mardi, 03 décembre 2013

The Language of Manliness


Manly, Manful…Man Up?
The Language of Manliness

by Brett & Kate McKay


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 | | | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

samedi, 12 mai 2012

The Origins of Manliness


The Origins of Manliness


by Jack Donovan
Milwaukee, OR: Dissonant Hum, 2012

Manliness rated high on ancient lists of the virtues; indeed, for the Romans, virtus designated both the general concept of virtue and manliness in particular. Today, as author Jack Donovan remarks, if manliness gets mentioned at all, it is usually made a vehicle for selling us on something else: “real men love Jesus” or “a real man would never hit a woman.”

How might we arrive at an objective understanding of manliness? The Way of Men looks to Homo sapiens’ environment of evolutionary adaptation, viz. life in small hunter-gatherer bands struggling for survival both with nature and with other similar bands. Civilization has not lasted long enough yet for us to become fully adapted to it.

The state of nature is not a world of individuals, as the early philosophers of liberalism imagined, but of cooperation in small groups or bands. The first aim of such cooperation is to establish and maintain possession of a territory for your band. Then you must guard the perimeter and acquire the means of sustenance—either by killing animals in the wild or by successfully raiding other bands.

Manliness, in the first instance, consists of whatever traits make for success at these tasks. Donovan calls them “tactical virtues,” and lists them as strength, courage, mastery, and honor. Strength and courage are more or less self-explanatory; mastery refers to competence in whatever skills are useful to one’s band: building, setting traps, making blades or arrows, and so on.

Honor in its most basic sense means “the primitive desire to hit back when hit, to show that you will stand up for yourself.” In a lawless situation, a man’s life may depend on his ability to make others afraid to harm or even show contempt for him, i.e., on avoiding any appearance of weakness or submissiveness. This raw form of honor can still be observed in prisons or amid Sicily’s onorevole società—i.e., among men who respect only force. With civilization, young men learn to honor their elders in spite of being physically able to beat them up. Gradually honor may come to be associated with such intangibles as knowledge or moral authority, but it never entirely escapes its origin in violence.

Donovan believes that the human male’s environment of evolutionary adaptation explains the modern man’s visceral disgust at flamboyant effeminacy in other men, something which several decades of homosexualist propaganda have not been able to alter. The explanation is that in a lawless situation, a man who rejects the male honor code brings shame upon his group and thereby weakens it. A man might rationalize this aversion or disgust by appealing, e.g., to the biblical condemnation of homosexuality, but his behavior has a much more visceral origin.

The author insists on the distinction between manliness and moral “goodness” in general:

In Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth, the King promises his enemies that unless they surrendered, his men would rape their shrieking daughters, dash the heads of their old men, and impale their naked babies on pikes. [Yet] I can’t call Henry an unmanly character with a straight face.

Hollywood is also well aware of men’s abiding fascination with amoral “tough guys.”

As civilization develops, combat is replaced by the safer, ritualized combat of athletic contests. Many men come to experience masculinity vicariously, for the most part. An increasing number turn their masculine instincts inward, and focus on “self-mastery, impulse control, disciplined behavior and perseverance.” Raw masculinity is tempered into manliness and assigned a place beside justice, temperance and other virtues not specific to the male sex.

It is hard to deny that much of this represents a gain: the Victorian gentleman is surely an improvement over the Paleolithic hunter, not to mention MS-13. But something of masculinity does get sacrificed along the way, and the transition is difficult for many men to make. Donovan cites the Epic of Gilgamesh, composed back in the days when urban life was something new: “Here in the city man dies oppressed at heart, man perishes with despair in his heart.” Another character complains of growing weak and being oppressed by idleness.

As Cochran and Harpending have shown (see The Ten Thousand Year Explosion, pp. 65ff), human beings have adapted to settled civilization to some degree in the ages since Gilgamesh—but few have adapted enough to feel at their ease amid the unprecedented effeminacy of the present age.

In the future that globalists and feminists have imagined, only a few people will do anything worth doing. For most of us there will only be more apologizing, more submission, more asking for permission, more examinations, more certifications, background checks, video safety presentations, counseling and sensitivity training.

