Dealing with a Crisis

As I’ve said earlier, a common refrain in contemporary discussions on masculinity is that in some form of crisis, that men have lost their way, and become in various ways, or depending who you listen to, emasculated, feminised or in some other way, less “manly”. – For those interested in a readable book dealing with this mid twentieth century phenomenon – Susan Faludi’s Stiffed  is an interesting and informative read on the topic.

Two websites that also address the issue are the Art Of Manliness which I have been reading on and off for a year or so. The other one only came to my attention yesterday (Thanks Kate) and is called The Spearhead. (WARNING: Before clicking The Spearhead link – be advised that the content is potentially triggering and generally hateful – especially the comments)

Here is an excerpt from the AoM website –  their rationale

“My idea for the Art of Manliness came about as I was reading Men’s Health magazine. It seemed to me that the magazine’s contents were continually going downhill, with more and more articles about sex and how to get six pack abs. Was this all there was to being a man?
And as I looked around at the men my age, it seemed to me that many were shirking responsibility and refusing to grow up. They had lost the confidence, focus, skills, and virtues that men of the past had embodied and were a little lost. The feminism movement did some great things, but it also made men confused about their role and no longer proud of the virtues of manliness. This, coupled with the fact that many men were raised without the influence of a good father, has left a generation adrift as to what it means to be an honorable, well-rounded man.”
And the equivalent section from The Spearhead website
“Over the last few years, it has become increasingly obvious that American men — particularly those of the post-boomer generations — have fallen into a cultural gap. Our voice is barely a whisper in the traditional media, we are consistently portrayed as worthless buffoons and advertisers ignore us….What sets our movement apart is that many men, because of the real injustices so many of us have faced first-hand, have come to a common awareness that there are serious political, legal and cultural problems that plague men in our society….Rather than engaging in status displays of conspicuous righteousness, we are raising our voices in defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men.”
 
So. These sites are quite different; AoM has a lot of lifestyle content, and talks a fair bit about dress and grooming etc. but still within the context of  ‘becoming a better man’ – their idea of a better man is a very traditional, early twentieth century idea, and like all things nostalgic, I can see the appeal. AoM does not explicitly validate all the patriarchal, sexist etc.  aspects of masculinity that we associate with that time – and it has a strong focus on empowerment, through skill building and building meaningful relationships. This article is a nice example.
 
Compared to this The Spearhead is, in my opinion, thinly veiled hate speech and misogyny of the worst, pseudo-objective, kind. While they deny that they are an activist website (here) I have rarely read such disgusting, inflammatory and vitriolic words on the internet or elsewhere. And while they are more explicit and overt in their hate, I think this attitude, and their rationale is increasingly common among men.
 
Both these sites deal with a perceived crisis (As I’ve already stated on this blog I tend to disagree with that concept), and there is a lot of subtextual anxiety, fear & anger on these sites. And while I disagree with the underlying ideology and thesis of both sites, it is with The Spearhead that I object to massively.
 
AoM, as a site, has an active community and a strong emphasis on self empowerment and behavior change. If you’re going to use the internet to create and amend masculine identity AoM is a pretty good way of doing it, a broad range of content, from the lighthearted and superficial, to content relating to improving attitudes and relationships. it’s not a type of masculinity I love, but I can see where it’s coming from socially and it’s appeal, and I think it’s coming from a perspective of respect and equality.
 
The Spearhead on the other hand, does not attempt to rectify the perceived ‘problems’ through meaningful self change, preferring to espouse an easier message of opposition to all who have done them wrong, with feminists and women uppermost on that list. I am finding it difficult to come up with any more cogent analysis of that site, because it is making me so angry. So I will stop.
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18 Comments on “Dealing with a Crisis”

  1. ErikB Says:

    I had actually come across The Spearhead recently, and even felt compelled to comment when one thread contained overt rape-apology (of the ‘drunk girls should take responsibility if they are raped’ variety). It is indeed filled with the most overtly misogynistic comments I have ever read on the internet, and I now have a source to point to if anyone EVER tells me feminism is no longer necessary.

