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On your whole "masculine overcompensation" idea - I've read this stuff before. And while I think it's kind of silly (and, interestly, only solely originating from the political feminist movement's literature and collegiate gender studies classes).

Um, no. It originates from the field of psychology, particularly the freudian notion of "reaction formation" which predates feminism and gender studies, and it's rooted in hard data.

I'm not sure how you can say it's "silly" unless you have an alternative interpretation of the data.

I find one thing particularly interesting. This sort of thing doesn't seem to apply to women. I have never heard of "feminine overcompensation." And even some of these studies, which challenged gender identity among people in different tests, reported that, while the women didn't respond, the men did respond. When their femininity was challenged, the women didn't try to act more feminine. When their masculinity was challenged, the men did try to act more masculine. Wow, you know that honestly sounds like some sort of big, psychological difference in character traits.

Again, no one is arguing that differences between sexes don't exist.

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Is a kid engaging in "masculine overcompensation" when he decides to fight the bully on the playground that beat him the day before? Or is he just acting with the courage that a boy should learn to develop?

He may be acting with some courage, but I'd certainly counsel him to muster even more courage and resist responding to violence with violence. That's how I was counseled. And I'm grateful that I never stooped to taking angry swings at bullies. Okay, with some reluctance (as I'm trying not to start new fires, but to offer some food for thought), here's a bit about my experience, which influenced my own definition of "masculinity." I'm not bragging; I had watchful, wise family members and teachers "coaching" me, reminding me to "turn the other cheek." So I see it as grace. I certainly *wanted* to fight back. It would have been easier to strike back. But striking back usually only provokes the bully to respond more violently, with worse consequences. Moreover, any satisfaction that comes from striking back is not the healthiest kind of satisfaction to cultivate.

An FYI to everyone, I got some of the books suggested in this thread and am reading them now. I'll start putting more thoughts in once I've finished a couple of them. I'm also finding it beneficial to step back for a bit to digest some of the recurring comments in this thread. So definitely more later, but for now ...

Regarding school bullies: I agree with most of Overstreet's thoughts here actually, with the caveat that choosing between violence and turning the other cheek is obviously dependent on the situtation. While the "turning the other cheek" principle in Christianity doesn't run contrary to mere self-defense, it even applies less to the protection of others. It comes to a point for many school boys where a bully picking on them is one thing, many boys in school can take it without letting it bother them; but a bully bullying others is another thing altogether. Learning courage, or learning to "act like a man" will absolutely mean "turning the cheek' in some instances, and mean the use of violence in others. So, obviously the question is why a boy would decide to "strike back."

Thanks for your thoughts on this, you've told of your personal experience - something not everyone is willing to do.

I was also taught to see playground violence as a combustible mix of arrogance, meanness, stupidity, and insecurity. And I also learned that these behaviors are often inspired by what the bullies experienced at home, from their own siblings or parents, or from lives that made them feel they had control over very little. This was supposed to make me feel compassion for them, but I struggled with that lesson for a long, long time, and I'm still practicing that perspective.

Most schools today have what is called a "zero tolerance" policy for bullying. The "bullies" are often precisely the boys selected in school for ADD medication (and e2c, while some girls are given this too, most "problem girls" that are being given increased medication in schools today are given anti-depressants, and at increasingly younger ages - I believe this also is wrong.) Any sort of violent behavior among boys is frowned upon as horribly wrong in our schools and in our society. That goes to school fights ... to guy rough-housing ... What our culture doesn't understand is boys actually relate and communicate differently than girls - and it's normal.

So yes, I admit a lot of school bullying is malicious and damaging to kids. But I'm also going to make a claim here that I'm not sure will go over well - sometimes, fighting is perfectly healthy for guys. Some guys just naturally love a good fight ... it's like a game to them. There is a reason that the occasional fight (sometimes for fun, sometimes to actually resolve trivial disputes, sometimes to decide who gets to win a particular honor, sometimes to even to challenge a particular authority) is allowed and/or encouraged in the military. But football teams and the military are isolated parts of the culture that, while I have a number of examples for how increasingly effeminized ideas are entering there, seem to be a refuge for where normal guy behavior isn't frowned upon. (Now whether actual sinful behavior should be frowned upon in these areas is another question altogether - but normal masculine behavior does not equal sinful behavior). Many guys make friends by fighting each other. I can't say I ran across that large of a number of bullies in school, but I was able to make friends with most of them (and only had an actual fight with one of them).

It's the attitude in our culture today that male camaraderie is wrong, or somehow abnormal, that I'm against. And male camaraderie is a particular atmosphere and behavior that only exists among men. In my experience in the military, the atmosphere was one thing in an all male platoon, and was something completely different in a mixed gender platoon. There are benefits to both. Our culture wants to say that not only is there no benefits to one, but there is something morally wrong with it. Some guys communicate with each other by hitting each other (affectionately even). While girls might have a long talk with another girl who has a problem (along with whatever else goes along with that sort of talk - cards, flowers, tissues, etc., guys address problems differently. A guy who's struggling with a particular sin could, for example, be edified by a friendly but stern reprimand (and slap at the back of the head) then he would by a long, caring, drawn out discussion of his feelings about that sin. Not every guy relates this way - but many do, and our culture frowns upon it.

Of course, it's not going to stop guys from acting like guys. But it is going to cause a lot of problems when you start teaching boys in school that their normal behavior is actually wrong or sinful. This is not to say that bullies in school can't cause a lot of hurt and pain for a lot of children. It is to say that a lot of occasionally rough behavior among boys is not always the equivalent to (or even to be blamed upon) the malicious bully.

I know who Mortenson is, and I would be thrilled to have him held up for young boys as a male masculine role model. But there's a reason a guy like Sam Childers (unlike Mortenson) would be, and has been, frowned upon by a number of churches. I'm saying we need to accept and promote both the Mortensons and the Childers (there's not much of a difference between them, except that one of them offends people in the church).

On another quick sports note: I'm watching the news as I right this - all the crying and complaining about the 2014 Super Bowl not being played in a location of optimum comfortable climate is yet another example of what I'm talking about. Comfort, Safety, Convenience, and Feeling Nice are all good things, but they shouldn't be valued this much - particularly not in sports. The point of the Super Bowl is not how comfortable everyone there can be during the game - that has nothing to do with football. The masculine attitude I'm talking about here just wouldn't care. But the sports media cares - today at least. This isn't a question sportswriters would even ask 30-40 years ago. Should the Super Bowl be played in a stadium where the weather might not be nice?

Edited by J.A.A. Purves
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On another quick sports note: I'm watching the news as I right this - all the crying and complaining about the 2014 Super Bowl not being played in a location of optimum comfortable climate is yet another example of what I'm talking about. Comfort, Safety, Convenience, and Feeling Nice are all good things, but they shouldn't be valued this much - particularly not in sports. The point of the Super Bowl is not how comfortable everyone there can be during the game - that has nothing to do with football. The masculine attitude I'm talking about here just wouldn't care. But the sports media cares - today at least. This isn't a question sportswriters would even ask 30-40 years ago. Should the Super Bowl be played in a stadium where the weather might not be nice??? Only a part of the culture that overvalues feminine values would even bother with this sort of question in the NFL.