In short, we are becoming the society William James predicted “of clerks and teachers, of co-education and zoophily, of consumers’ leagues and associated charities, of industrialism unlimited and feminism unabashed.”

In one of the most interesting sections of his book, Donovan discusses two species of great ape: the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo. These were formerly considered varieties of a single species: they look very similar, are interfertile, and their territories are contiguous. Yet closer examination revealed that they differ radically in their behavior.

The gist of the difference is that Chimp society is organized along male lines while Bonobos behave like proto-feminists. Male Chimps form alliances, females don’t. Among Bonobos, it is females that maintain social networks, while males don’t. Male Chimps batter their mates; male Bonobos don’t. Female Chimps acknowledge male dominance; female Bonobos don’t. Male Chimps patrol the border of their territory and make raids on other groups; male Bonobos do neither.


What causes these differences? It turns out that Chimps must hunt to survive; Gorillas and other rivals take most of the vegetable nourishment in their territory. Bonobos have no such rivals, so they simply live off the abundant vegetable food available to them. Female Bonobos can provide for themselves, so males are less valuable to them and less respected by them. While Chimps mate to produce offspring, Bonobos are “sexually liberated,” mating for pleasure and socialization. (The female great ape is no more “naturally monogamous” than the female human.) Homosexual behavior is also common among them.

In short, the “Bonobo masturbation society,” as Donovan terms it, is the natural end-product of feminism, which is a natural response to a long run of abundance and safety. A lot of effort is being put into selling men on a vision of the future as more of what we have today: more food and drink, more security, more labor-saving devices, more vicarious sex, more vicarious masculinity, more real effeminacy.

The Way of Men closes with some recommendations for men who are not thrilled by this prospect. The author believes that the future mapped out for us is “based on unsustainable illusions and lies about human nature.” It is already falling, and only needs a push. Men will not be able to challenge the system directly, but they can encourage fission around the edges. As central authority loses the loyalty of an increasing number of men, we are likely to witness a kind of social atavism, as men begin forming small groups—gangs, in fact—to protect their interests. Eventually nature will triumph, as it always does, and men will “follow their own way into a future that belongs to men.”

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

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


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:

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«.  (

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

© Das Copyright dieser Seite liegt, wenn nicht anders vermerkt, beim Kopp Verlag, Rottenburg

Dieser Beitrag stellt ausschließlich die Meinung des Verfassers dar. Er muß nicht zwangsläufig die Meinung des Verlags oder die Meinung anderer Autoren dieser Seiten wiedergeben.

mardi, 09 février 2010

Müdigkeitsdiagnosen und Ermannungsstrategien - Berliner Forscherin über Jugenkult um 1900

Müdigkeitsdiagnosen und Ermannungsstrategien

Berliner Forscherin über Jugendkult um 1900

von Josef Tutsch - Ex:

15licht.jpgEin Jahrhundert danach kann man sich nur wundern, dass die Zensur Thomas Manns zweiten Roman, "Königliche Hoheit", nicht sofort verboten hat. Der Erbprinz des kleinen Großherzogtums, wo der Roman aus dem Jahr 1909 spielt, kommt mit einer verkümmerten linken Hand zur Welt. Es ist genau dieselbe Behinderung, mit der auch Kaiser Wilhelm II. geboren war, der Berliner Hof gab sich seit Jahrzehnten alle erdenkliche Mühe, diese Schwäche zu kaschieren, auf offiziellen Bildern ist die linke Seite in Halbdunkel belassen.

Denn mit sonderbarer Selbstverständlichkeit war diesem dritten Kaiser des preußisch-deutschen Reiches von vornherein die Rolle des jugendlichen Helden zugefallen. Deutschland, hieß es in der Zeitschrift "Die Zukunft", ersehne einen Mann, der "wie kein anderer seit den mythischen Tagen Siegfrieds und des grimmigen Tronjerjunkers germanische Männlichkeit verkörpert". Mit dem "Tronjer" war Hagen gemeint, Siegfrieds Gegner in der Nibelungensage; die Zeit des Wilhelminismus ist uns bis in den Sprachgebrauch hinein fremd geworden. Birgit Dahlke, Literaturwissenschaftlerin an der Berliner Humboldt-Universität, hat in der deutschen Literatur und Essayistik jener Jahre um 1900 nach solchen Sehnsüchten von Jugend und Heldentum geforscht.

