November 07, 2003

Forest Trees Man Woman

Listening to the radio in the car the other day I heard a song I hadn't heard in, oh, a couple of weeks or so: "Sex" by Eighties band Berlin. You remember the lyrics -- they go something like this:

She: "I'm a bitch."
He: "I'm a man!"
She: "I'm your slave."
He: "I'm a man!"
She: "I'm an IRA account at 5.7% fixed interest..."

And so on. Anyway, this song has been in my head for the past few days now. Here's why:

Kim du Toit has a new essay up. It's called "The Pussification of the Western Male."**

What?!? You had no idea??

I have read through the essay a couple of times, and I confess I can't understand why, out of all the inflammatory, goading things he has said about many a subject, this is the one that has set Blogville on its ear. I think the funniest thing about all the screeching and hyperventilating is the outrage over his use of the word "pussy" in its various forms. I mean, I thought "cunt" was the female-genitalia-insult word that was beyond the pale. Getting steamed about "pussy" is so Seventies. By the way, I guess it is no longer cool to use "dick" disparagingly either.

You shouldn't laugh so hard. You could sprain something.

Other than that, I don't have much to say about the essay. It's basically a distillation of his entire weblog; kind of the Cliff Notes' Kim du Toit. Frankly, I've never liked abridged works. I would only read my parents' collection of Readers Digest novels (abridged works that came in hardcovers of three or four to a book) when there was nothing left in the house to read except that or whatever I had for homework. I think he let his rant flag fly a little too free here, and people, as people will do, are picking up on the Outrageous™ statements and skipping or missing the good points he did make. But he had to go and make that silly statement about frat boys and some supposed epidemic of college campus rape. (And I thought that über-male Patton said "A man who won't fight won't fuck." So will they fuck or won't they, the cowardly girly-men?) I'm not sure what causes men to rape women -- or boy-men to rape girl-women who were raised to say "No means no" but were also told that college was a place where they would be surrounded by an elevated atmosphere of pure Wisdom and that boorish, stupid males would be left behind in their hometowns asking people if they wanted to supersize their fries, so that when they actually found themselves in the smoke-hazed dorm room filled with drunken bumping and grinding coeds they had absolutely no idea how to say "no" to the cute boy with his hands in their pants. But my solution to the college-rape problem, if one exists, is to go back to sex-segregated dorms, dorm monitors, and curfews. This won't happen, of course; we'll never admit to ourselves that turning eighteen does not automatically confer upon us all the wisdom of adulthood, and that not allowing eighteen-to-twenty-two-year-olds to live cheek to jowl en masse will cause them to go insane (or worse, become Republicans). (I will note that in much-maligned ancient Rome a man wasn't truly considered a man until he was over thirty.) Of course such measures didn't prevent all sex-related problems, but they certainly put obstacles in the way of the majority of people who are put off by a little difficulty.

But I've gotten off the subject just a little bit, I think. My thoughts simply won't come together on this thread. Of course the media pushes a viewpoint of men that sees urban men as ineffectual, passive-aggressive wimps and rural men as barbarian terbacky-spittin' bullies; rich city men buy stuff, unless they fall under the influence of poor country boys and turn off the teevee so they can go hunting and fishing. And we need more bureaucrats -- government is a growth industry -- thus the Ritalin. And while women are stereotyped as controlling and sniping by the advertizing and entertainment media you have to admit it's a rather insulting portrayal in its own way.

I will say this to Kim, though: why, why, WHY did you have to bring up the Man With Titties? I had almost wiped all memory of that thing out of my mind. (Note to people who are luckier than me and don't know or don't remember the source of the Man With Knockers: some dingbat of a fashion designer thought it would be the kewlest most rad thing to have male models parade around with fake tits underneath tight sweaters. I never saw a fashion "trend" vanish so fast -- it disappeared faster than Vivienne Westwood's miniskirts with bustles*) But Kim brought it all back. Damn you! Damn you to hell! Now I have to go wash out my brain with Lysol.

*No, I hadn't hallucinated that show in 1985. Click on "history," then choose "80's," then choose "85." Observe the "mini-crini."

PS: Spoons said it better anyway.

Update: I edited some incorrect grammar and added an extra remark or two.

**The link is down. Kim's site has moved to a new server, and I assume the essay is somewhere, thought I can't find it on the page.***

***Oh, there it is. If it was a snake -- it would have been a trouser snake! Heh heh.

Posted by Andrea Harris at November 7, 2003 12:38 AM

Have to disagree. I don't think most people are "skipping or missing the good points he did make", because none of his valid points about feminization are news - regardless of his "this has got to be said and I'm a big brave bad ass for saying it" posturing. Better men than du Toit have been on the case since long before Steve Dallas was turned into a Sensitive New Age Guy by space aliens. I love a good rant but prefer them to be coherent. I'm with Stryker on this one. Du Toit is a gasbag.

