Wank like a man

The time is ripe for rightwing male-aise

The brethren are panicking over their masculinity again.

The casus bellow in this instance is the American Psychological Association, which has issued its first guidelines for “practice with men and boys” — apparently because they’ve caught up with what the rest of the world recognizes as toxic masculinity:

Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color...

APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men... draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.

I hardly need tell you how the internet tough guys of modern conservatism have reacted to this.

“The message to men and boys is clear: there is something wrong with you... You must be more like women,” mopes Matt Walsh at The Daily Wire. “This has way more to do with the left capturing an institution than in legitimate medical concerns,” coolly reasons Erick Erickson.

Ben Shapiro took time from his Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez studies to concoct what in his circles might constitute a joke: “So if you are a biological woman who believes you are a traditionally masculine man, are you now undergoing something psychologically harmful?” Ha ha, good one on the he-shes, Ben! Bet someone who’s getting their tits cut off will be really hurt by that.

At National Review David French tells us about the glory of sports, specifically those described as “grown-man” sports. "That’s a phrase you hear a lot in sports," he claims. “...Tough. Physical. Courageous. Overpowering.” Gasp, shivers, Mary!

But that’s just the come-on: Being butch is hard work and requires discipline: “It involves shaping and molding. It requires mentoring.” It's not easy-peasy like some chick working a twelve-hour shift at a diner. But the work is necessary because without it, not only do you miss out on grown-man sports, you also suffer from pathologies such as “falling behind in school, committing suicide, and dying of overdoses at a horrifying rate” — which French seems to think are attributable to not being man enough, rather than from the psychological strain of trying too hard to be one.

Also, while men “still make more money than women,” they’re not beating them by enough, thanks to a “female economic revolution.” Being one of the sneakier wingnuts, French doesn’t come out and say something must be done to widen the gap in favor of men — though he came much closer in his recent celebration of fellow manlyman Tucker Carlson, in which French suggested that because women tend to marry men who make more than they do (and the only reason French can imagine for that is some inborn hunger for large partner paychecks which men don’t have, not the fact that women get paid less than men), women making more is bad for marriage and should be reversed (“a strong marriage culture is indispensable to our national health, and our marriage culture can’t be strong if men continue to fall behind”). Like a Catholic masturbator trying to mitigate his sin by stopping just short of climax, though, French dare not ejaculate the fullness of his feelings; he knows some of his readers might think them weird — and some of his readers (though, I’m guessing, not many) will be women themselves, and disapprove of the subordinate role he envisions for them.

So French goes back to the dopamine receptors, talking about how being in the Army made a man of him — and made him strong enough to carry his son up a hill (his wife “is very strong but couldn’t carry him as far,” he proudly tells us) and save his life! I wonder if muscle queens who work out religiously meet with his approval.

Speaking of muscle queens, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative grasps the nettle: The APA’s claim of a high male homicide rate is “true, but misleading. Homicides in the US are disproportionately committed by black men.” The problem isn’t masculinity — it’s negritude!

Also, says Dreher, “the white male suicide rate is six times higher for white men than for black men. That black and Hispanic working-class middle-aged men who suffer from the same hardships as whites are not killing themselves suggests that their social psychology has certain strengths that whites lack.” Maybe we can do an experiment at the Tuskegee Institute to find out.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty revels in hairy-chested activities like... blogging. “Even when guys do something that seems sedentary — video games, chess, board games — they’re often bringing a competitive spirit to it, an eagerness to demonstrate that they stand out at a particular activity,” he writes. “You could even argue that arguing on the Internet is a form of competition.” It's The Flame War That Made a Man Out of “Mac”!

Anything about butchitude from a bunch of pointy-headed intellectuals (psychologists at that — only crazy people listen to those!) was always going to get rightwingers roaring — but there’s something extra poignant about it at this moment in history. We have just lived through as rawly recidivist a toxic-masculinity event as the nation has ever seen: an almost-majority of our fellow citizens elected a TV buffoon to the Presidency for no better reason than that his opponent was a bitchy old lady.

For two years the guy has totally fucked up, so much so that even some of his supporters now hate him, yet we’ve seen the decision to elect him repeatedly defended, not only by conservatives, but also by allegedly liberal types such as the New York Times assignment desk, which periodically sends reporters to the hinterlands to hear Trump voters claim all kinds of idiotic reasons for their choice and to diligently write them down — as if anyone didn’t know the real reason. Meanwhile the House of Representatives has flooded with women who’ve shown themselves ready, willing, and able to assert their power, while avatars of male supremacy like Gavin MacInnes, who stirred up, then sold out his hilariously-appropriately named Proud Boys, seem to compete to make even bigger fools of themselves than Trump. It’s as if the nation is headed toward a reckoning in which we’re going to have to hand the ladies the wheel or die, and frankly I’m not sure which way it’ll go.