Messing with Masculinity

In an insightful article in This Magazine Graham F. Scott argues that the current concern with the loss of male masculinity is, in his words, “horseshit”. As he says, “My hackles go up when those who are obviously powerful claim they are powerless.”

The kind of media coverage he’s talking about are studies that show there are a lot more female doctors than there used to be, more female university graduates, news announcers, and men made out as wimps in TV ads.

His point is that this emphasis on male powerlessness is a con. It is aimed at justifying a re-assertion of male dominance – “Don’t be a wimp. Assert your natural leadership role.”

One of my favourite examples of the stupidity of “Don’t be a wimp” TV ads are those “Welcome to the Wiserhood” ads that are shown relentlessly on TSN sports casts (and elsewhere I assume.) Typically you have a wimpy guy “standing up for himself” in the face of pressure of one kind or another from someone else (usually a woman) to conform. In some cases the hero simply lies to the other person to avoid conforming. In the “matching sweaters” ad, for example, the wife wants him to wear a sweater that matches hers. He tears a hole in it so it is unwearable. And he is applauded by a group of guys with the voice over saying “Welcome to the Wiserhood.”

Ironically the guys in the group are all ultra-conforming snobs in natty sports coats huddled around their leader/boss/head snob seated in what appears to be a country club setting. Without saying a word the head guy knowinly toasts the hero. The other guys obediently follow suit.

Now doesn’t that just say it all?

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