Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A distinction without a difference.

So, I followed a link from a blurb on, to a GQ Magazine UK article, which criticises another article from the Guardian, which was ostensibly written in concern for today's men and boys.  Sorta convoluted, I know, but it's relevant.

I followed the links, dutifully, and got a bit of a handle on the arguments presented, and came to the realization that this is a great case study in Feminist 'concern' for men, and the Blue Pill criticism the Lamestream Media is capable of mustering.  Not only that, but the holes left in each of their arguments are quite instructive, if one is inclined to believe in the significance of such things.  Since I am inserting myself downstream, I will limit myself to topics 'debated' in the GQ response article for the most part.

In his article "Macho, macho men: Labour have no right to talk about the "crisis in masculinity"", GQ author Tony Parsons takes issue with certain contentions:

Diane's thesis is a load of tribal, Labour-promoting tosh. Modern men have their problems but they have less to do with rapid economic change and more to do with social shifts and technological advances.

This is in response to this Guardian article's opening paragraphs:

Britain is facing a "crisis of masculinity", with rapid economic change warping male identity and encouraging machismo and misogyny, the Labour MP Diane Abbott will claim on Thursday.

The shadow public health minister will say in her speech that unemployment and the economic downturn risks creating a generation of disaffected young men, fuelling homophobia, machismo and misogyny.

She will also say men are failing to discuss the problems they face. "It's all become a bit like the film Fight Club – the first rule of being a man in modern Britain is that you're not allowed to talk about it."

Now, I totally agree with Tony that Diane Abbot has her head up her ass.  But, as is usual with these things, I also find his 'explanation' ideologically hidebound as well:

Modern manhood has been hampered by too few fathers and too much porn.

If there is homophobia, then it is caused by ignorance. If there is misogyny, then it is caused by young men who watch digital sex until their mouse squeaks. If there is machismo - well actually, Diane, there is not a surfeit of machismo in Britain.

Bullying is not machismo. Violence is not machismo. True machismo is a belief in the manly virtues, a fierce masculine pride and it is a virtue. We could do with a bit more machismo - we could do with more men who are protective of women and children. There would be fewer bullies around if there were a few more good men who were prepared to punch bad men in the cakehole.

What both of these glitterati of opinion making seem  desperate to even avoid hinting at, is female culpability or responsibility for any of it.  More to the point, Tony seems rather oblivious to the machinations of the Sexual Marketplace:

The truth is exactly the opposite - men have never been more in touch with their emotions, and more honest about expressing them. Just because they are not crying in their lap of the Shadow Public Health Minister doesn't mean they are not doing it.

Men, I would suggest, have never been better than they are today. More involved in bringing up their children. More genuinely supportive of their partners. More willing to discuss their fears with those closest to them.

I think Diane gets a lot closer to the truth than many would like:

Speaking to the thinktank Demos, Abbott will argue that boys are becoming increasingly isolated from their parents and friends, while grown men are working longer hours, dying of preventable cancers, and taking their own lives.

And then she comes out with little gems like these:

"This generation no longer asks itself what it means to be a man," she will say.

Consumerism has replaced earning, providing and belonging for many men, according to the MP, giving rise to a culture of "hypermasculinity" – a culture that exaggerates what are perceived as manly qualities in the face of perceived threats.

"At its worst, it's a celebration of heartlessness; a lack of respect for women's autonomy; and the normalisation of homophobia. I fear it's often crude individualism dressed up as modern manhood," she will say.
Finally, as is usually the case, the Feminist viewpoint and the 'Conservative' viewpoint seem to curiously merge...:

Pornography has also had a damaging affect upon men, Abbott claims, which has added to the growth of a "Viagra and Jack Daniels" culture.

"Growing numbers of men of all ages [are] turning to the drug by themselves due to performance anxiety, triggered by a host of psychological issues – from our increasingly pornified culture making 'normal' sex seem boring, to financial pressures. It may be a secret, psychological crutch for some men, who are under pressure to meet a pornified expectation," she will say.

You would figure that someone somewhere would twig to a couple of facts here.  First of all, that a small percentage of men actually get sex on the regular, so all that 'porn use' is essentially a barometer of the sexual frustration of men.  And while there is certainly substance to Diane's claim that 'dirty' sex is becoming a lot more common, it's rather telling that no connection between that and women's preferences was made.  Even more telling that all manner of things, from homophobia, to erectile dysfunction, can be blamed on porn.  And men.  Of course.

But the most telling of all, is what each of these two is saying about the 'ideal man'.

Diane's take:

Labour policy suggestions are expected to include health campaigns, aimed specifically at men, to tackle obesity, alcohol misuse and poor sexual health, as well as promote father-friendly parenting classes, which would be paid for from existing local government budgets.

Schools would be asked to help youths to explore a less narrow version of masculinity, and encourage parents to talk to their sons about manhood and fatherhood.

In two words: 'Man Up!'

And the 'Conservative' Tony's response?

Yes, the curse of youth unemployment blights many young men - but it blights young women too. There are few things wrong with British men that wouldn't be cured by more fathers sticking around to bring up their children, by boys finding a real girlfriend instead of online porn and by making boxing compulsory in all our schools.

Two words: 'Man Up!'.

Both 'sides' act as if this is all happening in a vacuum.  Neither will even hint that women, or Feminist policies, have had even the slightest effect on the outcomes they are so alarmed at.  And both 'sides' demand that men become 'better', while declaring men are 'just fine' in certain areas as well.

Both deftly ignore the real reasons for these issues, carefully stepping around the Questions That Must Not Be Asked.   Increasingly, the public is waking up to the not-so-subtle thought policing going on these days, the 'self' censorship the media betrays every time it chooses to 'spin' a story, instead of pursue the truth.

I will give Tony props for his parting shot though:

But it's really not Fight Club out here, Diane. It's more like Eat Pray Love.

Maybe, just maybe, there's hope yet...

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