Bushmaster and the Cult of Masculinity

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About Scott Behson

Scott Behson is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a busy involved dad, and an overall grateful guy. He runs the www.FathersWorkandFamily.com blog dedicated to helping fathers better balance work and family and encouraging more supportive workplaces, and also writes for Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, and, most recently, Time. He lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him @ScottBehson on twitter.

Comments

  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    If I get your thinking, we need some different kind of man card.
    Presumably, you think guns are the only one left. Could be, but it wasn’t men’s idea.
    It isn’t men who are not attracted to men who work in women’s professions or who don’t make a lot of money. The lesson is pretty clear from, say, jr. hi. Female hypergamy doesn’t give a guy much credit for being a miner, lumberjack, construction worker. This wasn’t men’s idea.
    Fortunately, due to the hard work of men in the last, say, hundred thousand years, men can now not have killing jobs–no, no, don’t thank me, it was a privilege–and the ones who do are probably just unreconstructed patriarchs or something.
    I know, knew, guys who needed something to feel adequate as men. Maybe they’re a big enough market to be worth the advertising bucks. Probably not. IOW, this is a losing proposition for the ad department. But the general growth in gun purchases will cover for it.
    Guns are not phallic symbols. Guns are tools and men who think the situation may require that tool feel better when they have it.
    Then, of course, we have to figure out why so many women are buying guns.
    And, worse, trying to figure out why the Pink Pistols are a going group is a puzzlement.

    • Hi Richard. Thanks for the comment. You are correct that my larger point is that society reinforces certain behaviors as manly- even if they are stifling or counterproductive. The gun issue was just my entry point into thinking about this broader societal issue.

  2. I’m sorry but “Cult of Masculinity”?

    Are you seriously implying that masculinity in general is some sort of cult men are brainwashed into?

    While I agree there is an insidious side to masculinity, I don’t use that to judge masculanity as a whole. Which, according to the title of this article, the author has set out from the beginning.

    I just think there has to be a distinction here between masculinity and the problematic aspects of it. A seperation.

    • “cult” was probably too strong a word- you are correct. The emotionality I feel post-Newtown probably led to that hyperbolic term.

      However, I think the rest of the piece is a much nore reasoned take on how reinforces certain behaviors as manly- even if they are stifling, harmful or counterproductive

  3. I think this is a great piece, and there is no question that Scott’s heart is in the right place.

    I would just like to add that I think Scott may have inadvertently overlooked the role our education system plays in shaping the kinds of outcomes he’s talked about here.

    There is ample evidence that, at very young ages, girls tend to do better at verbal tasks, and boys tend to do better at math problems. These are macro trends, and they do not hold true for every individual, but they are nevertheless observable.

    When I was in school in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was not unusual for funding to be cut from advanced math programs, under the argument that said programs “only helped boys who didn’t really need and help.” Meanwhile, funding was made available to help and encourage girls who wanted to go into math and science. There has been no similar nationwide effort to help boys to improve their verbal skills, and funding to advanced science and math programs (at least where I grew up) has never been restored.

    We need to see the same massive efforts that were once applied to women and girls when it came to school achievement now applied to men and boys.

    • Hi Mike- You make an excellent point. From what I understand, the crisis point for girls in school is middle-school- mostly based on peer and esteem issues. The crisis point for boys is K-2, because school generally promotes such behavior as sitting still, being quiet, and fine-motor skills- all of which boys are physically less able at than girls of that age.

      I make sure to talk with my son’s teachers about this, and they have all been awesome about making sure they build in a lot of movement into the school day- switching between individual and group work, the ability to stretch out or roll o the floor while reading, getting wiggles out on a mat in the back of the room. As a dad, it is my repsonsibility to make sure these conversations happen.

  4. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I’m not sure that the weapon is key, but men are ultimately responsible for the defense of women and children and sometimes other men. I’m not sure that this is something that can be behaviorally conditioned out of most men, and I hope it can’t. Some of women’s hypergamy (when it’s not directed toward sociopathic men) recognizes that men have the biological ability to protect them, or to try, at least, to do so. What facilitates this in a prosocial way is a sense of honor. We do badly if we encourage men to be less direct and more passive-aggressive, which could be a result for some men of gender neutral shaping. We may not need men’s protective skills everywhere right at this moment, but it’s nice that they are there. Who knows what tomorrow brings.

