December 9, 2013

"Didn’t I find, like Paul Theroux, 'the quest for manliness essentially rightwing, puritanical, cowardly, neurotic, and fueled largely by a fear of women'?"

"Yes, absolutely, and this belief did nothing to change the fact that I have wanted and sometimes tried in life to feel more manly. In fact, I was trying as I rendered judgment on the Wilderness Collective video, because one of the easiest ways to feel manly is to feel superior to other men’s efforts to feel manly."

From Ben Crair's TNR piece titled "Bro Fall/I lost my masculinity in Brooklyn, so I climbed a mountain to get it back." The Paul Theroux piece he quotes is "The Male Myth." I'm going to concentrate on the Theroux article, a NYT op-ed from 1983. What I love about it being 30 years old is that it's (presumably) underblogged. So let me begin the catching up on blogging "The Male Myth."

I have always disliked being a man. The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one's entire life. (By contrast, I imagine femininity to be an oppressive sense of nakedness.)...

Even the expression ''Be a man!'' strikes me as insulting and abusive. It means: Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking. Man means ''manly'' - how can one think ''about men'' without considering the terrible ambition of manliness?...

The youth who is subverted, as most are, into believing in the masculine ideal is effectively separated from women - it is the most savage tribal logic - and he spends the rest of his life finding women a riddle and a nuisance....

Femininity - being ladylike - implies needing a man as witness and seducer; but masculinity celebrates the exclusive company of men. That is why it is so grotesque; and that is also why there is no manliness without inadequacy - because it denies men the natural friendship of women....
The quote in the post title fits here. He goes on to speak of his personal struggle becoming a writer in a country where writing seems insufficiently manly, which supposedly is why male American writers invent protagonists who drinks heavily and hunts or wrestles and so forth.
There would be no point in saying any of this if it were not generally accepted that to be a man is somehow - even now in feminist-influenced America - a privilege...

And this is also why men often object to feminism, but are afraid to explain why: Of course women have a justified grievance, but most men believe - and with reason - that their lives are much worse.
Well?

90 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Even the expression ''Be a man!'' strikes me as insulting and abusive. It means: Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking.

Is this what Paul Theroux thinks the Iliad is about? Or why 300 Spartans held the pass at Thermopylae?

I knew Theroux had trouble with English sentences, but I didn't realize he was just a cardboard cut-out in the shape of a human being.

Richard Dolan said...

"I have always disliked being a man."

In that event, just try being yourself.

"Of course women have a justified grievance, but most men believe - and with reason - that their lives are much worse. Well?"

Their lives are what they make of them. So stop the whining and get on with it.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Being a writer is insufficiently manly?

You would think that a writer would be aware of Jack London, Hemingway, Lord Bryon, etc.

Mark Twain was a river boat pilot and traveled and worked in the West when it was still being settled.

DKWalser said...

I'm a man and am considered by those who know me to be a manly man. I don't recognize the type of manhood Theroux is writing about. His entire conception of what it means to be a man is foreign to me. No wonder he finds being a man so difficult and distasteful.

n.n said...

Both men and women should strive to become self-moderating, responsible adults. We should be capable of properly judging risk, then confronting and overcoming challenges. These are not characteristics unique to men, nor is its desirability restricted to them. The dichotomy which has evolved around the female/male dynamic distorts the salient features of our complementary but equal existence.

Ann Althouse said...

"You would think that a writer would be aware of Jack London, Hemingway, Lord Bryon, etc."

You would think you would read the linked article to see if he was!

Brian said...

"the masculine ideal is effectively separated from women"

I don't know how to respond to that except to say that it is clearly and obviously false.

traditionalguy said...

A Man is a role. We are guardians of a family of a woman partner and our children.

If that sounds too restrictive for you, then try Metro Sexual eternal childhood.

tim in vermont said...

To suggest that "being a man" necessarily involves stupidity is "insulting and abusive."

I think that Theroux is saying more about himself than the culture at large. I bet he would be a little embarrassed to read this piece now.

Ashlyn Elizabeth said...

