Friday, August 14, 2009
Two articles have come to my attention today that discuss the different sides of the dichotomy of being a man in today's world: the rise of the Sensitive Man and the Manly Man's backlash.
First, an article in the Globe and Mail uses a Michael Cera bio to discuss a new "paradigm of manhood" or "third wave masculinism."
In the article, Michael Kimmel, Robb Willer and Alanna Thain discuss "the changes we are seeing in the ideal man" and how those changes are related to political changes (from Bush the Bully to "seems like a really nice guy" Obama) Kimmel states that the "increase of status for women in society might have led to an increased respect for feminine traits.”
This of course can lead to a backlash, which the article's author, Micah Toub, admits to later in the article "when some dudes feel their behaviour is being viewed as feminine, it can lead them to be more supportive of war or to prefer buying an SUV over other cars... masculine overcompensation.”
Which is perfectly shown in an article today on Gawker.com about 'The Scorpions', members of a hyper-masculine book club based in Boston, who are wildly over-compensating for the image of book clus as "girlie clubs where people don't discuss the book, and just drink wine and talk about relationships." Which is the worst thing in the world apparently.
The Scorpions are "very well read, and want to kick ass" but I'm not sure what one has to do with the other. But their leader tries to explain further by saying that they "throw in beer, competition, and seedy locations, and we (have) the perfect recipe to have fun while motivating us to continue to read and kick ass collectively."
At least they're trying to get more guys to read.
So what does this say about the current state of masculinity? Basically we're living the the final act of Revenge of the Nerds, and the Nerds (in this case the 'sensitive men') are about to get their just desserts:
"The dean intervenes and orders him to stop, causing the coach to turn on him. However, U.N. Jefferson arrives, flanked by a sizable group of angry Tri-Lambs from other chapters, intimidating the Alpha Betas. He hands the microphone to Gilbert, who gives an inspiring speech about how it feels to be mistreated just for being different. Lewis joins him, and invites anyone who has ever felt left out, laughed at, or picked on to come and join them. Their respective girlfriends do so, as do the other Lambda nerds, followed by many members of the assembled crowd. The Dean uses the opportunity to tell the coach that the Lambdas will be staying in the Alpha Beta house while the Alpha Betas repair the Lambda home, and that the Alpha Betas, as jocks, are welcome to sleep in the gym."