The crisis of masculinity is a new phenomenon in the West

Lag in school, immaturity, sexual distress ... The feminist revolution and the formation of an egalitarian society led to an unprecedented crisis of masculinity. To study this phenomenon began only very recently.

"The West has lost faith in manhood." This is the name of the conference of Canadian scientist Jordan Peterson (Jordan Peterson), who was completely unknown two years ago, but now has become, as the New York Times writes, “the most revered and most hated intellectual” on the Internet. This psychology professor owes his success to television disputes with feminists, in which he debunks their arguments, in particular about the inequality of wages. Peterson's worldwide success (millions of views on YouTube) speaks of a phenomenon that was pushed into the background by the MeToo revolution: it is a growing concern about the masculinity of Western men. Behind the wave of indignation about male domination, which was evident in the example of sexual harassment, hides another truth: the general decline of the status of "male."

Male reaction

This topic is now in fashion in gender studies. In 2006, the American expert on de Tocqueville and Machiavelli, Harvey Mansfield, published a paper entitled “Masculinity” in which he tried to delineate the boundaries and positive aspects of masculinity in an increasingly neutral Western society. The book has outraged the New York intelligentsia, but it has imitators. For example, the Art of Masculinity website, created in 2008, offers many practical tips (from “how to fix wipers yourself to“ how to understand that a woman loves you ”) about“ how to be a man ”to millions of visitors.

The success of the American resource inspired Julien Roshdy (Julien Rochedy), the former head of the youth movement in the National Front, to create a similar platform for the French audience. Impeccable beard, diligently laid hair, black shirt on the figure ... Against the background of the bookcase, he says in a measured voice about "ten thoughts that men should know." “Over the centuries, men have sought to become men. Some time ago, this process has stopped, but before that it was all that way. ” There are blog posts (“why men should be able to drink” or “when to beat in case of aggression”), as well as a paid section of video and philosophical materials with a noticeable imprint of Nietzscheanism.

"Trolls" against "suckers"

Manfsfild, Peterson and, to some extent, Roshdy are a smooth and structured version of the male reaction, which in some cases takes primitive forms. This can be seen, for example, in Marceau’s comics, which emphasize open and aggressive masculinity (tattoos, shaved heads and shotguns), the blogger Papasito and others in varying degrees, rebellious followers of the anti-Semitic polemicist Alain Soral: video about the "feminization" of the world and the "helplessness of desire". The culmination of these ideas is the culture of the "alternative right", which is actively manifested on the Internet, where the "trolls" are pressing on the "suckers", that is, "men who endlessly seek the approval of women." In some cases, this culture takes a tragic and criminal turn. 23 April 2018 in Toronto 25-year-old Alek Minassian (Alek Minassian) knocked down ten people at the wheel of his Chevrolet, including eight women. He was a member of the group of forced bachelors, and wrote on his Facebook page about the desire to kill the maximum of “Chadov” and “Stacy”, as these young people call their glamorous peers of both sexes.

An unprecedented anthropological shift

Such a harsh reaction echoes the aggressive feminist rhetoric about “toxic” masculinity that needs to be cleared. Sometimes this is accompanied by frankly revanchist statements. “It’s time for men to feel outnumbered,” said, for example, recently the former Minister of Justice, Christian Tobira (Christiane Taubira). Anyway, it is not necessary to reduce everything to this radical rhetoric. A more general feeling is insecurity and uncertainty: it is becoming increasingly difficult for Western men to find their place in an increasingly egalitarian society. All this entails many publications and disputes, both in the United States and in France. For example, May 9, a publicist Natasha Poloni (Natacha Polony) organized a round table in Paris with the eloquent title: “Is a Man an Endangered Look?” Authors of the “Myth of Masculinity” Olivia Gazalé, journalist Peggy Sastre and psychiatrist Jean-Francois Bezot (Jean-François Bezot).

“This was inspired by everything that I saw lately, that is,“ transparent ”men during disputes around the Weinstein case. I was sorry to see how they guiltily bow their heads, apologize for the fact that they are men, and call themselves feminists, ”says Natasha Poloni.

“You can’t look with indifference at the anthropological shift taking place before our eyes: it’s about a new place for men in the world, where the division of the sexes is no longer obvious,” said Marcel Gauchet, who dedicated the 200 issue of the magazine “Deba ". - General attention now, of course, is focused on strengthening women at all levels or on the still remaining inequality in their attitude. But could this “female revolution” not be reflected in the opposite field? There are big changes here. Masculinity has ceased to be something obvious and moved into the category of systematic doubts. ”

“The most massive and extensive phenomenon concerns education: boys demonstrate a decline in academic performance and a loss of interest in learning,” he notes. This view is shared by the psychologist Laetitia Strauch-Bonart, which in the sensational book Men Are Outdated? Indicates a decline in the status of men through a number of studies. In it, she tells the story of "the sex that lost its privileges and, possibly, lost with them the meaning of existence."

So, men have lost control over breeding, are lagging behind in their studies, and their previously appreciated physical strength no longer has a special social significance. In France, 15-year-old boys lag behind on average three-quarters of a year in terms of “text understanding”. On the territory of OECD countries, this gap reaches three years between a boy from low-income strata and a girl from affluent groups. This gap persists in the workplace. Although it is still emerging not in favor of women, the general trend implies a decline in the status of men. Deindustrialization and the knowledge economy play into the hands of women. In France, from 1997 to 2016 a year, employment among men decreased from 82,3% to 76,3%, while among women it grew from 66,6% to 69,2%. A diploma of higher education is in 49% of women and 39% of men.

Strengthening women is a problem for some men. This is the main theme of Patrice Jean’s “Unwanted Man” novel. His hero Serge Le Schedenek is an ordinary forty-year-old man who realizes his complete worthlessness for his wife and children. The world no longer needs him. Such overseas people inhabit the novels of Michel Houellebecq (Michel Houellebecq), which describe the disadvantage of the white man. “Like rampant economic liberalism, sexual liberalism also leads to impoverishment,” says one of his characters. “The insecurity of men is my daily job,” confirms sexologist Thérèse Hargot, who receives many misguided clients. - Since strength can no longer manifest itself in public space, everything flows into the intimate and sexual sphere. For many men, it becomes a place of revenge. The most striking proof of this is the consumption of pornography. And also the infidelity of women. Many of them no longer feel attracted to their men, because they have lost masculinity. ”

Men see two contradictory signals: caricature and sexualized masculinity are exalted in pornography and in the enterprise, while feminism dominates in all other spheres. “It seems to me that the impossible is demanded of men,” says writer Nancy Huston. “They should be strong and weak, tough and tender, ruthless at work and shy like lambs at home.”

A new culture of immaturity

Against the background of such an increase in demands and the absence of peculiar rituals of growing up (vertical school, church, and military service), many men are delaying the transition to fatherhood or abandoning it altogether. As teacher Martin Dekeyser (Martin Dekeyser) writes, all this leads to a “new culture of immaturity”. “Entering adulthood has become a more difficult task for young men than for young women,” he believes. Men find refuge in youth culture, which involves systematic ridicule and manifests itself in the Internet and video games. They seek to move away from the world and shift the responsibility on women, in particular on mothers.

Is it worth worrying about this? Is the crisis of Western men merely a reflection of the sexual revolution and will simply fade away? Or is it worth waiting for the return motion of the pendulum in the form of glorification of primitive muzhlanstvo? In the United States, the election of Donald Trump can already be regarded as a peculiar form of avenging the political correctness of American universities. And all this did not solve anything, but only sharpened the struggle between feverish feverism and caricature masculinity.

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