Like DKWalser, I am entirely unfamiliar with any kind of manliness that calls for callous stupidity and "terrible ambition." The people who take manhood seriously tend to see it more like the folks at The Art of Manliness, where learning practical skills for self-sufficiency is considered the key to self-respect. There's a section on dress and grooming, and some of the most recent articles are about how to smoke a turkey. A perennial quest to feel superior to other men doesn't seem to have much to do with it.

Brian said...

"The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one's entire life."

OK, one more thing.

The coat analogy is almost right. It's not a coat but a suit of armor. We wear it because the word is a hard place, and men especially need to be ready to meet its challenges. "Put on the whole armor of God", they say.

If the armor is ill-fitting and immobilizing, you can fiddle with it around the edges to better suit you. But at some point it comes down to two choices: you can rail at the world for being so hostile that the armor is needed, or you can grow stronger until you're comfortable wearing it.

Carl Pham said...

"Again and again [the fox] tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying 'I am sure [the grapes] are sour.'"

http://www.bartleby.com/17/1/31.html

Nothing new under the sun, as always.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Is he writing about feelings, relationships, family breakups, romances, and social issues in the modern times? ...
That is insufficiently manly, sorry."

-- "Things Fall Apart" is one of the most manly books ever written.

Shouting Thomas said...

I was never "on a quest" to prove my masculinity. I observed my father, a great and humble man, and learned everything I needed to know.

I have no idea what the fuck this "fear of women" bullshit is that Althouse is pulling out of her ass. It's a favorite feminist jibe.

It's on the level of "racism" bullshit. Althouse has been on a tear on this bullshit, insinuating that not wanting to join in her male pussification program equals hating or fearing half the human race.

The tactic is an attempt to put people on the defensive and force them to justify themselves. It's vicious, childish tactic, accusing people of fearing or hating whole groups of people. It is exactly the same as the old saw of confronting somebody and demanding: "How often do you beat your wife?"

The people who have something to answer for are the morons employing this tactic. Althouse?

When people employ this tactic with me, I declare total war in response. Why bother with civility and dignity when you are confronted with these asshole S&M manipulation tactics?

traditionalguy said...

One man who learned a guardian man's role and also became a fine writer tells all about it in The Death of Santini (Pat Conroy.)

Archie said...

No real man fears women. We either respect them, love them or scorn them as they deserve.

Shouting Thomas said...

In Woodstock, I long ago discarded even nominal decency when confronted with these "How often do you beat your wife?" tactics.

Years ago, in cafes where Woodstockers would gather to have discussions, some asshole would invariable declare that disagreeing with him or her about something or other proved I was a racist who hated blacks.

My responses grew increasingly hostile until they got codified into something along the lines of:

"Well, you're an ugly fucking bastard and you smell like shit, but I was hoping to have a polite conversation."

Nobody wants to have the sort of discussions that end in accusations of "racism" with me any more. This is good.

As I said, total war is the only appropriate response.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Give the feminists this, they never told anyone, "If you like you manhood, you can keep your manhood."

The Eighteenth Amendment tried to reform American manhood and failed. Now everyone gets drunk and we have the rape culture.

Queue up Dar William's song "When I Was A Boy":

And I tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived
And I say now you're top gun, I have lost and you have won
And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see
When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you.

EDH said...

Even the expression 'Be a man!' strikes me as insulting and abusive.

You can act like a man! What's 'amatter with you?

"Is this how you turned out, a Hollywood finocchio that cries like a woman?

'Whaa... What can I do? What can I do?'

What is that nonsense? Ridiculous!

...Because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

surfed said...

Well my pad is very messy
And there's whiskers on my chin
And I'm all hung up on music
And I always play to win
I ain't got no time for lovin'
Cause my time is all used up
Just to sit around creatin'
All that groovy kind of stuff.
I'm a man
Yes I am

surfed said...

Addendum:
And I can't help
but love you so...

jr565 said...

"Even the expression ''Be a man!'' strikes me as insulting and abusive. It means: Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking."

It means to Man up. To not snivel and whine about it, but accept.
God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference is a manly saying, apparently.

jr565 said...

"I have always disliked being a man."


I have always dislked men who apologized for being what they are by birth. The world isn't a woman's studies class, Paul. You have nothin to apologize for. Other than your lack of manliness.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Althouse said:

"You would think you would read the linked article to see if he was!"

