Re: Manliness is Godliness

1

Calinism?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 2:57 PM
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Eventually Christianity will colonize any counterculture or subculture, the same way that advertising does. Evangelism = marketing. Countercultures are market demographics / sinners to be saved. Since countercultures rarely have any content, it works fine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 2:57 PM
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The guy views women as chattel.

This is pretty standard for fundamentalists of all stripes (including non-Christian). It's certainly not unique to Calvinism.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 2:58 PM
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1: Ooh. Fixed. Thanks.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:00 PM
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When's there going to a be resurgence of Calaism in our nation's megachurches?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:07 PM
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I didn't think your basic Calvinism had ever gone away? What with it being the basis for Presbyterianism and all ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:09 PM
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6: yeah, but this is Calivinism 2.0. It's all graphical 'n stuff.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:15 PM
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Chattel are so cute when they're mad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:19 PM
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This should totally be dubbed "Calvinjohnsonism", except that Calvin Johnson is guilty of nothing worse than some terrible Dub Narcotic Sound System albums.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:19 PM
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Having read the article, I retract the above. Calvin Johnson is way too twee for this asshole.

Stanley, you might be interested in American Jesus, which devotes some attention to the late nineteenth century's battle of iconography between, as Driscoll puts it, the "neutered and limp-wristed" Jesus and a beefy, football-playing muscular Christianity that would totally give fag Jesus a swirlie.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:25 PM
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We don't really need Calvinism for the manliness is godliness theme, do we?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:25 PM
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10: I will check that out, thanks!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:27 PM
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10: turn the other cheek... which is bristling with machine guns!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:28 PM
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You know, I don't get what's so weird about Calvinist predestination; it seems about as logical as transubstantiation (or intercession, or the cult of the Virgin, or bathing in the Ganges. or the haj*) to me.

I also don't get the hating on Calvinism; Calvinism produced some pretty admirable figures and cultures. (See Scotland, the Netherlands, Geneva.)

* And almost certainly fewer provable negative effects than either of the last two.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:36 PM
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yeah, but this is Calivinism 2.0

FTFA: '"They are sinning through questioning," Driscoll preached.'

In other words, still very much Religion 1.0 under the hood.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:37 PM
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15: so the parallel holds, you mean.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:37 PM
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You know, I don't get what's so weird about Calvinist predestination; it seems about as logical as transubstantiation (or intercession, or the cult of the Virgin, or bathing in the Ganges. or the haj*) to me.

It's the implications for everyday life that's supposed to be the problem --- the salvational anxiety and how to resolve it. Weber and all that.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:38 PM
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Hrmm. Seattle and environs: hotbed of sex cultists. (As opposed to 'hotbed of racist Southern Baptists'.) Looks like we have the Christian S&M equivalent. When he goes home, guess what he means by 'submit'.

Anyways. On the other hand, there is a point to he had that the Jesus who loved even the littlest and turned the other cheek also angrily ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

max
['cf Chester Brown.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:38 PM
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16: Yes.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:38 PM
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9: He can't be blamed for the 0-16 season, either.


Posted by: Crytpic ned | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:40 PM
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Some would argue that fag Jesus is the only Biblical Jesus.

But I really hate the way the wussification of Christianity is blamed on women. The rise of women in the American church in the late 19th was largely due to the insane alcoholism (and resultant religious, social, economic, and sexual impotence) of a large percentage of the adult male population, and the women who took on leadership roles at that time were hardly wusses.

The churches he describes as particularly wussy are, in fact, ones in which women and gays have no leadership positions at all. Promise Keepers itself is a sad little handwringing affair in which straight dudes get together and cry and hug. Once again: no women or gay people allowed, and yet! Wussy by straight-dude standards!

I don't have a dog in the "Was Jesus a wuss?" race, except to say that I don't think it's particularly "masculine" or "powerful" to whine all the time about how fragile masculinity is and clutch one's pearls about gender performance.

The real problem here for these dudes is not that women have taken over leadership roles in the church and made it ladyish, but that women are a lot more openly badass and brave than they used to be in the church and the reaction from men in these churches seems to be to cower and complain about it, rather than joining them in the pursuit of strong faith.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:44 PM
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Calvinism produced some pretty admirable figures and cultures. (See Scotland, the Netherlands, Geneva.)

And provided the theological underpinning for at least one shitty one.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:45 PM
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It's the implications for everyday life that's supposed to be the problem --- the salvational anxiety and how to resolve it. Weber and all that.

I just don't buy that argument though.

FTFA: '"They are sinning through questioning," Driscoll preached.'

Never really got to that bit about the scripture alone, did he?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:47 PM
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Even though the article stated again and again what their gospel is, I don't have a feel for what kind of content actually comes out of his mouth on Sunday morning that makes all these members think of him as so straight-shooting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:53 PM
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And provided the theological underpinning for at least one shitty one.

Except that a bunch of Calvinists actively militated against apartheid; first church in Britain to take a stand against apartheid, was, according to Ken MacLeod, one of the harderline militant Presbyterian island types.

And, of course, the Belgian Congo*. Not Calvinist by definition, etc.

* And a whole bunch of other non-calvinist racist/imperialist projects. The particular type of religion professed doesn't seem to make much difference.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 3:54 PM
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Calinism?

Perhaps Stanley's typo was divinely inspired, suggesting a trinity of a former Romanian prime minister, an animated rabbit and, in the role of the Holy Spirit, an eau de toilette. The sacred vessels would be made of an alloy of lead and tin.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:00 PM
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21: I agree and would argue that the tradition extends even further back. Since at least the mid-18th century women have been at the core of Christian churches in America. Not in the pulpit, but in the pews, to be sure, and by the Second Great Awakening they are the main forces for evangelism, albeit working in service of male leaders. While sometimes this fit the complementary role sort of theology, more often than not it meant women out in public, doing things that women were not supposed to be able to do but since it was under the rubric of home and God, no one seemed to notice much.

I do wonder about the way in which evangelical churches today play with gender norms. There is a relationship between how they see themselves as either accepted or persecuted that plays out in how much freedom they have to play with the reigning standards. In evangelical churches (mostly upstart Methodists) in New England of the 18th century, gender relations went deeply against contemporary society (at least in the eyes of the slowly fading Congregationalists). Women had an almost equal share of the power within the church, men were adopting the feminine role in their relationship with Jesus, talking quite openly about being the "bride of Christ," etc. As long as they maintained their outsider status, these churches had a much more equitable gender relations. Once they were enshrined as orthodoxy, largely after the Revolution, patriarchy reasserted itself.

It would seem to me that if this sort of relationship still holds true today, that as much as these new-found Calvinists want to claim outsider membership for themselves, they're quite firmly ensconced in the mainstream movement of evangelists. Truly daring and outsider evangelists would, it would seem, be supporting much more egalitarian gender roles. I suppose this is all in support of the whole Calvinism 2.0 as stated above - not exactly anything new, but a fancy new rebranding nonetheless.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:07 PM
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That chap's a cunt, you can't fool me. Anyone who blahs on about "ooh, I'm so masculine, me, see how I have my shirt unbuttoned like this" is frankly asking for a good guffawing-at. Although the James Bond novels and Playboy magazine were in general repulsive when considered from a moral point of view, they did at least have the advantage of suggesting that there was a bit more to the performance of masculinity than this dreadful, dreadful boorish crap. (also, this man appears to be trying to work out some verison of masculinity through a code of behaviour, rather than taking the Calvinist view that any such behaviour would simply be the outward sign of an inner grace; ie, it's something you've either got or you havenae).

By the way, can any of you types assist me with the source for a particularly funny stand-up bit in the Sam Kinison/Bill Hicks mode, one which ends with the punchline:

"and the Lord said, 'well Job, there's just something about you that pisses me off'"

kthxbye.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:10 PM
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The rise of women in the American church in the late 19th was largely due to the insane alcoholism (and resultant religious, social, economic, and sexual impotence) of a large percentage of the adult male population.....

From my cold, dead hands, bitch.

The last person in my ancestry who had any real money was the brewer who was put out of business by Iowa prohibition in 1890 or so. I blame AWB.

I used to think that he'd been involved in murdering a Prohibitionist preacher, but it seems that it was the other brewer in town who got the credit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:21 PM
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Except that a bunch of Calvinists actively militated against apartheid

True but the (Calvinist) Dutch Reformed Church in SA was an official supporter.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:21 PM
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28.last sounds like something Aaron Sorkin wrote.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:24 PM
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Like, I don't have a good feel for what it is about his message that his parishoners find most irresistible. (irresistable?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:27 PM
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28:I think it was an old Bill Cosby routine.

Hey Job!

Whaaaaat?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:33 PM
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32: I think it's for dudes who want to be hip but also hate queers and ladies and fear that the two might be in conflict. They could just as easily move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:33 PM
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28.last: No idea of the context, but the following seems to widely attributed to Stephen King:

When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, "Why god? Why me?" and the thundering voice of God answered, "There's just something about you that pisses me off."

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:35 PM
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I think that a tremendous part of the New Church Pentecostalism is "I may not be perfect, but at least I'm not gay a queer". The long term goal is to attain actual chastity / continence, but homophobia is used to make sinners feel comfortable by putting them on the first step of the ladder right at the beginning.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:35 PM
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Don't underestimate the appeal for young women. A surprisingly large number of UW students are members of Mars Hill.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:36 PM
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Okay, I started the linked piece but couldn't endure past the second page. Does the writer describe Driscoll as "the grunge Elmer Gantry"? Because he should. "A commonplace and transparent mountebank," as Mencken described Aimee McPherson, but "cunt" works just as well.

32: On preview, it might have something to do with the strong whiff of nihilism that comes from Driscoll's theology.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:37 PM
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33: You are almost certainly conflating it with Cosby's "How long can you tread water?" Noah routine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:37 PM
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True but the (Calvinist) Dutch Reformed Church in SA was an official supporter.

Yes. This offers very little support for any intrinsic claim about Calvinism, because (a) it turns out that almost any religion going will happily sign up to racist nonsense if they are on top, and (b) it turns out there were a bunch of Calvinists (quite possibly more numerous) who thought that apartheid was a sin.

Also doesn't explain black Calvinists.

Belief in predestination isn't a particularly useful causal explanation of anything. About the only thing it correlates well with is being northern european.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:37 PM
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I've never really understood the appeal of compulsory femininity for women, but I guess maybe it's nice to not have to set goals for your own life.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:39 PM
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My problem with Calvinism is hat it's an individual-salvation, non-communitarian religion.

Are Methodists Calvinists? Because actually they were the big Social Gospel sect, where the social gospel is humanitarianism.

In which case I'm wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:40 PM
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I have a poorly-formed idea about the popularity of churches like Mars Hill among young women and the popularity of the Twilight series among young women, but there isn't enough room in this margin to prove it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:41 PM
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This is probably a good time to reference the Christian glue-sniffing commune on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle ca. 1969-1971. It seems to have disappeared from history.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:42 PM
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44: I was wondering about the long-term viability of the Mars Hill congregation. Seems like a bit of a cult-of-personality thing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:47 PM
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35,39:Right and right.

Googled three pages of the King quote without any reference to where it came from.

PS:Unfogged wants me to install Adobe Flash every time I arrive.

And The Valve has been flat out crashing my browser for a week.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:47 PM
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From this 1998 Stephen King interview with Peter Conrad it appears that the Job thing was from Storm of the Century (full story at link).

"It's like the tribulation of Job in my new TV thing, Storm Of The Century';" he says. "I have Job complaining to God about his sufferings."

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:55 PM
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the Twilight series among young women

Bleah. Nine year old Sally wanted Twilight for Christmas. I told her that she had my permission to read it if she wanted to (that is, that her general permission to read anything with words on it wasn't affected by what I was going to say), but that I thought it presented a harmful and misleading image of girls, of boys, and of relationships, and I wasn't going to buy it for her. Humorlessness, c'est moi.

I watched one of the videos -- it seemed kind of short on the religion bit. Like, he was saying women shouldn't ask men out because they could never be sure of the man's feelings, yadda yadda Rules yadda yadda, but while I wasn't paying very close attention, I didn't hear an indication that God gave a damn about who asked who out. At which point why are we supposed to listen to him for general relationship advice? I'm confused.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:55 PM
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I imagine the appeal of fundamentalist gender roles is somehow related to the popularity of the Disney princess phenomenon.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 4:59 PM
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Well, the left doesn't own "hipsterism". The kind of Fight Club ultimate fighting and tatoos type hipsterism always struck me as tribal and conservative anyway.

The video on dating doesn't strike me as poisonously misogynistic, although it is authoritarian.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:05 PM
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OK, I'm trying to watch the women-asking-men video, but the leather-thong necklace makes me want to kill him.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:15 PM
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Well, the left doesn't own "hipsterism".

I think that's a fair point, and I had this conversation earlier today with eekbeat. I'm a bit hand-wavy on this one, I have to admit.

Much of what's construed as current hipsterism comes out of punk-rock culture, in particular its adoption of a fuck-off subversiveness that's rooted in leftist politics from the late 70s and early 80s. (I might be re-writing the script here, and let me know if I am. I was born in '82, after all.)

It pisses me off when people take that banner and hang it behind reactionary bullshit. Neo-nazi punk rockers was my example, in the earlier conversation.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:17 PM
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"Having a woman is an honor."

stabstabstab


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:17 PM
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Also, I love Hippie Jesus and I hate Macho Jesus, but there is that side of Jesus which seems a somewhat sadistic and psychotic. The burn in hell stuff. For all the crazed violence in the old testament, I don't think there's any eternal hellfire. Seems to be a new testament innovation. It's depicted as originating with John the Baptist's preachings, but Jesus signs on enthusiastically.

Ummm, but of course eternal scourging by fire could be a metaphor. For purification of the soul, after death perhaps through reading and study in a comfortably appointed re-education camp with a caring and attentive staff! That's more what I would do if I were an omnipotent dictator.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:19 PM
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Much of what's construed as current hipsterism comes out of punk-rock culture, in particular its adoption of a fuck-off subversiveness that's rooted in leftist politics from the late 70s and early 80s.

Rooted in leftist politics, or rooted in a violent nihilism equally adaptable to the needs of the left or right? I always thought of the punks violent rejection of hippie values as reactionary in many ways.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:23 PM
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Punk rock had a racist, nihilist side from the beginning.

Pretty much any youth culture is at least 50% pure attitude and stancing.

||

I hate, hate, hate "House". I've actually spent a lot of time in medical environments, occasionaly including crisis situations, and a.) most doctors and medical personnel are average looking and many are homely and overweight b.) everyone does everything they can to remain flat, businesslike and undramatic during crisis situations, and c.) in my experience there's almost always a pretty clear chain of command, and not staged debates involving half a dozen vivid personalities acting out.
|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:31 PM
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55: I came to punk culture late in the game (mid '90s) and take a narrow view of what's actually punk rock: anti-fascist, pro-feminism, pro-gay-rights. I listened to (and still do!) a lot of Propagandhi, to lay my biases out on the table.

You can't be a reactionary fundamentalist and be punk rock; you're just being, to adopt a phrase, a cunt.

(On preview, I think I'm re-writing things and should back off the position and just say Driscoll's plainly painting as subversive something quite regressive.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:33 PM
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57.last: Yes and yes.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:40 PM
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I guess what I find most troubling about this sort of "we embrace social misfits" pose in certain churches is that Driscoll seems not to understand social misfits at all. I've watched five or six of his little videos now and the point of all of them seems to be "See, look, it's easy to do the conservative heteronormative thing because I did it and it wasn't hard at all!" Well, bully for you that you've never found it difficult or impossible to fit into that lifestyle. Does he really think that people who don't behave that way only do so because they like having difficult lives in which people judge them and they're denied access to the rewards of fitting in?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:44 PM
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re: 57

I don't think you get to really define what's punk, though. As Emerson said, there have always been racist/reactionary elements right from day one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:48 PM
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The video on dating doesn't strike me as poisonously misogynistic, although it is authoritarian.

The one on whether women should ask out men immediately elides "ask a man out" into "chasing a man".


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:51 PM
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60: Yeah, I know. I admitted I was hand-wavy.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:52 PM
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I sort of expect this guy to be explaining that homosexuality has no power over him by grabbing other men manfully.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:54 PM
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re: 62

It's always struck me that the late-80s/90s punk ethic out of the US doesn't really look anything like 70s punk [as found in the UK].

There are lots of shared bits and bobs, but, as an outsider, they look/feel different.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:56 PM
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who knows the appropriate treatment for a suddenly-in-excruciating-pain lower back?


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 5:59 PM
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65: It's God's will, Cecily.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:01 PM
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God's will SUUUUUUCKS!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:02 PM
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Lie flat on your back on the floor?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:03 PM
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A very hot bath, aspirin, and bed rest until you can get to the doctor.

That's what I'd do. No guarantees, obvs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:03 PM
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65: Can you get into a child's pose? Get on your knees, tops of feet on the floor, sit back on heels, and lay forward with your forehead on the ground, hands in front of you, straight but not rigid. Breathe deeply while letting gravity pull your back muscles loose.

Or: lie on your back with your knees relaxed on your chest, wiggling your butt lightly back and forth.

Does that help? It helps me sometimes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:03 PM
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maybe there are little demons hiding in there. I'll let anyone do an exorcism, and I'll give you a cookie too!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:03 PM
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I was on my back for a while, trying to deep breathe, but mainly twitching and crying. I made it up the stairs with crutches but am pretty much out for the count at this point I think. If bed rest doesn't work, then I'll just be hangin out here in my bed for the foreseeable future.

I can't really walk, or sit, or get from any position into any other. It is very dramatic.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:07 PM
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Child's pose is a good recommendation. I forgot about that.

(Cecily, not to pester you when you are miserable, but is it really true that deaf people are not allowed to sit in exit rows on airplanes?)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:10 PM
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oh the child pose seems maybe right. it doesn't hurt to do it anyway. THanks AWB!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:10 PM
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73: yes. because you would not be able to hear the instructions over the intercom in the event of actually using the exit row exit. (is my understanding). Old people and people kids and people with various other disabilities also can't sit there.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:11 PM
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75: Hm. Thanks for explaining.

(Everybody should go read Cecily's stepdad's extremely useful if mildly horrifying vocabulary addition.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:15 PM
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I like the stylish, subtle cross pattern of buttons on his fucking shirt.


Posted by: bbass | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:17 PM
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(Everybody should go read Cecily's stepdad's extremely useful if mildly horrifying vocabulary addition.)

That is indeed excellent.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:18 PM
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my stepdad knows an Unfogged lawyer! I don't know if I'm allowed to say anything else than that. These people with all their crazy ethics and secrets and whatnot. Crazy lawyers.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:26 PM
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re: 57: There's a reason why Mr. Biafra felt the need to title a song, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:27 PM
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I haven't read the thread past 21, but I have to say that I love AWB's remark there: I don't think it's particularly "masculine" or "powerful" to whine all the time about how fragile masculinity is and clutch one's pearls about gender performance.

As you were!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:31 PM
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I read something once in which a leather sadist whimpered about how much it hurt when others shrank from him or avoided him: "We have feelings too".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:40 PM
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As for my "as you were" -- sorry, Cecily, I hadn't read yet that you were in back pain.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:46 PM
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Mcmanus at 46:

PS:Unfogged wants me to install Adobe Flash every time I arrive.

Yeah, me too. I finally agreed, and all is well, so just give in, bob.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:50 PM
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Ann Hathaway has to learn to hold her mud, if you ask me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:50 PM
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Is this the thread about how the STEELERS ROCK!!!!! ?

WOOOOOOO

My sister feels that my parenting is suspect, as Iris had to be told what a "touchdown" is. I blame my wife.

OTOH, she also learned today what a hermaphrodite* is, as well as the terms origins (of course).

* AB pointed out that this term is disfavored; point taken.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:51 PM
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my stepdad knows an Unfogged lawyer!

Well, that eliminates 25 percent of Unfogged.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:51 PM
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JRoth:

My young son learned the words "shit" and "fuck" when UVa missed two field goals on their way to losing a bowl game.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:52 PM
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Is this the thread about how the STEELERS ROCK!!!!! ?

yes.

* AB pointed out that this term is disfavored

only for talking about human beings.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:53 PM
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this term is disfavored

Wait, what? What's the preferred term, then?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:53 PM
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The one on whether women should ask out men immediately elides "ask a man out" into "chasing a man".

Oh. I didn't see that one. I'm sure it's awful. I was talking about the one on "should you date if you aren't ready to marry".

I don't think it's particularly "masculine" or "powerful" to whine all the time about how fragile masculinity is and clutch one's pearls about gender performance.

It's extremely masculine. Hard-core traditional masculinity is an achieved status which is always under threat and must be supported through social strictures. It is hard and difficult and unnatural and takes courage and discipline that must be taught through a mix of positive example and shaming. I don't think this is controversial or hidden, it's at the core of the thing. As any high school football coach or Marine drill seargent will tell you, men are made, not born.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:54 PM
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Cecily:

Back pain is a huge motivator to regular strengthening of your back. Once you have had back pain, you never want to go back. Prior to having a suddent back pain, I didnt have proper sympathy for people with back pain.

I hope it stops soon for you!!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:55 PM
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In the hospital orthopedic ward the injured bikers seemed to whine more than the average.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 6:59 PM
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93: Vroom-vroom bikers or pedal-pedal bikers?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:00 PM
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I have shoulder pain that seems to be physical deterioration rather than something that might be improved by exercise. The doctor's handout released him from liability by explaining that exercise might help, or it might make things worse.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:01 PM
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Hells Angels types.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:01 PM
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Hey, sorry Cecily. I had that last year and it sucks. Really nothing to do during the acute phase but find a comfortable position (usually lying down) and relax. Child's pose does help stretch it out. Try to maintain a gentle form of regular activity though, even if it's painful it doesn't hurt you and keeps you used to moving.

Go to a doctor tomorrow and get some good drugs. Ummm, I sent you an email too.


Posted by: PGoddamnD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:04 PM
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A nurse friend of mine says the same thing. Big manly men whine more about pain and are more afraid of blood and needles than women.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:10 PM
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@91

True, but it's at least a little puzzling that it's supposedly the "natural way" if it's so hard to do.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:11 PM
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96 to 90.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:13 PM
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99: I can tell you're a pussy.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:16 PM
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The whole PGD-as-masculinity-expert thing is kind of cracking me up. Also the "punk was always liberal!" thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:18 PM
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The on-your-back knees-up butt-wiggling is good for exercising the psoas muscles, the development of which helps you hold up your spine without over-tensing the muscles that cause backache. Highly recommended!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:18 PM
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I sort of expect this guy to be explaining that homosexuality has no power over him by grabbing other men manfully.

snort.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:19 PM
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Somewhat related, as a child, I had a poster in my room that said "Nothing is so gentle as real strength. Nothing is so strong as real gentleness."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:20 PM
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98: Some women are incredibly stoical, for example my mother.

Bikers normally control people by bullying them, but if they can't do that, they'll manipulate by whining.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:21 PM
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Also the "punk was always liberal!" thing.

I take full credit for running that ball down a field that really wasn't there.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:21 PM
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97.last.last: Uh, I had meant to ask you whether the new job would be helped by taking action on the hearing aid thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:22 PM
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The on-your-back knees-up butt-wiggling is good... Highly recommended!

The fruit, it hangs so low.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:23 PM
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106: there's a great character in Vineland who's a rebel biker type who basically gets through life by having a profound sense that he's the aggrieved party in any interaction and whining or bullying as necessary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:25 PM
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The whole PGD-as-masculinity-expert thing is kind of cracking me up.

if this wasn't the internet you'd be getting your ass kicked right now, fat boy.

The academic masculinity "experts" mostly seem to be lesbian feminists. Highly qualified!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:27 PM
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The academic masculinity "experts" mostly seem to be lesbian feminists.

Hm, I wonder why a group of people who are repeatedly told that their non-feminine behaviors are unnatural and obscene might be invested in thoughtful examinations of the history of masculine gender performance...


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:30 PM
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if this wasn't the internet you'd be getting your ass kicked right now, fat boy.

That's what I like to hear! It is typical at this point to drop some hints as to martial arts prowess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:30 PM
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Well, leaving the whole skins in punk thing aside (although a very real thing, even as late as the 80s in Chicago -- CA has bananas stories about pitched battles on Clark St. between lefty punks and skins), there were always macho assholes in punk rock. Agnostic Front, anyone? And heck, even leaving aside the admittedly, uh, homosocial NYHC scene, 7 Seconds wrote "Not Just Boys Fun" for a reason.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:31 PM
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I always think of the lefty, vegan animal-rights-y thing in punk rock as coming rather later, like the late eighties, as an outgrowth of like the DC scene. Maybe I'm inventing that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:35 PM
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MDC was making their lefty, animal-rights punk rock in Texas in the early 80s. But that -- and all the other lefty anti-Reagan stuff -- wasn't the crunchy chewy stuff you mean.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:41 PM
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I think.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:41 PM
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More seriously, everyone's sort of a masculinity expert because it still has enough ideological power that everyone has to stand in relation to it somehow. And the naturalness/unnaturalness split in gender roles is really pretty interesting...men and women are different enough that the difference can get played as "natural", but in the end they are also so similar that the level of differentiation needed to dragoon people into socialized gender roles takes a ton of training.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:41 PM
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115, 116: I'm with ttaM up above at 64: punk is 70s, UK. Whatever's counted as 80s or 90s punk here in the US I think of as derivative, and simulating mostly a style of dress. It's probably better to use terms like 'early' and 'later' punk if the latter is admitted.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:51 PM
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re: 115

That's sort of how I've seen it. But then, there was Crass [and others]. So I suppose it was a strand that was always there a little.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crass

Although the DC type of stuff always seems, to an outsider, like it's more about lifestyle than politics [may be wrong, not like I really know what I am talking about here].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:51 PM
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118: in the end they are also so similar that the level of differentiation needed to dragoon people into socialized gender roles takes a ton of training.

