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dimanche, 22 décembre 2013

The Rites of Manhood: Man’s Need for Ritual

The Rites of Manhood: Man’s Need for Ritual

by Brett & Kate McKay

Ex: http://www.artofmanliness.com

in A Man's Life, On Manhood


Does modern life ever feel excruciatingly flat to you? A bleak landscape devoid of layers, rhythm, interest, texture?

Are you ever haunted by the question “Is this all there is?”

Have you ever looked at an old photo and felt that the scene held such an inexplicable richness that it seemed you could practically step right into it?

The barren flatness of modern life is rooted in many things, including mindless consumerism, the absence of significant challenges, and the lack of shared values and norms, or even shared taboos to rebel against. But what is the solution?

Many would be quick to say faith, or philosophy, or relationships. All good answers.

But what is it that vivifies beliefs to the extent they can transform your perspective not simply for an hour on Sunday, but also in the mundane moments throughout your week? What can move an understanding of abstract truths from your mind into your very sinews? What can transform superficial ties with others into deep and meaningful bonds?

The answer I would suggest is ritual.

Our modern world is nearly devoid of rituals – at least in the way we traditionally think of them. Those that remain – such as ones that revolve around the holidays – have largely lost their transformative power and are often endured more than enjoyed, participated in as an obligatory going through of the motions. Ritual has today become associated with that which is rote, empty, meaningless.

Yet every culture, in every part of the world, in every era has engaged in rituals, suggesting they are a fundamental part of the human condition. Rituals have even been called our most basic form of technology – they are a mechanism that can change things, solve problems, perform certain functions, and accomplish tangible results. Necessity is the mother of invention, and rituals were born out of the clear-eyed perspective that life is inherently difficult and that unadulterated reality can paradoxically feel incredibly unreal. Rituals have for eons been the tools humans have used to release and express emotion, build their personal identity and the identity of their tribe, bring order to chaos, orient themselves in time and space, effect real transformations, and bring layers of meaning and texture to their lives. When rituals are stripped from our existence, and this fundamental human longing goes unsatisfied, restlessness, apathy, alienation, boredom, rootlessness, and anomie are the result.

The Rites of Manhood


In the coming year we plan to do in-depth posts on some of the rituals that have been most central to the meaning and making of manhood, such as rites of passage, initiations, and oaths. This week we will be laying the foundation for these posts in two articles; the first will set up a definition of ritual, and the second will explore the many ways rituals are so vital for a full and meaningful life.

Today we’ll provide a little context as to the nature of ritual and why it has largely disappeared from modern societies.

What Is Ritual?


According to Catherine Bell, professor of ritual studies and author of the preeminent textbook on the subject, ritual has been traditionally defined as an action that lacks a “practical relationship between the means one chooses to achieve certain ends.” For example, shaking hands when you meet someone can be considered a ritual as there is no real reason why grabbing another’s hand and shaking for a second or two should lead to acquaintanceship. It is a culturally-relative gesture; we might very well greet each other with a pat on the shoulder or even no physical contact at all. As another example, washing your hands to clean them is not a ritual since there exists a clear practical relationship between your action and the desired result. But if a priest splashes water on his hands to “purify” them, that’s a ritual, since the water is largely symbolic and not really meant to rid the hands of bacteria.

Bell lists six attributes of rituals:

  • Formalism: This is a quality rooted in contrast and how restrictive or expressive the accepted code of behavior is for a given event/situation. For example a backyard picnic is very casual and will not feel like a ritual because there are few guidelines for how one may express oneself. A very formal dinner, on the other hand, has a more limited range of accepted behaviors and thus can feel quite ritual-like. Bell argues that while we sometimes see formality as stuffy, since it curbs more spontaneous expression, formalized activities are not “necessarily empty or trivial” and “can be aesthetically as well as politically compelling, invoking what one analyst describes as ‘a metaphoric range of considerable power, a simplicity and directness, a vitality and rhythm.’ The restriction of gestures and phrases to a small number that are practiced, perfected, and soon quite evocatively familiar can endow these formalized activities with great beauty and grace.”
  • Traditionalism. Rituals are often framed as activities that carry on values and behaviors that have been in place since an institution’s creation. This link to the past gives the ritual power and authority and provides the participant with a sense of continuity. The ritual may simply harken to those who came before, as when university graduates don the gowns that were once typical everyday classroom wear for scholars, or it may actually seek to recreate a founding event – as in the American celebration of Thanksgiving.
  • Disciplined invariance. Often seen as one of the most defining features of ritual, this attribute involves “a disciplined set of actions marked by precise repetition and physical control.” Think of soldiers marching in drill step or the sit/stand/kneel pattern followed by Catholics during the course of a Mass. Disciplined invariance suppresses “the significance of the personal and particular moment in favor of the timeless authority of the group, its doctrines, or its practices,” and “subordinates the individual and the contingent to a sense of the encompassing and the enduring.”
  • Rule-governance. Rituals are often governed by a set of rules. Both war and athletics are examples of activities that can be quite ritual-like when their rules regulate what is and is not acceptable. Rules can both check and channel certain tensions; for example, the game of football channels masculine aggression into a form of ritualized and controlled violence. On occasion the rules fail to sufficiently check the tension that is always bubbling right at the surface, as when a chaotic brawl breaks out amongst players. That the game reflects a similar submerged tension within society at large is part of why the audience finds the ritual so compelling.
  • Sacral symbolism. Ritual is able to take ordinary or “profane” objects, places, parts of the body, or images, and transform them into something special or sacred. “Their sacrality,” Bell writes, “is the way in which the object is more than the mere sum of its parts and points to something beyond itself, thereby evoking and expressing values and attitudes associated with larger, more abstract, and relatively transcendent ideas.” Thus something like incense can be a mere mixture of plants and oils designed to perfume a room, or, when swung from a censer, can represent the prayer of the faithful ascending into heaven.
  • Performance. Performance is a particular kind of action – one that is done for an audience. A ritual always has an intended audience, even if that audience is God or oneself. Tom F. Driver, a professor of theology, argues that “performance…means both doing and showing.” It is not a matter of “show-and-tell, but do-and-show.” Human are inherently actors, who wish to see themselves as characters in a larger narrative, and desire the kind of drama inherent in every timeless tale. Rituals function as narrative dramas and can satisfy and release this need. In the absence of ritual, people resort to doing their “showing” on social media and creating their own drama – often through toxic relationships or substances.

The more of these attributes a behavior/event/situation invokes, the more different from everyday life and ritual-like it will seem. The fewer of these attributes present, the more casual and ordinary it will feel.

For a more simple definition of ritual, here’s one that works: thought + action. A ritual consists of doing something in your mind (and often feeling something in your heart), while simultaneously connecting it to doing something with your body.


Rituals fall into a wide variety of categories. Theorist Ronald Grimes lists 16 of them:

  • Rites of passage
  • Marriage rites
  • Funerary rites
  • Festivals
  • Pilgrimage
  • Purification
  • Civil ceremonies
  • Rituals of exchange (as in worshipers making sacrifices to the gods in hope of receiving blessings from the divine)
  • Worship
  • Magic
  • Healing rites
  • Interaction rites
  • Meditation rites
  • Rites of inversion (rituals of reversal, where violating cultural norms is temporarily allowed, as in men dressing like women)
  • Sacrifice
  • Ritual drama

The important thing to understand about rituals is that they are not limited to very big, very formal events. Rituals can in fact be large or small, private or public, personal or social, religious or secular, uniting or dividing, conformist or rebellious. Funerals, weddings, presidential inaugurations, church services, baptisms, fraternal initiations, and tribal rites of passage are all rituals. Handshakes, dates, greetings and goodbyes, tattoos, table manners, your morning jog, and even singing the Happy Birthday song can be rituals as well.

Whither Ritual?

In many traditional societies, almost every aspect of life was ritualized. So why is there such a dearth of rituals in modern culture?

The embrace of ritual in the Western World was first weakened by two things: the Protestant Reformation’s movement against icons and ceremonialism and the Enlightenment’s emphasis on rationalism.


Historian Peter Burke, argues “the Reformation was, among other things, a great debate, unparalleled in scale and intensity, about the meaning of ritual, its functions and its proper forms.” Many Protestants concluded that the kind of rituals the Catholic Church practiced gave too much emphasis to empty, outward forms, rather than one’s internal state of grace. They rejected the “magical efficacy” of rites to be able to do things like change bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ.

The magical efficacy of ritual was attacked from the other side by Enlightenment thinkers. As discussed above, ritual is inherently nonrational since there is no practical relationship between the action and the end result. It is not rational to think that painting one’s body before battle will offer protection, that a rite of passage can turn a boy into a man, or that smoking a peace pipe can seal a treaty. Thus, ritual began to be associated with the superstitions of primitive peoples.

Suspicion of ritual again grew after World War II, in the wake of the way in which ritual ceremonies had been used to solidify loyalty to the Nazi cause.

Cultural embrace of ritual then really began to unravel during the social movements of the 1960s, which emphasized free expression, personal freedom, and individual emotional fulfillment above all. Rituals — which prescribe certain disciplined behaviors in certain situations, and require a person to forfeit some of their individuality in service to the synchrony and identity of the group — constrain spontaneity and the ability to do whatever one pleases. Ritual thus came to be seen as too constraining and not sufficiently “authentic.”

For these reasons, the use of and participation in rituals has been greatly curtailed. Or perhaps as historian Peter Burke argues, we’ve just replaced old rituals with new ones: “If most people in industrial societies no longer go to church regularly or practice elaborate rituals of initiation, this does not mean that ritual has declined. All that has happened is the new types of rituals—political, sporting, musical, medical, academic and so on—have taken the place of the traditional ones.” But the new rituals – watching sports, attending music festivals, checking Facebook, shopping, visiting a strip club on your 18th birthday — are light on nourishment and do not satisfy. Traditional rituals provided a mechanism by which humans could channel and process that which was difficult to grapple with – death, maturation, aggression – allowing the participant to discover new truths about themselves and the world. New rituals, if they can even really be called such, attempt to deny anything ugly in life (lest that lead you to close your wallet) and present a shiny, glossy façade — “confetti culture” – that facilitates passive consumption and turning away from examining given assumptions.

In our next post, we will argue that despite the cultural disdain for ritual, it is a human art form and practice which should be revived. It is true that ritual can be used for good or for ill, yet its benefit is so great that fear of the bad should not lead us to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Even if a man sees no place for ritual in his faith, he can have great use for it in other areas in his life (indeed, if his faith is completely unritualized, he has all the more need for other kinds of rituals). We will argue that even the most rational man might make room in his life for some “magic,” and that while ritual may seem constraining, it can paradoxically be incredibly empowering and even liberating. How that might be so, is where we will turn next time.



Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions by Catherine Bell

Liberating Rites: Understanding the Transformative Power of Ritual by Tom F. Driver

mardi, 03 décembre 2013

The Language of Manliness


Manly, Manful…Man Up?
The Language of Manliness

by Brett & Kate McKay

Ex: http://www.artofmanliness.com

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

Unless you regularly read this blog, you may never have heard someone use the word manliness in writing or conversation. Ditto for manly, unless it was said a bit in jest and with the requisite eye roll. And you almost assuredly have never complimented another dude on his manful effort.

These days man is generally only used to designate a person’s gender. There was a time, however, where man – and its many grammatical derivatives – represented a distinct trait and quality, and was employed as a descriptive adjective and adverb.

In our research on manliness over the years, it has been interesting to see the different words that were used to call out a true man and the behaviors befitting a man, and how those words have changed and in some cases disappeared over time. Today we’ll take a look at some of those words and what they used to mean.

The Title of Man in the Ancient World

Mention the word manliness these days and you’ll probably be greeted with snorts and giggles; people have told me that the first time they visited this site, they thought it was a joke. Many people today associate manliness with cartoonish images of men sitting in their man caves, drinking beer and watching the big game. Or, just as likely, they don’t think much about manliness at all, chalking it up to the mere possession of a certain set of genitalia. Whatever image they have in mind when you mention manliness, it isn’t usually positive, and it probably has nothing to do with virtue.

Yet for over two thousand years, many of the world’s great thinkers explored and celebrated the subject of manliness, imagining it not as something silly or biologically inherent, but as the culmination of certain virtues as expressed in the life of a man.



The ancient Greek word for courage – andreia – literally meant manliness. Courage was considered the sin qua non of being a man; the two qualities were inextricably linked. The Greeks primarily thought of andreia in terms of valor and excellence on the battlefield. A man with courage was strong and bold, with a white hot thumos. They believed that to attain full arête – or excellence – a man should join courage with other cardinal virtues like wisdom, justice, and temperance. But, they also acknowledged that men who were unjust and unwise could still be fiercely courageous – and manly. At the same time, many philosophers argued that courage was really a form of self-control and was just as essential for success in peacetime as it was in war. Aristotle for example broadly described courage as a man’s ability to “hold fast to the orders of reason about what he ought or ought not to fear in spite of pleasure and pain.”

The Roman word for man – vir – was very similar in definition to the Greek andreia. Vir was strongly associated with courage, particularly of the martial variety. In the latter part of the Roman era, as excellence became just as necessary in governance as on the battlefield, the traits associated with being a man worthy of the title vir expanded to include not just courage, but other qualities such as fortitude, industry, and dutifulness. Thus it is from the Latin vir that we get the English word virtue.


The next great era of man-centric language was the 19th century. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, English and American thinkers of that time believed manliness was not an automatic trait of biology but something that had to be earned. Writers and speakers of this period continued the Roman tradition of defining manliness as the possession of a certain set of virtues, adding to the requisite list other qualities befitting a Victorian gentleman:

“Manliness means perfect manhood, as womanliness implies perfect womanhood. Manliness is the character of a man as he ought to be, as he was meant to be. It expresses the qualities which go to make a perfect man, — truth, courage, conscience, freedom, energy, self-possession, self-control. But it does not exclude gentleness, tenderness, compassion, modesty. A man is not less manly, but more so, because he is gentle.”

“For anything worthy of the name of Manliness there must be first…the development of all that is in man—the physical, the mental, the moral, and the spiritual…virtue is the highest quality in a man; and so that manliness is most fully realized where the virtues are most fully developed—the virtues, shall we say, of Bravery, Honesty, Activity, and Piety.”

david.jpgMen of the 19th and early 20th centuries also saw manliness not simply as a collection of different virtues, but as a virtue in and of itself – a distinct quality. They encouraged men to embrace manliness as the crown of character – as a kind of ineffable bonus power that was produced when all the other virtues were combined (the Captain Planet of the virtues, if you will). Manliness was often noted as a separate, preeminent trait in men worthy of admiration:

“He is going to be known as a boys’ hero. He is going to be known preeminently for his manliness. There is going to be a Roosevelt legend.”

“I have grieved most deeply at the death of your noble son. I have watched his conduct from the commencement of the war, and have pointed with pride to the patriotism, self-denial, and manliness of character he has exhibited.”

Manliness was often used in a way that seemed to imply that while the quality encompassed all the other virtues, it also acted as a balance to them — ensuring that the softer, gentlemanly virtues didn’t sap a man of a virile toughness:

“After all, the greatest of Washington’s qualities was a rugged manliness which gave him the respect and confidence even of his enemies.”

“We have met to commemorate a mighty pioneer feat, a feat of the old days, when men needed to call upon every ounce of courage and hardihood and manliness they possessed in order to make good our claim to this continent. Let us in our turn with equal courage, equal hardihood and manliness, carry on the task that our forefathers have entrusted to our hands.”

As it was in antiquity, the measure of manliness amongst its citizenry was often linked to the health of the republic:

“Government, as recognized by Democracy, pre-supposes manliness, knowledge, wisdom.”

“We are a vigorous, masterful people, and the man who is to do good work in our country must not only be a good man, but also emphatically a man. We must have the qualities of courage, of hardihood, of power to hold one’s own in the hurly-burly of actual life. We must have the manhood that shows on fought fields and that shows in the work of the business world and in the struggles of civic life. We must have manliness, courage, strength, resolution, joined to decency and morality, or we shall make but poor work of it.”


The perfect definition for manly can be found in an 1844 Greek and English lexicon, showing as it does a common thread in the understanding of manliness that runs from antiquity, through the 19th century, and up to how we employ the descriptor on AoM in the present day:

“Pertaining to a man, masculine; manly; suiting, fit for, becoming a man, or made use of by, as manners, dress, mode of life; suiting, or worthy of a man, as to action, conduct or sentiments, and thus, manly, vigorous, brave, resolute, firm.”

Our forbearers used manly to modify a whole host of behaviors, traits, and objects. An admirable man might be said to possess “manly courage,” which was shown by exhibiting “manly conduct,” making a “manly stand,” and holding on to his “manly independence.” Jefferson believed it was the “manly spirit” of his countrymen that led to revolution. If others did not respect your desire for “manly liberty,” you had to resort to wielding a “manly sword.” Correspondence that was frank in its contents was held up as a “manly letter.” Dress that made a young man seem more mature was advertised as a “manly suit.” Keeping things “simple and on point” might get you complimented for your “manly speech,” while being “candid,” “unaffected,” and “forcible” would earn you praise for a “manly delivery.” How you carried yourself mattered too; George Washington, for one, was described as having “a fine, manly bearing” and men talked about the elements of a “manly handshake” long before we did. And a boy who precociously sought to embody the traits of manliness was considered a “manly boy.”


Manful (or manfully) was sometimes used in a similar way as manly. But there were some shades of difference between the two descriptors, even if people weren’t always sure exactly what those differences were. 1871’s Synonyms Discriminated, argued that:

“MANFUL is commonly applied to conduct; MANLY, to character. Manful opposition; manly bravery. Manful is in accordance with the strength of a man; manly, with the moral excellence of a man. Manful is what a man would, as such, be likely to do; manly, what he ought to do, and to feel as well.”

Another lexicographer put it this way:

“Manful points to the energy and vigor of a man; manly, to the generous and noble qualities of a man. The first is opposed to weakness or cowardice, the latter to that which is puerile or mean. We speak of manful exertion without so much reference to the character of the thing for which exertion is made, but manly conduct is that which has reference to a thing worthy of a man.”

English Synonyms Explained saw the difference from another angle:

“MANLY, or like a man, is opposed to juvenile, and of course applied properly to youths; but MANFUL, or full of manhood, is opposed to effeminate, and is applicable more properly to grown persons.”



In practice, authors seemed not to have followed either of these usage rules – and manly and manful were employed fairly interchangeably. Manfully came in handy for when an adverb was needed to note the manful-ness of an action. But as manful appears in old texts much less frequently than manly, and is far less familiar to the modern reader, one can likely assume that the confusion of when to use which led to the latter supplanting the former as the catch-all for behaviors and actions befitting a man.


The code of honor for a man of the 19th century included many qualities, principal among which was self-control. A man of this time strived to have a stiff upper lip and be calm and cool even under the most trying of circumstances.

To lose one’s self-control was to lose one’s claim to manhood, and thus men of this time described such a slip as being unmanned. One dictionary of the time defined unmanned as “deprived of the powers and qualities of a man. Softened.” The term was frequently used in reference to a man’s giving in to a strong emotional reaction:

“When told that his recovery was hopeless, he was perfectly unmanned, and wept like a child. It is here introduced as showing that while his own misfortunes never for a single moment disturbed his equanimity, the finer feelings of his nature were sensitively alive to the distresses of others.”

“Richard turned to stay the torrent of invectives, in which such words as “renegades,” “traitors,” “mud-sills,” were heard, but the colonel, completely unmanned by the rage he was in, and seemingly unconscious of the presence of the ladies, waved him aside with his hand, and faced the row of frightened, expectant faces.”

A man whose courage failed him could be said to have been “unmanned by terror.” Or if he drank to the point of losing self-control, he might say the liquor had unmanned him.

vercingetorix_2_1300462076.jpgOne of the most poignant tales of a famous man admitting to being unmanned comes from Abraham Lincoln. One of the first deaths in the Civil War – Elmer Ellsworth — was a close friend of the president. Right after receiving news of Ellsworth’s death, a reporter and Senator came into the White House library to speak with Lincoln. Upon entering, they saw him gazing mournfully out the window at the Potomac. He abruptly turned around, stuck out his arm, and said, “Excuse me, but I cannot talk.” He then burst into tears and began walking around the room, holding a handkerchief to his face as he cried. The two visitors were unsure of what to do; as the reporter later remembered, they were “moved at such an unusual spectacle, in such a man, in such a place.” After several minutes, the president turned to them and said, “I make no apology gentlemen, for my weakness, but I knew poor Ellsworth well, and held him in high regard. Just as you entered the room, Captain Fox left me, after giving me the painful details of his unfortunate death. The event was so unexpected, and the recital so touching, that it quite unmanned me.” Lincoln then “made a violent attempt to restrain his emotion” before sharing the details of his friend’s death.

Modern Day: Man Up!

While words like manliness and manful have fallen out of favor in our modern age, our current culture does have its own usages of man-related language.

Man is sometimes tacked on to words to show that they are made for men or have a particularly manly slant, e.g., man purse. Or man is merged into the word itself, such as mancation. Some of these uses are faintly ridiculous, but I’m not above using them myself when I feel it’s appropriate or makes a worthy new word. I quite like the word manvotional for a piece of text that will inspire a man’s spirit, and using a phrase like man room avoids the man-as-Neanderthal connotations of man cave while more succinctly describing a room in which many different manly activities might take place, without having to list out “study, garage, workshop, library…”

But perhaps the dominant man-related term of our modern times is man up. I had always sort of assumed that this now-ubiquitous exhortation was of a somewhat older vintage – that maybe it was coined mid-twentieth century, and had simply been widely discovered and popularized in the last decade or so. But a search for the phrase in Google Books, limited to the 19th and 20th centuries, turned up no results, except for an archaic use of manning up as a term for staffing positions at a business. A search of the archives from the twenty-first century, however, turned up hundreds of books that included the phrase, among which were at least two dozen that used the imperative in the title itself.

