FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Masculinity of the Future

“I hope you’ve got enough cojones!” George Bush snapped at Tony Blair. The American president then outlined his planned bombardment of Iraq to the British Prime Minister: “I’m gonna kick ass!”

Over the last two decades, much of the world has witnessed a wave of masculinization. Ideas about how strong men are an attractive future ideal have taken hold in many people’s minds. The #MeToo movement is facing a serious attack, fueled by the resentment and aggressiveness of large numbers of men.

Autocratic, populist right-wing leaders are an example of this new, unbridled masculinity.  Donald Trump mocks disabled people, treats women as if they were sex dolls, and boasts about touching them up. Vladimir Putin has a habit of stripping to the waist so he can show off his muscles while being photographed in the snow. In recent years, his government has decreed that domestic violence is not against the law and the Russian state encourages cruelty towards homosexuals and people with different ethnic backgrounds. To the extent that in Russia things have got to the stage where the murders of the dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya and dozens of other intellectuals, are regarded as little more than peccadillos. Much of Russian society became fed up with democracy and gave the green light to the so-called  siloviki, the tough guys. Many Russians support the rule of force as a state policy. One of the  most popular Russian rock songs is dedicated to Putin and his tough guys: “I love a guy like Putin, he’s as tough as they come’, sing the teenage stars Larissa, Natasha and Ira.

“Man what’s wrong with you? Females are trying to take on the man’s role because you don’t fuck them and because you are an embarrassment. Men are wolves, men are lions, men are the leaders. Stop being weak, be a man, be a warrior, what’s wrong with you?” This was tweeted, verbatim, by the great Russian dancer Sergei Polunin, whose followers are accustomed to comments in which he shouts out his indignation against homosexuals, obese people and the undisciplined. Polunin has had a large portrait of Putin tattooed on his chest.

After Vaclav Havel, the late Czech president whose ethical, humanitarian and pro-European stance was representative not only of the Czech Republic but of all post-Communist Europe, we have seen the rise to power of certain politicians whose values are very different from those of the president-playwright Havel: autocrats such as Prime Minister Orban in Hungary and President Duda in Poland help boost ultranationalist, archaic, and patriarchal values.  There is only one woman in the whole of the Hungarian government:  Andrea Bartfai-Mager, a minister without portfolio. In Poland, where the ruling party, PIS and the Catholic Church give each other mutual support, women count for nothing except as mothers, wives and church parishioners. In the Czech Republic, president Milos Zeman is incapable of saying a single sentence which isn’t strewn with scatological swear words.

But the new tendency towards sexism is not found only among politicians. I discovered that a journalist for a Spanish newspaper referred to the former director of the Federal Reserve as ‘little old lady Yellen’. The French writer Yann Moix reduced women to their bodies when he publicly declared that the body of a fifty year old woman is nothing special, whereas that of a twenty-five year old woman is, especially those of Asian women of this age, who are the kind he likes to date. The current Pope was once recently overheard saying ‘All feminism eventually turns into sexism in a skirt.’

In an article on the rise of sexism, the Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra traces the new rush of testosterone in the Anglo-American establishment to a date not long after the attack on the Twin Towers; by way of demonstration, he quotes the Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who said that “from the ashes of September 11 arise the manly virtues…masculine men, men who push things and pull things.”

Peggy Noonan defends ‘heroes’ such as John Wayne, above all because: “The GOP should go back to being John Wayne. He had a gun, it was loaded and he knew how to use it… A lot of people killed him – not only feminists but peacemakers, leftists, intellectuals. You could even say it was Woody Allen who did it.”

Peggy Noonan is a great fan of Jordan Peterson, a neuroscientist and the author of self-help books. The New York Times columnist David Brooks described Peterson as “the most influential public intellectual in the western world right now”. Like Peterson, David Brooks insists that the means justify the ends, even if this means wiping innocent villages off the face of the earth: “In an age of conflict, bourgeois virtues like compassion, tolerance, and industriousness are valued less than the classical virtues of courage, steadfastness, and a ruthless desire for victory.”

Jordan Peterson is a typical example of the anxiety felt by Western men. I met people – some of them in American universities – who revere his ideas. Peterson complains that the West has lost its faith in masculinity and attacks the idea that the sexes are equal as a “murderous equity doctrine”. “The masculine spirit is under attack” he likes to proclaim in his speeches on YouTube, which have had just under a million visits. According to him, feminists have “an unconscious yearning for brutal masculine domination”. He also asserts that chaos is feminine and order, masculine.  This must be the reason, say I, why – according to the American Psychological Association – 90% of murders in the United States are committed by men: the wish to restore order. Most of his 560,000 followers on Twitter are young men.

His supporters think of him as a beacon of reason against “the social justice warriors”. Just like president Trump when he talks about Mexican refugees, Peterson instils the idea into his devotees that people on the margins of society are aggressive and violent, enemies which society should rid itself of without thinking twice. Jordan Peterson acts as a guide for people who have lost their way in a society which they find incomprehensible, by promising them that the far right can be a refuge in which they can conceal their frustration.

In Spain, to mention just one European country, the party political programme of Vox, aka ‘the testosterone party”, reads like the transcription of a conversation between several male sexists sitting in a tavern over beers: its salient points are the fight against feminism and abortion, together with the vindication of hunting and bullfighting.. It comes as no surprise that, according to the polls, 60% of its Spanish voters are men (in the most recent autonomous community elections in Andalusia, 65% of Vox’s vote was male). Although a majority of Republican voters in the United States are men, whereas a majority of women prefer the Democrats, the male percentage achieved by Vox is unprecedented. Pablo Casado, the leader of Spain’s mainstream right-wing party, the Partido Popular (PP), caused an outrage on social media when he stated: “If we want to receive pensions, we’re going to have to have more children”. Casado, aside from his rejection of abortion, is trying to put an end to a constitutional promise to protect women against sexist domestic violence. Just like the archaic, ultranationalist parties in Hungary and Poland, Vox and the PP believe that women have only one role in society: to reproduce in order to guarantee the nation’s future.

It is a short step from these patriarchal beliefs to the glorification of war and the law of the strongest; such was the ideology of Fascism and we already know where this type of thinking led to in the 1930s. This ode to violence and force, which considers any attempt to hold talks with one’s adversary to be a sign of weakness, is a denigration of democracy and constitutes a grave danger to society as a whole.

More articles by:

Monika Zgustova is an award-winning author whose literary works (six novels and a book of female testimonies from the gulag) have been published in ten languages. Her US publisher is Other Press. She was born in Prague, studied at the universities of Chicago and Illinois and lives in Barcelona. She’s a columnist for Spain’s leading newspaper “El Pais” and “The Nation”.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail