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WHEN FAITH GETS DANGEROUS
December 7, 2006 4:17 PM   Subscribe

GODMEN. "It's the wuss-ification of America that's getting us!" screeches Stine, 46. A moment later he adds a fervent: "Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"
posted by Sticherbeast (134 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sticherbeast - that's a register-to-view link, sad to say.
posted by tgrundke at 4:19 PM on December 7, 2006


Gack! Noted. Here's the bugmenot for the LA Times.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:22 PM on December 7, 2006


Hmm, I didn't encounter the registration wall when I clicked on the article, but maybe it's something to do with clicking on it from the main LA Times page (where it's listed for the time being under the National section) instead of the link in the FPP. Anyway, interesting article.
posted by blucevalo at 4:24 PM on December 7, 2006


Totally gay.
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2006


This is interesting. It reminds me of the chapter in Susan Faludi's book Stiffed where she writes about Promose Keepers, that in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, Protestant Christianity was becoming "feminized" and male church attendance was dropping, inspiring new "vigourous and masculine" ministries. GodMan is a much closer to that then Promise Keepers ever was, although it seems to me that at least some of the men in this article are having similar trouble as the men written about in Stiffed.
posted by Snyder at 4:54 PM on December 7, 2006


Heh. Yeah, fuck all that "love thy neighbor" shit. Let's "blow crap up" for Jesus!

Totally gay.

That does seem to be the angle, I guess.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2006


*crushes can of grape nehi on forehead*
posted by pyramid termite at 5:07 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Kind of sad...

"Fuck that love thy neighbor shit!"
posted by MythMaker at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2006


What the...

Huh?

Hmm...

Wha?...

SUCH in-your-face aggression at first troubles Howard Stephenson, who paid $68 for a day at GodMen in hopes of forging friendships with other Christian men.

Ah. There it is.
posted by interrobang at 5:18 PM on December 7, 2006


So Christain men have to spend $70 a day and go to these revival in order to feel OK with liking fart jokes?
posted by lekvar at 5:23 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yes. They're the stupidest people on the planet.
posted by interrobang at 5:25 PM on December 7, 2006


Totally gay.

That does seem to be the angle, I guess.


Yeah! Men who spend time with other men are total fags, hay guys amirite?
posted by Snyder at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2006


"He's been domesticated," says Roland Martinson, a professor of ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. "He's portrayed now as gentle, loving, kind, rather than as a full-bodied person who kicked over tables in the temple, spent 40 days in the wilderness wrestling with his identity and with God, hung out with the guys in the street. The rough-hewn edges and courage ... got lopped off."

This premise is wrong. Jesus was a tough motherfucker, but first and foremost, as bad as he could take it, his advice was to turn the other cheek. The fact that we was also human made him vulnerable to his passions (kicking over the moneychangers' tables), but he always held himself to a higher standard.

These guys just fucking don't.
posted by psmealey at 5:34 PM on December 7, 2006


That's the gayest thing I've ever seen...

Oh dammit, you all beat me to it.
posted by jokeefe at 5:37 PM on December 7, 2006


These guys just fucking don't.

I don't buy that. My gut about GodMan is that it is more or less a marketing idea. The men, however who go these kinds things come from all sorts of reasons, foremost among them being a need to fit in/be useful in ways that are felt to be less and less respected.
posted by Snyder at 5:39 PM on December 7, 2006


"Jesus was a very bad Christian"

This is about to make my mind explode worse than division by zero.
posted by thanatogenous at 5:40 PM on December 7, 2006


That's the gayest thing I've ever seen...

Oh dammit, you all beat me to it.


Fuckin' a. Just like all those dykes at the Women's Shelter, huh?
posted by Snyder at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2006


In fact, men taking charge is a big theme of the GodMen revival. At what he hopes will be the first of many such conferences, in a warehouse-turned-nightclub in downtown Nashville, Stine asks the men: "Are you ready to grab your sword and say, 'OK, family, I'm going to lead you?' "

*snicker*

Sword. Heh.

Stine's wife, Desiree, says she supports manly leadership; it seems to her the natural and God-ordained order of things. As she puts it: "When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me."

*chortles*

I mean, the snark, it writes itself.
posted by jokeefe at 5:42 PM on December 7, 2006


Snyder gets the gold star. methinks.
posted by konolia at 5:42 PM on December 7, 2006


There are just so many weird variants on "Christianity" in modern-day America that this is not particularly surprising or unexpected. Not long ago here on MeFi someone posted a link to some "pro wrestlers for Jesus" or some such. It goes on and on...

But the point that this professor of ministry Roland Martinson makes about the "domestication" of Jesus is, I think, an interesting one: "He's portrayed now as gentle, loving, kind, rather than as a full-bodied person who kicked over tables in the temple, spent 40 days in the wilderness wrestling with his identity and with God, hung out with the guys in the street. The rough-hewn edges and courage ... got lopped off."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2006


That's the gayest thing I've ever seen...

Oh dammit, you all beat me to it.

Fuckin' a. Just like all those dykes at the Women's Shelter, huh?


Oh, Snyder, if it's wrong to make fun of a bunch of men screaming, as one, "Thank God for my testosterone!" then I don't want to be right.
posted by jokeefe at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2006


Oh, Snyder, if it's wrong to make fun of a bunch of men screaming, as one, "Thank God for my testosterone!" then I don't want to be right.

Cool. Keep up with the facile and homophobic insults.
posted by Snyder at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2006


And here to (I hope, partially) make up for the aforementioned snarkage: Muscular Christianity.
posted by jokeefe at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2006


"When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me."
posted by wfc123 at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2006


My point is, if you really think this is an expression of repressed gayness, then you have an comically immature view of men, or if you just think it's funny to say that (possible) ideological opponents are fags, either way it dosen't reflect well on you.
posted by Snyder at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2006


Cool. Keep up with the facile and homophobic insults.

Snyder. Let's backtrack here. I'm sorry if I've caused offense to you or come across as homophobic. This is obviously a serious topic for you, and, believe it or not, it is for me, too. I have a lot of respect, actually, for the engagement with social change that I see in many men I know. Mostly, it's the religious angle here that I find laughable, not the quest for masculine identity itself.

Friends?
posted by jokeefe at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2006


Metafilter: when the rubber hits the bat.
posted by clevershark at 5:51 PM on December 7, 2006


And here to (I hope, partially) make up for the aforementioned snarkage: Muscular Christianity.

Cool. That's the stuff that I mentioned earlier. I'm only familiar with it from Faludi, and I misrememberd the name, I'll have to check that out.
posted by Snyder at 5:52 PM on December 7, 2006


Friends?

Yes, friends, certainly! You're right, I do have an interest in it, personal and academic, so I sometimes jump the gun when discussion seems to me more, "Hurr, men dumb!" I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions about your intentions. Again, that's an interesting book you linked to, I'll check it out.

