Sunday, November 09, 2003

The duToitification of the Western Conservative

I’m torn about Kim du Toit’s essay about, as I’ll put it, avoiding his gratuitous crudity, the wimpification of the Western male. I’m inclined to ignore it, since it’s unlikely that anyone who found the essay insightful will listen to anything I have to say about it; but du Toit is full of shit, and that, combined with the apparent popularity of the essay on the right wing of the web makes it hard to ignore. I’m torn about it also because there is, in fact, an important and true point in the essay. I’d put the point this way: we’re in danger of undervaluing virtues like courage and self-reliance that are traditionally thought of as masculine. Now, I’d add—though du Toit might not--that for almost all of human history we’ve done just the reverse, undervaluing virtues like kindness and cooperation that are traditionally thought of as feminine. So I see the problem of wimpification as a relatively minor, relatively recent and eminently correctable phenomenon, a predictable case of the pendulum swinging a bit too far in the other direction as we try to correct a bigger and more long-term problem. But I do agree with du Toit to some extent, and I do think that the threat of wimpification is worth discussing. That’s why it’s too bad that du Toit’s essay is such a piece of crap--the wimpification point gets lost in a torrent of bigotry, falsehoods, and right-wing fantasies.

But du Toit’s essay is brilliant in a way he probably never intended—it’s a masterpiece of self-confirmation. His main thesis is that Western males are becoming wimps, and his essay itself proves that there is at least some truth in the thesis; never before in human history has there been so much puling and whining about such inconsequential irritations. Du Toit’s groundless blubbering is, in the end, itself a partial confirmation of his point. In fact, du Toit’s essay probably deserves to spawn a neologism: duToitification and its cognates. You become duToitified when you’ve got it so good that you lose all perspective on the world and as a result exaggerate minor unpleasantries into vexations of Biblican proportions. That is, you become an insufferable weenie.

What duToit’s essay proves is that the more important problem we face is the duToitification of the Western conservative. Conservatism is currently the Colossus of American politics. Extremist conservatives control the Presidency and both houses of Congress, and conservatives exercise virtually unchallenged control of the political agenda; conservatives control their own massive network of media outlets (talk radio, Fox news, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, etc.); they have convinced most other media outlets to shift their message to the right by relentlessly repeating the “liberal bias” mantra; they have established a massive and incredibly well-funded network of think-tanks and institutions to develop, distribute, and defend their message; and they have underway a long-term plan to take control of the judiciary. Never in my lifetime has one end of the political spectrum so dominated American public life. And yet, even given their almost unchallenged hegemony, they just can’t seem to stop their damn whining. To make this all even more insufferable, their whining often has a bizarre, self-reflexive nature. What they whine about is the fact that they are too masculine, too stoical, too heroic for this imagined age of liberalism. Picture one of those movies in which, through time-lapse photography, a character seems to physically regress farther and farther through less and less highly-evolved forms—but in this case, the character simultaneously becomes emotionally more dainty and easily offended until what remains is a kind of effete caveman. A Neanderthal crybaby. This process of political devolution and moral sissification is the duToitification of the Western conservative.

Again, I want to make it clear that I actually agree with a certain idea buried in du Toit’s screed: certain parts of our culture undervalue virtues traditionally thought of as masculine--values like courage and self-reliance--and overvalue virtues traditionally thought of as feminine—values like kindness and cooperation. But it’s important to remember that certain other sectors do just the reverse. If we were rational, of course, we’d value them all to the right degree, which might be equally or might not; but these issues are shrouded in mystery. It’s important to get this right, lest we turn boys and girls into either louts or sissies. Strangely, we’ve always recognized that it’s bad to be a loutish woman or a sissified man—in fact, we’ve traditionally exaggerated the badness of those things. But to this day some people still think that it’s o.k. to be a loutish man or a sissified woman. It isn’t. Everybody should be at least moderately self-reliant and courageous, and everybody should be at least moderately kind and cooperative. Du Toit claims that he doesn’t want to defend caricatures of masculinity, but that, as we’ll see, doesn’t really seem to be true.

