot of things to say, because she didn’t stop for a moment. The other listened patiently, looking right into her eyes and nodding constantly. I caught the occasional “Oh, you are so right,” and the frequent “Oh, you are absolutely right. I totally understand what you mean.” Sometimes they laughed out loud, clapping their hands.
It reminded me of the book I began reading with a terrifying title: “The End of Men” by Hanna Rison, an American female columnist. In the book, she argues that the patriarchal era has ended and a matriarchal society has emerged. Male superiority has come to an end.
The writer said social intelligence and horizontal and open communication have become important structural factors of the modern economy, and “flexible women” have become far more adaptive than “rigid men.” She said men are no competition in terms of flexibility.
Her argument seems accurate because my wife and daughter recently complained increasingly that I have become a stubborn old man. They tell me that I lack flexibility. But that may not be all of it. What I confirmed from the conversation at the cafe is that men cannot compete with women in the ability to listen to others and empathize. In modern society, communication is becoming more and more important, and the true nature of the crisis that men are facing today is probably about a lack of empathy.
Recently, a video clip of a male university professor singing a song went viral. In front of an audience, he sang the song “The Flower of All the Flowers” with changed lyrics: “The flower of all the flowers, Madame Geun-hye’s flower, bloom and bloom, bloom forever .?.?. The star of all the stars, Madame Geun-hye’s star, in the hearts of 80 million, shine and shine, shine forever,” he sang. He sang with his hands put together in front of him with such seriousness. One Internet user left a comment for the video that “Maybe he is an intelligent anti[-Park]?” Well, “The End of Men” is not a title that came out of nowhere. It really is a crisis of men.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Bae Myung-bok