PGD, I think this is the first time I've ever heard you admit this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 7:53 PM
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121: I always believed that. On Unfogged I just felt the other end of the argument (that men and women do have some natural differences) was underrepresented and needed louder and more obnoxious advocacy.

That's what I like to hear! It is typical at this point to drop some hints as to martial arts prowess.

As a comparatively slender intellectual, I use subtle chi-based ninja techniques. For you, the death touch s called for. Left alive, you and your buddies would just hack my accounts and steal my credit card numbers. Typical cowardly left-wing tactics.

I did (very) briefly box until I realized it involved getting punched in the face. Repeatedly. Especially if you're slow.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:06 PM
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Dim mak! That's always a good one. Any of the kung fu techniques which are so deadly they can never be practiced! would work, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:07 PM
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122: I just felt the other end of the argument (that men and women do have some natural differences) was underrepresented and needed louder and more obnoxious advocacy.

Ahem. Well, I suspected that, but it was really hard to tell.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:17 PM
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Actually this exchange between PGD and Sifu is hysterically funny.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:22 PM
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I deleted a more extended thing I wrote about Calvin Johnson and how inapt my joke was. Isn't there a bit in Our Band Could Be Your Life where they're playing a show with Fugazi and someone launches an ashtray at Johnson's head? And I think for very related reasons to what's going on with some of the Mars Hill stuff -- a dude at a Fugazi show in 1986 may be considered somewhere between laughable and contemptible by the everyday world, but at least he knows he's dangerous and transgressive, and then Beat Happening has to fuck it all up by getting on stage, mincing about, and singing about the awesomeness of clapping and finger-painting.

115 - I think that's mostly right, yeah. Ernestcore.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:23 PM
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I know punk means cuddle.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:25 PM
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126: wikipedia has it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:26 PM
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Ernestcore.

The Importance of Feelings: Ernestcore.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:28 PM
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The Importance of Feelings: Ernestcore.

You know what, Stuart Vern? I like you. You're not like the other people here in the trailer park.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:30 PM
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Amazon Search Inside says it was at a show in Resada in 1990, presumably at the Country Club.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:33 PM
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130: I first became aware of this about ten years ago, the summer my oldest boy, Bill Jr. died.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:35 PM
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only for talking about human beings.

I was pretty sure, but didn't want to belabor the point.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:36 PM
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133 to 89.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:37 PM
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We've moved on a fair bit, and I don't really want to get into this with Keir, who seems to have a dog in this fight, but:

Presbyterianism in the US, IME, was the original Prosperity Gospel - that's why it was what all the steel barons practiced, because it told them that their success was proof of election, the logical consequence of which being that brutal oppression of labor movements would only make God's grace more manifest.

Awesome Christianity.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:44 PM
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||

Every minute of the Golden Globes just reminds you how wonderful scriptwriters are. Actors and actresses are fucking morons. They can't put two sentences together without three cliches and an inanity. They're incoherent and mawkish and too labile to live. Just imagine how flooded the world would be with that shit if the scriptwriters weren't protecting us. Actors and actresses should never be allowed to speak for themselves.

My sister's watching in the other room. Why do you ask?

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:48 PM
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136: Our current house GG speculation is about who's the most drunkfaced.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:53 PM
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Proving that severe short-term memory deficits can have entertaining side effects, I initially assumed 137 was in reference to the punk conversation, by way of GG Allin.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:55 PM
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136: John, why then do you carry on about Scarlett and whoever, the hot chix?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:55 PM
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And yet I remember back in HS and college, the people who acted in plays and took drama classes were among the most creative and interesting people.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:58 PM
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Um, um, Scarlett is really extraordinarily articulate, and then, um, there's more to life than just verbalization.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 8:59 PM
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140: I see two possibilities: either they've all been corrupted by their vast success as hollywood celebrities, or they aren't the actors and actresses taking the stage at the golden globes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:00 PM
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140: Yeah, but mostly they were on the neutral to ugly side, with a few really hot ones (who weren't always quite so creative). It's the really hot ones that can make a career of it.

Seriously, it's because casting cares more about appearance than acting ability. There are actually some really smart actors, here and there.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:00 PM
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I think we'd all like to hear more about Fleur Ruprecht's high school experiences with Hollywood celebrities.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:01 PM
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I have a friend who's acted in London and NY, and he says that being a good actor is just the beginning. The cutthroat careerist self-promotion aspect is enormous, he says.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:03 PM
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but mostly they were on the neutral to ugly side

They were not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:05 PM
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Were too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:06 PM
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Also, 144: gag.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:07 PM
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145: Reminds me of Arrested Development, where that guy goes around the office of some hollywood type people starting rumors about his own greatness in the breakroom.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:09 PM
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On the GG, I was surprised at how uninteresting Spielberg was. He couldn't even claim to be surprised.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:21 PM
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We've moved on a fair bit, and I don't really want to get into this with Keir, who seems to have a dog in this fight, but:

In point of fact I don't. (At least, if I understand the term `dog in that fight' correctly.) I just think that, you know, religious bigotry should be discouraged where possible.

(see also: Judaism is a religion for moneychangers; Muslims just like to blow shit up; Catholics have a dozen children cause the Pope who worships the Virgin Mary tells 'em; Hindus, um, ah, worship cows!)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:23 PM
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It's true of Calvinists, Keir.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:25 PM
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Scientologists are all uninteresting celebrities. Except for the screenwriter Scientologists.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:31 PM
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150: I was surprised at how uninteresting Spielberg was

He left it all out on the screen.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:33 PM
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On the GG, I was surprised at how uninteresting Spielberg was. He couldn't even claim to be surprised.

His stepdaughter was in my graduation class, and I had to be talked out of drunkenly wandering to his table and telling him how terrible Amistad was. Sure, it might have seemed uncalled for to slosh on over at a graduation event and discuss how disappointing I found his post-Indy career, but wouldn't there be a tiny part of him that appreciated my honesty, even as he had his goons work me over?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:54 PM
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Driscoll's take on masturbation is interesting? No more masturbating to, um, some stuff.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:54 PM
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As much as I find many Spielberg movies flat, I do respect him for starting Dreamworks.


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 9:58 PM
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That's what makes movies so frustrating these days. Almost none of the big stars are actually decent actors, such that when you actually come across one that is (Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Charlize Theron) it's remarkable.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 10:01 PM
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"These days" makes me sound like an old man. Scratch that, since I'm not sure it's changed much over time.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 10:07 PM
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Man needs a scriptwriter. And a swelling soundtrack.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 10:12 PM
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151: Fair enough. The one distinction I'll make, and then off to bed, is that Calvinism is philosophy - an idea - as much as it is religion. Predestination isn't an accident of Calvinist faiths, but rather the bedrock. If there were a religion based on racial hatred, it wouldn't be bigotry to point that out and oppose it. Many Xtian faiths are based on the Bible, a handful of theologians who disagree, and cultural traditions - it's unfair to paint all, say, Anglicans with one brush. But all Calvinists (as in, Xtians who explicitly identify with Calvin, not merely practitioners of a faith once grounded in Calvin; I believe that the Puritans were pretty Calvinist, but modern Congregationalists don't hew to Calvin much) share a bedrock believe that is problematic. It's one thing to argue that Calvinism isn't problematic - that there's a reasonable, widely-held understanding of Calvin that doesn't entail these problems - but it's another just to say that Calvinism is religion, and you can't knock religion because that's bigotry.

I hope that's not trite, confrontational, or just dumb. It's been a tiring weekend.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 10:18 PM
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I hope that's not trite, confrontational, or just dumb. It's been a tiring weekend.

No, I don't think it is any of those.

I think the argument I should make goes like this:

Arguments against Calvinism on the basis of a misunderstood vulgar notion of predestination are essentially the same as arguments against Catholicism based on a misunderstood vulgar notion of the role of Mary; i.e. not exactly bigoted, but a little awkward.

I think the idea about predestination that Prosperity Gospel types have is a severe misunderstanding of Calvinism, and what a strict Calvinist might call heretical. (I'm pretty sure Driscoll would be a heretic if Calvin himself came down and went through his preachings with a fine-toothed comb. Most of these guys are.)

I also think there are a lot of people who believed in full-blown Calvinism but still acted hugely admirably, and that goes even more so for Presbyterianism, so facile equations of Calvinism with awfulness are a bit troublesome.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 11:43 PM
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I'm pretty sure Driscoll would be a heretic if anything in the bible turned out to have validity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-11-09 11:52 PM
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True but the (Calvinist) Dutch Reformed Church in SA was an official supporter.

Keir has already dealt adequately with this, but I will pile on by pointing out that the World Alliance of Reformed Churches or whatever it's called expelled the apartheid wing of the SA church and declared apartheid a heresy. Meanwhile, some of the heroic opponents of apartheid, e.g. Allan Boesak, hailed from the Dutch Reformed tradition.

There is a kernel of an argument that the doctrine of predestination was conducive to the development of apartheid theology (basically, "Those shiftless, penniless Hottentots sure don't show many outward signs of grace, do they? I reckon they're probably damned."). But the Afrikaner Calvinists in the 17th century were hardly different from Catholic Spaniards and Portugese in Latin America or Anglicans in Virginia in terms of their racial attitudes toward natives.

The real flowering of apartheid theology came much later, when the Reformed Church in South Africa had evolved in physical and intellectual isolation for a couple of centuries, and its congregants had mostly degenerated into semi-literacy. The characteristic doctrines of the church, e.g. that African blacks were the descendants of Ham, eternally condemned to be "drawers of water and hewers of wood", were convenient local inventions that owe nothing to Calvin.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:40 AM
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Presbyterianism in the US, IME, was the original Prosperity Gospel - that's why it was what all the steel barons practiced, because it told them that their success was proof of election, the logical consequence of which being that brutal oppression of labor movements would only make God's grace more manifest.

Perhaps the steel barons practiced it because they were Scottish and the greater Pittsburgh region was a center of Scottish Presbyterianism?

The facile equation of Presbyterianism with Calvinism is unfair to the Presbyterians. John Knox was certainly influenced by Calvinism, e.g. in his suspicion of "idolatry" and of episcopacy, but AFAIK* he never subscribed to the doctrine of predestination, and was closer to Cranmer than Calvin in his salvation theology.

*I'll gladly stand corrected if a more knowledgable person contradicts me.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:46 AM
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Rather, the prosperity gospel subscribes to the doctrine of prestidigitation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:50 AM
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So which sect emphasises Anit-Capitalist Jesus?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:51 AM
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Rather, the prosperity gospel subscribes to the doctrine of prestidigitation.

I can also report from experience that Presbyterians include mastication as part of the liturgy, though only on the infrequent occasions that a fifth Sunday occurs in a single month.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:54 AM
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And the pornification of the flesh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:02 AM
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I must revise and extend my remarks in 165, as the Scots Confession of 1560 does contain references to "the elect" and "the reprobate", so predestination appears to play a role in Knox's theology of salvation. I stand (auto)corrected.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:23 AM
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re: 170

The official theological position of the Church of Scotland remains broadly Calvinist/Reform. The Westminster Confession is still the official doctrinal document.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Confession

Double predestination included.

http://www.theopedia.com/Predestination#Double_predestination

I think in practice the Church allows quite a lot of doctrinal flexibility for its members.

Perhaps the steel barons practiced it because they were Scottish and the greater Pittsburgh region was a center of Scottish Presbyterianism?

This looks right, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:44 AM
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I think in practice the Church allows quite a lot of doctrinal flexibility for its members.

Yes, I think that's where my misinformed impression originates. The particular branch of the Presbyterian Church into which I was baptized downplays double predestination to the point of repudiation, while still professing adherence to the Westminster Confession in most of its particulars.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:47 AM
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I find it more parsimonious to just say that Calvinism sucks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:30 AM
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Hard-core traditional masculinity is an achieved status which is always under threat and must be supported through social strictures. It is hard and difficult and unnatural and takes courage and discipline that must be taught through a mix of positive example and shaming.

Hugh Hefner, James Bond not "traditionally masculine"?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:33 AM
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Double predestination strikes me as approaching dangerously close to the gnostic idea of the imperfect demiurge who is just messing about.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:54 AM
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re: 174


http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LCkFhafk26A


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:02 AM
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174: playboys are interesting cases, who I think arouse some suspicion among the traditionalists. Presumably Bond did have a grueling apprenticeship in the SAS or similar, though I'm sure he handled it with his usual aplomb.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:02 AM
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Presumably Bond did have a grueling apprenticeship in the SAS or similar

In the Royal Navy; he is Commander James Bond, RN, in case you'd forgotten. He almost certainly went to Dartmouth (although he might have been an eccentric wartime type who discovered a new trade in the violence biz).


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:13 AM
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I'm not sure Hefner was traditionally masculine. Pretty effete, and he spent all his time with women. Sort of a queer.

Dartmoor maybe?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:15 AM
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[Catching up on the thread]

54: The historical Jesus was Apocalypse Jesus. At the time apocalyptic thinking was extremely popular in Judaism. As you point out, it is not in the Hebrew Bible. It flared up in Jerusalem in response to Roman occupation, I think.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:35 AM
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Isn't the whole James Bond thing this litany of weird little bits of knowledge and skills that he demonstrates effortless mastery of, and so proves that he's more manly than you are? All the food and drink nonsense -- stirring bruises the gin, the important thing about ordering caviar is to get enough toast with it -- the gambling, the fast driving. He's demonstrating masculinity through command of a broad spectrum of skills that he presumably acquired through the whole discipline and shaming thing. I think it fits in perfectly well.

(Hefner, I'm not sure how that works. I've read a couple of the Bond books, and seen the movies, but haven't actually read Playboy.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:46 AM
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Playboy isn't really that demanding if you put in a little effort.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:51 AM
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107: I'm surprised that in a discussion of the politics of 70's and UK punk that no one mentions The Clash. I know critics of The Clash say that the lefty politics was a pose that was in frequent conflict with their other poses, and that early on they were more likely to side with their nihilistic poses at the expense of the lefty poses. But by the time of London Calling, there is no nihilism left and by the time he died, Joe Strummer was a big hippie who liked to organize drum circles.

Another data point: Lester Bangs has an essay "White Noise Supremacists" which seemed surprised to see racism arrive in New York punk circa 1979.

It is safe to say that the lefty elements of punk have been their sense the beginning, along with the racist elements, the nihilist elements and the artsy fartsy elements.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:53 AM
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stirring bruises the gin

I thought a standard critique of Bond was that his order of a Martini: shaken, not stirred, was basically him ordering a crappy Martini. No? Not that this debunks your broader theory, which seems plausible to me.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:03 AM
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There we get into criticisms of the author: in the world in which James Bond lives, shaking a martini makes it better, and knowing this shows how manly he is. If that's not true about martinis in our world, then Ian Fleming ignorantly made a world where gin doesn't behave like it does in our world, but that's Fleming's failing, not Bond's. (Martinis taste like kerosene to me, so I've got no idea about this one.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:09 AM
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F@43 - I share your feelings about Twilight and the appeal of Calvinist Masculinity to women. Twilight is written by a Mormon and has strong themes of submission that derive from Mormon ideas about gender relations. I think the connection is pretty straightforward. Some women are strongly drawn to the role of submissive partner.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:12 AM
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Martinis taste like kerosene to me

How much kerosene have you really had? I mean, it may not have been properly prepared, is all.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:15 AM
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Cecily - sudden sharp back pain can be a sign of a ruptured disk. Take this seriously. I have had surgery on my back for this problem, and there was warning long enough ahead of time that I could have avoided it. As is, due to my own negligence, I rarely have a whole day pass without some pain, and there are days when I'm in near-crippling pain the whole day. That's with surgical intervention. Without I would not be able to get out of bed.

Be especially alert for any odd sensations in your legs. They may not be obviously connected to back pain, but a ruptured disk can put pressure on nerves causing sensations far away from the site of the injury. My own injury sometimes causes tingling in my foot, for example.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:18 AM
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Manliness is about being tough. Bond is about being classy and tough. Hefner is just classy, in his cheesy way. There's a whole tradition of sending boxers and successful gangsters to charm school so that they can appear in decent company. Bond is like a model for that kind of school, along with Frank Sinatra and a bunch of others. (They say Sinatra was sort of a sissy and had to fake the toughness too.)

Miles Davis talked tough but he was tiny and I kind of think he was bluffing. He had the cool down, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:33 AM
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I'm not sure Hefner was traditionally masculine. Pretty effete, and he spent all his time with women.

Plus, he's pasty-faced from spending all his time indoors, lounging about in his pyjamas. And he admits to (even boasts about) using Viagra. Hefner = contemporary consumer culture version of traditional effete libertinism.

"Traditionally masculine" has to have an element of physical bravery or courage in the face of danger or something outdoorsy, at the very least.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:35 AM
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re: 189

Davis apparently boxed a bit. Also, googling, the only height I can find for him is 5ft 9. Don't know if that's correct but it doesn't seem 'tiny'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:41 AM
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in the world in which James Bond lives, shaking a martini makes it better, and knowing this shows how manly he is

according to one biography, Fleming knew perfectly well how a martini was made, but just decided that Bond was a little bit common, and had his own ideas about how he liked Martinis. There are apparently a few other areas in which Bond's taste was just idiosyncratic.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:41 AM
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"Traditionally masculine" has to have an element of physical bravery or courage in the face of danger or something outdoorsy, at the very least.

Frank Sinatra? Or if we're going to say that his mean streak was part of the image, rather than something he tried to conceal, Dean Martin? Would we say that Tony Bennett wasn't traditionally masculine? Fred Astaire? How about someone like Sid James (for the UK crowd; a comedian who played the part of a lecherous shirker). There are more things in heaven and earth ...


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:54 AM
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Fred Astaire was not traditionally masculine. Not even close. A gorgeous dancer, but in no way butch. For Sinatra and Martin, I'd say they both projected an image (making no claims about the accuracy of the projection) that they'd fuck you up in a bar fight. Bennett I can't picture enough to have an opinion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:00 AM
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193 is correct. Also, I think there are some pretty strong class based (or at least correlated) ideas of what "defines" of masculinity.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:01 AM
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I'm actually kind of stuck on Fred Astaire, here. You went riffling through twentieth century celebrities for images of conventional masculinity, and settled on Fred Astaire as one of your top five?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:01 AM
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196: "Would we say that Tony ..."

I read d^2 as questioning the parameters there, not asserting them.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:03 AM
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Every minute of the Golden Globes just reminds you how wonderful scriptwriters are. Actors and actresses are fucking morons.

I watched about ten minutes of the Golden Globes last night. Robert Downey Jr.--who may have been drunk or stoned--tried to ignore his interviewer and ambled off in the middle of a remark and Tom Cruise answered every inane question with a cheerful, axe-wielding grin. Cruise's own performance of masculinity seems to come from somewhere in the Uncanny Valley. Hefner was always a bore. By the time Cruise is Hef's age, I hope he's become some kind of awesomely grotesque human/robot creep-o-tron and I think he will be.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:03 AM
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I just read the autobio ("Gonif") of a Jewish mobster who routinely sent people to the hospital as part of his job, and it's somewhat redefined my idea of toughness. Sort of like most tough guys are like people who play the piano a little, but serious tough guys are like Glenn Gould.

So when I mentioned Sinatra and Miles Davis about being not too tough, that's what I meant. They were from tough environements, but in those environments they weren't the tough guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:06 AM
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So when I mentioned Sinatra and Miles Davis about being not too tough, that's what I meant. They were from tough environements, but in those environments they weren't the tough guys.

Yeah, I think that's true for a lot of people who are from moderately rough backgrounds.

FWIW, Davis wasn't actually from a rough background. His father was a wealthy dentist and he went to Julliard.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:09 AM
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more re: Davis

Davis himself, I think, put his bolshiness down to precisely that. He hadn't come up kow-towing to anyone, and he was fucked if was going to do it as an entertainer.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:10 AM
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but in those environments they weren't the tough guys.

This is true, but pretty irrelevant. There are some really hard boys around, but a vanishingly small section of society would hold these actual people up as the model of masculinity. This is true even amongst the social circles these men run in, in my experience.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:11 AM
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201 seems about right.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:11 AM
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202 beginning is unclear. By "This is true, but pretty irrelevant." I mean that a particular instance of an entertainer or whatever may project (or have projected upon them) an image of `toughness' that isn't really backed up (cf hip hop for many examples), but it really doesn't matter. Also, it should hardly be surprising, given where they end up.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:14 AM
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I'm just listing men who were widely admired by men in the 20th century. The fact that they don't fit this "hooo-ah!" template is a problem with the template, not the facts. (I certainly don't agree that Dean Martin ever portrayed himself as actually or potentially a fighter; he was actually a boxer, but does anyone think "yeah, I'm going to be a tough guy, like Dean Martin"?)

Franklin Roosevelt. Andrew Carnegie. Caruso. Rudolf Valentino. Alfred Hitchcock.

Cary Grant, for heavens' sakes! Even today, does George Clooney go around being all "outdoorsy" and "physically courageous"? How about Leonardo Di Caprio?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:19 AM
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Cary Grant, indeed. Spent many of his films playing a craven coward. Or least characters with a touch of the sleekit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:23 AM
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Or any number of sporting heroes. George Best, for example.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:24 AM
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You're losing me here. Just because a famous man is admired by men, doesn't mean he's admired as an image of masculinity, does it? Lots of men admire Prince (is there an HTML code for the Prince symbol), but that doesn't make purple sequins part of the cultural code of masculinity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:31 AM
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Cary Grant, for heavens' sakes!

Cary Grant is an interesting case, because in many ways he embodied a new (urbane, stylish, sophisticated, citified) version of masculinity, and yet he still somehow seemed "traditionally masculine."

But crooners and swooners and swingers (Rat Pack types like Sinatra and Martin, e.g.) were not "traditionally masculine."

I'm not saying there aren't problems with the template, by the way. But as I understand it, the template of "traditional masculinity" includes an important component of courage/bravery/physical toughness/etc.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:32 AM
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This is just about the interaction of gender and class, no? Men who want to project an image of being elite--Hef, Sinatra, Bond, Grant--have to enact a different version of masculinity.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:40 AM
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And Cary Grant consistently projected an image of physical capability and courage. Any movie where he's a 'craven coward', it's being played for comedy -- he's out of his element in some violent or demanding situation, but ends up managing it successfully.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:42 AM
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188: watch out, though. I had exactly those symptoms, they lasted for two weeks, went away, likely no ruptured disk. Backs are mysterious.

Hefner = contemporary consumer culture version of traditional effete libertinism.

Exactly.

Look, I wasn't making a claim about what *all popular people who happened to be male* were like. I was making a claim about a particular sort of manly ideal.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:51 AM
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what is the problem with his necklace?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:52 AM
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This is just about the interaction of gender and class, no? Men who want to project an image of being elite--Hef, Sinatra, Bond, Grant--have to enact a different version of masculinity.

Yeahbut, class has been around for quite a while, hasn't it, and so have all these different versions of masculinity. I don't understand why it makes sense to define one of them as "traditional"; I mean, I can sit around here saying that "as I understand it, the traditional template of femininity involves big tits" and gainsaying all contrary examples but it doesn't make it right.

And Cary Grant consistently projected an image of physical capability and courage.

Not at all so; most of his best films were light-hearted romantic comedies where the matter never arose. Sidney Poitier?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:53 AM
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pwned in 208.

210 is true too. Recall the original question was about how "natural" masculinity was. Those suave elite males have gone through a different form of artificial training -- charm school instead of boot camp. Charm school is seen as vaguely effeminate in the U.S. today, but not in lots of cultures which have the historical tradition of the aristocratic killer.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:53 AM
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re: 212

I think dsquared's point is that some of these people do embody a particular manly ideal and that there's more than one such ideal.

I certainly think of some of them as embodying a particular type of masculine ideal -- above and beyond just being famous. Grant and Astaire, certainly. Or that world-weary Sinatra persona of his more melancholy material.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 9:53 AM
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Edward VIII was seen by many as the epitome of masculinity - he launched the Windsor tie knot and the "Prince of Wales" check pattern.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:01 AM
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Mr Darcy?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:03 AM
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Dsquared went all PC on us, the cunt. He's probably in therapy.

Awhile back I realized that I liked and admired authentic tough guys even less than I liked and admired poseur tough guys.

I think that both in the entertainment media and in real life that kind of tough guy image has a lot to do with conventions of masculinity.

I was mentioning a few days ago that figure skaters and ballet dancers are fearsome athletes, but the stereotype is that they're wimps and fags.

I have a whole theory of how the John Wayne Captain Kirk tough guy type represent management, power, and the Republican Party, whereas Spock and various sidekicks represent subservient professionals and experts. Tough guys carry Schmitt's "state of exception" in their fists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:06 AM
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Some women are strongly drawn to the role of submissive partner.

Or at least (as per your connecting this to Twilight) are drawn to the idea of a submissive role by way of sort of escapist fantasy. Personally, I can get into that fantasy: gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have a big, strong man to take charge and be a provider and blah, blah, blah. In the real world, I can play the role for about 10 minutes, maybe, before I get thoroughly annoyed. But in my fantasy world, there is indeed something idyllic sounding about it...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:06 AM
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I'm trying to figure out how to put this without sounding as if I'm the one enforcing a one-dimensional form of brutishly physical masculinity, which I don't intend to do. I find Fred Astaire fascinating, 'manly' or no.

But for the examples you're giving, I want to react to all of them by saying either "Yes, their image incorporated the sort of physicality that Mary Catherine brought up" (and I'm not walking away from Cary Grant here. Whether or not he was in a romantic comedy with no particular occasion to demonstrate masculinity on this axis, doesn't change the image he presented), or "Famous and well-thought of that guy may be, but not particular thought of as a masculine image."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:11 AM
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CAPTAIN KIRK WAS A POOF.


Posted by: OPINIONATED MAN | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:11 AM
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205: Alfred Hitchcock? You have to be joking.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:14 AM
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Barry White? C'mon, are you really going to tell me that Barry White isn't particularly thought of as a masculine image?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:14 AM
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re: 221

They often embody some sort of competence or talent, yes. An competence often codes as 'masculine'. But sometimes that competence or talent is just about elegance or style or grace rather than raw physicality.

I think you're wrong to think that ideals of masculinity are as monolithic as you seem to think they are.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:16 AM
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223: Of course not. If I were to say of my grandfather that he was an autocratic patrician with a sly sense of humour - "a real, traditional man, not unlike Alfred Hitchcock", would this be unintelligible? Would you say "no, unless your grandad is drop-kicking foreigners and shouting 'hoo-ah!', it makes no sense to refer to him as stereotypically masculine"?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:17 AM
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GRAMPA SQUARED WAS A POOF.

GENTLEMEN ARE NOT REAL MEN.


Posted by: OPINIONATED REAL MAN | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:20 AM
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226: Um, hm. I think of Alfred Hitchcock as a little boy with a weird fear of the police, love of toilet humor, and mildly unpleasant preoccupation with much younger blond women.

Granted, he made some absolutely brilliant movies, some of which I watch over and over, but as an interpersonal model for "a man whom other men admire," he would not have been among the first 1000 or so to come to mind.

N.b. All I've ever seen of him "in person" are the intros to his American TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The rest of my impressions come from reading biographies and film criticism.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:23 AM
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Personally, I can get into that fantasy: gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have a big, strong man to take charge and be a provider and blah, blah, blah. In the real world, I can play the role for about 10 minutes, maybe

If you're looking for volunteers to play the male lead in that fantasy, I have a number of 10-minute openings in my calendar.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:24 AM
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228: Sounds like Woody Allen. Masculine?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:25 AM
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226: If I were to say of my grandfather that he was an autocratic patrician with a sly sense of humour - "a real, traditional man, not unlike Alfred Hitchcock", would this be unintelligible?

Yes, it would be. Or not so much unintelligible -- it would be clear what you meant to say -- but bizarre.

225: They often embody some sort of competence or talent, yes. An competence often codes as 'masculine'. But sometimes that competence or talent is just about elegance or style or grace rather than raw physicality.

There's raw physicality, and there's cooked physicality. Grant, for example, certainly projected elegance, style, and grace as part of a persona that also incorporated the sort of 'masculine' physical strength and courage we've been talking about. Astaire projected elegance, style and grace as part of a persona that didn't incorporate that kind of 'masculinity'. And that's why casting Grant in action movies worked perfectly well, but Astaire would have been absurd in the same roles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:27 AM
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re: 231

What we are disputing is that ``looking comfortable in an action movie'' is the only way to be masculine.

There is something very specifically masculine about Astaire's style, elegance and grace.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:31 AM
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And that's why casting Grant in action movies worked perfectly well

but this is a totally arbitrary standard which makes the whole claim tautologous. As I say, I can sit here saying that the essence of feminity is basically big tits and gainsaying all counterexamples, but that doesn't make it true. How about Roger Moore, in any case? Raw physicality?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:33 AM
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As far as I know those of us who are describing the tough-guy style of mascuinity are describing a pervasive phenomenon in American life, at least, not our own ideas about masculinity or what masculinity really is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:34 AM
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I keep getting hung up on this independent/nonverbal/Brawny Man masculine man who suppresses their emotions. I can't see a cultural Eau De Masculinity that doesn't have a whiff of this.

But it may be very regionally bound, what with settlers and the wild wild west. (Part of my problem is that I missed what the basic debate is about.)

Anyway, to me, being upper class seems feminine in a way that prevents the Bonds and Grants from epitomizing American Cultural Masculinity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:34 AM
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233 is right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:34 AM
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I've forgotten the very most obvious example of someone regarded by literally millions as the epitome of masculinity, but who was physically not particularly imposing at all. Adolf Hitler.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:34 AM
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There is something very specifically masculine about Astaire's style, elegance and grace.

Is not.

I'd agree (or I'd agree if anyone else had said it. I suppose I assert) that Astaire isn't particularly feminine, either. He's not, e.g., graceful in a way that actively makes him less masculine -- he's just not a powerfully gendered presence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:36 AM
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What we are disputing is that ``looking comfortable in an action movie a Budweiser advertisement'' is the only way to be masculine.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:36 AM
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There is only one Real Man in America today: Vin Diesel. He not only has the physique and the appropriate laconic style, his name is fucking VIN DIESEL for god's sake!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:36 AM
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Anyway, to me, being upper class seems feminine in a way that prevents the Bonds and Grants from epitomizing American Cultural Masculinity

Rudolf Valentino.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:37 AM
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Didn't Hitler embody German victimhood and self-pity rather than their masculinity?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:38 AM
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Are we debating whether or not there is a cultural perception that MANDOM can be attributed based purely on someone's behavior and not on their looks?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:38 AM
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(Valentino did actually train with Jack Dempsey and once beat up a journalist according to Wikipedia, but that certainly wasn't the image he portrayed).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:38 AM
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Are we debating whether or not there is a cultural perception that MANDOM can be attributed based purely on someone's behavior and not on their looks?

This is going to end up being about the homoerotic aspect of action films, right?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:39 AM
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my grandfather that he was an autocratic patrician with a sly sense of humour - "a real, traditional man, not unlike Alfred Hitchcock"

Paul Giamatti, esp as John Adams (GG)...masculine?

Paul Giamatti also surprised as an action villain in Shootemup


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:40 AM
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232, 233: Yeah, that was tautological as I framed it. What I meant to do is sort people into boxes 'demonstrating this sort of "masculine" image'/'Not demonstrating it' on an "I know it when I see it" basis, and then discuss the difference between them. If we're really arguing about which box Fred Astaire and Alfred Hitchcock belong in (which we clearly are), I don't know where to start the discussion from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:40 AM
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Rudolf Valentino.

Would I personally consider him masculine? Sure. Can I call him the epitome of cultural (possibly regional) masculinity? No. There's no rugged/dirt under the nails/grunting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:40 AM
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246.1 spised to be italicized


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:41 AM
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Didn't Hitler embody German victimhood and self-pity rather than their masculinity?

you say potayto, I say potahto.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:41 AM
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Going all the way back to 185, the "shaken not stirred" thing is (according to what I've heard) a response to the cheap, oily vodka available in Fleming's day. A lot of the Bond-ian aristocratic thug affectations (particularly in the novels) make sense in the context of Bond being a sophisticated world traveller whose novels (pre-Kennedy) were largely being marketed to the relatively poor and isolated British readership of the '50s. (And, tying this into the larger thread, Bond is permitted to be concerned about his standard of living precisely because he's a violent misogynist. I'm sure litcrit types have had a field day with the torture sequence (hint: beating on the double-0 junk) and impotence fears at the end of Casino Royale, but Bond proves his triumph by shagging the hell out of Vesper and all is restored.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:41 AM
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I don't think that Valentino would cut it today. He was my grandmother's era (kiddies).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:43 AM
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Can I call him the epitome of cultural (possibly regional) masculinity? No.

But didn't men in said region and culture imitate his literal haircut, in their millions? The whole point here is that there isn't a single epitome.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:44 AM
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Maybe there's an Atlantic divide here.

I certainly do think that people like Astaire embody a specifically 'masculine' elegance. And I don't think that 'masculinity' -- as featured in our popular culture -- need always be the tough, silent, physically imposing type.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:46 AM
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The whole point here is that there isn't a single epitome.

Sure, I'll agree with that. Like I said, I don't know what we're debating - that the epitome is biologically intrinsic and permanent, (seems unlikely), or the precise nature of the current epitome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:47 AM
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Leslie Howard compared to Fred Astaire?

This is going to end up being about the homoerotic aspect of action films, right?

Could anything be more masculine than Clive Owen carrying a newborn in Shootemup? In a paper bag with an automatic in the other hand, of course. As the blood splatters and the bodies fall, ya just gotta go "Awwwww".


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:47 AM
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Is there anything more masculine than going through labor? It's so visceral and raw. And then you have a baby, which took SEX!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:51 AM
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248: Heebie is carelessly exposing her id.

Charles Bronson was the only really masculine man ever, and he was also an endangered Lipka Tatar.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:51 AM
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253: See Prince, above. I'm sure there are (at least a few) men imitating Prince out there, but they're not doing it because they see him as masculine, they're doing it because they see him as admirable in some way not necessarily connected with masculinity. Imitating Hitler doesn't mean Germans thought of him as a representation of the specifically male ideal, just that they thought well of him generally.

(I actually don't know the first thing about the cultural pattern of Hitler-emulation among German men; but I'd bet that either it didn't have a lot of gendered weight, or that there was a fantasy of Hitler as physically imposing in a conventionally masculine manner.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:52 AM
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Heebie is carelessly exposing her id.

Your epidermis is showing and I caught you masticating in public.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:54 AM
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I certainly do think that people like Astaire embody a specifically 'masculine' elegance.

How so? It seems more neutral to me. Or maybe that's not right either. Take the sort of confidence and air of competence that seems masculine in Cary Grant, transpose it to Katharine Hepburn, and it now seems feminine, no? It sort of seems to me that certain things -- confidence, elegance, competence, grace -- don't inherently register as masculinity or femininity, but can enhance either one.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:54 AM
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The Lipkas build quaint Nordic mosques.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:56 AM
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258: Bronson was the Real Man of his time. The torch has been passed to VIN DIESEL!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:57 AM
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I'm sure there are (at least a few) men imitating Prince out there, but they're not doing it because they see him as masculine, they're doing it because they see him as admirable in some way not necessarily connected with masculinity

I'm sure that they are, as were the men who sported Valentino hairstyles, doing it in order to get laid, which is connected with masculinity, or to fit in with groups of other men, which is also connected with masculinity.

There was no imitation of Hitler among German men - there was an Aryan ideal, but it didn't look very much like Hitler. However, the person of the Feuhrer was regarded as embodying the masculine virtues; they wrote poetry about how masculine and healthy he was (oddly enough, the popular myth that he was a vegetarian was meant to reinforce this). They coined a special word for "the impression made upon one by the personal magnetism and strength of will of the Feuhrer".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:58 AM
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re: 261

It just seems to me that are particular ways of embodying grace, elegance and so on that seem `masculine' in some sense. Perhaps it's a certain insouciant ease, or a wry slightly ironic distance from what he's doing and the absence of the sense that he's showing off so much as he's just playing or being exuberant.

it's hard to explain. But there are people like Astaire and others that I'd say, not taking the piss, embody a certain way of being manly that seems worth aspiring to. David Niven, for example, also springs to mind.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:58 AM
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257, see 258.2

I thought it was assumed around here that I am always being ironic, sarcastic, or inauthentic. I find this whole thread about "masculinity" really weird for unfogged.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:58 AM
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Maybe there's an Atlantic divide here.

Of course, even within this country we have quite a divide about whether this gentleman epitomizes masculinity.

Not to mention a divide over how his history ought to be portrayed:

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery recently unveiled the portrait of George W. Bush that will hang in the museum. Accompanying the portrait will be a description of Bush's tenure that says it was:

"...marked by a series of catastrophic events" including "the attacks on September 11, 2001, that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."
[...] Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has sent a letter to the portrait gallery director, Martin Sullivan, objecting to the language. The letter says in part...
"The 9/11 attacks did not lead to the war in Iraq. What President Bush was telling us (before the war) was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was somehow in collusion with Al Qaeda. Those were misstatements of fact, as even President Bush has since acknowledged. [...] You can agree or disagree with the war. I simply think it's important that history not be rewritten. Politicians spin all the time, but a wonderful national institution like the National Portrait Gallery should stick to the facts."

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:59 AM
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VIN DIESEL IS A POOF.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:00 AM
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I'm sure that they are, as were the men who sported Valentino hairstyles, doing it in order to get laid, which is connected with masculinity, or to fit in with groups of other men, which is also connected with masculinity.

I'd assert that doing things in order to get laid is often at odds with maximizing one's (culturally perceived) masculinity.

Because it involves being verbal and interactive and charming, as opposed to being stoic and unfeeling and having dirt under your nails.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:00 AM
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Liking women too much is unmasculine. The Greeks, Romans, and ancient Chinese knew that.

Another Nordic mosque.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:01 AM
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254: And I don't think that 'masculinity' -- as featured in our popular culture -- need always be the tough, silent, physically imposing type.

"Tough" and "silent" aren't really a core component of what I'm talking about. For UK pop culture (all right, sixty years out of date, but pop culture is a weak point of mine), try Bertie Wooster as opposed to Peter Wimsey. Same class/lifestyle, same tastes, same goofy chatter -- however, Wimsey performs masculinity much more than Wooster does, and the difference is in the expected response of each to physical danger or hardship.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:02 AM
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ttaM, I've just remembered that the Yanks never really did glam rock, did they?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:04 AM
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"Tough" and "silent" aren't really a core component of what I'm talking about.

They are to me. Being talkative is attributed to women.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:04 AM
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re: 271

I'm not denying that responses to physical danger is one aspect of the masculine as embodied in our pop culture. I'm just saying its not the only one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:05 AM
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re: 272

Good point.

Well, they didn't do it in the 70s. They did do it in the late 80s -- in the form of Motley Crue, et al.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:06 AM
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ttaM, I've just remembered that the Yanks never really did glam rock, did they?

What?? Of course we did. What about David Bowie?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:06 AM
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But...movie report!

Persepolis was better, different than I expected. And the b & w animation didn't get in the way.

But more my style was Bug with Ashley Judd, directed by Friedkin, based on I guess a famous Steppenwolf & off-off-Broadway play by Oklahoman Tracy Letts. Sweet.

Meth psychosis in the heartland. Real Amyrricans, ya know? These are my people, and I had the same thrill of recognition that upper-class ethnics who go to Swiss finishing schools get from Persepolis


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:06 AM
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the expected response of each to physical danger or hardship

IIRC, it's quite an important point in one of the novels that Wimsey went to pieces in the trenches, was invalided home with shell-shock and later has PTSD and hallucinations.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:06 AM
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Oh, and the New York Dolls ...

[undermining self]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:08 AM
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272:Somebody from LA with a J in the early 70s. Umm, Josephus, Jeremiah...

Jobriath!!

Failed.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:08 AM
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Elton John? A real man, Brit-style.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:08 AM
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265: Yeah, I tried to make it clear above that I'm not trying to enforce or endorse a unitary masculine ideal as a good thing, just trying to describe what qualities I understand to be perceived as 'masculine' in the society I now live in -- descriptive, not normative.

What you're pointing to sounds like sprezzatura, a gracefully offhanded way of doing difficult things while making them look easy. Which is certainly part of the 'masculine' image I'm talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:09 AM
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A female friend of mine had three criteria for a man to be considered attractive. I cannot remember the other two anymore, but number one was "be competent at something".

I think a lot of this debate centers on a conflation of "masculine" with "attractive". And really, for men, the latter mostly requires competence in something, self-confidence and charm. The former is similar, but usually requires some perceived toughness or dominance, whether or not it's real.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:11 AM
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understand to be perceived as 'masculine' in the society I now live in

I think we're making the point that it's actually a very dull and boorish period that said society is going through, quite unusually so when you look at even quite recent history.

Would you say that your man Obama is perceived as 'masculine'?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:11 AM
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278: Sure. And with immense moral courage continues to do the things that set off his PTSD, like causing criminals to be hanged. Doing scary things? Butch. Doing things that you find so horrifying that they make you mentally ill? Really, really butch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:12 AM
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I find this whole thread about "masculinity" really weird for unfogged.

I'm still in the process of catching up on this thread, but hasn't unfogged had any number of threads about masculinity?

As far as Prince (and Sinatra and Astaire) I think there are many examples of musicians who are distinctly masculine performers but otherwise don't correspond to traditional images of Masculinity. I would say, for example, that Black Francis (Frank Black) made music that was distinctly "masculine" but he isn't personally overly masculine. Or, for an extreme case, what about Brian Wilson?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:12 AM
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Being too well mannered definitely does come off as unmasculine in the US. For example, Bush the First was a real fighter pilot and headed the CIA, but in Presidential elections he was regarded as a wimp because of his patrician Yankee manners and mannerisms.

Stereotype-wise, Oxonian-type Brits can seem foo-foo even when they are war heros and Olympic caliber athletes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:13 AM
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New York Dolls were like Alice Cooper...proto-punk subversive irony.

Jobriath was the real glam.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:13 AM
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I have never even bothered to wonder what makes a man masculine and whether it's the same thing that makes him attractive to women. I just try to be who I am.

This is reminding me of all the artifacts in pop culture that remind me that it is, somehow, possible for a man to fool a woman into loving him when he doesn't love her, and that men take advantage of this. How? How do they know what to do? I reject the premise.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:14 AM
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284: Would you say that your man Obama is perceived as 'masculine'?

Yep. The basketball skills don't hurt.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:14 AM
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I think a lot of this debate centers on a conflation of "masculine" with "attractive".

Yes, exactly this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:14 AM
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for men, the latter mostly requires competence in something, self-confidence and charm.

The canonnical post from Ogged, PBUH.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:16 AM
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conflation of "masculine" with "attractive".

Yeah. Prince, David Bowie, whoever, can be very sexually attractive men without being particularly masculine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:17 AM
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Perhaps it's a certain insouciant ease, or a wry slightly ironic distance from what he's doing and the absence of the sense that he's showing off so much as he's just playing or being exuberant.

This strikes me as correct, or at least it strikes me as particular to masculinity similar to the way that gracefulness is particular to femininity. (Which is to say, not in all cases, but more likely having it than lacking it.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:22 AM
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Masculinity has been almost totally destabilized in the modern era in "Western" culture. Up through the 17th, masculinity was defined as one's ability to prove one was in the prime of male life through conquering men physically, conquering women sexually, and conquering rhetorically in argument. The point of all this conquering was not to prove that one was not a lady or a homo, but to prove that one was not functionally impotent in the sense of a boy or an old man.

Once it became increasingly uncool to commit random acts of violence, and sort of gauche to go around raping chicks, the modern forms of masculinity have periodically embraced the symbolism of sexual and physical conquering while maintaining the rhetorical-domination aspect. But the biggest change in modern masculinity is that it often includes (and periodically rejects) self-conquering as a basis for masculinity. One can be masculine either by giving into bodily urges (fucking and fighting) or by denying bodily urges ("being the bigger man" by refusing to fuck or fight, etc.).

What's really pathetic to me is that most forms of current TV-commercial-style masculinity transform the desire to fuck and fight into the desire to eat and drink as much as possible. Cf. Guy Fieri on Food Network, whose entire schtick is that he has a penis, and so he likes to consume food. His penis does not make him want to screw ladies or punch anyone in the mouth; his penis makes him desire potatoes cooked in bacon fat. Ain't nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it's no wonder people get awfully anxious and defensive about what masculinity is if "eating potatoes" is the height of dick-gesturing. What if a homo or a lady ate a potato?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:22 AM
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284: Would you say that your man Obama is perceived as 'masculine'?

d`2 knows I am here, and is obviously trying to derail the thread. But I shall remain cool & controlled, being a country boy.

for men, the latter mostly requires competence in something, self-confidence and charm.

I find competence under stress, and the other two qualities, very attractive in women. Devon Aoki was the best in Sin City Just kidding. Really.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:24 AM
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I wanna be on AWB's team in this debate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:28 AM
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True masculinity died when dueling was abolished. It has not been much missed.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:31 AM
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ttaM, I've just remembered that the Yanks never really did glam rock, did they?

THey didn, called it hair metal, and it wasn't quite the same thing.

What?? Of course we did. What about David Bowie?

Citing an English musician isn't exactly supporting your argument, heebie.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:31 AM
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There are so many potential stereotypes of manly masculinity, that anybody trying to decide on one so they can attack it is basically projecting. And vice-versa for attacking femininity.

Didn't Hitler embody German victimhood and self-pity rather than their masculinity?

Well, eventually, when the accounting was done, Hitler sold out his trenchmates, his people, and 'at the last' abandoned his troops. Physically brave, moral coward.

At any rate, to go back to several points along this thread, the historical Jesus was apparently pissed-off, apocalyptic (see Bart Ehrman) and kinda nutty. That's the angry Jesus I was talking about, which is pretty much perpendicular to modern American Jesus in any version. (Arguably, Christians have been wimping out Jesus for more than a thousand years, so anytime someone complains about Jesus being 'girlified' they're talking about current predilections unrelated to religion, or they're just talking out of their ass.)(And vice-versa, too!)

At any rate, I still say the dude in the OP is running a sex cult: men are dominant to the point of being tops, the women are submissive (and so they go out and find a bunch of women who want to live the female submissive's fantasy sex life), and then they throw in Jesus. Take out the Jesus, and you have something that looks like any other Seattle sex cult, like the OTO and the other quasi-Crowleyite types. Talking about masculinity in America in general kind of misses the point that this guy has repackaged a coupla tendencies from your counter-culture there in Seattle and slapped on a layer of Christianity. Maybe they're sincere, maybe they aren't, but how they go about it is the important issue.

max
['Yeah, I am probably talking out of my ass too, to some extent. I hate conversations like this.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:32 AM
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What if a homo or a lady ate a potato?

Depends. Was it cooked in bacon fat?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:35 AM
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Is this a debate? I find it weird.

I am embarrassed to admit I watched 24 last night. But there at least two major roles, President and FBI Team Leader, one minor, Garafalo as computer tech, and one bit part, the WH Press Secretary, that were played by women, and were all about varying kinds of competence.

I sit here trying to distinguish the male competencies from the female in last night's episode, and I am at a loss.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:35 AM
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Citing an English musician isn't exactly supporting your argument, heebie.

Um, I'm pretty sure David Bowie is actually Texan, Soup. Ever heard of the Alamo?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:35 AM
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D2 -

Part of what's confusing me is that you don't seem to be offering an alternative image of masculinity, beyond asserting, roughly, that men admired by other men are masculine, whatever they happen to be like. Which seems more like rejecting the idea that masculinity exists as an abstract concept.

Which, you know, I can see heading for normatively in a warm and fuzzy kind of way: attempts to conform to fixed gender roles only damage and stunt people, we shouldn't be thinking about masculinity and femininity, people just are who they are, man, and so on. But that sounds like a slightly different conversation than the one I thought we were having.

(ttaM, on the other hand, I think I'm just disagreeing with about what most people actually do percieve as masculine. Which could be a US/UK thing, or I could simply be wrong.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:39 AM
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Um, I'm pretty sure David Bowie is actually Texan, Soup. Ever heard of the Alamo?

We're talking about the same David Bowie, right?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:40 AM
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The glam rock guy! Yes, of course. Are you all patronizing me?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:41 AM
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Um, I'm pretty sure David Bowie is actually Texan, Soup. Ever heard of the Alamo?

Col. James Bowie had a glam band? That changes everything!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:41 AM
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306: did you look at the picture?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:42 AM
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Gosh, that David Bowie sure is macho.

When Bowie was fifteen years old, his friend, George Underwood, wearing a ring on his finger, punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl. Bowie was forced to stay out of school for eight months so that doctors could conduct operations to repair his potentially blinded eye. Doctors could not fully repair the damage, leaving his pupil permanently dilated. As a result of the injury, Bowie has faulty depth perception. .. Despite the fight, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to do the artwork for Bowie's earlier albums.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:42 AM
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My favorite random Bowie fact is that his original name was David Jones, but he had to change it because the guy from the Monkees was too famous, and he didn't want people to get confused.

I find that completely charming.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:43 AM
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Part of me wants to say that masculinity is defined as whatever the viewer observes and appreciates as superior to himself, and femininity is defined as whatever the viewer observes and appreciates as inferior to himself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:46 AM
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Apparently Michael J. Fox's middle name actually starts with an A, but he didn't want people to say, "Is Michael A. Fox?", so he changed it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:46 AM
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I wondered if he'd picked his new name after the guy at the Alamo, now wikipedia has confirmed it, so it must be true.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:46 AM
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311 sounds frighteningly plausible.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:47 AM
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308: Yes! The guy who did All The Young Dudes and Space Oddity. Songs that are truly emblematic of Texan identity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:49 AM
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282: What you're pointing to sounds like sprezzatura, a gracefully offhanded way of doing difficult things while making them look easy.

Although minus the dollop of "fawning sycophant" which comes with the original use of that concept. Because I do think there is a common element of "being your own man" across most of the masculine candidates mentioned in this thread, even the non-consensus ones. At a minimum they all come with a "I did it my way" panache.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:50 AM
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JOHN WAYNE WAS A FAG.


Posted by: OPINIONATED REPO MAN | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:50 AM
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I don't think the character who said that was actually a repo man.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:52 AM
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315: And Major Tom, might as well have lived in Houston....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:53 AM
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I cannot remember the other two anymore, but number one was "be competent at something".

So, Napoleon Dynamite was right?!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:53 AM
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So, Napoleon Dynamite was right?!

you ever doubted?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:53 AM
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311 is an underdetermination in a racist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:54 AM
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I think that the following hasn't been expressed yet:

In America, "masculinity" == the Marlboro Man. This has been true for awhile, and has been getting more and more true since (I'm estimating) WW2, with the sensitive male/Alan Alda blip in the 70s. This is not to say that only "masculine" men have been seen as role models and/or sex symbols. But non-"masculine" role models/sex symbols have generally been viewed as suspect by other men. American men want to enforce this very meat-headed vision of masculinity (see, for instance, urban legends about gerbils and stomach pumping that have been applied to a broad spectrum of stars who are popular with the ladies but don't seem properly "masculine"), and view "toughness" as a trump card against pretty much any other kind of male achievement. Recall that, in 2004, American culture determined that the dry drunk draft dodger was the real man, and the bona fide, Commie-killing war hero was "effete." Reagan's line that "Make Love Not War" protesters didn't "look like they could do either"* was a widely-loved expression of this as well.

As I say, this is something that has accelerated in my lifetime, largely (I guess) as a backlash to the sensitive males of the 70s; as part of this, I think some older male icons have gotten thrown under the bus. But there was always an undercurrent of contemporary suspicion about those icons - IIRC a lot of things were written about Valentino that tried to smear him as effeminate/decadent.

For all the talk of Astaire, I can't believe that no one has brought up Gene Kelly, Astaire's butcher younger sibling. The differences in style were remarked upon at the time, but Astaire's version of masculine was still widely-accepted. Nowadays, I'm pretty confident that Astaire is widely viewed as a bit fruity, whereas Kelly is as manly as a dancer can be.

* Despite the otherwise universally understood fact that male hippies had a lot more sex than their peers


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:10 PM
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321: Yes. I know I am a fool.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:10 PM
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Ok, let's pretend I have any interest in this Coastal cult freak and his following.

What is current American culture about and how does it differ from idealized wingnut culture?

Non-gendered Work.

How does mainstream TV differe from 50s TV? Less Father Knows Best, more Damages.
House. 24. It is certainly not yet balanced but mass entertainment constantly shows women in traditional male occupations, performing competently.

What are some of the more important demographic trends of the last 50 years? Women moving into the public workforce, in ever more responsible and admired positions. White males falling out, ot down, at least relatively. Longer working hours for everybody, less family & community, more personal identity tied to the workplace.

What has this to do with whosiswingnut's message of masculinity, and his followers of both genders? I leave that as an exercise for the whole sick crew, cause I have been watching this reaction for fifty years, and and am so tired of the same old shit, increasingly irrelevant anyway. Bye.

And Obama sucks.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:13 PM
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I don't understand why it makes sense to define one of them as "traditional"; I mean, I can sit around here saying that "as I understand it, the traditional template of femininity involves big tits" and gainsaying all contrary examples but it doesn't make it right.

First, and just to be clear, I'm being descriptive not prescriptive (LB and Emerson make similar disclaimers above), and am not trying to define "masculinity" in some sort of normative way.

We differ on interpretation, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I'm not just being whimsical or arbitrary to cite courage/bravery as an important part of the traditional masculinity template. "Big tits" doesn't work for me, because I don't think it's part of the template of traditional femininity. However, if you said that the traditional template of femininity involves an important component of modesty, you would be absolutely right about that, and it wouldn't matter how many counter-examples were offered of contemporary or recent representations of women who don't conform to that traditional template.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:13 PM
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For all the talk of Astaire, I can't believe that no one has brought up Gene Kelly, Astaire's butcher younger sibling. The differences in style were remarked upon at the time, but Astaire's version of masculine was still widely-accepted. Nowadays, I'm pretty confident that Astaire is widely viewed as a bit fruity, whereas Kelly is as manly as a dancer can be.

Isn't the Katherine Hepburn line about Astaire and Rogers -- "She gives him sex, and he gives her class" -- contemporary? I think he was perceived as sexless even when he was a big star.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:17 PM
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Nah, 311 still works, all the categories get conflated.

I propose Jeffery Farnol and Richard Harding Davis as straddlers of the aristocratic/dainty-footed/older `masculinity' and the Wild West/ham-fisted/modern `masculinity'.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:18 PM
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I see now that someone finally used the word Macho, which is key. Used to be an American could be manly without being macho. That's a lot harder these days. George Clooney isn't macho, but he so perfectly embodies the revered screen gods of our mythic past that he gets a pass on seeming tough.

Digby, I think, has written repeatedly that a big part of why Bill Clinton drove the Right insane is that he doesn't act masculinity (or machismo) at all, but he's effortlessly masculine. Especially after Reagan, conservatives thought they'd won the battle, and only guys who acted macho could be manly, but Clinton proved them all wrong. But I don't think it had broader cultural import - radio, for instance, got even more misogynist during the Clinton years (and then doubled down post-9/11).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:24 PM
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Part of what's confusing me is that you don't seem to be offering an alternative image of masculinity

you are kidding? I've offered dozens. Because there are dozens. That's my point.

However, if you said that the traditional template of femininity involves an important component of modesty, you would be absolutely right about that

No, I'd be absolutely wrong, and ...

it wouldn't matter how many counter-examples were offered of contemporary or recent representations of women who don't conform to that traditional template

Which invites the question "whose tradition?" and as far as I can see, you wouldn't be able to give an answer to that other than the tautologous one "precisely those traditions which regard modesty as an essential feminine quality". In other words, some kinds of traditions of some social classes of some countries at some times, having nothing else really in common.

What's the difficulty with there being numerous different possible femininities and masculinities? Why's it so important to say that there is one unique essence of each.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:24 PM
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Bill Clinton drove the Right insane is that he doesn't act masculinity (or machismo) at all, but he's effortlessly masculine

I can't believe I didn't think of that one. There isn't even the "err ummm, he might be good at sports or something" straw to clutch at.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:25 PM
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329: Because Bill Clinton is an ubersexual!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:27 PM
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331: Bill Clinton is almost 6'3" and ~220#. The one time I saw him up close and in person, he very much had the build and bearing of a retired athlete.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:31 PM
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Bill Clinton is almost 6'3"

He is effortlessly 6'3"!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:34 PM
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Also, I haven't read the thread yet, but the entire GOP game is to insinuate that Democratic politicians are gay, which obviously wasn't going to fly with President LockUpYourDaughters.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:34 PM
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What's the difficulty with there being numerous different possible femininities and masculinities? Why's it so important to say that there is one unique essence of each.

Numerous possibilities would suggest that masculinity/femininity were a mere cultural construct rather than being the clearly ordained, God-given nature of what is rightly so.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:36 PM
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the entire GOP game is to insinuate that Democratic politicians are gay

Tough guy talk has been a regular GOP feature since 9/11. "If I weren't stuck writing this right-wing blog, I'd be over killing me some terrorists!"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:37 PM
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What's the difficulty with there being numerous different possible femininities and masculinities? Why's it so important to say that there is one unique essence of each.

This is the sort of conversation where I find myself turning into Ogged. First, and most importantly, you're a dirty hippie. </ogged>

Now that I have that off my chest, it's interesting to talk about these things in terms of the pressures that societally imposed gender roles put on people. When I say that Fred Astaire wasn't particularly masculine, part of what I mean by that is that to the extent his life involved interacting with people who think of appropriate performance of gender roles as important (in Astaire's specific case, as a wildly skilled and successful dancer, I would guess not all that much), he probably got some pressure to butch up. For someone not in Astaire's position but who shared his demeanor, that pressure could be quite powerful and unpleasant.

A denial that broadly shared images of masculinity and femininity exist (in 20th/21stC America, if not the UK) seems to erase the pressures people feel to conform to those images. And those pressures seem to me to be real, significant, and worth talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:39 PM
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"err ummm, he might be good at sports or something" straw to clutch at.

My favorite Bill Clinton mystery: he was a Rhodes Scholar, which as I understand it is supposed to have an athletic component, even if not a terribly serious one. What was his sport supposed to have been?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:40 PM
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Tough guy talk has been a regular GOP feature since 9/11.

Primarily originating from middle class, middle age, fat, slow, men who wouldn't know an ass kicking from a aa meeting, from what I've seen.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:40 PM
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I'd agree with Lizardbreath, heebie-geebie, et al. that there is a "masculine" type that includes macho men and excludes the more civilized men (for lack of a better term at this point). To some extent it's tautologous, but to some extent a lot is.

And maybe the divide is an across-the-pond thing like a couple people said, because I'd say the best archetype of this kind of masculinity is a cowboy. I'd say as portrayed by John Wayne and/or Clint Eastwood, but I've only seen seconds-long clips of either of them in a cowboy role. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Laconic, confident but not generally cocky, comfortable with violence but not actually aggressive, chivalrous, attractive to women but more likely to make them change to meet his needs than the other way around, and unconcerned with being attractive.

How does this fit the examples upthread? Re: James Bond, it depends. I'd say it definitely describes Daniel Craig's Bond, and probably the others but not quite as clear-cut. It definitely seems possible of Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, etc., but again, I'm not familiar enough with them to say. GWHB, probably not; it describes his son better, but the "generally not cocky" and "not actually aggressive" parts might be enough to disqualify W. Prince? Hugh Hefner? No.

Which is not to say that the cowboy archetype is the only good or possible kind of masculinity, just that I think it's the dominant one in modern American culture these days.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:41 PM
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what was his sport supposed to have been?

coeds?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:41 PM
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What's the difficulty with there being numerous different possible femininities and masculinities? Why's it so important to say that there is one unique essence of each.

Mary C already disposed of this:

First, and just to be clear, I'm being descriptive not prescriptive

The discussion is about a particular template of masculinity, and what the attributes of that template are, so the conversation is necessarily going to have a tautological quality, as you correctly note here:

Which invites the question "whose tradition?" and as far as I can see, you wouldn't be able to give an answer to that other than the tautologous one "precisely those traditions which regard modesty as an essential feminine quality".

Right. You think there is no such tradition? Or that it's not a significant tradition? Or not worthy of discussion? Or what?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:41 PM
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Surely the image or example of "masculine" changes over time as do the tastes of the society defining it. Valentino and Grant and, yes, Vin Diesel can all be "masculine" to different generations and different worlds. What I find them all to have in common is perhaps what LB means by sprezzatura and what I think ttaM is trying to say, also: an evident mastery of the self. Maybe one interprets it as arrogance or as confidence or as narcissism but there's a way in which people thought of as "masculine" seem to be comfortable in their own skin and also at ease in the world in general.

I suspect (he said, hand-waving like mad) that an examination of the behaviors and personalities of a given example would reveal that they tended to be framed doing things that they considered too important to let society get in the way: Astaire can dance down the street like a nut because he knows it's important, Vin Diesel can kick in a door because he knows it's important, Valentino can seduce someone because he knows it's important, Grant can play the part of petty con man when he's really an IRS official because he knows it's important, Marlowe can withhold evidence because he knows it's important, etc.

Katherine Hepburn played roles like this and Sigourney Weaver - whose name I probably just misspelled but I haven't the time to look it up - reframed the entire action genre in a role like this so it's not exclusive to male characters/actors but when women get those parts they're seen as exceptions.

I'm not making value judgements about this or trying to say they're all good or equal or admirable, but they do all exhibit a certain sense of inherent certainty of one's own rightness that allows them to seize the reigns of blahdy-blah.

PS:Unfogged wants me to install Adobe Flash every time I arrive.

That's just the plug-in for the bluetooth-enabled heart monitor. It's how we know Unfogged really cares. This marks them as incurably nelly, though.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:42 PM
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Clinton played basketball at Oxford.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:46 PM
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Dsquared is fucking with us when he's supposed to be off destabilizing the global economy. The slacker.

OK, no one cares about Lipka architecture. How about a video of the giant, newlsy-discovered freshwater stingray?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:46 PM
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329
George Clooney isn't macho, but he so perfectly embodies the revered screen gods of our mythic past that he gets a pass on seeming tough.

Did you see his perpetual week-long stubble in "Burn after Reading"? That was more outdoorsy than anyone else I've seen in the DC area.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:46 PM
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`an evident mastery of the self', except when drinking heavily, perhaps; the drunken misbehavior is to show how far the self was overmastered?

Also, P. C. Wren. Project Gutenberg contains many masculinities.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:49 PM
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since when was DC a hotbed of outdoorsy ?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:52 PM
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I think that the American cliche concept of masculinity we're talking about is one of the worst, but they're all bad, and if we were able to find true, natural, culturally-coded masculinity that would be the worst of all.

jesus you people are hard to troll.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:52 PM
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Oh, I think what I'm trying to say is that our culture tells us that to be masculine is to not need permission. Thus, misbehavior is inherently masculine, as is a surplus of certainty, as is violence, as is singing in the rain. So yes, drinking to excess would, in some times and places and roles, qualify.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:52 PM
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350 S/B "culturally-uncoded" if anyone cares.

Masculinity is the right to declare the state of exception. There.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:54 PM
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343: You think there is no such tradition?

Yeah, dsquared seems to have overlooked the "descriptive not prescriptive (normative)" remarks that various people have made -- either that, or ... what? disputing that there's any such tradition. I'm curious to know.

I'm somewhat torn between understanding the resurgence of the OP's Driscoll/Mars Hill religious machismo in terms of AWB's 295 (which is great), or in more contemporary terms, as, say, a response to shifts in family-centered socioeconomic arrangements (like bob's 325), or a response to the fear-mongering that's gone on since 9/11, according to which we're told in a myriad of ways that we should be very afraid, must mobilize, must become, again, masters of our domain.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:55 PM
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Descriptive, and descriptive specifically of contemporary American media and, to an extent, American culture and society.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:57 PM
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jesus you people are hard to troll.

it's the unfogged immune system.

our culture tells us that to be masculine is to not need permission.

I think this is true, but in a very particular way. The culture values the perception of "rule breaking" & "misbehaviour" (in a different year, I might say maverick behavior), but not so much the reality. That is, you can do well by appearing to break rules, but there are stronger rules about which ones you can appear to be breaking. Actually going about doing things your own way is most likely to get you in trouble, and not at all recommended.

I suppose these things are always more about form than substance, but the current era, media driven instantiation of it is particularly absurd.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:58 PM
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Wait, is there some consensus that Clinton was not athletic? Doesn't seem all that hard to me to picture him having been involved in sports (prior to becoming a fat old guy, that is).


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 12:58 PM
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Wait, is there some consensus that Clinton was not athletic?

I thought the consensus was that there wasn't a sport we'd naturally associated with him, which isn't the same thing at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:00 PM
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338 -- I'm not sure that Fred Astaire is the best example here. First of all, Fred Astaire was probably one of the best athletes of the past 100 years; second, his demeanor was unwaveringly masculine. I think it's a post gay liberation thing to read all good male dancers as gay, but it's not really fair to read that back into Astaire's own time. I'm sure that your average 1940 bar-fighting Pittsburgh steelworker would have laughed at you if you'd shown up in their bar dressed up and looking like Fred Astaire, but that's for class reasons, not because his masculinity was at issue.

More generally, I think that there are certain underlying qualities to "manliness" as a virtue that can read positively or negatively into different cultural packages. Strength, courage, generosity, being handsome, etc., are all "manly" virtues -- and remain so, and are admirable, even if we're not fond of some of the current packaging of the male ideal.

( I don't think that the Kim DuToit/right wing blogger fantasia of manliness really provides evidence of a current cultural consensus of "manliness"; it's more like evidence of their own pathologies. Indeed, the same right wing bloggers have been consistently mocked on the left for their lack of masculinity -- e.g., the "Keyboard Kommandos, etc.)


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:02 PM
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You can break rules if your in a fantasy film scripted by a fantasist.

||

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Ways to provide for us, that we know nothing about.
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I know that you recognize, that a
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financial blessing for not only the
Person who sent this to me,
but for me and all that I have forwarded
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And that the power of joined prayer by those who
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I thank you in
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God, deliver the person reading this right
Now from debt and debt burdens.

Release your Godly wisdom that I may be a
good stewa rd over all that you
Have given me GOD, for I know how
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If we just obey you and walk in your word
and have the faith of a
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|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:02 PM
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I like 351, but feel that I should note

singing in the rain.

was done by Gene Kelly.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:04 PM
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That is, you can do well by appearing to break rules, but there are stronger rules about which ones you can appear to be breaking.

is really good. And makes me think that the macho backlash of the past ~25 years has been about strengthening the over-rules - Hawkeye Pierce told us that you could break rules about military command and toughness, and it's been a quarter century project to reestablish that, no, you can't break those rules, not even if you're an effortlessly brilliant surgeon with bedroom eyes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:07 PM
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361 -- And Gene Kelly was the kid of Pittsburgh steelworkers, IIRC.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:08 PM
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I never saw the M*A*S*H TV show, but I saw the movie last year. I was shocked at what macho assholes Hawkeye Pierce and Elliot Gould were. Sure, they were rebels, but they were rebelling against people who were trying to enforce non-macho-assholism.

Maybe Alan Alda brought something different to the character.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:11 PM
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351 is good, as is 295 and 323. Part of the appeal of the return to "classical masculinity" is being able to do what you want and not care if anyone else disapproves. People who are attracted to this philosophy are either those who want to do as they please but cannot, and those who try to do as they please but end up pissing everyone off. To some extent these are the same people who end up attracted to libertarianism for similar reasons.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:13 PM
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This whole thread reminds me that, if you haven't watched any Culture Club music videos recently you owe it to yourself to do so.

I just watched those recently and found them strangely addictive. It's so odd for me to think that was a totally mainstream example of 80s culture. Talk about a different sense of gender performance. I realize that Boy George was specifically not "masculine" but he was mainstream somehow.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:15 PM
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was done by Gene Kelly

Neither I nor my massive sense of entitlement cock masculinity require society's permission to provide examples not previously listed.

I mean, thank you for the correction.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:16 PM
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358.1: I know you were responding to LB*, but I'm not sure you're quite getting her point. It's not that Astaire=dancer=fag, then and now; it's that, while "refined dancer" was a much more acceptable gender role for a man in 1940s America, Astaire never embodied "tough" or "traditional" masculinity - dancing aside, he was slender and balding. And an average American male with those characteristics in 1940 could expect to experience pressure to be more "masculine," even if Astaire was a respected male figure at the same time.

Of course, it's probably hard for us to read at this remove, not only because we don't know the zeitgeist of the time, but also because the modern American sense of machismo is so hypertrophied that anyone who doesn't swagger around and act like a cartoon of masculinity is suspect. At a time when men were less threatened, presumably a few modest signals were adequate to provide one's bona fides as a man's man.

* FYI, LB, our meetup was in Gene Kelly's old neighborhood; the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is a couple blocks away


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:17 PM
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Maybe Alan Alda brought something different to the character.

In the show they are both much more human and humane; as opposed to simply trying to survive a bad situation they are trying to help everyone survive a bad situation.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:17 PM
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363: In the *book,* which tops the list of books I have read whose movies are far more famous, we find that "Trapper" gets his name from "trap her" -- he locked a girl in his train cabin on the ride to or from a Dartmouth football game. It's basically a rape joke.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:19 PM
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Rhodes Scholar, which as I understand it is supposed to have an athletic component

Not true. Rhodes Scholars do not need to be athletes, but they do need to show that they have made significant contributions outside of academics. That has usually been translated as sports, but it doesn't have to be. No nerds need apply.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:19 PM
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355: That is, you can do well by appearing to break rules, but there are stronger rules about which ones you can appear to be breaking.

Absolutely -- thanks for articulating this. The same thing goes for femininity, of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:20 PM
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A friend got a Rhodes in 1965 whose sport was doing 50 pushups. It was pretty perfunctory even then. He may also have gotten credit for a swing band he led once.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:22 PM
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Part of the appeal of the return to "classical masculinity" is being able to do what you want and not care if anyone else disapproves.

By all means. But the trap is that it presupposes that you will want certain things. If it turns out that actually you want to be gentle and thoughtful, to be friends with women, to cry at movies, to raise little fluffy dogs and dote upon them, to giggle, to run away from fights, to correct other people's grammar -- well, then, classical masculinity would like you to know that your desires are not right, they are not even wrong.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:23 PM
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I never saw the M*A*S*H TV show

Utterly incomprehensible to me. When I got to college, there was general assent that, "They don't make shows like M*A*S*H anymore" was a statement that guaranteed agreement. Kids these days.

Maybe Alan Alda brought something different to the character

Incredibly so, and increasingly so through the run of the show. By the end Alda/Pierce was the very emblem of '70s-style sensitive masculinity. There was still an overhanging ladykiller thing that hasn't aged well, but those were early days, and he screwed nurses through charm and wit, not displays of toughness.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:24 PM
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I suppose I should add a caveat to 374: I haven't seen an episode of MASH in at least 10 years, and it's possible my judgment of it would be different. But AFA cultural is concerned, I stand by my assessments.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:25 PM
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I imagine each episode of the TV show didn't end with an interminable football game, either.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:26 PM
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In 1970 when I saw it the MASH movie was already pretty offensive. Spearchucker Jones and Hotlips Houlihan.

It was sad because the scriptwriter had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:30 PM
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By the end of the run, they cut it down to just the last 10 minutes of each episode.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:32 PM
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The MASH TV show had more episodes than days fought during the Korean War. That it was a thinly disguised anti Viet Nam War spiel helps in that regard.

The book and movie are much more "non conformist" than anti war.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:35 PM
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377: I wandered into the tv room while my parents and others were watching the MASH movie when I was a little kid. It was the scene where they pull down the shower to see if "Hotlips" is a "real blond." I then demanded that they explain to me how on earth they could determine her real hair color by seeing her in the shower.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:36 PM
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and what did they tell you?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:37 PM
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They rolled around on the floor laughing until I got huffy and left the room.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:39 PM
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368 -- Yeah, that's a better summary of LB's point. And I agree with you about the hypertrophied nature of (some) contemporary masculinity, which seems obvious. I do think that it's a mistake to read that current version as a "classical" version of masculinity -- seems more 1980s than 1940s, let alone 1840s or 440 BCs.

I may be missing the point, I also don't think that the ability "to do what you want and not care if anyone disapproves" was an aspect of "classical" masculinity. Just the opposite, I'd think -- classical masculinity involved more of intense devotion to a particularized code of conduct. I don't dispute that for numerous contemporary creeps, part of the appeal of being "a man" is a pretend return to a pretend time when one didn't have to worry about being "PC" or actually caring what women think of you. But that seems somehow . . . different, perhaps more related to a particular kind of right wing machismo than a general and commonly shared version of American manhood.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:40 PM
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The MASH TV show had more episodes than days fought during the Korean War.

No. There were 'only' 251 episodes of M*A*S*H; the Korean War lasted longer than a year. But the events of most episodes spanned more than one day, and the seasons came and went and came and went and...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:42 PM
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ust the opposite, I'd think -- classical masculinity involved more of intense devotion to a particularized code of conduct.

I think that's true even of a lot of 20th century pop-cultural versions of masculinity, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:44 PM
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SO OP IS SAYING MANLINESS IS NEXT TO CLEANLINESS?

NOT IN MY EXPERIENCE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:44 PM
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I then demanded that they explain to me how on earth they could determine her real hair color by seeing her in the shower.

This question still puzzles you, doesn't it?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:45 PM
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A denial that broadly shared images of masculinity and femininity exist (in 20th/21stC America, if not the UK) seems to erase the pressures people feel to conform to those images. And those pressures seem to me to be real, significant, and worth talking about.

The problem with this is that even among people, particularly men, who take the idea of conforming to a normative image of masculinity seriously, there are always disputes about what does and does not compromise one's masculinity. In other words, there can be competing images of masculinity, each of which are equally coercive, but to different effect. For example, some Marlboro men are going to feel inadequate by virtue of not having gentlemanly flair or not having an education such that they would be qualified to wield authority over other people in their job (a commonly masculine thing), and some gentlemen are going to feel inadequate by virtue of not knowing how to steer a horse (this gets back to the class issue as well).

