My look back at the last decade

Via Bloomberg, here is one bit:

Consider the 10 best-selling books of the decade. All have female protagonists, and the top seven are authored by women. (“Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequels take the top three spots, with three others having the word “Girl” in the title.)

The feminization of our culture is for me trend number one.  Next in line is screens:

They simply convey more interesting narratives than most of the other spaces in our lives.

There is much more at the link.

Comments

More impressive is the demonstration that men are simply incapable of writing best selling books anymore.

Just ask yourself 1 simple question. Was my father more of a man than me.

For most of us, it is a simple Hell to the Yeahz!

Best selling book; 15 million copies. You are aware that there are 7.8 billion people in the world. It would seem that the best selling book really means nothing.

The market has spoken, and judged men incompetent at writing top bestsellers.

But who really cares about something that is worthless, right? The money is just fiat anyways.

Wrong.

Readers are overwhelmingly female. So book about love and shallow nonsense are selling best.

Pretty much fake news and misleading both Tyler and Bloomberg.

I think it was Steve Sailer who pointed out that women gain ground in fields when those fields are past their peak status. When did bestselling fiction authors last get serious respect?

I dunno. He's a very different man, than I. Shaped by very different times.
Obviously he's succesful and established, so he has an easy claim manhood whereas I'm one step removed from a drifter.....
but I know him well enough not to idealize him.
[though I love and appreciate him]
I don't buy that the previous gen was all "spine of steel". Cause, I know my parents and how they tick (or so I think).
And as of the Nazi-generation before them, I think they were incredibly weak and soft in the head. (though I never got someone to talk 'the War' with, so....who knows)

My grandfather built his own home after the war. my father put on his own deck of our house when I was growing up.

i can maybe patch up a hole in the dry wall if i had too.

my son will call a mexican for everything.

ZONGY ZONG!

Male authors outnumber female writers by 3-1 and that ratio is little changed over the years. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Percentage-of-Male-and-Female-Authors-Gender-Imbalance_fig5_309572734

I suspect the long tail might be at work here. Fewer female authors are being read by a lot of women, so they sell a lot of books. Male authors are likely selling more books in total, but not per author.

Men don't read. Men watch porn, women read porn.

So not only are women penning the best written porn, they are creating the best video porn.

Porn movies are made by women now?

Guess I'm the only one who peeps some occasional porn here.

There's been a huge push since about 2013 to privilege the intersectional: women, blacks, gays, and transgenders in cultural and journalistic fields. Unfortunately, they haven't gotten any more talented on average over the years, so we wind up with a lot of black women writing op-eds in the NYT about their hair and the like.

Is that better or worse than men writing op-eds about women's hair in the NYT? Intriguingly you seem to forget the seemingly endless editorializing about Hillary's hair in the 1990s.

My impression is that most articles about First Lady's hair and couture are written by other ladies.

Were there really so many female NYT op-ed writers in the 1990s?

If so, your point concerning changes since 2013 would seem to be easily disproved - by Steve Sailer.

Gail Collins did enough damage just by herself

People are allowed to buy what's good--and what the like. Your implied hypothesis is that this privileging must have kept men from publishing the really good stuff that would have been easy top 10 sellers?

The brown, gay matriarchy---arrggh!

Really good stuff isn't in the top sellers. In the 2000s those were Dan Brown, John Graham, Nicholas Sparks, JK Rowling.... Trash (more or less).

The different patterns of trash in 2010s are interesting of course - ebook readers and boring movie tie-ins responsible?

Graham not Graham (autocorrect).

Same two trends in China. It’s Global?

I think this is good, but I think "feminization" is the wrong word. More is female accessible(*). But in a Choose Your Own Culture age, no one has to choose the classically feminine.

* - or gender nonspecific

Nah, football has been feminized so US men can't win on the global stage because they no longer have the balls to win.

But the US women keep winning globally in football. Rapinoe has the balls to win.

Football has always been for girls in the states. No trend or conspiracy there.

Wait , is that a concise review of Cats?

Feminization of America? Has Cowen been into the eggnog? The president, that would be Trump, is a misogynist - he despises women, women who don't idolize him and his money anyway. Indeed, women who support Trump are the opposite of feminists: they are tools.

It isn't mansplaining if it's true.

In less than three years President Donald J. Trump has accomplished the following:

From Matt Margolis, PJ Media:

He {Mark Perry] added, "It’s girls and women who get a disproportionate amount of attention, resources, and financial support.