Uh...because in the past, they just opted to only play in warm climates if using an open stadium. Part of the shock from what I have seen is the break from standard operating procedure. This is probably a question that would have been asked 30-40 years ago if it was happening then. It's likely it is not related to a feminized culture-they never had to deal with it before.

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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I'm pretty sure it *has* been played in wintry places (with retractable roofs), but likely not since it became a big spectacle. (With Hollywood-style production numbers and such.)

The thing is, I'm not sure spectator sports are meant to be endurance contests for the people who fill the stadium. ;)

Ah, but I specified open stadiums-that is the issue...playing an open stadium in a cold climate. If there were a retractable roof, there would be no outcry. :)

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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As an aside, clearly these anchors have never been out in the seats with true Cleveland Browns fans.

I would just like to add that I am a Cleveland Browns fan which, I believe, makes me a man. Also sad to the point of weeping. Perhaps I'm more gender-conflicted than I think.

;) The weather at Browns games was (probably still is) a big deal in the Erie, PA newspaper. They seemed to relish stories about games played in terrible weather, but maybe that was just so they could fill column inches. :)

Yes, Browns fans pride themselves on braving sleet and snow in all their barechested glory, crushing beer cans on their foreheads, etc. It isn't so much a gender issue as it is a mammalian sub-human issue.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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I just.... think that bullying is bullying, period. It's not a good thing.

Again, the idea in modern day schools/church/parenting I'm taking issue with ... is that a boy's response to bullies, if violent, is always to be frowned upon.

Slapping people on the head sounds like ... fraternity initiation hazing.

Or a simplistic and forthright means of communication.

If the sports media (TV) bothers you so much, why not just turn it off ?

That question is very indicative of your point of view.

I kind of think the bottom line is really about money - as in, resort weekend-type packages for Northerners who are sick of winter weather and for hotel, restaurant, airline and travel agency owners who reap the benefits of running super Bowl weekend specials and packages?. I bet a lot of people who would go to warmer locations will think twice about going to an event in a Northern city in January. (I'm only half-joking about the football thing; you seem to be trying to make things you hear/see fit the pattern of "feminization" rather than acknowledging that there are other interpretations for things - some of them kind of obvious, as in - imo - this case.)

The question of money is not one of the many complaints the sports media is making. And only a nonfootball fan would think twice about the location or weather of the SUPER BOWL as being relevant to anything at all.

Could you give us some concrete examples of this? (I don't see it, but then, what would I know - I'm coming from my "woman's point of view," right?! )

Bluntly put, here's the problem with a number of your comments on this thread. They seem to most easily read some sort of offense or chauvinism between the lines (with the occasional emoticon to denote ... humor I guess). More often than not they interpret simple words or phrases like "generally speaking" or a "woman's point of view" or "typical masculine or feminine character traits" as somehow annoying or unfounded - while it it impossible to speak about gender differences, or any sort of categorizing (rich and poor, white collar and blue collar, educated and uneducated, American and European, men and women, atheist or theist) without making generalizations. Generalizations are generally true. Your "I'm a woman and I'm not like that" or a constant insistence upon pointing out the exceptions to the rule are fine and true, but missing the point.

You've then said a couple times that you hope "we're cool" or hope I'm not offended, etc. You haven't offended or made me feel defensive about anything - don't worry about it. The problem I have is trying to think of any response to these sorts of comments because they are essentially arguing against points I have not and am not making. Women are individual human beings who make individual choices and have different tastes too - Yes, I agree. But if I'm referring to general points of view, or how men and women think differently, I'm speaking in general terms ... useful, of course, for certain purposes.

And oh yes, a concrete example of this? United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) - majority decision by Ginsburg, minority dissent by Scalia - for one example.

This might be too personal a question, but do you have any sisters?

While I have no qualms about revealing personal information like that in perhaps any other discussion, I'm choosing to pointedly ignore these questions (do you have a wife? a girlfriend? sisters? a mother? ANY female friends at all? etc.) in this thread. I'm doing so because I learned in elementary level college debate to do so (and my hopes for this thread were for it not to turn into just a debate anyway). It's an obvious lose/lose scenario. If I were to admit that I am married, the next obvious questions Holy Moly, for instance, could ask, would be to start gauging how healthy my relationship with my wife really is. If I were to admit to having no sisters, the next obvious track for you to take could be along the "well this explains a lot" line. Not that'd give a damn or worry about it being "too personal." But these are rabbit trails I have zero interest in seeing pursued here, rabbit trails leading away from rather than towards the questions I am actually interested in.

On another note, yes, I have been a Dorothy Sayers fan for years. So far I have read and enjoyed (and personally own) Strong Poison, Whose Body?, The Floating Admiral, Clouds of Witnesses, Unnatural Death, The Unpleasantness At the Bellona Club, Five Read Herrings, Have His Carcase, Hangman's Holliday, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors (my favorite), Gaudy Night, Busman's Honeymoon, In the Teeth of the Evidence, The Mind of the Maker, The Lost Tools of Learning, Unpopular Opinions, Creed or Chaos?, The Whimsical Christian (my second favorite), and yes even Thrones, Dominations.

Having now just finished reading Are Women Human? for the first time, more discussion is forthcoming.

Edited by Persiflage
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That question is very indicative of your point of view.

Persiflage, I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by this.

Um ... that there are some questions that only a girl would ask. I.e., the look of utter incomprehension my dad gives my mom when she asks him "If the football game is making you this upset, why don't you just turn it off?"

I am a human being - a female one - an individual, with my own point of view. I cannot and will not presume to speak for all women, for one basic reason: all women - like all men - are individual human beings, and each person has his or her own point of view. (cf. Sayers' comments in the "Are Women Human?" essays.)

Since when does generalizing about women equal saying women are not human beings? And who's telling you to speak for all women? I've certainly never pretended to speak for all men on here.

It's the massive generalizations that you're making that I object to. You seem to be speaking for - and of - all men (or "guys," or "girls," or whatever). Women aren't like flocks of sheep, all running in the same direction, and neither are men. The thing is, there are so very many exceptions to these so-called rules - because we're not sheep.

Again, (1) look up "generalization" in any English dictionary. (2) look up "exception" in any English dictionary. (3) Then try to argue that making generalizations is never useful for the purposes of discussing certain subjects.

I feel like you are trying to fit all kinds of ideas and facts to a certain pattern in order to prove your point about a number of things. But that just doesn't work for me, and I suspect it doesn't work for most of the other participants in this thread.

A popular strategy I noticed back in college debate days. (1) Ignore the actual ideas or arguments. (2) Instead explain what you "feel" the other side is saying. (3) Then, instead of addressing their ideas, argue against what you feel their ideas really are.

But as I said above, I don't think this discussion is going anywhere.

I didn't quite catch that, what did you say? - to make yourself clear, just repeat it one more time.

Edited to add a graph from a post I made on page 7: As HM said just above, nobody is arguing that there aren't differences between men and women. But that's only one component of things - others have to do with individual personality, socialization and cultural norms/mores, etc.

