Tag Archives: feminism

The Pinnacle of Manliness

I originally was going to write this as a sort of palate cleanser before returning to the usual topic of Russia’s wacky adventures in fantasy land, but to be honest I’m thinking I’d rather be writing stuff like this than covering Russia and Ukraine. I’ll address why in a later post, rest assured, but for now let’s just say that it is repetitive, boring,and depressing. So with that in mind, here’s something completely different.

As we are constantly told by the media and totally well-adjusted adult Youtube personalities, there’s a “masculinity crisis” in America, or the West in general. The alt-right, “Men’s Rights” movement, and the general “anti-feminist” community we see on the internet all seem to think so. PUAs (Pick Up Artists), Red Pillers (dumb fucks), MGTOW (You don’t even want to know)- all of these masses of mostly millennial males are struggling with this crisis of masculinity. Some in rather bizarre ways, such as the so-called “Proud Boys” which have a rule against masturbation. Hilariously, or perhaps tragically, all these defenders of traditional masculinity seek to end that “crisis” by demanding more of the same thing that caused it in the first place, but that’s a subject for a very long post if not a book.

Recently I heard a rather hilarious reading of a conservative’s column about this subject courtesy of the Chapo Trap House, and it made me recall a similar article I’d riffed on years before I even started blogging. It also brought back some memories of other things I’d read and I began to notice a curious, if not ridiculous theme in this genre of writing. If I could put this theme into words, I’d call it “bullshit masculinity,” and I would define it as people lamenting the “loss of traditional masculinity” and then presenting personal examples that set the bar ridiculously low.

To demonstrate what I mean I’ll start with the example of that article I riffed on years ago. Unfortunately I couldn’t find my original note and don’t remember the author’s name, but it was about why soccer is somehow destroying America. In case anyone is already wondering, yes, he basically steals jokes from that episode of King of the Hill about American football versus soccer. The only difference is that the TV show was being somewhat ironic and the jokes were actually funny. But conservatives do seem to have trouble mixing up fiction and real life, after all.

So the author’s gist is how soccer is all about not playing to win, participation trophies, standard millennial hate before it was mainstream. He’s obviously going to compare it to a more wholesome, American sport, and for added surprise, it just happens to be one that he played in high school!

If you’re guessing he played American football you’d be wrong. Boxing? Not even close. Basketball? Nope.

Baseball. He played baseball.

Yes, that sport where players spend long periods of time just standing around or sitting in a dugout.

In a pathetic attempt to make his readers think baseball is hardcore, he talks about how the opposing teams infielders would be screaming “Ey batter batter!” like…get ready for this awesome metaphor…”Buddhist monks on steroids.” And he warns you that if you weren’t careful, the pitcher might just brush you with a fastball to remind you that you’re not playing a kids game. This is a game of true men. A game of sweat glistening off the iron biceps of men who can admire that in a totally heterosexual way, whether on the field or in the locker room, away from prying eyes of those ever-nagging women.

Moving on to the article read by the Chapo crew, this particular author laments that based on one study, male grip strength is significantly weaker among millennial males. By extension we’re supposed to believe that millennial males are weaker than previous generations, including those generations’ females.

So now you’re ready to here his personal anecdotes about all the manly things he did back in his proper childhood, right? Well get ready for a letdown. Apparently his examples consisted of helping his dad change the oil on their car and carrying firewood around. And I was really hoping for tales about underground vale tudo matches in the favelas of Rio.

Aggiunta olio motore


Are you starting to see a pattern here? Guy makes a career off of complaining about the decline of traditional masculinity, and then tries to make the rather mundane tasks he did seem like the equivalent of storming the beach at Normandy or being an MMA fighter. Sure there are people who pull this shtick who have done some objectively hardcore shit in their lives. Chris Sajnog shoehorns laments about gender and masculinity into a book he wrote about how to shoot better, but in Chris’ defense, he’s an actual retired Navy SEAL. He’s not some guy writing, “Man these so-called young men today are all a bunch of pussies! If only they knew the kind of shit I saw when I worked the grill at McDonald’s during the lunch rush!”

