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Thread: The Descent of Man: Are men going the way of the dodo?

  1. #26
    In search of distractions Marya's Avatar
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    When i read threads like this I always think about the dodo and looking at depictions in museums on Mauritius: a beautiful feathered bird that stood a metre high and weighed 20kg. It didn't go extinct because of stupidity or winglessness but because of hungry predatory sailors, ill-provisioned and vying for colonial supremacy.

    I'd like to see patriarchy extinct, not men.

  2. #27
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeK View Post
    That's a very skewed and myopic view. When I was applying to Med School, there were 37 applicants for each available slot. I wouldn't exactly call that, "easy." Although there were some misogynists on interview committees here and there, the real reason so few women got into medicine was that they didn't meet the qualifications, AND apply for med school. You can have the most brilliant woman ever, but if she didn't apply, then she didn't get in. In the same way, if she didn't take the hard sciences in high school and then in college, she wounldn't qualify. Medicine has generally been far more meritocracy based than most professions. Your analogy would however work for boards of directors of financial institutions.



    I think you're giving them too much credit. It's more like 6 year olds mentally, in adult bodies.
    I dunno. I think it takes that kick of testosterone and trying to get in with the female of the species that really kicks macho into high gear.
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  3. #28
    ever seeking GeorgeK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    I dunno. I think it takes that kick of testosterone and trying to get in with the female of the species that really kicks macho into high gear.
    As much as the drug companies would like you to believe that and therefore sell you products, it doesn't really do that. If you take a man who's been castrated and put him on testosterone he doesn't turn into jack the ripper. There've been many studies that looked at aggression and sex hormones and if there is a connection, it's that the aggressive people's aggression makes them make more hormones, not the hormones making them aggressive. I forget the name of the study, but in the 50's they took violent offenders and castrated them and let them loose on society. Those men's adrenal glands then started to mass produce testosterone. Testosterone and Estrogen are unfairly blamed for normal maturational milestones as well as aberrant behavior. It's the person, not their sex hormone level.

  4. #29
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeK View Post
    As much as the drug companies would like you to believe that and therefore sell you products, it doesn't really do that. If you take a man who's been castrated and put him on testosterone he doesn't turn into jack the ripper. Testosterone and Estrogen are unfairly blamed for normal maturational milestones.
    Sorry, I wasn't being literal about testosterone. I was implying that puberty brings all new dimensions of silliness and competitiveness to macho.
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  5. #30
    Legal Authority/Public Intellectual robeiae's Avatar
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    I'd just like to point out that there's a lot more grunting in women's tennis than there was thirty or forty years ago.
    I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death. --Thomas Hobbes

    Quote Originally Posted by CassandraW
    You're a smug, sneering, ranting asshole, and yet even when I despise your position, I like you.
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  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW archerjoe's Avatar
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    I think this is when guys can't do things the previous generation considered normal abilities. Like when a guy tells his co-workers he took his bicycle to the shop to have a flat tire fixed because he's not comfortable attempting to fix it himself.

    Reminds me of a favorite Heinlein quote:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by archerjoe View Post
    Reminds me of a favorite Heinlein quote:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein
    What do you know, I've done all those. However the programs that I wrote were so long ago, that I do not consider myself to have programming anymore as a skill.

  8. #33
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Good news, I read this just yesterday, and it looks like that old-time masculinity is making a comeback:
    http://skepchick.org/2012/04/a-change-in-focus/
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  9. #34
    Legal Authority/Public Intellectual robeiae's Avatar
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    Meh. I can operate a PC, an iMac, about twelve different kinds of operating systems for phones, a Platystation, an xBox, internet-ready TV's, satellite and cable boxes, BluRay players, VCRs, DVD players, home entertainment systems, and programmable universal remotes. My older two kids can probably do all of this and more. The four year old intuitively grasps iPhone and iPad functions.

    My father can't figure out what channel to put the TV on to watch cable.
    I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death. --Thomas Hobbes

    Quote Originally Posted by CassandraW
    You're a smug, sneering, ranting asshole, and yet even when I despise your position, I like you.
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  10. #35
    "Upgrade your gray matter"- Deltron AW Moderator Jcomp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robeiae View Post
    I'd just like to point out that there's a lot more grunting in women's tennis than there was thirty or forty years ago.
    I blame Monica Seles. Although hers wasn't a grunt so much as a homicidal martial arts battlecry mixed with a sneeze.