Posted by: Moira Breen at November 7, 2003 at 05:04 PM

The reason there is such a furor is that the women and men that Kim is talking aobut take this very personally. It strikes to the core of what they beleive and they must punish him for coming out and saying what is to them is an article of faith.
Of course none of it is new but if we stop talking about it then that is the same as accepting it which is a mistake.

Posted by: Starhawk at November 7, 2003 at 05:55 PM

Bustles. snort Some of us were born with a built-in one.

Posted by: Juliette at November 7, 2003 at 07:22 PM

I didn't say anything he said was new. I said he's always talked that way, this essay is more of the same. And he did make some good points. I forgot to list them -- they seemed so obvious to me, and most of them were expanded upon by Spoons and some of his commenters, which was why I included the link to his site instead of going on and on.

I don't know, perhaps I have developed a thicker skin. I was able to ignore the "damn interfering females" baloney and understand that Kim thinks (as do I) that suppressing, rather than disciplining, one's natural aggressive tendencies, results in more harm than good. Either they wither away from neglect, but take a most of one's vitality with them, or they become monstrous and twisted, causing one to become violent and unstable. As to the rest, I disagree with some of his conclusions as to how this came about, and am ambivalent about others, and agree with some few others -- but I really don't care to go into that now, I've had a long work week and can't really come up with anything coherent.

As for Kim being a gasbag, well -- where would the internet be without gasbags? Certainly there would be no blogs. Stryker has, of course, never gassed on about anything. Neither have I. Word.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 7, 2003 at 08:31 PM

Me neither. I guess that is why I don't get the traffic Kim does but I like it better that way.

Posted by: Starhawk at November 7, 2003 at 09:01 PM

My original paragraph was poorly constructed. Stryker didn't call du Toit a gasbag. I did. Stryker just said other stuff I agree with.

Look, the point is I've heard many, many men speak intelligently on the subject of "feminization" and the need for properly channeling aggressive energies without their having had to descend into incoherence or rancid little thug-boy put-downs of women. It's not cute, and it's not just filler "baloney". It's contemptible and unmanly, and it's an example of the very problem everyone claims to be fretting about. And Spoons and the others could have grown some balls and called him on the cretinous assholery (you know, frank and manly like) instead of mincing delicately around it with that "oh heavens mercy me perhaps he is just a wee bit over the top here" shuffle.

Btw, you are not a gasbag. You're a reliable provider of coherent, quality spleen.

Posted by: Moira Breen at November 8, 2003 at 08:20 AM

Moira, I think you and I are talking past each other. Maybe I was having too much fun being clever in my post for my point to get across. Well, [RICHARDNIXON] let me make myself perfectly clear [/RICHARDNIXON]: I agree with you on the observation that "thug-boy put-downs of women" and other ranting techniques are not the best ways to discuss the problem of "feminization." (By the way, I'm sorry if "baloney" is not strong enough a term for you, but I figure I have already gone over my swear-word budget in my post, and also I thought that "baloney" in its very innocuousness was a more effective dis than throwing back an equal helping of verbal bile. But since everyone else besides me seems so mad about they are still seeing red I guess I was mistaken.)

In any case, I found this essay to be rather disappointing, not for its subject matter, but for the methods he chose to use to express it. As I have already said, he has waxed loudly yet more effectively on this theme elsewhere on his blog -- no links as of yet, he's apparently in the process of getting his stuff moved to a more manly server.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 8, 2003 at 08:45 AM

Well, that's what you get for being clever. What with the multiple ideas and the paragraphs more than one sentence long and the nuance and the not using CAPS TO INDICATE YOUR MAIN POINT. Die elitist scum.

Point taken about "baloney". Like "jackass", it's one of those words that can pack much more scorn and harshness than obscene or other ostensibly stronger insults.

(Just thought of this - did anybody but me spew coffee at du Toit's use of the phrase "I don't care a fig"? I don't care a fig? I mean, would that usage not be over the line for even metrosexual Jeebus? What next? "Well. fiddle-dee-dee!"?)

Posted by: Moira Breen at November 8, 2003 at 10:53 AM

It has occurred to me that there were satirical overtones to his essay that make me wonder if the whole thing isn't one big hoax, a stick into the bloghill to see how many ants would go crazy. One thing that makes me wonder is his choice of the John Belushi quote from Animal House. Think about it. Also, I happen to know that Kim isn't really that traditional of a he-male: this former foreigner likes to drive those dinky little roadsters (no link to the blog entry, his site is not up yet) like the ones you see in old James Bond movies, that are okay on the tiny pathways they call "roads" over there but look rather ridiculous on American highways.

If so, I'm not sure that makes me very happy. I have no use for practical jokes and/or experiments of that sort.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 8, 2003 at 12:16 PM

I enjoyed Kim's rant and took it as just that - a rant.

I hope someone less lazy than myself will dig up and post Robert Heinlein's list of manly skills.

The list covered a lot of ground sorely lacking in todays male's basic education, ranging from building a house to delivering a child.

Posted by: Hunt Johnsen at November 8, 2003 at 01:03 PM