"He cited as examples the wide availability of women's centers and commissions on college campuses, and the lack of men's equivalents; the disproportionately high number of women-only scholarships, fellowships, awards and initiatives for female students and faculty; girls-only STEM programs and organizations, . . . "

In this thread DtB credits Trump with establishing the Society of Women Engineers

anonymous gets trolled by Thiago again

rayward makes irrelevant political commentary

+1, can we make the Skeptical thread synopsis a regular event.

Yeah, and please, nobody tell him that all of Billie Eilish's songs are written by her brother.

"Trump is the president" just shows that social views are expressed in different channels:

1. Conservatives have more political power, which is reflected in state and federal governments.
2. Liberals have more cultural power, which is reflected in art, music, and academia.

Men have run the show for a long time, but in politics and in culture, there are no perfect corrections, only under-or-over-corrections. And given the secular decrease in testosterone, increase in age, and increasing empowerment of women in America, we should expect our culture in the short term to overcorrect and become more and more feminine (less and less masculine).

But in the medium to long term ("solve for the equilibrium"), masculine men will become more and more scarce and thereby more and more valuable, professionally and romantically. Consequently, dating market pressures will incentivize research and development of testosterone monitoring, replacement therapy, and other hormone supplementation, making it safer, cheaper, and more socially accepted. We aren't as manly as our fathers were, but our grandchildren might be.

There are still plenty of real writers writing real books, and they still sell well to boot. The difference is that teenage girls have become the dominant consumer demographic and therefore dominate charts (same thing with music, television, etc). But that doesn't come at the expense of other audiences, as you presume, because they are orthogonal markets.

The big question to me is why teenage girls have enough disposable income so as to be the arbiters of pop culture. Teenage boys don't seem to carry the same influence. Differentiate herding behavior is another interesting possibility.

"Teenage boys don't seem to carry the same influence. Differentiate herding behavior is another interesting possibility."

Maybe they don't buy books. Or disperse their largesse between a greater number of books.

At a guess, Call of Duty brought in more money than Shades of Grey.

So that is it. We used to be a Republic of Jeffersons, Washingtons and Lincolns. Now we are a nation of game players.

None of that explains why teenage girls also dominate music charts, however.

You also really seem to be bending over backwards to invent flaws in younger generations.

My point is, we, Americans used to livr art, real art.

Or at least that's what you used to proclaim....

Damn right. And you know why? Because we didn't ask to Ophra what the Dickens we shouls read. By Golly, we decided that ourselves.

PJ Media, Matt Margolis,

"The chart itself is quite fascinating, did you know that for every 100 girls/women who take AP/Honors courses in art and music, there are only 54 boys/men? For every 100 girls/women who earn an associate's degree, there are only 63 boys/men who accomplish the same feat. There are only 73 boys/men enrolled in a U.S. graduate school or who have earned at least a master's degree (between the ages of 25-29) for every 100 girls/women. For a doctorate degree, it's 90 boys/men for every hundred girls/women.

"That's not to say that there aren't areas where there are more boys/men than girls/women. For every hundred girls/women who are homeless, there are 154 boys/men. There are double or slight more than double the number of boys/men as there are girls/women who have problems with alcoholism, learning disabilities, die of an opioid overdose, get expelled from school, or commit suicide. There are at least ten times more men than women who are in a correctional facility, die on the job, or are in federal prison."

But The Narrative!

It’s the Birkenhead Drill writ large. The propensity to do that is probably in decline.

America's "literary culture" (a hugely generous appellation) today is the result of the academic captivity that has been strangling literary enterprise and publishing for entire decades.

The US academic MFA industry in scant decades has become little else than an all-but-hermetically sealed echo chamber, and our poverty-struck "literature" has become to no surprise little more than fifty shades of grey schlock.

Over almost half of the past decade, our corrupt and corrupting Media Establishment (of which print publishing is formally a component) has been in strident anti-Trump mode, insuring that more and more titles being released continue to pose ANY narratives contrary to anything that might come from non-MFA moderated and regulated (and approved) sources.

A "cultural dam" will break in this country one fine day in no more than a few short years, after which publishers' preferences for selling stories they want to see sold and told will no longer dominate what writers decide they need to write in order to speak to the culture at large.

Death to the dread MFA. Death to the academic captivity of American letters.

I hope you're right about that cultural dam. I hold no such hope. People have forgotten how to tell a story (which also explains the prominence of franchises and series, by the way -- jettison the overarching plot in favor of soap opera cliffhangers); if they ever rediscover how to do it, it will be because they had to reinvent it.

I hold only the hope, certainly no assurance.

These are challenging times even for writers of fiction who've not been throttled or misled by MFA commissariats.

