Something that’s been on my mind today prompted in part by a radio caller suggesting that “men can’t be men anymore” and that we’re seeing the “pussyfication” of men. (Small aside, even that term “pussyfication” goes back to Jessica Valenti’s point that the worst thing to call a man is something related to a woman — we’re becoming pussies, that means it must be dire.)
My musing or observation, if you will, is that over the last decade and a half, we’ve seen the emergence of what I’ll refer to as the “Fight Club” generation. The ethos born out of Chuck Palahniuk’s book and more so the film by David Fincher, among many covered, is that “men can’t be men anymore.” The question of what does it mean to be a man has been muddled and it’s confusing for men o the ’90’s. What or who is to blame for this? Feminism of course. That dastardly feminism swept in and took a hatchet to our balls and manliness. And by the ’90’s, women everywhere carried them around in their purses taunting us.
But this is, of course, bullshit. What can’t men do that they used to previously do? Oh, tell women they can’t own property? Tell women they can’t read and write? Tell women they can’t vote? Or more recently (a couple generations ago), tell women that their place is in the home cooking our meals or as the sole arbiter in child-rearing? That they had no autonomy, no person-hood distinct of that of “their” man? That men were entitled to sex with them whenever and however they wanted it?
What does this “pussyfication” entail? The radio caller seemed to hint at something nefarious, if you ask me. His underlining longing seemed to be a return (well, it’s not entirely gone) to the notion that “boys will be boys” in their interactions with women. But one of the most damaging causes of “boys will be boys” is the quite apparent rape culture in our society and the objectification of women.
It just seems to me this “men can’t be men” anymore mantra or the fear-mongering over the pussyfication of men is mostly just frustrated venting that men aren’t entitled to women’s bodies — that because they were chivalrous or nice, that doesn’t grant them entitlement to a woman’s; such is her autonomous choice to make.
(As another aside, I find pick-up artists to be quite vile. Their entire existence is built upon the notion of tricking and gaming women into fucking them — it is sport and thus, women are the object. Say what you will about an asshole guy, but at least he’s usually pretty blatant about it — the ones that put up this facade of “niceness” because they think that’s the surest way to a woman’s vagina seem especially worse to me.)
The guy gets the girl, the guy gets the girl, the guy gets the girl. This is the narrative we’ve seen in practically every story in every medium forever and ever. It’s all around us and to that earlier point about “boys will be boys,” some boys grow up entrenched in this entitlement because their behavior was dismissed as, “That’s how boys are.” That’s not how boys should be.
The loss of that “entitlement” as women came to be more empowered doesn’t mean the “pussyfication” of society. Or maybe it’s not so bad for other men; maybe they don’t feel entitled, but they still see feminism as the antagonist or the “threat” to their manhood — that something has been lost over the years, at least. The only thing that has been lost — partially, because we still live in a patriarchal society, after all — is the advantage men had over women in voting, owning property and having a voice.
The brilliant Margaret Atwood’s quote is an apt way to end this long rant/musing, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
Or as the documentary “When A Stranger Clicks” observed, “Surveys show that in the online dating world, women are afraid of meeting a serial killer. Men are afraid of meeting someone fat.”
Odd that the dangling penis between some men’s legs also works wonderfully as a blind spot in their world view of the lived experiences of women.