In the end, the essay does promote a caricature of masculinity, a caricature that’s tied up with disrespect for both women and homosexuals (raising the question: who’s left for this guy to have sex with, anyway?). And, to top it all off, du Toit apparently lives in some weird, right-wing dream world in which Republicans are upstanding defenders of the good and the true, Democrats are pansies, and liberal women are just waiting around to be ravished by Donald Rumsfeld. No, I’m not making this up. Read on, reader; you are about to be amazed. You are about to enter…The DuToit-light Zone…

Let’s start with the obvious. The very title of du Toit’s essay contains a word that most women find insulting. No, this is not some kind of PC hyper-sensitivity; it pisses them off and it’s not exactly hard to understand why. du Toit might not have intended it that way, but words have meanings, and there’s no doubt that the use of ‘pussification’ and its cognates to denigrate carries with it an overt or implied slight against women. Some people deny that we should make too much out of the use of terms that offend, and I’m willing to give du Toit the benefit of the doubt on this one. But even so, du Toit’s language makes certain conclusions about him inevitable: in particular that he thinks rather less of women than he does of men. When he writes that “We have become a nation of women” he makes it pretty clear that this is a Very Bad Thing, this being a woman. And when he writes that “women own lapdogs,” the italics are a sneer. I mean, take two seconds out of your busy day, Kim, and think about it. What if I told you that I thought it would be the worst thing in the bloody world if I turned black? What would you conclude about me if I said “you shouldn’t do that; blacks do that”? What would that tell you? It would tell you that I was an asshole is what it would tell you. The conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader.

So, we’re becoming a nation of (insert sneer here) women; but, du Toit writes, it wasn’t always thus:

"There was a time when men went to their certain death, with expressions like "You all can go to hell. I'm going to Texas." (Davy Crockett, to the House of Representatives, before going to the Alamo.)"

Whatever else you can say about du Toit, he’s got this part right. Stories like that rightly inspire us, and it would be tragic indeed if the age of true grit were behind us. (Again--wimpification: bad.) But here’s some good news: Crockettian acts of élan aren’t exclusively things of the past. Here’s a true story of the recent past that redounds to the credit of our age:

In 1990, during Gulf War Episode I, Ambassador Joseph Wilson was protecting more than a hundred American citizens in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. After the nefarious Saddam Hussein threatened to execute anyone who sheltered foreigners, Wilson wore a hangman’s noose around his neck as he briefed reporters about the situation. As Wilson himself put it, the message he was sending to Saddam was "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own fucking rope."

Now that’s cool. There’s something Crockett himself would have admired.

Oh, interesting footnote: Wilson is, in fact, twice a hero, having also revealed to the American public that the Bush administration lied to us about Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger. It was one of many documented lies the administration told to trick the American people into supporting a war on Iraq. (Note: I’m torn about the war, but I’m against lying.) To punish him for this second act of patriotism, an as-yet unnamed administration official outted Wilson’s wife as a CIA operative. I guess that unnamed official is a kind of Santa Anna of our time. One lesson here is that, although heroism is alive and well, so is craven back-stabbing. So it’s a kind of good news/bad news story, I guess.

Still on the same general theme, du Toit notes that:

"There was a time when men went to war, sometimes against their own families, so that other men could be free. And there was a time when men went to war because we recognized evil when we saw it, and knew that it had to be stamped out."

Again I whole-heartedly agree—it would be a tragedy if the time of heroism in the name of righteousness were ended. But, unlike du Toit, I don’t think it is. The defense of human rights has always been a pretty rare kind of reason for going to war--far more wars have been initiated for prudential reasons or simply because of testosterone poisoning than have ever been initiated for purely moral reasons. The current war in Iraq, for example, was not initiated for moral reasons, as the Bush administration has made abundantly clear. The goal of freeing the Iraqi people was always a secondary one at best, and probably never more than a rhetorical flying buttress--though human rights were pushed to center stage when it started to become clear that there were no WMDs to be found. But we have recently initiated a purely moral war, a war waged only to protect the innocent. We waged that war in the former Yugoslavia. In two of America’s proudest moments, we stopped Milosevic’s genocide in Bosnia and in Kosovo--not because it was in our narrow national interest to do so, and not because it was the macho thing to do, but, rather, because it was the right thing to do. The Clinton administration defied the United Nations and most of the rest of the world in undertaking the war, but through masterly diplomacy, and because it was clear that our cause was just, the world eventually came to back us.