Ben Zimmer, author of the “On Language” column at The New York Times, traces the origin of man up back to the 1980s and American football. It was first used in reference to the man-to-man pass defense. For example, in 1985, New York Jets head coach Joe Walton lauded his D-line and their coach for “playing the kind of defense that I wanted and that Bud Carson teaches — aggressive, man up, getting after it, hustling all over the field.” From there the phrase began to take on a more metaphorical cast – as an exhortation to get tough and go hard. The earliest example Zimmer found of this kind of usage is a quote from San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Mike Charles, who told The Union Tribune in 1987: “Right now, by the grace of God, we’re hanging by the skin of our teeth. Now we’ve got to man up and take care of ourselves.”

Man up soon became part of the lingo in another all-male organization that put a premium on grit and strength: the military. Soldiers used it to exhort their brothers-in-arms to pull their weight – as an admonishment to give their best and not become the weak link in the unit.

Thus man up began as an imperative used in male honor groups; born of the reality that each man had a role to play in contributing to the overall strength of the team or unit, it was a man-to-man call to live up to the standards of the group and not let each other down. But as man up gained in usage in the popular culture, it started being used in a variety of contexts – often by women or feminist organizations seeking to tap into the traditional mechanics of honor and shame in an attempt to motivate men to adopt certain behaviors. For example the “Man Up Campaign” is a “global movement” which aims to “end gender-based violence and advance gender equality.” There was also a bit of brouhaha during the most recent Nevada senatorial race when female Republican candidate Sharron Angle told Senator Harry Reid to “Man up!” during a debate. The implication was that Harry Reid was less than a man because he lacked a backbone. The problem when women tell men to “man up!” is that there isn’t really an equally shame-inducing phrase that men can level at women that implies the same thing but won’t get the man criticized for being sexist or patronizing. “Woman up!” just doesn’t sound right (there’s a reason for that). I’ve heard the phrase “put on your big girl panties” said by other women, but if that were to come from a man, it would not likely be received very well!

The road to manliness is paved with…hair gel?

Man up has also been distanced from its origins by being used as a chastisement for those who run afoul of the superficial violations of the “Bro Code.” Advertisers, which have always used shame to sell products, have recently taken to using man up to market their wares as the manly choice. For example, Miller Lite ran a recent campaign that revolved around hot female bartenders shaming men for their ambivalence as to which light beer brand was best, as well as the man’s unforgivably effeminate fashion accessories.

There was even an ABC sitcom called Man Up in 2011 which revolved around the “hilarious” antics of a group of man-children. With super cool and relevant episode titles like “Finessing the Bromance,” it was surprisingly canceled after only 8 episodes.

Man up has become so cliché and meaningless, I’ve stopped using it myself and on AoM altogether.


Describing positive virtues and actions displayed by men as manly or manful has gone out of vogue because of our society’s increasing emphasis on gender neutrality. While I agree that both men and women can strive to be courageous, resolute, and disciplined, I think there’s something to be said about qualifying a virtue or action as manly or manful that inspires men to live up to that ideal. Unlike women, men are (generally) more sensitive to status — particularly to their status in regards to whether they’re a man or not. Most young men want those around them to see them as men and they’ll go to great lengths to conform to the norms their culture and society sets for earning that title.

Many of you might think it’s stupidly archaic that men care about whether they’re manly or not, and they just shouldn’t give a rip. But I’m a pragmatist. Men have always cared about their status as men and probably always will. Even when men say they don’t care about manliness, they usually couch it in a way that shows that they’re actually more manly because they don’t care about being manly! They try to defeat gender normativity with… gender normativity. Hubba-wha?

I’d argue that instead of trying to convince men not to care (which is a losing battle), we’d be better served reviving the classical meaning of these manly descriptors to help inspire men to strive for virtue and excellence. If we want men to be morally courageous and honorable and compassionate, talk about these virtues as being manly courage, manly honor, and manly compassion. You get the idea.

And as we’ve discussed countless times on the site and in our books, I think it’s possible to describe an action or virtue as manly while recognizing that men don’t have a monopoly on these virtues and actions. As ancient literature and writings have shown, both men and women can strive for the same virtues, we just often attain them and express them in different ways.

So here’s to bringing back manly language!

Just don’t get too carried away with it. You don’t have to put manly in front of every damn thing you think is good. That will just ruin it for the rest of us. Use some manly discretion.

Oh yeah, and stay manly.


Editor’s note: All the quotes above, unless otherwise cited, come from various books from the 19th and early 20th centuries. If you’re interested in further reading, they can all be found for free on Google Books.


00:05 Publié dans Philosophie | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : philosophie, virilité, virilisme, machisme, macho | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

lundi, 21 mars 2011

Manning Up

Manning Up

Amanda Bradley

ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Kay S. Hymowitz
Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys
New York: Basic Books, 2011

I expected this book to be a diatribe against the often-discussed “loser” men—those who, not having any marketable skill, are still living off their parents into mid-life. Manning Up actually is about a new demographic, the SYM (single young male), its female counterpart, and what factors led to the decline in marriage and number of children in the Western world. Simply having a job is not enough to be a man in the author’s view; true adulthood means being married and having children. Most young men and women are what she calls “preadults.”

 Kay S. Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has written extensively on issues of marriage, the sexes, class, and race, and she appears to be genuinely concerned about the declining rates in marriage childbirth. Her stance is slanted in favor of women, but she is sympathetic to the plight of men today. She mentions that boys are often discriminated against and ignored in favor of women. While funds pour in to increase girls’ math and science scores, boys are not given special treatment to improve their reading scores. She cites a BusinessWeek story that explains today’s young men as a “payback generation” intended to “compensate for the advantages given to males in the past.”

The Shift to the Feminine, Knowledge Economy

Scholars attribute women’s entry into the workforce largely to innovations in science and technology in the twentieth century. With no need to can food, make bread, weave, or sew, women were not “needed” at home the way they were in every generation past. They were having fewer children, too, due to birth control: In the early 1800s, white women had an average of seven children. By 1900, it was 3.56. When the birth control pill was introduced in the 1960s, state laws “kept the drug away from unmarried women.” Economist Martha Baily showed that when a state changed its law, there was a decline in the percentage of young women who gave birth by age 22, and an increase in the number of young women in the labor force and the hours they worked.

The number of working women (ages 33 to 45) went from 25 percent in 1950, to 46 percent in 1970, to about 60 percent since 1995. But in the 1950s to ’70s, women tended to work to help pay the bills, often as secretaries, waitresses, nurses, teachers, and librarians. Today’s young women set out in the world to find their “passion” not in a husband, but in a career.

The shift from secretary to major player in corporate America, Hymowitz explains, was largely due to a shift from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy. By the 1980s, the economy was booming as manufacturing jobs decreased and millions of positions opened in fields like public relations, health, and law. Women, too weak physically to participate much in the industrial economy, could do almost any job in the knowledge economy.

One example given is design. As technology advanced, designers transitioned from working with their hands (and making lasting work as is found in Bauhaus and Art Nouveau) to being hands-off fashion designers, who no longer needed to learn drafting, typesetting, drawing, or how to use heavy equipment. Using cheap labor overseas meant many more products, and thus a greater need for marketing and advertising. Women now make up 60 percent of design students, once a male-dominated field.

New industries sprouted up, too, as increased wealth and leisure time demanded workers at yoga centers, spas, travel companies, and more marketing and ad agencies for these specialty industries—all areas in which women participate as easily as men. Working women had new needs and money to spend, so more industries sprouted up to create feminine business suits, trendy lunch spots, meal “helpers,” stylish computer bags, $400 work pumps, $5 lattes, spa treatments and scented candles to help women unwind, houses with bathrooms the size of our grandparents’ bedrooms, a variety of products in the color pink, and right-hand rings for women who want to buy themselves a diamond. Other women entered the design arena through boutique companies: making jewelry, crafts, or custom stationary.

Nation-building and culture-building thus fell out of the workforce, replaced by sales, marketing, and fashion.

Today, men outnumber women in fields like construction (88 percent), while women make up 51 percent of management and professionals, particularly in fields like Human Resources, Public Relations, and finance. Women make up 77 percent of workers in education and health services. Women are more likely to work at the numerous new nonprofits, and make up 78 percent of psychology majors, 61 percent of humanities majors, and 60 percent of social and behavioral science doctorates. Publishing has long had high numbers of women workers, but now women have moved from what Hymowitz calls the “ladies’ magazines ghettos” to political commentary.

While women moved into the knowledge economy, men remained in behind-the-scenes fields that required more technical skill: jobs like writing code and IT. Some men flocked to jobs at ESPN, Cartoon Network, microbreweries, and video game design firms. Other men knew that even in the midst of feminism, their wives would still want the option to stay home and raise children (so long as men didn’t tell them they had to), and concentrated on high-paying jobs rather than following their bliss.

In the early nineteenth century, most men worked for themselves, as farmers, small merchants, or tradesmen. But by the end of the nineteenth century, two-thirds were working for “the man.” Some experts believe that it’s women who will soon be “running the place,” since the knowledge economy workplace “requires a more feminine style of leadership.” Employers will increasingly placate women, who are not solely concerned with the bottom line as a measure of their career success, but also want a job where they “help others,” enjoy relationships with colleagues, get recognition, have flexibility, and are in an environment of “collaboration and teamwork.” More women in the workplace means that it is more genteel and less of a man’s club: Swearing and spitting are forbidden, and men are now in a domesticated atmosphere both at home and at work. The popularity of psychoanalysis means that men and women alike are trained to listen sympathetically, be sensitive to emotions, and control their anger.

To explain the dynamics of the knowledge economy, Hymowitz references a 2002 paper by Harvard economist Brian Jacob called “Where the Boys Aren’t.” He found that girls are better at noncognitive tasks, such as keeping track of homework, working well with others, and organization, and suggests that such skills may explain the gender gap in high school grades and college admissions (women have higher GPAs and are 58 percent of college graduates, but they lag behind men in math SAT scores). These cognitive skills also are important for success in today’s feminized workplace.

Though not mentioned in Manning Up, these skills are also ones for which men have traditionally relied on women: organizing the home, keeping track of appointments, and being the family PR rep and social coordinator. Today’s women benefit in the career-world, as more jobs require good communication skills and “EQ” (emotional intelligence), while men are left with lower paying jobs and the added disadvantage of no wife at home.

SYMs: The New Demographic

In 1970, 80 percent of men aged 25–29 were married, compared to 40 percent in 2007. In 1970, 85 percent of men aged 30–34 were married, compared to 60 percent in 2007.