I read the article you linked to, I did not follow the link to the Theroux piece.

Now that I have read it, I am awe struck at how utterly conventional its attack on masculinity is.

Scott M said...

That is why it is so grotesque; and that is also why there is no manliness without inadequacy - because it denies men the natural friendship of women....

The fundamental problem with his entire premise is that this came out in 1983. Six years before the wisdom of "When Harry Met Sally" was revealed to a receptive nation.

Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.

Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?

Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.

Sally Albright: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?

Harry Burns: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

Shouting Thomas said...

The answer to the underlying question Althouse is asking is this:

Feminist bullshit is a stupid, unworkable and ugly ideology. It's a lie.

What young men need is to look to older generations of men, their fathers and grandfathers, and to model themselves according to tradition.

Ignore the confused and destructive prattling of feminists. Let them call you all the names they want. You can find a decent, traditional woman out there who has more sense and won't pull that shit on you.

Fuck ideology and ideologues. Build your own little world.

surfed said...

Some men have to much time on their hands.

mccullough said...

We've had pretty robust data in the last 30 years about what happens to kids who grow up without a dad.

Larry J said...

jr565 said...
"I have always disliked being a man."

I have always dislked men who apologized for being what they are by birth. The world isn't a woman's studies class, Paul. You have nothin to apologize for. Other than your lack of manliness.


If he's really that upset about being born male (but not a man, apparently), there are surgical treatments that can correct his circumstances.

Shouting Thomas said...
I was never "on a quest" to prove my masculinity. I observed my father, a great and humble man, and learned everything I needed to know.

I have no idea what the fuck this "fear of women" bullshit is that Althouse is pulling out of her ass. It's a favorite feminist jibe.

It's on the level of "racism" bullshit. Althouse has been on a tear on this bullshit, insinuating that not wanting to join in her male pussification program equals hating or fearing half the human race.


Like you, my example for manhood was my father. He never once lectured me about what it is to be a man, he just lived his life working hard to support his family until the day he died. I've tried to measure up to his standards.

As for Althouse's "hating women" tripe, she's incapable of understanding how men think so she has to project her uninformed viewpoints on the matter. It's as absurd as her frequent remarks about men wearing shorts because they want to appear young. No, men wear shorts because they're comfortable in hot climates. Just as no man would ever knowingly buy uncomfortable shoes, men tend to dress for comfort instead of to impress others. A lot of women simply appear unable to understand this simple fact.

Lydia said...

Of course Theroux dislikes the manly virtues. They include loyalty, which doesn’t fit with a man who wrote a spiteful little book about his once-friend V.S. Naipaul, the man who helped him mightily early in his career.

Tibore said...

"Any objective study would find the quest for manliness essentially right wing, puritanical, cowardly, neurotic and fueled largely by a fear of women. It is also certainly philistine."

Bullshit psychobabble from someone who's a philistine himself. There's nothing about denial in being a man; on the contrary, it's about embracing what sucks and striving to overcome it regardless of how bad it sucks. There's also nothing puritanical in it; that's sheer projection. And there sure as HELL isn't any fear of women in it; quite the opposite, in fact, the ideal I've been brought up with embraced gallantry and respect.

Anyone trying to say "any objective study would find 'X'" is taking the lazy way out and employing rhetoric, not fact. Attacking a shibboleth is not the same as studying the reality of a situation, and all Theroux has bothered to do is launch arrows at straw men. It's hardly the well constructed argument of the truly informed person.

This isn't a case of a man who hates masculinity; it's a man who doesn't understand what the hell it is to begin with so therefore attacks it. The fear is all on his part: He chooses to hate what he doesn't understand. He's one of the most provincial people I've ever read anything out of.

In short, he's not just an idiot. He's an idiot who's chosen to climb a soapbox and expound on what he's ignorant about.

I'd trust a critique if it demonstrated the author knew what the hell he was talking about. But bringing up mythic fictions and ludicrous caricature is the opposite of dealing with fact. It's the painting of a picture. And as such, reflects reality less than it reflects the painter.

Bob R said...

