The Triumph of the Brute

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About Andrew Ladd

Andrew Ladd is the blog editor for Ploughshares. His work also has appeared in Apalachee Review, CICADA, Memoir Journal, Paper Darts, and The Rumpus, among others, and his first novel, What Ends (New Issues Press, January 2014), was the winner of the 2012 AWP Prize in the Novel. Follow Andrew on Twitter @agoodladd.


  1. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I think Camille Paglia has it right. Men who try to act extremely feminist or sensitive often end up waspish and passive-aggressive. Often they dominate women from a “feminist” perspective. Probably the ideal should be the “mensch,” the ideal conservative Jewish communities set up for masculine, but responsible, men. But there’s nothing wrong with a little helling around, especially for young men. Men who let women and other men push them around end up twisted all too often. I realize that individual genes, socialization, and biochemestry have something to do with this too, and it ranges, but I’d say the key is assertive, rather than “PC” men.

    I love the magazine, but I bet that the challenge is not so much to be “good,” as to be sensitive and human. And strong and courageous.

  2. No one would accuse Martin Luther King Jr of being a sissy. Nor would they accuse Ghandi or Nelson Mandela or Lech Walesa of the same.

    A certain segment of the population who are opposed to humane men have caricaturised them as weak and exemplifying some of the worst stereotypical behaviour of women. That image is far too potent and men wishing to be humane have at times taken it upon themselves.

    Very few men are psychotically alpha, but sometimes it gets put forward as a positive image. I hang out with computer geeks in the Linux community. I honestly can say not a single one in my community would fit into the brutish alpha image, and very few would even want to.

    They don’t cry, but they can be shown how to be thoughtful. These aren’t sensitive yuppies, they’re nice guys. They aren’t so much into leadership as friendly collaboration. They drink beer and burp, but if one of our women brought in the first of a new version of Linux on a Hello Kitty laptop, they wouldn’t even notice the computer and just dive into what coolness has been added to the software upgrade.

    This article puts forward two types of men as representative of all men. I find it ridiculously reductionist. Assuming brutishness is a natural and necessary part of who we are is also ridiculous. Go take a look at our cousins the Bonobo apes.

  3. No one would accuse Martin Luther King Jr of being a sissy. Nor would they accuse Ghandi or Nelson Mandela or Lech Walesa of the same.

    That is likely because while those men did not resort to violence, they still possessed and used all the assertive and commanding qualities people associate with “rough” men.

    I think there is a willful disregard and antagonism towards men who are not interested in conforming to the feminist model. I think it is unfair to insinuate that those men are less sensitive, less caring, or less humane that the sensitive feminist man. I also think that the feminist model does not leave much wiggle room in terms of allowing men to behave in a realistic, fulfilling manner. In a sense, the feminist model man is the reverse of the 1950s model man. Both are narrowly defined and limited. Choosing one over the other is not really a good trade off.

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