This new single-young-male demographic used to be called “elusive,” since it was a difficult advertising target. Then Maxim arrived in America in 1997, and seemed to have the answers to what SYMs wanted. Its readership reached 2.5 million in 2009, more than the combined circulation of GQ, Men’s Journal, and Esquire. Hymowitz says other magazines, like Playboy and Esquire, tried to project the “image of an intelligent, cultured, and au courant sort of man.” Even though Playboy promoted the image of the eternal bachelor, he was at least an intelligent and sophisticated bachelor. (Hugh Hefner wrote that his readers enjoyed “inviting a female acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.”) Maxim, however, catered to the man who didn’t want to grow up.

Hymowitz doesn’t buy into the idea that the masses of men are moved by the media (or an inner party seeking to destroy them, let alone any subversive forces dominant in the Kali Yuga). She instead posits that products like Maxim were developed for an existing market.

Regardless of the reason, a number of TV shows were created with the SYM in mind, starting with The Simpsons. Comedy Central brought out South Park and The Man Show, while the Cartoon Network promoted cartoons for grown men. More films featured SYM stars like Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, and Jack Black, and movies like 2003’s Old School (30-somethings who start a fraternity) were popular. American men ages 18–34 are now the biggest users of video games, with 48.2 percent owning a console and playing an average of 2 hours and 43 minutes per day. That doesn’t include online games like World of Warcraft.

Hymowitz recounts the numerous silly Adam Sandler movies, in which he plays a stereotypical young adult, male loser. Meanwhile, the media’s counter-image for women is the well-heeled, single young female:

If she is ambitious, he is a slacker. If she is hyper-organized and self-directed, he tends toward passivity and vagueness. If she is preternaturally mature, he is happily not. Their opposition is stylistic as well: she drinks sophisticated cocktails in mirrored bars, he burps up beer on ratty sofas. She spends her hard-earned money on mani-pedi outings, his goes toward World of Warcraft and gadgets.

It’s in this chapter that Hymowitz’s double-standard for men and women is most apparent, and annoying. She seems to think that when single women spend money for clothes and pedicures, it’s women’s empowerment, but single men who spend money on guy-flicks and video games are childish. Both cases seem to me examples of adults who, instead of having children, make themselves into the child: men by continuing all the games and comic books of their youth, and women by playing Barbie doll with themselves.

So if simply cutting the financial apron strings doesn’t make one a man, what does? Hymowitz answers by looking to masculine virtues throughout all cultures: “strength, courage, resolve, and sexual potency,” but that one line is about the extent of the analysis. She is careful to distinguish between having sex (which single men do a lot these days) and “manning up” by being married and becoming the head of a family.

But even when men do settle down, the roles they play as fathers have changed. Rather than being a strong father figure, today’s father often relates to his children by “accentuating his own immaturity,” according to Gary Cross, author of Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity. Whether they want to or not, middle-class men are often “expected to bring home a spirit of playfulness that would have scandalized their own patriarchal fathers.” The middle-class home has became more child-centric, even with fewer children in it, and both sexes are expected to project “warmth, nurturing, and gentleness.”

With high divorce rates, many young men today were raised in matriarchal family environments, which may be one contributing factor to the “unmanliness” of some of today’s men. Instead of having their own families, some men instead play the role of the “fun uncle,” like men in matriarchal, non-white societies.

A Different Dating World

After college, all of these single young people embark on a journey more confusing than if they started a family: modern dating, now with websites that describe the etiquette for one-night stands (it’s “leave quickly”).

Men and women are both confused by the new rituals, and the lack thereof. A man who inadvertently insults a girl by not opening her car door may have been chastised by his last girlfriend for doing just that. Women sometimes “pick up” guys (whether at bars, or actually driving to pick them up for dates), and there is ambiguity about who pays for dates when SYFs outearn SYMs in the majority of large cities. Men experience the nice-guy conundrum when they see girls dating jerks. Meanwhile, women practice a Zen-like nonattachment when dating, since bringing up marriage before a year of sex seems to turn men off.

Hymowitz recounts a number of events from the childhood of young women that play into their behavior as adults: Today’s SYFs were often told by their mothers that they shouldn’t need a man to be happy. They were likely raised in the 1990s, in the midst of a tween-based advertising frenzy that marketed make-up, thong underwear, and high-heeled clogs to preteens, while at the same time trying to “save the self-esteem” of young girls. Popular TV shows for girls were based on the female warrior type: The Powerpuff Girls, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These women try to convince themselves for years that they shouldn’t “need” a child or husband, then end up debating whether to become a “choice mother” (the new term for a woman who uses sperm bank).


* * *


Manning Up might be a good “beach book” for women readers of Counter-Currents, but I have trouble imagining men enjoying it, though they would find some insights into the mind of the typical woman. I found it interesting for its wealth of statistics about marriage rates and ages, men and women in the workplace and universities, and summaries of various causes that contributed to the (mostly white) single and childless young men and women today.

There have been numerous debates on Counter-Currents and other websites about what exactly has caused the decline in marriage and childbirth. Manning Up does a good job of touching on some of the contributing forces, but never addresses any of the larger forces.

The good news from Manning Up is that the majority of young men and women still want to get married and have children. In addition, while women in their early 20s are “hot commodities,” by the time they reach 30, they are beginning to get desperate and may “settle for Mr. Good Enough” as the subtitle of the book Marry Him advises. More good news lies in the fact that young people today are scrambling for any advice whatsoever about how to successfully date and marry, revealing a large market for New Righters and Traditionalists to step into to help young people successfully navigate through the increasingly unsatisfying modern world.

jeudi, 17 mars 2011

The Art of Manliness

Brett and Kate McKay
The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man
Cincinnati: How Books, 2009

It’s hard not to like this book. However, it’s really the idea of the book that I like, rather than the book itself. In fact, I almost hesitate to write this review (which will not be wholly positive) because I think the authors have their hearts in the right place, and because I like their website http://artofmanliness.com/

When I showed this book to a young friend of mine he was incredulous: “Do we really need a manual on being a man?” he asked. Well, yes it appears we do. As the authors say in their introduction “something happened in the last fifty years to cause . . . positive manly virtues and skills to disappear from the current generations of men.” They don’t really tell us what they think that something is, but two paragraphs later they remark: “Many people have argued that we need to reinvent what manliness means in the twenty-first century. Usually this means stripping manliness of its masculinity and replacing it with more sensitive feminine qualities. We argue that masculinity doesn’t need to be reinvented.”

I wanted to let out a cheer at this point, but I was sitting in the American Film Academy Café in Greenwich Village, surrounded by young white male geldings and their Asian girlfriends. So I kept my mouth shut and noted to myself that the McKays are clearly not PC, though there are minor nods to political correctness here are there. One gets the feeling that they know more than they are letting on in this book. And one gets the feeling they are employing a simple and sound strategy: to seduce male readers with the natural appeal of traditional manliness – while revealing just-so-much of their political incorrectness so as not to completely alienate their over-socialized readers.

Still, the McKays are pretty socialized themselves, and one sees this immediately on opening the book and finding that it is dedicated to two members of “the greatest generation.” Ugh. Yes, I do think there’s much to admire about my grandfather’s generation, but I long ago came to detest the conventional-minded romanticism about America’s great crusade in WWII. And the very use of the phrase “greatest generation” has become a cliché.

However, the real trouble begins after the introduction, when one finds that the first section of the book is devoted to how to get fitted for a suit. Then we are instructed in how to tie a tie. For some unaccountable reason the tying of the Windsor knot is included here. (Like Ian Fleming, I have always regarded the Windsor knot as a mark of a vain and unserious man.) This is followed by sections on how to select a hat, how to iron a shirt, how to shave, and how not to be a slob at the dinner table. So far so good: I know all this stuff, so I guess I’m pretty manly. Of course, the problem here is that this is all in the realm of appearance. To be fair, the McKays do go on to include much in their book about character, but one must wade through a lot of inessential stuff to get there.

At one point we are instructed in how to deliver a baby. The McKays’ core piece of advice here is “get professional help!” Curiously, this is also the central tenet of their brief lectures on dealing with a snakebite and landing a plane. The baby having been delivered, the reader will find further instructions on how to change a diaper and how to braid your daughter’s hair. (This is what happens when you co-author a book with your wife.) The McKays’ advice on raising children is sound. They advise us not to try and be our child’s best friend.

Once you have tended to your daughter’s snakebite and braided her hair (in that order, please), you can turn to manlier things like how to win a fight, how to break down a door, how to change a flat tire, how to jump start a car, how to go camping, how to navigate by the stars, and how to tie knots. Then it will be Miller time, and you will want some manly friends to hang out with.

The section on male friendship, in fact, is one of the best parts of the book. The McKays remind us that in ancient times “men viewed male friendship as the most fulfilling relationship a person [i.e., a man] could have.” They attribute this, however, to the fact that men saw women as inferior. This is at best a half-truth. The real reason men saw male friendship as more fulfilling than relations with women is because it is. There are vast differences between men and women, and while they may be able to have close, loving relationships they never really understand each other, and their values clash.

Women are primarily concerned with the perpetuation of the species. They are the peacemakers, who just want us all to get along, because their main concern is what Bill Clinton called “the children.” By contrast, men find their greatest fulfillment in achieving something outside the home: they are only fully alive when they are fighting for some kind of value. A man can only be truly understood by another man.

Thus was born what the McKays refer to as “the heroic friendship”: “The heroic friendship was a friendship between two men that was intense on an emotional and intellectual level. Heroic friends felt bound to protect one another from danger.” The McKays devote some discussion to the decline of close male friendships, and they have a lot to say about the disappearance of affection among male friends.

A while back I found myself in a bookstore flipping through a book of photographs from WWII. Many of them depicted soldiers, sailors, and marines relaxing or goofing around. What was remarkable about many of these pictures was the affection the men displayed for one another. There was one photo, for example, of a sailor asleep with his head in another sailor’s lap. This is the sort of thing that would be impossible today, because of fear of being thought “gay.” The McKays mention this problem. As George Will once said, the love that dare not speak its name just can’t seem to shut up lately. And it has ruined male bonding. Thus was born the “man hug” with the three slaps on the back that say I’M (THUMP) NOT (THUMP) GAY (THUMP). (Yes, the McKays instruct us on how to perform the man hug in both its American and international versions.)

Another thing that has ruined male friendships is women, but in a number of different ways. First of all, as every man knows, women have now invaded countless previously all-male areas in life. This usually results in ruining them for men. Second, many women resent it when their husbands or partners want to spend time with their male friends. In earlier times, men would spend a significant amount of time away from their wives working or playing with male peers. But no longer. Now women expect to be their husband’s “best friend,” and men today passively go along with this. The result is that they often become completely isolated from their male friends. It is quite common today, in fact, for men to expect that marriage means the end of their friendship with another man. Please note that all of the above problems have only been made possible by the cooperation of men – by their not being manly enough to say “no” to women.

