Masculinity In The First Degree

SUNY Stony Brook will be offering a master’s degree in masculinity. It will not be taught by Mike Cernovich, author of Gorilla Mindset. Rather, Michael Kimmel will be in charge, and he has a very different perspective.

“What does it mean,” the 64-year-old sociology professor asked the group, most of them undergraduates, “to be a good man?”

A series of examples follow, but I’ll cut to the chase. To Kimmel, a good man is a woman. If men were just more feminine, all would be right with the world.

There’s an irony abrewing. Feminist theory is that gender is a social construct, meaning that we take beautiful children and beat them into the monsters they eventually become, because there is no inherent difference between genders. Studies to the contrary are ignored or denied. And so, the reason guys watch football, eat bacon, get horny, are aggressive, is that socialization makes them that way.

This is problematic and wrong, and must be stopped at all costs.

It’s not just Kimmel. As Ashe Schow writes, Vanderbilt is putting on a week long symposium on the subject.

Are you a man who majored in business because it interested you or because you felt it would lead to a great career? That may be an unhealthy form of masculinity, according to a series of seminars coming next week from the Vanderbilt University Women’s Center.

Yes, you read that correctly: A women’s center seems to be telling men how they should and should not behave.

And why not? As any married man will tell you, this happens. But not quite this way.

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt will host a week of seminars exploring “healthy masculinity through various lenses: American society, the gay and bisexual community, fraternities and more.” The first event, taking place on Thursday, Sep. 10, is called “The Macho Paradox: Why some men hurt and how all men can help.”

Macho is a word that is used to denigrate masculinity. That’s why they’re calling it “The Macho Paradox,” to make clear that this is a negative male trait in need of fixing.

Anyway, the advertisement for this week-long event features the silhouette of a man with a thought bubble that reads: “Don’t cry,” “have sex,” “major in business,” “play sports” and “man up.” As if this is what all guys think makes someone a man.

“Allegedly, these are examples of unhealthy masculinity,” wrote Ashley Rae Goldenberg of MRC.

This concern over whether masculinity is “nature or nurture” is a curious irony in itself. Ashe writes, “[a]s if this is what all guys think makes someone a man.”  Frankly, most guys don’t think about it at all. It’s kind of a women thing to spend one’s time pondering “unhealthy masculinity,” because most guys would rather spend their time watching a ball game.

But given that there’s noise being made about the “wussification” of men, it’s caused some to not only ponder the question, but feel compelled to fight back, because they refuse to stand by and allow women to tell men that they ought to be women.  Meh.

Is it surprising that academics see this as an underrepresented field of inquiry?  Not at all. They’re always struggling to find some new hem length, or no one woman would feel compelled to buy new dresses every season. They need tenure. They need recognition. If all the old fields of inquiry are maxed out, how will they ever sell books and establish a name for themselves as leaders?

Plus, and I quickly add, #NotAllAcademics, there are many who never cared much for football or beer, and felt left out when all the other boys had fun doing guy stuff while they were left to play with themselves.

Rory Dicker, the director of the center, provided the Examiner with the following comment regarding the events in an email:

“Because a university is a place dedicated to critical thinking, having a week devoted to an exploration of masculinity will allow the Vanderbilt community to think about how boys and men are pressured to behave, and to consider that sometimes masculine norms, some of which are illustrated in the poster promoting the week’s events, harm men, who aren’t always taught that emotional vulnerability, cooperation, and sensitivity are valuable human traits.”

First, nobody ever pressured me to love bacon. If anything, it was just the opposite, my being Jewish and all. Or cars. Or football. I didn’t watch football as a kid, but my wife (who is female, in case there was a question) was a die-hard Giants fan and she forced me to watch. Now I love football.  And I’m good with that.

Are “emotional vulnerability, cooperation, and sensitivity” really “valuable human traits”?  Or are they feminine traits, and therefore deemed valuable because gender correctness wants to force them down guys’ throats?  I hate to be the one to say this, but emotional vulnerability isn’t something I care to possess.

