Although few if any men in the United States remain entirely untouched by the women’s movement, to most men what is happening seems to be “out there,” having little direct effect on their own lives. The movement is, to them, a dialogue mainly among women, conferences of women about women, a mixture of just or exaggerated complaints and shrill and foolish demands to which men need not even respond, except now and then. When men see that a woman friend resents a common male act of condescension, such as making fun of women in sports or management, most males are still as surprised as corporation heads are when told to stop polluting a river.
If one focuses on the short run only, men are correct in this perception, for it is not often that social behavior so deeply rooted in tradition will alter rapidly. Over the longer run, however, they are not likely to be correct, and indeed I believe they are vaguely uneasy when they consider their present situation. As against numerous popular commentators, I do not think we are now witnessing a return to the old ways, a politically reactionary trend, or that the contemporary attack on male privilege will ultimately fail....
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