Eventually, one finds the McKays dealing with matters having to do with manly character, such as their discussion of the characteristics of good leadership. A lot of what they have to say is sound advice, but it is not without its problems. At one point they invoke old Ben Franklin and his homey list of virtues. Anyone interested in this topic should read D. H. Lawrence’s hilarious demolition of Franklin in Studies in Classic American Literature. Franklin is the archetypal American, extolling (among other things) temperance, frugality, industry, and cleanliness. This is setting our sights very low, and it’s not the least bit manly. If I’m going to take lessons in manliness from an American I’d much rather get them from Charles Manson.

There are other problems I could go on about, such as the McKays advising us to give up porn because it “objectifies women” (“But that’s the whole point!” a friend of mine responded when I told him this). However, as I said earlier, their heart is in the right place. Whatever its flaws, this book is a celebration of traditional manhood and an honest, well-intentioned attempt to improve men.

Still, there is something undeniably creepy and postmodern about this book. If you follow all of its instructions you won’t be a traditional manly man, you’ll be an incredible, life-like simulation of one. The reason is that everything they talk about came naturally to our forebears. It flowed from their characters, and their characters flowed from their life experience. But their life experience was quite different from ours. They were not constantly shielded from danger and from risk taking. They had myriad ways open to them to express and refine their manly spirit. They had manly rites of passage. Their spirits were not crushed by decades of PC propagandizing. They had been tested by wars, famines, depressions. They were tough sons of bitches, and nobody needed to tell them how to win a fight. And if you tried to tell them how to braid their daughters’ hair you’d better be ready for a fight.

True manliness is not the result of acquiring the sort of “how to” knowledge the McKays try to provide us with. Manliness is not an art, not a techne – but it’s inevitable that we moderns, even good moderns like the McKays, would think that it is. Manliness is a way of being forged through trials and tribulations. In a world without trials and tribulations, in the “safe” and “nice” modern, industrial, liberal, democratic world it’s not at all clear that true manliness is possible anymore. Except, perhaps, through rejecting that world. The subtext to The Art of Manliness is anti-modern. But the achievement (or resurrection) of manliness has to raise that anti-modernism out from between the lines and make it the central point.

At its root, modernity is the suppression of manly virtues and manly values. This is the key to understanding the nature of the modern world and our dissatisfaction with it. Manliness today can only be truly asserted through revolt against all the forces arrayed against manliness – through revolt against the modern world.

dimanche, 10 octobre 2010

Jack Malebranche's Androphilia: A Manifesto

Jack Malebranche’s Androphilia: A Manifesto

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com/

Jack Malebranche (Jack Donovan)
Androphilia: A Manifesto
Baltimore, Md.: Scapegoat Publishing, 2006

Near the end of Androphilia, Jack Donovan writes “It has always seemed like some profoundly ironic cosmic joke to me that the culture of men who love men is a culture that deifies women and celebrates effeminacy. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the culture of men who are sexually fascinated by men actually idolized men and celebrated masculinity?” (p. 115).

He has a point there. As Donovan notes, homosexual porn is almost exclusively focused on hypermasculine archetypes: the lumberjack, the marine, the jock, the cop, etc. (I am going to employ the term “homosexual,” despite its problematic history, as a neutral term to denote same-sex desire among men. I am avoiding the term “gay,” for reasons that will soon be apparent.) So why are homosexuals, who worship masculine men, so damn queeny? Most straight men (and women too) would offer what they see as the obvious answer: homosexuals are not real men. They are a sort of strange breed of womanly man, and it is precisely the otherness of masculine men that attracts them so. This is, after all, the way things work with straight people: men are attracted to women, and vice versa, because they are other. We want what we are not. Therefore, if a man desires another man then he must not be a real man.

What makes this theory so plausible is that so many self-identified homosexuals do behave in the most excruciatingly effeminate manner. They certainly seem to be not-quite-men. Donovan thinks (and I believe he is correct) that it is this womanish behavior in homosexuals that bothers straight men so much – more so, actually, than the fact that homosexuals have sex with other men in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Donovan objects to effeminacy in homosexuals as well, but he sees this effeminacy as a socially-constructed behavior pattern; as a consequence of the flawed logic that claims “since we’re attracted to what’s other, if you’re a man attracted to a man you must not be a real man.” Having bought into this way of seeing things, the “gay community” actually encourages its members to “camp it up” and get in touch with their feminine side. They think they are liberating themselves, but what they don’t see is that they have bought into a specific set of cultural assumptions which effectively rob them of their manhood, in their own eyes and in the eyes of society.

Donovan argues, plausibly, that homosexual attraction should be seen as a “variation in desire” among men (p. 21). Homosexuals are men — men who happen to be attracted to other men. Their sexual desire does not make them into a separate species of quasi-men. This is a point that will be resisted by many, but it is easily defended. One can see this simply by reflecting on how difficult it is to comprehend the homosexuals of yore in the terms we use today to deal with these matters. There was, after all, unlikely to have been anything “queeny” (and certainly not cowardly) about the Spartan 300, who were 150 homosexual couples. And the samurai in feudal Japan were doing it too — just to mention two examples. These are not the sort of people one thinks of as “sensitive” and who one would expect to show up at a Lady Gaga concert, were they around today. It is unlikely that Achilles and his “favorite” Patroclus would have cruised around with a rainbow flag flying from their chariot. These were manly men, who happened to sexually desire other men. If there can be such men, then there is no necessary disjunction between homosexuality and masculinity. QED.

In essential terms, what Donovan argues in Androphilia is that homosexuals should reject the “gay culture” of effeminacy and reclaim masculinity for themselves. Ironically, gay culture is really the product of an internalization of the Judeo-Christian demonization of same-sex desire, and its insistence that homosexuality and masculinity are incompatible. Donovan wants gays to become “androphiles”: men who love men, but who are not defined by that love. “Gay men” are men who allow themselves to be defined entirely by their desire, defined into a separate segment of humanity that talks alike, walks alike, dresses alike, thinks alike, votes alike, and has set itself apart from “breeders” in fashionable urban ghettos. “Gay” really denotes a whole way of life “that promotes anti-male feminism, victim mentality, and leftist politics” (p. 18). (This is the reason Donovan often uses “homo” instead of “gay”: gay is a package deal denoting much more than same-sex desire.) He argues that in an effort to promote acceptance of men with same-sex desire, homosexuals encouraged others to regard them as, in effect, a separate sex — really, almost a separate race. “Gay,” Donovan remarks, is really “sexuality as ethnicity” (p. 18). As a result, gay men have cut themselves off from the fraternity of men and, arguably, trapped themselves in a lifestyle that stunts them into perpetual adolescence. Donovan asks, reasonably, “Why should I identify more closely with a lesbian folk singer than with [straight] men my age who share my interests?”

Many of those who have made it this far into my review might conclude now that Androphilia is really a book for homosexuals, and doesn’t have much to say to the rest of the world. But this is not the case. Donovan’s book contains profound reflections on sexuality and its historical construction (yes, there really are some things that are historically constructed), the nature of masculinity, the role of male bonding in the formation of culture, and the connection between masculinity and politics. This book has implications for how men — all men — understand themselves.

Donovan attacks head-on the attempt by gays to set themselves up as an “oppressed group” on the model of blacks and women, and to compel all of us to refrain from uttering a critical word about them. He attacks feminism as the anti-male ideology it is. And he zeroes in on the connection, taken for granted by nearly everyone, between gay culture and advocacy of left-wing causes. Androphilia, in short, is a book that belongs squarely on the political right. It should be no surprise to anyone to discover that Donovan has been busy since the publication of Androphilia writing for sites like Alternative Right and Spearhead.

Donovan himself was a part of the gay community when he was younger, but never really felt like he belonged. He so much as tells us that his desire for men is his religion; that he worships masculinity in men. But it seemed natural to Donovan that since he was a man, he should cultivate in himself the very qualities he admired in others. His desire was decidedly not for an “other” but for the very qualities that he saw, proudly, in himself. (He says at one point, “I experience androphilia not as an attraction to some alien opposite, but as an attraction to variations in sameness,” p. 49).

Donovan is certainly not alone. It’s natural when we think of homosexuals to visualize effeminate men, because those are the ones that stand out. If I asked you to visualize a Swede you’d probably conjure up a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic exemplar. But, of course, a great many Swedes are brunettes (famous ones, too; e.g., Ingmar Bergman). The effeminate types are merely the most conspicuous homosexuals. But there also exists a silent multitude of masculine men who love men, men whom no one typically pegs as “gay.” These men are often referred to as “straight acting” — as if masculinity in a homosexual is necessarily some kind of act. These men are really Donovan’s target audience, and they live a tragic predicament. They are masculine men who see their own masculinity as a virtue, thus they cannot identify with what Donovan calls the Gay Party (i.e., “gay community”) and its celebration of effeminacy. They identify far more closely with straight men, who, of course, will not fully accept them. This is partly due to fear (“is he going to make a pass at me?”), and partly, again, due to the prevailing view which equates same-sex desire with lack of manliness. The Jack Donovans out there are lost between two worlds, at home in neither. Loneliness and sexual desire compels such men to live on the periphery of the gay community, hoping always to find someone like themselves. If they have at all internalized the message that their desires make them less-than-men (and most have), then their relationship to masculinity will always be a problematic one. They will always have “something to prove,” and always fear, deep down, that perhaps they are inadequate in some fundamental way.

Androphilia is therapy for such men, and a call for them to form a new identity and group solidarity quite independent of the “gay community.” On the one hand, Donovan asserts that, again, homosexuality should be seen as a “variation in desire” among men; that homosexuals should see themselves as men first, and not be defined entirely by their same-sex desire. On the other hand, it is very clear that Donovan also has high hopes that self-identified androphiles will become a force to be reckoned with. He writes at one point, “While other men struggle to keep food on the table or get new sneakers for Junior, androphiles can use their extra income to fund their endeavors. This is a significant advantage. Androphiles could become leaders of men in virtually any field with comparative ease. By holding personal achievement in high esteem, androphiles could become more than men; they could become great men” (p. 88).

Is Jack Donovan — the androphile Tyler Durden — building an army? Actually, it looks more like he’s building a religion, and this brings us to one of the most interesting aspects of Androphilia. Repeatedly, Donovan tells us that “masculinity is a religion,” or words to that effect (see especially pp. 65, 72, 76, 80, 116).