I’m quite pleased with the extent to which I’m in touch with my emotions, and really have no desire to wear them on my sleeve to show my vulnerability.  If some other guy wants to cry, to sit in a circle and discuss his feelings with other people who want to hear them, and share their feelings about his feelings, that’s fine with me.  But I won’t be there. I’ll be watching the game, because that’s what I want to do.

That there are people who want to tell men that it’s somehow wrong to be the way they are is silly. You like vanilla better than chocolate? Cool. Eat all the vanilla you want. Gorge. Fill yourself to the brim with vanilla.

A real guy won’t give a shit. To the extent all this introspective, metacognitive, feminization of masculinity nonsense makes young men doubt that they’re okay preferring cars to lean-in groups, don’t.  It’s no crime to be masculine, and anyone who says otherwise should have their man card revoked.

See? That was a joke, but some women won’t laugh at it. Men like to make jokes too, and sometimes they’re childish, off-color or inappropriate. We think they’re funny. Women may not.

That's not funny

Get over it.

30 thoughts on “Masculinity In The First Degree

  1. David M.

    Dang. Charles C.W. Cooke calls it the “preening college cult” and I’d say he’s spot on.

    “The American Men’s Studies Association was formed in 1991 from a series of men’s consciousness-raising groups called NOM, for the National Organization for Men, later renamed the National Organization for Changing Men. Over the years, a number of universities have begun offering courses in men’s studies: “The Philosophy of Becoming a Man,” say, at California Lutheran University, or, at Dartmouth College, “The Masculine Mystique,” a play on the famous Betty Friedan book.”

    If I ran across that anywhere else, I’d call it satire.

      1. David M.

        I guess I just liked his book. But he and I could never be an item. He’s Oxford, I’m Heidelberg. He’s got a good beard, mine is always patchy…

    1. SHG Post author

      At my alma mater, which is comprised of seven colleges that make up the university, they had a college called “Home Economics.” They changed the name to “Human Ecology,” I guess keeping the initials the same so they wouldn’t have to change the monogram on the hand towels. It was still mostly women.

  2. Patrick Maupin

    Are “emotional vulnerability, cooperation, and sensitivity” really “valuable human traits”?

    Cooperation certainly is, because if my team/army/hunting party doesn’t cooperate, the other team/enemy/mastadon will win.

    It has been clear for years that hard metrics are out, so the very idea of assigning numbers to compare how well two disparate groups of people can cooperate within their groups must really rankle.

    They must have a doozy of a redefinition for “cooperation” that excludes whatever happens inside a football team, but I have yet to see it — they probably haven’t spun it well enough yet to pass the laugh tests with the focus groups.

    1. SHG Post author

      I suspect the more “valuable human trait” is knowing when to cooperate and when not to cooperate, and not universally extolling one over the other despite the circumstances.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Of course, but I thought it best to start with the easier question of whether the average man-child has internalized the ability to cooperate.

        Rory gets that one wrong — so much for the “critical thinking” she so eloquently extolls — so how will she fare with a decision matrix?

      2. Anonymous

        Likewise, “sensitivity” could also be argued to be a positive human trait, however, its semantic baggage implies more than a willingness, but an outright desire to have one’s behavior affected by empathy. This is self-destructive at worst, and useless at best.

        However, similar to the skill of knowing when to cooperate, the skill of understanding your fellow humans, and their emotional states, is also of tremendous use. One can choose when they allow themselves to be affected.

        1. bookmoth

          “Likewise, “sensitivity” could also be argued to be a positive human trait, however, its semantic baggage implies more than a willingness, but an outright desire to have one’s behavior affected by empathy. This is self-destructive at worst, and useless at best.”

          Actually, it’s beneficial if you have a plan as to how to change your behavior in response to new data gleaned through sensitivity.

          Sensitivity is extremely valuable in combat, just as cooperation is. A leader needs to be sensitive to the needs of the men he leads, if he is to be an effective leader. He needs to know how much he can demand of them, how to inspire them, and when he is at risk of demanding so much that they break down in exhaustion, traumatic stress, or anger.

