Over on Majority Report today, they played a bit from a recent Fox & Friends episode that featured Nick Adams. He wrote a book called The American Boomerang. The book is an Australian conservative’s idea of a “pep talk” for America. Go team! Whatever. But he was brought on the show to talk about the feminization of men in general and American men in particular. This is not, apparently, something that Adams can even pretend to be an expert on. But Fox News is pushing this narrative so they are reaching out to anyone who will agree with them.
In the small part that Sam Sedar played, the whole gang was going to town on the idea that we must teach our boys that it is okay to be themselves. And by that, they mean a totally stereotypical view of what a man is. My take on it is just the opposite. Men are acting more like they want. Most men do not not want to act like the boys in Lord of the Flies, nor do most of them dream of the days when it was fine to pinch your secretary’s butt.
The place that these ridiculous ideas of manhood come from are adolescent fantasies about manhood. This is how people assumed their fathers (and actually, more accurately, grandfathers) behaved. And I’m sure there were those kinds of men. But just as now, there were all kinds of men. Today what we call a metrosexual is what we used to call a dandy. There wouldn’t have been a word for it if it were that unusual.
There are lots of ways to be a man. But what the people on Fox & Friends are calling for is not for men to be allowed to be men. They are calling for certain men to be allowed to be assholes with impunity. So you see: no one is stopping, for example, Chris Christie, from being an asshole. We all have to deal with people like him. But these conservatives want us to pretend that the way that Christie acts is right. And it clearly has been for most of the voters of New Jersey. But it’s not right as far as I’m concerned. He’s a bully. Not because he’s a “man’s man,” but because he uses his power to pick on people who aren’t as powerful as he is. I knew such people were bullies when I was 5-years-old; I’m not going to pretend they aren’t now.
Above all, shouldn’t conservatives define the ideal of manhood as something more, you know, conservative. Shouldn’t it be someone more like Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie? Isn’t a real man one who protects the weak? When did it become someone like Christie? By this logic, Genghis Khan should be our ideal. He killed a lot of men and fucked a lot of women. Is that what the ultimate conservative man is now? Or is it just that they want to thread the needle: the ultimate man is whichever conservative politician they are currently pushing. Even when it’s a woman.