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September 11, 2006

Comments

DaveTheRave

Men are assumed to be naturally competitive and aggressive, and being a real man is therefore marked by the struggle for control, conquest and domination. A man looks at the world, sees what he wants and takes it. Men who don't measure up are wimps, sissies, fags, girls.

Hugo, I appreciate Jensen is specifically talking about the US, but I see these traits evident (to a greater or lesser degree) in all the countries I've travelled in, including 2nd and 3rd world countries. Are they all in on a conspiracy, or do you think these traits have a biological origin, or at least biological influence?

I think being competitive or aggressive can be a virtue if channelled for positive results. Jensen puts a negative spin on these traits, but it really depends how you use them.

Overall, I have to say he's created a bit of a strawman that's easy to attack. Any advice that follows that isn't founded on anything solid.

Ted

DaveTheRave:

First of all, all of the countries in the world are patriarchal to a greater or lesser degree. To have a true point of comparison, we'd need a completely matriarchal society to look at, and the modern world affords us no examples there.

Secondly, plenty of people, both men and women, are naturally competitive and agressive. I don't think Jansen denies this, and I don't think he says that being competitive and agressive is always a bad thing. What is a bad thing is that men who are not naturally agressive are often forced to choose between pretending to be or facing scorn.

Hugo

Dave, Jensen deals with that:

At the moment, the culture seems obsessed with gender differences, in the context of a recurring intellectual fad (called "evolutionary psychology" this time around, and "sociobiology" in a previous incarnation) that wants to explain all complex behaviors as simple evolutionary adaptations -- if a pattern of human behavior exists, it must be because it's adaptive in some ways. In the long run, that's true by definition. But in the short-term it's hardly a convincing argument to say, "Look at how men and women behave so differently; it must be because men and women are fundamentally different" when a political system has been creating differences between men and women.

DaveTheRave

First of all, all of the countries in the world are patriarchal to a greater or lesser degree. To have a true point of comparison, we'd need a completely matriarchal society to look at, and the modern world affords us no examples there.

I'm glad you said that Ed, because it naturally leads to the question:

Why are all of the countries in the world patriarchal to a greater or lesser degree?

What is a bad thing is that men who are not naturally agressive are often forced to choose between pretending to be or facing scorn.

I agree, but I personally don't see this in my day-to-day life. I think Jensen is describing a type of guy - perhaps 'alpha males' who work in sales or some other ultra-competitive market that demands these kinds of behavioural tendencies. It's a very simplistic view of half the population. I guess I'm saying: Jensen seems to be shoe-horning the entire male population into one stereotype profile. You do that, and your conclusions aren't going to be terribly useful.

Kathy

The more subtle fallout of this is hyper-stereotype of masculinity is disdain for feminine qualities in anyone, even in women. It's the Mark Driscoll rant that makes me weep for the women in his church. How can you love and value women if you have utter comtempt for any attribute associated with them?

I've been grieving about this for a long time, and wasn't sure how to deal with it until yesterday when a young woman who's like a daughter to me had me captive in the car on the way to church. She asked me poignantly how to deal with male authority in her life. (She just started college and lives at home with her parents).

I told her to respect her dad and her pastors, but to begin to assume her role as an adult under the authority of Christ. I told her specifically not to wait passively for males to lead her, but to prayerfully seek God's will and humbly take steps to follow it with appropriate counsel from women and men in accordance with scripture. I also told her she might be surprised how transparent the whole process is when she is humble and respectful and joyfully using her gifts.

The men in my church are so caught up in the hyper masculine stereotype they have paralyzed the women, who walk on eggshells, afraid to do anything for fear of being unsubmissive. I told my young friend she can begin her adult life by walk humbly, but not on eggshells.

I'm trying to be a role model, not strident, but confident, respecting my own husband and encouraging him in his gifts, as he does in mine.

There's nothing lackluster in my husband's masculinity. In fact, this respect and mutual submission is very sexy in marriage. :) I blogged about it here (http://www.beyondwordsworth.com/?p=62), a couple of days ago.

Ted

Why are all of the countries in the world patriarchal to a greater or lesser degree?

My guess would be that way back when as the human species evolved, physical force was the main route to power, and because men are for biological reasons on average bigger than women are, they had an overall advantage. As physical force slowly became less preeminent as a route to power, the patriarchal system developed ways to sustain itself. I'm not an anthropologist or anything so I could be completely off, but that explanation makes sense to me.