          Sensitivity is also valuable in manipulating an enemy: for example, an enemy is most dangerous when backed into a corner with no escape, both in physical combat and in social situations. Allowing an escape route (or even just the appearance of one) prevents the physical combatant from finding renewed strength in desperation, and allowing an enemy a chance to back down while maintaining face can keep a social situation from leaving to physical combat.

          1. SHG Post author

            Words like “sensitivity” are vagaries in the absence of context. Going down this path, which obviously has nothing to do with the issue at hand, is waste of my bandwidth and everyone else’s time.

  3. Levi

    Seems like any sort of vulnerability would not be a valuable trait by definition, except perhaps from the perspective of a predator. And since when is “major in business” some kind of masculine impulse on the order of “have sex”? Shouldn’t the women want all the men in fluffy business majors while they storm the hard sciences?

  4. Mark

    Reminds me of the Iron John phenomenon. Poet Robert Bly published a bestseller by the name of Iron John (1990) about men losing touch with their uncivilized, inner man. It led to some retreats where men got together around a campfire and cried about losing touch with their inner man. Irony John, I guess.

    Colleges have always had some nonsense. If they were any good at indoctrination, racism and sexism would have disappeared a long, time ago.

    1. SHG Post author

      Don’t underestimate the damage they can cause if they get some traction. It may not be a paradigm shift, but it still has plenty of potential for mischief.

  5. Wrongway

    “Macho is a word that is used to denigrate masculinity. That’s why they’re calling it “The Macho Paradox,” to make clear that this is a negative male trait in need of fixing.”

    I asked the wife what she thought of when the word ‘macho’ is thrown out there.. Her response was ‘stereotype’.. (which shocked the hell outa me by the way..)..
    but she went on to say that ‘no matter what race of guys you’re around, there’s one in every crowd..’. But she didn’t think it was bad to be macho, it just meant you’re an asshole..
    But by being ‘that asshole’, does that mean you like boiler-makers after work & fights in the bar, or are really aggressive at finding & keeping a job.. providing for your family.. being a good Dad.. paying the bills.. if that’s being macho, then yeah, that’s me..
    I guess I need to be fixed..

  6. Jim Tyre

    I didn’t watch football as a kid, but my wife (who is female, in case there was a question) was a die-hard Giants fan and she forced me to watch. Now I love football. And I’m good with that.

    Aha! SHG bows to the will of SWMBO. Much is now explained.

  7. Pingback: A Good Man Is A Woman | The Sun Also Rises

  8. losingtrader

    I’m offering a PHD in masculinity.
    It consists of putting your pic and stats on Tinder and the passing grade or thesis is measured by the % of times a woman invites you for a drink then insists you take her home. Refusal on the basis she’s not hot enough gets double credit.

    1. SHG Post author

      I am disgusted. And married, but mostly disgusted. And I don’t even know what Tinder is, but is sounds filthy.

  9. Scarlet Pimpernel

    Strangely, my sons have changed their niece’s poopy diapers, do their laundry, cook meals and kick butt on the football field. All while carrying a 4.0+ GPA. Being manly in one part of your life does not mean that you can’t care or feel empathy for others in other parts of your lives. The fact that academics want to present this as a choice only points to their own failings.

    1. SHG Post author

      Why is this “being manly in one part” of their lives? Being manly is being whatever they want to be. Laundry won’t do itself, and food won’t cook itself. Poopy diapers surely won’t change themselves. So a manly guy does whatever a manly guy needs to do. What a manly guy does not do is forsake his masculinity because some tell him he’s not feminine enough.

  10. david

    Australia, perhaps the last great bastion of untarnished masculinity (Hugh Jackman; contact sport with no pads; telling the Prime Minister he’s a wanker on national TV) . . . would suggest these ladies just need a good root. Now, where’s me kangaroo, I’m gunna nick down the pub for a beer with the boys, its topless night!

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