Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Masculinity As Pathology . . . AGAIN.

Caught a nice post over at In Mala Fide today riffing on the latest CNN article by Psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo.  You may remember him as the professor emeritus at Stanford University who is world-renowned for his 1971 research, the Stanford Prison Experiment.  You remember, right?   The one where the students were divided up into prisoners and prison guards and then observed?  

Now he's talking about boys.  And Guys.  And Men, and why we're all so horribly addicted to internet porn and video games that we don't realize the wonderful life that the Feminist Utopia promises for us, just outside our electronic kill-zones.  It doesn't occur to the researchers that perhaps there is a simpler explanation than "videogame and porn addiction" for today's disaffected masculinity.

Mostly, we're just kinda pissed off.

The calls for guys to “Man Up” have been coming on louder, more frequently, and from a lot more diverse quarters in the last decade.  And they've been met throughout the Manosphere with scorn and derision.  From Christian fundamentalists urging their men to take a more traditionally-biblically-oriented approach to manhood (one not involving, it is assumed, multiple wives and herds of sheep), to feminists lambasting the perceived shortcomings of the modern man, to quasi-government programs encouraging more active fathering.  The cry for dudes to grow up, get better jobs, and aspire to be more than a Workoholics fan site is getting louder and louder.

But . . . really, why the hell should they?

The culprit for their “pathology” is the Demon Internet, in which porn and beautifully-rendered violent video games allegedly produce a siren’s song of captivation that the poor, unfortunate male just doesn’t have the mental capacity to slip away from. 

Of course, no one asks them why they spend all of their free time in idle amusements.  They are willing to study the subject, and make up all sorts of cool-sounding terms for the “pathology”.  Looking at how boys are "messed up" by violent videogames, compared to girls, for instance, or how boys prefer a quick twenty-minute porn-and-whacking session to a hundred-dollar date with an entitlement princess who is already looking for how she can "improve" on you might seem like an unusual poll question, but I imagine they would have been more insightful.  But it's really a no-brainer, when you think for more than a second.  It’s one of those classic“Why on earth do women use twice as much toilet paper as men?” stupid questions.  

The Internet isn’t compelling them from pursuing “real life”.  At most it impels. The Internet is merely providing a haven that allows the disaffected males of the West a place to hang out and have fun.    The fact is, "real life" for boys and men these days is so far removed from traditional fonts of masculinity, not to mention traditional masculine incentives, that there just isn't really much interest in putting so much energy into something that is ultimately going to feel like such a sucking chest wound to the male in question.  Easier to load up on pizza and hack and slash for another 12 hours.

But that’s not what the experts want to hear.  They want to believe that there is something Wrong With Men, because that’s been the politically favored way to approach the problem for the last forty years.  If men aren’t doing what they are a supposed to (whatever it is they are supposed to do) then the problem naturally begins and maintains itself through them, not because of the forces of greater society or (gasp!) the actions of women in aggregate. 

The irony of this should not be lost on anyone.  After persuading our civil society that violence and aggression were universally toxic things to be universally despised since the end of WWII, after convincing us that all masculine endeavors were automatically Oppressive Colonial Racist Sexist Imperialistic attempts to gain Control over Everyone Else, and how we should Ashamed of our Power and Masculinity . . . well, there just isn’t much left for us, is there?  The forces of academia and public policy have systematically undermined any real incentive a guy has to “evolve” out of guydom, get some ambition and “Man Up”.  So they just aren't.  The Puerarchy isn’t stupid – crude, obnoxious, subversive, and self-serving, but it isn’t stupid.  “Manning Up”, to a dude in his 20s, is as close to a ticket to hell as he could ask for, the way things stand.

The issue isn’t the internet, or how our brains get wired in early childhood development.  Those are subtle and ephemeral explanations for a far deeper, far more meaningful evolution in masculine culture.  Like, for example, gender relations.