I agree, but I personally don't see this in my day-to-day life.

Well, first of all, some people do have to deal with it in their day-to-day life, and secondly, I suspect it's most evident among children, who will openly taunt boys who like to, say, design clothes or play with dolls as unmasculine. Childhood is also where these kinds of taunts are the most damaging, as children are much less likely to be secure and comfortable in their identity and much more likely to want to follow along with whatever will keep them popular. A boy who's taught early on that boys don't cry won't need shaming as an adult because he'll instinctively repress his emotions.

I think Jensen is describing a type of guy - perhaps 'alpha males' who work in sales or some other ultra-competitive market that demands these kinds of behavioural tendencies. It's a very simplistic view of half the population. I guess I'm saying: Jensen seems to be shoe-horning the entire male population into one stereotype profile. You do that, and your conclusions aren't going to be terribly useful.

I'm really having trouble seeing where Jansen paints the entire male population with any one brush. He doesn't, as far as I can see, suggest that all men are complicit in creating and furthering this harmful stereotype of masculitiy, just that all men are hurt by it.

Technocracygirl

I think Jensen is describing a type of guy - perhaps 'alpha males' who work in sales or some other ultra-competitive market that demands these kinds of behavioural tendencies.

Have you ever been called a "fag," or known someone who has? Did you ever particupate in a discussion about how much you/the men the group would a) like to do a girl or b) did a girl when you didn't want to treat said girl like a disposable object for your pleasure? Have you ever been told that you were a pussy for not doing something that you didn't want to do? Upon being told you were a pussy, did you do the thing you didn't want to do?

That's the competetive behavior Jensen is talking about. The overt and powerful dominance games that men are socialized to play in order to fit in. As Ted wrote above, it's a lot more overt during childhood, because that's when you're first learning to socialize. By the time you've reached adulthood, you've either learned to play the game or you're a homosocial outcast. Yes, there are men who play that game better and harder than many. But most men do it to one extent or another.

Toy Soldier

Have you ever been called a "fag," or known someone who has? Have you ever been told that you were a pussy for not doing something that you didn't want to do?

Many times, particularly by women whose sexual advances I ignored or rejected and especially when I have expressed apprehension or fear about doing something women believe “real” men would do. In fact, over the past few years my masculinity has been attacked far more often by women than by other males despite the fact that I associate primarily with males.

Of course Jensen fails to acknowledge that women and feminists often resort to attacking males’ sense of masculinity as a means of control and manipulation. He further misleads us to protect the inaccurate feminist notion that women experience more violence in our society. Those aspects of the system he does not wish to change, perhaps because it benefits the above mentioned groups to force males to “surrender part of their humanity.”

Hugo

Of course Jensen fails to acknowledge that women and feminists often resort to attacking males’ sense of masculinity as a means of control and manipulation. He further misleads us to protect the inaccurate feminist notion that women experience more violence in our society.

For heavens' sakes, Toy, if we men weren't so obsessed with rigidly protecting our fragile masculinity, we wouldn't "feel attacked" every time a woman expresses exasperation with our behavior.

Men do experience a great deal of violence, it's true -- but while both men and women are the victims of random assaults and drive-bys, the vast majority of perpetrators of that violence are, of course, men.

DaveTheRave

My guess would be that way back when as the human species evolved, physical force was the main route to power, and because men are for biological reasons on average bigger than women are, they had an overall advantage. As physical force slowly became less preeminent as a route to power, the patriarchal system developed ways to sustain itself. I'm not an anthropologist or anything so I could be completely off, but that explanation makes sense to me.

Ted, you're basically saying all countries employ a feudal system - the strongest maintain power, not those who are voted in. Are you saying all of the countries of the world are undemocratic?

Well, first of all, some people do have to deal with it in their day-to-day life, and secondly, I suspect it's most evident among children, who will openly taunt boys who like to, say, design clothes or play with dolls as unmasculine.

Well thinking back to being a kid, both boys and girls taunt boys and girls. The common denominator I found is if someone is different and stands out: anyone too fat, too tall, too small, too ugly, too quiet, too....ginger. It didn't really matter. Being homosexual is just one of those things that is different (therefore 'bad') to kids. There are kids taunting other kids about this who haven't even hit puberty, so you can see it's just about not being 'normal'. Look for the common denominator.

