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.

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On Beating a Horse When It’s an Easy Target (or Some Other Mixed Metaphor)

Every once in a while, for a laugh, I have to visit the A Few Grown Men page at Patheos. I’ve gone there before, a couple times, and I’ll acknowledge they can be an easy target. But come on:

“Here are three small things you can do any time of year to make men feel at home:

1. Don’t load a man’s hands when he enters the sanctuary.

Have you ever noticed how women pick things up and carry them around? Men usually don’t. This is because men are hunters – women are gatherers. Women love to scoop things up but men want their hands free in case they need to defend themselves or kill a wild animal.

Church #1 didn’t understand this principle. The moment I entered the church I was met by greeters with cookies and cider.”

Apparently, I’m an unusual man because I will happily choose the place that hands out free cookies and cider. In the unlikely event that a wild animal should jump out at me with my hands full of delicious sundries, I would toss the cider into the beasts eyes, kick it while it is off-balance due to sudden blindness, take a bite of my cookie, and then use my obviously superior fighting skills to intimidate the beast into leaving.

Wait, let me check my crotch…..yup, manhood intact.

Hooah!

Oh, and yes, I have noticed a veritable plague of women standing around, unable to do anything, because they’ve swooped everything up into their hands. It’s hurting the economy, ladies, so stop it.

On the Warfare I Face…Apparently

There’s a pretty good chance that you (yes, you) are crushing my masculinity under the heel of your shoe. You should feel ashamed. I know this because I recently received an open message from A Few Grown Men about men and the warfare they face. I’m generally a nonviolent person, but when warfare faces me, I face back.

What atrocity has occurred to warrant the claim that war has been declared on masculinity? Some women left negative comments on a Men’s Health article. I know, I can barely contain my rage, too.

Of course, this is only the latest salvo in a string of unprovoked attacks from the anti-masculinists. Remember the Promise Keepers? They were “met with criticism and distain [sic] by the media and women (even Christian women).  They were portrayed as men getting together to plot and scheme with some ulterior motive to dominate or control women, putting them back under the thumb of oppression.” I mean, read this viewpoint from NOW. It’s like NOW literally fired missiles at masculinity. Literally.

More recently, some unnamed Christian conference for men has been “heavily lambasted by Christian men and women in the media as being chauvinistic and rather stupid.” You probably thought the Rwandan genocide was evil. Then, someone called a Christian Men’s conference “rather stupid.” Perspective is a harsh mistress, ain’t she?

These anti-masculinist acts of aggression aim to “keep men ashamed of themselves” and to “keep them docile.” Why is this the anti-masculinist agenda? Because “docile men are easy to control. We’ve raised a generation of docile sons and we now call them slackers.” Which reminds me: men, don’t smoke pot. It is an anti-masculinist tool used to keep you docile and turn you into a slacker.

What is the motivation behind making men easy to control? That’s not made clear. But let’s face it, this is warfare. Does it matter? Unrelated events have been cobbled together showing that the smallest of insults may have been leveled at a vague characteristic by a non-specific enemy. If that is not a reason to take up arms, I don’t know what is.

If you’re not enraged by this, you’re not a man! If you’re not proudly a man, you’re not a man! And I want you to remember that no bastard has ever won a war by slacking off at his conference. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard slack off at his conference.

You, in the back, you seem timid. It’s like I haven’t convinced you that you face warfare because you’re a man. Fine, consider this story about the vandalism and assault from women marching in Argentina. They attacked Catholic cathedrals and assaulted the men trying to protect the buildings by spraying them with paint and drawing on their faces with markers. Were these acts designed to make men docile? No. Were they in protest of masculinity? No. But now is not the time to waste an opportunity to exploit a good photo op.

So, masculinists, remember: don’t be ashamed to be a man. You earned the right to be a man. Together, we will win the war on the warfare we face. Now, I want to leave with the closing words of Rick Johnson, the author of the open letter, or should I say, call to arms:

“Guys don’t buy into it.  You need other men in your life.  Learn from them what healthy (and unhealthy) masculinity looks like.  And when you make mistakes (which you will) learn from them and don’t be ashamed.  If you are not making mistakes (and getting criticized by someone), you’re not accomplishing anything.”

Wait, so all of these “attacks” on masculinity are to be expected? A healthy masculinity listens to these critiques, sublimates the information, and grows from it? Men will make mistakes and should learn from them?

Damn!

Well, I guess the war on the warfare we face is off. Timbers pre-seaon doesn’t start for another few months. I guess I’ll re-watch Orange is the New Black.

Other Thoughts:

*Sorry, Michelle, I couldn’t resist.

