The Feminization of the American male
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(HT: Justin Taylor)
If popular culture in the United States is to be believed, we are now a country of tough females and weenie males. A gradual emasculation of the American male has been under way for quite some time now, accelerated by things such as the aggressive branding of overactive boys as "ADHD" and the subsequent over-drugging with Ritalin, etc, or through the way the media and culture portrays the male.
Salvo Magazine has run a very interesting article titled "Girly Men - The Media's Attack on Masculinity". In the article, author S.T. Karnick points out how not only has "femininity become the human norm", but "women have become the new men" (quoting from a Salon article). Karnick points out how popular culture is replete with examples of wimpy males and that even the toughest of the tough guys must somehow be shown to have a "feminine side."
Even roughnecks such as these, however, are subject to cultural education into the joys of femininity. The hero of the movie The Game Plan, an NFL quarterback played by hyper-muscular Duane "The Rock” Johnson, is narcissistic, arrogant, egotistical, and selfish—both on the field and off. Only after dancing in a ballet and being reeducated by his 8-year-old daughter, his sister-in-law, and the daughter’s dance teacher does he finally win a Super Bowl ring. In today’s culture, women even make the best football coaches.
As I read the article, I had to admit that I am hard-pressed to come up with a male figure on TV that possesses strong (traditional) male characteristics and who isn't some sort of bombastic oaf who is all tough and no brains. Where are the Ward Cleavers, Mike Bradys, Cliff Huxtables who used to populate TV? I guess the closest thing I could come up with is the dude from CSI, but even he is often portrayed as somewhat wimpy. I loved Karnick's portrayal of the current crop of TV males:
Thus, the war against boys seems to have created three main character patterns for the adult male of our time: sensitive guys who want to please women; weenies and dorks who want only to be left alone to drink beer and play video games with their dork buddies; and thugs who, in rebellion against their unnatural education, are perpetually concerned with proving their toughness through increasingly loutish behavior. There are, of course, examples of decent, positively masculine males in the culture, but they are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the products of educational and cultural feminization.
To tie this to the 2008 election: I think the Barack Obama/John McCain dichotomy is a classic example of this - a guy who seems to be in touch with his feminine side (BHO) versus an older guy who is being painted by the MSM as another brainless cowboy like George W Bush. And the conditioning that has been applied through popular culture will simply reinforce these stereotypes. Since the current hero of TV is the feminized male, Barack should fit in quite nicely.
UPDATE: This must be the topic du jour. I just ran across this interview on NRO with Kathleen Parker that covers much of the same territory.