It sounds like a college boy (a term used with intent) sucking up to a Women's Studies Professor. It's pretty well written, so it would probably get a good grade even if She (I'm going with the odds here) was on to his game. In 1983 it was probably novel enough that he got a lot of play with NYT reading feminists.

On a more substantive note, it's a shame that Theroux got picked on as a kid, but to write a diatribe against the whole idea of manliness is a huge overreaction. Now we have the opposite reaction, but at least the "war on men" crowd is reacting to things like shoveling adderall into boys to make them bookish. That's worse than compulsory PE.

Ann Althouse said...

Moderation is back on (unfortunately, I've got to filter something), so please wait for comment approval, which should be quick.

Lucien said...

Well . . . Theroux's piece is largely lacking in any analysis or novel insight. It is full of conclusions and opinions that one would, by no means accept. The most one could learn from reading this is something about how Theroux, thinks, if his writing is sincere, and not just provocative.

Consider, for example, "The average tennis champion is a pathetic oaf." This is impossible to prove or disprove in large part because the phrase "average champion" is so slippery as to be almost oxymoronic. Was Arthur Ashe a pathetic oaf, or Rod Laver, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzalez, Rene Lacoste, Roger Federer? No doubt the Author would demur that these are all above average champions. But while he is decrying the connection between manliness and sports, why is there no discussion of female participation in sport? And on and on.

Ann Althouse said...

"Well . . . Theroux's piece is largely lacking in any analysis or novel insight."

It was written 30 years ago, so… are you sure he wasn't the first to say some of those things?

Ann Althouse said...

"It does not surprise me that when the President of the United States has his customary weekend off, he dresses like a cowboy - it is both a measure of his insecurity and his willingness to please. In many ways, American culture does little more for a man than prepare him for modeling clothes in the L. L. Bean catalogue."

Is that original?

The President was Ronald Reagan.

Ann Althouse said...

"Their lives are what they make of them. So stop the whining and get on with it."

That's incoherent for the writer. What he makes of his life is being a writer and "whining" IS getting on with it.

Henry said...

The Long and Unhappy Life of Paul Theroux. I get it.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's as absurd as her frequent remarks about men wearing shorts because they want to appear young. No, men wear shorts because they're comfortable in hot climates."

I don't think you can find one example of my making the remark you characterize as "frequent."

What I say is that when grown men wear shorts, they tend to look like greatly enlarged little boys. I didn't say that's what they were trying to look like. I don't think they care enough about how it looks, especially to women, whom I would think you'd care about appealing to. Of course, I get that men find shorts more comfortable, so I guess it's like the way you might feel about women who go about in big baggy sweat pants with elastic waistbands and oversized T-shirts. Comfort as a value is well understood, but it is possible to be comfortable in clothes that don't undercut your physical attractiveness (if you've bothered to preserve any).

harrogate said...

"Of course, I get that men find shorts more comfortable, so I guess it's like the way you might feel about women who go about in big baggy sweat pants with elastic waistbands and oversized T-shirts. Comfort as a value is well understood, but it is possible to be comfortable in clothes that don't undercut your physical attractiveness (if you've bothered to preserve any)."

Now *that's* got pop.

Richard Dolan said...

'That's incoherent for the writer."

I wasn't much interested in the writer, but only in responding to your question ("Well?") about the sentiment being expressed. And I doubt that he would agree with your suggestion that, because he is a writer, "'whining' IS getting on with" life.

Michael K said...

Althouse is really on a tear about this manhood thing. Forcing me to read that neurotic whine fest is enough to make me want moderation so I can go back to my book.

Michael K said...

"American culture does little more for a man than prepare him for modeling clothes in the L. L. Bean catalogue."

Is that original?

The President was Ronald Reagan."

Obviously the guy knew nothing about Reagan. Reagan learned to ride as a cavalry Army Reserve officer in the 30s. When war came, he flunked the eye exam.

Riding with Reagan tells the story.

dbp said...

If I (a man) was to publicly disparage

"...women who go about in big baggy sweat pants with elastic waistbands and oversized T-shirts."

What a field day feminists would have! Even if I allowed that:

"Comfort as a value is well understood, but it is possible to be comfortable in clothes that don't undercut your physical attractiveness (if you've bothered to preserve any)."