Zimbardo’s recent attempt at CNN to diagnose this “pathology” include this gem in their analysis:

Guys are also totally out of sync in romantic relationships, which tend to build gradually and subtly, and require interaction, sharing, developing trust and suppression of lust at least until “the time is right.”

Actually . . . that’s hardly fair.  That's applying feminine standards and perspectives of romance and relationships to men . . . and that's as inept as applying masculine standards and perspectives of porn and sexuality on women and expecting the same results.  Sexuality is a big, complicated, many-hued thing, and male sexuality is its own freaking animal, separate and distinct from what women desire and are aroused by.  Relationships only build gradually and subtly when there's the potential for commitment or more than a mostly physical encounter, and in most cases there just isn't. Interaction, sharing, developing trust?  That's a female approach to the Sexual Marketplace.  The male approach is more direct and practical.  It doesn't require all of that stuff . . . so we're labelled by pathology for the crime of not acting more like women (or how women want us to act).

It’s not that guys are “totally out of sync” in romantic relationships, they just don’t care for all the crap and expectations of a romantic relationship that is, in all likelihood, lead to a bad end and a broken heart.  Viewing the current SMP in this way is completely approaching romance from the female perspective without regards to romance from the male perspective.  It ignores the more sex-based “romance” dudes prefer (hint: it’s more like a porn movie than a romance movie) and denigrates male sexuality by insisting on a “suppression of lust” as a precondition.

That is some bullshit.

The fact is, dudes are perfectly happy with the sex-heavy, romance-light mode, for the most part.  It keeps things from getting complicated, expensive, and messy, even if it means you have to learn some Game to pursue it.  But any Omega can troll Craigslist these days and potentially score.  No, it isn’t “romance” -- but that is their issue.  Mostly, dudes just want sex.  It's our primary motivator.  Not romance.  Sex.

('Cause we're, like, dudes and stuff)

In essence the authors of the article are saying “Boys aren’t playing well with girls anymore”, and scratching their heads and pointing at porn and videogames, at the boys, at the scourge of addiction, at the pathology of masculinity, when they should be pointing at the girls and the intellectual world they've insisted upon.  

It’s not an electronically-inspired “arousal addiction”.  We’re just bored and pissed off and don’t want to play anymore.  And why should we?  Society has taken away the things we really enjoyed about achievement and ambition.  You expect us to go through the motions just because we’re “good sports”?

The true gall of the CNN piece is to assume that boys who don’t want to go to work and school and become daddies anymore are somehow messed up when for two generations we’ve had plenty of girls who did want to go to work and go to school and not become mommies . . . and they are celebrated, not diagnosed as having some sort of “condition”, for their departure from their traditional norm.

Masculinity, as I’ve said before, is seen by the feminist-informed public policy machines of the world as a medically treatable condition, not an ideal for half of the human race to aspire to.  In their quest to equalize the playing fields of the world they have convinced themselves that an impotent male is the only civilized male, and “Manhood” as a class is something to be despised.  Boys are “problems” in school, guys who don’t try to compete in the work environment are considered “lazy” or “unmotivated”, and men who don’t conform to the Female Social Network’s standards of behavior are “losers”, “creeps”, or “assholes”.

With all that floating around in the background, why on earth would a young man aspire for the illusion of success that only makes him a greater target, more vulnerable, and ultimately crushes him under the weight of expectation?  When his “romantic life” gives him a 50% shot at divorce, and even “happily married” men get pushed into sex-starved marriages where their individual masculinity gets slowly crushed out of them?  Why the hell would he do that to himself . . . for anything less than a truly extraordinary woman?

The answer is not going back – we can’t go back.  As much as the tools and institutions of the Patriarchy provide an allure to those seeking their own masculinity, the fact is that the agricultural base upon which the Patriarchy resided is eroded.  The industrial base it lingered upon is rapidly disintegrating.  For the post-industrial information age world we find ourselves facing today, the Patriarchy can only provide some rough guidelines, some traditions, and some continuity.  The way forward into this new century is going to be much, much different for men and Masculinity.