    As to the OP.

    I actually do think that, for lack of a better term, the concept of "being a man" is fading, at least in pop culture, and a sort of stereotypical "frat-boy" (again, lack of a better term) immaturity seems to be superseding it. Some of that has probably leaked into the real world as well, though I doubt it's anywhere near enough to make it a matter of crisis. Of course, this has been ongoing for some time. Pop culture didn't just recently replace Cary Grant with "The Situation." They had already replaced him with Archie Bunker, and then Tim the Toolman Taylor, so on and so forth. Of course, those later guys were meant to be more unabashedly representative of what "real men" were like anyway. Throwbacks to Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners. Unapologetic, incorrigible MEN, the likes of whom were satirized by the Al Bundy character. It's nothing new.

    The devolution has continued, so now you have thirty- and forty-year-old guys who can't talk about a woman at all without using the word "bitch" twenty times. You have Brett Ratner types who still throw the word "fag" about like it's confetti, and whose first instinct when confronted with possible criticism from a female co-worker is to say "well, she's just mad because I banged her then forgot about her," like he's in junior high. You have a shockingly significant number of men, I'd wager, who'd hear his comments and think he has nothing to apologize for.

    Again, it's not like this is something that's reaching critical mass, in my view. I don't think men are a "dying breed." But it's certainly out there, and it's not entirely confined to pop culture.

    It's not about "femininity." It's not about sexuality. It's not about what kind of job you have, blue-collar, white-collar, etc. Not about your interests, what you do in your recreation, whether is drinking beers at a bar, rec league sports or sitting at home playing MMORPG's. It's about self-security, being respectful, and, every once in a while at least, behaving like a motherfucking grown up.

  11. #36
    All Living is Local Don's Avatar
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    I wish I'd thought of writing a "controversial" blog post and then stirring up a discussion on a writer's board to drive traffic there. Maybe something on Elizabeth Warren, since she's a hot topic at the moment. Or women's tennis. Or Elliot Spitzer, Keith Olbermann, and dead hookers.
    The breed of men like my grandfather, stoic, selfless and always ready to help our family or a friend - and until the end, was always able - have passed the torch to a generation largely made up of over-aged boys who would rather have chosen self-gratification over self-betterment, and we as a culture are about to see the ugly fruit of this handoff, a crop of effeminate or buffoonish men.
    That's a bit of a run-on sentence there, mate.

    Oh, I've got a ponytail AND a goatee. With stubble about half the days, depending on how lazy I'm feeling. I pitch in anytime a neighbor needs a hand, just like granpa. I can hunt and fish AND do dishes and run a vacuum cleaner. I can even cook. Quiche. So where do I fall on the scale?
    I wrote a blog.

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  12. #37
    "Assume Good Intentions" SuperModerator Williebee's Avatar
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    It's about self-security, being respectful, and, every once in a while at least, behaving like a motherfucking grown up.
    What J said.

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  13. #38
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeK View Post
    What do you know, I've done all those. However the programs that I wrote were so long ago, that I do not consider myself to have programming anymore as a skill.
    Likewise, I have a similar level of experience and skill in changing diapers.
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  14. #39
    Moving with my soul, step by step Lhipenwhe's Avatar
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    If 'masculine men' are going the way of the dodo, I will proudly maintain my uber-manliness and submit to being admired and pampered in a zoo.

    On a serious note, I agree with people who've said that your classifications are narrow and unfair. There are many 'types' of men and women, and always have been; it's merely now, with so many of the standards downgrading to just another archetype/'type' of men is because of loosening social restrictions. People should have the freedom to be, and express themselves, as anything they'd like. I, for one, am immensely grateful for being born in the modern era -- my 'type' is something that would be... disagreeable with a stratified society.
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  15. #40
    Bright and Early for the Daily Race Chrissy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    Oh, I've got a ponytail AND a goatee. With stubble about alf the days, depending on how lazy I'm feeling.
    Great. Now I'm going to have to amend my mental picture of you as a sort of male-esque statue of liberty.

    I pitch in anytime a neighbor needs a hand, just like granpa. I can hunt and fish AND do dishes and run a vacuum cleaner. I can even cook. Quiche. So where do I fall on the scale?
    You definitely sound human.