The idea that gender differences are mostly caused by how society raises you is the one particularly feminist idea prevalent in our culture that is messing with guys in our modern day culture. If the parents and the schools and the culture all think that gender differences are basically the result of socialization, they are going mess up boys in the head pretty early - the problems that result from this are one of the heaviest bits of evidence I'm basing this entire premise upon.

VMI was, imo, a relic of the Confederacy - just like the state song and the huge statues of Confederate generals in Richmond.

Confederate sympathizing, while a problem among some fringe conservatives or libertarians these days, had nothing to do with the VMI case. Instead of relying on Wikipedia, let's quote from the actual court decision shall we?

From Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's majority decision -

VMI produces its "citizen-soldiers" through "an adversative, or doubting, model of education" which features "physical rigor, mental stress, absolute equality of treatment, absence of privacy, minute regulation of behavior, and indoctrination in desirable values" ... VMI cadets live in spartan barracks where surveillance is constant and privacy nonexistent; they wear uniforms, eat together in the mess hall, and regularly participate in drills. Entering students are incessantly exposed to the rat line, "an extreme form of the adversative model," comparable in intensity to Marine Corps boot camp. Tormenting and punishing, the rat line bonds new cadets to their fellow sufferers and, when they have completed the 7-month experience, to their former tormentors. VMI's "adversative model" is further characterized by a hierarchical "class system" of privileges and responsibilities, a "dyke system" for assigning a senior class mentor to each entering class "rat," and a stringently enforced "honor code," which prescribes that a cadet "'does not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do.'" ...

Virginia argues that VMI's adversative method of training provides educational benefits that cannot be made available, unmodified, to women. Alterations to accommodate women would necessarily be "radical," so "drastic," Virginia asserts, as to transform, indeed "destroy," VMI's program. Neither sex would be favored by the transformation, Virginia maintains: Men would be deprived of the unique opportunity currently available to them; women would not gain that opportunity because their participation would "eliminate the very aspects of [the] program that distinguish [VMI] from . . . other institutions of higher education in Virginia." The District Court forecast from expert witness testimony, and the Court of Appeals accepted, that coeducation would materially affect "at least these three aspects of VMI's program -- physical training, the absence of privacy, and the adversative approach."

In support of its initial judgment for Virginia, a judgment rejecting all equal protection objections presented by the United States, the District Court made "findings" on "gender-based developmental ifferences." These "findings" restate the opinions of Virginia's expert witnesses, opinions about typically male or typically female "tendencies." For example, "males tend to need an atmosphere of adversativeness," while "females tend to thrive in a cooperative atmosphere." "I'm not saying that some women don't do well under [the] adversative model," VMI's expert on educational institutions testified, "undoubtedly there are some [women] who do"; but educational experiences must be designed "around the rule," this expert maintained, and not "around the exception."

The notion that admission of women would downgrade VMI's stature, destroy the adversative system and, with it, even the school, is a judgment hardly proved, a prediction hardly different from other "self-fulfilling prophec[ies]" once routinely used to deny rights or opportunities.... Virginia maintains that these methodological differences are "justified pedagogically," based on "important differences between men and women in learning and developmental needs," "psychological and sociological differences" Virginia describes as "real" and "not stereotypes."

From Justice Scalia's dissent -

Today the Court shuts down an institution that has served the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia with pride and distinction for over a century and a half. To achieve that desired result, it rejects (contrary to our established practice) the factual findings of two courts below, sweeps aside the precedents of this Court, and ignores the history of our people. As to facts: It explicitly rejects the finding that there exist "gender-based developmental differences" supporting Virginia's restriction of the "adversative" method to only a men's institution, and the finding that the all-male composition of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is essential to that institution's character. As to precedent: It drastically revises our established standards for reviewing sex-based classifications. And as to history: It counts for nothing the long tradition, enduring down to the present, of men's military colleges supported by both States and the Federal Government ...

Today, however, change is forced upon Virginia, and reversion to single-sex education is prohibited nationwide, not by democratic processes but by order of this Court. Even while bemoaning the sorry, bygone days of "fixed notions" concerning women's education, the Court favors current notions so fixedly that it is willing to write them into the Constitution of the United States by application of custom-built "tests." This is not the interpretation of a Constitution, but the creation of one ...

This is especially regrettable because, as the District Court here determined, educational experts in recent years have increasingly come to "support [the] view that substantial educational benefits flow from a single-gender environment, be it male or female, that cannot be replicated in a coeducational setting." . Until quite recently, some public officials have attempted to institute new single-sex programs, at least as experiments. In 1991, for example, the Detroit Board of Education announced a program to establish three boys-only schools for inner-city youth; it was met with a lawsuit, a preliminary injunction was swiftly entered by a District Court that purported to rely on Hogan. Today's opinion assures that no such experiment will be tried again.

Summary -

In writing the majority decision for the VMI case by Ginsburg, was a rejection of the idea that any benefits (if they exist) to an all-male public military school were worth keeping. VMI offered a military education in a unique, adversarial atmosphere that only exists in an all male environment (just like the atmosphere of any all-girls school is not the same as a co-ed environment). I can personally testify to this, since I have been put through both all-male and co-ed military training. In training with just guys, the training was tougher, physically and psychologically exhausting, and it possessed a combative/competitive/adversial comradrie that was NEVER the same in any of the co-ed military training I received.

Ginsburg essentially believed that every woman had a "right" to the same unique, adversial all-male training that each man at VMI was getting. What Ginsburg failed to recognize is that, it is impossible for a woman to get that sort of training because, by simple definition, she's a woman. You cannot get the benefit of an unique all-male training environment if you are not male, because, as soon as you set one foot in that environment, it ceases, by definition, to be an all-male training environment. The same goes for a man, crying and complaining that he has a "right" to the all-female learning enivornment at a girls' school, once allowed in that all-girls school - it ceases to be the school that he wanted the "right" to get into in the first place.

Edited by J.A.A. Purves
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I would just like to add that I am a Cleveland Browns fan which, I believe, makes me a man. Also sad to the point of weeping. Perhaps I'm more gender-conflicted than I think.

ha. This sounds like my sons.

Yes, Browns fans pride themselves on braving sleet and snow in all their barechested glory, crushing beer cans on their foreheads, etc. It isn't so much a gender issue as it is a mammalian sub-human issue.

Mammalian sub-human issue. ::hysterical:: That's the best description--and most accurate--I've ever heard. :lol:

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT


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Persiflage wrote:

: Ginsburg essentially believed that every woman had a "right" to the same unique, adversial all-male training that each man at VMI was getting. What Ginsburg failed to recognize is that, it is impossible for a woman to get that sort of training because, by simple definition, she's a woman. You cannot get the benefit of an unique all-male training environment if you are a girl, because, as soon as you set one foot in that environment, it ceases, by definition, to be an all-male training environment. Is this elementary or what?

I am suddenly very curious to know what you think of Ridley Scott and Demi Moore's G.I. Jane. :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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As usual, I'm late to the discussion and missed most of the action.

