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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Manhood Lost...really?

I ran across a YouTube trailer of a new video called "An Emasculating Truth" while reading fellow bloggers and was dumbstruck by the idea that someone would contend ("scientifically") that the end of manhood is near. Take a look at these two trailers/teasers and tell me if you think this guy is serious:

I watched this first video and thought it must be a set up as he doesn't look all that serious about his project as his body language seems to portray sarcasm more than someone passionately concerned with the subject matter. Case in point, look at his facial expressions during the hunting scene as well as the scene at the circumcision. My first impressions from this video was that it was some sort of mockumentary.

But this second video raised some concern in me that this guy really does believe that there's a crisis in masculinity and, accordingly, it stems from some sort of loss of those good 'ol tough guy days when men were men and everyone else were girls or at least 'girlie men'.

On one hand, I'm not sure I can take this arguement seriously because traditional masculinity is still the norm and reinforced all around us daily (you can even fill in a link for "all around" or "daily" as there are endless amounts of sites, videos, commercials, etc that prop imagery of a specific type of manliness in your face 24-7...why else would chevy choose football legend Howie Long to sell their brand? Is he known to be smart about cars? What audience are they aiming for by using him? Are they selling a car/truck or the brand of a "man's man" vehicle?).

The fact of the matter is we are over saturated with ideas of hegemonic masculinity. Any given day in any given town I can walk into any teen or pre-teen class room and ask boys (and girls) to point out stereotypes of what it means to be a "real man". I actually do this quite often as part of my vocation and volunteer life, yet, it never ceases to amaze me how many various groups of kids can always produce the same tired list of images and ideas of traditional masculinity ("real men are tough, don't cry, prove their toughness by beating others up, prove their prowess by hooking up with girls for one night stands, work tougher jobs, drink beer, are in charge, fix things, and deserve a specially designed area in their homes to be men, etc"). In the face of all this, to postulate manhood is not only in crisis but nearing "total emasculation" -- or will become obsolete in the future as women will somehow win the evolution battle, rid the world of men, and become lesbians as Glenn O'Brien suggests -- seems absolutely ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as the stream of reminders in our culture that tell us how to be "real men".

Still, I have read and seen all the evidence he raises in the second video before and heard many critics raise the same incredulous conclusions: men are being feminized in the classroom; title IX is hurting men in sports and is the sole reason there are fewer men on college campuses; and women are stealing men's jobs especially in this bad economy. However, the stat "13% of men live at home" (with their parents of orgin) is a new one. Although, the only study I found that comes close to backing this stat actually reports young women are more likely than young men to stay at home.

That said, I'm not sure how we are to blame women for that one or any of this. And, yet, that's exactly what these critics, including this film maker "Oscar", are attempting to do in blaming women's empowerment for men's short comings. Essentially, Oscar, and others like him, are attempting to say that men are oppressed and we need to free men before they become extinct. The problem is in their "proof" in that their blame game holds all other factors in a vaccum and suggests that men are not to blame at all for their (alleged) collective, recent, lack of achievement. The other factors have to be considered and when one does (example in a moment) we find there are far better significant correlations that explain these trends. One also finds these trends are not necessarily interrelated nor conclusive that women are taking over the world at the expense of men.

Take, for example, the claim that testosterone levels have continuously dropped over the past 20 years in men. Oscar not only suggests that this is part of "femization" of men but also suggests this will contribute to more female births. Though there are several studies that back this stat most suggest that the key contributing factor is increased high glucose diets among men. Suggesting that lower testosterone levels in a man will cause him to have only female off spring is a leap with no backing.

Whether you take Oscar and his co-conspiracy theorists seriously or not, I would ask that you thoroughly and critically vet their assumptions and proof...and then send me your thoughts as I'm always curious what others think.

1 comment:

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