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"The Feminization of Everything"

Robert A. Heinlein, the first Grand Master of science fiction and the quintessential Man's Man,  once suggested that we ought to disenfranchise men for a while and see how that works out. His reasoning was that (a) men had disenfranchised women for far longer; (b) he felt our society had suffered for it; and (c) women, generally speaking, tend to have a longer view -- and a more gentle one.
There are, of course, numerous exceptions to that general rule. And oddly enough, many of them seem to end up in politics: Margaret Thatcher; Hillary Clinton; Sarah Palin; Marine Le Pen...all of the, to one degree or another, have gotten to where they are by imitating the worst behaviours and thought processes of men.

George Carlin, the renowned comic and social satirist, had this to say on feminism:

I happen to agree with most of the feminist philosophy I have read.

I agree, for instance, that for the most part, men are vain, ignorant, greedy, brutal assholes who've just about ruined this planet...because they're afraid someone might have a bigger dick out there somewhere...

I also happen to like it when feminists attack these fat-ass housewives who think there's nothing more to life that sitting home on the telephone, drinking coffee, watching TV and pumping out a baby every nine months. P-poom, p-poom, p-poom, p-poom, p-poom...will seven be enough Bob? ...p-poom, p-poom. 

But what's the alternative? What's the alternative to pumping out a unit every nine months? Pointless careerism? Pointless careerism? Putting on a man-tailored suit with shoulder pads and imitating all the worst behavior of men? This is the noblest thing that women can think of? To take a job in a criminal corporation that's poisoning the environment and robbing customers out of their money? This is the worthiest thing they can think of? Isn't there something nobler they can do to be helping this planet heal?

There have been a number of columns in the National Review of late lamenting America's collective loss of masculinity. The latest one is right here, and I stewed about it for a while before writing this response.

Along with the Carlin and Heinlein above, you should bear in mind who's writing this. I have had my manhood questioned in pretty much every possible way since I was a little boy. I don't look feminine, but outside of a very few contexts I sure do act that way.

I am acutely aware I am speaking in stereotypes; most of my female friends -- who outnumber my male friends probably three or four to one -- are 'unconventional' women in some sense. Please do be aware that *I* am aware of the nuances here, and I'm also concerned about how best to portray the larger-than-you-think number of nonbinary folks out there in this. Ultimately, since gender is a social construct, people will exhibit traits from all over the spectrum, no matter what their biological sex is. Hell, even I get called a man every once in a blue moon.

I harbour a deep distrust of conventional masculinity. By and large that's because I don't understand it. What could possibly be the appeal in destroying things? Aggression is not something I comprehend, much less credit -- as French does in the linked article -- with 'creating and preserving civilization'. (?!) (To be fair, he calls it 'rightly channeled' aggression...what is that, exactly? Are there certain classes of people it's okay to punch? Are some objects meant to be broken? I'm clearly missing something.)
Risk-taking? I freely admit I don't do enough of that, but that's because I know my own shortcomings. Could I have done more to push myself and eliminate those? Certainly, but then again, it depends on the shortcoming. There's not a hell of a lot than can be done with my all-around shitty eyesight.
There are a lot of 'boy games' I didn't play at all as a child. Anything involving toy guns, for example. I don't understand killing people and don't see why I should have to pretend to do it. Do you? Is it because I'm a boy? Well, fuck that.

And no, I didn't play with dolls (excuse me, "action figures") very often, either. I did have a very respectable collection of Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Majorette and Corgi Jr. toy cars. I drove them sedately around the floors and carpets--never intentionally smashing them, because again, why would I pretend to do something that damaging?)

French repeatedly shows his misogyny, and his privilege (the former is always a function of the latter, I've found) repeatedly in this article. Noting an increasing imbalance of females to males in higher education, he asks,

When will there stop being a crisis for women on campus? When they reach two-thirds of the higher-education population? When three out of every four college grads are women? 

No, sir: there might be 99 females for every male on campus. and that crisis will continue so long as the lone remaining male feels it is his right to look down upon, subjugate, and occasionally rape the women around him. You know, because "masculinity". 

French talks about the dissolution of the family, which is a concern in many communities. The odd thing about that is that families tend to fall apart because men, ever so "masculine", feel the need to desert their families and go fuck the waitress at the truck stop one town over.

"Boys need dads", he says. No word as to whether girls do, too. Notice that?

I read between the lines in this article and I can't help seeing the same thing I see whenever I read something on the family written from a conservative perspective: the 1950s. Man as sole breadwinner, woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. You get the feeling French is pissed off that women have dared to usurp traditionally masculine roles, that they ought to "know their place".

There are no longer different paths for boys and girls but instead unique paths for special snowflakes, moans French. Funny, last I looked, he's an American, writing in an American publication. Isn't America that bastion of individualism where relying on other people for anything is communism? You'd think the idea of each person charting their own path would appeal to an American. Instead, we get this 'me Tarzan, you Jane' bullshit.

Adding to the feminized home is the feminized school, complete with its zero tolerance, mortal fear of anything remotely martial, and its relentless emphasis on compassion and nurturing--

OH, THE HORROR! COMPASSION! NURTURING! BEGONE, THOU SPAWN OF SATAN!

Yeah, you know what we had in schools before this scourge of compassion and nurturing? Bullies, the bullied, and the bystanders. Boys and girls both, by the way. We've come a long way since I could expect at least one highly unpleasant thing to happen to me each and every school day. We still have a long way to go.

Finally, and you can almost hear the wail (I'm sorry, the manly bellow):

Is it not possible to preserve masculinity while demonstrating compassion for those who don’t conform? Must we burn it all down?

Why, yes, Mr. French, we must. Do you know why? Because "masculinity" and "demonstrating compassion for those who do not conform" are almost...almost...mutually exclusive. I didn't conform. And it was always the manliest of the men who made repeated note of it, by means of punches, kicks, and assorted humiliation. The girls, tomboy or otherwise, never picked on me, not actively. Neither did the weak, 'feminine' boys: they were too busy being stomped right along with me. No, it was always the alpha males, the fine manly specimens. They tended to get all the girls, too--while girls never picked on me, they certainly did shun me.

While we're feminizing everything, let's not forget that we're granting women the right to be as 'masculine' as they wish. This is something French doesn't even mention in passing, because it destroys his argument that "everything" is being feminized.

Let's be who we are, as long as who you are isn't, you know, an asshole. If you're a boy and you want to play with dolls--even dolls that aren't action figures--you go right ahead. If you're a girl and you want to build snow forts and stunt ride your bike--go to. If you're somewhere between and you want to do *both*, or one or the other, or neither...it's YOUR life. Not mine. And CERTAINLY not David French's.



Comments

karen said…
I'm glad you had an articulate and intelligent answer to this. Reading nonsense like French's makes me sad and then mad and then kind of spluttery and incoherent. I appreciate this post a lot.
Ken Breadner said…
...and I appreciate your words a lot, karen. Thank you for them.
phann son said…
I have an ex-husband. We split up when he threatened my daughter with abuse.
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