So what is the way forward?  Well, if feminism followed the issues and interests of Women, then the counter-feminist Manosphere should do likewise with the issues and interests of Men.  When feminism overthrew the power of the Patriarchy in the 1960s and 1970s, it didn’t have a model of what post-Patriarchal feminism looked like (not a realistic one, in any case).  Neither do we have a model of what 21st century masculinity will look like – but we can look at the interests and issues affecting Men, as a class, as discover some areas that will likely be central:

  1. Fatherhood
  2. Sex
  3. Violence and Aggression
  4. Sports
  5. Fitness and Health
  6. Money, Finance, and Career
  7. Technology
  8. Marriage
  9. Religion & Politics
  10. Education
These are just the low-hanging fruit.  All are aspects or issues that men share with each other, and all are part of the revalorization process.  

(And note that Sex and Marriage?  Two different categories.)

It's not an exhaustive list, but it's a place to start -- and porn and videogames are very much in play.  Social climbing, achievement-for-achievement's sake, and "finding the perfect girl"? Not so much.  

The Manosphere is an approach to masculinity that serves MEN, even if it leaves society at large in the lurch.  That’s fine, as the feminists have been telling us, society will get along fine without the active participation of Straight White Men (or men in general – sorry black and gay dudes, the sad fact is that after they put the signs away ultimately you’re lumped in with us) for decades now – let them.  Pursuing personal glory over public service, personal fulfillment over the fulfillment of a relationship, and personal satisfaction over the ambition traditionally associated with the corporate “young go-getter” is pretty much all you have left now. 

Let's face it: our masculinity is whatever we define it as.  It used to mean jumping out of planes and defending the empire, to the acclaim and respect of a grateful nation.  It used to mean charging up the corporate ladder to achieve success sufficient to have a wife and family, with the tacit approval of the entire community.  It used to be taking the hard shots, making the hard calls, and building a civilization from scratch. It used to be.  That was when being masculine, being a man, and being a successful member of society was worthy of respect, not revilement.  

Now? Now it means Sportscenter, WoW, YouPorn, your favorite online porn store, the perfect craft microbrew, the upcoming season, sarging for chicks on the weekends, bootycalls at 4 am, the playoffs, the preseason, Snap On tools and WD40, .306 and 9mm, whatever you want it to.

Because fellas?  You don't owe them shit after what they've given you to work with.  You owe yourself, because no one else is ever going to give it to you.  So if you want to conquer the world and develop your mature masculinity, I highly encourage it.  Or if you want to withdraw and play games and whack off, I encourage that as well.  If you want to prowl the night for easy pickups and one-night-stands, cruelly gaming the pants off of any fair maiden who catches your fancy -- have at it, with my blessing.  Hell, give her an inch for me.  As long as they're willing, stack up those notches and have yourself a wonderful time and I won't think any less of you.

What I don't encourage is proceeding from the idea that you HAVE to live up to anyone's expectations but your own, or viewing your masculinity as a pathology.  That's self-loathing, penis-hating bullshit, and your ancestors recoil from such crap as a repudiation of every hard decision, every civilization-raising plan they bled for to push your sorry bit of DNA up the evolutionary chain.  

You're a dude.  You like to kill zombies.  You like to whack off.  And you prefer to do it without the judgement and condemnation of every screechtard on the planet.  That doesn't make you sick, or addicted, or of less social value than someone who doesn't . . . it just makes you a dude.  


  1. A classic post. Screw Phil Zimbardo (ass was teaching at Stanford when I was there, too).

    I think what a lot of these commentators don't get is how (1) angry many guys are at how hemmed in the world can make them feel as well as (2) how free many *other* guys feel at the freedom the current world gives them to do whatever the fuck they want to do. Once you realize that the old rules really don't apply to you anymore, you're free to do more or less you what you want. The chattering classes will natter and chatter, but they can't really do anything much, because our highest prime directive is tolerance, and that hems them in to some degree beyond tsk tsking and nattering.

