November 07, 2003


Re: the Du Toit essay discussed below, I just wanted to add comment on the "strong male" theory before I read any more commentary that gets the wrong idea. Some people in the various comment threads on Kim's essay have denigrated the idea of the strong man by comparing Kim's ideal to the "macho cultures" of other countries like those in the Middle East. "Look!" they say, "there's a 'strong man' culture and look at all the violence perpetrated on helpless women" etc. etc. I beg to differ.

Countries like those in the Middle East and elsewhere like that are not populated by "strong men" in the sense that Kim was getting at, where the strong man is a responsible man who takes care of himself and his family, is a rugged individual, and so on. What these cultures are are "alpha male" cultures, where there is one strong man -- (or in the case of places like Saudi Arabia, a group of select "strong men") who lord it over all the others. The rest of the males are forced to curry favor with the man/men on top in a way that no strong Western male of the sort Kim was describing would countenance. These men, forced into a position of weakness by oppression, then turn on those weaker than themselves, women, boys, other men of even lesser social stature. So you really can't dismiss Kim's argument by using the "macho" cultures of other countries in this situation.

Posted by Andrea Harris at November 7, 2003 07:14 AM

What more proof could you want?

Posted by: blaster at November 7, 2003 at 09:46 AM

An insightful observation that cuts right to the heart of it, I think.

There's been a tendency in my lifetime to degrade and mock stereotypical male behavior. Some of it is justified, but much of it is not. More to the point has been the silly reaction in the other direction that men need to become "more feminine" in order to make the world a better place. Which is what I think Mr. du Toit was really getting at.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at November 7, 2003 at 01:43 PM

Second the insightfulness. This distinction is something my friends and I (we are women) noticed long ago. We had long believed those men who oppressed did so because they were inadequate men. I like the alpha-male distinction, a book I read once called such men silver-backs, after the gorillas who behave that way.

Posted by: JC at November 7, 2003 at 03:05 PM

If what we read is true, the "strong men" of the Middle East often spend their youths giving up the booty to stronger men.

Posted by: Steve H. at November 9, 2003 at 05:22 PM