I don't have a lot to add, only that your book idea, Persy, might be better suited if you focused on some of the emasculating effects of modern Evangelicalism rather than the broader strokes of some larger cultural shift which may or may not be taking place. In fact, I know there's an archived thread on the "feminization" of modern praise and worship from several years ago, with some interesting dialogue.

A quick thought:

On the morning drive in today, a local radio show was discussing how men are taught to behave towards women and how those notions are generally not what appeal to women at all. Several mature women called in to discuss how the "cordial, nice guy" was sorta the ultimate turn-off, particularly in the courting stages of a relationship. One caller said the absolute deal-breaker for a love relationship was a boyfriend who used to write her romantic poems. The "clingy", sensitive guy was universally reviled by the female callers and "amen-ed" by the one female host. A New Yorker article from a few months ago broached this taboo subject (i'll look for the link when I get back from a meeting)with data showing that a large percentage of women fantasize about being "dominated" by men, romantically/sexually.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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One of the first books recommended to me on this thread was "Are Women Human?" by Dorothy Sayers. I read it, here are my thoughts -

I agree with 99% of this book. I was expecting a "Christian feminist" viewpoint, but Sayers comes across more anti-feminist than anything else. She is arguing against 19th and 20th century stereotypes of women - particularly as they tended to keep women out of certain jobs and fields of academics. I'm fine with this, it's not really the topic of the book I want to write, and I'm not saying that women working in what used to be viewed as men's jobs is a symptom of the feminization of our modern day culture. I am much more interested in addressing how men are acting today than how women are acting. So while I agree with her, I did find some of Sayers "women are people too" arguments a little dated (perhaps by at least the last 100 years). However, Sayers does have a number of interesting and relevant things to say. Some examples -

"Accepted as a human being!" - yes; not as an inferior class and not, I beg and pray all feminists, as a superior class - not, in fact, as a class at all, except in a useful context. We are too much inclined in these days to divide people into permanent categories, forgetting that a category only exists for its special purpose and must be forgotten as soon as that purpose is served. There is a fundamental difference between men and women, but it is not the only fundamental difference in the world ... A difference of age is as fundamental as a difference of sex; and so is a difference of nationality. (pg 45-46)

It is important to remind myself that I am also not interested in saying that gender differences in our society are the most important differences. Fixing the problems we have on this particular subject is not going to fix everything - human nature will be the same (fallen) as it always has been through all of history, and there is only one solution for that. Speaking about people in categories, rich or poor, American or European, young or old, male or female, are only useful for certain purposes. If there is a problem between two categories of people (I'm not saying there is) or if there is a cultural misunderstanding about two categories of people (I am saying there is), then that would be a reason to speak in terms of categories - in order to address the problem.

A certain amount of classification is, of course, necessary for practical purposes ... In the same way, we may say that stout people of both sexes are commonly better-tempered than thin ones, or that university dons of both sexes are more pedantic in their speech than agricultural labourers." (pg 24-25)

And this, even though it seems to have met with a lot of hostility in this thread, is all I'm going to do - in order to show how an overvaluing of some character traits comes at the expense of other character traits - particularly in modern day men. Young people of both sexes are commonly more aggressive and more risk-takers than old people. Male people of both ages are commonly more combative and competitive than female people.

But here's part of Sayers' book that I may actually use. e2c didn't tell me that there's a point where Dorothy Sayers actually imagines what an overly feminized society would be like (she's joking).

Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval ... (pg. 56)

Sayers then goes on to imagine what a culture would be like if this did happen. She eerily gets a number of things right. The one thing that's different from her imagined scenario is that she imagines a society dominated by the feminine where "masculine" behavior is over-valued by the culture as the best thing for men. I'd say we've ended up with what she's imagined, with the slight difference being that "masculine" behavior is frowned upon, and more "feminine" behavior is over-valued by the culture as the best thing for men.

If from school and lectureroom, Press and pulpit, he heard the persistent outpouring of a shrill and scolding voice, bidding him remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with seduction, how to play bridge without incurring the suspicion of impotence. If, instead of allowing with a smile that "woman prefer cavemen," he felt the unrelenting pressure of a whole society structure forcing him to order all his goings in conformity with that pronouncement. (pg. 56-57)

We live in this society today - one that focuses on masculine traits, but focuses on them in order to discourage them - a guy's "biological function," "rough male touch," "masculine appeal," "seduction," etc. are all actually preferrably replaced in a feminine dominated society by what are considered the more moral feminine traits. This is why in schools, normal behavior for a girl is encouraged while normal behavior for a boy is discouraged. This is why, in church, the soft, comfortable, relationship-oriented and harmonious are encouraged against the disruptive, combative, challenging, and noncompromising. But it gets worse -

His newspaper would assist him with a "Men’s Corner," telling him how, by the expenditure of a good deal of money and a couple hours a day, he could attract the girls and retain his wife’s affection; and when he had succeeded in capturing a mate, his name would be taken from him, and society would present him with a special title to proclaim his achievement. People would write books called, "The History of the Male," or "Males of the Bible," or "The Psychology of the Male," and he would be regaled daily with headlines, such as "Gentleman-Doctor’s Discovery," "Male-Secretary Wins Calcutta Sweep," "Men-Artists at the Academy." (pg. 58)

It's pretty ridiculous actually.

If, after a few centuries of this kind of treatment, the male was a little self-conscious, a little on the defensive, and a little bewildered about what was required of him, I should not blame him. (pg. 60-61)

I'd say we haven't quite had a century of it yet. And it's not a reason to get self-conscious, defensive, or bewildered if you understand what's going on. But self-conscious, defensive, and bewildered is precisely how you could describe all the boys in our schools who are being taught in an atmosphere that believes (1) gender differences are simply the result of socialization, (2) old-fashioned gender differences that used to be encouraged should now be discouraged, and (3) the good sort of gender traits to be encouraged for boys are the feminine ones (it's just easier to control the classroom that way for one thing).

All in all, Sayers was making a joke here. And more of it came true than she would have imagined.

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All Sayers was doing was flipping what women still experience to this day on it's head. But it's nowhere near what she describes. Men are not told their primary purpose is to be fathers, that's one of many optons. A childless/wifeless man is not treated as a tragic spinster. He is a bachelor in his prime.

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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Nezpop is precisely correct. It's not a joke, it's a reversal. Indeed, that you take it as a mere "joke" could be interpreted as reflecting a lack of familiarity with the current conditions of most women. You say: "I am much more interested in addressing how men are acting today than how women are acting." But beyond that you still seem disinterested in what women are experiencing. What they are experiencing is patriarchal oppression, and one of the key instruments of patriarchal oppression is the lazy invocation of gender essentialism. To claim, as you seem to be doing, that gender essentialism has been wholly abandoned for a strict social constructionism is to ignore the data and ignore the experience of women.

Heck, I hang out with some ladies who are involved in some pretty radical education reform, and they'd probably say that current educational systems teach young people to be too passive, obedient, non-adventurous, squash their initiative and curiosity, and overemphasize control and safety. But they probably wouldn't attribute that to gender as much as capitalism, "rational" management theory, behaviorism etc.