A boy who's taught early on that boys don't cry won't need shaming as an adult because he'll instinctively repress his emotions.

I think this is to do with the following configuration: men and women look over and protect children; men look over and protect women; there is no third gender to look over and protect men. We are taught to take care of ourselves (as men). These I believe are biological traits. Examples are men-only war drafts, women and children before men in the lifeboats etc. I don't think this is patriarchal, as in a conspiracy (i.e. men getting together, forming secret meetings) - I think it's patriarchal based on nature (i.e. chivalry is to a large degree, a natural tendency in men). By the way, I don't say this is RIGHT. I believe in equality and I think chivlary is an inadvertant inequality that punishes men (such as, as you say - men are taught that crying is weak, since you have to look after yourself).

I'm really having trouble seeing where Jansen paints the entire male population with any one brush. He doesn't, as far as I can see, suggest that all men are complicit in creating and furthering this harmful stereotype of masculitiy, just that all men are hurt by it.

I'm saying that most guys don't buy into this ultra-competitiveness. A type of man does - and hey, women do too - are you're telling me women can't be competitive? Examples abound.

DaveTheRave

Have you ever been called a "fag," or known someone who has?

Well a "fag" in the UK is a cigarette, so no.

Did you ever particupate in a discussion about how much you/the men the group would a) like to do a girl or b) did a girl when you didn't want to treat said girl like a disposable object for your pleasure? Have you ever been told that you were a pussy for not doing something that you didn't want to do? Upon being told you were a pussy, did you do the thing you didn't want to do?

Guys talk about girls and discuss how "hot" they are. Girls talk about guys and discuss how "hot" they are. This is nature. I see nothing wrong with it - it's a byproduct of sexual attraction. I haven't had the kind of 'rape fantasy' conversation I think you're alluding to, and don't know anyone who has.

Have you ever been told that you were a pussy for not doing something that you didn't want to do?

Not pussy, but I will certainly concede that boys (particularly boys here) egg each other on to take bigger and bigger physical risks and scold one another if they 'chicken out'. I see this a lot LESS in grown men. Guys I know talk about being 'set up for life' as a goal - this means taking quite conservative steps, like saving money, working hard, paying taxes, not breaking the law. You want to walk the line? Be a man supporting a family. See how many risks you can take, even post divorce. Like I say, these ultra-competitive alpha males aren't the norm (in my circles anyway).

For heavens' sakes, Toy, if we men weren't so obsessed with rigidly protecting our fragile masculinity, we wouldn't "feel attacked" every time a woman expresses exasperation with our behavior.

I think Toy Soldier is simply exasperated by the lies, not the attacks themselves.

DaveTheRave

I think Toy Soldier is simply exasperated by the lies, not the attacks themselves.

Actually, on reflection, TS's point is obvious: why do feminists use masculinity as a shaming tool while also saying that using masculinity as shaming tool is wrong?

Douglas, Friend of Osho

Hugo, if God helps those who help themselves, then I think you and to a lesser extent Jensen would do better to exhort women to move away from their fantasy worlds of bodice-rippers, pot (why is pot only a problem when men do it?) and ice cream by the pint in front of The Life Channel before asking men to refrain from the often understandable retreat into escapism.

Toy Soldier

For heavens' sakes, Toy, if we men weren't so obsessed with rigidly protecting our fragile masculinity, we wouldn't "feel attacked" every time a woman expresses exasperation with our behavior.

Your comment makes two points. One, the terms in question are simply descriptors of bad male behavior. Two, women can use those terms since they are trying to better male behavior. The former implies use of the terms is fair. The latter seems at odds with the notion that these terms are in fact harmful. Your comment also acts as justification for women to attack a male’s sense of dignity and self-esteem. Either the terms are harmful--regardless who uses them--or they are not. You cannot play it both ways because in the end you will only cause the harm you claim you wish to prevent.

Jeff

Dave the Rave: You make an unfounded leap or two when you go from a (dubious) observation about the behavior of some women who may or may not consider themselves feminists to "why do feminists do this?".

Vacula

Toy, what Hugo is referring to is an inability to accept any criticism without feeling "attacked". That may not be your problem, but your reply doesn't make it clear what "terms" you are referring to that pass some line between criticism and attack. Personal attacks are usually shut down pretty quickly on this blog. If they aren't on other feminist blogs that doesn't make all of feminism bitchy.