I’ve even seen this kind of thing pop up when reading articles by expats extolling the virtue of Russian or Ukrainian women. According to them, these women appreciate traditional masculinity, and make you feel like a real man! And how do they do this, you ask? By letting you buy them stuff for no reason. Yes, you’re supposed to feel like a real man by holding the doors for a woman you know nothing about, and then paying for her dinner, movie ticket, or whatever. That’s what passes for “chivalry” these days. You know back in the day you had to hold your vanquished enemies for ransom, among many other duties, to be considered chivalrous. Nowadays guys who can’t even ride a damned horse say they have chivalry because they bought some woman named Olga an overpriced meal. If only Godfrey of Bouillon could have a word with them.

The last breed of these morons consists of those who exalt things like the military and combat experience yet never served. I remember one piece by one of these “manosphere” dorks that was all about how the lack of major wars is somehow leading to a decline in masculinity. I just had to skim a few paragraphs before I had the guy pegged. I sent him an email telling him I was a journalist who’d worked in a warzone and I was interested in his experiences of combat. He replied quite promptly- never served in the military. I guess he doesn’t need all that character building; he’s already a real man because he writes about it.

Look, defenders of “traditional masculinity,” I ask you kindly- if you want to write an article lamenting the supposed decline of manliness, don’t try to pass off your mundane sports, household chores, or automotive maintenance skills as hardcore pillars of the masculine ideal. If you’re ashamed because you never boxed or worked as a lumberjack or whatever you see as being more objectively masculine, feel free to express your regrets about that. Or maybe just shut the fuck up and join a gym or better yet, join the military so you can see how glorious war really is. When you pull this bait-and-switch nonsense, inflating common tasks as though they were rites of passage for Viking warriors, you’re just screwing with your readers and wasting their time. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t done any Brazilian jiu-jitsu training (or any other martial arts training) since 2014 and yet I’m confident I could easily choke out almost each and every one of these Youtube stars who make hours upon hours of pedantic ranting videos blathering about how weak and “beta” males are these days.

So in conclusion let me just say this in short, staccato sentences to make things perfectly clear. Concepts about what is masculine have varied throughout time and by culture. Traditional masculinity is rooted in patriarchy. Patriarchy privileges males but at a high cost. Many of these whiners want those privileges without the responsibilities and negatives. Moreover, the generation before you had it tougher. Their parents had it even worse. No matter what sports you play or what you’ve done, take a look at how Roman soldiers or Mongol warriors lived sometime. Nothing you do will ever make you more “hardcore” than that. Rejoice that you live in a world where you don’t have to live that way.


Another news roundup

Today I have three articles to recommend, though only two of them deal with Russia and Ukraine.

The first is on Open Democracy and is called “Bikinis and babas: the gender subtext of clichés about Ukraine” by Heather McRobie. I am really glad to see this issue getting more and more attention. Off the top of my head I can think of two examples of these demeaning stereotypes which made big news in the last few years.

The older story dates back to the beginning of the Libyan uprising, which suddenly put Gaddafi in the spotlight after more than a decade of near-irrelevance. Apparently one of Gaddafi’s private nurses was Ukrainian. So naturally it was assumed by some media sources that the woman must be a mistress. It’s simply not possible for a Ukrainian woman to work for someone important and not be his personal courtesan.

The other story is more recent, and if I remember correctly it was first reported by the BBC. The story was about how prostitutes in Murmansk were raising their prices due to the falling value of the ruble. Of course thanks to the fall of the ruble, lots of retailers and services were raising their prices. Many importers of high-end brands like Apple, BMW, and Land Rover temporarily suspended their sales and deliveries so as to revise their prices. The latest iPhone, for example, went from something like 35,000RUB to almost 60,000. I remember how one restaurant, lacking the time to print new menus, simply taped over the prices and scribbled new ones. In short, there were many examples of rising prices and people expressing concern about this, but because this is Russia, there had to be a story about prostitutes, even if it meant going to an out-of-the-way place like Murmansk.

Think it stops in Ukraine, Russia, and the former Soviet Union? Think again. Just look at Poland’s entry to Eurovision last year:

Fucking POLAND! One Slavic country that actually achieved some success on its own. One country that managed to avoid an association with sex tourism. And they go and put this shit on display in Europe. Luckily this video shouldn’t have too much impact on Poland’s reputation when it comes to sex tourism, because as we all already know, Eurovision is only watched by women, gay men, and Russians.