That last zinger would earn me residence in the deepest circle of Hell,-if feminists had a say in what part of Hell I end-up in.


n.n said...

It ought to be clear by now that I have something of an objection to the way we turn boys into men. It does not surprise me that when the President of the United States [Ronald Reagan] has his customary weekend off he dresses like a cowboy--it is both a measure of his insecurity and his willingness to please. In many ways, American culture does little more for a man than prepare him for modeling clothes in the L. L. Bean catalogue. I take this as a personal insult because for many years I found it impossible to admit to myself that I wanted to be a writer. It was my guilty secret, because being a writer was incompatible with being a man.
-- Theroux, Paul. "Being a Man."

So, "Being a Man" was written as self-justification. Perhaps Theroux, and similarly minded men and women, should consider that his profession is not his life, and that a man is more than his profession.

Smilin' Jack said...

"You would think that a writer would be aware of Jack London, Hemingway, Lord Bryon, etc."

You would think you would read the linked article to see if he was!


A. Real men don't read crap like that.

B. Julius Caesar, Richard Burton (the original), Winston Churchill, etc.

C. Men who think about being manly aren't. They should just give it up and wear dresses.

Michael said...

The Theroux article is quite stupid. I expect hewas having a tough time about then with his writing or his womanizing to write such an absurd self mocking piece of nonsense sold to the Vatican of nonsense. It reads like a plea to get laid or to be accepted by a cohort that would consider screwing him. Precious.

This whole multi day topic is mystifying to me, a son of the south, a region that has always had its share of very strong women. I think it must be a University town topic, a dinkytown where professors have been fucking each others wives for generations and think it means something more than what it is. I expect the professor men are very afraid of women indeed since a quick trip to the courthouse is all it will take to be stripped of half their assets.

I dont think men are much afraid of the piddling number of women really trying to compete in the marketplace. Perhaps if there were more of them it would be of comcern. I dont know any straight men who are worried one way or the other about their "masculinity." I think it is a metrosexual/dinkytown worry.

n.n said...

Smilin' Jack:

Women wear dresses, but it doesn't interfere with them living full lives. The problem cannot be defined in a female/male dichotomy, but as a self-indulgent or naive attitude, which both men and women, notably when they are young and immature, are capable of exhibiting in equal measure.

Theroux is casting aspersions on "manliness" to reclaim what he believes was denied to him. Unfortunately, Theroux misunderstood its connotation, and labored to justify his own choices. Perhaps he lacked a proper role model or education to appreciate the salient differences between men and women.

eric said...

"Of course, I get that men find shorts more comfortable, so I guess it's like the way you might feel about women who go about in big baggy sweat pants with elastic waistbands and oversized T-shirts. "

When was the last time you got angry at Mead because he didn't notice your new clothes?

Well, maybe he is different.

In my experience, men don't care. It's you (women) who care. You (women) don't like the way we (men) dress, and you also don't like how other women dress.

I've discovered only recently that women are dressing for other women, not really for men.

And it's interesting how you phrased that. How we (men) might "feel" about how someone is dressed.

Women feel. When you ask a guy, "How do you feel about that car?" or "How do you feel about that house?" etc, a man starts to have sparks fly out his ears as the question doesn't really compute.

Because the answer is, we don't feel anything about such things. If you asked, "What do you think about that house or that car?" the question would make sense.

gregq said...

Damn, YoungHegelian, you beat me to it, and said what I wanted to, better than I would have.

gregq said...

Ann Althouse said...

"You would think that a writer would be aware of Jack London, Hemingway, Lord Bryon, etc."

You would think you would read the linked article to see if he was!

Why? What you've excerpted (assuming you've done so honestly, which I do) has already established that his writing is worthless, and he's a whining little baby. Why would I want to waste my time reading more of him?

tim maguire said...

I haven't read the article yet, I'm about to go take a look but (assuming it's long) will probably just skim it. Anyway, reading this excerpt, only one phrase came to mind:

"No woman ever fantasized about being ravaged by a hippie."

rcocean said...

"The Theroux article is quite stupid."

Yep. I love PT's travel books. He comes off as a supercilious, left-wing Asshole - and I love it.