Es ist ein ambivalentes Bild, das diese Jahrhundertwende dem historischen Rückblick darbietet. Die Epoche hatte etwas zu kompensieren. Krise, Müdigkeit, Verfall lauteten die beherrschenden Stichworte von Thomas Mann bis Robert Musil, von Frank Wedekind bis Hugo von Hofmannsthal, und dagegen standen dann jene "Ermannungsstrategien", die so erschreckend bruchlos in den Ersten Weltkrieg mündeten. 1920 hat Ernst Jünger den psychologischen Mechanismus offen gelegt: "Da hatte uns der Krieg gepackt wie ein Rausch. In einem Regen von Blumen waren wir hinausgezogen, in einer trunkenen Stimmung von Rosen und Blut. Der Krieg musste es uns ja bringen, das Große, Starke, Feierliche. Er schien uns männliche Tat, ein fröhliches Schützengefecht auf blumigen, blutbetauten Wiesen."

Da ist Dahlke vor allem im seit 1908 immer wieder aufgelegten Liederbuch der Wandervogeljugend, im "Zupfgeigenhansl", fündig geworden: "Kein schönrer Tod ist in der Welt, als wer vom Feind erschlagen, auf grüner Heid, im freien Feld darf nicht hörn groß Wehklagen." Und im großen Bestseller der frühen 1920er Jahre, im Kriegsroman "Der Wanderer zwischen zwei Welten", worin der Autor Walter Flex dem Wandervogel noch einmal ein Denkmal setzen wollte: "Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht mit schrillem Schrei nach Norden – unstäte Fahrt! Habt acht, habt acht! Die Welt ist voller Morden. Fahrt durch die nachtdurchwogte Welt, Graureisige Geschwader! Fahlhelle zuckt und Schlachtruf gellt, weit wallt und wogt der Hader."

Der Zusammenhang dieser "männlichen" Rhetorik mit dem Müdigkeitsthema könnte noch deutlicher werden, wenn die Forscherin, quasi mikrophilologisch, beide Phänomene jeweils im Werk eines einzigen Autors verfolgt hätte. "Von angesehenen Autoren wie Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse und Robert Musil sind Äußerungen bekannt, in denen Künstlertum und kriegerisches Heldentum ineins gesetzt werden", berichtet Dahlke. Aber die Forscherin stellt nicht bloß "Buddenbrooks" und "Zupfgeigenhansl" nebeneinander, das Ziel ist, wie Dahlke erklärt, "eine kulturwissenschaftliche Germanistik, für die Literatur ein Kulturphänomen unter anderen darstellt" – ein in den Voraussetzungen plausibles und im Ziel vielversprechendes Konzept, das jedoch, wie die Autorin selbst einräumt, die "Gefahr des Auseinanderlaufens" birgt.

Es geht also um thematische Querschnitte, quer zu den gewohnten "disziplinären" Einteilungen in Belletristik einerseits, pädagogische, psychologische, jugendsoziologische und kulturphilosophische Sachliteratur andererseits. Ein solches Thema findet sich in dem Wahlspruch vorgegeben, den Flex’ Wandervogelführer Ernst Wurche dem jungen Dichter mitgegeben haben soll: "Rein bleiben und reif werden". Von heutiger Perspektive aus erscheint der Jugendkult dieser Jahrhundertwende als eine einzige große Sexualverdrängung. Der Jugendstilkünstler und Lebensreformer Fidus (alias Hugo Höppener) ließ einen Aufsatz mit Phantasien von einem "Ringelreif" nackter Jungen und Mädchen in die Mahnung ausklingen: "Halte tief Deinen Atem an, Deine Sinne zusammen, und lass Deine Seele in weißer Liebe erglühen, sonst erliegst Du der sendenden Schönheit, der tausendfältigen, ungeahnten, ungewollten Verlockung."