To take a silly contemporary example, I remember running across a "do you lose your man card if you trim your pubic hair debate?" on the internets (it was on an off-topic thread on a fan site for a sports team, which is the best place to collect sociological data on these topics. . .). I was surprised to learn that a wide majority felt that not only was it OK for men to trim, but that, according to this majority, it was basically a requirement in this day and age, as basic a part of maintaining one's personal hygiene and "one's game" as showering. It was actually those who didn't "trim" who came off feeling defensive and under siege.


Posted by: Byron the Bulb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:48 PM
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388.2: Well, thank goodness. When we had that conversation here some time ago, everybody was all "u r not right, apo".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:51 PM
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The discussion is about a particular template of masculinity

errrr no. If anyone had said "yes Daniel, Prince, Fred Astaire, Barry White, Cary Grant and David Bowie are all different, alternative templates of masculinity" I would have shut up. As it was, Prince, Fred, Dave and Barry are apparently not "traditionally masculine", while Cary only qualifies if he was good in a scrap. The whole discussion is based on the assumption that there's your good, honest, natural "traditional" masculinity (hoo-ah!) and then maybe we can recognise that there are all these other types that are "different but equal" (which is to say, not really masculine at all). And you keep saying that "this is our tradition" when it's not, demonstrably through loads of examples. If you're just being descriptive, then what is it that you're describing? My whole point is that you can't say, except by repeatedly pointing to it. Which is good evidence that what you are trying to refer to is a concept that doesn't really make sense.

I mean really, are we not even a little bit troubled that everyone[1] seems to be happily assuming that it's constitutive of masculinity to be heterosexual? Are there no masculine gays at all?

Jeez, talk about allowing the other side to write your script for you. It's so ... unmanly.

[1] Except Emerson who at least noted the classical tradition


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:52 PM
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Are there no masculine gays at all?

leather bears, ftw!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:54 PM
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POTUS is a manly job. Of course there are women who can and will do it, but "the most powerful person on the the planet" would fit any definition of manliness. And yet, there have been many wimps to hold the office and even some queers (allegedly).


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 1:58 PM
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I then demanded that they explain to me how on earth they could determine her real hair color by seeing her in the shower.

FTR, this is not, in fact, a dispositive test. Just sayin'.


Posted by: Blondie | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:02 PM
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I think that the assumption has been that the dominant American template of masculinity during our lifetimes has been the John Wayne type tradition. Few of us either live up to that tradition, or admire it. Many here, M or F, have explicitly rejected it. In my case it was quite Other, but I made an enormous effort to attain some minimum standard so that someone else got picked on instead of me.

Prince and David Bowie specifically defined themselves out of that tradition and taunted its followers, where as Ted Nugent or the metal bands and most rap bands played to it.

Barry White, I don't know. He gets macho points for being a black ex-con. I think that Fred Astaire and Valentine may have made the cut in their time, but they're pretty archaic. Like I said, Valentino died when my mom was in first grade.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:03 PM
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||

I'm not going to argue about anything else, because I'm really happy! Big win. Big, big win. My institutional employer can pay its bills now.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:04 PM
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You might have trouble proving that point, `Blondie'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:05 PM
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If you're just being descriptive, then what is it that you're describing?

"The tradition of masculinity in popular culture in late capitalism, or possibly the post-industrial West"? I don't think anyone's holding these up as prescriptive. We don't need to believe that regulative frameworks are good to discuss them, so can the Butlerian jihad.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:08 PM
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Halford, right wing machismo R us.

I just did some reading about the futile opposition to WWI and WWII, and all you'd have to do is change some names, dates, and details and they'd be more or less identical to the futile arguments against the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and Iraq War.

America: take it or leave it!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:09 PM
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Valentine may have made the cut in their time, but they're pretty archaic

But Valentino was going for the "Latin lover", which, while masculine, is not American. By not being American it is one step above gigalo. See also, the French, Leslie Howard, Richard Gere, etc.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:09 PM
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||

Did I say how happy I was? Not only a big huge giant seriously budget-affecting win, but also a case that would have been a bitch and half to go forward with. And now we don't have to, because we won.

Yay!

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:09 PM
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"So, is she a natural blonde?"
"Best I could tell, she's naturally bald."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:10 PM
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Yay LB!

You could put up a new post to celebrate. Please.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:11 PM
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Congratulations, LB, you are a champion!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:11 PM
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Congrats, LB! Now the Breath children can have real food again!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:11 PM
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Yay LB. Perilous is the life of those paid by commission or consignment.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:12 PM
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I think that the assumption has been that the dominant American template of masculinity during our lifetimes has been the John Wayne type tradition.

Apart from that rather lengthy detour between about 1963 and 1979.

where as Ted Nugent or the metal bands and most rap bands played to it

Naahhh - Robert Plant? Ozzy Osbourne? What's going on here is that there is a particular, coarse, lumpen, rightwing type of cock-unsure halfwit who every now and then gets up on his hind legs and claims to be definitive of masculinity, and another kind of insecure halfwit who lets him.

It's not at all divorced from the tendency of said coarse halfwits to unilaterally declare themselves to be the essence of the ordinary working class, equally ridiculously. This "John Wayne tradition" (ie the tradition of an actor called Marion?) is the gender equivalent of "Real America".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:13 PM
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LB, that's great!


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:13 PM
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400: Congratulations, LB! A career change well vindicated.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:14 PM
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390: Wait, is this whole thing a confusion between whether or not we've been talking about "traditional masculinity" or traditional masculinity?

The point from this side is that, if you say to an American in 2009, "Describe traditional masculinity," it's going to look like what we've been talking about - blue collar tough, mostly, with a good portion of either success with the ladeez or good family provider. This is not the same as saying that, traditionally, masculinity has been defined only against that one measuring stick. Just as "family values" has a specific meaning* in the US that doesn't actually mean that all families value these things.

I feel as if we've been talking about Dan Quayle and Family Values and you're chipping in about how Norman Bates was clearly part of a family and obviously expressed certain values, therefore our definitions are hopelessly narrow.

Basically, there's a huge segment of the male population who are clearly more engaged with masculinity than with femininity, yet who are susceptible to some jerk with a Bud in his hand pointing and saying, "Faggot!" There are other males who, regardless of whether they could actually beat up said Bud-drinker, are not susceptible to this - everyone would turn and look at the pointer as if he were nuts.

* "No buttfucking!" as one college classmate summarized it


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:15 PM
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Congrats to Elbee!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:17 PM
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Apart from that rather lengthy detour between about 1963 and 1979.

I dunno, even at the height of the counterculture, being a rebellious but laconic outsider respected by your fellow men within a homosocial environment seems like a good way to become a masculine sex symbol. Sometimes nothing can be a pretty cool hand.

I wasn't there, but I also understand from feminist critiques written contemporaneously that being an enlightened hippie sticking it to the Man did not prevent one from being a posturing macho asshole.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:18 PM
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||

In further good news, Katherine has given me permission to announce that she has had a daughter, and all are well, happy, and cute. She's not expecting to be online much, and I don't think she's planning to post pictures. But still, yay, baby lawyers!

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:20 PM
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baby lawyers!

They do learn to object right away.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:22 PM
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Hey, that's great (Katherine's news). Congrats if you're reading!


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:24 PM
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The metal founders were a bit different than their epigoni, granted. But metal never died, we just stopped listening to it. Zep is sui generis, like Hendrix. The stuff I'd inadvertently hear was pretty macho.

1979 is before a lot of these people were born, Dsq. Many were barely out of diapers then. I'll grant 1963-79 as an exception, in music anyway. Though Ted Nugent was there too. Not so sure about film.

PJ O'Rourke and his kind started rehabbing John Wayne in 1970 or so, before he was quite out of favor yet. By 1980 or so everyone younger than 20 seemed to hate hippies and the like. That's still our most reactionary cohort, IIRC.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:26 PM
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Apart from that rather lengthy detour between about 1963 and 1979.

The fact that a lot of teens started listening to the Beatles in 1964 didn't turn them into the cultural paradigm of masculinity overnight. Long hair was still good for an ass-kicking in the vast majority of this country up through 1970, at least. Woodstock was celebrated as countercultural, not as the 6th anniversary of the overthrow of the old masculine paradigm.

I'd say that, at most, maybe 10 of the past 60 years of American culture have been dominated by media portrayals of pointedly non-macho males as being the proper model of masculinity. There have been periods when other models were more and less popular/common/acceptable, but I'm not seeing a lot of time when a movie could portray, say, a book-smart, slight, self-aware man putting down a meathead without the expectation of a beatdown.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:28 PM
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Katherine's little lawyeress will be able to sue for emancipation in 2022, if I'm not mistaken. When are the Breath and Kitomy kids due?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:29 PM
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a book-smart, slight, self-aware man putting down a meathead

Steve Martin in "Roxanne". A poor retelling of the Cyrano story with some good moments.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:31 PM
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Apparently the Unfogged children will have to set some new precedents on the way to emancipations. Nolo doesn't even have a DIY book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:32 PM
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If the divorce biz dries up, maybe Will can start an emancipation practice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:32 PM
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415 -- On behalf of my namesake (exhibit A) I think that metal is about as far as possible as you can get from a "John Wayne/Hoo Ha" ideal of masculinity, both among performers and fans. Sure, metal is designed to appeal to men (well, boys), but I can't think of a single prominent metal musician who conforms to some kind of John Wayne ideal of masculinity. I mean, putting the genderbending/glam stuff aside, are we talking about fine art collector Lars Ulrich? The guys from Slayer? Mastodon? It's much more about camp, solidarity, and vague anti-conformity/rebellion than it is at all about reinforcing some kind of machismo gender role, as most metal fans would be the first to tell you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:34 PM
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Steve Martin in "Roxanne". A poor retelling of the Cyrano story with some good moments.

And yet he is a firefigher, rather than an accounts receivable specialist. And specifically depicted as good in a fight. You can cover a multitude of sins against manliness* as long as you're violent.

* Would dsquared be happy if we referred to this as M-manliness, in honor of the manly-man Mansfield who wrote a very manly book on the subject, despite book-writing being such a sissy thing to do? That review is so magnificently insulting: Martha Nussbaum has a pair of brass ones.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:36 PM
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They may be weenies, but they play macho in the TV. "As far as possible" strikes me as wrong.

Admittedly I haven't purposely listened to anything since 1975 or so.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:37 PM
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"The tradition of masculinity in popular culture in late capitalism, or possibly the post-industrial West"?


... apart from those quite substantial bits of it that don't fit ...

I'm not seeing a lot of time when a movie could portray, say, a book-smart, slight, self-aware man putting down a meathead without the expectation of a beatdown

Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck took a lot of these roles. Bob Hope made a career out of it. M*A*S*H has been mentioned a fair few times this thread too.

and that's just movies and pop music. In literature, the hoo-ah! hero is practically extinct.

Congratulations lawyers with good news, btw.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:37 PM
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Crap, bad link in 422: "Mansfield's daring physical prowess, he told a New York Times Magazine reporter, is displayed in his ability to move furniture around his house."


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:37 PM
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Where does Michael Cera fit in this framework? I remember reading somewhere that all the girls love him.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:38 PM
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395/400: Yay SuperLawyer!!!

412: Yay SuperBaby! Yay SuperMom!!

417: Rory may well already be emancipated. The way my household is run, I believe I am the one who would be required to seek relief from the courts -- fortunately, she's a benevolent dictator.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:38 PM
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390: The whole discussion is based on the assumption that there's your good, honest, natural "traditional" masculinity (hoo-ah!) and then maybe we can recognise that there are all these other types that are "different but equal" (which is to say, not really masculine at all). And you keep saying that "this is our tradition" when it's not, demonstrably through loads of examples. If you're just being descriptive, then what is it that you're describing? My whole point is that you can't say, except by repeatedly pointing to it. Which is good evidence that what you are trying to refer to is a concept that doesn't really make sense.

Daniel, no, the whole discussion is not based on the assumption that there's your good, honest, natural "traditional" masculinity ... at best, the claim is that there's a dominant tradition, in late capitalist (or post capitalist) Western society at least.

What is it that's being described? A model according to which cooperation is coded feminine, while being a loner, a stand-alone, impregnable, undefeatable type of guy, is coded masculine. According to that formula, Prince is masculine. Figures like John Wayne are caricatures, cartoons, demonstrations of the model.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:40 PM
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424 - Henry "How the West Was Won" Fonda, who once got into a fistfight with John Ford during a shoot? Fonda could play bookish because he had played tough.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:42 PM
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Isn't D^2 obviously 100% right? Why is anyone (much less everyone) quibbling with him?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:43 PM
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Yay, LB!

Congratulations to Katherine!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:45 PM
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Would dsquared be happy if we referred to this as M-manliness

No; no more than you lot were happy when Sarah Palin started using the phrase "Real America" to refer exclusively to those bits of America that she thought were going to vote for her. Even though I would guess that 99% of Americans would say "Texas or Ohio or somewhere" rather than "New York, Los Angeles or another major population centre" when asked "what kind of a place is meant by 'Real America'", you didn't compromise by saying "well let's call that 'R-Real America' and say the people who live there are 'GOP-Patriots'" - you said "no, Sarah, that's bullshit", because it was. This is exactly the same thing. When someone tries to start using a normal word in a misleading and politically loaded way, it's important to stop them.

421: Exactly. Heavy metal is often quite politically reactionary (Slayer, for my money, often shade into actual fascism), but it certainly doesn't reproduce the bullshit version of "traditional masculinity". Even Ted Fucking Nugent does, in fact, have long hair.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:45 PM
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A model according to which cooperation is coded feminine, while being a loner, a stand-alone, impregnable, undefeatable type of guy, is coded masculine.

Bad news for the Marine Corps, New York Fire Department, and other organisations based on co-operation. This stuff (like the "Real America" claim to be independent, own-two-feet, personal-responsibility types with strong marriages) doesn't even make sense in its own terms.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:48 PM
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"By 1980 or so everyone younger than 20 seemed to hate hippies and the like. That's still our most reactionary cohort, IIRC."

I was too young to participate in 1980, but my older brother was into the local punk scene. My recollection is that hatred of/violence toward hippies was very much encouraged.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:48 PM
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432: I guess the discussion would be easier for people to participate in if we used more easily understood terms like "disciplinary regimes" and "hegemonic ideologies of gender performance".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:50 PM
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Okay, celebration over, back to arguing.

The sense in which I'm using 'masculinity' is something like 'that set of gendered behaviors men in the society I'm most familiar feel pressure to conform to in order to be seen as gender appropriate'. It would absolutely be a better society if there were no such pressures, but I believe that they exist.

Starting from that point:

If anyone had said "yes Daniel, Prince, Fred Astaire, Barry White, Cary Grant and David Bowie are all different, alternative templates of masculinity" I would have shut up. As it was, Prince, Fred, Dave and Barry are apparently not "traditionally masculine", while Cary only qualifies if he was good in a scrap.

I don't really have a strong enough sense of Barry White to do anything with him here. For the rest of them: imagine a man who is unhappy because he thinks people see him as insufficiently masculine (yeah, I know, it's unlikely, but work with me here), and he wants to find a model to emulate, so that his peers will think he is performing gender adequately.

I can't picture any peer group in our society in which someone who thinks they're having trouble with gender-appropriateness, who's going to be seen as more successfully inhabiting a masculine gender role because they start acting more like Prince. I can imagine peer groups in which someone would be happier and more socially successful because they started to more closely resemble Prince, but those groups would, I believe, be more likely to reject the idea of 'gender appropriateness' or of a masculine ideal than to believe that Prince represents an ideal of masculinity who should be emulated as such.

And the same for Fred Astaire and David Bowie.

One point of trying to talk about 'masculinity' as a standard is to talk about the pressures to conform to it. If someone's behavior, with respect to gender, is not such that there is pressure to emulate them, it's not what I'm talking about in terms of 'masculinity'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:51 PM
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Isn't D^2 obviously 100% right? Why is anyone (much less everyone) quibbling with him?

Everyone? Regardless, I suspect the answer is: it's a slow day.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:52 PM
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It's not just that this supposed universal 'late Western capitalist' version of masculinity is pernicious or should be resisted, it's also that I don't buy that it's universal.

Unless by 'universal' we mean 'in the USA, in some time period no longer than the past 10 years' and given that I don't live in the USA, and have been alive more than 10 years ... fuck that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:52 PM
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This is exactly the same thing.

I think you are eliding a use-mention distinction. This here M-manliness that we are discussing here is "masculinity", not masculinity. This conversation started with a discussion of how this preacher dude is positioning himself as specially masculine, and then it turned into an attempt to identify the salient features of "masculinity" that are in play in that cultural milieu. This is parallel to an attempt to nail down just what the Palin types consider constituative of "Real America," not an endorsement of that category as internally consistent, good, honest, natural, or correctly labeled.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:53 PM
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The "even Ted Nugent" argument just doesn't work, though he may be even shittier than Wayne, and different in certain cosmetic respects.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:53 PM
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I'd like to say "here" a few more times, because I feel it adds both spice and rhetorical force to my comments. Here.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:54 PM
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re: 436

I'm not kidding when I say that I see Astaire or Niven or others as the epitome of certain 'masculine' virtues. I'm also not trying to reject traditional notions of masculinity or be non-conformist when I say that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:55 PM
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More to the point, Ted Nugent is a whiny little bitch.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:55 PM
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Hear, hear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:55 PM
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I didn't go to any of the Mafia movies, but the admiration people seemed to have for those guys, but the "man's got to do what a man's got to do" "nothing personal, just business" ethos really struck me. Mafia movies sort of replaced cowboy movies (along with space movies).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:55 PM
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I learned recently that the most prominent academic expert in the study of masculinity and manliness, a guy who practically invented the concept as a research topic, went and had a sex-change operation a year or two ago.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:57 PM
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Imagine a man who feels insufficiently masculine and so is pressured to follow a certain model of masculinity. What sort of models work?

Would the model of a cool, powerful, self-confident, non-conformist who doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks of him work?

Nothing creates pressure to conform like independence and non-conformism.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:57 PM
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Hey, come on, Brits, you're the Yorkshiremen always telling us how tough your neighborhoods were.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:58 PM
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re: 448

There's absolutely no contradiction there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 2:58 PM
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How is that relevant, JE? I know/knew people who would assert that virtually every male person interacting here was emasculated by virtue of not having a `real mans job'. Doesn't mean they're correct or normative.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:01 PM
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442: If I understand you correctly, that's a different argument than dsquared's -- you're arguing that someone having social trouble with his 'masculinity' levels could as a matter of fact improve them by increasing his resemblance to Fred Astaire (assume, for the sake of argument, that this is one of the four people in the world who could actually pull off 'being like Fred Astaire'). To that, all I can say is I don't think so, but I could be wrong -- I'll go to the mat saying that no one is going to be able to butch up by becomins more like Prince, but Astaire... I don't see it, but it's not insane. Niven seems much more conventionally masculine to me than Astaire, more along the lines of Cary Grant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:01 PM
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450->448


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:01 PM
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Further to 451: I still really don't mean that normatively, I'm just trying to define the edges of a concept by using examples.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:03 PM
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449: Yes, exactly. A Scottish guy not understanding the meaning of "masculinity" is like a fish not understanding the meaning of "wet." So go easy on us poor Americans, many of whom grew up in safe, domesticated, planned subdivisions in the shadow of the standard set by Marion Morrison (hee hee!).

Somewhat tangentially, last week I met a manager at my office named Quentin Kent, who prefers the nickname Q. I thought it was an awesome name.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:06 PM
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re: 451

I'm not arguing that in your culture and millieu that being like Astaire is the very sine qua non of masculinity.

I'm just saying that 'masculine' is broader than you want to paint it. Descriptively I mean, not prescriptively.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:08 PM
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I think that Dsquared is right that many people here are confusing the propaganda of shrill right wing ranters with reality. Even as a purely descriptive matter, I actually don't think there is much pressure out there on American males to conform to some kind of "John Wayne" like version of masculinity. There are plenty of real pressures out there, but let's not confuse pressure to acheive results consistent with a certain idea of masculinity with pressure to adopt a particular version of masculinity itself. There is plenty of pressure to be good at sports, succesful, good with women, etc., but I think we agree that all of these qualities can resonate in many different ways, and that it is perfectly possible -- even commonplace -- to actually BE good at sports, wealthy and powerful, or successful with women without signing on to a particular version of the hoo-hah ideal, and that men who are admired are mostly admired for their results, not their adherence to that ideal. I mean, take "Mystery," who is literally the least "traditionally" masculine person in the universe, but is admired by plenty of misogynistic young dudes for his skills in getting the ladies. Or Derek Jeter. Or Dwayne Wade. Or even Eli Manning.

New, offensive pet theory: the crosscultural disagreement with Dsquared is being driven by the difference between soccer and american football, and especially by the American unfoggetariat's hatred of the high school football team (we're in the playoffs, btw). Big, beefy, stupid offensive linemen vs. handsome, classy, generally fit soccer players. But American Football players actually come in all shapes and sizes, and the game itself of course requires a high degree of cooperation/submission to authority/self restraint, and many (not all!) of the better football players are also the most pissed off by fake machismo bullshit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:09 PM
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go to the mat saying that no one is going to be able to butch up by becomins more like Prince

If someone's insecure about his masculinity, then "butching up" might not be his best shot. If said person happened to actually live in Bogarse, Arkansas, then maybe an outdoorsy and athletic culture is all that's around (small rural areas "not very stimulating or diverse", shock horror). But if he lived in, say, New York City, there are about a thousand different ways in which one can get a masculine identity. If you're a young man in a Mexican neighbourhood in Los Angeles, you can join in with masculine culture by putting a gladioli in your back pocket and listening to songs about Oscar Wilde.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:11 PM
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455: Eh, if you can visualize a situation where a man feeling pressure to be more gender appropriate pulls it off by being more like Astaire, then I'm wrong. I can't see it myself, but I don't know the UK (or more than a small part of the US) well at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:12 PM
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"Man up and ______", alternative "Be a man and ______"

It's astonishing the variety of things you can put in the "______" and still end up with a statement quite plausible to hear around you today. Even if we discount the ironic ones.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:13 PM
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But American Football players actually come in all shapes and sizes, and the game itself of course requires a high degree of cooperation/submission to authority/self restraint, and many (not all!) of the better football players are also the most pissed off by fake machismo bullshit.

can substitute "rugby" and "Wales" throughout without loss of truth-value.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:13 PM
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If you're a young man in a Mexican neighbourhood in Los Angeles, you can join in with masculine culture by putting a gladioli in your back pocket and listening to songs about Oscar Wilde.

This is both true and weird. Life is like that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:13 PM
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I thought gladioli were those really tall flowers you only ever see at funerals -- like, a stalk a yard high with flowers all up and down it. How do you put that in your back pocket?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:16 PM
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462: thusly


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:19 PM
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I'm not kidding when I say that I see Astaire or Niven or others as the epitome of certain 'masculine' virtues.

I'm with ttaM on this. I', not convinced that this is precisely contradicted by LB's

you're arguing that someone having social trouble with his 'masculinity' levels could as a matter of fact improve them by increasing his resemblance to Fred Astaire

I'm not sure that the "masculine" virtues that Fred Astaire epitomizes are ones that would satisfy the social pressures that would cause someone to want to be more "masculine" but I think they are identifiable virtues.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:20 PM
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re: 455

I think we are just seeing things from different cultural perspectives. I just don't buy it that contemporary conceptions of masculinity are as monolithic as you think they are. But perhaps that is a function of our different cultural/social perspectives.

I'm in my 30s. In my teens the masculine guys wore pastel pink and dyed their hair and all tried to look like David Bowie circa 'Let's Dance'. Football players had perms. I can think of wildly differing standards for 'masculine' just within my lifetime. I can think of travelling across the UK, right now, and finding quite different standards for 'masculine' in different places.

I've already said, that I don't think Astaire is the contemporary icon of masculinity. But, I think being dapper, and elegant, and stylish, and suave, and possessing a certain wry self-confidence in the manner that he projected is completely compatible with being masculine.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:21 PM
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I really don't think that anyone here is affirming what we claim are the conventional American ideas of masculinity. We're just saying that they're pretty pervasive. A striking example is the way guys like Saul Bellow and Norman Podhoretz would talk about tough-guy stuff. Somehow they thought they'd get credibility that way.

I seem to remember people talking about how civilized and safe their youthful environment was in tones of unmixed satisfaction, but they weren't Americans IIRC. No details; treat as assertion. I think that there are places where coming from a tough neighborhood is a pure deficiency, like being undernourished and stunted or having bad teeth, but I don't think that America is that place yet.

Rap music is, and isn't, right wing propaganda. It's all commercial. But that kind of macho wasn't created from nothing by marketers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:22 PM
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I'd also bet that the _actual_ standards employed by a bunch of 20 and 40 something graduate educated middle-class people for 'masculine' isn't the 'Marlboro Man'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:23 PM
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I'd say that Astaire epitomizes all sorts of virtues; grace and skill and athleticism and creative artistry... I'm just arguing about whether they are a matter of successful gender performance in his case. (and again denying that anyone should worry about whether they are 'successfully' performing gender.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:23 PM
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The new masculinity also allows for bro-grabs.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:23 PM
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468 to 464.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:24 PM
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(Very end of that video.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:24 PM
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American Football players actually come in all shapes and sizes

Large, huge, and humungous are the sizes. An 180 pound player is tiny.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:24 PM
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One factor not touched on is that there are still plenty of people around who don't affirm any model of masculinity at all. There are people who just don't care what true masculinity is, or what the range of models of masculinity is, for a variety of programmatic reasons coming from gender politics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:28 PM
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for a variety of programmatic reasons coming from gender politics.

or genuine disinterest.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:29 PM
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I'm commenting under protest here. I did try to derail the thread a couple of times. This thread is a thumbsucker. in my opinion.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:29 PM
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465: I'm just about your age (a year or two older? I'm 37), and I remember all the boys looking perfectly 'manly' in their eyeliner and Duran-Duran poet shirts too -- fashion is fashion, and it changes. I'm not claiming that there's a time-independent way 'manly' men are pressured to dress; that changes over time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:29 PM
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An 180 pound player is tiny.