This is why I downplay my Slavic, Polako-Ukrainian heritage when I travel abroad to some countries. You mention Ukraine or Russia and the first thing out of some men’s mouths is “beautiful girls,” the “compliment” that is really an insult. That’s all one can associate with Russia and Ukraine. It’s not like anything important happened in these parts in the past two hundred years or so. I might also add that for decades the girls were no less beautiful, but this suddenly became noticeable to many foreign men only after a massive economic catastrophe which forced many women into prostitution or quasi-prostitution to survive. The women trafficking and mail-order bride industry drove the stereotype home. In short, Slavic beauty in the eyes of many men has nothing to do with aesthetics. It’s about accessibility and dominance. Women who easily reject them and feel no compulsion to settle for someone out of economic need or political repression become “stuck-up, Westernized bitches” in the minds of many men.

So kudos to McRobie for bringing this issue of gendered stereotypes in Eastern Europe out into the open and explaining it in such terms. On with the next article.

As we all know, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine. As it turns out, the Donbass region just happens to have a historical community of hard-fighting, military-aged Chechens, Ingushetians, Yakuts, and Buryats- it was practically a mini-Soviet Union all this time! But for those of you Russophobes who believe whatever the Western media tells you, there’s this article about Russian conscripts complaining about being compelled to sign contracts and being sent to Ukraine the Rostov region, where some have been injured or even killed in mysterious training accidents for which nobody has been held responsible.

Of course this article is nothing but propaganda- The U.S. State Department must be going around and paying these women to lie about their sons, if they ever had sons. This is a tried and true technique of the CIA to overthrow governments!

Lastly we have an article that has nothing to do with Russia or Ukraine, but rather ISIS. The article provides some interesting insight on ISIS, but as is typical it glosses over a couple points which go much further toward explaining the terrorist phenomenon than any analysis of Islamic theology does. Take a look:

Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.

Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.

The last one really makes you think. What is it that really attracts people to movements like ISIS? Are they really into the religious self-denial, restrictions, and self-denial? Or is part of it coming from a desire to free themselves from our market-dominated society, wherein they work most of their life, for little reward, often simply to stave off starvation? Perhaps if Western governments better addressed these needs, and supported regimes which did the same, it would severely hamper the recruitment efforts of groups like ISIS.

Naaaaah…Let’s just label them crazy fanatics and keeping bombing them. That can’t possibly fail!

Your guide to Gamergate – A FAQ for normal people

Q: What is Gamergate?

A: Gamergate is a manufactured, bullshit “scandal” specially constructed for and by total dipshits with nothing of value to offer the human race.

Q: How did Gamergate begin?

A: Some woman broke up with a guy, and instead of being an adult about it he started whining about her on his personal blog. Part of that whining included the accusation that his ex supposedly had “romantic” relations with video game journalists so as to garner positive press for her own game. Legions of socially-inept morons, convinced that women use their vaginas to control men, decided to get justice the only way they knew how- by sending death threats to their target and attempting to destroy her life online. Gamergate believers concocted a vast, elaborate conspiracy theory as to how women and feminists are creating a secret network aimed at destroying their precious video games.

Q: What exactly are Gamergaters afraid of?

A: It’s hard to say exactly, but it seems their main fear is that the industry will come under the influence of a handful of feminists. At this point, they will stop making highly profitable games such as Battlefield or Call of Duty and instead create feminist-themed games where the only protagonists are female and the menstrual cycle is an in-game feature.  Firearms and swords will be replaced by a pointing finger which “calls out” misogynistic enemies and instructs them to “check their privilege.”  This is only the tip of the iceberg. Once the feminist tentacles manage to fully isolate the balls of the gaming industry, thus shriveling them to the point of decay, game developers may integrate future titles with special vaginally-based ID systems. Males will still be allowed to play, but any female player will have the power to instantly remove them from any multiplayer game. Obviously, much is at stake!

Q: But surely these individuals represent only a minority of gamers!

A: Probably, but the thing about vocal active minorities is that they can do a lot of damage. Euromaidan certainly proved that. So long as the majority doesn’t actively come down on lynch mobs like this, or their sympathizers, they will continue to wield a lot of influence. When we hear about the government collecting our metadata, engaging in censorship, and detaining people based on classified evidence, our response is typically outrage. Yet we say nothing when anonymous individuals accountable to no one accuse, try, convict, and sentence people online, over the stupidest, most trivial non-scandals.

This sort of lynchmob activity has become well known in the gamer community, and it certainly isn’t limited to issues like sexism:

Q: Okay, what can I possibly do to differentiate myself from these Gamergaters?