So yes, friends. :)
posted by Snyder at 5:56 PM on December 7, 2006


Men who spend time with other men are total fags, hay guys amirite?

My gut about GodMan is that it is more or less a marketing idea.

Well, yeah. It's marketed to men who think that holding hands in church might make them touch another man and become gay *or* elicit repressed homosexual feelings. Right? From my own (childhood, perhaps long ago) experience, there are plenty of church groups that have (stereotypical) "manly" activities like hunting, sports, stock-car racing, etc. There's something else going on.

forging friendships with other Christian men

I also think it would be quite an attraction for Christians attracted to other men. God knows that your hot stud to hot-stud lovers ratio stinks at coed church.

On preview: I don't think it's *totally* about repressed homosexuality, but I think it's a factor.

It's also weird to me that they would charge money for it. I guess it's not a church, but an *organization*. I'm sure it's for tax/income reasons, but it still seems fishy to me. I wouldn't trust it.

(I only made it through the first few chapters of Stiffed, but you've prompted me to put it back in my queue ... as soon as I finish that stupid Against the Day ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2006


Did someone say muscular Christianity?
posted by mkb at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2006


I don't really understand any of these "reclaim your manhood" movements. I'm a man (that's easy enough to check) and I don't think that much of anything I could do would lessen that in any way. I can visit Cute Overload every day and I'll still know that I'm a man. The pastel backgrounds don't somehow cause my brain to reconfigure itself and cause my glands to produce estrogen instead of testosterone. I don't feel like I need to start a bar fight or shoot some animal or blow stuff up to remind me that I'm a man.

Am I missing a piece of the puzzle here?
posted by clevershark at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


Good. :)

Actually, it's amazing how much Stine's rhetoric is a direct echo of Muscular Christianity itself, right down to the fear of the ratio of men and women in the church pews:
Opposition to muscular Christianity in America never completely disappeared. But it did weaken in the aftermath of the Civil War, when changes in American society placed health and manliness uppermost in the minds of many male white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. These men, who included Social Gospel leaders such as Josiah Strong and politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt, viewed factors such as urbanization, sedentary office jobs, and non-Protestant immigration as threats not only to their health and manhood but also to their privileged social standing. To maintain that standing, they urged "old stock" Americans to revitalize themselves by embracing a "strenuous life" replete with athleticism and aggressive male behavior. They also called loudly upon their churches to abandon the supposedly enervating tenets of "feminized" Protestantism.

As evidence that there existed a "woman peril" in American Protestant churches, critics such as the pioneer psychologist G. Stanley Hall pointed to the imbalance of women to men in the pews. They also contended that women's influence in church had led to an overabundance of sentimental hymns, effeminate clergymen and sickly-sweet images of Jesus. These things were repellant to "real men" and boys, averred critics, who argued that males would avoid church until "feminized" Protestantism gave way to muscular Christianity, a strenuous religion for the strenuous life.
posted by jokeefe at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2006


Now that I think more about it, I do think it likely has a lot to do with gender roles (as did (do?) the Promise Keepers.)

If the Bible says that men should lead their wives, why are women and men treated equally at church? Shouldn't the men have extra special classes that train them how to lead? Makes sense to me, I suppose ...
posted by mrgrimm at 6:02 PM on December 7, 2006


Am I missing a piece of the puzzle here?

Well, I'd say you're missing the piece of the puzzle that would teach you to believe that men should have more power than women, and the frustration that results when you learn that's not how much of the world operates anymore.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:05 PM on December 7, 2006


Am I missing a piece of the puzzle here?

Not to jump to conclusions here, but check Stine's age: 46. I'm not sure how old you are, but I'm guessing that you're younger than your mid-forties? This is totally anecdotal, and I don't want to draw sweeping conclusions, but in my experience the younger men I know (under thirty) are less conflicted by certain types of anxiety around manhood than the men I know who are my age (47) or older. Just throwing that out there.
posted by jokeefe at 6:05 PM on December 7, 2006


I don't think the insults are meant to imply that being gay is bad--I think they're meant to imply that these men can't come to terms with their own sexuality, and that's bad. For some reason.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:06 PM on December 7, 2006


Well, I am in my mid-30s. Maybe this is the same sort of thing that makes men who have 10 years or so on me go out and buy sports cars...
posted by clevershark at 6:21 PM on December 7, 2006


Well, I'd say you're missing the piece of the puzzle that would teach you to believe that men should have more power than women, and the frustration that results when you learn that's not how much of the world operates anymore.

Well, men still have more power then women (unfortunately) but the problem is these men in particular feel emasculated. Lacking self-reflection they assume their situation is universal.

They desire male companionship, but are so homophobic themselves that they can only express masculine friendship by couching it in extreme macho trappings.
posted by delmoi at 6:26 PM on December 7, 2006


Somebody was clearly trying to make a point about repressed males in the article itself, Snyder. Take the last line

He'll be looking for a manly Christian hymn.

If that's not casting aspersions upon his orientation, I'm handing in my both my Scout Entendrecraft badges.

Clevershark: you totally stole my using cuteoverload while still being a bloke comment. I shall chastise you with this picture of two kittens in a beer mug.
posted by Sparx at 6:32 PM on December 7, 2006


And let's not forget to point out the underlying idea...that the presence/power/ of women somehow weakens men, and pollutes them, taking away their pure masculinity and replacing it with inferior/impure pseudo womanhood.

Which becomes more profoundly fucked up the more you think about it.
posted by emjaybee at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2006


Um ... so where's the picture of the kittens in the beer mug?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:41 PM on December 7, 2006


Um ... so where's the picture of the kittens in the beer mug?

Damn, I bet clevershark stole that too. Here's two kittens in two coffee mugs instead. Take that!
posted by Sparx at 6:49 PM on December 7, 2006


To a great extent, though, the desire these men have for "manliness" is also a reflection of the lack of manliness they experience in their day-to-day lives.

At its core, masculinity as our culture defines it is self-reliant, spontaneous, and courageous. Most of these men, I bet, are in positions where these qualities are actively discouraged and punished. Their "manhood" finds its expression through a pathetic mimicry of supposed manly qualities via consumer activities, e.g. going to one of these rallies.

Stiffed really is a great book.
posted by xthlc at 6:54 PM on December 7, 2006 [3 favorites]


A few weeks later, Stephenson, 43, is still not sold on profanity. But he has ditched the nice-guy reflex of always turning the other cheek. When he spots a Wal-Mart clerk writing "Happy Holidays" on a window, he boldly complains: It should say "Merry Christmas."

The clerk erases the offending greeting. Chalk one up for Christian testosterone.


This is good, because there's been a real shortage of Christians willing to impose their point of view on those around them, lately.
posted by BoringPostcards at 6:57 PM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


More Muscular Christianity.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:59 PM on December 7, 2006


Sparx writes "you totally stole my using cuteoverload while still being a bloke comment. I shall chastise you with this picture of two kittens in a beer mug."