But this 1983 article is just pathetic. Another high school girly-man, who didn't like sports and who just wanted to read and hang out with the girls. And points for the cliched Cowboy slam against Reagan.

Good grief.

Lucien said...

Choosing some aspect, any aspect, of Ronald Reagan, and dilating on it to prove what an idiot he was and how poorly he did as President was anything but original in 1983 for those on the left, even though it might not have commonly been linked to our ideas of "manhood". But more to the point, how does Theroux try to show that Reagan was "insecure" or "eager to please". Remembering how much everybody laghed at the picture of Nixon walking on the beach in a suit, and how Ford (probably the most athletically gifted President since TR) was mocked as a clumsy dolt, what was wrong with Reagan dressing as a westerner? In fact didn't it highlight the fact that he was not from inside the beltway?

And what is reference to the LL Bean catalog if not a non sequitur following the discussion of Reagan? Isn't the idea that American men have been prepared to be models in any catalog risible when considered on its merits?

El Pollo Raylan said...

From Theroux's Wiki bio:
Theroux has criticized Bono, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie as "mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth." He has also asserted that "the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help—not to mention celebrities and charity concerts—is a destructive and misleading conceit".

Those are some pretty manly words right there.

Temujin said...

I do not fear women. Now…hold your head still. You're spilling my beer.

Bob said...

Theroux, for all his protestations, has lived a manly life himself. He was an Eagle Scout, served in the Peace Corps, and has traveled the world extensively, often in dangerous places at dangerous times. He's also a Massachusetts liberal with all that implies, and a Baby Boomer who grew up during an era in which it was fashionable to bash ├╝ber-masculine writers such as Hemingway. He can protest as much as he likes, but his life as an outdoorsman and traveler haven't been all that different from Hemingway, although he's never won the Nobel as Hemingway did, which seems to eat away at him.

DWPittelli said...

Being a writer isn't unmanly, unless you write like Paul Theroux.

Greg Toombs said...

So, how does he feel now, 30 years later?

nick said...

The creationists lost this argument some time after 1983. In 1983, you could still write something like this, and just take it for granted that evolution is a myth, and that the last several million years never led up to anything. He couldn't still deny, in 2013, that a species is the way it is because it got that way, could he? In 1983 he's denying that generations after generations of women have selected and shaped and created the male, but biology actually is real, and there are even novelists who have openly acknowledged this.

Jum said...

What a silly, misguided and disgusting piece. Any male who "tries to be more manly" is doomed to abject failure, even though ipso facto desperately in need of it. Manliness eludes those who think they can get it if they just dress, talk or act the "right" way, just as it so patently eludes Ben Crair. What childish conceit and misunderstanding he displays. He has no inkling about what it means to be a man.

Manliness is not some digital reading on a testosterone probe. It is more akin to character which is built over a lifetime, or a zen-like state of being which cannot be attained by intentionally striving for it. All those weekenders who got in a sweaty circle, held the talking stick and bellowed "Iron John" to each other were no more genuinely manly than Norman Mailer.

Instead of silly self-help circles and coxcombish mating displays, manliness is about duty, responsibility, commitment, integrity, trustworthiness, leadership, accountability and steadfastness. What progs, libs, social radicals and general cultural and political anarchists don't get is that it is only the rarest male who can achieve manliness without a father figure intimately involved throughout his childhood, adolescence and even adulthood.

So keep on pretending divorce is actually good for kids. But keep plenty of cash stashed for all the Timberlands, "men's weekends" and therapy that's going to be in store for those males who grew up without their fathers there every day.

Steve said...

"I have always disliked being a man."

Outside of possibly possessing a Y chromosone, I don't think you have to worry about being accused of being a man.

steve l said...

Calling Reagan a cowboy, and/or questioning cowboys' masculinity was far from novel in 1983;
and men without chests find most coats ill-fitting.

Martin said...

He should have climbed down off his cross, used the wood to build a bridge, and gotten over it.

Sheesh, with all the real problems and real suffering in the world, this self-absorption is just soooooo lame.

Howard said...

