Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bring on the wussification!

Recently Media Matters demonstrated how Fox News has been obsessed with the wussification of America. What I hear from that is a fear and rejection of all of the things that have traditionally been defined as feminine....nurturing, compassion, empathy. But lets be honest, its not just Fox News. Take a look at the commentary from both the left and right critiquing President Obama and you'll hear the constant extortions to "man up, grow some balls, etc." Its still true in this day and age that the worst insult to a man is to be compared to a girl (or even worse, a f***ot - an unmannly man).

Take a look at this trailer from a recent documentary titled The Mask You Live In to see the impact this has on boys.

If we are ever going to free ourselves of the authoritarian impulses that rely on fear and oppression, we are going to have to free our boys from the expectation that their manhood is something they have to prove. Our human potential for nurturing, compassion and empathy are no more "feminine" than strength, courage, and toughness are "masculine."

Here's Riane Eisler explaining why that is so important.

I believe that the reason Fox News is concerned about wussification and so many political pundits are calling on President Obama to "man up" is that what it means to be a man or woman is in the process of changing and that is threatening whole belief systems that are built on these stereotypes. In many ways feminism has begun the process of freeing women from them, but we've lagged in understanding what that means for men.

And so now we have a leader of the free world who regularly challenges us to tackle the empathy deficit, is not afraid to lead from behind, and is completely comfortable with the use of soft power. In other words, he has no desire or need to prove his manhood to anyone. People entrenched in the old patterns and stereotypes are terribly uncomfortable with that and tend to get surprised when he also has the courage and strength to go after Osama bin Laden or just say "no" to Republicans about negotiating on the debt ceiling.

While we are culturally struggling with this kind of change, President Obama is providing a wonderful example to young men who are able to envision a world where boys don't have anything to prove where it is ok to let someone touch their soul.


  1. I read once that baby boys and young boys are, generally speaking, more sensitive than girls. Until around the second grade, if I'm not mistaken, girls are bigger, stronger, more coordinated, and more socialized than boys, generally speaking. It's long past time to stop treating boys like little men and to stop treating men like boys.

    1. True, Wiley. Young girls often are much stronger than young boys, yet society still thinks that they should be acting all tough and macho like grown men.

  2. And can we stop making me be the one who has to go investigate every time something goes bump in the night? Are my testicles supposed to offer better protection from the potential gunman than my wife's ovaries do?

    I wish that we would stop with gender roles altogether. While we're at it, stop worrying about how a woman is supposed to act, how a man is supposed to act, what things are supposed to be interesting to a woman, what things are supposed to be interesting to a man...

    Let's all just worry about being a person, the best one that we can be, and stop worrying about doing it within the ludicrous confines of what we're told our gender is allowed to do.

    My wife and I have worked very hard to avoid exposing our kids to gender based, race based, and religious based limitations and impositions. Society wants nothing to do with letting us succeed in that effort. Once they're a little older we'll have a direct conversation about it instead. It's a shame they won't get a chance to think about it on their own based on our example and their reasoning abilities.

    (We've always been very hands on about the racism. We teach that the world is much better BECAUSE of diversity, but the gender stuff and the religious stuff is something we wanted them to develop better reasoning skills before we got into it.)

  3. Not so long ago, Putin in his state-of-the nation address also called the West, "genderless" and "infertile" in lame effort to portray himself as a defender of conservative values and all that is truly manly in Russia. In fact, it was merely a way to excuse himself from allowing a culture of intolerance since the enacting of anti-gay laws there. ,Intolerance masquerading as upholding conservative values- in the US, or the Middle East or in Russia- tends to look the same wherever you go.

    1. No better example than Putin as a man who is all caught up in having something to prove about his masculinity.

    2. Recent events have shown where this uber-masculine approach inevitably leads.