When Did Men Stop Being Men?

It was written a year ago, so I’m late to the party. Also, to be fair, it’s kind of an easy target. However, I just saw a post tagged with ‘Masculinity’ that positively linked to this post by David Goetsch entitled ‘Neutering the Male of the Species: The Feminization of American Society,’ and it prompted me to respond. In his post, Goetsch asks: “[W]hy do so many men in America feel compelled to apologize for…for what…for being men?” This may come as no surprise considering the title of his post, but Goetsch says, “The answer to this question is simple: Feminists are neutering the American male and the American male is letting it happen.” During my undergraduate years, I minored in Gender and Women’s Studies. Apparently, I was at risk daily, as it meant I was surrounded by feminists. But let me tell you, not once did a feminist attempt to neuter me.

Goetsch’s article is an unpleasant little piece of fantasy and conspiracy that still finds a way to squeeze in some anti-Muslim bile as well. It never ceases to amaze me how some people can cram so much hatred into so few words. Goetsch’s argument can be summed up in this passage: “Bowing to the strident sniping of radical feminists, men have allowed themselves to be transformed into a bunch of wimpy eunuchs who, rather than stand their ground, have ceded their manhood to women who want to be men.” What is lost when men are “transformed into a bunch of wimpy eunuchs”? Goetsch doesn’t expressly give a response, but you get the idea when he says, “In fact, there are lots of things women do better than men, but things that require physical strength and native aggression are not among them.” In fact, most of the post is about how men’s aggressive and violent nature is key to protecting and preserving the good.

This is what prompts me to ask, when did men stop being men? Following Goetsch’s logic, the sniping of radical feminists has caused us to make a radical shift in our society toward one that undermines the masculine. This indoctrination is claimed to happen as early as kindergarten and continues throughout the 12 years of the American education system. Well, Feminism has been around for awhile, and Goetsch certainly talks as though this social restructuring isn’t new. So, when did men stop being men? Well, Goetsch helps us answer this question in his first paragraph. In his opening, Goetsch praises men being men. He praises the men who fought the American Revolution. He praises the men who fought against the Axis in World War II. He praises the men who rebuilt the NYC skyline after the terrorist attacks on 9-11. Well, the One World Trade Center building was completed in July 2013. Remember, our question is: when did men stop being men. According to Goetsch’s first paragraph, the answer is “sometime in the last two years.” Of course, men did win the most recent Super Bowl, so it all probably fell apart in February or March of this year.

See, this is what makes Goetsch’s argument so mind-bogglingly dumb. He laments the feminization of men, yet he praises contemporary men for their manliness. You can’t have it both ways, dude. When did men stop being men? They didn’t. More importantly, he is completely blind to the ways his words demonstrate the need for Feminism. The American Revolution was inspired by the resistance to tyranny set up by men. The evils of Nazi Germany were wrought by men. The attackers on 9-11 were men. Perhaps a little feminizing of that “native aggression” would prevent some of these tragedies brought about by men. Furthermore, Goetsch completely acknowledges that women have been successful and important participants in society. As he puts it, “I take nothing away from women who also played significant roles in all of these examples.” In a sense, this is the point of Feminism. 1. Setting masculinity as socially primary diminishes the value and place of women to the detriment of everyone. 2. Allowing women place and participation does not bring about our downfall. 3. Therefore, we should end our masculine-centered social structure in favor of one that is egalitarian. For all his delusional ranting and raving, Goetsch makes a pretty good case for feminism.

A common theme among people like Goetsch is the claim that Feminism destroys men. As someone who is prone to pedantic diatribes, you’d think I’d have noticed this in my years of connection to Feminism. Heck, I was even embedded in the place Feminism is most supposed to flourish – a socially-liberal, liberal arts college. I’ve never felt personally destroyed as a man, nor have I ever felt my manhood under threat. Frankly, I don’t understand the claim at all. But if I had to guess at it, I think this comes down to the fact that I don’t consider my being a man as much of a status of personal identification. I tend to think more broadly. I will write about this in a different post, but what it boils down to is the fact that my concerns aren’t with ‘being a man.’ I’m not really sure how to not be a man. What is a man? Someone who self-identifies as a man. What is manly? That which is done by someone who self-identifies as a man. My concerns are with being a good person, and these are more broad and variable in expression. At bottom, I see no intrinsic status in being a man, so I have no problem with ridding ourselves of the social privilege I am afforded by virtue of being a man. I am still free to be myself, even in ways that are traditionally masculine. My masculinity is just no longer privileged nor a guarantor of anything beyond what would be afforded to anyone. I’m not sure if that all makes sense, so I’ll have to flesh it out in a future post.

Just remember, men stopped being men on Sunday, February 1, 2015 when Malcolm Butler intercepted that pass. Us men have been neutered ever sense. Nice call, Pete Carroll.

***Other Thoughts***

I will credit Goetsch for this: “strident sniping” is a fantastic oxymoronic phrase.