There’s an interesting footnote to this story, too, however, and, again, it is one that again puts du Toit’s homage to heroism at odds with his right-wing politics: Republicans vociferously opposed the war. Tom De Lay was particularly apoplectic, claiming that “President Clinton has never
explained to the American people why he was involving the U.S. military in a civil war in a sovereign nation, other than to say it is for humanitarian reasons…” Egad--none but (insert sneer here) humanitarian reasons... This was in contrast to Kuwait, because there “our national interest in the Middle East was clear. In the gulf we had a country that was invaded [Kuwait], and an oil interest to defend.” But since du Toit recognizes that we should stamp out evil when we see it—and not just in order to get more oil--I guess he’ll be voting Democratic next time around.

Du Toit is also sorely disappointed that most of us didn’t get all weak in the knees and happy in the pants about W’s carefully choreographed performance on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln:

"…our President, who happens to have been a qualified fighter pilot, lands on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit, and is immediately dismissed with words like "swaggering", "macho" and the favorite epithet of Euro girly-men, "cowboy". Of course he was bound to get that reaction -- and most especially from the Press in Europe, because the process of male pussification Over There is almost complete."

First off, being a cowboy: cool; pretending to be a cowboy: lame (somebody getting busted for pretending to be a cowboy: priceless.) And, furthermore, there are fighter pilots and fighter pilots. The President did, at one time, know how to fly F-102s, it’s true. But du Toit has here committed the fallacy (note: sounds like a French word but isn't) of suppressed evidence. Although Bush did learn to fly, he never saw combat. In fact, he actively avoided combat. In fact, he cheated in order avoid combat. In fact, the available evidence indicates that our Commander-in-Chief is a deserter from the Unites States armed forces. Bush got a place in the Air National Guard in order to avoid service in Vietnam, which seems fine if we stop right there. But let’s not. He got this assignment despite low aptitude scores because his father was rich and powerful. Not very heroic, that. The U.S. spent a lot of resources training him, but he quit flying early, apparently in order to avoid taking a drug test. About a year to eighteen months before his stint in the Guard was over, he apparently just quit showing up for duty. General William Turnipseed himself, who commanded the Alabama base where Bush was supposed to be stationed, says he never showed up. That is, he’s a deserter. See, although conservatives like to think of themselves as being somehow more heroic than liberals, it’s just a kind of tall tale they tell each other around the campfire. Or, rather, around the fireplace at the country club.

Interesting footnote: my dad was in the Guard, but he got in fair and square, and learned to fix tanks. (He’s basically a mechanical genius, actually). Once he was coming home on a weekend pass and his engine blew up. My grandparents and my mom had to drive a long way to get him, and they had to have the car towed home. When they got back, they were exhausted. Then the phone rang. It was a friend of my dad’s telling him that there had been a paperwork SNAFU, and that he was officially AWOL. He had six hours to get back to base, so he borrowed a car and high-tailed it back to Fort Knox. So they gave my dad six hours; they gave W a year and a half. Wonder what would have happened to my dad had he decided that he preferred the year-and-a-half plan? Probably would have been o.k., right?

But, anyway, prancing around in a rented flight suit doesn’t make you heroic. And, in fact, W is actually far, far wimpier than any of the guys to which he is ordinarily compared. (du Toit: “I want a real man as President -- not Al Gore, who had to hire a consultant to show him how to be an Alpha male, and french-kiss his wife on live TV to "prove" to the world that he was a man…”) Gore, may be wimpy when it comes to haberdashery, but instead of dodging service in Vietnam, voluntarily signed up to go. Oh, and, though it doesn’t matter to me, it might to conservatives: Gore was a football player; Bush was a cheerleader. Or compare Bush to his father, frequently called a wimp because he lacked the proper macho demeanor, and didn’t mosey around talkin’ faux (note: actual French word) Texan. Bush the Elder was a dive bomber pilot in WWII. He really saw action. He was shot down in the Pacific. That makes him not a wimp in my book, and it should in yours, too. Or how about Bill Clinton. When Clinton was about thirteen, he started standing up to his large, drunken, abusive stepfather in order to protect his mother from being beaten. If you’ve never been in a situation like that, you probably can’t understand how impossibly scary that is. If du Toit had any idea how hard it is to do something like that, he’d show a little more respect for Clinton. Here’s the closest W ever came to doing this: he came home one night after driving around drunk with his 15-year-old brother in the car, crashed into the trash cans, and then tried to start a fight with his father, saying “I hear you’re looking for me. You want to go mano a mano right here?” Yeah, apparently he actually said “mano a mano.” Another “youthful indiscretion?” Not exactly. Bush was in his 30’s at the time (which would put his father, the war hero, well into his 50’s.) So you can see that it takes some pretty serious RPMs to spin Bush as a hero. Or compare him to John McCain. Whereas McCain is an actual combat pilot, Bush only plays one on t.v. While McCain was in the Hanoi Hilton, Bush was staying in the regular kind of Hilton. So if conservatives really did value honor and courage so much more than liberals, you’d think they’d have backed McCain. Instead of torpedoing his candidacy by push-polling lies about him in South Carolina, and spreading the apparently-intended-to-be-vicious rumor that he had fathered a black child.