If a man's sense of dignity and self esteem depends on never being challenged, especially not by women, then it obviously isn't very strong. None of us has the "right" to never hear anything bad about ourselves so that we can feel good about ourselves. A strong person accepts that others will sometimes question their actions and beliefs and they are able to use such criticism to become a better person.

Douglas, I couldn't agree more about bodice-rippers, but I'm mystified by the reference to pot and I disagree completely about the ice cream. You can never have too much ice cream. :)

Jendi

Is Jensen saying that all gender-role differentiation is sexist? Because androgyny seems not only unrealistic, in light of human history, but also potentially just as shaming and confining a standard as traditional male-female roleplaying. A lot of women, myself among them, are attracted to a little bit of chivalry and big-tough-protector attitude in their men, as long as it's not patronizing. I learn a lot from living with a man because there are male personality differences and communication styles that differ from the houseful of women where I grew up. It would be a boring world if everyone was a sensitive new age guy. I've also known guys who hid behind egalitarianism to be damn cheap to their dates, and wallow in their own feelings. I don't think any one-size-fits-all model of gender roles is a substitute for being a grownup and respecting your partner.

Hugo

Jendi, I don't read Jensen that way. I love the word "role", as it implies an activity that is chosen (like an actor on the stage.) What Jensen rightly objects to are the forced roles so many assume. What of the men who don't want to play the role of protector? What of women who do have very real ambition for success outside of the domestic sphere? While roles comfort and please some, they strait-jacket others. I have no problem with folks choosing to "perform" "roles" that make them and their partners happy. I do have a massive problem with a culture that prescribes certain roles based solely on the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, irrespective of the infinite variety of human personalities.

Toy Soldier

…but your reply doesn't make it clear what "terms" you are referring to that pass some line between criticism and attack.

If you read my posts or Hugo’s initial post, the terms to which I am referring--and to which Hugo is justifying when women use them--are clear.

None of us has the "right" to never hear anything bad about ourselves so that we can feel good about ourselves. A strong person accepts that others will sometimes question their actions and beliefs and they are able to use such criticism to become a better person.

The same can be said of women, many of whom do not accept any criticism from males. However, there is a difference between calling a woman’s behavior sexist or bigoted (such as saying a male a fag because he is disinterested in sex) and calling her a bitch. The former is productive; the latter is a clear insult.

Toy Soldier

What of the men who don't want to play the role of protector?

Speaking as such a male, my option is very clear: I simply do not do it. Even if people mock me for it, I have the choice not to ascribe to what others want me to be and do. I face pressure from both normal society and feminists who demand that I behave in a certain way. But ultimately the choice is mines, not theirs.

DaveTheRave

Dave the Rave: You make an unfounded leap or two when you go from a (dubious) observation about the behavior of some women who may or may not consider themselves feminists to "why do feminists do this?".

You're quite right Jeff - I should rephrase my question:-

why do feminists who use masculinity as a shaming tool, also say that using masculinity as a shaming tool is wrong?

DaveTheRave

It would be a boring world if everyone was a sensitive new age guy.

Absolutely - and also many guys just don't find that role appealing in any case. It's just as bigoted for someone to say all men should reject the masculine stereotype as it is for someone to call a guy a 'fag' for not conforming to the masculine stereotype.

Phil Hoover-Chicago

Well, the "biblical model" for men is Jesus Christ Himself...and I see the "real man" in Him.

Not all these ultra-stereotypes that we have thrust upon us all the time.

Antigone

1) DavetheRave, all of those examples were man-made, not natural. And yes, most early societies were fuedal. They grew into democracies, and the patriarchy hung around.

2) ToySoldier: Give me names. I want names of these "feminist" who use masculine shaming devices, and links if you have them.

3)Douglas: when was the last time that sitting in front of the television with ice cream hurt anybody?

mythago

It's just as bigoted for someone to say all men should reject the masculine stereotype

You think it's a good idea for people to adopt stereotypes, instead of enjoying the activities and pastimes they like?

There's nothing at all wrong with a man who likes to drink beer and watch football with his buddies, say. That's quite a bit different than insisting women who enjoy the same things are unfeminine freaks, and men who don't enjoy those things are wimps or queers.

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