This is true. In elementary school I had a P.E. teacher who had briefly been a (professional) linebacker in his youth. We were young enough to be inordinately amused by the fact his last name was Powers.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:31 PM
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Whups, hit the button on 477 too quickly.

Anyway, walking out of the staff lunch room with a couple of the (petite) 1st grade teachers, he really did look like he could just tuck one under each arm and walk off with them effortlessly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:33 PM
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dsquared wins: There's no dominant model of masculinity in our culture, and there's no dominant model of femininity either. God, I'm glad that's settled.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:36 PM
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473: Yeah, I'm arguing like mad here (largely avoiding work), but I think part of the disconnect between what I'm arguing and what dsquared and ttaM are arguing is in the amount of felt pressure. I'd say that for lots and lots and lots of American men, they feel very little explicit pressure to conform to gender norms -- 'masculinity' isn't an issue for them.

I'm guessing, but I'm interpreting that sort of lack of felt pressure in someone who doesn't fit the Marlboro Man mold as a belief that 'masculinity' and gender performance aren't particularly important to them; possibly dsquared and ttaM are reading it as a belief that 'masculinity' and gender performance remain a big issue, but that doing whatever the hell you like, gender-wise, is a successful way of performing masculinity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:36 PM
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An 180 pound player is tiny.

Indeed. Darren Sproles is the smallest NFL player at 5'6" and 181 lbs.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:37 PM
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I obviously am improvising, but I think that you're far, far more likely to experience macho posturing among middleclass American intellectuals than among otherwise similar French or Chinese intellectuals. And in particular, it seems that a lot of American guys play the tough act when they're not really tough. It's sort of like a place where everyone writes poetry, most of which is horrible. Around here everyone postures, even though they're dead meat in any serious fight.

"Everyone" in the sense of "a bafflingly, distressingly large proportion of the whole".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:38 PM
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472 -- True enough. But there's a big difference between 5'2'' Darren Sproles and the 350lb Fridge Perry. At least, there's not a single version or vision of manhood even coming from the football team.

I am pretty sure that anyone who can dance/move/have the strength of a Fred Astaire would have little to no doubt about his masculinity. A non-dancing, non-athletic, Fred Astaire who merely retained a slight build and a taste for white ties and tails might, but that's not really what we're talking about, nor is it why one might consider Fred Astaire a masculine icon.

I think 459 is right and perhaps the best argument that the idea of masculinity is an extraordinarily capacious one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:40 PM
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Octopus kills shark


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:41 PM
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At 1:06 if you're impatient.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:42 PM
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it seems that a lot of American guys play the tough act when they're not really tough.

I think that this is because there is often little cost, and perhaps a benefit to them. Lot's of random middle class US guys can play the hard man a bit with their friends and never get called on it at all. Some places this would be likely to earn you a life changing beating, but in a lot of the (particularly middle class) US this is fairly safe, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:44 PM
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Dammit! I went away for a bit and my brand-new anecdote goes from relevant to trite.

Yesterday Iris watched the Steelers game with me. As we had just been out in the very same weather in which the game was played (~25 and snowy), she had a very clear understanding that the players were "dumb" for wearing short sleeves.

Can someone provide me with an explanation for the short sleeves that doesn't involve M-masculinity*? Is Britain some post-gender paradise in which men don't do stupid things to "prove their manliness"? Or do they do things like tap-dance with floor lamps or wear lots of ruffles to prove it?

* I know about tight-fitting unis to avoid grabbing. Under Armor would do the trick; further, some players do wear sleeves, and you can be damn well sure that, if doing so would hurt their performance, their coaches would put a stop to it


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:47 PM
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Is Britain some post-gender paradise in which men don't do stupid things to "prove their manliness"?

Some do, some don't. In Newcastle, you would be called a great big puff for wearing a coat on a cold night out - in Manchester, you'd be thought of as an idiot if you didn't (and I'm not so sure it's a gendered thing, because women in both towns go out in sub zero temperatures wearing next to nothing). But it's not all about physical prowess and outdoorsiness, and it isn't in America either.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:51 PM
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Would Tom Brown be masculine to you Americans?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:52 PM
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That one really might be a matter of people differing. I figure being a hyper-fit 300lb guy exercising hard could, allowing for differing metabolisms, make you comfortable outdoors on a day that cold not wearing much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:52 PM
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489: Are we talking about Tom Brown's Schooldays, or is there a Tom Brown from this century?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:53 PM
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I mean, seriously, America is the country that invented the nerd; an entirely modern kind of masculinity. People laugh at nerds for being socially awkward, or inappropriately sexualised, but surely nobody thinks that nerdom isn't a masculine subculture?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:55 PM
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re: 480

No, that's not what I am saying. What I am saying there is more than one way to 'perform' masculinity and that the view that the 'Marlboro Man' is the only way to do so is descriptively false. As a British [and Scottish] guy, for example, the 'Marlboro Man' idea doesn't really loom huge in the canon of masculinity. I'm not saying there's no masculine ideals or icons. Just that there isn't just one, and it's definitely not just that one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:58 PM
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I think the nerd descends from the Talmudic scholar.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:58 PM
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492: But it's a masculine subculture characterized by intense concern about successful gender performance -- masculinity, but anxious, unsuccessful masculinity. Nerds are precisely those whose masculinity is impugned by non-nerds.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:59 PM
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Tom Brown's Schooldays.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:59 PM
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but surely nobody thinks that nerdom isn't a masculine subculture?

It is a primarily male subculture. I wouldn't call it masculine.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 3:59 PM
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in Bogarse, Arkansas, then maybe an outdoorsy and athletic culture is all that's around (small rural areas "not very stimulating or diverse", shock horror

But at least your brain won't turn into jello from traffic noise..


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:02 PM
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492: Exactly. And if "hyper-masculine" can either mean a huge, mouth-breathing moron who stuffs his face with beer and pork rinds, gut-punches sissies, and date-rapes chicks or mean a skinny, uptight geek obsessed with MMORPGs and some wildly esoteric knowledge totally divorced from a physical experience of life or emotional intimacies, it's a pretty weirdly empty term. It used to mean something, and now everybody just whines about how they wish it still had a meaning.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:02 PM
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I can't see nerd culture as an alternative masculine ideal, even though nerds are almost all guys.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:03 PM
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Further, re: 493

So, to take one example, competing with the idea of the 'strong silent type' there's also the ideal of the guy who's good craic. Someone who has good stories, witty banter, is the quickest with the best insults, etc. Being good craic is very much a way to be `one of the boys'. It's very definitely part of some putative array of masculine 'virtues'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:04 PM
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497:Not only masculine but actually macho

Weren't we above talking about masculinity being defined by competence, confidence and...charm?

Charm? Okay. Nerds not masculine.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:05 PM
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The interim questions about the masculinity of nerddom are interesting, but I think focused on the wrong thing. Femininity in the pre-modern era was defined as "that which does not conquer, but is always conquerable," the negative space that allows for masculinity. Now, I think, masculinity is defined as the negative space around femininity, which I think has something to do with acknowledging one's own physical body but not being particularly obsessed with anyone else's. There are different ways of being the negative space around that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:06 PM
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493: The 'just one' bit is where we're stuck. I'm not saying (or, at this point God knows what I've said, but I don't think) that there is one 'most masculine' image out there, and that everything is more or less masculine insofar as it approaches that image. Cary Grant isn't John Wayne isn't an NFL star and so on -- there are real differences there -- but I think there are at least some common features in the images that people perceive as notably 'masculine'.

I don't think that means I'm arguing there is one unitary 'masculine' ideal, but I would say that the 'masculine' ideals out there bear some form of family resemblance to each other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:10 PM
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||

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/AP/story/849351.html

Holy shit.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:11 PM
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I don't think that means I'm arguing there is one unitary 'masculine' ideal, but I would say that the 'masculine' ideals out there bear some form of family resemblance to each other.

Well, up to a point, I think we agree. I just think I draw the family quite a bit more expansively than I think you want to.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:12 PM
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masculinity, but anxious, unsuccessful masculinity.

WTF was that cowboy parody with Tom Berenger?

"Yes, okay, you're heterosexual, but are you a confidant secure heterosexual?"
"Umm, I'll be back."

Rustler's Rhapsody


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:12 PM
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Nerds are not Manly. The fact that a lot of nerds are male doesn't make nerddom manly. Calling nerds masculine is also problematic, since nobody in their right mind would suggest that becoming more nerdy is a good way to become more masculine.

This issue started out being about manliness and has taken a turn towards being about masculinity and maleness. Simply having a dick doesn't make you manly. To be manly in the larger cultural sense requires that you be self assured and self reliant at minimum. Nerds fail on the first of these, gamer posturing notwithstanding.

In the more restrictive sense of the initial discussion, in which the aim was to find an inarguable set of markers for manliness, more than self assurance and self reliance is needed: you also need some form of dominance. Without dominance you'll never get by-in from the Joe the Plumber types for your definition of manliness.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:13 PM
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Can someone provide me with an explanation for the short sleeves that doesn't involve M-masculinity*?

apparently not.


http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/news/story?id=3199028


6. Why do linemen insist of wearing short-sleeve jerseys when it's 20 degrees?

This is all about image. Linemen want to prove their toughness to the players lining up across from them and there's no better way to do that than by baring the biceps in the middle of winter. Some teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs, even have a code among their blockers. The colder it gets, the less insulation they all have to wear.

However, this doesn't mean that everybody believes in this mentality.

"I personally don't agree with it," Chiefs Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen said. "A lot of guys do it to show they're tough and they're unified but I look at it differently. I'd rather be warm and kick your ass all over the field. That's how I'll prove that I'm tougher than the other guy."

Allen, who grew up in Los Gatos, Calif., said he let some teammates talk him into going without sleeves in a loss to Oakland on Nov. 25. He's since vowed to never do it again because he was freezing when temperatures eventually dipped into the 20s (game-time temperature was 43).

"I definitely take a lot of crap for it," Allen said. "But I want to be comfortable so I can perform out there." -- Jeffri Chadiha


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:13 PM
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506: Mmmmaybe. The only data point where I'm sure we're disagreeing is Fred Astaire (that is, I don't think you were arguing for Prince as epitomizing manliness, and I don't have a problem with Cary Grant, David Niven, or a witty guy keeping the conversation in the bar going as masculine).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:19 PM
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Without dominance you'll never get by-in from the Joe the Plumber types for your definition of manliness.

And we give a crap about this, why? We live in big pluralist societies; not societies in which the ideas or `Joe the Plumber' types should [or, I'd argue, in fact _do_] hold sway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:21 PM
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462, 463 - Not gladioli. The bulbs are likely irises but might be lilies. The fluffy ones on the right are chrysanthemums.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:21 PM
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What is


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:22 PM
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505, is this unexpected? I've never been clear on what sorts of things are expected.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:22 PM
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I really liked 499, but 503 scared me. As in having to understand Zizek or Lacan to be confidant in my particular negation of feminine space. Can we let a "temporary contract" supplant a "permanent institution" just this once?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:24 PM
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re: 514

It's a taking away of a certain fig-leaf and piece of oft-cited rhetorical cover.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:25 PM
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505, 514: Seems absolutely insane to me, but I don't know much about Israeli politics. Still, saying that while Arabs can vote, all of their actual political parties are against the law? Really, really messed up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:25 PM
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and I don't have a problem with Cary Grant, David Niven, or a witty guy keeping the conversation in the bar going as masculine).

Clifton Webb? George Sanders? Oscar Levant? Truman Capote? Masculine? "More masculine" than the inarticulate shub, of whatever other qualities?

I am dsquared or 499. This is just weird.

Are we certain we are not defining "masculine" as "stuff we like?"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:30 PM
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Admitting that I don't know who any of those people are except Truman Capote (not particularly masculine) would probably say something negative about my gender performance, wouldn't it?


Are we certain we are not defining "masculine" as "stuff we like?"

I'm very fond of nerds. But I still don't think nerd culture is particularly masculine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:33 PM
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I know Clifton Webb was famous for being thin. And George Sanders was famous for committing suicide and explaining in his suicide note that he was "leaving because I am bored". I think they were both actors.

Oscar Levant was probably a cross between the two.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:35 PM
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505, 514, 517

I would like to look at the platforms. If the Arab party's platforms advocate the violent overthrow of the Israeli gov't, or oppose some level of Zionism inherent in the concept of the Israeli state, it might be legitimate...from an Jewish Israeli point of view.

If you want to argue that the very concept of a Jewish Israel is illegal or immoral, Yglesias had a very long thread on the subject.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:37 PM
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re: 519

George Sanders was 'the Saint' in the old black and white serials. He also had one of the best voices in cinema history. When older, he voiced Shere Khan in 'The Jungle Book'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:39 PM
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All very witty.

Clifton Webb = supercilious, punctilious

Sanders & Levant = Webb + blase, sardonic

All a step further than Howard & Niven.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:43 PM
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But it's a masculine subculture characterized by intense concern about successful gender performance -- masculinity, but anxious, unsuccessful masculinity. Nerds are precisely those whose masculinity is impugned by non-nerds.

Now I'm with LB. I think that being a nerd (of other gender) involves a specifically nerdy version of gender performance; I do think it takes up the space of a gender role in may ways. But I don't think it's a version of gender performance that is in anyway an "ideal" gender performance.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:52 PM
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'course Howard was so bad-ass the Nazis had to kill him. A whole other level of bad-ass from John Wayne.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:54 PM
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Just caught up on reading this whole thread. I pretty much agree with LB throughout, and don't really understand what dsquared is on about. It's true that the pressures to perform masculinity, and the exactitude of the standards to which one is expected to do so, vary widely, but there is still a pretty uniform core notion of masculinity in a lot of the U.S., at least. To find it in a relatively high-pressure and exacting form, just look at the social stature of boys in middle schools.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:57 PM
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Peter Lorre: masculine without being macho.

521, etc.: There was a long period when Israeli Arabs were willing to accept the Jewish rule. If they've changed and become resistors, it's a very bad sign even if it to some extent is thought to justify what the Israelis have done.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:58 PM
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re: 526

but there is still a pretty uniform core notion of masculinity in a lot of the U.S.

He's not in the US.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:58 PM
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don't really understand what dsquared is on about

I think he really, really wants to call Americans generally a bunch of big girls' blouses for worrying about masculinity, and the internal self-contradiction has driven him mad.

But it's possible that I might be mistaken.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:59 PM
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Isn't the boffin a perfectly masculine role? You know, the Einstein/Oppenheimer role?

(See also -- and I am the former Wykeham Professor in Logic [...] I suggest we discuss this like rational men.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 4:59 PM
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Maleness and masculinity are often opposite stereotypes.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:01 PM
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Peter Lorre: masculine without being macho.

Also Jeffrey Dahmer!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:02 PM
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I don't think that Einstein was ever regarded as masculine in the States. More as an otherworldly anomaly. Before the bomb he was regarded as unrealistic and impractical, but he showed them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:04 PM
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531: Spell that out? I don't get it on first reading, and it sounds interesting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:04 PM
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Yeah, the nerd thing is just getting ridiculous. No matter how much nerd culture becomes "cool", no one is going to mistake it for masculine. Before I thought people were conflating "attractive" and "masculine"; now I think they're conflating "admirable" and "masculine".


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:05 PM
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Oscar Levant ...IMDB mini-biography. The quotes can't show the delivery. He snarled with indifference.

Before my time, but I seem to remember him as a wit so caustic as to require hospitalization. Started at the Algonquin Table, but they weren't mean enough for him.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:06 PM
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Peter Lorre: definitely not masculine.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:07 PM
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As someone who is both American and a male, I reject Essear's 526 -- (a) if you pay attention to reality, as opposed to propaganda, there are always a range of available masculinities, even in middle school; but more importantly (b) I think you are confusing admiration of results -- everyone likes the guy who can win the game or get the pretty girl -- with the adoption of (or pressure to adopt) a particular version/vision of masculinity. As was pointed out brilliantly by Soup above, the range of things you can put into the sentence "be a man and _____" is enormously capacious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:08 PM
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Throughout these threads AWB seems to use the words "masculine", "feminine", "male" and "female" in an extremely different, more academic way than anyone else. I think the idea is that in a misogynist society, like our society or any other society, qualities that are stereotypically good are masculine and qualities that are stereotypically bad are feminine.

But this new introduction of "masculinity" being often the opposite of "maleness" leads me into total bewilderment once again.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:08 PM
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George Sanders has a pretty distinctive upper-class (gentlemanly, perhaps) voice in the movies I've seen him in (assuming it's the same George Sanders).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:09 PM
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Nah -- there's a definite acceptable masculine role of being Good At Something. Like, it doesn't matter you're a bit fat or slow or whatever, you're a good egg who can, f'rinstance, turn a city into a a collection of picturesque opportunities for reflection on impermanence.

Barnes? R J Mitchell?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:10 PM
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Peter Lorre: definitely not masculine.

There's a movie where Peter Lorre is distinguished for his work with hands. Ok, so they're not his hands, but who's paying attention.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:11 PM
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Tiny Tim: not less masculine, just differently masculine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:12 PM
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539: AWB has hinted at the masculine=good/feminine=bad equation before, but it just doesn't bear out. Attractiveness=good, so therefore attractive women should be considered masculine? Motherhood=good, so therefore mothers are masculine? Murder/lying=bad, so therefore murderers and liars are feminine?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:13 PM
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Bill Gates: clearly not masculine, though widely admired.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:14 PM
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534: Well, there's all this stupid faux brain-science I don't believe in that talks about "male brain" and "female brain," like left-brainy people are male, and right-brainy people are female, and male brains don't connect with other people like lady-brains do, etc. Anyhow, there's periodically this shit about how Asperger's is, like, "super-male brain," in that people with Asperger's have a hard time relating to other people or sussing out social rules, and think a lot on a few topics analyze them. That is, when they say Asperger's is super-male, they don't mean super-masculine in the fuck-and-fight sense, and they don't mean super-masculine in the eat-and-drink sense, and they also don't mean super-masculine in the charming, sexy raconteur sense. They mean confused by social intimacies and having limited interests, but intense fascination with things that seem to have their own internal logic.

Imagine all the scenarios to which a sitcom housewife could throw up her hands and say "Oh, men!" In the sitcom world of pathetic males, it usually does not refer to a man being powerful, sexy, charming, etc., but to him being anti-social, inarticulate, obsessed with a pet project, neurotic about sex, or off watching TV rather than having a conversation.

Maleness != masculinity


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:14 PM
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With any of our conventional maniacs in the role of the deranged surgeon, the photoplay would frequently be dancing on the edge of burlesque. But Mr. Lorre, with his gift for supplementing a remarkable physical appearance with his acute perception of the mechanics of insanity, cuts deeply into the darkness of the morbid brain. It is an affirmation of his talent that he always holds his audience to a strict and terrible belief in his madness. He is one of the few actors in the world, for example, who can scream: "I have conquered science; why can't I conquer love?"--and not seem just a trifle silly.
Perhaps you have not yet made the acquaintance of Mr. Lorre: squat, moon-faced, with gross lips, serrated teeth and enormous round eyes which seem to hang out on his cheeks like eggs when he is gripped in his characteristic mood of wistful frustration. As if these striking natural endowments were not enough, his head has been shaved as clean as Mr. Micawber's for the occasion, and his skull becomes an additional omen of evil in the morose shadows which Karl Freund has evoked for the photo-play.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:14 PM
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re: 535

FWIW, I don't personally find nerds particularly admirable. [Just by way of stoking the fires]

re: 540

Yeah, but it's a particularly languid, and fairly deep/resonant voice. It has that whole 'I've just woken up after smoking opium and now I intend to take a hansom cab to my club and polish off a bottle of port' vibe.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:15 PM
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Further to 546: Men on sitcoms are male, rather than masculine, in that they compete about nitpicky details. There is no dignity to their competition, so it loses any of the patina of glory that might fall to a masculine competition (about justice, love, the big game, etc.). Masculine competitions are about building or maintaining social order. "Male" (in the negative sense) competitions are about vanity and self-perception.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:19 PM
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Peter Lorre: definitely not masculine

Depends on the role. Joel Cairo: not manly, in fact a famous homo. Ugarte; manly enough for Rick to respect him. Mr. Moto: asexual Asian.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:20 PM
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Andre the Giant: masculine, but too large for any woman.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:21 PM
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Interestingly, AWB's definition of maleness coincides pretty well with this


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:23 PM
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Gorgeous George: interrogating masculinity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:23 PM
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AWB has hinted at the masculine=good/feminine=bad equation before

No I haven't. What I said in my comment was that the (presumably male) judge of gender roles sees masculinity as something to admire that is superior to himself, and femininity as something to admire that is inferior. Admiring motherhood as you go off to your big, important job in the city before you come home to what you hope is a nice goddamn meal that your check pays for is not equating motherhood with "good" or "bad"---it smiles down on it from a superior position.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:23 PM
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549 is good and speaks, I think, to the question of whether nerds are "masculine" -- sometimes, if and only if their nerdy pursuits acquire a "patina of glory."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:23 PM
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549: Huh. Maybe it's conventional, but I kind of don't like using 'male' in that context -- when we're talking about socially created gender roles, I like having a word left for biological sex. Taking 'male' to mean a negative, rather than aspirational, image of masculinity seems to invite confusion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:25 PM
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552: It's not a definition I accept, and I'd hope no living man would accept it either. Don't simplify everything I say ad absurdum.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:25 PM
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556: Well, when I write my book, Women Are Just Like Regular Humans Except They Don't Have Penises, I will eradicate this sense of "maleness" entirely.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:28 PM
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(a) if you pay attention to reality, as opposed to propaganda, there are always a range of available masculinities, even in middle school; but more importantly (b) I think you are confusing admiration of results -- everyone likes the guy who can win the game or get the pretty girl -- with the adoption of (or pressure to adopt) a particular version/vision of masculinity.

I agree with this: at this point, the John Wayne ideal is almost pure fantasy (it was maybe slightly less of a fantasy for the World War II generation of men, a lot of whom had actually seen combat and were expected to be sole providers when they returned home, etc.).

The normative male type that most people relate to these days is something along the lines of the Old School or Wedding Crashers style of suburban frat boy.


Posted by: Byron the Bulb | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:34 PM
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An apology for one misunderstanding: I read "appreciates" in your original comment as "identifies" , not "admires". I still don't think it applies, but a good counterexample is less clear.

I also meant "your definition" as "the definition you explained for us". My apologies again.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:34 PM
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I'd say that Astaire epitomizes all sorts of virtues; grace and skill and athleticism and creative artistry... I'm just arguing about whether they are a matter of successful gender performance in his case.

Going back to this. I have finally gotten the distinction that you are making between "masculine virtues" and "virtues that men aspire to" the latter having a significant overlap with "virtues that women aspire to."

So, for example, many of the possible endings for the phrase "man up and ___" would represent virtues to which that either men or women could aspire.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:36 PM
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560: Sorry, I tend to jump into these "I think this/I think that" conversations by defining terms rather than picking a horse, and it may look like I'm doing so when I don't intend to. 558 is my horse.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:38 PM
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546
"Imagine all the scenarios to which a sitcom housewife could throw up her hands and say "Oh, men!" In the sitcom world of pathetic males, it usually does not refer to a man being powerful, sexy, charming, etc.,

Maleness != masculinity"

Although the two sort of meet in publications like Maxim, which combine a focus on many conventionally masculine attributes (prowess at sports, ability to seduce women, & etc.) with an "embrace your inner doofus" ethos.

Or maybe they're just trying to sell the sit-com version of maleness as an acceptable substitute for masculinity.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:39 PM
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re: 546

Believe it or not, Cohen and his crew are now promoting pre-natal testing for being on the 'autistic spectrum' where the diagnostic criteria is high-levels of pre-natal testosterone.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/12/autism-prenatal-testosterone-womb

I think it's fair to say this is pretty infuriating. Shit yeah, 'male' traits are pathological, let's abort the little buggers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:42 PM
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Or maybe they're just trying to sell the sit-com version of maleness as an acceptable substitute for masculinity.

I'm fairly sure this has been the active goal of most ad-selling media for the past few decades, at least, in that the "male" guy is probably a lot more neurotic about buying shit ("gear," clothes, tech, etc.) than the "masculine" man, and they had to figure out some way to get dudes to shop as much as ladies.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:42 PM
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564: WTF is with 'autistic traits' there? You can't really tell, but it looks as though they've taken a list of traits characteristic of autism spectrum disorders, and then classified variation within the normal range, but on one side of the mean, of each trait individually as constituting 'autistic traits'. So now a kid with verbal abilities on the low end of normal, and nothing else unusual about him, has 'autistic traits'.