A first step to understanding what he is talking about is to recognize that masculinity is an ideal, and a virtue. Men strive to cultivate masculinity in themselves, and they admire it in other men. Further, masculinity is something that has to be achieved. Better yet, it has to be won. Femininity, on the other hand, is quite different. Femininity is essentially a state of being that simply comes with being female; it is not an accomplishment. Women are, but men must become. If femininity has anything to do with achievement, the achievement usually consists in artifice: dressing in a certain manner, putting on makeup, learning how to be coy, etc. Femininity is almost exclusively bound up with being attractive to men. If a man’s “masculinity” consisted in dressing butch and not shaving, he would be laughed at; his “masculinity” would be essentially effeminate. (Such is the masculinity, for example, of gay “bears” and “leatherman.”) Similarly, if a man’s “masculinity” consists entirely in pursuing women and making himself attractive to them, he is scorned by other men. (Ironically, such “gigolos” are often far more effeminate mama’s boys than many homosexuals.) No, true masculinity is achieved by accomplishing something difficult in the world: by fighting, building something, discovering something, winning a contest, setting a record, etc. In order for it to count, a man has to overcome things like fear and opposition. He has to exhibit such virtues as bravery, perseverance, commitment, consistency, integrity, and, often, loyalty. Masculinity is inextricably tied to virtue (which is no surprise — given that the root vir-, from which we also get “virile,” means “man”). A woman can be petty, fickle, dishonest, fearful, inconstant, weak, and unserious — and still be thought of as 100% feminine.

A woman can also be the butchest nun, women’s lacrosse coach, or dominatrix on the planet and never be in any danger of someone thinking she’s “not a real woman.” With men, it’s completely different. As the example of homosexuals illustrates, it is quite possible to have a y chromosome and be branded “not a real man.” Masculinity, again, is an ideal that men are constantly striving to realize. The flip side of this is that they live in constant fear of some kind of failure that might rob them of masculinity in their eyes or the eyes of others. They must “live up” to the title of “man.” Contrary to the views of modern psychologists and feminists, this does not indicate a “problem” with men that they must somehow try to overcome. If men did not feel driven to make their mark on the world and prove themselves worthy of being called men, there would be no science, no philosophy, no art, no music, no technology, no exploration.

“But there would also be no war, no conflict, no competition!” feminists and male geldings will shriek in response. They’re right: there would be none of these things. And the world would be colorless and unutterably boring.

As Camille Paglia famously said, “If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.” She also said “There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.” What this really means is that given the nature of men, we can’t have Mozart without Jack the Ripper. So be it.

It should now be a bit clearer why Donovan says that “masculinity is a religion.” To quote him more fully, “masculinity is not just a quality shared by many men, but also an ideal to which men collectively aspire. Masculinity is a religion, one that naturally resonates with the condition of maleness. Worship takes place at sports arenas, during action films, in adventure novels and history books, in frat houses, in hunting lodges” (p. 65).

Earlier in the book he writes: “All men appreciate masculinity in other men. They appreciate men who are manly, who embody what it means to be a man. They admire and look up to men who are powerful, accomplished or assertive. . . . Men respectfully acknowledge another man’s impressive size or build, note a fierce handshake, or take a friendly interest in his facial hair. . . . Sportscasters and fans speak lovingly of the bodies and miraculous abilities of their shared heroes. . . . While straight men would rather not discuss it because they don’t want to be perceived as latent homosexuals, they do regularly admire one another’s bodies at the gym or at sporting events” (p. 22). None of this is “gay,” “latently gay,” or “homoerotic.” This is just men admiring manliness. One of the sad consequences of “gay liberation” (and Freudian psychology) is that straight men must now police their behavior for any signs that might be read as “latency.” And gay liberation has destroyed male bonding. Just recently I re-watched Robert Rossen’s classic 1961 film The Hustler. In the opening scene, an old man watches a drunken Paul Newman playing pool and remarks to a friend, “Nice looking boy. Clean cut. Too bad he can’t hold his liquor.” No straight man today would dream of openly admiring another man’s appearance and describing him as “nice looking,” even though there need be nothing sexual in this at all.

Of course, there is something decidedly sexual in androphilia. The androphile admires masculinity in other men also, but he has a sexual response to it. An androphile may admire all the same qualities in a man that a straight man would, but the androphile gets turned on by them. Here we must note, however, that although the straight man admires masculinity in men he generally spends a lot less time reflecting on it than an androphile does. And there are innumerable qualities in men (especially physical qualities) which androphiles notice, but which many straight men are completely oblivious to. In fact, one of the characteristics of manly men is a kind of obliviousness to their own masculine attractiveness. Yes, straight men admire masculinity in other men and in themselves — but this is often not something that is brought fully to consciousness. No matter how attractive he may be, if a man is vain, his attractiveness is undercut — and so is his masculinity. Men are attractive — to women and to androphiles — to the extent that their masculinity is something natural, unselfconscious, unaffected, and seemingly effortless. Oddly, lack of self-consciousness does seem to be a masculine trait. Think of the single-minded warrior, uncorrupted by doubt and introspection, forging ahead without any thought for how he seems to others, unaware of how brightly his virtue and heroism shine.

What all this means is that androphilia is masculinity brought to self-consciousness. To put it another way, the androphile is masculinity brought to awareness of itself. It is in the androphile that all that is good and noble and beautiful in the male comes to be consciously reflected upon and affirmed. It is in androphiles like Jack Donovan that the god of masculinity is consciously thematized as a god, and worshipped. Masculinity is a religion, he tells us again and again.

Now, I said a few lines earlier that lack of self-consciousness seems to be a masculine trait. If in androphiles a greater self-consciousness of masculinity is achieved, doesn’t this mean that androphiles are somehow unmasculine? Actually what it means is that they are potentially hyper-masculine. It is true that we admire unselfconscious figures like Siegfried or Arjuna, because they seem to possess a certain purity. But such men are always ultimately revealed to be merely the plaything of forces over which they have no control. Greater still then a naïve, unselfconscious purity is the power of an awakened man, who consciously recognizes and cultivates his virtues, striving to take control of his destiny and to perfect himself. This is part and parcel of the ideal of spiritual virility Julius Evola spoke of so often.

The difference between Siegfried and Arjuna is that the latter had the god Krishna around to awaken him. Krishna taught him that he is indeed a plaything of forces over which he has no control. But Arjuna then affirmed this, affirmed his role in the cosmic scheme as the executioner of men, and became the fiercest warrior that had ever lived.

Most men unconsciously follow the script of masculinity, pushed along by hormones to realize the masculine ideal — usually only to find the same hormones putting them in thrall to women and, later, children. Androphiles consciously recognize and affirm masculinity, and because their erotic desires are directed towards other men, they have the potential to achieve far more in the realm of masculine accomplishment than those who, again, have to “struggle to keep food on the table or get new sneakers for Junior.” Thus, far from being “unmasculine,” androphiles have it within their power to become, well, Overmen. Androphiles have awakened to the god in themselves and other men. There is an old saying on the Left Hand Path: “There is no god above an awakened man.” There is also no man above an awakened man. So much for the idea that a man’s love for other men is a badge of inferiority.

Implicit in the above is something I have not remarked on thus far, and that Donovan does not discuss: the duality in the masculine character. It is a rather remarkable thing, as I alluded to earlier, that testosterone both makes a man want to fight, to strive, and to explore — and also to inseminate a woman and tie himself down to home and family. Of course, without that latter effect the race would die out. But it is nevertheless the case that men are pulled in two directions, just by being men: towards heaven and towards earth. To borrow some terms from Evola again, they have within themselves both uranic and chthonic tendencies. Modern biologists have a way of dealing with this: they insist that all of life is nothing but competition for resources and reproduction. Thus, all of men’s uranic striving, all of their quest for the ideal, all of their adventures and accomplishments, are nothing more than ways in which they make themselves more attractive to females. This is sheer nonsense: nothing but the mindset of modern, middle-class, hen-pecked professors projected onto all of nature.

The truth is that men strive to realize the ideal of masculinity in ways that not only have nothing to do with the furtherance of the species, but are often positively inimical to it. Perhaps the best and most extreme example of masculine toughness one could give is the willingness of the samurai to disembowel themselves over questions of honor. Men strive for ideals, often at the expense of life. Masculinity has a dimension that can best be described as supernatural — as above nature. Women are far more tied to nature than men are, and this (and not sexist oppression) is the real reason why it is almost exclusively men who have been philosophers, priests, mystics, scientists, and artists. It is woman’s job to pull man back to earth and perpetuate life.

One way to look at androphilia is that it is not just the masculine come to consciousness of itself, but the masculine ridding itself of the “natural.” This “natural” side of the man is not without value (again, without it we would go extinct), but it has almost nothing to do with what makes men great. The androphile is free to cultivate the truly masculine aspects of the male soul, because he is free of the pull of the feminine and of the natural. This has to have something to do with why it is that so many great philosophers, artists, writers, mystics, and others, have tended to be androphiles. In 1913, D. H. Lawrence wrote the following to a correspondent: “I should like to know why nearly every man that approaches greatness tends to homosexuality, whether he admits it or not: so that he loves the body of a man better than the body of a woman — as I believe the Greeks did, sculptors and all, by far. . . . He can always get satisfaction from a man, but it is the hardest thing in life to get one’s soul and body satisfied from a woman, so that one is free for oneself. And one is kept by all tradition and instinct from loving a man.”

The androphile, again, is masculinity brought to consciousness of itself — and in him, it would seem, much else is brought to consciousness as well. For what else are science, philosophy, religion, art, and poetry but the world brought to consciousness of itself? These things — which are almost exclusively the products of men — are what set us apart and make us unique as a species. Human beings (again, almost exclusively men), unlike all other species, are capable of reflecting upon and understanding the world. We do this in scientific and philosophical theories, but also in fiction, poetry, and painting. Some of us, of course, are more capable of this than others — capable of achieving this reflective stance towards existence itself. And it would seem that of those men that are, some carry things even further and become fully aware of the masculine ideal that they themselves represent. And they fall in love with this. Sadly, androphile writers, artists, poets, etc., have often bought into the notion that their desire for other men makes them unmasculine and, like Oscar Wilde, have shoe-horned themselves into the role of the decadent, effeminate aesthete.

I think that when Donovan describes masculinity as a religion this is not just a desire to be provocative. I think he does experience his admiration for men as sacred. If this is the case, then it is natural for men who feel as he does to insist that such a feeling cannot be indecent or perverse. Further, it is natural for them to wonder why there are men such as themselves. What I have tried to do in the above reflections (which go beyond what Donovan says in his book) is to develop a theory of the “cosmic role,” if you will, of the masculine itself, and of the androphile. I believe Donovan is thinking along the same lines I am, though he might not express things the same way. He writes at one point:

Masculinity is a religion, and I see potential for androphiles to become its priests — to devote themselves to it and to the gods of men as clergymen devote their lives to the supernatural. What other man can both embody the spirit of manhood and revere it with such perfect devotion? This may sound far-fetched, but is it? If so, then why? Forget about gay culture and everything you associate with male homosexuality. Strip it down to its raw essence — a man’s sexual desire for men — and reimagine the destiny of that man. Reimagine what this desire focused on masculinity could mean, what it could inspire, and who the men who experience it could become. (p. 116)

There is much else in Androphilia that is well-worth discussing, though a review cannot cover everything. Particularly worthy of attention is Donovan’s discussion of masculinity in terms of what he calls physical masculinity, essential masculinity, and cultural masculinity. Then there is Donovan’s discussion of masculine “values.” These really should be called “virtues” (especially given the etymology of this word — mentioned earlier — Donovan his missed a bit of an opportunity here!). The language of “values” is very modern. What he really has in mind is virtues in the Aristotelian sense of excellences of the man. Donovan lists such qualities as self-reliance, independence, personal responsibility, achievement, integrity, etc. He starts to sound a bit like Ayn Rand in this part of the book, but it’s hard to quarrel with his message. The book ends with a perceptive discussion of “gay marriage,” which Donovan opposes, seeing it as yet another way in which gays are aping straight relationships, yearning narcissistically for society’s “approval.”

