Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Manly Virtues

It's easy to forget, as a woman, that the patriarchy puts as much pressure on men to adhere to a strictly defined, and ultimately crushing, gender role as it does on women. As difficult as it is for women to hold to a certain ideal of femininity, with its soft spoken, stupidly weak and dependent "perfection", it can't be any easier for the average man to be the character John Wayne portrayed in movie after movie. (Keeping in mind, of course, that not even John Wayne was John Wayne: off screen, he was Marion*.)

I am reminded of this by When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion by Tom Hoffman.

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting "the bad guy," but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?

Not even John Wayne was actually John Wayne, dude. That rugged individualist, with his risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty and reverence for tradition wasn't real**. That's not even a whole person. I mean, how does one live with a risk-taking individualist? What kind of father is that? I can't even imagine what hobbies that sort of person has, other than bear wrestling or sky diving. Sure, I bet the wrestling a bear while sky diving stories are great at first, but eventually you might want to discuss current events or just watch TV. It also completely excludes even the slightly disabled from being truly masculine. You better believe I would run off with Stephen Hawking and his sexy, sexy brain well before I would run off with some bear wrestling loyalist.

Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the "women's movement" is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as "racist" used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly "no."

Um, no. The Boy Scouts are not viewed as homophobes for fighting feminism, they are viewed as homophobes for excluding homosexuals from their organization. By definition, bigoted. A rose is a rose is a rose and a bigoted rose is a bigoted rose is a bigoted rose. Wait, as stigmatizing as "racist" used to be? When did "racist" cease to be stigma- oh, right, since the Tea Party made it hip to be a white supremecist.

Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

Okay, two things. Wouldn't brazen criminals and thugs still be pretty darn close to the masculine ideal? They are certainly rugged individualist and risk takers (that practically defines violent criminals) and speaking in terms of the mafia, I'd also allow them courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition as well. (It would have helped Mr. Hoffman to define what this ideal man is loyal to.)

Also, warfare good, peace bad! Killing people, including innocent noncombatants, is what real men do! Only mama's boys try talking it out, sparing human life in the process. He does realize that those "dead" guys in all those movies got up and walked away, right? And they say video games rot the mind.

Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to "do the right thing." Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.

Caring, compassion, sensitivity and understanding are bad. Their only purpose is to turn rugged individualists into sissies. Wow. Mr. Hoffman scares me. Also, maybe I'm just behind on the required reading (have you seen the Feminist Manifesto? It's huge!), but when did anyone declare loyalty and courage to be bad? Wait, we didn't?

Exit the cowboy and enter the mama's boy. Queen Herzeloyde would have no problem raising young Parzival in today's schools, as devoid of examples of manly virtue and rugged individualism as they are. All reference to the service of a higher calling -- to God and country -- has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

Well, care and compassion for the downtrodden? We're just fucking doomed, aren't we? What kind of country will we be living in if we start treating the downtrodden with care and compassion instead of just rushing off to kill whatever brown people we hate this week?

Yeah, I know, a better one.



*John Wayne on John Wayne: "When I started, I knew I was no actor and I went to work on this Wayne thing," he once recalled. "It was as deliberate a projection as you'll ever see. I figured I needed a gimmick, so I dreamed up the drawl, the squint and a way of moving meant to suggest that I wasn't looking for trouble but would just as soon throw a bottle at your head as not. I practiced in front of a mirror."

**This is actually a pretty good description of Jägermonsters. I doubt this is what Mr. Hoffman has in mind.

12 comments:

  1. Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

    I don't even know where to begin explaining exactly how wrong that is. It would be like saying the World War I started because Gavrilo Princip was a closeted homosexual and nothing else.

    The reasons for the decline and fall of the Western Roman empire were myriad. And although decadence and a weakening of the Roman ideal was part of it, it wasn't "feminization." It was because after the splitting of in to four emperors the empire was just too damn big and filled with infighting to appropriately manage.

    And, of course, that ignores the bit where the Eastern Roman Empire, aka the Byzantine Empire, survived until 1453. The Byzantines were very different from the Romans when all was said and done, but they still called themselves Romans. And they connected to an imperial tradition that lasted nearly two thousand years.

    Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to "do the right thing."

    How, exactly, can you "do the right thing" without being guided by caring, compassion, and sensitivity? Oh, wait, right. "The right thing" means "whatever the Bible says, no questions asked."

    But, wait, doesn't the Bible have a few things to say about being caring, compassionate, and sensitive? Like that Jesus guy's ideas...

    ReplyDelete
  2. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s

    Um. So. I guess we're forgetting about all those male Enlightenment philosophers who wore wigs, beauty marks and makeup, and who were all about individualism? Are we not counting them?

