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Monday, October 16, 2006

Men being men is a truly great deal

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Over at Kesher Talk, Cinnamon Sitwell was posting on this article:
Men being men is a bad deal: Guys should evolve beyond masculinity
Honestly, with a title like that, one has to assume that Robert Jensen, the guy who wrote it, is a wuss.
It's hard to be a man; hard to live up to the demands that come with the dominant conception of masculinity, of the tough guy.

So, guys, I have an idea -- maybe it's time we stop trying.
Bad idea, dude.

Guys, I'm a woman, and take it from me, don't stop.
Maybe this masculinity thing is a bad deal, not just for women, but for us.
The "masculinity thing" is a truly great deal. I say so.

But wait:
We need to get rid of the whole idea of masculinity. It's time to abandon the claim that there are certain psychological or social traits that inherently come with being biologically male. If we can get past that, we have a chance to create a better world for men and women.

That dominant conception of masculinity in U.S. culture is easily summarized: Men are assumed to be naturally competitive and aggressive, and being a real man is therefore marked by the struggle for control, conquest and domination. A man looks at the world, sees what he wants and takes it.
So what he calls "this masculinity thing" actually is what I call "being a domineering obnoxious jerk".

Any guy whose take on life is a constant "struggle for control, conquest and domination" is one heck of an insecure guy. Two men from ancient history whose overwhelming "struggle for control, conquest and domination" earned them dishonor and who by all definitions "looked at the world, saw what they wanted and took it", Nero and Caligula, aren't the most masculine paragons of manliness. Allow me to refresh your memory:

John Hurt playing Caligula in I, Claudius.

Additionally, if Robert thinks that only men "struggle for control, conquest and domination" and go around "seeing what they want and taking it", spending a few days with some of the more unscrupulous local female real estate agents would open his eyes wide and for ever. There's plenty of grasping, controlling, and conniving in both genders.

Of course Robert won't be doing any of that, since the evil triunvirate of
business, the military and athletics
endorses what he perceives as "masculinity", which
is reinforced through the mass media
The same mass media who brought us Queer Eye, Robert?
(and please! don't get me started on men who wax their body hair)

Robert goes on,
This doesn't mean that the negative consequences of this toxic masculinity are equally dangerous for men and women. As feminists have long pointed out, there's a big difference between women dealing with the possibility of being raped, beaten and killed by the men in their lives, and men not being able to cry.
While it is possible, at least in theory, for any given man to rape/beat up/kill any given woman, the actual number of rapists/batterers/murderers in our society is very small, and people who exhibit such behavior are correctly labeled sociopaths. Not "masculine", not "femenine"; sociopaths. It is not "toxic masculinity", it is criminal, pathological behavior.

If, however, Robert has been listening to radical feminists who believe that any sexual intercourse between men and women is rape, he's flat-out wrong in that belief; his perception is faulty. As Cinnamon points out,
This is standard fare for those indoctrinated by years of post-1960's feminist pap. The modern feminists' obsession with making men and women not simply equal, but exactly the same, has led to the downsizing (pun intended) of masculinity in American society.
One does have reason to suspect that's what he's been listening to:
Yet it's also true that men and women are more similar than we are different, and that given the pernicious effects of centuries of patriarchy and its relentless devaluing of things female, we should be skeptical of the perceived differences.
. . .
But in the short-term it's hardly a convincing argument to say, "Look at how men and women behave so differently; it must be because men and women are fundamentally different" when a political system has been creating differences between men and women.

From there, the argument that we need to scrap masculinity is fairly simple.
Not so fast, Robert.

As I was saying last August
While the women's movement might want to believe that men are hirsute women with different plumbing, they are mistaken. No matter how they cut it, one fact remains
Men are not women, and women are not men.
The differences between men and women are inherent, not created by a political system.

Since he's on a roll, Robert goes on,
Once we start saying "strength and courage are masculine traits," it leads to the conclusion that woman are not as strong or courageous.
Fortunately I haven't had to test the courage, but I assure you that The Husband and our son, who are significantly taller and more muscular than I, are stronger. And that's really very good. Men like to protect women. And women like that.

Robert's project is not complete
Of course, if we are going to jettison masculinity, we have to scrap femininity along with it.
Good luck on that, Robert. Just don't count on my support.

Other bloggers posting on the subject: Pamela wants some Robert Mitchum. When I was a kid I saw a very hung-over and unappealing Robert Mitchum in old San Juan, and I'm more interested in other stars, but Squiggler asks Who the hell wants a pantywaist and woos like the guy in the article?

Update
Manly Man Monday

Update, Tuesday 17 October
Cinnamon has further comments.
Shrinkwrapped looks at Trauma, Passivity, & the Fear of Aggression
Apparently, those who counsel caution recognize that they cannot be criticized if by inaction disaster occurs. Only those who take decisive action warrant criticism. Isn't this the core of the Iraq War debate? Isn't this the issue with North Korea and Iran? The preferred approach to any conflict in the world is to be passivity and appeasement; no one should criticize the Clinton administration for the North Korean bomb; after all, they spent years talking to Kim and he agreed to be nice. Now the big, bad Bush administration, with thier hyper-masculine aggression, has made Kim frightened and angry and he exploded an atomic bomb. The only fault lies with those aggressive men. This is nonsense. When danger threatens it has always been the men who stepped to the front and confronted the danger. Our civilization is at risk, despite our most fervent wishes that everyone should like us, and we require the services of brave men and women who are ready, willing, and able to fight for us. The least we can do is begin to prepare ourselves and our children for fighting back when and if it becomes necessary.
A (woman, grandmother of twins) friend yesterday emailed saying,
When you mentioned "people who exhibit such behavior are correctly labeled sociopaths", all I could think of is that nothing can stop a sociopath faster than my .22 rifle.
I expect that Robert Jensen will be scandalized, but I emailed her Shrinkwrapped's post.

Via Cinammon, Rush Limbaugh also read the Jensen article on the radio.

More: Don't Mess With Real Men

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