Literature's low status on the American scene I attribute in part to the guilty perception that "literature" is inherently anti-democratic because its reception entails colonialist impositions of literacy and some degree of literate-ness, which itself entails evil and odious things like acquaintance with "literary history" or "canon".

People serious about literature know they can dispense safely with academic categories when it comes to reading fiction, so perhaps serious students of literature will yet come to remember that at some point they MUST dispense with academic categories when it comes to writing fiction.

Edward Burke, if you wrote a really good novel, I'm pretty sure it would get published and read - even today. There is tremendous thirst for a great reactionary novel in our time - not a science fiction, or fantasy novel, allegory or satire. But a tale well-told that seduces its audience through the masterful deployment of the traditional literary tools, touched with metafiction and a dose of the experimental and unexpected. Sort of like what they recently did movie-wise in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

Heterosexual white men not named Mailer, Updike, Roth, or Cheever scored literary best-sellers this way frequently in the recent past, ("The French Lieutenant's Woman", "The White Hotel", "Earthly Powers").

The problem, if there is a problem, is not that the gatekeepers are too academic, or too politically correct, it is that there are NO gatekeepers.

The avalanche of self-publication across all platforms makes it more difficult in the past for that rare (and they will always be rare) good work to make its way to the surface. But I'm confident that if someone (Edward Burke, for instance) wrote a splendid novel, however reactionary it might be, that novel would ultimately find its way to the readers who would appreciate it (and you could certainly number me one of them).

A quarter century ago, I watched the rise of women novelists with some alarm. But I have to say, they turned out to be damned good at the literary novel, comic literary novel and literary memoir.

And if men writers would drag their fat asses away from their video games, turn off the World War II documentaries, get out of their WW II non-fiction reading rut, throw science fiction, fantasy (and porn) back into the moldy adolescent closet, set their jaws, plant themselves behind the keyboard and write to save their lives -- well, we might actually get somewhere.

The French Lieutenant's Woman was by John Fowles, an Englishman.

Being English doesn't exclude you from the white, heterosexual male author's club - despite certain stereotypes.

I read "The French Lieutenant's Woman" when I was about 14. It seemed pretty good (although I was only 14, so what did I know?), but you sure don't hear much about it anymore.

John Fowles was still white, male and heterosexual. (As an aside, It goes without saying that there are hundreds of outstanding gay male novelists.)

Are there more women novelists today than in the era of Austen and the Brontes, or just fewer men novelists?

Thanks, but yours truly will not be writing novels: from my provincial, idiosyncratic perspective, I see the Great American Novel as a form at least as dead as David Foster Wallace, whose Infinite Jest I don't even use as a doorstop.

On the basis of Juvenal's Satire 1, I cannot concede your point that this is no day for literary satire: prevailing conditions being what they are, these days are fit for very little literary activity other than satire, especially in the US (that Edward St Aubyn's British satire on Man Booker Prize productions never gained the American audience it deserved begins to show just how captive "American literary minds" are to the dazzling worlds of literary prizes and literary awards, to the exclusion of visceral prose and compelling narratives themselves).

"Best seller" is a publishing industry marketing term: it is not a functional literary term. (In Cousin Flannery's inimitable terms: ". . . very few people who are supposedly interested in writing are interested in writing well. They are interested in publishing something, and if possible in making a 'killing.' They are interested in being a writer, not in writing. They are interested in seeing their names at the top of something printed, it matters not what. And they seem to feel that this can be accomplished learning certain things about working habits and about markets and about what subjects are currently acceptable." --her closing remark bears directly on the character of practically every American MFA program or post-secondary literary commissariat today.)

I did work in book publishing (scholarly titles, not fiction) in a prior life, so I can assure you from comparatively recent experience that gatekeepers do indeed continue to keep watch, even when the gates in question are bolted shut and the drawbridge is raised. (I dabbled in screenwriting before working in television news production even more recently, and gatekeepers of whatever disposition remain employed across our Media Sector, whose behemoths are as keen as ever to contribute to the management of public discourse.)

I abandoned contemporary American fiction years ago to focus on fiction in translation (chiefly, Russian, Japanese, and classical Greek and Latin), all arguably more engaged with and better descriptive of contemporary American realities than much/most recent American fiction.

Yet again: death to the dread MFA, death to the academic captivity of American letters.

America's literary culture has always been lame, with one notable exception. While Melville, Twain, Poe and couple of other 19th century figures are the most recognizable US literary figures, the US does hold a monopoly on a specific genre, the Southern Gothic, which the three aforementioned prefigured. Representatives include MacKinlay Kantor, Calder Willingham, Jr., William Faulkner, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Harry Crews, James Dickey and others. It's really the only form of literature exclusive to the US.