    Oddly enough after a fairly simple analogy comparing rape to ‘basic’ assault, several commenters agreed with me, and one looked up the actual law on the matter and then agreed with it. This makes it seem to me that The Spearhead is just ever-so-much shouting; those shouting claim it is making them feel better and shout all the louder. Yet the actual content of their noise is really secondary, and upon critical evaluation many of those shouting wouldn’t actually condone either the direct or logically implied consequences of their statements.

    This is am often seen tactic for controlling groups–make rhetoric that sounds good to a niche of people and then make your statements ever more extreme and suited to your own ends. The cacophony of shouting will be enough to drown out and ignore valid criticism.

    This is why continued critical evaluation with a feminist lens is necessary, and why the human race makes me sad.

    • Erica Says:

      Hi Erik,

      It’s great that you should bring up the notion some people feel feminism is no longer necessary. I’ve heard many privilaged (meaning, financially well-off, and generally mentally and physically healthy) Americans (I used to go to a small liberal arts college where there were lots of these types) say things to the effect of, “Feminism is no longer relevent because women now have rights.” I feel that this is almost like saying, “Civil rights are no longer necessary because men and women of color have rights.” Meaning, there will always be a need for every ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, etc to have fair representation and equality, especially ethnic groups, genders, sexual orientation, etc that have long been marginalized. Also, I do not like that, when privilaged Americans say that feminism is “no longer necessary,” they are not taking into account the many gender-based injustices (such as rape as a war tactic, which traditionally affects women more than men) that are happening in other parts of the world.

  2. DarrenM Says:

    “I am finding it difficult to come up with any more cogent analysis of that site, because it is making me so angry. So I will stop.”

    Why bother mentioning it in the first place, then? Or why not wait till you’re able?

    • ErikB Says:

      Well, since he did give a cogent analysis by comparing it with another site it deserves mention. Also, indicating why you aren’t pursuing a topic further and acknowledging that there may be more to be said isn’t a reason not to make a post–though it might be a reason to make another follow up post at a later date.


    • Darren,

      As Eric already stated – I did indeed make the analysis I intended, a comparison between the two sites. And am happy with it. There is a lot more material on The Spearhead that deserves to be discussed, but that was not the primary intent of my OP.


  3. […] that combat is a man’s job. Keep in mind while reading the excerpt below that this man was so upset by The Spearhead that he didn’t feel that he could write coherently about our publication: In regard to the role of women in combat, and whether or not this is […]

  4. Toads Says:

    The Spearhead is pretty mainstream, and even has women authors, and women commenters who are in agreement.

    [Note: I’ve only included the section of the comment that adds to the discussion, and removed the personal attack- critical masculinities]

  5. mbarger Says:

    The Spearhead IS a hate-site, and should not be allowed on the internet, given it’s triggering potential.

    Why are men so hateful and bigoted?

    • DarrenM Says:

      Way to paint with a broad brush there, mbarger.

      If you really think The Spearhead rises to the level of fighting words that are not protected by freedom of speech, why not file a complaint with their ISP?

    • Doug1 Says:

      There’s a fair bit of hatred of feminism at the Spearhead, yes.

      And why not?

      Is there not more than a bit of hatred of patriarchy among feminists and “post feminists” in the Anglosphere?

      The patriarchy that has been integral to every successful not to mention leading civilization since agriculture and raising animals – and before?

      • ErikB Says:

        [NB – I approved ErikB’s reply because it was tangentally relevent to the Original Post, but I don’t intend for this to be an open forum, so please try and keep comments on topic – thanks, CriticalMasculinities]

        “Is there not more than a bit of hatred of patriarchy among feminists and “post feminists” in the Anglosphere?”