    • Hi Hank. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I largely agree.

      Sense of honor, taking care of those who depend on us, being direct and forthright, defending those who are weaker = man card
      Being funnelled into only some professions, expressing only part of one’s personality, buying semis =/= man card

      The world could really use more male elementary school teachers, nurses, etc.

  5. Its interesting to observe the narrations in the Testosterone commercials (e.g: Androgel). More gender-qualification crap.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Scott.
    Two issues. You have, imo, a false contradiction.
    Besides, if nobody is doing the first, what do the rest of the folks do when the barbarians come over the marches? Or into the schools? “Hey. Don’t look at me. I have a different man card. Somebody call the cops. They have the old one.”
    Nobody is suggesting giving up the old man card, except feminists except when the bad guys are in the parking lot, and the promoters of the New Man. And they have all taken an oath not to request help from the guys with the old man card, right? Right?

    • I don’t understand your comment- seems a bit off topic and somewhat paranoid “barbarians coming over the marches”???

      The article is about how society pushes men to conform to a single idea of masculinity, even if all men wouldn’t otherwise want to act that way. The only gun reference was the idea in the ad that buying a bushmaster rifle renews your mancard- the rest of the article is about work, family, dating etc. Also, this piece says NOTHING about gun policy.

      In no way am I saying we shouldn’t have cops or soldiers- you are reading that into the article (and if you think I am saying that you have no idea about me or my family)

  7. Carl Menger says:

    There is a lot of finger pointing, particularly among younger men at who is not a “Real Man”. lets be honest, not real man equals gay. Young men are desperate to validate their masculinity/sexuality. With masculinity so poorly defined in our society, action movies and advertisements have a large hole they can fill with very dangerous messages.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    My father, approaching ninety-three, is pretty much still altogether.
    It pleases him to Google Earth and drive down two streets in Holland named after his division–Timberwolfstraat–and one after the division commander–Generaalallenweg.
    Some guys with the old man card did manage to do something useful. Or at least the Dutch think so. But they’re not enlightened.
    Or you could look up “Meyerode” “wood”.

  9. Carl Menger says:

    I want to clarify, I don’t think gay men are not “Real Men”, but I do feel this is what the accusation is intended to imply. I’ve never seen a woman claim another woman, even an out lesbian, wasn’t a “Real Woman”. What is about men and what is this elusive status of “Real Man”? Where did our “Man Cards” go? And how on earth did we get the idea that they can be return through ownership of ANY object?

  10. It’s true! Women can wear pants, play sports, be “tomboys,” go off to college and have lesbian experiences, but are still considered regular, healthy, heterosexual women. On the other hand, if a man even only ONCE wears a skirt, plays house, has “girly” interests, or sucks one cock in college, then he’s branded a “fag” for life. Worse, this is mostly perpetrated by men on other men. Sad.

    I would, however, like to call bullshit on the claim that men who follow “women’s” professions don’t get female attention. You’re going to have to provide some real, unmanipulated, double blind evidence for that one.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      KT.
      Lots of info on “Hooking Up Smart”. The comments get prolix and off-point, but the proprietor does a pretty good job with evidence, such as it is, regarding the sexual marketplace and so forth.
      If I recall some of the points, women’s professions don’t pay as much, generally speaking, and so the alphaness provided by money is reduced and thus attractiveness.
      It’s a matter of degree, not an on/off switch.
      But, according to some, men in el ed get women’s attention; They’re always being watched as potential molesters.

    • Great comment KT-

      I’ll do some digging on that one. I’m a buisness dude, so I’m not really talking about my life (no sour grapes), but was commenting on some of what I saw when I was on the NYC dating scene.

      In general women’s professions pay less than men’s- and according to studies on match.com profiles, number of female clicks on men’s profiles goes up almost logarithmically with income- those making $100k get far more than double the clicks of those making $75k. Also, in terms of height- for every inch below 5’10″ men see about a 1/2 drop in the number of clicks.

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