Well it depends how we look at it. There is definitely feminization trend, but also a clear trend and opportunity to be a mature/ real man that can benefit from it.

Also to all the negative stats on men. Look at the levels of self harm and suicide for teenage girls the stats are reversed. How do we explain this?

In 2016, boys ages 15 to 19 died by suicide 3.31 times more than girls. Ages 10 to 14 the ratio is about 2.

It's A Man's World.

Per Matt Margolis: "That's not to say that there aren't areas where there are more boys/men than girls/women. For every hundred girls/women who are homeless, there are 154 boys/men. There are double or slightly more than double the number of boys/men as there are girls/women who have problems with alcoholism, learning disabilities, die of an opioid overdose, get expelled from school, or commit suicide. There are at least ten times more men than women who are in a correctional facility, die on the job, or are in federal prison."

Bonus, in June 2020, millions of Americans, including men, will receive separate bills for abortion coverage.

Do you think you could do a post on what you specifically mean by the "feminisation of our culture"?

I don't reject the possibility that culture has become more feminised, but I don't really consider novels to be at the heart of cultural consumption these days. I would consider TV shows, movies, sport, and most importantly video games to be where the action (certainly the money) is and looking at the biggest hits in these areas over the last decade tells quite a different story about cultural "feminisation".

I was born in the 90s, so maybe what is a relatively feminised culture isn't apparent to me due to lack of lived comparison, but a more explicit stating of the idea and argument would still be helpful.

Other interesting questions about the cultural output of the last ten years imo are:

- What is up with superhero movies? Easy to sell worldwide? CGI finally become good and cheap enough to do them? Increasing comfort/discomfort with technology? Loss of belief in traditional religious myths (Black Panther in particular seems interesting in this light)?
- Why is reality TV increasingly shows along the lines of "Real housewives of x"? Keeping up with the Kardashians fits this mold somewhat too.
- Sports VS Esports in revenue, celebrity, media coverage.
- Video games VS movies, TV shows, music in relative cultural impact. Video games in particular seem very undertheorised for a cross cultural global interest for both young men and women.
- What are/have been the big trends in comedy? What you can and can't laugh at is very interesting from a taboo perspective. Does this differ between stand up comics, comedy TV, comedy movies?
- Podcasts VS Non-fiction books as a means of learning non-fiction information.
- Which sports are growing and shrinking worldwide?

YouTube consumption patterns might have a clue as well.

An amazing example of the Choose Your Own Culture constellation in modern media.

The biggest single change in the consumption of academic nonfiction has been the ability to see the web of citations. If you want to learn a specialized topic, it is more easy than ever to find what you ought to read to understand it (although the depth of subjects increases as well).

By and large, podcasts, with their advantages, are less academic and a poorer medium the more intellectually serious the material.

"The feminization of our culture is for me trend number one"

Perhaps the *attempts* to feminize our culture, and not necessarily succeeding. Book sales have decreased quite dramatically in the 2010s compared to 2000s.

The top 10 of 2000s were dominated by Rowling and Dan Brown. Most entries sold about 1.5x-2x as much as this decade's #1. Even the kite runner, which barely made it into last decades' top 10 list, had comparable sales to 50 shades of grey (this decade's #1).

People are just not into the content being pushed this decade. The huge decline in book sales that began in 2010, in a way, foreshadowed the culture war that was to come.

It's the inexorable decline of books vs screens. Reading is just less of a thing, and nothing can stop that. When I was a teenager in the 1980s and had some free (alone) time, I could watch TV (with not many channels to pick from), play my Atari 2600 or Apple II+ games, or read a book. Today teenagers have way more and better things to do and reading books is just over.

Are you sure? I think reading is up among kids at least?

I mean, isn't that obvious? I was responding to Cold Potato's comment about the massive decline in book sales.

Any 'reading' the kids are doing isn't books (even on Kindles). It's blogs/social media/texts etc.

On the contrary, I think "kids" read just as much if not more now. It's the >25-30s, who thoroughly enjoyed the books in 2000s, rejected the new content and bought less books in the recent decade.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/millennials-are-out-reading-older-generations/379934/

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/young-people-are-reading-more-than-you

"Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months"

And/Or:

it's a matter, too, of how "American celebrity culture" sloshes things about.

Music has every human appeal of which Tolstoy seems to've stayed suspicious, and music celebrity culture floats many American boats.

Sports figures and their celebrity culture occupy lots of time, money, and broadcast attention.