    Side note: I really, really don't want to hear what this guy has to say about DH Lawrence (or how he explains the fact that Lawrence was around long before Gen-X pop psychology).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Funny.

    I was raised to hold "manly virtues" risk taking,courage, boldness, standing up for right even to the point of some violence. I also raise my son with such virtues.

    Nowhere in these virtues do I see it claimed that men must subjugate women and treat them like shit. I dont recall manly being defined as making women subordinate inferior. I have not seen anywhere manliness described as beating, raping and cutting of clitorises. I have not been taught the manly virtue that men have some right dictated soley by our gender to be dominant and in control of womens lives, rights, and choices.

    Apparently dude and I were taught different manly virtues.

    By the way I see a great deal of virtue in the Jaggers. They may be brutal and violent but they are courageous bold and surprisingly not sexist. If a woman could knock the crap out of them they would fall all over themselves to show her respect. Also if she can't they would find no value in beating her. Sexist men can't claim either of those things.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Jaegers are by far my favorite characters. I don't think Hoffman would like them at all, particularly because their idea of sexy is described as "a pudding bag full of knives". (My favorite description of anyone ever.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've spent much of my life schooling jackasses like Tom Hoffman, when they seek out the “manly” arts of :
    Judo, the ''Way of Gentleness”;
    Tai Chi Chuan, the “Art of Yielding”;
    Aikido, the “Way of Harmony”;

    some of them just never get it.
    (they don't like it none that the Samurai were into gay sex, neither, lulz.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. and it's all so... wrong, anyway!
    CIVILIZATION could not exist without traits such as compassion and understanding. LAW is, to an extent, and extension of those "womanly" traits [no, it *IS*. LAW - not the corruption of law we keep seeing, is predicated on the notion that we are CIVILIZED, and the only way to retain that is to CARE what other people think. most people don't break the law* because the laws that are there are laws that essentially say "don't hurt someone else for no reason"
    *not "don't speed" and stupid stuff; the real and important laws, like "don't rob" and "don't assult" and such. Golden Rule laws. not that i'm making any kind of damned sense

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Denelian - No, you're making plenty of damned sense. It's just that the line between "don't hurt other people" and "don't do this because we don't think it's appropriate" is grey and blurry. Just as an example: motorcycle helmet laws.

    At a glance, it looks like a clear infringement on free choice. If you think you can do without, you should be able to. If not, you may choose to wear a helmet. But look a little closer: if you're the sole provider for a family, and you die in a motorcycle wreck when a helmet might have saved you (a situation which our statistics suggest is surprisingly common), then how much harm have you done, socially speaking?

    Similarly, if drunk drivers routinely got *themselves* killed, rather than other people, then drunk driving laws would be a lot less necessary - but that's still considering drunk driving as a form of voluntary suicide, and suicide generally hurts friends as family as much as the deceased.

    But yes, people tend to obey the law in direct proportion to how much it seems to conform to the golden rule - with the additional consideration of possible consequences for breaking it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. no, i [mostly] agree with. ESPECIALLY on the drunk/impaired driver portion [my meds? don't make me high. and now that i'm NOT on the one that makes me hallucinate, i'm good. but i STILL *DO NOT DRIVE* and haven't for.. 14 months? 15? because, while i THINK i'm good, i'm not fucking willing to test it and the hit a 10-year-old.] to me, most of those ARE golden rule - don't drive impaired because you don't want other people doing so an killing you. [the place i disagree is seat belts. for a thousand reasons, including the fact that i know/knew a person who was killed because of the seat belt.CHILDREN should be in a seat belt, in the back seat. but people who have certain problems, including but not limited to PTSD [i STILL have panic attacks, because being bucked in feels a LOT like being restrained] and physical conditions that make it hard to get it OFF]

    anyway... yeah. sadly, the backlash appears to be getting worse :(

    ReplyDelete
  9. Michael,

    Don't forget the infrastructural costs associated with neglecting risk-mitigating items like motorcycle helmets and seatbelts. The fewer dead or dying bodies there are on the road, the fewer municipal resources need to be spent dealing with them (plus, as a bonus, you get to rein in income off of ticketing violators).

    That's just good dollars and cents.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Uzza said:
    "(they don't like it none that the Samurai were into gay sex, neither, lulz.) "

    Yeah Spartans too. It makes me kinda jealous of teh gay. What was that argument against gays in the millitary again?

    ReplyDelete
  11. And that makes the fapping over 300 all the more hilarious...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ryk, Geds, Uzza - you guys crack me up :)

    ReplyDelete

Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

I am attempting to use blogger's new comment spam feature. If you don't immediately see your comment, it is being held in spam, I will get it out next time I check the filter. Unless you are Dennis Markuze, in which case you're never seeing your comment.

Creative Commons License
Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at foreverinhell.blogspot.com.