* Truthfully, the actions of the protesters in Argentina should be condemned, but pretending like they are part of some war on masculinity is pathetic.

*Speaking of pathetic: spending a few hundred words cataloging various examples of people (kinda, sorta) offering criticisms of masculinity, calling that warfare, then saying “healthy masculinity” accepts its criticisms and learns from them is shockingly pathetic. It also shows a complete lack of self-reflection.

On Being One of the Few Grown Men

Over at the Patheos blogging network is a blog called “A Few Grown Men.” The blog consists of four writers, all men (bet you didn’t see that coming), blogging on topics like lessons men can learn from Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln to advice on building your daughter’s self-esteem. I haven’t read any of these articles, so I cannot speak to their quality, but they make complete sense on a blog featuring men discussing issues faced by men.

One of the blog’s authors is a man by the name of David Murrow. He was communications director for Alaska Governors Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell. He also started an organization called Church for Men that “helps local congregations reach more men and boys.” I was unaware the Church had issues reaching men, but then, I’m a man who has never been a church attender. I suppose I illustrate the point.

Anyway, Murrow has two recent posts on the blog discussing why men don’t share feelings. They are titled: Why Men Don’t Share Feelings (Part 1) and Why Men Don’t Share Feelings (Part 2). Now, I want to lay a couple things on the table, first. Besides his bio on A Few Grown Men and the two posts on men not sharing feelings, I have read nothing by David Murrow. I did not know he existed until I encountered his blog. Neither was I aware of his organization until today. Beyond the minimal amount of exposure mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, I have absolutely no insight into the life and thoughts of David Murrow. I lay that on the table because, despite all of that, I am convinced that David Murrow is not one of the “few grown men.” With that, let’s find out why men don’t share feelings.

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On Books Men Must Read – Part 1

In line with all the great achievements of the greatest of men, here is part one of my reading project – years late and accomplishing a fraction of what I promised.

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

I’m glad I read this book in my 30s. However, the “moral of the story”, to my mind, is one best learned in one’s 20s. This is the paradox of the novel. The extra decade of living needed to understand that the story is about the narrator and not Dean is a decade you don’t want to lose.

Lesson for Men: Though sex may be acceptable as either a sport or a pastime, women are neither.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

In high school, I worked at a pizza place. One night, I closed the restaurant with two of my co-workers, both female peers I found attractive. After work, they decided to drive out to the sand pits and get high.

Though a veritable teetotaler in high school, I was excited to join them. I had a bit of a crush on one girl; the second girl had a bit of a crush on me. Both were cool kids, generally.

We got in the van, drove out to the sand pits, and hung out. They got high; we listened to loud music and joked around. After an hour or so, they drove me home.

My experience of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love was like that evening. It was a good experience, in general, but I was left feeling like more should have happened and wondering if I missed out on something.

Lesson for Men: “Booze takes a lot of time and effort if you’re going to do a good job with it.” Raymond Carver said this before the rise of microbreweries and homebrewing. These days, enjoy with moderation.

***

Other Random Thoughts:

  • Salter’s prose is amazing. He just crafts amazing sentences.

This is what allows him to write rather explicit depictions of sex without ever crossing the line into pulp. I’m not even sure it can be considered erotica. His writing can get hot, but it remained literary without becoming titillating.

  • Truth be told, I suspect part of what I found lacking from Carver is more a reaction to reading Carver after Salter.

Carver’s style is sparse, minimalist. It is different than Salter’s sing-songiness (I’m not sure if ‘lyrical’ properly captures my experience of Salter). Had I read Carver first, or allowed more time between reading the two, I suspect I would have enjoyed him more.

  • Carver writes with a strong, male voice.

I both love and loath authors that can write in a strong male voice. It is easy to want to identify one’s masculinity with that of the character given a strong, male voice (in fact, I think a large number of the books suggested by Esquire are suggested because their authors can write with a strong, male voice).

The problem arises when the masculinity on display in the novel is misogynistic. Charles Bukowski, to my mind, is a good example of this. Read Women (on Esquire’s list). Bukowski is great with the everyman man’s man. But, my goodness, is he misogynistic.

Now, let me be clear, I’m not suggesting that misogynistic characters shouldn’t be written. I just worry, when they’re written well, do they seem more appealing than they should? I hope not, but I worry.

On Those Poor, Unsatisfied Women Having All That Casual Sex

While religious society sees men as untamed, lecherous monsters that need the soft touch of a woman, I see men as capable of having healthy relationships.

“Wait,” you may be saying. “That’s a completely unfair representation of the views of the religious. You’re just poisoning the well, Jeff.”

