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March 19, 2018

Masculinity: Threat or Menace?

That's the old Jim Shooter-penned headline of J. Jonah Jameson's biased media rag: SPIDER-MAN: THREAT OR MENACE?

This guy, pointed out by Christopher Taylor, writes about his own experiences of his pussy dad trying to de-pussify him as a child and failing like a big pussy.

I'd never seen my father hunt, he'd never talked about hunting, and Iíd never seen a gun in the house before. But one day I came home from school, and Dad was home early, waiting for me with that gun. ďTime for you to learn this," heíd said"

We were both shivering; it was freezing in rural Mattoon, my tiny hometown in southern Illinois, closer to Kentucky than Chicago, but it wasn't just that. Unsteady and unsure of himself, he loaded a bullet into the chamber and told me to aim somewhere deep into one of the endless cornfields that make up whole swathes of this country still, the sort of vast expanse that you can fire a rifle blindly into and not worry about hitting anything anyone would ever notice. I told him I did not want to. He nodded gently and said he knew that but I had to fire anyway. I wanted to make him happy, or least not make him mad, so I held the gun out in front of me, with dinosaur arms, put my finger on the trigger and, holding my breath and biting my lip so hard that my braces started to crank and ache, pulled it.

The kickback was so powerful and immediate that it sent the weapon flying behind me, but what I most remember was the sound. The whole world screamed blinding white; I didnít even hear my father scramble behind me to pick the rifle off the ground. He was ashen -- plainly terrified, even though nothing that bad had actually happened. I must have looked stricken, too, because he put his arm around me and, for one of the few times I can remember, apologized. "I shouldnít have done that," he said. "I know you didnít want to, but I thought it was something that a man was supposed to do. It wasn't." He smiled. "To tell you the truth, I didn't really want to do that either."

At least I think this is what he said: My ears were still screaming. Neither one of us ever fired a gun again.

The first gun I ever fired was a friend's 30-30. Not gonna lie; the kickback was powerful, the blast was scarifying, and I was pretty uncomfortable with the whole endeavor.

Still: I wasn't a pussy about it. I did realize this was a powerful weapon and I really ought to have some real instruction about how to hold it securely and how to fire it accurately, and that my friend wasn't going to be able to supply that.

I shot some later when I had more knowlegable instruction.

There's a difference between thinking a physical thing is dangerous and must be treated with care and skill and thinking, irrationally, that a physical thing is a totemic evil and exists more on a symbolic plane than on the prime material plane.

He tweedles on a bit about White Male Privilege and Toxic Masculinity:

For generations, boys have been raised in environments that seemed designed to cultivate, and then sublimate, aggression, sometimes right up to the border of sociopathy. (We recoil at Fight Club, but it basically depicts the secret life of boys aged 8 to 14. Men are Tyler Durden spliced with Beavis.)

But those masculine scripts seem especially problematic today: Trained by superhero movies, inspired by planet-straddling athlete-gods and tech tycoons more powerful than entire governments, boys are reared to tame their aggressions, then asked to navigate a bleak, winner-take-all economic landscape. Thanks in part to more enlightened attitudes about gender and parenting, it is hard not to see male entitlement and aggression as toxic forces degrading our culture. But it is also hard not to notice that the world is now run by the aggressive and the bullying.
It is also hard not to notice that, in many ways, and on average, boys are falling behind.

This is weird. He hasn't referenced Trump yet.

...

There is a male chauvinist and part-time white supremacist in the White House, but at some basic level that came to pass in part because both groups came out in droves to vote feeling themselves pushed into retreat.

There you go. The world makes sense again.

Which they are, in a way. The country was once set up solely for the benefit of dudes like me. Now, it is merely mostly set up that way. In a generation, maybe we'll hit slightly. For essentially all of human history, science fiction writer John Scalzi has memorably written, if you have been born a straight white male, it is as if you are playing a computer game called "The Real World" with the difficulty set on the lowest level.