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I was part of a feminist reading group about a decade ago when Susan Faludi's Stiffed came out. Assuming you're serious about your book idea, I'd encourage you to read it. It's thick and wide-ranging, and Faludi is both a scholar and a pretty fantastic journalist. There's a great chapter in which she describes her time sitting in with an evangelical men's small-group Bible study and getting to know the men in it. She's genuinely curious about "The Betrayal of the American Man" (the book's subtitle) and writes with an honest sympathy.

So I just read the first chapter and I have to say, honestly, that I was bored to tears by it. It seems like Faludi is making up a feminist fantasy version of how she imagines American history in the last century or so. I usually feel unsatisfied if I don't finish a book, and being a fast reader, will usually grit my teeth and finish it. Faludi's drudgery is really trying my patience though. On the other hand, I am interested in reading the chapter on her impressions with a men's small-group Bible study ... and well, the subjects of some of the other chapters look interesting, I'm just afraid of what she'll make out of them. Here's some examples -

First she talks about how "masculine" the media made the World War II generation out to be (because WWII vets took control) and, according to Faludi, masculinity seems to be all about desiring, keeping, and gaining more "control" over others. She starts out talking to women-beaters -

Faludi - As a feminist and a journalist, I began investigating this crisis where you might expect a feminist journalist to begin: at the weekly meetings of a domestic-violence group ... "I denied it before," he said of the night he pummeled his girlfriend ... "But looking back at that night when I beat her with an open hand, I didn't black out. I was feeling good. I was in power, I was strong, I was in control. I felt like a man." But what struck me most strongly was what he said next: that moment of control had been the only one in his recent life. "That feeling of power," he said, "didn't last long. Only until they put the cuffs on. Then I was feeling again like I was no man at all." He was typical in this regard. The men I got to know in the group ... They had been labeled outlaws but felt like castoffs. Their strongest desire was to be dutiful and to belong, to adhere with precision to the roles society had set out for them as men.

And thus she begins and lays the groundwork for her entire book. Apparently, she's going to tell of all the other men she's talked to who have whined and complained to her about feeling like they have lost control. What she fails to point out is that women-beaters are not stereotypical men (although she may think otherwise). Your average guy, every one of whom is a sinner, does not define his manhood or masculinity by his desire to feel power - over the woman he's punching in the face or over anything else. Most men would say that "being a man" would include the exact opposite, never under any circumstances hitting a woman, and not caring a fig for some wierd, psychological, masculine-overcompensation desire for "control."

Men are troubled, many conservative pundits say, because women have gone far beyond their demands for equal treatment and now are trying to take power and control away from men ... The underlying message: men cannot be men, only eunuchs, if they are not in control. Both the feminist and antifeminist views are rooted in a peculiarly modern American perception that to be a man means to be at the controls and at all times to feel yourself in control.

I could swear I've heard this power-centric view among academics before. But who on earth else talks like this? What guy thinks in terms of defining his manhood by wanting power and control over all the women he knows? This is not masculine, and if you're in a domestic-violence recovery group, your psychological problems are not the norm for most men.

To be a man increasingly meant being ever on the rise, and the only way to know for sure you were rising was to claim, control, and crush everyone and everything in your way. "American manhood became less and less about an inner sense of self, and more and more about a possession that needed to be acquired," Michael Kimmel has observed in Manhood in America. Davy Crockett was elevated to the masculine pantheon ... In his incarnation as a cleaned-up Walt Disney television character in 1955, Davy Crockett would eclipse Daniel Boone for good. His "appearance" in a three-part series on the popular program Disneyland set off a real-life mass slaughter, as the marketplace raced to meet the runaway demand for raccoon hats by doing in much of the continent's raccoon population.

What is she talking about? Seriously, is this supposed to be a metaphor for control and manhood or something? Because of Fess Parker, Davy Crockett was a masculine ideal in the 1950s, and Crockett symbolized man's desire for control because of how he dominated and had dominion over the wilderness - and over all the dead racoons that resulted from boys wanting to copy him. This is how Faludi is introducing the ideas she wants to explain in her over-600 page book?

Faludi then goes on to describe how Herb Goldberg began the "men-in-distress" academic genre with his 1977 book The Hazards of Being Male. Goldberg apparently went into how American men are in some sort of psychological "crisis" because of their slow loss of control. But Faludi disagrees with some of his conclusions -

Goldberg, like others, assumed men's problems to be internal. Yet clearly masculinity is shaped by society. Anyone wondering how mutable it is need only look at how differently it is expressed under the Taliban in Kabul or on the streets of Paris ... As anthropologist David D. Gilmore demonstrated in Manhood in the Making ... "Manliness is a symbolic script," Gilmore concluded, "a cultural construct, endlessly variable and not always necessary." It should be self-evident that ideas of manhood vary and are contingent on the times and the culture.

Masculinity is a social-construct foisted upon men according to always-changing and evolving approved cultural norms, yadda, yadda, yadda ... Even though I'll be arguing against this sort of thing, reading it is drudgery.

She then goes deeper into why she thinks "masculinity" was a little over-hyped during WWII.

If the French revolutionaries of the 1790s cast their struggle in iconographic terms that were essentially maternal - Marianne as Liberty in Delacroix's later painting, breast bared and bearing her standard into battle - Americans of the 1940s sexed their icons the other way. A band of marines struggling to erect a flagpole in the flinty ground of Iwo Jima would become the supreme expression of the nation's virtue.

Is Faludi implying what anyone reading her for very long (with all of her allusions to symbolic male virility) might think she's implying with the Iwo Jima vets erecting their flagpole? Why use this sort of imagery? Who thinks like this? I'm going to really struggle trying to finish this book.

Then, apparently, there was a problem with WWII vets passing on their "masculine" traditions to their sons - (this apparently is what has helped cause the "masculinity crisis" Faludi was referring to earlier).

The men who bought into the Ernie Pyle ideal of heroically selfless manhood, the fathers who would sire the baby-boom generation, would try to pass that experience of manhood on intact to their sons in the 1950s and 1960s. The "routine little men" who went overseas and liberated the world came home to the expectation that they would liberate the country by quiet industry and caretaking. Their chances of that had already been greatly reduced with President Truman's abandonment of the Democrats' "New Bill of Rights," which would have guaranteed, among other things, full employment and equal access to food, health care, education and housing.

Obviously because the men who fought WWII wanted the government to legislate the "right to employment" and to federally guarantee "equal access to food, health care, education and housing" in order for them to even be able to pass their traditional masculine ideas on to their sons.

Ah, but another huge problem, Faludi enlightens us, was that the sons of WWII vets didn't have an enemy like the Nazis to prove their manhood against. How could the baby-boomer generation of boys become men?

Kennedy would see to it that the sons had an enemy, too. He promised as much on Inauguration Day in 1961, when he spoke vaguely but unremittingly of Communism's threat, of "the prey of hostile powers," of the "hour of maximum danger," of "a long twilight struggle," and most memorably of a country that would be defined by its readiness to "pay any price" and "oppose any foe." The fight was the thing, the only thing, if America was to retain its manhood ... What Kennedy was selling was a government-backed program of man-making, of federal masculinity insurance.