America's traditional film industry (now enveloped in the generic "media industry" that fits content to screens of all sizes) is losing status due to the prominent sex scandals ripping the industry up. (Hollywood has lost practically all of its traditional status if producer casting couches are no longer deemed sacrosanct.) What is now evident as only a bare peeling away of influence could well become preamble to wholesale rejection of Hollywood/media presentations for the increasing poor quality of their output due to the overall lower status credibly to be accorded the shabby industry.

America has no comparable "literary celebrity culture" to speak of because of the low status it enjoys compared to music, sports, and video drama (which do thrive themselves at least in part because Americans accept adult illiteracy and sub-literacy rates afflicting almost 40% of the American adult population).

There's no way Americans are more illiterate or sub-literate than they were 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, taken as a whole.

That's not what he said.

Way back when -- 30 years ago -- the big problem was that women couldn't be the boss. Glass ceiling and all that. And overt sexism, to be sure.

Over the course of my lifetime, I watched as women gradually rose to prominent positions in business and workforces became less male. This came with a swath of positive changes, but there was one really big problem that everyone noticed, and no one wanted to admit: The office was becoming less egalitarian and more, well... catty.

This trend has been documented by people who study such things, so it's not just my male fragility talking. But even if it is, humor me for a second.

It seems to me that the people who want women to rise to power -- who want girls to code (TM), and who think it's TIME (TM) for a woman to be president, that sort of thing -- these people are happy for men to step aside, until men actually do step aside, and then they realize that something important goes missing.

What goes missing varies by the field. In business, we lose meritocracy and stoicism and replace it with politics and "servant leadership;" in the creative arts, we lose raw creativity and replace it with Stories About People (plenty of drama, but no real narrative direction); in music, we lose complexity and replace it with danciness...

These things aren't better or worse, they're just different. It's a stark reminder that men and women do things differently, and there are skills, ideas, concepts, and ways of thinking that require a male presence to achieve efficiently. My hope is that, as the years go by, people remember to acknowledge the strengths of the male mind and seek it out when those strengths are required. I currently see no evidence that there is any interest in this.

RPLong. I’m in anecdotal agreement with you. Would you be able to direct me to any data/analyses from the “people who study such things”. I’d seriously like to get better educated on this... our HR department is explicitly anti-male.

Men have withdrawn from creating culture anymore.

This is trend number one.

Status roles for men are in finance and software. It's much hotter to be a startup founder than a singer or a writer. And so you see that top male songs by viewers are the likes of Maluma (baby) and Enrique Iglesias, from countries where society is still lagging.

You can thank for it the feminization of musical juries and adapting standards to Instagram criteria.

It's not by accident that these singers come from the caribbean. Guys are hot, life is simple and turns around nightlife, love affairs, dancing, and beautiful beaches. It fits to perfection with what girls like these days. The natural hierarchies in politics and business are a nuisance to them since it reverts the social order of the caribbean, and so it needs to be realigned. Women, cute boys and lack of ambition must be put at the top.

Feel better now, sweetie?

LARPer. I’m sure you think you’re doing the Lord’s work LARPing as whatever this persona is supposed to be. Back to Reddit child.

Take a hint from DtB. That’s what a real hard right con looks like. Your take is derivative and idiotic, a fingerpainting exercise compared to Monet.

Lame and derivative

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-viewed_YouTube_videos

Spot the common trend. And then tell me it's just a teenage phase :)

Girls like it easy.

The chance you know what girls like is nil.

The chance the Larper is not a boy is not nil, however. This place is full of trolls and sockpuppets - not to mention shills.

As a long time sci-fi/fantasy reader I am very aware of the prevalence of female writers and characters. Mostly I dont care but there are times when it just becomes unbelievable (and this is coming from someone who reads books about magic, elves, etc) that skinny 16 y/o girls are beating up trained, grown men. In my younger days I had to fight with people as part of my job and size and strength matter a lot. Also, the female writers put in way more romance than I want. Not all of them, but I now fail to finish many more books than I did in the past because I just cant tolerate the romance crap.

Steve

I don't mind stories with female leads, but too often the female heroes are perfect Mary Sues who always do the right things and don't have problematic
sides to their personalities which get them in trouble. Reading about paragons gets old really fast.

So my explanation is that this trend is due to the differentiated (by gender) impact of the rise of new forms of entertainment in the last 30 years, most importantly the rise of video games. Boys/Men are disproportionately attracted to them and are spending greater portion of their time/dollars to them, and less and less on books. For girls/women, on the other hand, the effect is much more muted, hence the audience for fiction has become, over time, much more focused on girls/women with titles focused on issues and topics that are most interesting to them, on average.