  16. #41
    Clever User Title Mara's Avatar
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    I'm not going to give traffic to the blog, but I'd point to history to show that late 1900s American ideas of masculinity are hardly the only masculinity that ever existed. Teddy Roosevelt's generation generally spoke with a higher-pitched accent than most American men do today, for example. And there was a time when respectable masculine types wore powdered wigs to show how manly and respectable they are.

    However, we _might_ be increasingly moving toward a time where nobody gives a darn how "manly" someone is, because it's no longer seen as an inherently superior thing. And we're certainly moving toward a time where men who trumpet the virtues of macho man manly manliness are ridiculed for overcompensating. But no, a tiny cultural change in what "masculine" means, one of thousands that have occured in human history, is not an indication that masculinity will cease to exist.
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  17. #42
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    Glad to see this has sparked some disscussion with a wide range of opinion! Better yet, glad to see it stayed civil!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jcomp View Post
    It's not about "femininity." It's not about sexuality. It's not about what kind of job you have, blue-collar, white-collar, etc. Not about your interests, what you do in your recreation, whether is drinking beers at a bar, rec league sports or sitting at home playing MMORPG's. It's about self-security, being respectful, and, every once in a while at least, behaving like a motherfucking grown up.
    Hit the nail right on the head. This basically is what I was refering too. Perhaps I should have made more of a focus in my article about the lack of maturity among men my age, rather than lack of masculinity.
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    I'm not going to give traffic to the blog, but I'd point to history to show that late 1900s American ideas of masculinity are hardly the only masculinity that ever existed. Teddy Roosevelt's generation generally spoke with a higher-pitched accent than most American men do today, for example. And there was a time when respectable masculine types wore powdered wigs to show how manly and respectable they are.

    However, we _might_ be increasingly moving toward a time where nobody gives a darn how "manly" someone is, because it's no longer seen as an inherently superior thing. And we're certainly moving toward a time where men who trumpet the virtues of macho man manly manliness are ridiculed for overcompensating. But no, a tiny cultural change in what "masculine" means, one of thousands that have occured in human history, is not an indication that masculinity will cease to exist.
    To be fair, Teddy Roosevelt is a damn good lifestyle to aim for in life
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  19. #44
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    I'm not going to give traffic to the blog, but I'd point to history to show that late 1900s American ideas of masculinity are hardly the only masculinity that ever existed. Teddy Roosevelt's generation generally spoke with a higher-pitched accent than most American men do today, for example. And there was a time when respectable masculine types wore powdered wigs to show how manly and respectable they are.

    However, we _might_ be increasingly moving toward a time where nobody gives a darn how "manly" someone is, because it's no longer seen as an inherently superior thing. And we're certainly moving toward a time where men who trumpet the virtues of macho man manly manliness are ridiculed for overcompensating. But no, a tiny cultural change in what "masculine" means, one of thousands that have occured in human history, is not an indication that masculinity will cease to exist.
    Very true. There's also a lot of cultural variations in ideas of manliness at any given point in time.

    A trickier question is whether the idea that there are any sets of behavioral characteristics associated with being male (or being female) will disappear. Is it possible to get rid of the weird idea that there is an ideal for half of humanity. Because that idea is the really strange one.
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  20. #45
    "Upgrade your gray matter"- Deltron AW Moderator Jcomp's Avatar
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    In an effort to relatively neutral here, I do think there's a bit of hyperbole in regard to the reaction to this blog post. It's not really all that controversial of a statement. Granted, the assertion that "being a man" is nearing extinction is also hyperbolic, but the notion that there's a disconcerting level of immaturity and selfishness in today's crop of of adult males (and adults period) isn't exactly a new or controversial statement.

  21. #46
    Delerium ex Ennui Xelebes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jcomp View Post
    In an effort to relatively neutral here, I do think there's a bit of hyperbole in regard to the reaction to this blog post. It's not really all that controversial of a statement. Granted, the assertion that "being a man" is nearing extinction is also hyperbolic, but the notion that there's a disconcerting level of immaturity and selfishness in today's crop of of adult males (and adults period) isn't exactly a new or controversial statement.
    I'd say it is a sycophantic polemic of a statement, addressed to the fellow elderly to scold the youth about changes the author is not willing to accept.

