Some additional Stephen Marche commentary by a lecturer of philosophy at Northeastern Illinois. I have nothing clever to add about the background of the author, Tyler Zimmer. Another male feminist crawling up out of the termite-infested structure of academia.
While bent over locking up my bike in Chicago a few years ago, I heard the all-too-familiar sound of a wolf whistle. I turned around to get a look at the jerks accosting some woman on the street, only to realize I was the one who was being cat called. A man passing by from behind had seen my long curly hair and tight jeans and mistaken me for a woman. When I turned around to face him, he was shocked and started apologizing profusely. In so many words, he was saying: ”This is an unacceptable way to behave toward a man.” And we both knew, if I were a woman, there would be no apology.
And if you were in the county lockup, there would not only be no apology, you’d have several more ‘admirers’ who were sincere in their affections because of long curly hair and tight pants.
This is the double standard at the heart of masculinity: Men are taught to regularly say and do things to women that they would never say or do to other men, that they would never want men to say or do to them. That is not due to some timeless “male libido” driving their behavior. It’s because masculinity is founded on the myth that men alone are rights-bearing persons and women are subordinate, passive, second-class beings who either need the protection of or deserve to be subjected to men.
Men are also taught (by who, these advocacy pieces are never clear on, possibly fairies or some other imperceptible being) to tolerate physical and mental abuse from females that they would not tolerate from any man. They learn it from their mothers (oh, that’s a girl! You can’t roughhouse with them! Their not like boys!) and from bluepill males (you don’t ever put your hands on a female!) So yes, double standards are at the heart of masculinity because females and men alike recognize that men are the stronger and more enduring of the sexes and the only reason they can dare to try and lay this double standard on men is because we are strong enough to bear it. It is not in our best interests as individuals or as a class to bear it in any circumstances, and certainly not in a gynocentric society, but that’s another story for another time.
And females can hold all of the rights of men when they bear all of the social and legal responsibilities of men.
Still waiting to hear back on that Selective Service thing. Females?
In a recent New York Times op-ed, however, writer Stephen Marche uses some outdated Freudian ideas about sexuality and gender and the recent explosion of allegations of sexual misconduct to argue that male sexual desire is inherently brutal and oppressive. Thus, there’s no use, as Marche puts it, in “pretending to be something else, some fiction you would prefer to be.” So, feminist ideas are practically useless. The only fruitful thing men can do to respect women as equals is repress their natural urges.
Marche didn’t just use some outdated Freudian ideas; he flat out accused men of inherently being monstrous, which puts him in lockstep with a great many revered ‘thinkers’ and agitators of the feminist movement (MacKinnon, Dworkin, Morgan, Daly, Brownmiller, Solanas, et al.)
In truth, the very problem with masculinity Marche describes in his op-ed is too much repression: The rules governing masculinity require men to be stoic, to repress virtually all of their emotions (except anger). This leads many men to severely underdevelop their own ability to analyze and communicate about their own feelings. Our culture, not men’s nature, has enforced this emotional repression.
Where might I find these ‘rules of masculinity’ in writing? Stoicism is not a state of being, it is a tool for interacting with the world and the people in it. Stoics recognized that universally any given man can control nothing but his own thoughts and his own actions. They also recognized that a man did not have any inherent right to control the thoughts and actions of anyone but himself. Stoicism requires emotional homeostasis, the subordination of emotion to reason, especially those emotions that arise from erroneous judgments. A Stoic man seeks to tame his Pathos so that he cannot be manipulated by others because, as pointed out before, Stoics believe that a man has the right to control only his own thoughts and actions; as a corollary, no man has an inherent right to control the Stoic’s thoughts or actions.
Indeed, every man can think of at least one experience where he was punished for failing—whether intentionally or accidentally—to obey the dictates of these masculine rules. I remember a playground game where my friends and I would re-enact scenes from Disney films. I volunteered myself for the role of Ariel from the Little Mermaid. She was the protagonist and, it seemed to me, the best character to be. My peers bullied and teased me for this failure to obey the rules of compulsory masculinity for weeks afterward, and “Ariel” became a standard go-to insult in arguments.