Sorry, I definitely didn't see that one before (really).

I see your two kittens in two coffee mugs and raise you a soup-bowl of puppies.
posted by clevershark at 7:00 PM on December 7, 2006


s'ok, clevershark, it was either great minds thinking alike or fools never differing.

/derail

posted by Sparx at 7:10 PM on December 7, 2006


"It's testosterone-friendly," says Rick Caldwell, global director of the program. He urges chapter leaders to have NFL bloopers on the big screen when the men come in, and oldies or country-western on the radio. "No opening prayer. And for heaven's sakes, don't ask the guys to take the hand of the guys next to them. That scares them to death."

I'd also like to note that there's a seminar called "Training The Penis." That is all.
posted by EarBucket at 7:14 PM on December 7, 2006


You can't fool me. That's two kittens in two different coffee mugs.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:20 PM on December 7, 2006


"NOW YOU'RE A MAN!"

"A MAN, MAN, MAN!"

"NOW YOU'RE A MAN!"

Ad nauseum....
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2006


I'd also like to note that there's a seminar called "Training The Penis."

i can teach mine to play dead ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2006


Let's "blow crap up" for Jesus!

I'ma pop a cap in yo' ass fo' Jesus!

Crips for Christ
posted by bwg at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2006


I forwarded this thread to God. She couldn't stop snickering.
posted by rob511 at 8:04 PM on December 7, 2006


I thought muscular Christianity was Islam.
لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله.
posted by The White Hat at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2006


This makes my head spin a little.

Men who don't feel like their needs are met by traditional worship services can and should create an alternative. But this ain't it. Sooner or later, that one guy who ditched his overwhelmed wife and infant child to go camping with the boys is going to realize that being an irresponsible prick hasn't brought him any closer to God.

And it's pretty goddamned disingenuous for someone who earns a good living as a professional Christian to talk about the few episodes in the New Testament when Jesus lost his shit and knocked over tables without examining his reasons for doing so.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:43 PM on December 7, 2006


In The Reformation, Diarmaid MacCulloch notes in passing that, statistically speaking, Protestant worship has been "feminine" since the early seventeenth century or so. (From the opposite side of things, so-called "church papists" were usually a father conforming to the CofE and a mother maintaining the family's Catholic roots.) For that matter, Callum Brown hypothesizes that "Christian Britain" imploded because women--who were both the majority of churchgoers and the ones usually responsible for their children's religious education--lost faith in, well, the Faith.

That Clifford Putney article on muscular Christianity sidesteps a few issues, like the "asceticism" and "effeminacy" in question--that has to do with the rise of Anglo-Catholicism in the CofE and the growth of Roman Catholicism outside of it. This article is a little more detailed. I'm not sure that Kingsley--who, among other things, managed to write articles in support of women's political and educational rights--would quite recognize his brand of muscular Christianity in this twenty-first century version, however.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:44 PM on December 7, 2006


Can someone explain to me what the hell "when the rubber hits the bat" means?
posted by papakwanz at 9:53 PM on December 7, 2006


I believe it has something to do with spelunking and condom-flinging.
posted by tehloki at 9:56 PM on December 7, 2006


FUCK THE MEEK
posted by 2sheets at 10:00 PM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me what the hell "when the rubber hits the bat" means?

I believe it has something to do with spelunking and condom-flinging.


Whatever it is, it ain't pretty.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:07 PM on December 7, 2006


I think that American men are only as masculine as god intended them to be. Or is god a pussy?
posted by Titania at 10:11 PM on December 7, 2006


Plenty, plenty of people who aren't at all religious have the same cliched ideas about masculinity. This is a reflection of the larger American culture--and that doesn't just apply to the hinterlands.
posted by raysmj at 10:27 PM on December 7, 2006


Leaders don't even bring out the Bible until they're well into the curriculum; instead, they teach ideals of Christian manhood through Steve Martin movies

Which
ones?
posted by raysmj at 10:38 PM on December 7, 2006


This one. Possibly this one.

But not this one.
posted by Pinback at 10:52 PM on December 7, 2006


Many of you are really missing the mark on this whole "Godmen are gay" linkage. This is indeed about repressed sexuality, but hetero.

It is, quite simply, a way for these guys to think "Okay, I'm a real man now. Now my wife will respect me and I'll get to do what I want sexually."

That's it. Don't overcomplicate it.

This is about immasculated men trying to regain their manhood. The christian trappings just make it easier to sell (see 12 step programs).

"Take off your panties. I'm gonna fuck you for Jesus."
posted by Ynoxas at 11:01 PM on December 7, 2006


Back of my hand usually suffices. Jesus they love it rough.

"When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me." eh? What's for dinner bitch, oh and you're getting circumcised later.
posted by econous at 4:09 AM on December 8, 2006


> but the problem is these men in particular feel emasculated.
> Lacking self-reflection they assume their situation is universal.

If you dig this now, just wait until the current generation of male schoolkids--encouraged to act like girls rather than boys, then coerced, then medicated if coercion fails--gets out into the adult world and encounters the same old stereotypes of masculinity and start reaching for some unavailable self-respect. Society makes the bed it sleeps in.
posted by jfuller at 4:22 AM on December 8, 2006


I just realized who this reminds me of.
posted by EarBucket at 6:02 AM on December 8, 2006


jfuller writes "If you dig this now, just wait until the current generation of male schoolkids--encouraged to act like girls rather than boys, then coerced, then medicated if coercion fails--gets out into the adult world and encounters the same old stereotypes of masculinity and start reaching for some unavailable self-respect."

You are joking, yeah? one never knows...
posted by clevershark at 6:21 AM on December 8, 2006


Penis enhancement surgery would do so much good for a society of men who feel "unmanly."
Women get to have breast enhancement to feel more "womanly" so it's only fair.
posted by nofundy at 6:27 AM on December 8, 2006


If his past postings are any indication, I seriously doubt that jfuller is joking there clevershark.
posted by nofundy at 6:28 AM on December 8, 2006


jfuller, in his usual fashion, takes a small grain of truth: that overemphasis on safety, fake-politeness/togetherness and a somewhat deserved feminist backlash have made traditional masculinity somewhat embattled.

This can be an opportunity, though. Re-examining the meaning of 'masculinity' can keep us from throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Being a man dosen't mean you have to be homphobic and misogynist and it dosen't mean you have to lock yourself in a rigid box in terms of appearance and social behaviors. That's just fear.

On the other hand, certain aspects of traditional masculinity: word-is-bond dealings, respect for elders, being willing to protect those weaker than you, self-assertiveness, these are traits worth keeping. And hell, so's some of the old fashioned dumb guys stuff like roughhousing and girl-chasing.

