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 anymore...one where it is ok to let someone touch their soul.