        I think that ‘hate site’ in the sense of not allowing it means not just that it expresses the emotion of hatred, but that it is also grounded in rhetoric whose purpose seems to be to incite illegal actions.

        While it might not be the case that The Spearhead rises to that level of hatred, it certainly tends in that direction (it at least implicitly condones men having sex with intoxicated women in gray-area situations).

        you state that ” why not? Is there not more than a bit of hatred of patriarchy among feminists and “post feminists” in the Anglosphere?”

        Hatred stemming from feminists, aside from having much more developed and defended presuppositions, primarily aims at positive social change through education and expansion of rights/enforcement. While some feminists may indeed express the emotion of hatred, they do not even tend towards hate-speech in the legal sense.

        and as to your last point that “The patriarchy that has been integral to every successful not to mention leading civilization since agriculture and raising animals – and before?”

        First of all, we don’t know much about prehistory at all, and what gender roles were like then.

        Second, you seem to imply that patriarchy deserves credit, while it may be the case that those civilizations rose in spite of gendered discrimination, not because of it.

        Third, patriarchies have changed in many ways. Roman patriarchy =/= American Patriarchy etc. Since each of them operate differently, claiming there is something valuable about patriarchy on the basis of past civilizations does not follow (at the very least without further analysis, if you have any to offer)

        Fourth, even ~IF~ your assertions about the benefits of patriarchy are true–if it is the case that our society values things like equality, then other benefits from inequality might seem minor by comparison. This is how society normally thinks of slavery in the USA; it probably helped the US to become a world power, but it was a shameful part of history that has yet to be atoned for.

    • dagezhu Says:

      Ha. If you think the Spearhead is a hate site, I would love to have you peruse my bookmark list.

      I generally don’t comment at the Spearhead because I think they’re too moderate.

      Good luck banning thoughtcrime. You’re going to need it.

  6. spokewench Says:

    [blockquote]Our voice is barely a whisper in the traditional media, we are consistently portrayed as worthless buffoons and advertisers ignore us….[/blockquote]

    When I had a less complete feminist analysis going on I used to get upset in this way as well. However, if you look at the complete dynamics that are usually going on with these depictions, there is inevitably a woman nearby to clean up the mess the man makes, and then let him take all the credit.

    I always think of the animated children’s show “Inspector gadget” which basically had a young girl doing all the hard work for her copper uncle, who then took credit. The Inspector was a fool, indeed, but the dynamic was still classically patriarchal.

    In feminist literature, when media depictions of women are discussed, proof of statements tend to be obsessively documents by people who have spent hours and hours pouring over cultural materials to measure as best as possible the situation. Do crisis people have similar work? In fact I think that it would be hard to show with numbers that men are consistently shown to be any particular way, especially if you compare to the number of roles allotted to women.

    Maybe these folks spend a lot of time watching comedy, in which the foolish man appears so frequently because he is unexpected, because the vast majority of material about men show them to be the opposite. That’s the joke, and it wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t in opposition to the rest of the culture. These folks don’t seem to have a very good sense of irony, they seem to be missing the joke entirely.

    (Not that I think it’s a funny joke, myself.)

  7. spokewench Says:

    Oh I just checked out the Art of Manliness site. It is kind of awesome in its collection of content.

    My only question is, if this is what belongs to men, then what is left to women?


  8. […] some months ago The Spearhead was denounced by an anonymous Australian academic blogger who runs the “Critical Masculinities” blog. […]

  9. flip-flop Says:

    So, contrary to your original assertion that hate speech should be banned, its OK when supported by intellectualised socio-political qualifications. You just shifted your own goal posts when called out on the abrogation of your own standards to exonerate yourself. That’s the kind of thing that many people have well learned to look through in all forms of politically argumentative agenda pedalling. The very thing that is causing people to discount your credibility. You must understand that such a tendency makes you your own worst enemy and the menz rights brigade are extremely adept at focusing on that stuff. You end up doing their work for them.


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