RARA-AVIS: Real guys don't worry a whole lot about if they're real guys or not...

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 27 Mar 2008

Mario wrote:

> On the fate of the American male, there have been some serious
> sociological studies resulting in books. The conclusion was that there
> has been a loss of masculinity and a loss of self-esteem among
> American males, that men are disoriented, they no longer know how or
> where to fit. Also, that they have become more like women but that
> women don't necessarily like that. Complicated stuff...

Those serious sociological studies are usually trotted out by guys out to prove that all the other guys -- but not them, nosireebob, no fucking way -- are wimps.

And almost every generation finds a previous one more to their liking.

> In any case, it's considerably more complicated than saying that men
> have become pussywhipped (or more so than they were before, in the
> dark ages of the fifties). It's a societal thing, not a merely
> individual phenomenon. On a time scale that makes any sense, this is
> an alarming change, if indeed it is real. The people who have studied
> it say it is.

The people who study stuff... right.

> What would Shell Scott think of all this?

He'd say, "Merio, baby, why are you so down on chicks? Swing with it, man -- you gotta dig them as they are, not as you'd like them to be. Now, what time's happy hour?"

> > Yes, you're right and I was exaggerating of course, but still I
> don't think Dick Powell was very impressive even by the standards of
> the time.

And yet, he was probably in better physical shape than most, having been for many years a professional dancer. And thank God we were never subjected to a shirtless Rooster Cogburn.

All this talk about vanishing masculinity (and the ongoing derision of many female HB writers that pops up regularly on this list) seems to indicate a lot of male insecurity out there, and becomes a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

But this notion that some golden make-believe era (the thirties? the forties, maybe?) was the epitome of masculinity is just plain silly. It's all bullshit derived from old movies and revisionist history. This "greatest generation" stuff is a crock; a salve for baby boomer guilt and insecurity.

Each era gets the men (and women) it deserves, but rarely the ones it needs. Men (and women) will be as "tough" as they need to be, and lesser men (and women) will still turn "the cult of masculinity" into a fetish, and talk endlessly about the good old days of pseudo uber- males like John Wayne and Ernest Hemingway. Borrowed flight jackets do not a war hero make.

But I must admit, I do miss chest hair. Most actors today look like Ken with their shirts off.

Pass the quiche...

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site Celebrating 10 Years of P.I. Thrills

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