Culture changes. It's not better or worse, it's just different. Old folks think it's worse because it's not what they knew.

Well, sure. Now that the other thread is gone "this guy gets it."

As to Tyler's separate and distinct invocation of "cultural feminization" (exclusive of fiction or publishing):

to whatever degree "feminism" is a marketable notion with associated products, no doubt marketers and retailers today are targeting most of the women they want to cater to. Feminism has obvious commercial appeal in the US, certo.

--but how can or how will the fashion(s) of feminism persist?

Whatever interim dominance or prominence feminism has achieved as a market or fashion statement, its future is in grave doubt, as recent years clearly suggest.

Feminism as it's been peddled to Americans in schools and on screens (and on some book pages) over recent decades is in crisis: when vocal and vetted and trusted male media cheerleaders for feminism show that not even they can take (all) the tenets of feminist dogma seriously in the real world, the ideology or fashion faces an inherent problem of credibility.

When credentialed male cheerleaders for feminism in prominent media spots violate the spirit and the letter of dogmatic feminism so egregiously, the credibility of feminist pretenses legitimately has to come into question: and if those questions are barely being posed or permitted publicly out of acute embarrassment, it will take Feminism, Inc., that much longer to reconfigure itself so that perhaps it could be taken seriously, even by its credentialed supporters.

Hmm. Someone accused me of "falling" for a troll. I don't think it's really "falling" when you have a chance to add something useful. And now that thread is gone.

On the topic of "the feminization of our culture" .. I asked why video games were not considered? Such games earned $36 billion US revenue in 2017. In the same year, the US book publishing industry reported revenues of $26 billion.

You did add a good point.

Women have been clearly dominating the SF genre: N.K. Jemisin (three Hugos for best novel in a row), Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, Jo Walton, Ada Palmer and probably many others who I am forgetting.

Stocks vs Flows, I would bet the overall stock of SF novels heavily favours men.

I bought one sci-fi book wrote by a black woman, didnt pass page 15. I dont think its because its a woman, i think average quality of new books is just not so good. For this maybe its a good idea to follow Taleb's advice and focus on old books...

Fantasy seems to mostly long have skewed female in authorship, in the sense of the writers of the most popular big bulky trilogies (Lynn Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, Robin Hobb, the Dragonlance women and so on).

High quality fantasy less so; this has tended to be weirder and more risky, or else more mythological and genuinely evocative of great epics - Moorcock, Tolkien, Peake, Wolfe - and less domesticated, less cosy and less focused on kin relationships. That seems to mostly skew male advantage.

But looking synopses of those writers work who you've listed above, looks indistinguishable from YA braindeath. The "forms" of sci-fi perhaps but not the substance of even (to list a couple men) a Greg Egan or a Neal Stephenson.

Ursula LeGuin being the only woman who can seriously hang with the male canon (and at the highest levels of originality) doesn't seem like it'll be changing too soon...

Julian May.

I'll be honest, I'm wholly ignorant of her - it was probably fairly rash of me to say it's *only* LeGuin, and frankly women are maybe better represented in taken-seriously fantasy too (MZB? Though she should be up for being a cancelled person now, surely.). I think it mostly stands though.

MZB has been dead for twenty years so no point in cancelling her. Her Darkover series was continued by Deborah Ross.
Also among the deceased, but a favorite of mine as a teenager: Tanith Lee, whose fantasy tales always had a distinctly erotic flavor.

And there is way too much insecure acceptance of "feminization" on this page.

I'm teaching our daughter's boyfriend, the Marine, to fly fish. I have no idea what you all are doing.

Even Tyler knows the culture has not been feminized.

What has happened is that there have been endless attempts to force feminization into the culture -- a female Ghostbusters, yay!! -- and a large chunk of them have failed spectacularly.

But Tyler wants to reward the failed efforts. I mean, the drunk lady he voted for in 2016 didn't win, so the least he can do is write a schlock "attagirl" column to make up for it (and so he can signal correctly).

I have no idea why a female Ghostbusters should affect my masculinity. And the kids seem fine. The one boy boxed (intermural) in college, and the younger is classically into fast cars (certainly enough to worry us at times).

NB: Your daughter's boyfriend has to be taught to fly-fish.

Does anyone else remember when a major complaint about certain minority groups is that they were all fixated on sports and having sex and didn't want to work hard at school? That they would harass any member of their group who studied and was interested in the world around them? Well, that minority group is young men nowadays. When the easy ride lubricated by liberal politics and unions got voted down, largely by men, men just gave up.

