They fey-fearful

I have a great deal of love and respect for my grandfather. He was a B-29 pilot in the Pacific during WWII; he became a potato farmer when he returned home from the war. He always took care of his family and his responsibilities, but he was not an easy man for his family to be around. For all his amazing qualities, he was as deeply conflicted about his life and what he had done with it as many of my male friends are today. For all his "manliness" he was not a particularly happy or fulfilled guy.

Sometimes it can feel like my generation of men was raised by wolves, and that we are trying to cobble some approximation of what it means to be a man through vague and intentionally incomplete recollections of an increasingly distant generation -- or, worse, from media's portrayal of the men who came before us. We want to remember them as giants of masculinity completely unconflicted about who they were.

[. . .]

It is also important to remember that as brave as these men were, as many sacrifices as they made, as many challenges as they faced, many of them were unable to rise to the challenge of even a modest leveling of the playing field between them and their wives and sisters and eventually daughters. The confusion of my generation and my father's generation regarding their role and what is expected of them is a testament to that fact. (Aaron Traister, “‘Retrosexuals’: The latest lame macho catchphrase,” Salon, 7 April 2010)

The conflicted warrior-chief: they fey-fearful, seek elsewhere?

Re: "I have a great deal of love and respect for my grandfather. He was a B-29 pilot in the Pacific during WWII; he became a potato farmer when he returned home from the war. He always took care of his family and his responsibilities, but he was not an easy man for his family to be around. For all his amazing qualities, he was as deeply conflicted about his life and what he had done with it as many of my male friends are today. For all his 'manliness' he was not a particularly happy or fulfilled guy."

The picture you paint is not of Willy Loman. It is of a truly self-possessed, independent man -- someone OTHERS (i.e., weaker, dependent people) had to adjust to, mostly unhappily. Trust you me, many men -- perhaps you too one day -- would/will see this fate as life fulfilled.

Re: "It is also important to remember that as brave as these men were, as many sacrifices as they made, as many challenges as they faced, many of them were unable to rise to the challenge of even a modest leveling of the playing field between them and their wives and sisters and eventually daughters."

Again, you seem to be using your denouncement as a safe opportunity to bring to life, experience, and "validify" old-style heroes. A commanding warrior with absolute blind-spots regarding his "family," is the (true) father-hero we're most familiar with and continue to WANT to give (mostly adoring) life to: see the father in "How to train a dragon," for instance, who needed to learn some, but whom you had some considerable respect for even before he became more appreciative of his son's concerns. Feminism is tolerated most by mother-bullied men when it makes men formidable, well capable of backing people away, if still tyrannical. Feminist men who feel cowardice to some extent moves their crusade, emphasize the bullying in patriarchy -- it's a way to hit back hard at those they champion, without themselves being aware. Women who do the same -- emphasize the power of the bully patriarch -- need him too to create distance from their controlling mothers.

Ann Douglas' "Terrible Honesty," an account of the '20s, gives good insight as to how a different generation made use of angry, lonely, cold male "gods," to make them feel their Victorian Matriarch-ridden predecessors (even though now dead) weren't them, and wouldn't dare make claim to them.


Link: “Retrosexuals”: The latest lame macho catchphrase (Salon)

Comments

Popular Posts