Friday, January 07, 2005

The Politics of Masculinity

I'm beginning to believe we live in a phallocracy, ruled by a leader who believes only his own phallacies.

I'm not big on notions of "difference." I don't believe that men and women have essential natures that make them different from one another. Rule by women doesn't strike me as being somehow better than rule by men. Condi Rice is not exactly an example of the type of leadership that I want to see coming from women. Or anyone, for that matter.

But I think that we are currently seeing a culture of masculinist politics, not dissimilar to what was seen in Nazi Germany. The social history of Germany in the 1930s is rife with images of hyper-masculinized men, women as caregivers and mothers, the destruction of gay culture, the disavowal of all that was "decadent."

We see similar things going on in our own culture. Even Jesus, that most peaceful of men, has been transformed back into the warrior-Christ, hyper-masculine, willing to lead an army against the infidel. When I was down south, I saw several bumper stickers that declared, "real men love Jesus." What does it mean to be a real man? I'm not sure how men in our culture negotiate the tensions these days. I know that for women, it's difficult, and our constant assault to be what we are not leads to everything from eating disorders to self-mutilation, etc, all symptoms of a perfectionism that keeps us enslaved and unable to function. But what kinds of messages are men getting these days?

Part of this was sparked by the fact that the New York Times referrred to Barbara Boxer's objections to the electoral college certification yesterday as "tart." What a loaded term. And I wonder if it was accidental. Because women who won't shut up are frequently perceived as sexually intimidating. There is something to the Lacanian notion that language is the substitute for the phallus, although, as usual, I think that males who argue for their dicks as the universal signifier are a little small ... minded.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post. I think that George Bush's view of himself as a man and the ascendance within the Republican party of a hypermasculinized cult of warrior worship is a troubling sign of creeping fascism in our culture. And I intend to explore it in the days to come.


d press productions said...

there's an interesting quote somewhere (and for the life of me i can never find it) that basically indicated that w.'s goals for capitalist America were nearly identical to mussilini's (sp?) goals for facsist (i can't spell today) italy. it's interesting, but not as much as its scary, you know?

also, and you didn't hear this from me, but if you ever go to birmingham (condi's hometown), you can hear some interesting stories about what she says she did during the civil rights movement there and what everyone else seems to remember her actually doing (pretty much nothing)


lorraine said...

There's a series of fascinating works, not the least of which is Klaus Theweleit's Male Fantasies, about the connections between fascism and certain views of masculinity. Rather than simply knee-jerk my way to saying that this is becoming a fascist culture, I want to look for some real examples that I can comment on in this blog.

Some Guy said...

"I think that George Bush's view of himself as a man and the ascendance within the Republican party of a hypermasculinized cult of warrior worship is a troubling sign of creeping fascism in our culture."

I would say that W's view of the world is frightening, not because of his hypermasculinized view of the world, but because he is an idiot, controlled by those around him with more sinister plans than W could ever dream up on his own -- Karl Rove is in control. W is the monkey on the organ grinder's box.

lorraine said...

I go back and forth between believing he's a puppet on a string or believing he's an evil genius.

Sheryl said...

Yeah, not to be crude, but both Hitler and Bush are short, and short men are said to have smaller willies. So I think that the macho thing is probably a compensation tactic for men who question whether they are actually man enough.