But oh, God, there’s He writes:

"How did we get to this?

In the first instance, what we have to understand is that America is first and foremost, a culture dominated by one figure: Mother. It wasn't always so: there was a time when it was Father who ruled the home, worked at his job, and voted. But in the twentieth century, women became more and more involved in the body politic, and in industry, and in the media -- and mostly, this has not been a good thing. When women got the vote, it was inevitable that government was going to become more powerful, more intrusive, and more "protective" (ie. more coddling), because women are hard-wired to treasure security more than uncertainty and danger. It was therefore inevitable that their feminine influence on politics was going to emphasize (lowercase "s") social security."

Here’s another textbook fallacy (note: sounds like “phallus,” but means something different. And, although I know you think that using a phallus makes you smart, using a fallacy does the opposite.) This fallacy is called the “post hoc fallacy” from post hoc ergo propter hoc. That’s Latin, which is an old language that smart people used to use. It means after this, therefore because of this. See, what you are saying is that government got bad after we foolishly started treating women as if they were human beings, letting them vote and suchlike. So, since it happened after women got the vote, it must have been women’s voting that caused it. Textbook fallacy. Oops...I meant: textbook fallacy, dumbass. First, government has probably gotten less intrusive since women got the vote. The government has, since then, become less likely to interfere with sex acts between adults, abortion, and contraceptive use. It was, until recently, less likely to tell us what we could and couldn’t read. But, far more importantly, the country has become far more just and fair since women got the vote—think about the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the early ‘60’s. Since these were passed after women got the vote, should women get the credit for them? You know, men did have al little something to do with ‘em. Especially Lyndon Johnson. You should like Johnson—he’s a little like W. He’s from Texas, and he lied to get us into a war. But he cared about civil rights, so he's different, too.

As for the nostalgia about "Father who ruled the home"....I'm going to rule that that's more likely to be some weird kind of extended typo than it is to mean what it seems to mean.

Anyway, as I keep saying, I actually agree that we should be a little worried about nannification. Somebody should write a sensible essay about it sometime. But du Toit was too busy saying stupid things to really address anything serious. Though he does finally get around to discussing the thing that’s really bothering him: t.v. Yes, the fulcrum of American culture, The God Box. Du Toit’s Exhibit A is—now remember, I am not making this up—a Cheerios commercial. This is of such importance to du Toit that you’ll have to forgive me for quoting him at length:

"The scene opens at the morning breakfast table, where the two kids are sitting with Dad at the table, while Mom prepares stuff on the kitchen counter. The dialogue goes something like this:

Little girl (note, not little boy): Daddy, why do we eat Cheerios?
Dad: Because they contain fiber, and all sorts of stuff that's good for the heart. I eat it now, because of that.
LG: Did you always eat stuff that was bad for your heart, Daddy?
Dad (humorously): I did, until I met your mother.
Mother (not humorously): Daddy did a lot of stupid things before he met your mother.

Now, every time I see that TV ad, I have to be restrained from shooting the TV with a .45 Colt. If you want a microcosm of how men have become less than men, this is the perfect example.

What Dad should have replied to Mommy's little dig: Yes, Sally, that's true: I did do a lot of stupid things before I met your mother. I even slept with your Aunt Ruth a few times, before I met your mother.