    What is almost *always* unrealized by these commentators is that liberation for men looks very different from liberation for women. You occasionally hear people saying that feminism needs to turn its attention toward men to "change the lives of men". Well, that's already happened, actually. Male lib has arrived. It's just that male lib doesn't look like (for everyone) changing the nappies with a smile, being a supportive kitchen bitch to Sally Ballbuster breadwinner wife, or learning to live an a puppt-dog egalitarian (read: female led) relationship. More often it means video games and Sportscenter and playoff tickets and riding motorcycles and on and on. Just as liberation for women meant that their traditional roles were now optional, liberation for men means the same thing -- but that doesn't mean that men are "liberated" to become "male wives" and "male mommies", taking on the roles that women were liberated from (doesn't sound much like liberation for men, does it?), but that men are liberated from having the expectation of having any role or responsibility at all other than those voluntarily undertaken. That is the mirror image of female lib, and it is already happening -- and the feminists and their WK supporters hate it, because it isn't what they wanted for men. Tough. Should have been more forward looking when you trashed every single social institution that existed in our culture as it pertains to men and women.

    Now, I'm not saying this is good for the society. I don't think it is. I think the society is going to suffer lots of problems as a result of this. But at the same time, I don't see other options being realistic. Pandora is not only out of her box, she's pole dancing for tips, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. For individual men, embracing this freedom is the way forward personally in a very flawed society at the moment.

    1. An outstanding point, and one I hadn't fully realized until your comment. The realization of feminism in liberating (allegedly) both sexes allowed women to pursue the career and independence they desired in men, but the converse -- that men would become happy househusbands, supportive and blissfully ignorant of the scourge of hypergamy -- did not automatically follow. Instead, we get miserable ex-husbands, clueless beta chumps (Happy House Husbands and future ex-husbands), harem-building power-playing alphas, scheming PUAs, idle Puerarchs, and other iterations of an improperly integrated, immature masculinity.

      It's a fucking shipwreck, is what it is. And that's where I see the Manosphere coming in, acting like a lighthouse, a beachhead where we can reassemble the shards of our masculinity into a more efficient (personally) package. Encouraging the growth of unmitigated Bull Alphas, powerful patriarchal Wolf Alphas, a healthy and robust Puerarchy, and adventuresome MGTOW, instead of the shipwreck-prone Standard Beta Chump model feminism pushes.

      Let me muse on this. I can feel a creative storm brewing.

    2. Yo Ian, I'm going to post on this as well. It's an outstanding point and worthy of an essay.

  2. but the converse -- that men would become happy househusbands, supportive and blissfully ignorant of the scourge of hypergamy -- did not automatically follow.

    Right. In my view, it's odd that they seem to have expected a kind of role reversal, and that this would be perceived by men as being "liberating". How could it be liberating for men to embrace the very things women wanted to be liberated from to begin with, especially as men were not really chomping at the bit to be "liberated" from their own role at the time, really. What they didn't realize was that the real converse to women considering all responsibilities to the opposite sex to be optional while they were free to pursue what they wanted was the rather uncomplicated parallel of men considering all responsibilities to the opposite sex to be optional while they were also free to pursue what they wanted. The rub was that "pursuing what they wanted" looked very different for women and men due to very different motivations as between women and men, on average. But a clearer-viewing person would have been able to predict that men would react this way, eventually, rather than simply taking on the stuff that women didn't want to do to begin with, the stuff that they were liberating themselves from, and then find this liberating for men -- that was a silly assumption, clearly.

    I also agree that the manosphere is a beachhead in the storm, a kind of clearinghouse where men can find bits and pieces to assemble the kind of masculinity they want, on the terms they want, rather than the standard beta chump model that the society at large is encouraging, still.

  3. Excellent piece.

  4. Fabulous post Ian. Linked in an upcoming post on Saturday.

    "other iterations of an improperly integrated, immature masculinity..."

    Right. What we have presently is women's liberation from their old social roles, namely chastity, fidelity, and commitment, while holding fast to keeping men "in the box".