So that's what that Kennedy speech was about, I always thought it was about something else.

And eventually, American men decided that their test of manhood would be conquering the final frontier - in other words, pursuing their ever desperate desire for more control in the "space race." And this is why American men are now so disallusioned, you see, Faludi explains, the space race just wasn't as good of a proof of their masculinity as fighting the Nazis was for their fathers.

But space was a sterile environment, not a place where women and children could or would want to settle. To explore space was to clear the way for no one, to be cut off from a society that had not real investment in following. Nor was space a place of initiation, of virile secrets, of masculine transformation. There was no one there to learn from or to fight. It was a void that a man moved through only passively, in a state of almost infantile regression. The astronaut was a dependent strapped to a couch in a fetal position, bundled in swaddling clothes. He made it through space only by never breaking the apron strings of mission control back on Mother Earth. An astronaut returned from space unchanged by the experience, because there was no experience. No wonder that, for all the promotional effort expended on space, by the time Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, Americans were already suppressing a yawn over the adventures of their new heroes.
I never knew American history could be so sad and boring. I also didn't know I would have this much of a problem taking almost anything Faludi is going to keep saying here seriously. She is slowly developing her ideas on "The Betrayal of the American Man" and apparently this betrayal has something to do with there being no more Nazis to fight anymore, and how this dissapoints and frustrates the American man's deep desire for power and control - going to the moon was yawnstipating you see, because the moon didn't have any virile secrets or any life changing experiences. That's just so dissapointing for men, you see.

I knew she had to go there eventually - next is how the baby-boomer generation didn't have any bad guys to fight in Vietnam -

When the boy got older, he was at last presented with his own war, in Southeast Asia ... Nor was this a "masculine" war in the World War II mode. There were no landings, no front lines, no ultimate objectives. It was essentially a war against a domestic population, against families, where huts were burned with Zippo lighters, cattle slaughtered, children machine-gunned ...

The more Faludi keeps getting wrong, the less interest I have in any of her insights about how "hurt" men in America are now feeling, or how culturally-construted ideas of masculinity are what have led to the dissapointment for so many men who couldn't be like their WWII dads. I'm just not buying any of this.

But this chapter refuses to end, and she's still going on and on about American men's desparate search for real enemies to fight (so that they can get a chance to prove their masculinity to everyone).

What began in the 1950s as an intemperate pursuit of Communists in the government bureaucracy, in the defense industries, in labor unions, the schools, the media, and Hollywood, would eventually become a hunt for a shape-shifting enemy who could take the form of women at the office, or gays in the military, or young black men on the street, or illegal aliens on the border, and from there become a surreal "combat" with nonexistent black helicopters, one-world government, and goose-stepping U.N. peacekeeping thugs massing on imaginary horizons.

Her politics is showing. And it's also becoming more and more evident that the "American Man" she's saying was "betrayed" is the white, middle-class, (probably angry) American man. Coming from a generation where race, class, gender, culture, etc. is all increasingly mixed - when my book talks about ideas of masculinity, I have zero interest, unlike Faludi, on only focusing on middle-class white guys.

There's more to go from chapter one, but I'm going to have to divide my comments on it in half.

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I'll give you this, Darren H, reading this is helping me fine tune what I do not want to write about. So in chapter 1 of Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi next goes into yet another way the WWII generation failed in sharing their masculinity with their sons ... by becoming too capitalistic?

If the failure to find a new frontier or a clear enemy or women in need of protection was devastating, it was accompanied by yet another problem for which the grunt fathers had never prepared their sons. The men of the new generation had not simply lost a utilitarian world; they had been thrust into an ornamental realm, and the transformation had proved traumatic ... All of the traditional domains in which men pursued authority and power - politics, religion, the military, the community, and the household - were societal. Ornamental culture has no such counterparts. Constructed around celebrity and image, glamour and entertainment, marketing and consumerism, it is a ceremonial gateway to nowhere ... In an age of celebrity, the father has no body of knowledge or authority to the son. Each son must father his own image, create his own Adam ... The ordinary man is no fool: he knows he can't be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nonetheless, the culture reshapes his most basic sense of manhood by telling him as much as it tells the celebrity that masculinity is something to drape over his body, not draw from inner resources: that it is personal, not societal; that manhood is displayed, not demonstrated ...

In truth, despite all their wartime heroics, the fathers abandoned their sons, however inadvertently, in an image-based, commercial-ruled world that they had largely created in their postwar haste to embrace the good life ... what they bestowed was a culture where the sons could not exercise the sorts of traditional manhood that the fathers so judgmentally endorsed. Symbolically speaking, what the fathers really passed on to their sons was not the GI ethic but the GI Joe "action figure," a twelve inch shrunken-man doll whose main feature was his ability to accessorize.

I'm just not seeing it. There is nothing about our culture that stops any guy from entering manhood. Perhaps it comes down to whether you believe culture really shapes everyone, or whether someone can consciously decide not to follow the culture he's in. If culture is what foists ideas of femininity and masculinity on each of us ... if the masculine and feminine traits we have are really just the result of social engineering ... then perhaps a overly-feminized culture would make it impossible, or at least emotionally "traumatic," for a guy to act like a man.

The old American paradigm can offer no help to a man competing with ghostly, two-dimensional armies of superathletes, gangsta rappers, action heroes, and stand-up comedians on television. Navigating the ornamental realm, much less trying to derive a sense of manhood from it, has become a nightmare all the more horrible for being virtually unacknowledged as a problem. At the close of the century, men find themselves in an unfamiliar world ... There is no passage to manhood in such a world. A man can only wait to be discovered; and even if he lucks out, his "achievement" is fraught with gender confusion for its "feminine" implications of glamour and display.

"Wah, wah, wah, I'm a man, poor me having to try and compete with celebrities for attention. I guess I have to just sit here passively and hope to be noticed. It's just a matter of luck I suppose. Maybe celebrity media will eventually notice me for something and then I can really be a man."

By 1996, Bob Dole, a candidate who had been GI Joe incarnate, would lose the presidential race to a man who famously didn't go to war at all. That election was not an embrace of a man's considered decision to refuse military service, for which Bill Clinton was excoriated, but a rejection of the foot soldier as a serviceable model of American manhood. By the waning of the nineties, despite all the celebrity encomiums to the Private Ryans and their "greatest generation," it was patently evident that this exemplar of masculinity would have no place in the century to come ... Few could deny now what John Kenneth Galbraith had asserted three decades earlier in his book The New Industrial State: "By all but the pathologically romantic, it is now recognized that this is not the age of the small man."

So Bill Clinton beating Bob Dole was essentially the rejection of WWII veterans' ideas and examples of traditional masculinity? Only in Faludi's imagination. Sure, you go right ahead quoting Professor Galbraith's platitudes. And by referring to the WWII generation as the "age of the small man," Faludi is not helping her case.

