Pardon my language, but Jesus H. ass-blasting Christ buggering Buddha in the cheap seats at Wimbledon. This is the cover of the latest issue of New York magazine:
Yes, that says “The Emasculation of Wall Street”. WHY does it say that, you ask? Oh, good question. Perhaps it’s about how the traditionally male-dominated field of stock trading has become more open to women, which would be baldly offensive but at least have a certain internal logic. Perhaps it’s about how the investment parties responsible for the ongoing economic train wreck are going to have their genitals chopped off in a guillotine, which would be illegal and a human rights violation, but guiltily emotionally satisfying for 99% of us.
Nope. It’s about how the wildly irresponsible wealth redistribution they’ve practiced for most of my lifetime, and the practice of massive bonuses to assholes who contribute nothing to the world, are being modestly curtailed. That, by them, is emasculation.
Now look. You’d have to be a complete fucking loon to argue that the economic crash is the result of anything other than financial deregulation relegalizing economic bubbles and essentially taking investors’ money to the dog track. Yes, I know that there are plenty of people who fit that description, and some of them expect their opinions to be taken seriously, but let us not mock the afflicted. In the land of people who can read history, math, or patterns, this is Wall Street guys feeling upset that they’re no longer getting paid obscene amounts for dangerous irresponsibility. And that, per New York magazine, is “emasculation”.
Now, the easy answer to the question “what the blistering fuck is that even supposed to mean?” is that they’re equating masculinity with ill-considered, consequence-averse irresponsibility. That would certainly fit with that stupid fratboy set of cultural memes that we’re so often told is masculine. I don’t think that’s it, though. I think that’s a bit too facile a reading.
I think we’re seeing one of the uglier mutations of the Success Myth here. I think the “emasculation” they’re talking about isn’t the loss of irresponsibility, it’s the loss of being paid stupid amounts of money for making the world a worse place. Men are taught to associate their sense of being a man with their worldly and financial success. One “grows up” and “becomes a man” when one gets a job, or often, “a real job”. Men learn to compete with other men on the basis of who’s got the biggest and most expensive [fill in noun here], which is all about showing off what you can afford. So when one’s income is cut from ludicrous to merely absurd, as in the case of these poor Wall Street babies, that can feel like a slice at one’s sense of manhood. And what’s another word for manhood?
So I guess, in a sense, these guys really do feel as though their metaphorical johnsons are being put on the public guillotine. Me, I can live with that. I’ll be sitting here endlessly knitting if you need me.