Men, especially higher status men, are less resilient than women. Ask any historian or anthropologist. Men will sit around and gripe, turn to drugs and violence and die young. It happened in the USSR. It's happening here. As a man from an ethnic group used to having the ground change beneath it, I find it hard to be sympathetic. It's hard to sympathy for someone saws off the branch they are standing on.

Your comments suggest the males of your ethnicity have escaped this demoralization. If I’m correct, how have they done so?

This seems easily explained by men playing more video games and getting their culture through that medium instead of books. The video game industry in the US is now larger than the film industry and 50% larger than the book industry. Any account of recent culture is incomplete without taking into account video games.

Grand Theft Auto V alone sold more copies than all ten of the books on that top ten lists combined.

Bestselling games replace bestselling books makes some sense, although do you really substitute Resident Evil for Stephen King, GTA for John Grisham? I think it's really a story of older readers draining away and that "prestige television" and explosion of TV content probably explains more here than games.

Still, be careful not to overshoot and overemphasize that bookish boys don't exist in about the same quantity they ever did. They're still out there reading great writers (rarely, never the bestselling writers) and the web makes that easier.

In the 1950s, when the Cold War was ramping up, the Cleavers, Ward, June, Wally and the Beaver were emblematic of the normal American family. It was frequently commented upon that the evil Soviets so lacked manpower and expertise that women were needed in the workforce. Because of this, Commie kids were placed in daycare, a situation guaranteed to further the complete breakdown of Russian society. The massive build-up of US forces and its incredible expense wasn't simply to protect the fruited plain from invasion by the Asiatic hordes but was meant to preserve the unique American culture that produced generations of men that turned the tide to victory in two global wars. The same culture that was represented by the ideal American family, the Cleavers.

Unfortunately, the politicians that made up all the governing bodies in the country discovered that they could purchase the votes of over half the population by appealing to the interests of females. They recognized that males, particularly young males, were far more interested in who was playing fullback for the Detroit Lions than who was running for the Michigan governor's spot. Women, at least a lot of them, were willing to waddle on down to the polls while their boyfriends and husbands were reluctant to walk away from the pool game down at the saloon to vote for a stranger they likely despised.

As the years passed the feminization of the country accelerated. The 60s were the tipping point and the game was over for masculinity. The very culture that was defended by B-52 bombers, MX missiles and nuclear subs was defeated by the men tasked with defending it. The latest skirmish in the battle of the sexes is the fallout of the #MeToo movement. Men are automatically the evil sexual villains, dating back as far as junior high. Women, a gender that includes Livia Drusilla, Messalina, Myra Hindley , Irma Grese and Bonnie Parker, are perfectly capable of both defending themselves and being criminals. Their dalliances with wealthy scum bags are meant to be profitable. When they are not, issues are raised.

Perhaps the immigration of Neanderthal families from less advanced cultures might slow the emasculation of the American guy, since the men of those families still wear the pants. In fact, foreign men in general laugh at cowed American males. But it's just as likely that the newcomers will be rapidly deprived of their former position after a short period of time in a society where women call the shots.

This place is lousy with 'em

"Unfortunately, the politicians that made up all the governing bodies in the country discovered that they could purchase the votes of over half the population by appealing to the interests of females."

My God! Don't you say? Appealing to the interest of voters!

"As the years passed the feminization of the country accelerated. The 60s were the tipping point and the game was over for masculinity"

I know, Blacks even got the vote for real. Can you ever imagine that?

Women in the US didn't receive voting rights nationally until the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. "Appealing to the interests of voters" isn't quite the same as purchasing votes. Legislation and judicial decisions that favor women over men aren't exactly the interests of voters, either. Male blacks were able to vote, like white males, after 1867. Native American women, and men, weren't even citizens until the 1920s.

"Women in the US didn't receive voting rights nationally until the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920"
Is there a long German word that means I support something, even though I acknowledge it didn't turn out very well?

"Male blacks were able to vote, like white males, after 1867."

Not always and not everywhere. Or as Dr. King put it, "We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote."

Oooh, Tyler is sensitive about the fact that feminization is only in the "culture" and not "The White House." Noted.

Sorry, but it's very hard to take your column seriously. You think the Harry Potter books are indicative of a female culture? Are you aware that these books are about a BOY WHO DEFEATS AN EVIL MALE WIZARD? Are you aware that the author called herself "JK" to hide her gender? Dear God, man.

75% of all fiction is bought by women. That might explain the popularity of female protaganists.

I thought

Fifty Shades of Gray

Was about

Aging Boomers.

In British English, it is "Grey". In American, Gray. For the undecided or multinational polyglots, it is grey/gray.