... the more I explored the predicament of postwar men, the more familiar it seemed to me. The more I consider what men have lost ... the more it seems that men of the late twentieth century are falling into a status oddly similar to that of women at mid-century. The fifties housewife, stripped of her connections to a wider world and invited to fill the void with shopping and the ornamental display of her ultrafemininity, could be said to have morphed into the nineties man, stripped of his connections to a wider world and invited to fill the void with consumption and a gym-bred display of his ultramasculinity. The empty compensations of a "feminine mystique" are transforming into the empty compensations of a masculine mystique with a gentlemen's cigar club no more satisfying than a ladies' bake-off ...

Maybe ... maybe Tyler Durden would agree with part of this. I, on the other hand, find cigars and the idea of a "cigar club" entirely satisfying.

When the frontier that their fathers offered them proved to be a wasteland, when the enemy their fathers sent them to crush turned out often to be women and children trembling in thatched huts, when the institutions their fathers claimed would buoy them downsized them, when the women their fathers said wanted their support got their own jobs, when the whole deal turned out to be a crock and it was clear that they had been thoroughly stiffed, why did the sons do nothing? The feminine mystique's collapse a generation earlier was not just a crisis but a historic opportunity for women. Women responded to their "problem with no name" by naming it and founding a political movement, by beginning the process of freeing themselves. Why haven't men done the same? This seems to me to be the real question that lurks behind the "masculinity crisis" facing American society: not that men are fighting against women's liberation, but that they have refused to mobilize for their own - or their society's - liberation.

And this is apparently the point of the book Stiffed. Perhaps the reason men aren't doing anything about this is because none of it has actually happened. The frontier/future of America has not been found to be a "wasteland," the enemies that American men have had to fight over the last five decades have not been women and children, the market has actually given most men satisfying careers or at least jobs where they still hold to the idea that they can climb the ladder, many women of the last couple generation have not been against happy and supportive marriages with men, and American men don't actually feel like they have been "stiffed" by the older generation. So women got mobilized, started a political movement, and liberated themselves - I approve. But while I do believe our culture has become feminized, I am certainly not under the impression that I need to be liberated from it. There are problems in our culture that need to be addressed (some more serious, some merely annoying). But the idea that American men are somehow unhappy, cheated, deprived of their manhood and control, blah, blah, blah and that it's some horrible "crisis" that we need to fix for our own emotional health or whatnot, blah, blah blah ... well, I find it laughable.

I'm afraid Faludi has more of an imagination than I do, because if I were to take what she's saying seriously here, apparently I'd need to rally up a political liberation movement for men - a per se "masculinist" movement. Well screw that.

At the end of chapter 1, Faludi describes her book as -

... a reflection of my own mental journey as I struggled to understand the perilous voyage to manhood undertaken by the men I once knew as boys ...

That just doesn't sound very interesting.

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I am interested in writing a guidebook (somewhat light-hearted) with a number of simple, practical, elementary rules to follow and/or tasks to do - that will all be counter-cultural as far as the effeminization thing goes. I'm afraid Faludi has more of an imagination than I do, because if I were to take what she's saying seriously here, apparently I'd need to rally up some huge political liberation movement for men - a per se "masculinist" movement. Well screw that.

I sincerely hope your book is funny.

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Have you read: To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth; Gunsite Press, Paulden, AZ, 1988 & 1990, ISBN 0-9621342-0-1 and by Paladin Press as ISBN 0-87364-973-7? Are you familiar with Jeff Cooper? Is this along the lines of what you are thinking?

The late Col. Jeff Cooper.From his commentaries.

"Does it not seem that far too much is being made of "a college education"? Just what is meant by that? A bachelor's degree from a major institution was at one time pretty significant, but now it seems to be solely a matter of money. We find that what used to be certification of a rounded personality is now sort of a remedial trade school. When I was a boy the major universities were distinguishable from the second rate. Perhaps they still are, but that is hard to verify. We find people majoring in some sort of tradecraft before they have learned to tell the Greek myths from the Old Testament. And in an increasingly technical culture, it is difficult to tell what matters in the way of background, and perhaps it does not, but still it is nice to know what is being paid for when one is paying for "a college education."

When I went aboard the USS Pennsylvania at the beginning of World War II, officers of experience dined in the "ward room," whereas ensigns and second lieutenants were assigned to the "junior officer's mess." In the JO mess we took pleasure in needling each other about the relative backgrounds of the naval academy boys and the graduates of civilian universities. The naval academy boys insisted that our shortcoming was that we had never suffered a "pleb year," whereas we maintained that they had not obtained a "college education" but rather a trade school certificate. In those days the academy did attempt to turn out "officers and gentlemen," insisting upon such things as French and ballroom dancing, which was more than Harvard or Stanford could do. On the other hand, the academy boys were a distinctly unworldly group and without social contact for the previous four years. There was room for endless discussion here. Snuffy Puller, brother of the distinguished Chesty Puller, was our company commander at Basic School and made no attempt to conceal his scorn for what he thought of as "college boys." Just what a young man is good for at age 21 is a good question, but more depends upon his family than his school. This, of course, is assuming that he has a family. In today's culture there seems to be less and less of that. Before a young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills at which he should be adept. We used to kick this around on watch and we covered a lot of ground. What should a young male of 21 know and what should he be able to do? There are no conclusive answers to those questions, but they are certainly worth asking. We agreed upon "civics" or what was called American government. A young man should know how this country is run and how it got that way. He should know the Federalist Papers and de Tocqueville, and he should know recent world history. If he does not know what has been tried in the past, he cannot very well avoid those pitfalls as they come up in the future.

Superficialities, of course, are rife. A young man should be computer literate, and moreover should know Hemingway from James Joyce. He should know how to drive a car well - such as is not covered in "Driver Ed." He should know how to fly a light airplane. He should know how to shoot well. He should know elementary geography, both worldwide and local. He should have a cursory knowledge of both zoology and botany. He should know the fundamentals of agriculture and corporate economy. He should be well qualified in armed combat, boxing, wrestling, judo, or the equivalent. He should know how to manage a motorcycle. He should be comfortable in at least one foreign language, and more if appropriate to his background. He should be familiar with remedial medicine.

These things should be available before a son leaves his father's household. They do not constitute "a college education," which may or may not be a trade school. Some of the academy boys were fairly well qualified for life, and some were not. The civilians varied widely from superior to disastrous. We had a major war to fight and we did the best we could, which was not bad, considering the problem. I met some pretty good people in that war and I am pleased to have known them. My first tour at sea-going was not deadly, and only a couple of my friends were killed. Later on things changed. The hazards of war as they stand today vary as to time and place, but the risk is always there. When large numbers of people of opposing viewpoints are trying to kill you, they may sometimes succeed. We play this as it comes."

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


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I have to say, even though I mostly disagree with the main ideas of this proposed book, I think it could sell really well. I think it will appeal to fans of Mark Driscoll and John Eldridge -- I'm not saying your ideas sound exactly the same as theirs, just that their popularity makes me think a book like yours could have pretty wide appeal among evangelical/reformed Christians in the US. I'd say read more books like the one you want to write, not just the feminist stuff. (though that's good too!)

I thought of saying, as I think others have, that it's important to be explicit what you mean by feminine and masculine, and 'feminization' -- but actually I think there are plenty of readers who will be more than willing to pick up the book simply because of the topic, and will go along with that premise.