The science may be better than that article makes it look, but it looks like a load of horseshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:48 PM
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564: I just wrote a long pissed-off comment about that and deleted it. That shit makes me crazy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:49 PM
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re: 566

I'm pretty sure that's exactly what they have done.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:49 PM
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As I was feeding the dog and cooking dinner for two, I did my thinking on some...imagined...AWB position that stated that men can no more understand or define masculinity/maleness than racists can understand racism or imperialists understand imperialism or the bourgeoisie understand capitalism. Pretending to be feminists or liberated is the equivalent of Rich Harvard students cutting sugarcane in Cuba in the 60s.

Part of me agrees with this position, and part of me resists like hell. Shock, that, huh.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:53 PM
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Maybe I'll call my book Humans are from Earth. It's more polemical.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:54 PM
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I, too, hate that "male brain" crap, and really hate that a number of senior faculty of my acquaintance, who should really know better, and who work in other areas of the cognitive sciences, have a tendency to offhandedly refer to that shit as if it were unproblematic, clever, and sound. To undergraduates, especially.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:55 PM
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That whole 'autism=an extreme form of normal maleness' idea is very odd. Maybe there's more basis for it than I know, but all I've ever heard as a basis is that most autistic kids are boys. It seems kind of like calling colorblindness an extreme form of normal male vision.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:55 PM
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The more I think about it, while I more or less agree with what LB has said in this thread, I am convinced that there is not only more than one model of the "masculine ideal" but, as Isiah Berlin said about ethical virtue in general, the models are incompatible with each other.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:56 PM
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571: Yeah, that's why I stomp up and down like Rumplestiltskin about it; the casual assumption that all that crap has been proved drives me insane.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:57 PM
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re: 572

I think Cohen's team do have a bit more going on in their research than that. Nevertheless, the glib nature of it and the way in which their reporting of their research always seems to be tailored to create a fuss in the popular press and the way in which is glosses over or ignores serious issues is infuriating.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:58 PM
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I think it's fair to say this is pretty infuriating. Shit yeah, 'male' traits are pathological, let's abort the little buggers.

Yes, I think that's fair. I find it creepy. The problem with these "spectrum disorders" is that anything that doesn't fall smack-dab in the middle of the "norm" can be pathologized.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 5:59 PM
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569: It's not my position, in that I know men who have really interesting thoughts on masculinity, some way more radically anti-masculine than my own. But it's an interesting analogy, even if not totally accurate, in that most racists are really good at being racist, and not all men are good at being masculine.

The friend I brought to the SF meetup is one of these guys who I think passes for being stereotypically "masculine" in certain ways--straight, married, well-spoken, sporty, etc.--but feels really alienated by competitive masculinity, and always has. I, on the other hand, am obviously a lot more feminine, but far less alienated by competitive masculinity, and in fact feel often drawn into it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:00 PM
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Doesn't that apply to most of the DSM?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:01 PM
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574: Insane stomping: towards the normal end of the Female Spectrum.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:05 PM
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578: The reason why no one hears me ranting about the DSM-IV is that I find it too horrible to try to read. It seems to be a "social work plus stamp collecting" on steroids. (I hate that snotty little dig by Crick, but it applies here.) And they get tons of money, and besides mental health treatment they also influence education, policing, corrections, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:18 PM
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505: The two parties banned are The United Arab List-Ta'aland Balad. The only other party that seems to have significant Arab support is the commie-left Hadash. It is hard not to see this as simple disenfranchisement of Israeli Arabs.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:23 PM
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581:Obsidian Wings ...publius post, with some useful comments, including Farber advising caution & reticence

I do hope any conclusions arrived here about the limits of domestic resistance, rhetorically or in praxis, individual or collective. to imperialistic militaristic war criminal nations are developed to universality.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 6:39 PM
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A comment claims this same thing happened in 1998 and 2003 and thus means nothing, was overturned by the court, is some sort of symbolic gesture.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:02 PM
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nice symbol.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:48 PM
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I recently watched Astaire in Top Hat and was just mesmerized by him. Sure, he's a slight guy (with a seriously long chin), but there is an effortless power to even his simplest movements that reminded me a little of Jet Li, whom I also find incredible when he's just walking down a hallway or whatever. The other thing to consider in Astaire's impact is that back when he was making movies, more of the audience would know what it was to dance with a partner, having done at least some formal dancing even if it was square dancing or box waltzing. Anyone's who has done any partnering can look at the way Fred and Ginger are moving and see that he is leading the everliving hell out of her: he takes a big step, pushes, and she turns on a dime. That takes a good deal of brute force, frankly, and even more to make it look effortless. So, so awesome.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 7:49 PM
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there is an effortless power to even his simplest movements

In college I took a fencing class that included watching a set of instructional videos. The video on footwork completely blew me away for exactly this reason.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 8:20 PM
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The new Howie Long chevy truck ads have him ridiculing other brand truck owners for being effeminate. They are pretty harsh.

http://www.brandfreak.com/2009/01/howie-long-becomes-an-arrogant-ass-in-new-chevy-campaign.html


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 10:06 PM
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Well let's see, better in the masculinity thread maybe.

Movie mention for the night is Blow Dry Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman as cutthroat competitive hairdressers is Batley, West Yorkshire. Natasha Richardson as Rickman's ex-wife, Rachel Griffiths as Rickman's ex-model who stole Richardson away long ago. John Hartnett & Rachael Leigh Cook as Romeo & Juliet.

Fun. Warm Fuzzies. Quaint accents and nice scenery. Lots worse ways to waste 90 minutes.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-12-09 11:02 PM
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autism=an extreme form of normal maleness

"I'm sorry, m'am, but his dick's so big it's made him retarded."

that reminded me a little of Jet Li, whom I also find incredible when he's just walking down a hallway or whatever

Gods yes. Mmmm.

Nerds are not Manly.

However, I am a Nerd.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:06 AM
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"I'm sorry, m'am, but his dick's so big it's made him retarded."

Blah blah humorless autism isn't retardation blah blah everybody knows that sifu.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:21 AM
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"I'm sorry, m'am, but his dick's so big it's made him retarded."

I'm with Sifu on this, but it's worth noting that the 18th-century stereotype of retarded people is that they have giant cocks and fuck like machines.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:38 AM
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591: I don't think it stopped or started there. You could probably profitably trace a connection both back to ancient greece and forwards to enduring stereotypes of black people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:40 AM
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All I know is there's a great scene in Fanny Hill in which the titular prostitute heroine and her cow-orker answer the door for the local idiot flower boy and find out that what they say about idiots is true.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:47 AM
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There's a great scene in Rome where whatserface the evil one buys a mute slave for whatserface the slightly less evil one on the premise that the giant dong will placate her. I know I've read about it somewhere, too. Isn't that the whole deal with the oddly minimalist endowments in greek art? I feel like oudemia has mentioned this before.

Somebody's dissertation covers this. I feel certain.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:55 AM
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There is a marvelous dissertation that my erstwhile coblogger found in which classical statuary testicle size is perceived to be opposite the normal imbalance between testicle size in order to take advantage of the generally stronger eye strength of the viewer w/r/t the larger testicle. And you know someone got funding to do that.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:57 AM
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I've seen it confidently asserted that the Greeks regarded large male equipment as undesirable, preferring


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:31 AM
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that is, preferring smaller to average, though whether for practical or aesthetic reasons wasn't clear. I can't find a ref for this right now. Oudemia?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:33 AM
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Yeah, the nerd thing is just getting ridiculous. No matter how much nerd culture becomes "cool", no one is going to mistake it for masculine

Pretty much the epitome of masculinity among high-status Indians. Kind of my whole point here is that "what is judged to be masculine by some white Americans who vote Republican" isn't an objective and timeless standard.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:33 AM
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Dsquared, you're hammering this into the ground. When I was in Taiwan I found that the ideal of masculinity was a nonviolent, bookish guy with thick glasses, and I loved it, but then I came back here and found that in America, love it or leave it, that wasn't true. There's resistance and areas of exceptions, but the stereotype still has its power here.

I am average height for a Chinese, but I'm not a Chinese so I call myself short. And believe it or not, my girlfriend was afraid of tall guys even if they were Chinese.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:07 AM
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598: "No matter how much nerd culture becomes "cool", no one is going to mistake it for masculine

Pretty much the epitome of masculinity among high-status Indians."

dsquared, you should probably watch a Bollywood movie. Any Bollywood movie.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:13 AM
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In general (because I am a real peasant who worked on a farm when I was a kid and everything, very manly), anything that needs put in the ground, has to be hammered in, otherwise it doesn't stick. "The traditional view" here means "a very local and historical view". Country types always think of city boys as effete and unmanly, but at some point you have to call them on this bullshit.

Separately and unrelatedly, Simon Baron-Cohen lost me when he gave a list of examples of professions heavily dominated by men because of their analytical and logical nature, and the comparatively much lower importance of intuition, and empathy and this list culminated with ... bankers and lawyers


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:15 AM
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600: I would, but all that dancing about seems a bit gay to me.

btw, always with the motion pictures! As I noted umpty-ump comments above, this stereotype of masculinity has more or less entirely disappeared from novels, and was never particularly prevalent in music. The ideal of masculinity in "A Suitable Boy" isn't very different from Fitzwilliam Darcy.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:24 AM
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601 (2). I would speculate that intelligent people who have little contact with the financial/legal sectors find it comforting to imagine that their decisions drop inexorably out of their impeccable spreadsheets, because it makes the world appear less random. After all, why else would anyone trust a banker or a lawyer more than another?*

I wonder what his list would look like now?

*Yes, I know, Napoleon appointed his marshals for their luck.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:27 AM
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596: Ha! This was pretty much the first thing I thought of when this whole thing started. Big dicks? Suitable only for slaves and comic figures.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:51 AM
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Nobody reads novels any more except middle-aged women.

Whenever I see a movie, I ask myself "Is this a date movie?" Will there be an appealing young couple for viewers to identify with. There almost always is, regardless. A movie about Erdős would be mostly about his love life.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:57 AM
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I'm an intelligent person with little contact with the financial and legal sectors, and I think that they're vicious lunatics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:59 AM
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Can we tie in the dick-size mini-thread with the is-or-isn't Frank Sinatra manly mini-thread?

Some competing man friend once asked Ava Gardner, referring to Sinatra, why she was bothering with that "120 lb. pansy."* Gardner replied, "Because 100lbs of him is cock."

*More or less. Or wop. Something or other.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:06 AM
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Separately and unrelatedly, Simon Baron-Cohen lost me when he gave a list of examples of professions heavily dominated by men because of their analytical and logical nature, and the comparatively much lower importance of intuition, and empathy and this list culminated with ... bankers and lawyers

Wasn't he the guy a few years with that incredibly bullshit questionnaire about gender and logical/analytical outlook? I hope it wasn't a real survey instrument because it was fucking embarrassing.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:08 AM
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[Borat joke]


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:10 AM
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Hannah Arendt ...Adam Hirsch, New Yorker, Jan 12, 2009. Intense.

I could connect this to ideas of masculinity. Hercules, Odysseus, hell Gilgamesh were wanderers. Cowboy independence. Is there an female archetype of wanderer?

But Arendt connects stuff to stuff I approach with caution. Even the above contains a word that makes me uncomfortable. She elicits contradictions.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:28 AM
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||

I wish Olmert and Bush would stop hiring Nazi scriptwriters:

In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.
"I said, 'Get me President Bush on the phone,' " Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. "They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care: 'I need to talk to him now,' " Mr. Olmert continued. "He got off the podium and spoke to me."
|>
Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:29 AM
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611:Your confidant certainty is just so masculine, Emerson.

A saying from my midwest youth:"A man knows what is right."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:48 AM
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A movie about Erdős would be mostly about his love life.

And he would be played by Adam Sandler.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:51 AM
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608: Sounds like the same guy. He's the author of The Essential Difference: The Truth about the Male and Female Brain, which argues that the female brain is hard-wired for empathy, while the male brain is hard-wired for understanding and system-building. Which sounds very Victorian to me, but apparently this is the new science.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:16 AM
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And systems-builders like fart jokes, women with large breasts, loud explosive noises, and smashing things.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:23 AM
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||

I've said this before, but I've been reading about American opposition to WWI, and it's a all deja vu. Same speeches, same citations, same objections as to the Vietnam or Iraq Wars. Kabuki.

|>


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:31 AM
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||

Is it manly to try and fake your own death to evade a securities fraud investigation if you do so while wearing a pair a flight goggles?

|>


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:34 AM
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614: My mom subscribes to the theory that the female brain is wired for empathy and the male brain wired for competition, which seems both more commonsensical and less sexist.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:50 AM
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590, 591, et al: why did I even bother trying to make a dumb joke in a thread like this?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 7:58 AM
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The imaginary person in your joke was wrong on the internet, Robusto.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:08 AM
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619: Because you are a man's man.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:25 AM
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My mom subscribes to the theory that the female brain is wired for empathy and the male brain wired for competition, which seems both more commonsensical and less sexist.

I don't buy this at all, in certain ways its more sexist and less commonsensical. It locks men into aggression and women into pacification, which is both false and a particularly pernicious way to look at things.

I think there may be something to the idea that males are more prone to introverted system-building. But I think the broader human response to a massive cultural/technological shift in the level of abstract information processing (abstraction in general) involved in daily life dwarfs everything else.

One thing that always made sense to me is that men are simply somewhat more extreme than women, because their reproductive performance varies a lot more (compared to women, more men have zero kids, more men have dozens of kids). So in an evolutionary payoff sense men should be willing to take higher risks to explore extreme behaviors, and be less balanced. Obsessive, autistic system building is an extreme response to the bureaucratic/information age.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:31 AM
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I've said this before, but I've been reading about American opposition to WWI, and it's a all deja vu.

Ron Paul occasionally quotes Randolph Bourne in his anti-war speeches.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:36 AM
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614: What's striking about that is that, to my very limited knowledge, the behavioral effect is not well-established, which you'd think would be a prerequisite for arguing for "hard-wiring." Here's a meta-analysis claiming to demonstrate that women only perform better on empathic accuracy tests when either task demands or gender roles are salient; i.e., women know that women are supposed to be good at empathy, so they are more motivated to be empathic in order to live up to expectations. Here's a paper in which differences in empathic accuracy performance in men and women were wiped out when you paid both groups.


Posted by: cynique | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:38 AM
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Rep. Lundeen of Minnesota complained that Congressmen were asked to vote the war bill as a whole up or down, no amendments and no strings attached, without having been given more information than they could read in the newspapers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:40 AM
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re: 618

My Dad's gender theory is that men and women are both equally adept at science, maths, abstract thought, etc.

However, he thinks men are wired for art [for the usual art = sexual display reasons].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:41 AM
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Is it manly to try and fake your own death to evade a securities fraud investigation if you do so while wearing a pair a flight goggles?

No, not at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:43 AM
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My father's theory is that women are hardwired for aggression. This may be related to his experiences in having been married to my mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:44 AM
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re: 624

Christ, yes. Most research that purports to find innate gender differences tends to be laughable from a methodological point of view.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:44 AM
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re: 628

Hah. Actually, my Dad thinks that while men are more aggressive, men are better also able to diffuse aggressive situations [due to millenia of teh practice, etc.] and identify when to play submissive, when to be dominant, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:45 AM
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"My mom subscribes to the theory that the female brain is wired for empathy and the male brain wired for competition, which seems both more commonsensical and less sexist.

622: It locks men into aggression and women into pacification, which is both false and a particularly pernicious way to look at things.

Yes, exactly right. I have no trouble accepting the empathy/competition schema as descriptive -- both of gender expectations and probably even average (median?) gender performance. Hell, the sum total of my life thus far could be defined by the persistent, even obsessive, need to pacify. But hardwired? Nah. Conditioned response. If I consistently find that I am more successful in getting what I want/need by acting all submissive and conciliatory, small wonder I fall back on that more often than not. I dare say I am not the only woman who gets a better response to submissive and conciliatory -- and I suspect that submissive and conciliatory guys find that they get shat upon more, too, by the alpha dogs.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:45 AM
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men are better also able to... identify when to play submissive,

They're so cute when they roll over and display the soft fur on their underbellies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:47 AM
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Women's minds are wired for remodeling and redecorating. Also gay man's minds. Real men leave the room the color God painted it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:47 AM
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re: 633


God intended all rooms to be magnolia.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:49 AM
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I don't even know what color that is. Actual magnolias are a creamy off-white color, right?

If so, God is dull.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:51 AM
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However, he thinks men are wired for art [for the usual art = sexual display reasons].

But there must be something to the idea that in human evolution sexual display by women to affect male mate choice became an important factor. Women in cultures all over the globe are expected to look pretty for men.

You can say that this is just a bit of patriarchal repression, but the patriarchy is old enough to itself play a role in human evolution.

In general, I think Blaffer Hrdy is right when she argues that taking female-female competition seriously will reshape our notion of how we evolved, and not necessarily in a way that makes women all earth mother-y and responsible for only good things.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:52 AM
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OT: bitchphd wants to win and is now losing -- to jesus general! -- by more than 100 votes. So please, help a sister out.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:54 AM
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Hrdy-hrdy-hrdy-hrdy-hrdy. Love that name.

I once had a bad boss named Hrdy and we had lots of fun with his name.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:57 AM
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631 is good. I think empathy/competition is a fairly natural axis, certainly more so than empathy/system building.

Taking the conditioning thing further, if men are socially conditioned to compete, system building and analysis are natural ways to approach problems because they are solo activities that create tools which make a person a more effective competitor. Understanding the lay of the land is important for getting anything done, but a person working in an empathic mode has a means to suss out the situation not available to a person working in a competitive mode, namely working with other people to build a common understanding.

As always, random speculation worth what you paid.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:00 AM
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638: I like the fact that two big names in evolutionary biology are Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Elizabeth Vrba. I think they should write a paper together. Perhaps on the evolution of vowel sounds.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:02 AM
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re: 635

In the UK that sort of light creamy white is the default colour used by decorators etc. Or at least it was in ye olden dayes when builders just put houses up and painted the interior walls. Before property porn on TV.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:03 AM
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639: I suppose I'd add that empathy and competition need not be mutually exclusive -- you can, after all, use empathy to compete. Maybe the better frame is empathy/aggression? Empathy/control?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:04 AM
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In the UK that sort of light creamy white is the default colour used by decorators etc.

This is bog standard for apartment buildings (excluding high end) in the US & Canada, ime.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:05 AM
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639: Thing is, though, people are clearly hardwired to cooperate in a big, big, big way (and also to compete, but to compete in a cooperative context. A genuine loner -- someone really not working with other people -- is off living in a cave, not being successful). Cooperating is what people do; better cooperators win out over groups of worse cooperators. If women really were better cooperators than men were, we'd effortlessly rule the world (possibly exploiting the solo efforts of all the competitive men out there). And yet we don't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:06 AM
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Cheating cooperators do better than sincere cooperators, though, if they cheat effectively.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:09 AM
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to cooperate in a big, big, big way

but not too large. Small-to-medium sized groups seems about right.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:09 AM
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re: 640

Is she related to Rudolf Vrba?

[I've read her stuff, it had just never occurred to me to wonder before]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:10 AM
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644-646: Social Mammals Rule!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:12 AM
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642: Cooperate/dominate is how I parse some social interactions. Again not mutually exclusive, but I find it helpful to be aware of the fact that the other person may be working with a dominate/submit paradigm while my natural one is cooperation. To someone in the dom/sub paradigm attempts at cooperation can look like submission.

It's a horribly incomplete model, because really what's going on is more along the lines of ingroup/outgroup dynamics layered with aspects of a hierarchy within the ingroup and between ingroup and other outgroups. Then we throw poo at each other.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:13 AM
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645: Yeah, but it's still cooperative -- still working with other people, using relationships, rather than being a loner.

646: What's a nation, but a group of people cooperating (to some degree)? If small-to-medium just refers to the size of a group where you can interpersonally relate to everyone else in the group, sure, but we've developed ways to cooperate very successfully in much larger groups.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:14 AM
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643: Yes. But in North America I think it's called "off-white," or perhaps "eggshell."

639: I guess I'm not seeing how "socialized to compete" gets you to systems-building and analysis. Unless it's "socialized to compete in contests of systems-building and analysis," which it generally isn't.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:16 AM
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637: speaking of the weblog awards, does anyone know if any of the blogs on "Best European Blog (Non UK)" are worth voting for? I want to cast an "anyone but Lubos Motl" vote, but don't want to inadvertently vote for some other right-wing crazy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:16 AM
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649: Heh. I was thinking that your first paragraph reflects quite nicely the nature of the tension underlying a particular interaction I've got scheduled for later today. I spent a couple minutes trying to analyze the implications and devise a strategy for reconciling the competing models. Then I decided that your last sentence in paragraph two offered the best possible solution.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:18 AM
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Fistful of Euros, if they're up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:21 AM
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To someone in the dom/sub paradigm attempts at cooperation can look like submission.

Actual, attempts at cooperation can just as easily be viewed as domination if the person expecting to fill the dom role feels like the attempted cooperator is taking an active role inconsistent with true submission.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:22 AM
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but we've developed ways to cooperate very successfully in much larger groups.

right, but we aren't very good at it, which is why it takes so much work. Much of civilization boils down to constructing frameworks to make it possible to behave somewhat cohesively in groups larger than is "natural" in some sense.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:23 AM
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656:Certainly. I was mostly arguing that it doesn't make sense to think of cooperation and competition as opposing poles; people successfully compete primarily in a cooperative context. We're social mammals, not lone predators.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:35 AM
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I've read a few things here and there (e.g. Haidt) about natural or inborn ethical feelings, and none of the authors seemed to clearly understand that all large social forms require the suppression of some of the reactions dictated by natural inborn ethical feelings. The impulse for revenge is most prominent, but possessiveness about females and hostility toward non-kin also need to be reduced. And if rape and theft turn out to be natural, they still should be repressed.

A lot of Greek tragedy is about conflicts between natural ethics and social ethics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:36 AM
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656: constructing frameworks to make it possible to behave somewhat cohesively in groups larger than is "natural" in some sense

And tough sledding along the way, with "natural instincts" to revert to "form" always available for every demagogue to twist and exploit.

O wearisome condition of humanity! Born under one law, to another bound;

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:38 AM
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Most research that purports to find innate gender differences tends to be laughable from a methodological point of view.

Ah, here we go --- Baron-Cohen's M/F brain questionnaire. What a joke.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:55 AM
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651: My thinking is that competition and cooperation both require strategy and strategy requires a model of how things work. In the cooperative case the model can constructed through negotiation and interaction, whereas the competitive mode is inherently isolating, shutting off that method of model building. The competitor is therefore required to build models through analysis. The competitive mode also lacks gentle self correction so the stakes are higher. Sloppy analysis in cooperative mode can be corrected through cross checking with the other parties. In competitive mode it leads to losing the competition.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:55 AM
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Also 655 makes sense. I'm more aware of the cooperation looking like submission thing because it leads to longer term misunderstandings. When cooperation looks like domination the dom/sub party makes it clear right up front and you know immediately that you're playing the wrong game.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 9:58 AM
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658: Haidt is well aware that out-group hatred is an inborn ethical emotion, but he softpedals the problem by lumping outgroup hatred in with ingroup loyalty, and then talking about all sorts of social mechanisms to "civilize" rather than repress these emotions. For instance, he says that sports is to war as porn is to sex, and implying that this is a healthy way to express loyalty and rivalry.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:04 AM
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re: 660

When he is seriously proposing terminating pregnancies based on this ... there's a problem.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:05 AM
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Yeah, if it hadn't been for the 1936 Olympics Europe would have experienced a terrible war.

Wars aren't natural violence, though, but the recruiment of natural violence for something culturally coded.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:07 AM
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Fantasy baseball averts the apocalypse!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:11 AM
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Kinda fitting that comment 666 invoked the apocalypse.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:28 AM
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666 comments when it's exactly a week before HIS inauguration. Coincidence??!? Probably.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:29 AM
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You know, somebody really should let heebie know that women can't do math.

So why are males so attracted to studying maths?
And why, in over 100 years of the existence of the Fields Medal, maths' Nobel Prize, have none of the winners have ever been a woman?

The lack of attention to (or even recognition of) socio-cultural-historical context is quite astonishing.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:30 AM
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Hey togolosh, go answer my intrusive personal question at 287 in the apple thread.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:31 AM
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It's annoying how the Fields medal is always referred to as the "like a Nobel prize for mathematics", as it really isn't very similar.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:35 AM
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Well, I think high testosterone can make you wired, pissed off when frustrated, more likely to get in fights, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:38 AM
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Possibly. Comparatively low testosterone levels also seem to be compatible with getting pissed off when frustrated, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:40 AM
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I've heard that if women have enough testosterone they screw indiscriminately but become hairier. A guy who liked hairy women could have a ball.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:43 AM
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could have a ball

Or even two!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:48 AM
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And why, in over 100 years of the existence of the Fields Medal, maths' Nobel Prize, have none of the winners have ever been a woman?