In a world where females largely control the household, the primary purveyors of this punishment for failure to obey dictates is a female, specifically, a single mother. Here is where the author inserts the obligatory sleight-of-hand that all feminist discourse demands: He conflates the petty cruelty of children to a ‘dictate of masculinity.’ It is a minority of people who cannot comb over their childhood and find some instance of childhood teashing, bullying, or shaming done to them by some beastly, non-Stoic child who wished to exert power at the expense of their target. The author fails to point out that the petty power plays of children are despised in men as we grow larger, stronger, and, hopefully, more rational. Men are expected to moderate their natural strength with reason, wisdom, and again, hopefully, mercy. Otherwise, we’re just clubbing each other over the heads with sticks.
Females, on the other hand, never grow out of childhood power politics. The same tactics small girls practice are mastered by adult women: Out-grouping, gossip, shaming, physical attacks, shunning. These tactics degrade comraderie and social cohesion in any group they are introduced in, but the feminist modus operandi can best be summed up by Robin Morgan in the Redstockings Manifesto: “We do not need to change ourselves, but to change men.”
This is the kind of masculinity that also teaches men they don’t have to ask permission to act on their sexual desires. They’re supposed to take charge and have no reason to respect women’s autonomy. This is what feminists mean when they say sexual harassment and assault are about power, not desire. It’s our culture, not our libidos, that shapes the way men act upon otherwise healthy, run-of-the-mill sexual desires. In itself, there is nothing inherently brutal in a man who is sexually attracted to a woman he works with—no more than there would be if a woman desires a man she works with.
But there is a difference between discreetly (or silently) deriving pleasure from someone’s presence, on the one hand, and imposing one’s desires on that person, especially if they’re unreturned or unwanted. The difference here, as the feminist philosopher Sandra Bartky puts it, is the difference between healthy eroticism and rituals rooted in toxic ideas about masculinity.
Antonio Gramsci called. He’d like his Cultural Hegemony back, if you don’t mind.
I don’t like doing this because after awhile, it just tastes sour, but the success of the 50 Shades of Grey franchise, among females, has largely put the lie to this claim of ‘respect female’s autonomy.’ Despite feminist whining about the nonexistent rape culture, females, not men, have defined what are and are not acceptable sexual customs and rituals. Females define these customs and rituals by the nature and actions of the men they choose to have sex with. 50 Shades is the most recent example but not the only. Books, TV shows, and novels have been gobbled up by females in which a bored, and usually boring, female is whisked off on an adventure by a man who is on the path to glory, fame, or self-destruction.
Females are the gatekeepers of sex. Men merely observe, note, and perform what is necessary to get through the gate.
If a man wants to act on his attraction, or sexual urges? Here, communication, the very thing modern notions of masculinity train us away from, is key. Genuine communication is a two-way street; it presupposes that both participants have an equal right to withdraw from the interaction or decline an offer. Men already understand this to some extent, because this is how men typically behave in interactions with other men.
So, relating to women as equals, as genuine peers, doesn’t necessarily require repressing desire. Instead, it requires coming to terms with the fact that masculinity trains men to have great difficulty recognizing women—or, indeed, anyone that presents as feminine—as persons, as agents, as authoritative and worthy of respect, and then making an effort to see and treat them that way.
Females actively repudiate agency when possessing agency does not benefit them. If men are always to be held responsible for their actions, why should men respect the ‘selective agency’ of females at all? If females are allowed to offer up their varying forms of ‘the Devil made me do it’, but replace the Devil with ‘culture’, ‘medications’, ‘stress’, ‘fatigue’, ‘post-partum’, ‘PTSD’, ‘I was afraid of a man’, ‘Patriarchy’ et cetera ad nauseum, then females are not agents at all.
A few years before my own experience with a catcall, I saw a young woman walking down a Chicago street with a milkshake in hand. A man watching her pass by shouted, “Titties!” at her. Without skipping a beat, she turned around, threw her milkshake at him, and continued on her way. Those of us on the street chuckled in admiration as the man stood dripping from head to toe with chocolate milkshake.
So, when one man assaults another man for words, that’s bad and evil and toxic masculinity. When a female assaults a man for words, you chuckle in admiration?
Yeah, fuck you, you hypocrite.