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Persiflage, just wondering if this post by Jeffrey Wells (titled 'The Dweeb Pack') might tie into your thesis at all:

However much men might talk about their admiration for McQueen and leaf through coffee-table books of his black-and-white photographs, they know his routine is more or less outmoded. Entombed even. Ditto the Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Bruce Willis, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman models. All gone from the landscape, except as an opportunity for a spoof or satire of some kind.

Which is how Willis's John McClane was played in Live Free or Die Hard. As a hide-bound geezer, clinging to the macho code for dear life. Justin Long, whose persona isn't quite as distinct as Eisenberg-Cera-Baruchel and therefore hasn't caught on in the same way, played an approximation of today's male -- bright and alert and courageous as far as it goes, but divorced from the mentality and the culture that produced McLane types in the mid to late 20th Century, and using his Obama-generation attitude to poke at Willis's pretension. . . .

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Richard Phillips in byFaith, on "The Masculine Mandate". I haven't read it yet. I just report. You decide.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 2 weeks later...
e2c - Reading the entire book might clarify a lot.

Unfortunately, I am - almost finished, not that there really was anything to clarify.

Darren H - I sincerely hope your book is funny.

Thanks. Even if it's funny the way some people on this thread think it is, maybe they'll at least read it.

Draper - Have you read: To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth; Gunsite Press, Paulden, AZ, 1988 & 1990, ISBN 0-9621342-0-1 and by Paladin Press asISBN 0-87364-973-7? Are you familiar with Jeff Cooper? Is this along the lines of what you are thinking?

I've heard of him, haven't read the book but it looks interesting, but I'm thinking a little more along to the lines of a "how to confront and challenge the culture" book, as opposed to a "how to be a man" book. Not that there might not be some overlap between the two.

Chattaway: Persiflage, just wondering if this post by Jeffrey Wells (titled 'The Dweeb Pack') might tie into your thesis at all

That post pretty much nails one of the indications of effeminization in our culture (Hollywood) that I'm intending to use. Thanks for the link.

Christian - Richard Phillips in byFaith, on "The Masculine Mandate". I haven't read it yet. I just report. You decide.

Thanks also for this link. I read it, but it's not really what I'm going for. The "Bible says to be a man stuff" is not something I disagree with, but it seems to be pretty well covered by other writers at the moment.

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So while I'm doing all this reading for right now, here's just a selection that some of you might find fun. It's an excerpt from a cross-examination/debate exchange between Dr. Erica Freeman and William F. Buckley, Jr. in the Firing Line debate - "Resolved: Women Have It At Least As Good As Men" - dated 11/30/1982. This is where Ms. Freeman gets to question Mr. Buckley -

Freeman: I will agree with you on one thing. If women are to be not as mulish as men, it assumes that men are mulish. Now, if men could stop being mulish and more like men, then we wouldn't have to worry about women imitating bad parts of them. I -

Buckley: That's true. It took a certain amount of mulishness, for instance, to construct this building.

Freeman: By a male architect no doubt.

Buckley: I don't know. Do you know?

Freeman: In our culture, we may assume that to be a given, and that is one of the questions I want to ask you about. For instance -

Buckley: Do you assume it's by a male because it works?

Freeman: By a male because it's mulish and not by a woman because our culture does not give women the kind of respect nore the kind of opportunity that would get them to build a building a little more human, a little more "feminine," which simply means more liveable in. And apropos your notions of feminine, do we just have to be cute to be feminine? Is that it? Cute means babies. Do women have to be cuddly little babies in order to be acceptable? Are men so frightened of us as real human beings who are other than mothers and mistresses and two under the same roof for some hopeful gentleman? What can we be without frightening you and still be ourselves?

Buckley: Well, in the first place, I'm unfrightened. In the second place, I prefer cute women to noncute women. In the third place -

Freeman: Why?

Buckley: - I think you qualify.

Freeman: Men tend to raise the dust and then complain they can't see. You are not facing a cute woman. Perhaps you might prefer to see it that way, but change the kaleidoscope and you'll see a different color.

Buckley: You used the word. I didn't use it, and I didn't know how general you intended its use, but I assumed you were not using it disparagingly, which is why I applied it to you.

Freeman: Men tend to use it disparagingly. It makes someone something less than they are, doesn't it?

Buckley: Well -

Freeman: Women tend to be defined by men by small, little adjectives. "Brave" is not an adjective that you would necessarily think of in connection with a woman in our culture, but "cute" would; therefore, I suggest to you that it is pejorative.

Buckley: I don't know really what your objective is here. I can come up with a pejorative that applies to men without any difficulty whatsoever.

Freeman: All right, do, because that will prove it.

Buckley: I can match you pejorative for pejorative.

Freeman: Yes, but the chances are that when we think in terms of human beings, we tend to think of women who want to be equal as somehow climbing up the ladder rudely like tanks or somehow doing it in a way which is not gracious or gentlemanly, whereas gentlemen -

Buckley: Now, wait a minute.

Freeman: - have already arrived. Yes?

Buckley: What about a man who's called effeminate?

Freeman: What about a man who's called that? Generally, it's pejorative, and why is it?

Buckley: Because it's ex natura.

Freeman: Is it really?

Buckley: Yes.

Freeman: You don't really think that men have feminine components, and those are the components that make them more understanding, more pliable and more loving?

Buckley: I'm sure you've studied chemical things and so on, and I haven't, but -

Freeman: No, I haven't. Psychological things, yes.

Buckley: I do think that there are characteristics that are traditionally associated with men and traditionally associated with women, but I don't find those that are associated with women to be inherently obnoxious. You apparently do.

Freeman: No, I'm suggesting that tradition is precisely where the enemy is because we tend to think of a tradition as an immutable law and therefore assume that habit is naturally nature when it need not be, and it's simply a way of looking at life.

Buckley: Well, I don't know where you get your tradition, but mine begins with, "Honor thy father and thy mother," so I don't see any sexist propaganda in the injunction.

Freeman: Yes, but make sure that thy mother stays in the kitchen.

Buckley: Who said that? As a matter of fact, I don't see where that's involved unless you say, "And make sure the man tills the fields mulishly."

Freeman: Not to be as a mule.

Buckley: I think you're having a difficult time, and I don't blame you.

Freeman: In which case, of course, that would prove that women don't have it better than men because we tend to be defensive. We seem to be working uphill against you.

Buckley: You tend to be defensive. My wife isn't defensive at all. Not at all. I sometimes wish she were more defensive. No, you feel some kind of an itch, a cacoethes, and it makes you unhappy with your lot, which is envied all over the world, and that really is one of the reasons why the discussion is paradoxical.

Freeman: Well, we have been brought up as women to be very careful and tender of men's egos, and the reality -

Buckley: Up until now.

Freeman: - to us is always -

Moderator: I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm afraid your time is up.

Edited by Persiflage
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Overstreet wrote:

: I just stumbled across this and thought it might be useful for Persiflage's book.

So men are from Mars bars, then?

What chocolate bar do women hail from, I wonder? (There's no Venus bar, is there?)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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