This is really a superb book, which all men can profit from, not just androphiles. If one happens to be an androphile, however, one will find this is a liberating and revolutionary work.

samedi, 27 février 2010

Die tiefe Krise der Männer

Die tiefe Krise der Männer

Eva Herman : Ex: http://info.kopp-verlag.de/

Das männliche Geschlecht befindet sich auf rasanter Talfahrt: Während die Emanzipation die Frauen in den zurückliegenden Jahrzehnten allerorten in ungeahnte Machtpositionen hievte, und weltweite Gender-Mainstreaming-Maßnahmen ebenso ausschließlich die Förderung von Frauen vorsehen, kämpfen die Männer zunehmend um die Existenz ihres Geschlechtes. Schon die Feministinnen in den 1970er-Jahren predigten die Männer entweder als Weicheier oder Machos schlecht. Dazwischen gab es kaum etwas, was männlich und gleichzeitig etwa sympathisch oder normal sein konnte.

manliness-1.jpgDie verhängnisvolle Entwicklung der Männerverachtung findet für den Vertreter des männlichen Geschlechts ihren frühen Anfang heutzutage schon in Kindergarten und Schule: Ein Blick auf das derzeitige Schulsystem allein genügt, um festzustellen: Hier werden haufenweise Verlierer produziert, die Mehrheit ist männlich.

In Kinderkrippen, Kindergärten und in den Schulen fehlen überall männliche Vorbilder! Die Kinder werden vorwiegend von Frauen betreut und erzogen, diese bevorzugen in aller Regel, teils bewusst, teils unbewusst, die Mädchen.

Durch die Feminisierung in der Erziehung werden für die Kinder hier die künftig geltenden Verhaltensstandards festgelegt: Diese werden nahezu ausschließlich aus dem Verhalten der Mädchen entwickelt. Ohne Rücksicht darauf, dass Jungen naturgemäß ein völlig anderes Benehmen haben. Männliches Verhalten wie durchaus natürliche Rangeleien und hierarchiebedingte Kämpfe werden allermeist durch aus weiblichem Harmoniestreben resultierende Maßnahmen im Keime erstickt. Dadurch geraten die Jungs ins Hintertreffen, die Gefahr, dass sie ihre Geschlechteridentität nicht naturgemäß ausbilden können, schlägt sich auf die Leistungen nieder. 

Der Vorsitzende des Bayerischen Philologenverbands, Max Schmidt, betonte in einem Spiegel-Interview: »Sowohl in der Grundschule, aber auch während der Pubertät, ist es wichtig, dass Jungen und Mädchen in männlichen und weiblichen Lehrkräften positive Rollenvorbilder erleben.« Das zunehmende Verschwinden von Männern aus den Schulen erschwere gerade den Jungen die Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen Rollenidentität.

Das sehen auch andere Experten so: Eine letztjährige Studie des Aktionsrates Bildung bestätigt, dass der Grund für die Zensurenlücke vornehmlich darin zu finden ist, dass Jungen in Kindergarten und Schule massiv benachteiligt würden. Nicht mehr die Mädchen, sondern die »Jungen sind die Verlierer im deutschen Bildungssystem«, sagt der Ratsvorsitzende und Präsident der Freien Universität Berlin, Dieter Lenzen. Statt auszugleichen, verstärke die Schule den Bildungs- und Leistungsrückstand der Jungen. Jungen haben laut Lenzen oftmals gar nicht die Chance, eine ausgereifte Geschlechtsidentität zu bilden, da sie im Kindergarten und in der Grundschule meist mit Erzieherinnen und Lehrerinnen konfrontiert seien. In keinem Bundesland liegt der Anteil männlicher Erzieher in den Kindertagesstätten bei mehr als zehn Prozent.

Auch das Bundesbildungsministerium bestätigt diese verhängnisvolle Entwicklung. Eine Untersuchung ergab: In der Grundschule sehen sich Jungen einer weiblichen Übermacht an Lehrkräften gegenüber – und werden von den Lehrerinnen häufig benachteiligt. Der Hallenser Bildungsforscher Jürgen Budde stellte in dem Bericht fest, dass Jungen in allen Fächern bei gleicher Kompetenz schlechtere Noten bekommen als ihre Mitschülerinnen. Selbst wenn sie die gleichen Noten haben wie Mädchen, empfehlen die Lehrer ihnen seltener das Gymnasium. Einfach ausgedrückt: Jungen werden bei gleicher Leistung schlechter behandelt.

Der Schulabschluss bestimmt den weiteren Lebensweg, die persönliche Arbeitsbiografie wird hier festgelegt. Dementsprechend sind junge Männer häufiger erwerbslos. Aus einem individuellen Problem erwächst inzwischen längst eine hoch gefährliche Gesellschaftskrise.

Jungs werden häufig von Anfang nicht richtig eingeschätzt und verstanden. Ihre männlichen Verhaltensweisen sollen denen der Mädchen angepasst werden, dementsprechend werden sie nicht selten unter falschen Voraussetzungen erzogen. Oft können sie ihr wahres männliches Inneres nicht leben, der Kern ihres Mannseins wird unterdrückt.

Vielen Jungen fehlt außerdem die männliche Vorbildfigur, an der sie sich orientieren könnten und dies auch dringend tun müssten. Jungen, die bei ihrer alleinerziehenden Mutter aufwachsen, sind in weitaus höherem Maße gefährdet. Schon der Psychologe Alexander Mitscherlich sprach einst von der »vaterlosen Gesellschaft« und meinte damit die Nachkriegsgeneration, deren Väter entweder im Krieg gefallen waren oder gebrochen zurückkehrten. Heute hat der Begriff wieder neue Aktualität bekommen. Väter verlassen die Familien, entziehen sich oder wollen schlicht keine starken Vorbilder mehr sein, aus Angst, sie könnten als hirnlose Machos gelten.

Auch unsere unheilvolle Geschichte hat tiefe Spuren hinterlassen. Ist ein starker Mann nicht schon ein Faschist? Ist einer, der sich zum Mannsein bekennt, nicht schon ein Soldat? Stärke wurde ein Synonym für das Böse, das unterworfen werden musste. Wer offensiv auftritt, ist einfach nicht politisch korrekt. Eroberer haben keine Chance.

Und so flüchten sich Jungen und Jugendliche häufig in Traumwelten, die sie im Fernsehen und bei den Abenteuer- und Ballerspielen auf dem Computer, der Playstation oder dem Gameboy finden. Hier, in der Fantasy-World, herrschen ausgesprochen männliche, körperlich starke, kämpfende Helden, die souverän alle Feinde besiegen und töten. Mit ihnen lässt es sich trefflich  identifizieren, wenigstens in der Fantasie. Immer mehr Jungen und junge Männer verbringen täglich viele Stunden vor interaktiven Medien, die sie zusehends von der Außenwelt, vom sozialen Miteinander abtrennen, die sie weiter in die gesellschaftliche Isolation treiben und zunehmend den Realitätsbezug verlieren lassen. Dieses Phänomen ist nicht auf die Kindheit und die Pubertät beschränkt, auch erwachsene Männer spielen lieber den omnipotenten Helden in der Fantasie, als im Leben ihren Mann zu stehen.

Was bleibt ihnen auch anders übrig?, könnte man fragen. Wenn Männer ihre Rechte einfordern wollen, stürzt sich alsbald ein Haufen wütender Frauen auf sie und verteidigt energisch das ständig größer werdende Stück Land, das sie in den letzten Jahrzehnten einnahmen. Rechte für die Männer? Die haben doch alles, was sie brauchen! So lautet das Vorurteil. Die Zeit der Alphatierchen sei vorbei, verkündete die ehemalige Bundesfamilienministerin Ursula von der Leyen, die sich stets auf die Seite erwerbstätiger Frauen schlägt, im März 2007 im Stern.

Männer sollen durch politische Maßnahmen wie ein zweimonatiges Elterngeld für Väter und eine neue öffentliche, mit aller Macht forcierte Geisteshaltung nach Hause gezwungen werden. Sie sollten mehr als »nur den Müll runterbringen«, schließlich arbeite die Frau schwerer als sie, weil sie zusätzlich noch die Kinder versorgen müsse.

Unbehagen macht sich breit. Auch wenn nur ein geringer Prozentsatz der Männer wirklich auf diese Forderungen eingeht, so plagt ihn doch das schlechte Gewissen, das man ihm einredet. Wer aber will sich auf Dauer nur noch verteidigen? Dann doch lieber die Flucht nach vorn, die Flucht in den Job, wo man auch mal jemanden anbrüllen darf, die Flucht auf den Fußballplatz, wo man sich aggressiv zu seiner Mannschaft bekennt. Oder die finale Flucht aus der Familie.

Während alle Jugendstudien die Mädchen zur »neuen Elite« küren, mehren sich die mahnenden Stimmen, die vor einer »entmännlichten Gesellschaft« warnen.

Experten fordern zu drastischen Maßnahmen auf: Der Jugendforscher Klaus Hurrelmann verlangt eine Männerquote für Lehrer und Erzieher. Der Deutsche Philologenverband will eine Leseoffensive für Jungen an Schulen einrichten.

Alle Studienergebnisse über die Leistungskrise der Jungs sprechen ihre eigene Sprache:

– Jungs bleiben doppelt so oft sitzen wie Mädchen, fliegen doppelt so häufig vom Gymnasium und landen doppelt so oft auf einer Sonderschule. An Haupt-, Sonder- und Förderschulen machen Jungen heute rund 70 Prozent der Schüler aus;

– Schätzungen zufolge leiden zwei- bis dreimal so viele Jungen unter Leseschwäche;

– 62 Prozent aller Schulabgänger ohne Abschluss sind Jungen;

– 47 Prozent aller Mädchen gehen auf ein Gymnasium, bei den Jungen sind es nur 41 Prozent;

– Ein Drittel der Mädchen macht Abitur oder Fachabitur, aber nur ein knappes Viertel der Jungen;

– Abiturnoten von Jungen sind im Schnitt eine Note schlechter, als die ihrer Mitschülerinnen;

– Junge Frauen stellen die Mehrheit der Hochschulabsolventen und brechen ihr Studium seltener ab;

– 95 (!) Prozent der verhaltensgestörten Kinder sind männlichen Geschlechts;

– Jungen stellen zwei Drittel der Klientel von Jugendpsychologen und Erziehungsberatern;

– Aggression ist ein Problem, das vor allem Jungs betrifft: Unter den Tatverdächtigen bei Körperverletzungen sind 83 Prozent Jungen;

– Unter »jugendlichen Patienten, die wegen der berüchtigten ›Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-Hyperaktivitätsstörung‹ (ADHS) behandelt werden müssen«, sind laut Spiegel Online »überdurchschnittlich viele Jungen: Auf sechs bis neun Zappelphilippe komme, meldet das Universitätsklinikum Lübeck, lediglich eine Zappelphilippine«.  (Erziehungstrends.de)

Der Präsident der Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft (vbw), Randolf Rodenstock, warnte im vergangenen Jahr angesichts der vielen männlichen Schulabgänger ohne Abschluss, dass man es sich nicht leisten könne, so viele junge Männer auf dem Bildungsweg zu verlieren. Deutschland steuere langfristig auf einen Arbeitskräftemangel zu, der durch die aktuelle wirtschaftliche Lage nur verzögert werde.

