The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Here’s a vision of masculinity that could solve the crisis for men

5 min

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In today’s edition:

How to save men

When the milk in your fridge goes bad, you don’t think twice about dumping it. But what about when it’s half the country that is, as columnist Christine Emba writes, “curdling?”

Despite the mantra that “men are trash,” it might be unrealistic to toss all 165 million male Americans, not least because we probably wouldn’t all fit down the drain.

So what do we do for the men who — in a world of professional upheaval, new sexual orthodoxies and remodeled (or demolished!) gender norms — have gotten lost?

Christine’s essay, the product of months of research and reporting, proposes a map out of the wilderness.

It begins with ruling out a lot of wrong directions. An explosion of “manfluencers” on the right, Christine writes, are hawking a cartoonish, reductive masculinity that is as toxic as it is accessible. Plenty of young men are latching on because what the left often proposes is … no model at all, just men cleaning up their act and being a little more like, well, women.

Christine proposes a positive masculine vision that’s not either of these things: “Recognizing distinctiveness but not pathologizing it. Finding new ways to valorize it and tell a story that is appealing to young men and socially beneficial, rather than ceding ground to those who would warp a perceived difference into something ugly and destructive.”

She charts how society might get there. It will not be easy, and it will take a lot of us.

But men — brave, strong, kind men — ought to be up to the challenge. They (okay, we) deserve a brighter future and a “best-by” date well into it.

Help Ukraine, of course. But how?

The leaders of NATO’s member countries meet for their annual summit tomorrow in Vilnius, Lithuania, and entry into the treaty organization is the hottest ticket in town.

How current members play Ukraine’s desire to join up could, the Editorial Board writes, “set Europe on a path toward a decade or more of durable security” … or “invite new wars by demonstrating to the Kremlin that NATO is a paper tiger.” No pressure.

Our pages are full of differing opinions on what exactly the tack should be. Contributing columnist Marc Thiessen and former deputy secretary of state Stephen E. Biegun take the most audacious approach: Provide a timeline for Ukraine to become a full-fledged NATO member by next year.

“Almost 75 years after NATO’s founding, the record is clear,” they say to those worried about increased Russian aggression: “NATO doesn’t provoke war; it guarantees peace.” In fact, they argue, NATO membership is the only way to protect Ukraine from more Russian incursions.

Columnist Max Boot agrees with a lot of the points in the admit-or-bust argument: “My heart says yes” to membership, he writes.

But his head says no. Max writes that the simple fact is that Ukraine and Russia are at war “and will be for the foreseeable future.” The last thing he wants is a West vs. Russia shooting war.

Granted, Thiessen and Biegun predicate membership on a cease fire; admission amid ongoing conflict “would be tantamount to a declaration of war.” But Max writes that we just don’t know when that will be.

Besides, Max reasons, offering membership contingent on peace incentivizes Russia to block Ukraine with endless war. Instead, NATO members should commit to other ways to bolster Ukraine’s security.

Chaser: Democratic Patrick Leahy and Jeff Merkley write that the United States’ provision of cluster munitions to Ukraine is a humanitarian disaster.

From columnist Heather Long’s explanation that if the country avoids a recession, it will have workers of color to thank. (The same period, by the way, saw an additional 800,000 Asian workers and 750,000 Black workers — while fewer White people are employed now than in the Before Times.)

The trend also has big implications for how we think about what “full employment” really means. “All of this suggests,” Heather writes, that “experts still don’t fully understand … how much more labor supply is out there.”

She asks: Shouldn’t we be trying to find out?

More politics

It’s not often you get a glimpse into the CIA that looks like anything more than [REDACTED]. So Director William J. Burns’s blueprint for the next big phase of American information-gathering is pretty valuable intel.

Burns puts his plans for the agency into three bins: the rising and falling threats of China and Russia, transnational problems such as climate change and pandemics, and the tech revolution. In each, he lays out (okay, some of) the path for U.S. spies.

There are bits about harnessing AI to find patterns the human mind can’t and about non-monogamous geopolitics, but perhaps the juiciest is the winking message to Russians who might have a secret or two to share: “We’re very much open for business.”

Chaser: The Editorial Board recently chronicled how China’s iron grip on Hong Kong is stretching across the globe.

Smartest, fastest

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

Curdling can’t reverse

But with new ingredients

First-rate cheese awaits


Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you tomorrow!