The Paul Theroux piece is right on. The macho posturing from your average rightwing Althouse commentator responding on this thread proves his thesis. Ben Crair's quest for manliness and the company of manly men is a mirror image of the macho Althouse boys club. The bottom line:
Macho = Pussy

Texpat said...

Jum @ 10:32 PM, 12/09/13

beautiful piece of work, man.

Priceless, like ancient hand wrought cast iron...saved from the archaeological ravine of time.

Texpat said...

Jum @ 10:32 PM, 12/09/13

beautiful piece of work, man.

Priceless, like ancient hand wrought cast iron...saved from the archaeological ravine of time.

grackle said...

I have always disliked being a man.

Some of the author's problem is illustrated by the revealing statement above. This person does not speak for "most" men.

If you have to go on a "quest" for manliness you'll never find it. The author needs to resign himself to his metrosexuality, which is his sad, confused fate.

Interesting that the author finds manliness to be a "rightwing" characteristic. Naturally, to a Lefty, that being the case, it follows that manliness is "puritanical, cowardly, neurotic, and fueled largely by a fear of women.” Just another version of the 'war-on-women' nonsense.

William said...

The handiest skill to have is not knowing how to negotiate a hostile world with manly courage but to acquire sufficient money or tact to escape a hostile world. There are lots of situations where manly courage doesn't work. WWI would have ended much better if more men were cowards.

Hank Seiter said...

Paul Theroux? The quintessential definition of a metrosexual putz. This is precisely where liberal "progressivism" takes real manhood. We truly are in the "Last Days".

jmod46 said...

Heh. Theroux just needed to spend time with "Zorba the Greek". Zorba says to his English writer friend:

"Alexis Zorba: You think too much.That is your trouble.Clever people and grocers, they weigh everything."

smitty1e said...

My only reply is that my notion of manhood (humanity, for the ladies) is intrinsically tied to the Son of Man.

When I read this sort of confusion, my first take is that the writer probably had not understood Jesus Chris.

Dave Marney said...

"Being a man" primarily means just being comfortable in one's own skin, without apology or need to prove oneself to others. A "man's man" is just someone other men are willing to follow, there's not much more to it than that.

Sorry to dash cold water on all this overheated discussion.

Dave Marney said...

"Being a man" primarily means just being comfortable in one's own skin, without apology or need to prove oneself to others. A "man's man" is just someone other men are willing to follow, there's not much more to it than that.

Sorry to dash cold water on all this overheated discussion.

jmod46 said...

Heh. Theroux just needed to spend time with "Zorba the Greek". Zorba says to his English writer friend:

"Alexis Zorba: You think too much.That is your trouble.Clever people and grocers, they weigh everything."

Doubting Richard said...

Some very strange ideas of manliness that do not fit my own experiences. My study of geology at university was manly, even though there were women on the course. Any time you have to dig a hole to crap in, then the activity is by definition manly. My aviation career, as a teacher, captain, senior manager and so on is pretty manly.

So where is the obedience of a Captain alone on a stormy night? Where is the unfeeling of a teacher of aviation lore, or of the art of landing a small 'plane? When could I stop thinking, studying sciences with some of the great minds of my disciplines? When I was drinking heavily in one of the world's finest universities, would I be manly to lose my wits and make a fool of myself in the discourse that ranged over any topic you could name (except for celebrity culture)? Or was I more manly that I could discuss economics with men who went on to advise the Bank of England, or politics with a future MP, world affairs with a polyglot who had friends in all the former Yugoslav states and spoke Serbian and Croatian dialects despite his subject being veterinary sciences (this was around the time of the Balkan conflicts)?

Cloudbuster said...

"'Be a man!' strikes me as insulting and abusive. It means: Be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and stop thinking."

It's almost as if his own pathologies are on display. The only term I don't object to is "soldierly," but that's only because in my world, it's not an epithet. I very much doubt he'd define it the same way I would.

No. "Be a Man" means "Be strong. Be tough. Be brave. Fulfill your responsibilities. Do what needs to be done."

Cloudbuster said...

Wow. I just read both articles. Here I sit, having just come inside from feeding the livestock in the snow, my cheeks still cold, and reading about these sad excuses for men.

