There’s a fellow named Dennis Prager, who’s written a couple columns at that festering sewer and embarrassment to erudition known as Town Hall. I’m not going to link to the articles [UPDATE: yes, I will], but I will link to a couple of devastating deconstructions of them here and here, at Jezebel. Dennis Prager is a symptom of a problem that I would like to address, because it really pisses me off.
What is the modern man?
In the Olde Timey days, “manliness” and “virtue” were practically the same (indeed, the Greeks used the same word for both). Being a man was something that you aspired to–it was an ideal condition, meant to elevate physicality, intellect, behavior, and moral rectitude. The battle between Man and his Baser Nature is a defining force throughout the history of literature–and along with it came the attendant implication that “Man” was something more than the rude biology of his making.
Recently, we decided that it wasn’t right to equate these two things–that virtue, moral rectitude, the aspiration of the self above selfishness, should be available to everyone, of whatever sex or gender. I think that this is 100% right, I agree with that, I wouldn’t change it for the world; virtue doesn’t need to be the same as manliness for it to be true, and women are fully as capable of it as men, and should aspire to it as thoroughly as men, and they shouldn’t have to feel like doing so means that they’re aspiring to BE men. This original equation was an error, and I’m glad that we have corrected it (or started to, anyway).
But, in correcting this initial error, it seems like we’ve made another one. Masculinity is now defined by that same crap over which it used to represent victory. Nowadays, “being a man” means that you’re naturally violent, and should behave violently. That you’re naturally constantly sexually aroused, and so women should cater to your needs. That you think linearly and visually, so you should be allowed to be stupid. Dennis Prager has filled the absence of meaning in the word “manliness” with a deformed, thuggish, boner-swinging caveman of a caricature. He’s filled it up with the worst, ugliest, stupidest atavisms of biology and society, and then said to his readers and his listeners, “Hey, it’s okay. It’s not your fault that you want to fuck everything that moves. It’s your wife’s fault for not understanding you.”
This is bullshit, and I’m tired of it. The fact of the matter is, none of this shit is human nature. It’s an excuse. Men don’t need to be fucking constantly–Dennis Prager just wants to believe that they do so that he has an excuse to rape his wife. He practically says as much:
Compared to most women’s sexual nature, men’s sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature.
Do not try and be more than you are, men. Just indulge in how God made you: thickly blundering with your erection, desperate to stick your penis in anything warm and wet. Prager thinks that men already exhibit “heroic self control” in not raping every woman that they see. He wants to be admired and rewarded for holding the most basic and barely sufficient quantum of virtue. Would you admire a man for going into a grocery store and not stealing the apples? It’s human nature to take food when you’re hungry, and hunger is a powerful motivating force. Would you admire a man for not stabbing everyone that makes him angry? It’s human nature to respond to anger with violence.
Here’s the deal, guys: you can no longer use your masculinity as camofluage. If you cheat on your wife, it’s not because men are naturally sexually demanding and your wife didn’t give it up. It’s because you’re a fucking shithead. If you date rape a girl at a party, it’s not because men instinctively need to stick their penises in women, and she was asking for it by wearing that skirt. It’s because you’re a fucking shithead. Treating women–treating anyone, really, men or women–like shit, like they exist to serve your needs, like they are the ones that have to change to fit you–it’s not anything that you think it is. It’s not because you’re a male, and the testosterone makes you aggressive. It’s not because you’re some kind of fucking “alpha primate” that needs to exert its will on the rest of the world. It’s not because of some stupid shit that’s left over from caveman days, when we were also all wearing hides and eating rotten mammoth testicles. It’s not something to be proud of, it’s not something to be admired, and it is surely not something to be indulged or encouraged.
It is because you are a fucking shithead.