A: Inform people that they are morons. If you see someone on the Gamergate bandwagon, make sure you inform them of how idiotic and ridiculously immature they sound. Some of these people actually wake up when they realize how stupid their tantrums look to normal people. Granted, many do not, but if some of these people start to notice a pattern by which every time they bring up their conspiracy theory they receive a slew of negative reactions, they might reach an epiphany. Far more importantly, do not let video games become such a focal point in your life that you are willing to destroy someone’s life via the internet, or tolerate those who do. They just don’t fucking matter that much.

Still not sure what it means to be too into video games? Watch this sad pathetic video:

Do not be that guy. His parents failed him. His teachers failed him. The media failed him. Society failed him. And now he is a failure. Is this who you want to be?

Q: But what about Anita Sarkeesian, the “pop culture critic” and author of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games?

A: I actually have a lot of criticism of Sarkeesian’s work, but sadly we can’t have a debate about that because the immediate reaction she has received toward much of that work has been white hot hatred in the form of death threats and rape threats. So those who engaged in these harassment campaigns attempted to censor Sarkeesian and failed, but they succeeded in censoring any rational debate.

Q: But Sarkeesian is a fraud and people give her all this praise because they see her as a victim!

A: Yeah, people tend to be hesitant to criticize someone receiving numerous death and rape threats simply for voicing their opinions. Maybe if people had responded in a more rational and civilized way, a public debate would ensue and Sarkeesian’s patrons would realize that being a self-proclaimed “pop culture critic” doesn’t mean anything or denote any actual expertise, and they’d also look at her work on video games more critically.

Q: Where exactly do you stand on Sarkeesian’s work regarding women in video games.

A: For the record, I feel that if I were given far fewer resources and ordered to produce a video series about sexism in video games, I would probably do a better job. For one thing, I wouldn’t spend nearly an entire video talking about every aspect of the “damsel in distress” trope, nor would I use pretentious-sounding concepts like the “subject object” relationship. Numerous games feature male characters in need of rescue, and obviously characters who need to be rescued cannot act for themselves, otherwise we wouldn’t have a game. Sarkeesian doesn’t seem to understand the concept of supporting characters vs. protagonists; in fact it seems like she doesn’t understand what “tropes” really are. If she did, she’d realize that the easiest, simple solution to shallow, passive female characters in games is to simply make more female protagonists, because the protagonist should always be the most developed character. I could also easily point out some games with good portrayals of females, as well as ones which showed great potential in this respect, yet totally blew it.  I could do all that for nothing more than the cost of a decent video camera.

Let the reader take note that all the above criticism is about her work, not her as a woman or even as a person. Let the reader also take note that while I did feel that some of her claims were ridiculous or inaccurate, at no time have I experienced rage or any strong emotions in response to anything Sarkeesian has ever said.  Even when she makes numerous factual errors about certain video games, I do not get upset. Why? Because they’re fucking video games, that’s why. 

Q: What do you think is the solution to this sort of thing, ultimately?

A: Don’t take pop culture topics so damned seriously. Speaking for myself, I am totally fed up with people’s “fandoms” and the spread of phony “nerd culture.” I get that you might be upset when someone joins your particular fandom after it became mainstream and their knowledge of the subject might be nothing compared to yours. But how important is that really? When you go plastering your fandom over all your social media what did you expect to happen?  Personally I don’t give a fuck about your Minecraft, your Game of Thrones, Dr. Who, or your stupid comic books that you only started reading once Hollywood began flooding our cinema screens with superhero flicks.  Yes I love movies. Yes I love video games. I have strong opinions about both. However, I save my emotion, indeed my passion, for serious causes, be they political or personal.

In short, realize that while your fandom is everything within its own community of fans, either online or off, the rest of humanity isn’t necessarily interested. Many fans simply do not realize that their behavior online can often be just as annoying as a person proselytizing their own religion.

The spread of fandom is little more than a marketing scheme, like so many that came before. Consumers are encouraged to distinguish themselves by dedicating themselves to this or that particular fandom, and dedication means buying a lot of shit. At the end of the day that is the extent of your loyalty. You buy these games, you sometimes buy merchandise associated with them, you go to events and buy stuff.  There simply is no deeper relationship between you and Mario, your slash fiction and Rule 34 art aside.

Q: Wow that’s a lot to think about. What should I do now?

A: Not knowing your current status it is hard to say, but I recommend going outside at the nearest possible opportunity and spending at least several hours in that state, preferably interacting with other human beings should they be available.

Defender of freedom!

Defender of freedom!