Thursday, May 25, 2006

More on Manliness (or the lack thereof)

My colleague, Christian_Left, shows himself to be ahead of theWHO'S MACHO NOW?Zeitgeist in his previous post on manliness, and how hyper-masculinity has polluted American politics. The recent issue of the American Prospect has a cover story on the same topic, complete with a roughed-up G.W. standing next to a flaccid missle. Subtle, huh?

The cover article, by (Mr.) Francis Wilkinson, is not a critique of the idea of manliness so much as an account of the demise of GOP dominance of testosterone politics. Live by the sword, die by the sword, I guess. But the final paragraph does hint at a different model of American manliness that might be more useful for a progressive political movement:

But after having wallowed in our fear these last five years, maybe what we need next are leaders who will raise us above it. The one man who taught us better than any other to conquer fear was no Governor Terminator. His muscles were unimpressive. He had no physical swagger to him at all. His military experience was a desk job. He wore no cowboy gear. He smoked cigarettes not like a Marlboro Man but filtered through a slender, feminine holder that could have been a prop from the Follies Bergere. He didn’t promise to protect us. He made us believe we could protect ourselves -- from the violence of fascism and the vicissitudes of capitalism alike. And he handed us the tools to do the job. We built the better part of the American century on the back of an aristocratic, polio-addled cripple. Now that was a man.

Christian_Left wants us to go a few steps beyond this, of course, to a masculine-less politics rather than just a different version of masculinity. If that can be done, then our politics and our society will be better, but I don't see such archetypes going away any time soon. A useful short-term strategy, then, is to look for other archetypes of masculinity, ones that fit better with a sane and progressive foreign and social policies.


Rob said...

I think we saw "testosterone politics" on retreat during the press conference with President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. Bush actually expressed regret about remarks such as "bring it on" and "dead or alive." It's no longer politically correct to be the Marlborough Man. At least I hope that is what's happening.

Rob said...

Hi this message is for "Christian Left." Thanks for the comment earlier on my blog about my interview with Robert Fuller. I wanted to advise that if you have any questions for him there is a contact form on his website, Breaking Ranks. He's very approachable and likely to respond to your inquiries. My friend Elisa who manages Fuller's website is also accessible that way and can help facilitate communication. I'm sure he would be interested in your perspective.