As children, we have not had parents setting us aside to tell us the dangers of walking down the street alone at night, or being pulled over by a police officer, or heading to a party with alcohol and strangers. We are told the opposite, in fact. We have been encouraged, almost demanded, to be aggressive -- to assert, yes, our privilege. We are told, in more innocent, even helpful terms, that we belong everywhere. We are expected to see what we want and to grab it.

Dude, your cuck dad couldn't even teach you how to fire a 20-gauge shotgun. You yourself certainly weren't taught to be aggressive; you're merely guessing about how other boys were taught.



The thing is, as we know, we do not live in a context-less world; this is a zero-sum game. And that aggressiveness and entitlement -- the positive advice to children to be whatever they want, weaponized over the generations == has to come at a cost, someone elseís cost. The power white American boys have been taught to seize for generations comes from the already powerless, women, people of color, everyone who isn't us.

Which is why, in a macro sense, the lessening power of men (straight and white particularly) is an unquestioned societal good. When others rise, we must fall. It will be good not just in a moral sense, but a practical one. As a patriotic American who believes our country is a better place when all have an equal chance, and who believes it is time for the historical ledger to be balanced, this is what I want for the future.

And you've done your own N=1 project to fail yourself downwards.

Now, if you want to read a rebuttal to this -- and a sensible analysis of the dysfunction in masculinity -- see Jesse Kelly in The Federalist.

Big picture, his idea is simple and obviously true: Boys have an innate bias towards impulsiveness, daring, aggression, and, yes, even to violence, and it's precisely by training boys how to channel these sometimes good, sometimes bad impulses into positive directions that we turn boys into well-functioning men.

Our society has a mass failure of fatherhood. Even many of the fathers who donít run out on their families canít seem to figure out how to turn boys into men. Thatís because most men donít realize that is the goal for raising boys. Not to coddle them. Not to dump your insecurities on them. Not to lie to them about what life is and what life isnít. Your mission as a father is to turn that boy into a man.

Willís father failed him that day. No man teaches his son to shoot by handing him a 20-gauge shotgun, with no instruction on its operation, and telling him to fire away. Thatís a half measure. Itís lazy parenting.


Hard parenting is sitting a son down and teaching him how to use a weapon safely. Tell him how deadly a weapon can be, then show him how to operate it with confidence and skill. That is being a father.

The other possibility, the one favored by the progressive cultural hegemony and weakling men, is just to make men better by making them women.

This leads to many more problems that it solves, because only boys who are already a bit feminine are fully feminizable, and you have to provide a positive channel for masculine energy for the many boys who are not fully feminizable.

But we're now at the point where you cannot say "There's nothing wrong with boys." We said that, of course, for 50 years of girls, encouraging them to be more daring, aggressive, and adventurous, but for the boys, our society can only say: Be like good girls.

That's just not going to work for many if not most boys, and is just going to leave them feeling degraded (because the are in fact being degraded) and angry, and without a socially-useful method of channeling aggression.

Jordan Peterson had a lot of interesting points to make on how boys playing in roughhouse ways helps to socialize them and teaches them the important concept of fairness and sportsmanship -- of not being bullies, of not being dicks.

An example he gives is that a kid who wrestles his brothers, and would like to keep wrestling his brothers, has to let his brothers win at least 30% of the time, or else they'll just refuse to wrestle entirely. It's not a rule that ever gets explicitly taught, but rats, for example, observe this rule in roughhouse play, and boys will socialize each other into observing this unstated rule, if permitted to roughhouse play.

Figuring that out -- you have to let your brothers win on occasion if you want to keep playing the game -- lets you continue to get good at roughhousing while also letting your younger brothers get better at it, and gaining some confidence at it, rather than just everyone stopping and no longer improving.

Simply yelling at boys that they must not roughhouse and must instead be well-behaved young girls does no good for anyone.


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posted by Ace of Spades at 07:28 PM

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