"Das Hinausschieben genitaler Sexualität wird selbst sexualisiert", resümiert Dahlke nüchtern. Es gab sogar Mediziner, die versuchten, die Pubertät mittels operativer Techniken aufzuhalten, der Physiologe Eugen Steinach entwickelte hierzu die Methode des "Steinachens", des Abbindens der Samenstränge. Kurios liest sich, was die HU-Forscherin aus den Polemiken um die Wandervogelbewegung referiert. Der Propagandist Hans Blüher setzte homoerotisches Empfinden auch bei den erwachsenen Führern als selbstverständlich voraus, wehrte jedoch erbittert jeden Verdacht ab, da würde irgendetwas sexuell ausgelebt. Dahlke: "Homoerotik im Männer- (oder Jungen)bund wurde entsexualisierend überhöht und als eigentliche, übersexuelle Form der Kameradschaft geadelt."

"Reinheit" wurde von Blüher und anderen Vertretern der Jugendbewegung, wie Dahlke überzeugend nachweist, sowohl misogyn als auch antisemitisch gedeutet (was übrigens nicht daran hinderte, dass auch Blühers Buch selbst als unrein, undeutsch, krank und fremdrassig angegriffen wurde). Von den Wandervogelbünden waren Mädchen und Juden im allgemeinen ausgeschlossen, in genauer Parallele zu dem Schriftsteller Otto Weininger, der seiner Zeit die Diagnose stellte, sie sei "nicht nur die jüdischste, sondern auch die weibischste aller Zeiten". Weininger, der mit "Geschlecht und Charakter" 1903 den ersten Bestseller des Jahrhunderts vorlegte, war selbst Jude, er erschrieb sich, so Dahlke, "um ein großer Mann zu werden, Distanz zu allem Weiblichen und Jüdischen".

Sigmund Freud hat den Zusammenhang, der da in der Seele seiner Zeitgenossen hergestellt wurde, auf den psychoanalytischen Begriff des Kastrationskomplexes gebracht: Wie das Weib würde auch der Jude unbewusst verachtete, weil ihm durch die Beschneidung etwas am Penis fehle. Und ebenso wie Freuds Interesse primär der männlichen Psychologie galt, so befasste sich die Adoleszenzliteratur der Jahrhundertwende, zum Beispiel Frank Wedekinds "Frühlings Erwachen", mit dem Erwachsenwerden der männlichen Jugend, hat Dahlke beobachtet. Bei dem Wiener Bohemien Peter Altenberg freilich war ein groteskes Gegenbeispiel zu finden: Fotografien sehr junger Mädchen, auf einer Art von Altar arrangiert, in einem seiner berühmten Ansichtskartenalben von Altenberg wie folgt beschriftet: "Klara, heilige 12-jährige! Oh, melde mir den Tag, die Nacht, da Dich Natur zum Weibe macht ---, auf dass ich Abschied nehme --- von Deinen Göttlichkeiten!"

Damit verglichen sind die Zeichnungen von Fidus, am berühmtesten wohl das "Lichtgebet", doch sehr zurückhaltend. Aber die Parallele ist unverkennbar: Auch Fidus’ Jünglinge sind (noch) geschlechtslos, in einem doppelten Sinn: ohne Sexualität und sogar ohne geschlechtliche Zuordnung. Oder auch "vorgeschlechtlich"; diese Androgynität ist eben nur sehr jung, beinahe kindlich zu denken. Man möchte sich, ganz unwissenschaftlich, einer Phantasie überlassen: Was wohl wäre aus Stefan Georges quasireligiösen Kult um seinen jungen Freund Maximin geworden, wenn nicht dieser Maximin alias Maximilian Kronberger im Alter von 16 Jahren an Gehirnhautentzündung gestorben wäre?