The problem is, with all the social changes in gender roles a lot of straight guys are somewhat confused about where they fit in in all this and what the expectations of them are. and that creates a vacuum, and if more forward thinking people don't fill it, the promise keeper types will. Donna Minkowitz's Ferocious Romance contains an essay in which she (a militant lesbian feminist) disguises herself as a teenage boy and goes to a promise keeper rally. What she sees is interesting.
posted by jonmc at 7:09 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Any of this stuff is only relevant if you insist on defining yourself by other people's rules, though. It's only necessary if you're constantly obsessing about "what it means to be a man" and looking for some outside confirmation that what you're doing is somehow "virile enough".

In short, I think it's very silly.
posted by clevershark at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2006


It's only necessary if you're constantly obsessing about "what it means to be a man" and looking for some outside confirmation that what you're doing is somehow "virile enough".....I think it's very silly.

Well, I don't think it necessarily has to be. It's merely a subset of the question 'what does it mean to be a human?' I'll grant you that the Promise Keeper leaders approach is silly and cynically deployed for political gain.

But as a man, I feel kind of obligated to explore what that means and implies, both internally and externally. I should add that I feel obligated to explore what it means to be other kinds of people, too.
posted by jonmc at 8:13 AM on December 8, 2006


Snyder: It's not a case of "Hurr, men dumb!"; it is instead a clear-cut case of "hurr, these men dumb."

Let's take a look at one genius, stomping his foot about his weekend camping playdate:
She (his wife - ed.) was a little bit leery of it, as we have an infant," he reports. "She said, 'I need your help around here.' "

Miller, 26, refuses to yield: "I am supposed to be the leader of the family."
This guy thinks that being the "leader of the family" means abandoning them for the weekend to go drink beer and play in the woods. A leader leads first and foremost by example; and the example this guy is setting is piss-poor.

This is not a "warrior", this is a spoiled little boy who never grew up. People like this are not men at all.

This concept preys on some men's deep insecurity about their sexual identity - are they "manly" enough in the eyes of fellow men? A man who is secure in who he is does not need validation of his "manliness" from other insecure men, and he does not feel the need to conform to some stupid and arbitrary definition of "manliness" that includes making his wife a domestic servant. These desperate and small weaklings are trying to get a feeling of "empowerment" by indulging in and then excusing bad behavior as "godliness" and "manliness".

"Real men" do not constrain their self-expression to fart jokes, guns, and football.
posted by Mister_A at 8:22 AM on December 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


This whole thing is so ridiculous I almost love it.

However:

"Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down."

If the entire movement does nothing else but to propigate this idea, I will consider it a rousing success. Seriously ladies.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:25 AM on December 8, 2006


Any of this stuff is only relevant if you insist on defining yourself by other people's rules, though. It's only necessary if you're constantly obsessing about "what it means to be a man" and looking for some outside confirmation that what you're doing is somehow "virile enough".

Well, I think you're underplaying how much identification people tend to have with their gender, and how much traditional masculinity is deningrated in mainstream American culture, outside of a few acceptable areas (action movies, frex.) Even there it less traditional masculinity then a kind of super-individualism.

xthlc and jonmc both mention positive aspects of American masculinity, I'd also say that a big chunk of that is making a positive impact on the group, of doing useful work, whether that be your family, town, business or country. And when that is denigrated, or dismissed, or not available, many men will begin to feel that, for whatever reason, they are either: A) Being oppressed or downgraded for the masculinity, or B)Feeling that they are not living up to their masculine roles, and I think most of the time, it's a combination of both.
posted by Snyder at 8:34 AM on December 8, 2006


"He's portrayed now as gentle, loving, kind, rather than as a full-bodied person who kicked over tables in the temple, spent 40 days in the wilderness ...The rough-hewn edges and courage ... got lopped off."

Because, of course, it doesn't take courage to be gentle, loving and kind.

as bad as he could take it, his advice was to turn the other cheek.

Actually IIRC, perhaps from a sermon in my Methodist church, that parable may have been mistranslated and there's a little more to it. Something about a misinterpretation of an idiom - that offering someone your left or right cheek meant different things.

Of course, that sermon was given by a female minister, so what did she know, hey boys?

And jeez, I kow this is the MeFi Young Nerd Club, but could we be more ageist? I'm sure that the Rush/ O'Reilly and rap music demographics - which all reflect this kind of thinking in other ways - includes 30ish-and-under guys.

Meanwhile, I've known men whose ages are now 40-something to 80-something who've had to prove their mettle through life's *real* challenges (poverty, early deaths of parents, wartime military service, raising a family). And they never needed to fill some weird gap in their psyche with hunting or loud fast cars or this kind of braggadocio or worse.


(It's kind of like the difference between HW and W.)
posted by NorthernLite at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2006


"I get tired of trying to maintain that Christian persona," he says. "I hate that sense of decorum. I hate thinking, 'Boy, I hope I don't say the wrong thing.' "

Oh, man. I sure want to go to heaven, but that acting like a christian shit? THAT SUCKS.

All of this - it's all repressed behaviors they're struggling to justify, so they can lessen the cognitive dissonance they feel. They want to call themselves christians, and be accepted as such, but rather than, you know, ACT LIKE A CHRISTIAN, they redefine what it means to be a christian man. All so they can talk about blowjobs and use "fuck" without feeling guilty.
posted by god hates math at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2006


Snyder, what you've said above is reasonable, but that does not seem to be what "Godmen" is about. It seems to me that these guys are learning to justify strutting around like the cock of the walk, not how to be leaders. I didn't read anything in the article about doing anything constructive, and I read a lot about being selfish and boorish and calling it "godliness".

And here's the thing - I have no problem with a little boorishness. I think it's OK to enjoy farting and playing sports. I'm cool with that. It's not OK (in my book) to call yourself a "leader" and then run away from your responsibilities. These guys are trying on a super-macho posture, or drag, but they do not seem, to me, to be acting like "real men". Want to do useful work? Don't go running around the woods with your friends, build a house or something. Want to be a leader? Start at home; if that's not enough run for office or work at the youth league or coach the T-ball team.
posted by Mister_A at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2006


Meanwhile, I've known men whose ages are now 40-something to 80-something who've had to prove their mettle through life's *real* challenges (poverty, early deaths of parents, wartime military service, raising a family). And they never needed to fill some weird gap in their psyche with hunting or loud fast cars or this kind of braggadocio or worse.

I think that's the point. These men haven't had those kinds of challanges, and our culture right now is tending to deningrate or eliminate the other kind of "men's work" that is traditional, so these men are looking for other kinds of masculine roles, silly or otherwise.


Snyder, what you've said above is reasonable, but that does not seem to be what "Godmen" is about. It seems to me that these, guys are learning to justify strutting around like the cock of the walk, not how to be leaders. I didn't read anything in the article about doing anything constructive, and I read a lot about being selfish and boorish and calling it "godliness".