    Some men are succeeding in escaping this "box", i.e. PUAs and your "puerarchs" (nice neologism BTW), but most are trapped inside it. Interestingly, excepting tax policy, men trap themselves through sex and relationships with women.

    What is required to re-balance the scales is to finish the equalitarian job and liberate men as well.

    While that would be a disaster for our society...male 'responsibility' is the only thing keeping our society limping along as far as it would be the full expression of equalitarianism to it's fully suicidal end. Only by liberating the male can will we as a society fully realize how much of a train wreck women's sexual liberation is, and move to a social structure that doesn't drive us toward a grass-hut matriarchy.

  5. Love this post.

    One feminist trope that's always made me laugh is, "Women have changed, and it's time for men to catch up" (or sometimes, "and men are gradually catching up" - usually found in a newspaper article with photo of Breadwinner Wife and diaper-changing hubby).

    In accordance with its solipsistic nature, Feminism = men are morally obligated to be the way I want them to be.

  6. Very good and interesting post.

  7. Fuck them in their fucking asses, is what I say. Now i'm going to go whack off and kill a zombie or two.

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  10. Zimbardo...what the fuck are you thinking?! It sounds like he basically picked a provocative headline and theory and then fit the research to it. No one wants to look at what might really be going here. Disappointing. Porn & gaming can be addictive and a waste of time, but they are not the cause of the decline of man, and to say as much is foolish and antiquated. It can be an easier way to tune out of having to deal with the new pressures of socializing. The real issue is no masculine tradition or guideposts. This bums me out. His 6 minute Ted talk had like over a million views. Dig deeper damnit. Superficial psychology pisses me off!

  11. It's a fucking shipwreck, is what it is.

    You have just become my personal god!

  12. Why yes, I'm going to become a slave for some ho, come home to constant drama and ball busting (and have to do every chore there as well) while more than likely she'll screw every swinging dick she meets behind my back and I get screwed over in the court system. No thanks.

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    check it out

  14. Fabulous post. One quibble - "the girls and the intellectual world they've insisted upon".

    Educational achievement was led by men until 30 years ago, when the educational syllabus and assessment techniques were feminized to solve the perceived problem of female underachievement. Now that boys are the underachievers relative to girls, no one asks whether there's something wrong with the syllabus, they tell us there's something wrong with the boys.

  15. I worry about this with my son. He's a very manly little toddler. I'm sure he is going to get in trouble in school for being active, aggressive, and persistent. A man I know who works in the public school system tells me that boys like my son are often medicated simply to make it easier for the female teachers to handle them.

  16. Brilliant post.

  17. I'm afraid this is one of the (rare) instances in which I don't agree with you at all. The Zimbardo article is intended to highlight the fact that playing video games and whacking off to porn is dissociative behavior. Dissociative behaviors are the opposite of "manning up". "Killing zombies" is not manly, it's the opposite - it's escapism. Real men kill REAL stuff, literally (household pests, animals they're going to eat) and figuratively (play a sport and try to beat someone else at a physical challenge.). They don't PRETEND to kill stuff on a screen. And real men have sex with women, not with themselves while looking at pictures of women. (I'm definitely not anti-masturbation. Far from it. But it should be ancillary to actual sex with actual women, not a substitute.).
    For as much as the manosphere has to offer, I've always been a little bit concerned that its largely populated by dorks who spend a little too much time in front of the computer. Defending zombie-killing and porn-whacking does little to dispel this notion.
    Turn off the computer and go kill something or fuck someone.

    1. I love you Mongo. It seems to me that Zimbardo is defending his right to be lazy, inactive and a leech on society. On a basic animal level, we are here to propagate our species. We get sick and die once our powers of procreation vanish. Virtually blowing stuff up and 2D sex is hardly a way to put one's best foot forward and exemplify the strongest attributes of masculinity. Now that I think about it, maybe it is good that he is hiding out in his basement, making love to his hand. We probably want the men who want to go out and get it to be the ones who are making future generations.

