reply to post by cbaskins
It is a sad statement about the institutions of education around the world. Reminds me of how these same institutions relegated Mark twain and John
Steinbeck to the ranks of regionalists, while attempting to put lessor authors on a pedestal. It never did take.
I am sure that the academic world cares nothing of our opinion, they already know it all. I think it is worth it to look at some of Prof Kimmel's
work , who knows, maybe he is on to something.
Michael Kimmel's books include Changing Men (1987), Men Confront Pornography (1990), Men's Lives (9th edition, 2012), Against the Tide:
Profeminist Men in the United States, 1776 - 1990 (1992), The Politics of Manhood (1996), Manhood: A Cultural History (1996), and The Gendered Society
(5th edition, 2013), and the best-seller Guyland (2008).
I looked at the reviews of two of these books, "Manhood In America" and "Guyland."
Thesis: Kimmel aims to do “2 things: first, to chart how the definition of masculinity has changed over time; second, to explore how the
experience of manhood has shaped the activities of American men.”
I like the thesis, maybe I am wrong, and Kimmel isn't an elitist bigot.
However, I have to completely disagree with his argument.
Argument: He argues that the quest for manhood–the effort to achieve, to demonstrate, to prove our masculinity–has been one of the
formative and persistent experiences in men’s lives.
From my experience, men that other men admire, aren't out to prove their masculinity. This is a constant and false projection that academics like to
throw out all the time.
Men don't play sports or climb mountains in order to prove their masculinity, any more than women shop and to dress up in order to prove their
femininity. Physical competition and the desire to hunt is as natural to men as physical competition, in the arena of beauty, and gathering is
important to a woman. This is typical behavior of all predatory mammals on planet Earth. Men like sports because it is in their nature, every bit as
much as academics want to be the smartest person in the room. They enjoy engaging in these activities, it gives them pleasure.
At the beginning of the 19th century, manhood was understood as an arbitrary move from boyhood to adulthood, but as the century progressed the
term manhood fell out of use in favor of the term masculinity. Masculinity was understood to be a set of characteristics and actions that men had to
constantly perform in order to be seen as a man among their peers. Men had a few ways to prove their masculinity in the first half of the 19th
century, including moving West in order to live a more strenuous life away from the ease of the city, living a life of self-control—both personally
and sexually, and keeping the public and private spheres separate—especially making sure that women stayed in the private sphere.
This is where many academics fall down, IMO.
Men didn't act like men in order to get approval from other men, they acted the way they act in order to survive, especially the pioneers. It is not
about approval, it is about trust, the glue that holds society together, the reason for morality. Men who proved themselves, and it has always been
more about good decisions than it ever was physical prowess, were trusted and followed because they had demonstrated excellent survival skills, and a
ability to flourish. They are not admired for their manhood, they are admired for their ability to succeed.
Human kind has always fought battles and wars. We live in peace now far more than we ever have in the past. The women might not do much of the
fighting, but they certainly do support the wars, and always have. Women want their men to engage in conquests. The academic world wants to pretend
that fighting for survival is not a reality of nature, but all the evidence is against them.
I wonder if Prof Kimmel ever looked into the history of the men who went with Louis and Clarke on their famous expedition. These men, IMO, deserve
far more credit than the history books have ever been willing to offer. Many of the men who went on the Louis and Clark expedition, even though
richly rewarded with lands, returned to the territories they had explored and became Mountain Men of famous lore. It wasn't about proving themselves
as men, it was about getting away from civilization, and people who love to play politics, like most academics.
I'll post something about Guyland later.