Well, I'd have to know a bit more abot GodMan to have a final opinion on it, but yeah, it does seem rather superficial, pointing out the weakness of men's roles in religion and secular life, but engaging in more of a superficial "explosions and football," mentality of masculinity. I could be wrong, but that what it seems to me, so I agree with you there, to an extent.

I think the reason many men go to these things, however, is that on some level they feel that American masculinity is incredibly weak and shallow, and are looking for a way they can be proud to be men. Right now, masculinity tends to me exemplified as a "Dur, beer and boobs, men are simple folk who understand only cars and sports, and are borderline, if not totally, incompotent at everything else." As a straight & drinking guy, I enjoy boobs and beer as much as anyone else, but that is not my sole identity, but it often seems as if it should be.

I think that, thanks to feminism and women who worked hard, that, in America, femininity, as a gender role, is much deeper and more faceted the American masculinity. I think men are, in many ways, in a similar situation that many women were in the 1950's, with a scarcity of alternative or deep forms of masculinity, but that men, for whatever reason, have not been able to build a movement similar to feminism to create new or deepen existing gender roles.
posted by Snyder at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2006



So Christain men have to spend $70 a day and go to these revival in order to feel OK with liking fart jokes?


Wow. My wife and I already do this for free.

Also: God Hates Match nails it in one comment.
posted by davejay at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2006


John Knox would be proud. Or less ashamed, anyhow. But then again, they buried that guy under a parking lot. So these fellas better be careful.
posted by washburn at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2006


Snyder writes "Well, I think you're underplaying... how much traditional masculinity is deningrated in mainstream American culture"

I have to say... HUH?!?

Maybe I'm misreading this, but you gotta be kidding. The bulk of the denigration of masculinity in American society is made up by marketers to get you to spend money stupidly, like, say, on a Hummer, or on a $70-a-day "retreat" so you can sit with a bunch of other guys around a campfire and beat your chest yelling "booga booga".

Come one people. Turn off the TV and have a good look at reality. You know, the thing outside the windows that doesn't feature ads every 12 minutes.
posted by clevershark at 9:52 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


> jfuller writes "If you dig this now, just wait until the current generation of male schoolkids
> --encouraged to act like girls rather than boys, then coerced, then medicated if coercion fails--
> gets out into the adult world and encounters the same old stereotypes of masculinity and start
> reaching for some unavailable self-respect."
>
> You are joking, yeah? one never knows...
> posted by clevershark at 9:21 AM EST on December 8


Nope, not joking and in fact correct.

For those who'd rather have an executive summary than click on a link, it's a four year old boy, punished in school for ""inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment." Oh yes indeed it's true, the ones who now have charge of kids hate anything that remotely reminds them of maleness with glaze-eyed passion. That extended experience of being disliked and devalued for what they are is the baggage today's boys will be bringing with them when they become the men of tomorrow.

I am of course aware that this will be meaningless to most of the technically-XY folk here, they having already had their Newberry knife encounter in the remote past and now being as mild as cottage cheese.
posted by jfuller at 9:54 AM on December 8, 2006


jfuller writes "I am of course aware that this will be meaningless to most of the technically-XY folk here"

So, would you like to bang your dick on the table some more?
posted by clevershark at 10:04 AM on December 8, 2006


One article outlining an incident in Waco, Texas does not make for the best general social indicator. I could point you to the high school teacher I came across recently in Louisiana (not a native) who is not particularly girly, who apparently never wears anything but pants and jeans and who talks about how she used to work in a bar in a tough African-American neighborhood and blah blah but who came off to me as having mind-blowingly stereotypical ideas about masculinity, about what a man is. That would be just as good a social indicator regarding public schools as the Waco article, which is a case of finding evidence to fit your thesis.
posted by raysmj at 10:06 AM on December 8, 2006


Hey jfuller, when I go to a client to show them the problem with what they want to do, I also bring a solution. What's your solution? I do not share your perception of the problem here, but am keen to hear your solution.

Also, the example of the 4-year-old you cited above is news because events like this are extremely rare. N=1 is too small a sample size for sweeping generalizations, don't you agree?

Finally, please regale us with some tales of fullerene manliness. I am, I suppose, only "technically" xy in your book, and would like to know how to be more manly.
posted by Mister_A at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2006


I have to say... HUH?!?

Maybe I'm misreading this, but you gotta be kidding. The bulk of the denigration of masculinity in American society is made up by marketers to get you to spend money stupidly, like, say, on a Hummer, or on a $70-a-day "retreat" so you can sit with a bunch of other guys around a campfire and beat your chest yelling "booga booga".

Come one people. Turn off the TV and have a good look at reality. You know, the thing outside the windows that doesn't feature ads every 12 minutes.


I have no idea what you're trying to say. Are you saying there is denigration, but it dosen't really exist in "reality," or what?
posted by Snyder at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2006


All of this and no "Respect the cock!". Damn, you people are slipping. This GodMen thing only serves to prove that you can slap the Christian label on anything and make money from it. Next up: JesusSluts - "Using your vagina to conquer the World for God." Oh,wait, the Children of God already did that.
posted by MikeMc at 10:14 AM on December 8, 2006


OH yea, metaphor metafilter - I don't get "glaze-eyed" passion. In common parlance, the eyes glaze when one is bored. Try "steely-eyed determination" or the ever-popular "wild-eyed passion", you fucking hack.
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on December 8, 2006


Snyder writes "I have no idea what you're trying to say. Are you saying there is denigration, but it dosen't really exist in 'reality,' or what?"

I just plain don't think it exists in reality.

The advertising world spares no expense in trying to make you believe that it does, though. Basic insecurity is a great motivator in getting people to buy stuff.
posted by clevershark at 10:17 AM on December 8, 2006


I think that's the point. These men haven't had those kinds of challanges, and our culture right now is tending to deningrate or eliminate the other kind of "men's work" that is traditional, so these men are looking for other kinds of masculine roles, silly or otherwise.

This is interesting and actually insightful. This is at the core of a lot of difficulties surrounding masculinity, more than any feminist backlash. Having too much to prove and no way to prove it has made many a young man do some stupid shit.
posted by jonmc at 10:22 AM on December 8, 2006


The bulk of the denigration of masculinity in American society is made up by marketers to get you to spend money stupidly

I think he means ads such as that for TGI Friday's, where a guy is looked at by friends as a pussy for ordering vegetables, etc. The models for maculinity in America were once fairly different-see, say, Frank Sinatra crooning about love and dressing to the nines (whilst also getting smackered and often generally acting like a complete asshole, certainly) and even wearing pink occasionally (his answer to a query regarding whether men can wear pink was something to the effect of, "It's just a color."). Check out how Edward R. Morrow smokes in "Good Night and Good Luck" (hand raised, nearly parallel to his chin) and compare to the Marlboro Man-ish way men smoke today, and tell me the marketing of "masculinity" doesn't work.
posted by raysmj at 10:22 AM on December 8, 2006


jfuller writes "I am of course aware that this will be meaningless to most of the technically-XY folk here"

Don't get 'technical' with me, jfuller. Wrong target.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on December 8, 2006


I still say this is a problem of "Little Man Syndrome" and I ain't talking about just the vertically challenged.

