If you haven't noticed that men are apparently sick and tired of women trying to force this whole ‘equality' issue on them, you're about to.
A wealth of shows announced at this month's upfronts (where TV networks announce their fall line-ups to advertisers) are tackling the rise of ‘wimpy' men who need to "rediscover their masculinity". The following shows are included in the line-up that will likely be coming to a TV channel near you:
How to Be a Gentleman, in which a metrosexual writer hires a trainer to dewussify him; Last Man Standing, with Tim Allen as a ¬sporting-goods-company executive beset by girlie men; Man Up, in which a group of male friends worry they've lost touch with their inner warriors; and Work It, in which two guys dress in drag (à la Bosom Buddies) to land jobs as pharmaceutical reps. Attending the upfronts, I heard references to the emasculated modern man so often, I started crossing my legs.
I could go on and on about how this "Bros Being Bros Who Put Bros Before Hos And Other Words That Rhyme With Bros (maybe something about Bose speakers?)" TV line-up is largely ridiculous and vaguely disturbing, but I'd prefer to address the fact that this issue is arguably just as hurtful to men as it is to women.
What's interesting about the trend is that, in many ways, one of the reasons we keep hearing about the ‘masculinity crisis' is because it's being pushed to the forefront under the guise of "Women are becoming too powerful, so men are becoming wimps. We must put a stop to this!"
This mind-set completely ignores the possibility that pushing for a regimented view of what is masculine and what is not is undoubtedly contributing to the ‘crisis' itself.
What exactly is it about Tim Allen's co-workers that make them "girlie men"? Do they listen to their wives? Are they "whipped" (ugh)?
And when the fuck have you heard a group of men say they are seriously worried about losing touch with their "inner warriors"? Do these men also have spirit animals? I'm not sure. But they do have overly dramatic speeches about how men are hunter-gatherers (that is, unless they are fags):
According to these shows, we've become soft, feminized and alienated from the physical world. On Last Man Standing, Allen records an online-video rant: "What happened to men? Men used to build cities just so we could burn them down!" A Man Up character's wife tells him, "Your grandfather fought in World War II, your father fought in Vietnam, but you play video games and use pomegranate body wash."
Laugh line! Pomegranate body wash! That's a woman thing used by a man! And seriously guys, why aren't you murdering more people?
In an article on Feministe in 2008, Jill wrote about the remarks made by pastor Ken Hutcherson of the Antioch Bible Church that stated:
During his sermon, Hutcherson stated, "God hates soft men" and "God hates effeminate men." Hutcherson went on to say, "If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I'd rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end."
Jill's response to the comment:
Unsurprisingly, Hutcherson later defended himself by saying that it was a joke.
There is something very, very wrong with a masculinity premised on violence. There is something very, very wrong with a masculinity that sees femaleness as so insulting that men should react with full outrage if someone treats them like a "woman" by holding the door.
The idea that men who possess "female" traits -though it seems that not even these TV shows are certain as to what those traits are (aside from smelling like fruit and not fighting in a war, any war at all)-are considered to be repulsive and worthless is a very dangerous notion indeed.
I do think we're seeing an increase in gender role awareness as well as a rise in the amount of attention paid to how harmful it is to both parties, which is terrific. But the fact that we're also seeing a rise in television shows depicting a particular type of masculinity that puts a focus on dominance and submission is disconcerting to say the least.
Since I could talk about this for days and still only scratch the surface, I fully encourage you to discuss this in the comments. It's a heavy issue that deserves as much examination as possible from all sides.
(And if you'd like to read more about this topic, I recently started reading Kay Hymowitz's "Manning Up: How The Rise Of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys" and thus far, it's fascinating.)
High Manxiety [TIME]