And you’d be correct. Of course, I’m just taking the approach Rabbi Shmuley Boteach took in his recent article on the Huffington Post:

00000

With this as the lead in, Rabbi Boteach explains why we shouldn’t listen to secular society’s demanding that we be the rabid sex-fiends it clearly wants us to be: casual sex is less pleasurable for women.

Yup, Rabbi Boteach is just looking out for the ladies. Here’s the problem, Rabbi Boteach’s framing of the problem and solution are mostly blind to the research he cites (or, more accurately the New York Times article he cites). Instead, he builds up a boogieman so that he can justify his crappy cure.

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On Being a Husky 12-Year-Old Boy

I’d seen it mentioned a few times today, but I finally got around to reading the now infamous Nation Review Online commentary by Charlotte Allen. If I’m being honest, I’m calling poe. I think someone posed as this Charlotte Allen and slipped by editorial what may be the most absurd response to the Newtown tragedy yet.

There were two, truly priceless lines: (1) “Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.” and (2) “There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. “

Where’s the Beef(y Men)?

Ms. Allen’s lament is that there were not any men at the elementary school. As she puts it: “…a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm.” (Pardon me a minute while I vomit in my mouth). See, had a man (or a husky 12-year-old boy or even a female janitor that didn’t heave her bucket like a girl) been on the premise while Adam Lanza was committing his horrific act, the man would have prevented the whole affair. I can only assume Ms. Allen comes to this conclusion because she thinks men are bulletproof. Don’t laugh, there are certain positions in the military that can only be held by men. This would be reasonable if men were bulletproof. Of course, what Ms. Allen seems to forget is that there was a man at the elementary school that day. He was the one with all the guns killing everybody. And, as he proved on himself, men aren’t bulletproof.

Preventing the Next School Shooting

As with all tragedies, the aftermath leaves us with questions about how we can prevent this from happening again. And, as with all tragedy-aftermaths, the experts are happy to inform us. In fact, they’ve given us a nice 10-point blueprint:

Preemptive Steps-

From Mike Huckabee: (1) We need to offer a formal invitation to God that he is allowed into our schools. Also, (2) we need to allow mangers on public property.

From James Dobson: (3) We need to get rid of abortion. Also, (4) we must only allow one man and one woman to marry.

From Charlotte Allen: (5) We need to station men who played football in high school and husky 12-year-old boys in every school.

From the National Rifle Association: (6) We need to make sure these men who played football in high school and husky 12-year-old boys do not watch violent TV or movies. (7) They can’t play violent video games, either. (8) But we do need to provide them with guns.

In the highly unlikely case that our preemptive measures don’t work-

From Charlotte Allen: (9) Run. And (10) always carry around a mop bucket to throw at the shooter’s knees in case you get cornered. [Important Note: It is a well known fact that women have no sense of direction, so they are more likely to run themselves into a corner. Here is a pretty pink mop bucket for you lovely ladies out there. You’re welcome.]

What Totally Definitely Will Not Solve the Problem of School Shootings

As Ms. Allen notes, feminized settings lead to passive people, and passive people don’t attack other people. So, why don’t we end school shootings completely by feminizing everyone until they’re passive? I’m not sure. Probably because it’s too gay.

On Movember, Day -1

November is on the doorstep, and that means I’m going to start growing a moustache for Movember.

What is Movember?

Akin to the Pink Ribbon movement focusing on breast cancer awareness, Movember aims to bring awareness and support to men’s health concerns. During the month of November, participants in Movember grow a moustache (the mo). More importantly, it is a time to provide information about men’s health and encourage men to be proactive about their health.

Why am I participating?

First and foremost, I have to give credit to Le Clown. He has organized Bloggers for Movember. It is his clarion call that I am answering.

On a more personal level, if I am being honest, I probably don’t do a great job of taking care of my own health. On the positive side, I do a lot of walking, and I play in a couple rec. soccer leagues. On the negative side, I don’t eat all that healthy, I don’t have a general practitioner nor had a check up pretty much ever, and I’m a regular enough smoker to be concerned. So, as much as I want to do my small part in spreading the word about Movember and the health issues facing men, I also need to pull my own weight in taking care of my own health.

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On the Books Men Must Read (Project Introduction)

This post is a revisiting of something I wrote on a previous blog.

I breached it, for the first time, in one of my previous posts. The topic of masculinity has been an interest of mine since my undergrad days. About a year ago, I set about the project of reading a collection of books described as “books every man must read.” I drew my list from two sources: Esquire and The Art of Manliness. With lists of 75 and 100, respectively, I had a veritable library to make my way through in the hopes of discovering their manly lessons.

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