As for "technically-XY"s, I'm betting many of those here can easily kick "for real and true manly" jfuller's butt. Any takers?
posted by nofundy at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2006


I would, nofundy, but I'd rather read poetry and sip my mojito.

(for real, jfuller, I love dumb guy stuff as much as anyone possibly could (and so do most women I know to be fair) but don't try so hard.)
posted by jonmc at 10:28 AM on December 8, 2006


"technically-XY" is the faggiest expression I've ever heard, moreso than "GodMen."

All dick measuring aside, any suggestions for GodMen's Law?
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2006


The first rule of GodMen is, you do not talk about GodMen!

Rule 2, no pooftahs!
posted by clevershark at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2006


I was briefly sucked into a group like this via the ex's interest in "finding Christ". As a 30+ year old man I had nearly a decade on most of the others which, along with being a serious agnostic, provided some interesting insights. The other men in the group were all obsessively concerned about establishing a masculine presence in the home that I often wondered at the time if it was their relative youthful inexperience or over-compensation for some insecurity. They constantly referred to this Jesus-as-a-badass figure and modeling their lives in that mold. Not to mention they had this unhealthy idolization of Mel Gibson (à la Braveheart—Passion had not yet been released though I'm sure the movie did nothing to quell their enthusiasm).

At the culmination of some church-driven small-group course of study involving reading Wild At Heart we were all supposed to go out on some winter survival camping adventure. The funny result being that none of them had a whole lot of camping experience, much less cold weather survival. Needless to say, the good lord didn't provide and they crapped out at about 3 am the first night even though it was only South-Central Indiana. God forbid we'd go somewhere truly challenging. I had a nice quiet January weekend out in the Hoosier National Forest though.

All of this to say, in my experience the types of men attracted to this kind of folderol are neither dangerous nor prepared to live courageously. It is almost hazardous to these people's continued existence to get them all pumped up with unfounded self-confidence. It's dilettantism w/r/t bravery and really does seem like a way to justify boorish behavior in terms of traditional domestic gender roles. The gentlemen seemed earnest, just slightly misdirected. An impression reinforced after reading about GodMen.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


All of this - it's all repressed behaviors they're struggling to justify, so they can lessen the cognitive dissonance they feel. They want to call themselves christians, and be accepted as such, but rather than, you know, ACT LIKE A CHRISTIAN

Here's the thing-- in so far as people are mentioning the fact that men who haven't had to face challenges in life are trying to "fill the void," isn't trying to "act like a Christian" a pretty big challenge to face? Isn't this a struggle? It seems that a preacher trying to appeal to men's "masculine side" would want not to create an opportunity for men to "let it all hang out," but try to appeal to their sense of masculinity and need for a challenge by setting Christianity up as an spiritual struggle to be conquered.

Of course, no one wants to pay $70 to be told to shape up. Everyone would rather spend money to be told how acting like they want to act is just fine.
posted by deanc at 10:46 AM on December 8, 2006


Everyone would rather spend money to be told how acting like they want to act is just fine.

Acting the way you want to act is just fine.

Gimme my fuckin' money.
posted by jonmc at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2006


that second to last sentence should read:

The gentlemen in my group seemed earnest enough though,...
posted by Fezboy! at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2006


[deguised as Father Brown, Jim is asked to give a speech to the town. He reads from a brochure stuck in his Bible that says "An Encounter with a Bear"]

Jim: Have you ever felt alone, with no one to rely on? Danger on every hand, in a world fraught with danger, and when I looked into my pocket, what did I find? What did I find?

[flips the brochure over - it's an ad for guns]

Jim: Nothing. There's nothing there. It's all in your head. Look, they can take the money from you. They can take the position from you. People turn their back on you. Everything happens to everybody! And you ain't gonna find nothing in your pocket to stave it off. Nothing can stave it off! Power doesn't do it. Because you never have enough. Money? I don't know. You know anyone who's got enough money?

[holds up his Bible]

Jim: Is God good? I don't know. All I know is... something may give you comfort. And maybe you deserve it. If it comforts you to believe in God, then you do it. That's your business.
posted by concreteforest at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I just had a look at Cute Overload, and sometimes I get the impression that they're starting to cater to the male demographic. I don't know exactly what it is but it's just an idea I get.
posted by clevershark at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2006


clevershark: thank you
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on December 8, 2006


Re-examining the meaning of 'masculinity' can keep us from throwing the baby out with the bathwater....On the other hand, certain aspects of traditional masculinity: word-is-bond dealings, respect for elders, being willing to protect those weaker than you, self-assertiveness, these are traits worth keeping.

These are traits I want in any person, not just those of a specific gender. It's time to outgrow the use of terms such as 'masculine' to define traits or behaviors that do not actually require a specific set of genitalia.
posted by jsonic at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


> Don't get 'technical' with me, jfuller. Wrong target.

jon, I said "most" in the interest of accuracy, specifically to avoid tarring you with the rest.


> So, would you like to bang your dick on the table some more?

Heh. Angry cottage cheese, you don't see that every day.
posted by jfuller at 1:44 PM on December 8, 2006


On the other hand, certain aspects of traditional masculinity: word-is-bond dealings, respect for elders, being willing to protect those weaker than you, self-assertiveness, these are traits worth keeping.

I think you are reading too much into these guys.
From the article: He also distributes a list of a real man's rules for his woman. No. 1: "Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down."

Looks like a bunch of ignorant immature assholes to me. They are tired of being told not to burp in front of others, and not to chase anyone with boogers, so they're are off to build a little tree house in the back yard where they can play with toy guns, stomp on frogs, set shit on fire and sniff each-other's farts in peace. Hoo-ha, christian men!
posted by c13 at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2006


Can someone explain to me what the hell "when the rubber hits the bat" means?

That's what happens when the shit hits the road
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Complain about "Happy Holidays" signs and toilet seats all you want. It's small consolation for knowing you'll never have as big a dick as I have.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2006


jfuller writes "Heh. Angry cottage cheese, you don't see that every day."

You're not seeing it now either. Much as it pains me to have to point it out, I was laughing at you.
posted by clevershark at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2006


I, personally, would wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "Technically XY" and stuff it with kittens in order to make cuteoverload's cats'n'racks section. But that's just me. I have no idea what God's opinion on the matter would be.
posted by Sparx at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2006


So, would you like to bang your dick on the table some more?

Heh. Angry cottage cheese,
[spraying all over the table] you don't see that every day.

Thanks be to live yogurt.
posted by econous at 3:44 PM on December 8, 2006


A few weeks later, Stephenson, 43, is still not sold on profanity. But he has ditched the nice-guy reflex of always turning the other cheek. When he spots a Wal-Mart clerk writing "Happy Holidays" on a window, he boldly complains: It should say "Merry Christmas."