Natürlich liegt es nahe, die keusche, sozusagen offizielle Seite des Jugendkultes um 1900 ideologiekritisch oder entlarvungspsychologisch zu verdächtigen. Aber das ist nicht Dahlkes Thema. Unsere Gegenwart geht mit dem Thema bekanntlich anders um. Wenn heutzutage der Nachwuchs der High society medial beobachtet wird, richtet sich das Interesse unverhohlen auf den Geschlechterkampf. Die Mode um 1900 propagierte zwar Erotik, wollte Sexualität dagegen strikt ausblenden. In seiner "Psychologie des Jugendalters", die noch nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg viel gelesen wurde, hat Eduard Spranger dieser Trennung die wissenschaftliche Weihe verliehen, mit einem scharfen Angriff auf einige Repräsentanten der Jahrhundertwende, die doch von ganz ähnlichen Voraussetzungen ausgegangen waren wie Spranger selbst. Vor allem in den Großstädten, schrieb der Psychologe, würden die "Frank-Wedekind-Figuren" gedeihen, für die Freud, Weininger und Blüher die theoretische Basis geschaffen hätten. "In der Tat, hier bereitet sich der Untergang des Abendlandes vor."

"Rein bleiben und reif werden". Dass sich in den Konzepten der Jahrhundertwende die Kriegsbegeisterung von 1914 und die soldatische Haltung des Ersten Weltkriegs vorbereiteten, ist der Forschung seit langem aufgegangen, auch dass "völkische" Gruppierungen in Körperkultur und Lebensreform dieser Zeit allerlei Ansatzpunkte fanden. Dahlke warnt jedoch davor, aus der Komplexität der Epoche jene Linien zu isolieren, die sich als Vorgeschichte des Faschismus lesen lassen. Vor ein paar Jahren hatte der Berliner Kulturhistoriker Thomas Macho bereits darauf hingewiesen, dass dieses "heroische" Jugendbild auch mit der Ausbildung moderner Nationalstaaten zusammenhängt, die "an stelle transnationaler Söldnerheere die eigene Jugend auf das Schlachtfeld" schickten.

Unverwüstlich: Frank
Wedekinds Drama,
übersetzt von Edward
Bond (1900)

Das allerdings ist keine bloß deutsche, sondern eine gesamteuropäische Entwicklung, die bereits mit der Französischen Revolution eingeleitet wurde. Wie eigentlich sahen in der Zeit von Jugendbewegung und Jugendstil und Wilhelminimus in Frankreich oder England oder Italien die müden Jünglinge und ihre Ermannungsstrategien aus? Dahlke spricht von einem "Unruhezustand gerade in Deutschland um 1900", verzichtet aber darauf, ihren Querschnitt durch die deutschsprachige Belletristik und Sachliteratur durch internationale Vergleiche zu bereichern – sehr begreiflich, das Thema wäre endgültig überfrachtet worden. Eine Auslassung macht sich aber doch als blinder Fleck bemerkbar. Ein Großteil der Autoren, die Dahlke berücksichtigt hat, von Hofmannsthal bis Sigmund Freud, waren nicht Deutsche (im Sinne des wilhelminischen Kaiserreichs), sondern Österreicher oder auch Schweizer.

Und da kann der jugendlicher Kaiser Wilhelm II. ja wohl kaum als Chiffre für die Epoche herhalten, im Gegenteil, in Wien herrschte der Greis Franz Josef. Oder wenn das zu biographisch-zufällig ist: 1894 sagte der Soziologe Max in seiner Freiburger Antrittsrede, dass "die Einigung Deutschlands ein Jugendstreich war, den die Nation auf ihre alten Tage beging und seiner Kostspieligkeit halber besser unterlassen hätte, wenn sie der Abschluss und nicht der Ausgangspunkt einer deutschen Weltmachtpolitik sein sollte". Eine Äußerung, die bei einem deutsch-österreichischen oder deutsch-schweizerischen Intellektuellen jener Zeit nicht vorstellbar wäre. Da liegt die Frage nahe, ob nicht auch innerhalb des "deutschen" Jugendkultes dieser Jahrhundertwende Differenzierungen angebracht sind.

Neu auf dem Büchermarkt:
Birgit Dahlke: Jünglinge der Moderne. Jugendkult und Männlichkeit in der Literatur um 1900.
Böhlau Verlag, Köln 2006 (ISBN-10:3-412-10406-X, 978-3-412-10406-1), 39,90 €

jeudi, 11 juin 2009

De nood aan een bevrijdingsfront voor de man

De nood aan een bevrijdingsfront voor de man