‘Merican Masculinity (Or, It Was Never That Good)

July 15, 2009

I apologize for the light posting over the last couple days… Job search stuff occasionally winds up being amazingly time consuming, especially when it seems to be productive. Unfortunately it looks like this most recent glimmer of opportunity was for nought and so I’m back to hoop jumping for at least a few more weeks.  And of course, dear readers, to blogging.

Which brings me to this essay, which Peter Lawler recommends and I am puzzled by.  So far as I can tell, its central argument is that America is aging and finding less space for the kind of expansive, manly excess that characterized the world of The Right Stuff. Instead we are getting older, finding that government dependency is easy, and sopping at the consumer trough.  All of this with nary a mention of women’s exclusion, the rampant alcoholism, the miserable children, the suicidal closeted homosexuals. (Or heaven forbid, the south.) What really mattered about that era was that a miniscule portion of the population went really fucking fast and could have killed themselves doing so, and they were real men for doing so.

But setting aside the historical blindness necessary to write this kind of essay, maybe the most bizarre part of Domenach’s thinking is the fact that the world he mourns did exist less than two years ago, on Wall Street, among bankers whose belief in their testicular infallibility drove the economy off a cliff. And its their failed heroics now forcing the rest of us, unwillingly I might add, to rediscover the values of dependence, whose gifts include such unmanly traits as gratitude and humility.  But this could only be a signal of decline, goes Domenech’s thinking, because we weren’t being manly anymore, and dammit, manliness built ‘merica.

There’s a metaphor involving heroin withdrawl here but somehow I think my point has been made. Good riddance in any case.

*Cease rant.*

Edit: As if on cue, Will finds the best Craigslist ad ever.


5 Responses to “‘Merican Masculinity (Or, It Was Never That Good)”

  1. peter lawler said

    cool rant…obviously the essay was short on development.

  2. Will said

    Two quick points (this stuff deserves more – I’ll have to revisit it later):

    1.) At least in terms of my self-conception of masculinity, there’s a difference between piloting a fighter jet and manipulating derivatives markets.

    2.) This post immediately took me back to an old Damon Linker entry:


  3. Posec said

    The mortgage meltdown had more to do with capitulation than assertion. It was not so much the temerity of Wall Street as its timidity. Any businessman conversant in sound lending policies would have adamantly resisted any government intrusion into their practice that demanded that credit standards be debased. Instead of entrenching themselves and exuding any “testicular infallibility”, the banks relented so as not to be exempt from any future mergers or the victims of government sanctions. These bankers were scarcely paladins of pragmatism and therefore were not exhibiting masculinity. Such is my contention but it does not invalidate your assessment of America’s speculating traits which were present at the creation.

  4. […] 16, 2009 Thinking over yesterday’s reasoned argument ranty screed about America’s masculine sensibilities and our notions of the heroic, I was reminded […]

  5. John Schwenkler said

    So I only just got around to reading this, but it is a great fucking post.

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