    2. Please understand: I'm not saying that those poor pathetic beta/gamma/omegas out there should only hibernate with porn and games, I'm saying that IF THEY CHOOSE TO, that that's a perfectly acceptable way to spend their lives in light of the current male-female dynamic. Or even just hibernate for a decade while they wait for a new crop of eligible (and hopefully more reasonable) females arises.

      Now, that's not what I'm advocating -- I'm just giving it my blessing as one choice among many. The fact is, men need to be made men, and sometimes that process takes a far longer time than we would like. Particularly if they have absent or estranged fathers who cannot give them guidance. Which is, incidentally, exactly the MO for most of the Basement Guys I know. They literally have no clue about how to get out of the basement, and when they do try, they get smacked down by the women Out There so thoroughly that they slink back. Sometimes only age and maturity can convince them to push higher.

      But am I going to condemn these dudes, considering what they're being offered? Not at all. If feminism can see the strong, independent single career woman as a laudable goal and an acceptable alternative to the traditional wife/mother role, then I am merely fighting for the male equivalent: men released from social and cultural expectations, free to pursue whatever course they choose . . . including the porn-and-videogame path. While it was not my choice, I'm not going to condemn those who saw what femininity had to offer them and elected to go with the electronic version instead.

    3. For their own sake they need to man up but not according to the feminist definition of manning up which is slavery. Learning real skills like hunting or fishing or self-sufficiency for their own benefit. Also to pass through the fire so as to speak coming out as better and stronger men.

  18. and to think that the feminist movement really only started as a group of pissed-off women.

    but they are solid in their foundation and assertitude that being pissed off was the right thing to be.
    After all, they are "empowered" to be pissed off if they so choose.

    woe be to the man who does same ?

  19. "From Christian fundamentalists urging their men to take a more traditionally-biblically-oriented approach to manhood (one not involving, it is assumed, multiple wives and herds of sheep)"

    Funny thing is, from my point of view as a Christian, what these fundamentalists call "Biblical marriage" isn't even remotely Biblical (issues of Old Testament polygamy aside). There is no way that Marriage 2.0, with unmitigated hypergamy and frivolous female-initiatd no-fault divorce (with cash and prizes for the wife) is even remotely close to the model laid out by Jesus and the Apostles. But they still demand that men in their congregations man up and commit to women who have no intention of ever committing to them.

    These Christian leaders you speak of are really pimping a feminist version of marriage, while cloaking it in Christian terms in a sleight-of-hand designed to fool beta schlubs.

  20. Synopsis of "Demise of Guys":

    Zimbardo to guys: "Take the coin toss, where losing loses you your kids and half or more of your stuff."

    Guys: "We don't want to."

    Zimbardo: "You're being so selfish!"

  21. Turn off the computer and go kill something or fuck someone.

    awesome line. and I fully agree.

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  24. 'If feminism can see the strong, independent single career woman as a laudable goal and an acceptable alternative to the traditional wife/mother role, then I am merely fighting for the male equivalent: men released from social and cultural expectations, free to pursue whatever course they choose . . . including the porn-and-videogame path.'

    Only problen is that this isn't really an equivalent, both the mother/housewife and the career woman produce something of value while the video games guy is totally useless and when his mom inevitably dies one day he will end up poor and homeless.

    1. Of value to whom? If a woman can find fulfillment in a corporate career or motherhood, why cannot a man find fulfillment in a life in which he is not at the service of a woman? Would you consider a monk who devoted himself to silent prayer for his entire life "totally useless"? How about the 20-something female Carrie Bradshaw wannabe?

      You are making a rather severe value judgment here in denigrating a life that, clearly, holds huge appeal to a large number of men. If you want to base that judgement on their ability to produce something of value, then we have to start questioning exactly what that "value" is, and to whom.

      And there are plenty of female corporate warriors from the 1980s who are now poor and homeless. I see them all the time. Some of them are even moms. Sad.

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