Trumpeting this trend, as the author seems to do, is one thing. Actually consuming this “cuture”, as the author implies he does, would be quite another!

The newest book on the list has had 8 years to build up sales. Kinda hard to put much stock in these "best of the decade" lists. Women seem to be more heavily targeted readers than men. I've personally never heard of a men's reading group whereas my wife is part of three different women's reading groups. Each with its own female celebrity endorsing which books to read. Guess the genre and gender of most of the books and authors.

Cultural feminization is a natural consequence of progress. Modern civilized society requires more feminine values while, over time, women have attained equality and so tend to become more influential in society.

I don't think that female main characters might actually reflect this feminization. As we might know, heterosexual males like girls so it is natural that media products with female protagonists can sell to both demographics (role models for females, objects of attraction for males). I also think that the prevalence of female main characters in Japanese fiction has given ideas to western fiction which is why this "boom" began relatively recently.

Modern civilized society requires more feminine values

Really? And what might those values be? They're totally different than male values, which are what again? Is "modern" civilized society much different than "paleolithic" civilized society? Did women have different values in days of yore? Maybe you're on to something, somebody agrees with you.

So three of the 7 are bodice rippers. This seems more of an indication of the collapse of book publishing than the feminization of the culture.

One trend perhaps that could support this feminisation could be increased resolution screens, both for TVs and things like iPads. It is now possible to better appreciate beauty on a screen more compared to the old 405 line crt technology. This favours women, since we all know both me and women prefer to look at women than men.

Heh.
Will we see a remasculinization, once higher refresh rates displays and 3d content take hold, and we can actually get something resembling coherent fight scenes leaving this dreadfully boring <30Hz century behind us?

Tyler discusses how numbers have in some ways "broken" basketball and baseball. However, he doesn't discuss the evolution of football over the last decade which, as far as I know, remains the most culturally dominant sport. Football seems to have become much more schematically complex over the decade: 3-5 receiver formations, run-pass-options, spread offenses, pistol formations, dual-threat QBs, pass-rush schemes. That increase in sophistication reflects genuine creativity, beyond merely following what the numbers say. One might characterize these changes as innovations in football "theory" as opposed to empirics. Football, of course, remains the most "masculine" of our major sports, so its evolution seems to run against two of the trends Tyler mentions: feminization and empiricization.

At the same time, football's evolutionary path does not seem to have made it less popular and indeed don't seem to have changed the "essence" of the game at all. What to make of the enduring dominance of this decidedly masculine sport and whose evolution has seemed to, thus far, eschew empirics in favor of human judgement and theory?

Yes, modern culture seems rather derivative and "what if the woman is the badass/villain/hero/lightsaber-clown" is only about as creative as it gets sometimes. But the "now" has more "past" than ever to compete with. And what we are making great claims on popular franchises and their quality for?
When Shakespeare's plays were performed, people went out to the theatre expecting and getting their trash entertainment and were content.
Now we expect artistic this and craftsman that in all the Pleb stuff?

Two remarks.

1) Best-sellers being authored buy women is not completely new. In the decades 1990-2000, according to this site (https://bestsellers.lib.virginia.edu/decade/1990)
five out of ten were written by women. I didn't find (by laziness probably) the same data for 2000-2010, but surely many of the Harry Potter and of the Hunger Games (both written by women) are in the list of ten best-sellers.

What is really new in the 2010-2020 list is the presence of SM porn (male domination, to be precise) in the three first places. Sure, it is ultra-soft and boring porn, but for sure this new.

2) The relation between the list of the 10 best sellers of a decade and its "culture" is about the same as the relation between the list of the 10 fattest persons in the world in a given year and the global gastronomy scene in that year.

Jesus Christ. Billie Eilish???

If any Republican pundit bragged about admiring her, we'd be hearing 24/7 about how her songs are about her enthusiasm for oral sex ("I have bruises on both my knees for you").

But no -- it's Tyler Cowen! He votes Dem every time, but he leans libertarian! Let's give him a pass on this one!!!!

I'm not sure what really stood out for me this decade... overall I'd say that in terms of music, it improved a bit towards the end, but mainly because of more Latino influence in Pop music... otherwise, even British music was bad the last decade, just as bad as American/Canadian music, though that has been the case since the mid 2000s maybe. Overall, there was not much innovation the last decade in most areas I feel, maybe with certain technologies (e.g. automobiles) being an exception. As for the main point of the article, I'm not sure what exactly is meant by "feminisation of the culture", but if it means men acting more feminine I'm not sure if I'm seeing it so much...

Comments for this post are closed