I must admit, I'm baffled by the perspective offered in several recent articles about the alleged death of masculinity, the struggles of men to affirm themselves in a society that regards traditional masculinity as 'toxic', and institutions that relentlessly affirm women at the expense of men. I'm amazed that men have allowed this mess to creep up on them at all! I suppose it's like the boiling frog . . . if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, and gradually increase the temperature, it won't realize it's being boiled alive until it's too late (or so the old saw goes). Perhaps men have allowed the same thing to happen to themselves.
Be that as it may, John Robb has three very thought-provoking articles on his blog, 'Global Guerrillas'. In chronological order, they are:
- "Man is dead, and we have killed him, you and I!"
- Signs of Deep Psychological Distress in America
- The Common Driver of Public Violence
Here's an excerpt from the third article.
Mass killings in London, Portland, and Orlando over the last seven days (occurring at an increasing rate). We have categories for each type of attack:
- London: Homegrown Jihadi terrorist attack.
- Portland: Hate crime murders.
- Orlando: Lethal postal rage in the workplace.
If we examine each category by itself, it's hard to determine any underlying factors common to the attack of that type. Jihadi terrorism has lots of contributing factors.
However, if we pop up a level and look at all of the attacks together a pattern emerges.
All of them are a product of failed men. Men who have failed in the world. Men tied up with crime, drugs, low paying jobs, unemployment, failed marriages, etc.
There's more at the link. All three articles are worth reading.
In that context, I look at the 'nanny state' and its culture of promoting reliance on government for handouts, subsidies, entitlement programs and the like, and I ponder. I was raised in a culture that encouraged men to do anything and everything they could (honestly, that is) to support themselves and their families. Literally, one was not considered a man unless one exerted oneself heroically to 'bring home the bacon'. Sure, help was available, but it wasn't from the state - it was from your church, or local charities, all of whom knew who was striving with might and main to succeed, and who was a deadbeat. The former received help, and were expected to pass on that help to others in due course once they were back on their feet. The latter . . . not so much.
Nowadays, people are wrapped in cocoons. Can't make it? Well, put on your pajamas, drink a cup of hot chocolate, and talk about government-subsidized health care! Here, have some welfare . . . and some unemployment . . . and some entitlement . . . and while you're at it, look down on 'the rich' whose taxes are what makes all those subsidies possible in the first place. They're not paying their fair share! Let's make them, so you can have even more - without earning it!
I can't help but think that such attitudes are toxic to something at the heart of what it means to be a man. I know I was regarded with astonishment when, back in 2005, I was told by a neurosurgeon that I'd never work a conventional job again, thanks to my injury, and I'd have to live on a disability pension. My instant - and vociferous - reaction was that that was no way for a man to live. It might take me time, but I would find a way to support myself once more. I have - through my writing - and I'm very grateful for the support you, my readers, have given me in the process. What shook me was that I was regarded as weird, way out there, for not simply sitting back and accepting handouts for the rest of my life. Things had certainly changed since my father and mother raised me!
In that light, a news report this morning claimed that thirteen counties in Alabama saw an 85% decline in the number of benefits seekers once a work requirement was reintroduced. So . . . am I to understand that seventeen out of every twenty of those on unemployment and other benefits were capable of working, of doing at least something to support themselves, but did not do so, preferring to accept handouts instead? If so, what does that say about how they were raised - and about our society, that tolerates such attitudes?
What does it say about people in Wisconsin - about men in Wisconsin - when Governor Scott Walker wants to introduce 'a new work requirement on childless adult Medicaid recipients and parents who receive food stamps', and require them to undergo drug screening - yet his plans are greeted with shock and horror by left-wing and progressive foes? How's this for hyperbole?
“It borders on immoral,” Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor said of the drug testing plans, in a failed attempt to stop it. She said Walker was engaging in a “meaningless contest to see how cruel and discriminatory we can be to the poor.”
I don't see a single damned thing about Gov. Walker's plans that's 'immoral' or 'cruel and discriminatory'. He wants to make sure that people applying for assistance actually need it, rather than want to piss it away on drug abuse; and he wants to make them do something positive in exchange for the assistance provided. How is that bad? Kindly explain that to me in words of one syllable. I don't see it at all.
In my younger days, no man worth his salt would behave like those welfare recipients in Alabama or Wisconsin . . . but today, it seems, that's just too old-fashioned for words.
For that matter, what about the declining number of men in college, compared to women? It seems entirely rational to me. If you make college campuses so female-friendly that men are regarded as toxic, potential rapists, emotionally insensitive, and so on, why are you surprised when those men take their obviously unwanted presence elsewhere? I'd do the same thing in a heartbeat. If you treat me like dirt, I'm going to get out from under and leave you to lord it over nothing at all, while I get on with making a better life for myself somewhere else. I won't even bother to punch you in the snoot for your temerity. You aren't worth it.
I look at all those factors . . . and then I read John Robb's comments about terrorism in the West being a failure of masculinity . . . and I wonder. Have we, in destroying traditional masculinity, created our own terrorist problem? Is this their way of 'punching in the snoot' those whom they regard as having denigrated, or downgraded, or 'failed' them? Don't think of it in terms of Islamic terrorism, either. It goes far wider than that. Consider last month in Portland, or yesterday in Orlando. Were the perpetrators 'failed men'?
What say you, readers?