There’s a trend I’ve seen in the last year or so with websites directed at “real men”. I’ve touched on this before in a previous essay (found here) but it bears a re-examination. Sites like Return of Kings and people like Mark Driscoll are rampant on the internet now. The democratization of the internet has allowed the trolls free rein to put out vile garbage. It also allows men like me to chew them up and spit them out.
I don’t get into arguments about whether someone is a “true” or “real” something or other. Such arguments inevitably become a No True Scotsman fallacy. It goes something like this: a Scotsman is reading a newspaper at the pub when he reads a story about something nefarious, like an Englishman who murders his whole family and then kills himself. The Scotsman scoffs, thinking that no Scotsman would do such a horrible thing. When the Scotsman turns the page, the next story he reads is about another Scotsman committing the same heinous act as the Englishman in the previous story. The Scotsman’s only out is to say that no true Scotsman would ever do that. The goalposts have been moved without setting an objective means to determine who is a true Scotsman and who isn’t. It’s a fallacious argument used by quite a few religious groups to exemplify themselves as the true adherents of the faith and castigating all others as following a version of faith that isn’t the “real” version.
People like Mark Driscoll and politicians who espouse traditional gender roles, like Michele Bachmann for example, are vocal in how men should be masculine and women should be feminine. They decry the feminization of American men, the creation of men sensitive to the needs and aspirations of women. A recent memoir written by Congressman Steve Pearce (R, N.M.) showed his admiration for the biblical dictate that wives submit to their husbands. This is the same view that Mark Driscoll and countless preachers like him espouse from their pulpits, books, and videos.
Sites like Matt Forney’s and Return of Kings allow seemingly disenfranchised men, men who feel powerless to stop the march of female equality from moving forward. Return of Kings is a recent one I’ve discovered, thanks to a close friend. After reviewing some of posts on this site, I cannot recommend going to it, not even to fight them. Feeding trolls like these guys only fuels their indignant and ignorant rants. More pageviews means more ad revenues for them, hence the reason I haven’t posted a link to their site on this post.
I could be dismissive and say the reason the writers at Return of Kings are so vitriolic is because they have certain physical limitations (let your imaginations wander on that one) but that’s probably just a physical symptom, one I can’t verify or possibly comment on any further. Deep down though, I suspect that men like Forney, Driscoll, and the others all share one key characteristic: Fear.
For centuries women were often little more than chattel, pawns in the chess games of their fathers to ensure more wealth for or keeping existing wealth in the family. Sons were married to daughters of equal or higher station in exchange for grants of land, power, influence, and money. Daughters were treated as commodities to insure loyalty to the family in charge and perpetuate power across generations. Even the Bible, the vaunted book central to American morality (if you believe fundamentalist Christians), shows that for every Ruth there were thousands of women treated as either spoils of war or the property of their father. The great women of the biblical stories are the exception, not the rule. Those traditions were incorporated and modified by previous generations to ensure male hegemony over influence, power, and money.
In the 20th century there were three major movements spearheaded by women in America. All three had drastic and far-reaching effects on the nation. The Suffrage Movement, which culminating in women becoming enfranchised, a noble goal that was ignorantly left out of the original Constitution. The Prohibition movement is another example, born from the desire to save women from drunken spousal abuse. Prohibition had the unintended side-effect of creating a climate of graft and violence throughout the nation. The last one was the Feminist Movement of the 1970s, which sought to move women ahead into positions of authority and influence in society.
It’s this last progression that has man-children like Return of Kings writers and Driscoll so frightened. Women are increasingly demanding and receiving their due, whether it is equality in the workplace or full reproductive freedom. It is no longer possible to shove women back into the previous paradigm of wife and homemaker, nor should they be pushed back into those roles. It is absolutely essential for women to receive the same opportunities as men in America and the world at large. From a purely financial standpoint, what idiot thinks that having the majority of the population not earning enough money is a good thing? From a cultural standpoint, the next few generations, mine included, will soon be reaching an age where they can assume power. We need diversity to pull ahead and remain vital in the world. I’ve already seen a black man become President in my lifetime, something I thought I wouldn’t see. Now I want to see a woman in the White House as Mrs. President.
Male privilege in this country is going by the wayside and that’s where it belongs. The women of the 21st century must be capable, strong, independent, and educated, traits women of the previous centuries were denied. Arguments from tradition, which is all “real men” have at their disposal, carry as much weight as a single drop of water. The overwhelming tide has turned against such archaic ideas. Hopefully, it will drag neanderthals out to sea to be drowned, relics that future generations will treat with the appropriate amount of derision.