Saturday 23 February 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'When did stoicism and competitiveness become a bad thing?'

Vast spectrum: the only thing the anti-maleness movement has ushered in is the acceptance and celebration of weakness
Vast spectrum: the only thing the anti-maleness movement has ushered in is the acceptance and celebration of weakness
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Right, first up, the apology. I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.

On behalf of all men everywhere, including the ones I have never met, I would like to apologise for the sins of our gender.

I could be talking about 'toxic masculinity'. But I'm not. I could be talking about male privilege, or its even more evil cousin, straight, white male privilege. But I'm not.

No, I am talking about 'traditional masculinity', which the American Psychological Association has declared is inherently problematic and needs to be rooted out of society.

Toxic masculinity has been receiving a lot of air time of late, most of it rubbish, because the concept itself is ideologically driven. But the idea that the more 'traditional' masculinity has to be excised from the public space is certainly a new one.

According to the APA's latest findings, traditional masculinity leads to sexism, homophobia, violence and - I'll return to this one - not eating your vegetables.

Ah, I hear you yawn - what, exactly is traditional masculinity and how can we know the warning signs?

Well, apparently: "Traditional masculinity - marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression - is, on the whole, harmful."

It shows how at odds with the world the soft sciences have become when things which were once considered virtues are now denounced as vices.

Since when did stoicism become such a bad thing? Since when was being competitive a black mark on your character? In fact, since when was being competitive considered a male-only trait?

Frankly, in this age of emotional incontinence, when people seem to think the world should revolve around their feelings, we could all do with a lot more stoicism in society, rather than the weird, lip-quivering hysteria which now exists.

Don't get me wrong, I have just as little time for the men's rights activists as I do for their feminist foes.

Identity politics of all stripes is ruining society, and there are few things more feeble than looking at some middle-aged bloke fuming because he thinks the women are getting one over on him.

But the rush to pathologise an entire gender is something that should concern everyone.

Let's be clear - being in touch with your emotions doesn't make you a wimp, but being controlled by them most certainly does.

One of the great shibboleths of our time is that men were traditionally silent but we have ushered in a brave new world of blokes being open about their emotions. How's that working out?

Amongst our many, many sins, we're apparently more prone to, "risky health behaviours such as heavy drinking, using tobacco and avoiding vegetables".

This nonsensical gibberish is what passes for academic discourse these days and we now see a feminist professor actually scolding men for not eating their greens - not so much the Nanny State as the Mammy State.

Men and women are wired differently. That's a simple, immutable, biological fact. The presence of different hormones dictates that this is the case.

But these activist academics don't trust human nature. Instead, they want to socially engineer everyone else so they conform to this narrow, neurotic, deranged version of what is acceptable behaviour.

Whether through accident or design, the only thing the anti-maleness movement has ushered in is the acceptance and celebration of weakness.

In denouncing 'competitiveness', for example, they've bought into the whole participation-medal culture which says that it's enough to simply take part. But it's not enough to simply take part, it has never been enough and it will never be enough.

Nobody wins at everything and you learn more from losing than winning. But if you think it's enough to simply take part, then you'll never learn anything.

There are times when it almost seems as if society has been taken over by a lunatic fringe determined to bring everyone else down to their level. They wallow in their own emotional problems and seem to genuinely resent the idea of the stiff upper lip - probably because they could never exhibit such self-control themselves.

The spectrum of maleness is vast and panoramic, just as it is with women.

But these ludicrous statements from crackpots who really shouldn't be allowed out of the house seem motivated by old-fashioned misandry with a few pseudo-intellectual buzz words.

Creating a generation of spineless, self-loathing men who are made to feel guilty for simply having natural male instincts may suit whatever twisted, identitarian world view the activists hold, but it flies in the face of both logic and basic human desires.

Who would want to be - or be with - a man who constantly apologises, cries when he stubs his toe and can't handle adversity?

I doubt anyone, male or female, finds that a particularly pleasing prospect.

Now, having said that, I'm off to make a broccoli and chilli stir fry.

So at least I'm eating my greens.

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