  22. #47
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Here's a peripherally connected human interest story:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...style&ir=Style

    High School boy wants to wear a kilt to the prom. His ancestry is Scots and he wants to wear his clan tartan. In another society this would be the height of manliness. The school board denied it on dress code grounds, but behind that is the obvious idea: men don't wear skirts.

    I wonder if they'd object to him having a claymore instead?
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  23. #48
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    take your mind back
    i don't know when
    sometime when it always
    seemed to be just us and them

    girls that wore pink
    and boys that wore blue
    boys that always grew up better men
    than me and you

    what's a man now

    what's a man mean
    is he rough or is he rugged
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  24. #49
    "Upgrade your gray matter"- Deltron AW Moderator Jcomp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xelebes View Post
    I'd say it is a sycophantic polemic of a statement, addressed to the fellow elderly to scold the youth about changes the author is not willing to accept.
    Right. And we can bust out the quotes that shows that such statements have been echoed by men since ancient Greek philosphers. But I would still say that immaturity and degradation of the public, popular image of what it means to be a man exists and persists. Again, it's nothing new, but I wouldn't dismiss it off-hand either.

    The misogyny thread gave us plenty of examples of grown ass men behaving like crass little boys because that's apparently all they know what to resort to. At various points in the past, this sort of thing was identifiable (though, of course, not at all excusable) as ignorance. That isn't so much the case anymore. Far fewer people can now say, "I was brought up a certain way, saw a certain, limited reality, and my prejudices are based on that." Again, that was never an excuse, but there was an element of truth to it. Now, however, there are very few men in the civilized world who can say, for instance, "I've never seen or been around a homosexual man who wasn't a perfectly normal human being." As such, if you have this experience readily available to you in a way we didn't have 50, 60, and 70 years ago, and yet you're still the kind of asshole who casually drops homophobic slurs like it's nothing, then you're exhibiting a level of deliberate, willful ignorance. That's not any better or worse than plain old podunk dumbass ignorance, but it is different, and worth examining, in my opinion.

    Now, the definition of masculinity itself is, at best, debatable and very possibly amorphous. I still think the OP attempted to make a reasonably fair point about the general view of what it means to be a man; where it's been and what it is today. The blog post is too narrow-minded in its presentation, it brings up subjects such as "feminism" that I think are largely if not wholly irrelevant, and it's too short to realistically hope to make a studied, thoughtful statement on the subject. But I think it can be a springboard for a good discussion. I'm not elderly, I'm part of the generation the OP would seek to chastise, and yet I think there's at least some validity to the criticism.

  25. #50
    Liker Of Happy Things Mharvey's Avatar
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    An decreasing minority like myself aside, it seems like most of men my age, and I use the term 'men' very loosely, are dividing into one of two camps. The first are the under-educated knuckle-draggers, the second the sort of effeminate, whiny man-children that infest hipster hives across the nation.
    Sorry, that's as far as I got.

    I won't go as far to say the article is complete drivel as it raised a few good questions, but I don't find any of your answers even close to accurate. Absolutely none of my friends are knuckledraggers or effeminate. To basically assert that all men are one or the other is just wrong.

    The big difference I see, from your grandfather's day until now, is a change in trends. Just as women are now more likely to be found outside of the kitchen than 50 years ago, men are now more likely to be found inside one. This changing of hard-and-fast gender roles hasn't just happened in a vacuum - it's impacted everything. Tomboy girls are more common and accepted, just as metrosexual men are also considered in. Strong women are now typical in modern day cinema, whereas back in the 50s-60s, it was far rarer to see women in roles of power.

    Likewise, homosexuals of both genders are also regarded far more favorably than 50 years ago, on the whole.

    My most important disagreement is I think these changes are a very good thing. So what if the Humphrey Bogarts and the characters John Wayne plays in film are no longer society's definition of a man's man. To me, hitching up your britches, smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco is uncomfortable, unhealthy and disgusting... and if that makes me effeminate, I'll be the effeminate male who wears comfortable clothes and doesn't have lung cancer and gum disease.

    Though, honestly, I've been called many things in life... "effeminate" hasn't been one of them. I kinda look like Shrek with pink skin, for God sakes.
    Last edited by Mharvey; 04-02-2012 at 08:32 PM.
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