Just when we the people think that the Political Correctness crap might well be on the ropes, the little girls of the American college campus gang find something new to complain about.  In the crosshairs this time: the “over-masculine gun culture” that attracts many males of the species.

Vanderbilt University, yes, the school named after one of the robber barons who built the railroads, hosted a whole friggin’ event in mid-September titled “Healthy Masculinities Week” in which the entire American culture of sports, G.I. Joe, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was summarily trashed.  From College Fix:

The Vanderbilt week kicked off with a lecture by the first man to minor in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Jackson Katz. (His alma mater now offers a bachelor’s in women, gender and sexuality studies.)

The self-described “anti-sexist activist” and filmmaker said that sexual violence and domestic abuse are men’s issues and that men would “benefit tremendously from having this conversation.”…

At the event, Katz likened racism to sexism, and told students that “people interrupt other people when they make racist comments.” Therefore they should have the same mindset in response to sexist comments, Katz said.

Sure.  Whatever.  Not that gentlemen having straight conversations with young men, say in their adolescent and teen years or earlier, about proper comportment with women is a bad thing, this smacks of making men ashamed of their gonads, just the same as women are made to be ashamed of our racks if they are larger than the average.

Or it could just be that a man or two or three is or are not happy that they aren’t good at sports and don’t have the inclination to spend HOURS in a gym pumping heavy iron.  Neither is a bad thing, to be honest.

Whatever is the case, the “over-masculine” culture, especially in the popular arena, was brought down in size thus:

He showed clips from his film Tough Guise, in which Katz claims “there has been a ratcheting up of what it takes to be considered menacing in the 1980s and 90s.”

As evidence, Katz noted that G.I. Joe’s biceps have gotten larger over the years and that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone use bigger guns for their iconic roles as the Terminator and Rambo than did Humphrey Bogart in his 1930s and 1940s film roles.

So, the equation, then, is being menacing means being a man.  Who thinks this stuff up?

Being a fan of movie classics and true old-time film noir, uh, this guy does remember that Bogie almost always carried a revolver mainly because the bad guys all carried tommyguns, right?  And that some of the more manly men of tinsel town were John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.  Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Pat O’Brien.  Cary Grant we’ll call debonair.  (He didn’t exactly work out in  serious masculine roles.)  Even William Powell in “The Thin Man” series, although the more attractive trait on display there was brains, not brawn.

And maybe that is the problem.  Bodies by andro sold to young men as being the preferred type, and menacing being manly is not all that different from airbrushed models being held up as the ideal to young women who are expected to do and have it all.  Without winning the gene pool lottery, getting there takes a lot of work, time and money, and is generally not realistic.

One event featured a screening of the limited-release documentary The Mask You Live In, which blames “America’s narrow definition of masculinity” for the deteriorating mental health of boys and men.

“The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man,’” former NFL player Joe Ehrmann says in the film. Now a minister, Ehrmann spoke on an all-male panel in 2013 titled “Breaking the Male Code,” which was organized byVagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler.

“Whether it’s homicidal violence or suicidal violence, people resort to such desperate behavior only when they are feeling shamed and humiliated, or feel that they would be if they didn’t prove they were real men,” psychiatrist James Gilligan, a professor at New York University, says in the The Mask You Live In.

Andrea Tantaros of Fox’s Outnumbered said of this sentiment that the organizers were trying to “demasculinize men” and turn them into “thumb-sucking little beta males in skinny jeans.”  Since no one, really, should wear skinny jeans, male or female, that might be well beside the point.  The reality: American culture is offering superficial archetypes as examples of what it means to be a man.

Being manly really has nothing to do with menace, bulging muscles or prowess on a field of play (many of those men are nasty people, actually).  Being a man is about taking responsibility for one’s actions, making an effort to better oneself when opportunities arise, using a brain for more than keeping draft picks straight, and understanding the natural order of things and seeking to protect it.  It’s about giving of oneself for the sake of others.  That is what this culture is not teaching.

And that is what older men mean, hopefully, when coaching young men on how to “be a man.”

Asked about the Fox News pundits’ criticisms, Vanderbilt’s Dicker said they “missed the fact that … there are many ways to be masculine, but American society pressures boys and men to adopt” the version that prioritizes “being competitive, stoic and aggressive, for example.”

Boys and men should also be taught that “emotional vulnerability, cooperation, and sensitivity are valuable human traits,” Dicker said.

With G.I. Joe and Arnold Schwarzenegger…are these guys sure they just haven’t quite outgrown being rejected at some point by not being competitive, stoic and aggressive?  Seriously guys, quit being such girls.

P.s. Oh, and guys, those big, bulging muscles are really gross.  Take the time to be fit by all means, but too much is just too much.  No bigger than water polo players, please.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.