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.
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.