Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Eternal Boy

In the carefully promoted backlash against feminism more than progress in equal rights has been lost. Before Hoff Sommers leaves another gooey scribble blaming it all on feminists, let me point out that adult men aren’t just endangered, they’re almost extinct.

Today’s idealized male image mostly comes from fascist-chic movies of the Reagan years and those of Clint Eastwood, at least those from before old age came on him with all it many qualms. What doesn't, comes from Porkey’s or other frat fantasies. None of the boys in these guy flicks are what you'd call grownup and the role play provided by video games is infinitely worse. Our popular entertainment doesn't much do grown up men anymore. There might be a few shows or movies that depict a decent, intelligent man but they’re often not what they seem. You see nice guys in movies, you're just waiting for them to be revealed to have secret lives as cannibals or worse.

The roles for males encouraged in pop culture are brainless studs, rapists, sadistic killers, enthusiastic tools of fascism. You know this. It isn't asked often enough why this trend started or grew. I think the oligarchy wanted cannon fodder for its wars of conquest and operators for its computerized machine, the sex is just the draw. Most of all they want males who either won’t vote or who vote reflexively for the “masculine” option of Republican. Grown ups tend towards unprofitable attachment to reality and reality doesn’t favor conservatives.

What else is behind this? As anyone who attended jr. high knows, hyper-masculinity has always been a too-much protesting demonstration that a male wasn’t gay. That is the first and most violent manifestation of it in most cultures*. Straight, male gender anxiety is the basis of it and that fact has been put to most effective use by the political right. Violence and a willful refusal to face reality fits into their economic plans. The only real strength required of most of these tools is to follow orders and to resist reflection.

Least you think that I’m saying they are entirely without discipline let me reassure you. Most conservative men have proven to be rocks of self denial in one respect, depriving themselves the ultimate "male" experience of putting their own sweet fat on the line in combat. But these boys of the ruling class have been provided with a form of cultural consolation. The absurdly mythic image of entrepreneurs has been so calculatedly conflated with sexual potency and the assertion of The Will that business attire has attained the unlikely status of a sexual fetish. No accounting, huh? And if you've seen accountants ..... please, don't tell me.

On the Ursatz level, the role requires, in accordance with the needs of an imperial capitalist system, that the real man treats people as property. Children, women, weaker men are objects that are his to own, his to exploit or there to be trashed, especially if not in his possession. The real man sees all things in terms of his own utilization like a pre-socialized toddler, mitigated only by what he can't get away with. Respect for the rights of other people or for sympathetic understanding are a compromise of the masculine imperative, a willful and shameful relinquishing of the male identity. Even the biosphere he, himself, requires to live is to be used up if he so wills it, And a real man will will it. Real men laugh at giga-death, sustainability is for sissies. It can't be a coincidence that it was the refusal of a zoning permit that motivated Clint Eastwood’s political career.

The detailed implications of cartoon masculinity for gay men, such as myself, are probably for another time. But I will tell you that the stridently defensive reaction on various blogs to my condemnation of the homicidal, objectifying hatred expressed in Tom of Finland’s gay S&M smut proves that fascistic machismo isn’t the cootie shot against being gay that the straight boys think it is.

Adults being sales resistant, the things that define an adult, reasoning, forebearing, self-sacrifice, basic decency and fairness are not encouraged in our commercial culture. When coupled with the traditional male persona their absence is deadly. Their opposites show up in violence directed against girls, women and other people, in our voting patterns and in our politics. They define our foreign policy, where unimpeded exploitation used to be quarantined, but we should anticipate its further expansion into domestic life. **

The "endangered boys" hucksters won't consider why boys are really endangered, the toxic male role models that oligarchic culture presents to them. Neither will they reflect on why so few boys seem to be in any danger of growing up no matter how old they get. But I rather like decent adults and believe every child should aspire to become one. “I won’t grow up,” is an option that should disappear at the age of 14. Yes, for boys too.

* Look at the stream of word play in which Mercutio taunts Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. More double entendre in one scene than in Mae West's entire filmography. I don't think anyone but a gay man could have depicted someone so obviously obsessed with gay sex during that period.

* *In case you think I'm exaggerating, John Podhoretz is afraid that we're getting too nice to have an effective imperial policy. Makes you realize that the body count can't get too high to discourage them from their piracy.