No woman has ever won the economics nobel either, and the Clarke medal got its first woman winner just last year. I think it's because women don't understand anything about budgets or shopping.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:50 AM
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Budgets and shopping are finance, not economics.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:53 AM
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Budgets and shopping are finance, not economics.

Recent events suggest men aren't as good at finance as they thought, either.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:55 AM
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They don't understand anything about household rules and laws, either.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 10:55 AM
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669: I can't imagine why you think social factors have anything to do with professional success for female mathematicians. I'm willing to accept that there may be some sort of spacial visualization differences between men and women way out there at the extremes, but it's hardly worth responding to an article that thinks that the Fields Medal has been around since 1909. (The fact that it's infrequently awarded, only awarded to mathematicians under 40, and has -- to my recollection -- been dominated by French recipients certainly couldn't cause any other sort of cultural skew.) At least one woman has won the Adams Prize, which is restricted to British mathematicians and has previously been given to featherweights like Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:04 AM
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Why did finance get separated from economics?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:04 AM
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(The fact that it's infrequently awarded, only awarded to mathematicians under 40, and has -- to my recollection -- been dominated by French recipients certainly couldn't cause any other sort of cultural skew.)

If the French are not genetically predisposed to be great mathematicians, how could this ever come to pass?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:09 AM
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681:John, it hasn't and never has been, since Smith & Bentham publicly argued over usury laws.
Macroeconomics, as founded by Keynes, is the study of finance, of investment demand. IS-LM. But you can go back to Menger & the Austrians.

Unless you want to contend that monetary economics and the financial economics are different and unrelated. Or that finance economics is about financial structures and institutions.

The second reason for excluding Wicksell and his followers is that the modern view of how finance disturbs the economy is built on the idea that, in he process of financial intermediation, assets are created which cannot be onverted into means of payment, or credit is extended to the point where the liquidity that households and firms use to manage their economics affairs is insufficient to manage all financial liabilities (see Part II below). But, in Wicksell's view, financial innovation moved from commodity money to a pure credit' economy of a banking kind.

His Swedish and Austrian followers therefore did not develop a view of finance in which financial and productive ssets have differing liquidity. The differential liquidity of assets was the basis of Keynes's financial and monetary economics.

...Toporowski, Theories of Financial Disturbance

It's complicated, but it's always there.

Microeconomics, theories of the firm & industries, are easier to base in empriricism, have simpler models, can actually make economists some money.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:50 AM
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If the French are not genetically predisposed to be great mathematicians, how could this ever come to pass?

I dunno about genetics but those bastards get Larousse *and* the Bourbaki, and we get "Freedom Fries" and Bernie Madoff.

Fuck.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:55 AM
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Ok, I suppose you could have a monetary economics that isn't a financial economics, but for me that is just back to a barter economy. Chunks of gold for chickens.

Money = credit. Credit is intermediated by finance.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:57 AM
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People keep telling me that there's a separation. My guess is that it's economists trying to get some kind of plausible deniability, and finance people trying to get the freedom to do whatever they feel like doing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 11:58 AM
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I thought "finance" was the study of how to make money as an investor. Whenever I see citations to articles in "finance" journals, it's always about how one asset class is correlated to another asset class, or how heteroskedasticity makes it useful to compare stock market returns across many different time periods. You know, things that are totally useless to the world but useful to big-time investors competing with each other.

Whereas economics at least pretends to be interested in how to run a nation effectively and avoid money-related crises.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:07 PM
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but for me that is just back to a barter economy. Chunks of gold for chickens.

That's not barter.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:11 PM
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686:Close

I think they are trying to escape the implications, about modern economies being social constructs and markets (+ money) being wholly the creations of governments, which, well, I was going to say Marx, but Smith had his own social construct in mind.

Lehman existed because of gov't (CB, currency, reflected credit), and died without its support. No, they don't want to face or admit that publicly, in a "liberal democracy."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:20 PM
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688:Yes it is times infinity.

Pretty shiny stuff the barbarian chief can take into the grave, until a gov't (maybe only a chief) creates a market for universal exchange.

In many circumstances I wouldn't make the trade. Can't eat gold.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:26 PM
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bob- markets exist in all sorts of regimes. The more complex the market, the greater the need for the underlying legal/ governmental framework upon which it rests. the under the table economy is still a market. Just a different set of rules for enforcing the contract.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:32 PM
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nastier penalty clauses too, typcially.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:34 PM
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Bernie Madoff will be shot in the face and thrown through a plate glass window (or something else from a bunch of movies I didn't watch) if the Russian Mafia catches up with him.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 12:39 PM
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I have a friend who grew up in Coney Island who won't go back there because he says the Russian Mafia has taken over. He's of Russian Jewish origin himself, but from a diffirent century of immigration.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:17 PM
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will be shot in the face and thrown through a plate glass window

So you think they'll go easy on him?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:19 PM
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695: Easier than John.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:32 PM
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So you think they'll go easy on him?

He's old. They respect their elders.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:33 PM
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693: Given the precedents established for extraordinary rendition, the government should be able to just turn Madoff over to the Russian mob. Maybe they should.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:55 PM
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Really the paragraph cited in 683 is enough.

Classical economics isn't very interested in finance, because it doesn't (didn't) believe there is any money left on the table. Savings becomes investment becomes capital goods, wages, commodities. All cleared by changes in prices, all factors substitutable.

Note:no real unique place for gov't. Just another firm (crowding out). Banking, finance and money become the most transparent, invisible, transparent parts of the economy. Capital might as well be ignored. Funny about that.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:58 PM
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698. Pour encourager les autres. Win- win!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:58 PM
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Thing is, if they had a clear shot they wouldn't just go after him, they'd retrieve any money his family and friends have, too.

Well I guess there's more sense to that than some of the ext. rend.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:58 PM
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701 to 698


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 1:59 PM
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Better yet, offer Madoff and his ilk plea bargains and protection in exchange for draining organized crime coffers with dubious financial instruments. That's a win-win.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 2:08 PM
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703. Seeing as the SEC has already investigated, and that over 50% of the losses are overseas, maybe that is what happened. You can't blow the whistle then instigate the scam, it has to be done quiet like. Those Jewish philanthropic organizations that lost money are just collateral damage (pun noticed but not intended). There is a script in there somewhere.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 2:17 PM
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Were Madoff's sons in on the scam? I find it hard to believe that they didn't know what was going on.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:32 PM
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705: you're far from alone.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:44 PM
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705: Me too. The only possible defense, given their rank within the organization, is that they thought it was insider trading rather than a Ponzi scheme. Hang 'em either way.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:45 PM
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707: Can't the same be said of basically everyone who was making money off them for years?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 3:54 PM
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"Dad's really smart, but I never had much of a head for figures, gol darn it."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:01 PM
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184, 185: "Shaken, not stirred" was supposedly introduced for the movies because it sounded better. At least it allows you to tell the joke about being slightly stirred but not at all shaken.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:36 PM
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"He was white and shaken, like a dry martini."

Bertie Wooster.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:40 PM
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709: Don't laugh, I have in the past found myself representing the grandson/dogsbody of a felonious (literally. Spent some time in the big house) rabbi, in connection with attempting to enforce some dodgy financial instruments left by the rabbi to the beloved grandson. My client appeared to be honest as the day is long, a fact which served him poorly in settlement negotiations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:41 PM
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711: Cocktail Time (1958)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:47 PM
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I have some aged cocktail book around here somewhere that says the shaking is intentional in order to dilute the drink a bit. It later became manly to insist the drink ought not be diluted at all.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 4:49 PM
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715

714: That's why I shake Martinis, but a bit of stirring works to.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:01 PM
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716

P G Wodehouse's characters: manly!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:03 PM
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717

717 -- Particularly Aunt Agatha.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:09 PM
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718

Halford!

/Aunt Agatha


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:17 PM
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719

I always get Aunt Agatha mixed up with Aunt Augusta. Someone should write a composite story.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:26 PM
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720

He likes his Aunt Dahlia, and especially her chef Anatole. Aunt Agatha was a harridan. But I don't remember Aunt Augusta.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:29 PM
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721

Per the wikipedia article, shaken rather than stirred appears in the novels too. Although said article correctly notes that Bond doesn't always drink martinis or mixed drinks all the time by any means; he's more usually inclined to order bourbon.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:30 PM
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722

Augusta is in Wilde, and never even saw the cucumber sandwiches made specially for her. Britain was rich in aunts, it seems.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:36 PM
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723

IIRC, in its early sometimes-not-shit days Loaded had an article where the journalist attempted to live like Bond for a day or two. Literally following Fleming's description of his day, one drink at a time. By about 2pm he'd drunk about 20 units of alcohol and smoked himself half-sick. And yeah, I seem to recall he drank a lot of bourbon.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:37 PM
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724

732: You have to ease into these things though. A solid alcoholic can happily breeze through days that would leave most people passed out by mid-afternoon.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:41 PM
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725

re: 724

God, yes. In my mid-20s I [not an alcoholic] regularly drank quantities that'd have me flat on the floor now. The Bond numbers were pretty amazing, though. Or at least amazing enough for a journalist to eke a brief funny article out of ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 5:45 PM
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726

Britain was rich in aunts, it seems.

Their husbands/ lovers all died in Flanders fields, old chap.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:00 PM
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727

726 is a good point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:02 PM
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728

I'm sure that was a relief to them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:07 PM
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729

I seem to remember a book written about the army of spinsters in the UK after the Great War and how they influenced the culture.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:15 PM
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730

729: Could it be this book ?


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:22 PM
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731

Yep.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:37 PM
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732

||

Thailand is lovely. Though I've never been so weak from turista. From the bed to the hammock with a stop for pants was a ten-minute, five-phase operation.

Still, the spa package here was a nice restorative.

And I had the giggliest massage ever on Sairee Beach.

|>


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:45 PM
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733

Wow, 724 really was to 732.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:48 PM
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734

I don't blame the "3 drinks for the price of 2 from the bottom shelf only" PADI-cert completion deal. But it makes some sense now.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 6:51 PM
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732: the banana pancakes were worth the suffering though, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-13-09 8:18 PM
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736

Britain was rich in aunts, it seems.

So was Brazil, where the nuts come from

I think you'll find the tradition of great British aunts goes back well before the Great War.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 2:25 AM
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737

Britain was rich in aunts, it seems.

So was Brazil, where the nuts come from

I think you'll find the tradition of great British aunts goes back well before the Great War.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 2:25 AM
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738

||

Holy lol: watching Jeeves & Wooster for the first time. Ho. Ly. LOL. Ho dee ho dee ho dee ho, sir!

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 2:41 AM
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739

730. TH - That book is currently top of my stack, and I was going to pop it this week. Is it any good?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 3:34 AM
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British spinsters - see also Miss Climpson and the general preponderance of unmarried middle-class female characters in their late thirties and forties in (for example) Dorothy Sayers' books. It's because basically all the men of their generation were dead.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 7:12 AM
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I don't think it works for Wodehouse aunts, though. I think they're all married, and a generation older than the WW I vets. (Bertie's relationship with WW I is odd -- he and the rest of the Drones should all be veterans, but I think it's literally never mentioned. I seem to remember reading somewhere that regardless of when most of the books were published, Bertie's milieu, insofar as it represents anything in the real world at all, is much more Edwardian than it is 20's and 30's -- he's living in an imaginary 1912 in a lot of ways.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 7:20 AM
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742

Wodehouse said that there are two kinds of fiction -- the kind that relates to reality, and his kind.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 7:44 AM
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743

Of course, we know there's a dark subtext which is either repressive or transgressive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 7:45 AM
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744

Plus-size pinup from the Fifties.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 7:52 AM
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741: Yes, most Wodehouse aunts are married - and re the eternal 1912, I think I remember reading the same thing. Jeeves' first appearance was in 1915 - so in a way he is an Edwardian being. I don't remember a single reference to the Great War anywhere, actually. Figures of speech do creep in: a scuffle between two dogs breaks out and "the action became general all along the Front", which is the language of a WW1 war reporter.

Lots of people (eg Evelyn Waugh) have commented on the prelapsarian quality of PGW. When reality breaks in, it's a disturbing experience - Bertie Wooster (who never seems to age) running into a friend on the Aldermaston march, or another character musing that breaking into a country house for some reason or other reminds him of his time in the Commandos.

The Wodehouse quote is "I believe there are two ways of writing novels. One is mine, making a sort of musical comedy without music and ignoring real life altogether; the other is going right down deep into life and not giving a damn."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:07 AM
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When I was a kid ~ 1955 there were still cartoons in the comix set anywhere from 1890 to 1930. The Katzenjammer Kids still may be in production.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:19 AM
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747

Of course Wodehouse knew about musical comedy - worked with Jerome Kern a lot. The unreality in the novels lies in the attitudes and relationships remaining stuck in 1912, while the technological and cultural background sort of moves on. (I read a bio of PGW which demonstrated that people like Galahad Threapwood were more or less drawn from life in the 1890s.)


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:29 AM
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748

There's Spode, of course ...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:49 AM
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749

Spode, yes; and Vladimir Brusiloff, the heavily-bearded Russian Revolutionary poet who played golf with Lenin (until someone try to assassinate him with rewolwer.) And occasional references to the New Deal...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:58 AM
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746: The comic that always struck me was "Nancy" (it apparently is still being drawn!), set in some timeless "present" that clearly wasn't my "present". (Reading it also early experience in self-loathing, "Shit! I read it again. Why Lord, why? Why can I not just skip it?")


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 8:58 AM
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751

There are a lot of references to elderly Crimean War vets in Wodehouse, but none to the Great War, as I recall.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:03 AM
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Here's a Wodehouse story almost entirely about Communism. As far as I recall, the valet was a surly Communist who would maintain politeness around his master (Archibald Mulliner) while also referring matter-of-factly to how his master's blood would soon be running in the streets. Then he becomes a convert after seeing the true face of poverty, but switches back to the ruling class when his girlfriend makes fun of him.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:06 AM
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One of the early Jeeves/Wooster stories is about Bingo Little falling for a girl who's a Communist activist. Bertie has to feed her and the rest of her political comrades afternoon tea, at which one of them looks at the food and comments that it was all "Ripped from the bleeding lips of the starving poor." I love that phrase, and use it at every opportunity. (Later, Bertie comments that if the amount of jam the Communists had left uneaten had been spread on the bleeding lips of the starving poor, it would hardly have made them sticky.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:12 AM
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Crimean War veterans? Really? Even that seems a bit grim for Plum. There are a few retired-colonel types whose service in various bits of the Empire is mentioned, but I must admit I can't remember mentions of Balaclava.

Wodehouse mentions Communism a lot - I often think he may have thought of it rather in the same light as the French Revolution, ie based on noble if impractical ideals but a bit bloody in the execution.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:12 AM
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755

It's also worth mentioning "Psmith Journalist", which is PGW's equivalent of "The Wire"... (there's an image for you.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:14 AM
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Mostly, I think he's making fun of Communism as silly/trendy politics for comfortable English people. Not in a seriously condemnatory way, given that all he does is make fun of things.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:15 AM
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757

True, I forgot Psmith, whose politics Wodehouse does seem to kind of be sincerely endorsing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:16 AM
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758

And then there's Bingo Little's girlfriend Charlotte Corday Rowbotham, Comrade of the Heralds of the Red Dawn.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:24 AM
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Right, isn't she the one from the story I mentioned in 753? I remember it involving a whole lot of false beards. Or at least one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:27 AM
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isn't she the one from the story I mentioned in 753?

Yes.

And Psmith Journalist is one of my very favorite PGW books. I'm not sure that Psmith has politics so much as an aesthetic stance.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:32 AM
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I'm not sure that Psmith has politics so much as an aesthetic stance.

And people claim Wodehouse isn't true to life....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:32 AM
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Oh yes. Comrade Butt had a real beard, though.

As far as the Crimean War goes, there's just off-hand mentions of the oldest men at the Drones Club or the oldest men at some golf club being likely to swap reminiscences of the Crimean War. Boy, those guys are old!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:44 AM
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The last few comments and quotes from Wodehouse are just reminding me how great he, Wodehouse, is and how I need to read more.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:47 AM
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764

I was a crazed Wodehouse fan through adolescence, and burned myself out on him a bit. I've thought about going back to the books and seeing if they're fresh again after a decade or so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:48 AM
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765

Some of his books really are better than others. I tend to prefer early over late Wodehouse, but he certainly wrote some gems in his later career. For kicks, compare the first Blandings novel Something Fresh to the later Summer Lightning. They're both great, but I just tend to prefer books that haven't gotten all comfortable with themselves.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:55 AM
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766

I was the rare 12-year-old who made derisive references to Sir Stafford Cripps.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:56 AM
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767

Does anyone have a link to a chronological (by events therein -- I assume but don't know that it matches publication order) list of the Jeeves/Bertie books? I read them all out of order, and I've never been completely sure that I've read them all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 9:59 AM
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768

A lot of important events occur in the Wooster/Jeeves stories.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:05 AM
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769

Here is a very good and funny review of a biography of PG Wodehouse, that also gives a great description of the guy. It's from the Exile; listed author is "Eileen Jones" but I suspect that like everything else good from the Exile it's actually by John Dolan.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:06 AM
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767: Something like this , you mean?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:07 AM
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768: Not a chronology of the events, a list of the books in order. They all sort of meld together in a lump for me -- the titles aren't really communicative, so I remember them as the one with the cow creamer, or Gussie and the newts, or the banjolele -- and I occasionally worry that I've missed one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:11 AM
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772

770: Bless you, exactly that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:12 AM
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773

I've only read three or four of the Jeeves/Wooster books and none of the Blandings or Psmiths. I used to live with an ex-girlfriend who liked Wodehouse so I only read the ones she owned.

I'll need to read more.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:18 AM
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I would suggest the Golf Omnibus -- a collection of all his golf stories. I've got no personal interest in golf, but for some reason I find those all painfully funny. (Of course, given the subject matter, they're riddled with ethnically stereotyped Scots -- I'm not sure if that's a plus or a minus from your point of view.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:20 AM
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775

Sorry OFE, I haven't read it yet either, nor is it at the top of my current reading list. But if you get around to it in the near future, feel to let me know if it is worth the time.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:22 AM
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776

re: 774

Oh if the stereotyped Scots are funny that's all a plus.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:23 AM
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777

This is the comment of the messiah.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:32 AM
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778

I'll need to read more.

You will indeed. I tend to prefer the Blandings and the Mike/Psmith ones to Wooster, but as JM says, the earlier ones are probably better. Try "Uncle Fred in the Springtime".

(There's a stereotyped Scot at Blandings - the head gardener, who is pretty funny.)

775. Never mind. I wouldn't normally have chosen it, but we have a thing where we buy a boxful of marked down books every Christmas to keep us going (being of a Grinch-like disposition), and that's what's left. I'll report back if you let me know your email.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:42 AM
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778: yes; MacAlistair, isn't it? "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 10:50 AM
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780

778: TinyHermaphrodite at geemaildotetc.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 12:14 PM
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781

Between Bertie Wooster et al, Nigel Molesworth, Esq. and Harry Potter is there any doubt why the sun never set?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 1:11 PM
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782

Because God wouldn't trust an Englishman in the dark?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 2:32 PM
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783

Would you?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 01-14-09 2:36 PM
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Hey, Molesworth is intensely modern. His internal dialogue is shaped by pulp science fiction (BAKTERIAL RAY GUN!!!). He mocks the beaks by referring to Stalin. He is fascinated by technology and chafes at the Edwardian fake Victorianism of school. My mother's copy from 195- has a cover design that's practically abstract expressionist.

PG Wodehouse, well, Orwell said it all. A man of the 1910s living mentally in 1890 and physically in 1940; no wonder his version of Edwardian Britain is the kind that feels only 50 years after the Crimea rather than only 40 years before the 1950s.

Anyway, 531 is right. There's a big difference between manliness and masculinity; it's quite possible to criticise someone for oafish masculinity, but for their manliness? The language doesn't work. Further, I second the point that there is as little reason to accept the sort of vision of manliness that, say, Kim du Toit blogged as representative of reality as there is to accept it as a normative ideal.

Come to think of it, du Toit is a fine example of the distinction in 531. Masculine? Revoltingly, embarrassingly so. Manly? Not in a million years.

Similarly, Bertie Wooster is comically masculine (vain, pompous, self-regarding, sports-obsessed), but Jeeves is manly (smart, dignified, laconic, supremely competent), and I suspect Wodehouse was aware of this - he basically chopped the aristocratic/pseudoaristocratic ideal of the times, or rather of the times prevailing in his head, down the middle, assigning half of it to Bertie and then handing the rest to a passing servant.

That this was a valid critique is shown by the fact it was funny even after the Berties were gone and remains funny now.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 3:59 AM
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785

Hey, Molesworth is intensely modern. His internal dialogue is shaped by pulp science fiction (BAKTERIAL RAY GUN!!!). He mocks the beaks by referring to Stalin. He is fascinated by technology and chafes at the Edwardian fake Victorianism of school. My mother's copy from 195- has a cover design that's practically abstract expressionist.

PG Wodehouse, well, Orwell said it all. A man of the 1910s living mentally in 1890 and physically in 1940; no wonder his version of Edwardian Britain is the kind that feels only 50 years after the Crimea rather than only 40 years before the 1950s.

Anyway, 531 is right. There's a big difference between manliness and masculinity; it's quite possible to criticise someone for oafish masculinity, but for their manliness? The language doesn't work. Further, I second the point that there is as little reason to accept the sort of vision of manliness that, say, Kim du Toit blogged as representative of reality as there is to accept it as a normative ideal.

Come to think of it, du Toit is a fine example of the distinction in 531. Masculine? Revoltingly, embarrassingly so. Manly? Not in a million years.

Similarly, Bertie Wooster is comically masculine (vain, pompous, self-regarding, sports-obsessed), but Jeeves is manly (smart, dignified, laconic, supremely competent), and I suspect Wodehouse was aware of this - he basically chopped the aristocratic/pseudoaristocratic ideal of the times, or rather of the times prevailing in his head, down the middle, assigning half of it to Bertie and then handing the rest to a passing servant.

That this was a valid critique is shown by the fact it was funny even after the Berties were gone and remains funny now.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 4:00 AM
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786

I think that "Whizz for Atomms" is a much more honest description of the case for nuclear power than any that is typically made.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 4:14 AM
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787

786: The book, or just the title?

I think I see your point, though - I think an underestimated reason why we have so many nuclear power stations is that they are intensely complex and beautiful objects from an engineering point of view. If anyone's ever been inside a reactor hall, they'll know what I mean - it's like Chartres in there, but better, because it does something rather than just sitting there.

(Charles Stross has a good piece on this http://www.antipope.org/charlie/rant/torness.html.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 5:23 AM
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788

and like Chartres cathedral, the only way that it could get built was by telling extravagant lies about paradaisical futures of endless plenty!


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 5:44 AM
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789

Set 'em up, knock 'em in.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 5:46 AM
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790

I think an underestimated reason why we have so many nuclear power stations is that they are intensely complex and beautiful objects from an engineering point of view. I

At one point during the atom bomb project, Oppenheimer was questioning the whole thing on ethical grounds,but he changed his mind because a new scientific angle that came up was so technically sweet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 7:23 AM
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791

I didn't know that. But it's very believable: I don't think that actually making an atom bomb advanced science any more than the process leading up to it had done (manufacturing plutonium, researching gas diffusion, building cyclotrons are all good, but "will this bomb go bang" didn't really answer any important questions). However, it's a very technically sweet piece of equipment, especially the Fat Man implosion design, and I can easily see how someone could become fascinated by wanting to make it work, just like benchresters become obsessive about accuracy without actually wanting to shoot anyone in particular.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-15-09 8:54 AM
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741: Some trick of google-fu led me to the following fanfic story (Green Ice), in which Bertie Wooster meets Lord Peter Wimsey and we discover why there is no reference in any of the Jeeves and Wooster stories to the Great War...

Bertie can't remember anything about it.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 01-16-09 8:21 AM
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793

On the work front, my boss just told me two days ago that I'm being put on a three-day week.

Quite a bit of Wodehouse is available online via Project Gutenberg.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-18-09 12:31 PM
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794

Yow. Does that mean "Woohoo, four day weekends!" or "Oh shit, how am I going to pay the bills?"?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-18-09 1:12 PM
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795

it's like Chartres in there, but better, because it does something rather than just sitting there

OMG someone on the Internet is wrong. In the interplay of iconography on its windows and porch statuary alone, Chartres is among the most dynamic buildings ever. As for nuclear power plants, this is about the best one can hope.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-18-09 1:33 PM
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792: Skimmed it. It's not the best written story, but the key idea is horrifying. No wonder everyone always takes Bertie's non sequiturs in stride...


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-18-09 2:06 PM
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793: in the middle - it's better than being laid off, because there are absolutely no jobs for solicitors right now (except in very specialised niche areas that you can only train in by starting off your career in a big firm). On the one hand I don't have a mortgage and I can cut back my lifestyle to what it was a few years ago when I had loans to pay off. On the other hand I'm single and won't be inheriting any large sums from my surviving parent so I really need to provide for my future and my ability to do so has just been restricted. Also if I had job security this might have been a good time to buy a house.

It's also I suppose a chance to think about whether I really want to keep doing what I've been doing.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 01-18-09 7:17 PM
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