Even in their quest for an "adventure for men" they are post-masculine pussies. I just have to shake my head as they discuss their designer gear, their "aesthetic" and their different cocktail every night. Really? I glance over at my battered Carhart hanging by the door, and my rubber knee boots thawing on a mat underneath them. They really need to be replaced, because they've started to crack in a couple spots and leak if I step in a really deep puddle or mudhole. I've been nursing a wound on my hand the past week -- I laid it open with a knife while fixing cattle fence out on the border to the woods -- it bled like crazy, but I tied a bandana around my hand and finished the job, because it was a long ride on horseback back, the job needed to be finished, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to bleed to death. I patched it later with iodine, antibiotic ointment and superglue, because I didn't feel like spending my whole afternoon or evening sitting around the urgent care. It's holding together pretty well.

You do what you have to do, and if you really want to be in touch with your masculinity, the last thing that should be on your mine is smoked Manhattans and designer hiking gear.

Unknown said...

"it is possible to be comfortable in clothes that don't undercut your physical attractiveness"


No doubt, one can be comfortable in long pants in Madison, Wisconsin where the high temperature for the year is 82 degrees.


When the outside high temperature exceeds 100 degrees for several months at a time and frequently hits 105 or even 112, shorts make a big difference, even if a law professor half a continent away is displeased.

Aquinas Dad said...

Hmmmm?
As the father of five sons, I blame their fathers.

RebeccaH said...

Utter bullsh**.

McGehee said...

A man does not comport to theory, but to what he finds to be best practice based on his abilities and inclinations.

If he chooses on his own to wear a pink shirt, that is better than if he allows himself to be pressured into never wearing a pink shirt for fear of what others will say.

That said, I choose not to wear pink shirts, because... pink.

Joe said...

This is what male liberals said in 1983 to get laid.

Firehand said...

A lot of stupid and/or hateful people said such things about Reagan.

Because dressing 'like a cowboy' in a place where you ride horses and otherwise do things outdoors is 'a measure of insecurity'.
Such a level of bullshit is amazing.

Chas Clifton said...

In the New Republic article, masculinity seems to be largely about merchandising, but that is nothing new.

But really, on the species level, I think that "to be a man" means that you realize in your bones that you are more expendable than a woman is. That is why sometimes you must move toward danger rather than away from it.

Duncan said...

Progressives spend an awful lot of time worrying about things, don't they?

JimB said...

Well...I have always been happy to be a man. Husband, father, grandfather. With a sense of responsibility and obligation to care for my family. With the ability to take the hard knocks (loss of my sweetheart after 48 years of marriage) and go on.

I guess Paul doesn't like the duties a real man accepts without complaing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Manliness is like happiness. It cannot be attained by pursuing it for it's own sake. It is a reflection of a life well lived.

Anthony said...

Paul Theroux wasn't saying anything new even in 1983. He was attacking the leftist caricature of manliness in a way which can be seen more skillfully done in Doonesbury cartons from the 70s. The problem is that by making so much noise about the caricature, the left has drowned out other versions of manliness, and so young men who reject the left's alternate view of personliness and seek authentic manliness have only the left's caricature to guide them.

Micha Elyi said...

"The coat analogy is almost right. It's not a coat but a suit of armor."
--Brian

And it's a suit of armor he's measured and fitted for starting from his toddler years and he's pressed into wearing it by the time he enters high school, maybe earlier. The size never changes for the rest of his life although some in some places the armor might be thickened and some joints might be tightened.

I recommend Warren Farrell's 1988 breakthrough book Why Men Are the Way They Are and his 1993 landmark work The Myth of Male Power. The faint of heart may substitute Jack Kammer's Good Will Toward Men for the latter.

A feminist is a female who wants to be protected, rescued, and provided for by her man and bit****, uh bitterly complains that he's not tender, that he won't "open up" and show his feelings. Oh wait, just about every female is like that. (Yeah, yeah NAWALT but that's the way to bet until she repeatedly delivers the extraordinary evidence demonstrating that she's Not Like That.)

P.S. Farrell's books are 25 and 20 years old, respectively. They're certainly untapped lodes of blogging material. (The lovely and talented Dr. Helen Smith has barely scratched the surface and yet with little work has picked up nuggets of blogging gold. There's lots more where those came from.)