In Ostdeutschland sieht die Lage übrigens noch trostloser aus, hier laufen die Frauen den Männern gleich scharenweise davon. Nicht nur, weil sie im Westen bessere Berufs- und Ausbildungsmöglichkeiten bekommen, sondern weil sie dort auch Männer finden, die ihrem starken Selbstbewusstsein etwas entgegenzusetzen haben. So titelten denn auch unlängst gleich mehrere Tageszeitungen in etwa so: Frauen verlassen Osten! Männer erheblich benachteiligt! Oder: Ist der Mann im Osten bald allein?

Diesen alarmierenden Aussagen lag eine Studie des Berliner Instituts für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung zugrunde, der zufolge in den Neuen Bundesländern »eine neue, männlich dominierte Unterschicht« entstanden sei. Während vor allem gut ausgebildete Frauen zwischen 18 und 29 Jahren ihre Heimat verließen, würden viele junge Männer mit schlechter Ausbildung und ohne Job zurückbleiben. In manchen strukturschwachen Regionen fehlten bis zu 25 Prozent Frauen, diese Gebiete seien besonders anfällig für rechtsradikales Gedankengut, so die Studie. Das Frauendefizit in Ostdeutschland wurde übrigens als einmalig in Europa bezeichnet. »Selbst in Polarregionen, im Norden Schwedens und Finnlands reiche man an die ostdeutschen Werte nicht heran«, hieß es.

Abgesehen davon, dass Deutschland zunehmend der männliche Aspekt verloren geht, der jedoch unverzichtbar für eine Gesellschaft des natürlichen Ausgleichs ist, müssen Männer die Frauen immer häufiger als Konkurrentinnen sehen, weil diese, gestützt durch sämtliche, gesetzlich verankerte Gender-Mainstreaming-Maßnahmen, bevorzugt werden und somit selbstverständlich und offensiv auftreten, zudem sie auch immer besser qualifiziert sind.

Frauen erobern eine männlich geprägte berufliche Domäne nach der anderen. Schwere körperliche Arbeit, die Männer leichter bewältigen können als Frauen, wird durch die zunehmende Technisierung der Arbeitswelt nahezu überflüssig und existiert kaum noch. Frauen können in jeden beliebigen Beruf einsteigen: als Pilotin ebenso wie als Soldatin, Lkw-Fahrerin, Managerin, Ministerin, Kanzlerin.

Und während die holde Weiblichkeit alle Erfolgsgrenzen sprengt, ziehen sich die Männer zunehmend zurück. Zwar sollen sie durch Brüssels Gesetze nun vermehrt den Hausmann geben und sich der Kindererziehung widmen, damit sie den gestressten, erwerbstätigen Ehefrauen den Rücken freihalten. Doch sind diese Maßnahmen wohl kaum dazu geeignet, männliches Verhalten in seiner ursprünglichen Natur zu fördern.

Der Medienexperte Norbert Bolz macht vielmehr auf die Gefahr aufmerksam, dass Männer sich wieder an ihrer Muskelkraft orientieren würden, wenn sie sich ihrer sexuellen Rollenidentität als klassischer Vater und Versorger beraubt sehen. Das erklärt die rasante Zunahme aller möglichen sportlichen Aktivitäten, die bis ins Rauschhafte gesteigert werden können. Die Männer brauchen den Sport. »Sport als Asyl der Männlichkeit ist eine genaue Reaktionsbildung darauf, dass die Zivilisation als Zähmung der Männer durch die Frauen voranschreitet«, so Bolz. »Vormodern war die Aufgabe, ein ›richtiger‹ Mann zu sein, vor allem eine Frage der Performanz; man musste gut darin sein, ein Mann zu sein. Heute gilt das nur noch im Sport. Er bietet den Männern einen Ersatzschauplatz für die Kooperation der Jäger. Nur im Sport können Männer heute noch den Wachtraum erfolgreicher gemeinschaftlicher Aggression genießen, also die Gelegenheit, körperlich aufzutrumpfen.«

Bolz schätzt  dies als offensichtliches Kompensationsgeschäft ein, das unsere moderne Kultur den Männern anbietet: »Seid sensible, sanfte Ehemänner und fürsorgliche Väter – am Samstag dürft ihr dann auf den Fußballplatz und am Sonntag die Formel eins im Fernsehen verfolgen: heroische Männlichkeit aus zweiter Hand.«

Aber werden solche Männer tatsächlich von den Frauen begehrt? Hier sind erhebliche Zweifel wohl angebracht. Denn so erfolgreich die Frauen auch werden mögen, so wenig wollen sie als männliches Pendant den Windelwechsler und Küchenausfeger, sie wollen vielmehr einen echten Mann!

Die meisten Frauen verachten »schwache Typen« gar, spätestens, wenn es um ihre eigene Beziehung geht. So ist es ja umgekehrt auch kaum vorstellbar, dass eine Frau einen Partner vorzieht, der sich von anderen Männern dominieren lässt, der also nicht in der Lage ist, sich Respekt und Achtung zu verschaffen. Frauen wollen Männer, die erfolgreich sind. Weicheier jedoch sind weit von Erfolgs- und Überlebensstrategien entfernt. Die Evolutionsforschung ist da eindeutiger und klarer, so Norbert Bolz: »Frauen tauschen Sex gegen Ressourcen, während Männer Ressourcen gegen Sex tauschen. Das funktioniert aber nur unter Bedingungen strikter Geschlechterasymmetrie – in der modernen Gesellschaft also: nicht!«

Die Untersuchung der amerikanischen Hirnforscherin Louann Brizendine in ihrem Buch Das weibliche Gehirn weist überzeugend nach, dass männliche und weibliche Gehirne sich wesentlich unterscheiden, was eine Fülle von spezifischen Wahrnehmungs- und Verhaltensweisen nach sich zieht. So ist beispielsweise das Sprachzentrum der Frauen ungleich stärker herausgebildet, als das der Männer. Louann Brizendine formuliert dies äußerst humorvoll: Dort, wo die Sprache verarbeitet wird, existiere bei Frauen gewissermaßen ein mehrspuriger Highway, bei den Männern dagegen nur eine schmale Landstraße.

Was im naturwissenschaftlichen Zusammenhang als Tatsache hingenommen wird, gilt aber plötzlich als rückständig, wenn es um die sozialen Beziehungen geht. Eine ernsthafte Betrachtung der klassischen Geschlechterbestimmungen ist heute längst in den Hintergrund gerückt und so gut wie überhaupt nicht mehr möglich. Politisch und gesellschaftlich korrekt und gewollt ist vielmehr das Herbeiführen »modernerer Verhaltensweisen«, die Mann und Frau gleichmachen.

Es geht nicht mehr um Respekt für »das Andere« bzw. »den Anderen« oder um den Mann an sich, sondern um Gleichberechtigung für Frauen. Die Medien tragen kräftig zu dieser Sicht der Dinge bei: Sie fördern einseitig das Erfolgsmodell »berufstätige Mutter«, die Multitaskerin, die Kind, Küche und Karriere locker unter einen Hut bringt. Frauen, die Familien- und Hausarbeit leisten, werden als fantasielos, rückständig und dumm dargestellt. Die Medien verleugnen und missachten damit häufig zugleich den Erfolg berufstätiger Väter, die eine ganze Familie mit ihrer Erwerbsarbeit ernähren. Das »Allein-Ernährer-Modell« wird nur noch selten honoriert, selbst da, wo es funktioniert, stehen die Männer schnell unter dem Verdacht, typische Unterdrücker zu sein. 

Umgekehrt fordern jetzt auch immer mehr Männer, dass Frauen ihr eigenes Geld dazu verdienen sollen. So wird aus dem einstigen Emanzipationswunsch der Frauen, die ihre Berufstätigkeit als Beweis für Selbstbestimmtheit und Selbstverwirklichung betrachteten, ein Bumerang. Im Klartext: Frauen, die auch nur für wenige Jahre aus der Erwerbstätigkeit aussteigen möchten, um sich um die Familie zu kümmern, gelten nun als Drohnen.

Was diese Gesellschaft erlebt, ist eine erschreckende Mobilmachung der Ressource Frau für den Arbeitsmarkt. Um das zu rechtfertigen, müssen die Männer herhalten: »Väter sind mindestens ebenso gut für die Erziehungsarbeit der Kleinsten qualifiziert wie die Mütter und sollten diese auch unbedingt wahrnehmen«, befand die amtierende Bundesfamilienministerin. Eine Schutzbehauptung, die Frauen zur Erwerbstätigkeit motivieren soll.

Wenn die Männer als Kinderbetreuer eingesetzt werden, ist das allerdings nicht so simpel, wie die Rollentauschfantasie der Ministerin es glauben machen will.

Und die Männer? Sie schweigen. Sie wollen nicht mehr reden. Sie wollen sich vor allem nicht mehr verteidigen. Sie wollen nicht mehr die willigen Versuchskaninchen in einem gesellschaftlichen Experiment sein, dem sie ihre Wünsche und ihre Identität opfern sollen. Hinter ihnen liegt oft ein Hindernis-Parcours der Streitigkeiten und Auseinandersetzungen, die alle Liebe, alles Vertrauen, alle Selbstverständlichkeit aus den Beziehungen vertrieben haben. Achselzuckend gehen sie ihrer Wege, überzeugt, dass sie eine feste Beziehung nicht mehr ertragen können.

Die moderne Gesellschaft täte gut daran, sich endlich entschieden gegen die durch die künstliche Geschlechterwelt der durch Feminismus und Gender-Mainstreaming übergestülpten Programme zur Wehr zu setzen, um den für alle Gesellschaften natürlichen Ausgleich durch das männliche und das weibliche Prinzip zurückzuerobern und als für alle Zeiten notwendiges Überlebensprogramm festzuschreiben. Anderenfalls kann man getrost für die Spezies Mensch schwarz sehen!


Mittwoch, 17.02.2010

Kategorie: Allgemeines, Wissenschaft, Politik

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