The clerk erases the offending greeting. Chalk one up for Christian testosterone.


Why can't people understand:

Employers telling their employees that they must use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" = political correctness gone mad.

Shops voluntarily putting up "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" = a considerate attempt to be inclusive.

This guy really did ditch the nice-guy reflex. Asshole.
posted by SBMike at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2006


that offering someone your left or right cheek meant different things.

There was a great article about that a while back which I thought was linked from here, but I can't find it now, though there are dozens of general / brief links about it out there - basically the idea was that a backhanded slap is demeaning, but an open handed slap would be a recognition of equality, and in a society where use of the left hand was forbidden, offering your left cheek would be saying, ok, now hit me as an equal, not an inferior.

Anyway. Re: the 'masculinity' thing, I've got to say, once again, choose to embody whatever qualities you consider important, not the ones that are attributed to some subgroup of humanity to which you happen to belong. Are those 'good' traits of masculinity off limits for women? Why not fulfill your potential as a thinking thing, or as the unique individual you are, rather than as male or white or american or dark-haired or whatever other predicate might apply?

If traditional masculinity is losing ground, I would bet that has at least as much to do with the rise of geekdom as it does any kind of feminist overspill. Rugged hunters and burly protectors are actually culturally less beneficial when technology can better handle many of the issues they were good at taking on straightforwardly. In the modern age, someone who can program a security system is probably more useful in increasing survival than someone who pumps iron. I'm not saying the utilitarian value to society translates directly into cultural promotion, but I'd imagine it has some impact over time, consciously or not.
posted by mdn at 4:24 PM on December 8, 2006 [2 favorites]


If traditional masculinity is losing ground, I would bet that has at least as much to do with the rise of geekdom as it does any kind of feminist overspill. Rugged hunters and burly protectors are actually culturally less beneficial when technology can better handle many of the issues they were good at taking on straightforwardly. In the modern age, someone who can program a security system is probably more useful in increasing survival than someone who pumps iron. I'm not saying the utilitarian value to society translates directly into cultural promotion, but I'd imagine it has some impact over time, consciously or not.

I think it's less that, and more as we move towards a more service economy, with the remenants of the discarded middle-managment and industrial workers of the 1990's. Someone who builds a car or programs a...program can, at the end of the day, say "I helped make this," while one of the more superfluous managers or service employees have less to show for it, and in certain areas, are more disposable and less integral to the process. This, I think has a lot do to with the "crisis of masculinity." Less, "big strong male moves things" vs. "geeky pale computer geek" and more "My particular work is useful and integral," vs "I am a very replacable and possibly irrelevant cog in a machine, and everyone knows it."
posted by Snyder at 5:00 PM on December 8, 2006


In the modern age, someone who can program a security system is probably more useful in increasing survival than someone who pumps iron.

Welll . . . yeah. I agree with you. This is an accurate portrayal of how things actually work in the opening years of the 21st century. But our consciouness isn't oriented towards the 21st centuryi; it's stuck in the stone age. Back then, brute physical force counted.

So the guy who can pump iron, cop a macho attitude, etc. gets the nookie.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:14 PM on December 8, 2006


(snark)

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR MY PENIS!

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR MY TESTICLES!

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR MY PROSTATE!

THANK YOU, LORD, FOR MY COWPER'S GLANDS!

ALL OF THE ABOVE SPURTING BIG MANLY WADS OF JIZZM INTO WILLING VAGINAS TO MAKE LITTLE JASON'S_PLANETS!

ALLELUJAH!

(/snark)
posted by jason's_planet at 7:18 PM on December 8, 2006



> Don't get 'technical' with me, jfuller. Wrong target.

jon, I said "most" in the interest of accuracy, specifically to avoid tarring you with the rest.


jfuller: if you're looking for a new macho poster boy, look elsewhere. There's plenty of things that would make my "XY"-ness suspect to you and these Godmen clowns. I've been know to read poetry and watch soap operas and the Gilmore Girls and like it. I think Bust magazine is brilliant. I have a larger earring collection than my wife. My wife also makes more money than me. I think being a stay-at-home dad would be fun. But, I still pretty sure, I'm all man. Making gender roles so strict is a straightjacket for all involved.

As the holy bible of cinema said:

"Being willing to the right thing, no matter the cost, is that what makes a man?"

"Well, that and a pair of testicles."
posted by jonmc at 5:45 AM on December 9, 2006


he has ditched the nice-guy reflex of always turning the other cheek

Ok, so he's a prick. Great. Is that what Jesus would do? Seriously, there's nothing worse than being around a guy who thinks he has to be assertive or alpha in practically every situation. It turns nearly every encounter into a potential fight, traffic accident or pathetic pissing contest.

So the guy who can pump iron, cop a macho attitude, etc. gets the nookie.

Bullshit. Women are as varied in what they find attractive as men. For every women that is turned on by a muscle-bound alpha male, there is at least one that is attractive to the sensitive pony tail guy, or the reliable family man.
posted by psmealey at 6:59 AM on December 9, 2006


For every women that is turned on by a muscle-bound alpha male, there is at least one that is attractive to the sensitive pony tail guy, or the reliable family man.

Yes, but do you seriously think these guys actually meet enough women to know that?
posted by c13 at 7:33 AM on December 9, 2006


My favorite line from the article:

Hold hands with strangers? Sing love songs to Jesus?

Loving Jesus, that would be bad. Real men do not love dudes.

He also distributes a list of a real man's rules for his woman. No. 1: "Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down."


Oh man, I soooo want a copy of "The Real Man's Rules For His Woman."

Rule #2: At night when you fall on your knees for Jesus, don't forget your man.

Rule #3 If there isn't a six pack in the refrigerator, don't expect to find me at home.

Rule #4 All that "feelings" and stuff you want to talk about? Save that shit for Jesus.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:38 AM on December 9, 2006


Coughlin and others in the manly Christian movement are unconvinced. Promise Keepers still emphasizes obedience and purity. (Those wusses!)

GodMen is his attempt to encourage men to get real. His speakers admit to masturbation and adultery


Dear Godmen,
I never thought this would happen to me, but there was this really hot little piece of office in my office....
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:08 AM on December 9, 2006


Am I the only one who read the post, did a double take, and then noticed that I misread "Stine" as "Stipe"?
posted by concrete at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2006


more "My particular work is useful and integral," vs "I am a very replacable and possibly irrelevant cog in a machine, and everyone knows it."

but what would make this an issue of masculinity? Wanting to be integral to society, and still unique, rather than just another expendable copy of the current model, is something all modern humans deal with. But being tough, strong, a "protector", etc, is specifically associated with being male as opposed to being female. Your example could be a general explanation for increased levels of anxiety and depression across the population, or something like that, but does not shed light on issues of gender identity.

