Friday, June 26, 2009

Andrew Klaven Thinks He Is a Manly Man

I found this article/film review by Andrew Klaven (who writes for the right-wing blogging outfit Pajamas Media) thanks to Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

Klaven uses a review of The Hangover to go on rant about the "girly men" he sees in America these days. He thinks most young men today are wimps and pussy-whipped, to use a non-pc phrase. We pick up his article here in the second paragraph.

American Nursery

Now, I know I’m not the first person to notice the squirrelly roles of men and women in these sorts of comedies, but they did get me to thinking. The guys are all children whose manhood consists exclusively in hell-raising. The women are either fun-loving party girls or grim, death-of-pleasure wife/mommies who seem ever ready to take their little menchildren by the ears and force them to wash the dishes while they stand by wagging their fingers. These dames remind me of a wonderful line in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night about “the American woman, aroused” whose “clean-sweeping irrational temper… had broken the moral back of a race and made a nursery out of a continent.”

A lot of critics get all huffy about this depiction of the sexes - read the silly little fellow who wrote the review in the New York Times by way of example. The standard line seems to be to blame it all on childish filmmakers pandering to adolescent audiences. But you know what? I suspect a lot of it is simple realism. More and more often I meet young guys just like this: overgrown kids who are their grim wives’ poodles. They sheepishly talk about getting a “pink pass,” or a “kitchen pass,” before they can leave the house. They can’t do this or that because their wives don’t like it. They “share” household and child-rearing tasks equally - which isn’t really equal at all because they don’t care about a clean house or a well-reared child anywhere near as much as their wives do. In short, each one seems set to spend his life taking orders from a perpetually dissatisfied Mrs. who sounds to me - forgive me but just speaking in all honesty - like a bloody shrike. Who can blame these poor shnooks if they go out and get drunk or laid or just plain divorced?

I’m the old-fashioned King of the Castle type: my wife knew it when she married me, she knows it now, and she knows where the door is if she gets sick of it. And you can curse me or consign me to Feminist Hell or whatever you want to do. But when you’re done, answer me this: why would a man get married under any other circumstances? I’m serious. What’s in it for him? I mean, marriage is a large sacrifice for a man. He gives up his right to sleep with a variety of partners, which is as basic an urge in men as having children is in women. He takes on responsibilities which will probably curtail both his work and his social life. If he doesn’t also acquire authority, gravitas, respect and, yes, mastery over his own home, what does he get? Companionship? Hey, stay single, dude, you’ll have a lot more money, and then you can buy companionship.

All right, I know, I’m a mean old man. But I’ve also been blissfully married for 30 years to a woman who wakes up singing. I think some of these young guys have been sold a bill of goods, I really do. I think they’ve been told what they’re supposed to be like and have sacrificed what they are like. Maybe their marriages are more “fair” than mine but just looking at them, I think they’re miserable. And I suspect, deep down, their wives are probably miserable too.

If you ask me, they’d be better off staying in Vegas.

WOW! John Wayne much?

The idea that men are little more than horn-dogs who make a huge sacrifice by settling down with a woman in marriage is so ass-backwards. So if he does settle down with a woman, he must be "king of his castle" to be happy? Klaven is what is wrong with immature men - the caveman mentality.

A mature man, a truly masculine man, is emotionally intelligent and has an open tender heart - being soft takes more strength than being a hardass manly man.

Greenwald takes Klaven to task for being representative of the Bush administration's cowboy mentality - sure, it is the same mindset. And sure he has a point.

I'm more concerned about what this represents in terms of how mainstream men view their masculinity in terms of relationships. Women in Klaven's world seem little more than tools of his needs - house cleaner, cook, mother to his offspring, sex toy. Maybe he is kind to his wife, and maybe he even loves her, but he says he isn't interested in "companionship" as a part of marriage.


I love my girlfriend, and I love that she is my best friend and companion. And I am not a man-child or a girly man. She is my soul-mate - and I am, as near as I can tell (ask my firends) a masculine man, a mature masculine man who is fully here, not living a two-dimensional John Wayne version of what a man is, like Klaven.

1 comment:

Frank said...

I thought of the family who adopted the Somali doorman in "I heart Huckabee's." I was with Klaven on some level until "If he doesn’t also acquire authority, gravitas, respect and, yes, mastery over his own home, what does he get?" That line left me convinced that Klaven has a very different understanding of authority and respect than I do. He seems to sell out whatever moral ground he holds by putting it in terms of what he "gets."

Oh, well,... Sometimes it's worthwhile to get some idea of what can pass for deep thoughts.