So the guy who can pump iron, cop a macho attitude, etc. gets the nookie.

I said, insofar as traditional masculinity is on the way out, which was the premise of this discussion. If traditional masculinity is in trouble, I think it could have something to do with a variety of cultural shifts, not just feminism. If it's not in danger, then the point is moot, but apparently some people think it is.
posted by mdn at 6:40 PM on December 9, 2006


If traditional masculinity is losing ground, I would bet that has at least as much to do with the rise of geekdom as it does any kind of feminist overspill. Rugged hunters and burly protectors are actually culturally less beneficial when technology can better handle many of the issues they were good at taking on straightforwardly.

If traditional masculinity is in trouble, I think it could have something to do with a variety of cultural shifts


I agree 100%. But I think that a lot of people out there are not getting that particular memo. So while you the point you make is very valid -- that the alpha-male, thuggish mentality is actually counterproductive in most of contemporary life -- our brains are, on some level, stuck in that period when brute force was very useful.

I'd like to add that geekdom and the arts on which it rests are all products of a technological infrastructure that is itself a product of a particular social order, an order which is more fragile than we like to think.

Consider Katrina and the breakdown that occurred in New Orleans. In such an environment, what good are the security skills of which you speak?
posted by jason's_planet at 10:58 PM on December 9, 2006


And what good is brute force via muscles in post-Katrina New Orleans when those you oppose have guns and are familiar with the urban environment (this ain't the forest, so your hunting and gathering skills are useless)? Also, please recall that the military commander who came in to finally bring some semblance of order to the city told his men to stop pointing their rifles at civilians, to stand down and treat civilians in a civilized, polite manner. Stereotypically cowboy-ish behavior would, in that case, have been completely counterproductive, even if the vibe of confidence and protectiveness of a sort traditionally identified as male (I'm thinking it's a good guess that some National Guard and military people were female) was by all accounts welcomed.

I find you bringing up NOLA here interesting given that there are people here, particularly in the suburbs, who think that crime can be fought via classic law-and-order means and racial profiling, etc. What works better (along with realizing that crime is connected to eduction, economic development, etc.) is community policing, but it's not particularly macho, given that it requires not only strength, but intelligence and the occasionally fitting into a role not all that different than that of a social worker. Fighting crime also takes political skills from civic leadership in re to community mobilization, increasing trust between law enforcement and officialdom and the citizenry, etc.

For a larger-scale look at where unrestrained machismo gets society in today's world, please see Iraq.
posted by raysmj at 1:18 PM on December 10, 2006


And technology, had it be used in the same manner used to keep up with bird migration patterns and whatnot, would have been highly useful in helping keep family members together, which FEMA failed miserably at. For further evidence of the use of technology in the response to Katrina, please consult any of a dozen or so Katrina books regarding the Coast Guard's use of satellite mapping technology in discovering which areas were heavily flooded and which not in deciding where to send rescue teams first.
posted by raysmj at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2006


I don't think you've adequately addressed the point I was making.

The point I was making was that large portions of our brains haven't outgrown the Stone Age. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not celebrating that fact or portraying aggression as more natural or positive than civilized behavior.

mdn is right to say that this kind of mentality is counter-productive and inappropriate in today's world. I agree with her. But the demonic aspects of our nature are still with us, no matter how much we would like to wish them away. They should be suppressed, of course, and channeled into civilized pursuits. But they'll always be with us.

I also noted that the civilization that allows us to sublimate those urges is more fragile than we like to think. If geekdom can sideline traditional masculinity, geekdom itself depends on a very recently constructed technological infrastructure, one that is vulnerable to social disruption. Human nature hasn't quite adjusted to this new world.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:49 PM on December 10, 2006


I was responding (excluding the Iraq part) as much to the NOLA case example in making your case as your point per se, frankly. The catastrophe in New Orleans was only partly about social disruption and, again, pure brawn would never have gotten the city out of that situation on its own. You're not talking about a back-to-nature situation there, for there was still the dense urban environment to contend with, modern weaponry, oil spills and slicks, gas breaks, the works.

What the catastrophe was more about was a natural forces, combined with a failure of technological design. Engineering geekdom was needed more beforehand! Pay more attention this design and to environmental management, as well as the social and political failures that led to the "social" disruption, and you soften the impact of natural forces. Unfortunately, that lesson isn't being taken nearly enough to heart, particularly, in New Orleans, DC or anywhere else in the country.

If you want to talk about a dating situation, that's a different story. But I don't understand why you think that technology and intelligence of a non-genedered were needed less in post-Katrina New Orleans, for that's far beyond true. They were needed more, no matter what anyone's reptile brain was telling him or her.
posted by raysmj at 5:55 PM on December 10, 2006


It has occurred to me that I could have expressed this idea:

So the guy who can pump iron, cop a macho attitude, etc. gets the nookie.

a little more elegantly. I was quite drunk at the time I posted this and perhaps not expressing myself as thoughtfully as I usually do.

I guess I was trying to say that, although we might like to think that we've moved beyond the level of brute force, of rigid gender roles, there are aspects of our nature, our psychology that do not incline in this direction and are pretty damed atavistic.

Anyway. Re: the 'masculinity' thing, I've got to say, once again, choose to embody whatever qualities you consider important, not the ones that are attributed to some subgroup of humanity to which you happen to belong.

I agree with you that this is what people *should* do; I'm just not sure how much of a choice they have.

I apologize for the coarse and inappropriate language I used.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:38 PM on December 10, 2006


but what would make this an issue of masculinity? Wanting to be integral to society, and still unique, rather than just another expendable copy of the current model, is something all modern humans deal with. But being tough, strong, a "protector", etc, is specifically associated with being male as opposed to being female. Your example could be a general explanation for increased levels of anxiety and depression across the population, or something like that, but does not shed light on issues of gender identity.


I wasn't clear on why I brought that up. I think it's a male gender role issue because the "useful work" part of the equation has become more and more deemphasised, culturally, in post war America. This is combined with a changing economy that indeed effects everyone, but effects many men in a particular way, because of the way it interacts with the current dominant male gender role.

Male gender roles are still heavily based on "what you do," but "do" has been confluenced with "consume." This is not unique to men, but the increase of female as consumer role has parralled with the rise of 20th century feminism, that either intentionally or unintentionally created female gender roles that are either orthoginal, irrelevant, or hostile to consumerism, while the male as consumer role has subsumed the more traditional "do-er" role.

This, however, is an empty one, and so many men will seek ways to supplement it, some by attempting to reinforce certain aspects of the older role, some by celebrating or acentuating aspects of the current one, "take no shit, be tough, vulgar humor, etc," or some other method. For reasons I don't really understand, but have some theories on, men have not developed a movement or theory, similar to feminism, to liberate themselves from a moribund and unsatisfying gender identity.
posted by Snyder at 5:57 PM on December 11, 2006


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