That's what I would have said, anyway, if my wife had ever attempted to castrate me in front of the kids like that. But that's not what men do, of course. What this guy is going to do is smile ruefully, finish his cereal, and then go and fuck his secretary, who doesn't try to cut his balls off on a daily basis. Then, when the affair is discovered, people are going to rally around the castrating bitch called his wife, and call him all sorts of names. He'll lose custody of his kids, and they will be brought up by our ultimate modern-day figure of sympathy: The Single Mom."

Here’s where du Toit’s duToitification starts to become really clear. Now, I don’t own a t.v., because (with the exception of C-SPAN and PBS and the History Channel and maybe Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sometimes American Shooter) there’s nothing on it but drivel. (Well, there’s also Carolina basketball and Mail Call and Frontline…damn, maybe I do need a t.v. again…) But even just from du Toit’s description of the commercial, it’s easy to guess what’s really going on there. This is the well-known “boys will be boys” trope. Sure, dad’s upright and responsible now, doing the right thing by his family by taking care of his health; but back in the day, he was a wild man, a rebel, a Real Man. Whatever. This is the kind of corporate drivel that makes t.v. insufferably vapid. But to a great extent such things are a Rorschach test, and their interpretation tells you as much about the interpreter as that which is interpreted. And what it tells us about du Toit—as if it weren’t already clear already--is that he is a world-class asshole. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anybody being this psychologically fragile. An innocuous comment like that could only “castrate” somebody who had ‘nads the size of leptons to begin with. Jesus, man, get a grip. It was a joke, for crying out loud. If that’s supposed to be a justification for (a) saying—in front of your kids—that you had sex with your sister-in-law and (b) infidelity, then I guess you get to shoot your wife if she asks you to take out the trash. What a bunch of asinine macho hogwash.

(And about the .45: I guess you’re kidding, Kim, but on the off chance that you really do get the urge to pull out firearms over something like this, you really shouldn’t own any. Firearms aren’t toys. There are two stupid ways to think about firearms (1) as scary evil things that turn sane people into monsters and (2) as toys or props or substitute penises. They aren’t any of those things. They’re tools—somewhat dangerous tools—and they ought to be treated with caution and respect. Besides, shooting the t.v. would make you like Elvis. And not the young, cool Elvis, either; the old, fat, pathetic Elvis. So my advice is: avoid Elvisification. Don’t shoot the t.v.)

But here's the heart of the matter, du Toit's Exhibit B:

"Finally, we come to the TV show which to my mind epitomizes everything bad about what we have become: Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Playing on the homo Bravo Channel, this piece of excrement has taken over the popular culture by storm…

I'm sorry, but the premise of the show nauseates me. A bunch of homosexuals trying to "improve" ordinary men into something "better" (ie. more acceptable to women): changing the guy's clothes, his home decor, his music -- for fuck's sake, what kind of girly-man would allow these simpering butt-bandits to change his life around?"

You know, I kinda think that people should avoid the word “butt-bandit.” Likewise for “décor.” And here’s a hint: really, really try not to use them in the same sentence. And so far as the simpering part goes, let me remind you of the adage about glass houses. But anyway. Making fun of people because of things they can’t change, like their sex or their sexual orientation, is mean. Didn't your folks ever teach you that? It’s like making fun of someone because they have a wimpy, French-sounding last name. But that would be stupid, because having a wimpy, French-sounding last name doesn’t make you a bad person. Being a fucking bigot, that makes you a bad person.

So, anyway, like I said I don’t actually have a television, and I haven’t seen this show, and it doesn’t even sound interesting to me, but I’ve been told that what happens is that a bunch of guys who are gay--so, let's face it, they know what chicks dig--come to your apartment and get rid of all your old crappy stuff, like the couch with a stack of books under one corner instead of a leg and that rug that smells funny, and the cinderblock bookcases, and then they just give you a bunch of good new stuff. Apparently they also give you new clothes of the kind that increase your probability of meeting cool girls. Now, as I said, I haven’t seen this show, but it sounds like an unbelievably good deal to me, and I just want to say: what kind of girly-man would let these guys change his life around? Me! I would! I’m that kind of girly-man! And, in case the folks who make that show happen to be reading this, I will be on your show in case it is still on t.v. and you guys need more straight guys who are big slobs! Not like I expect there to be a big shortage or anything. I don’t know for sure, but I have a pretty good idea that these sweat pants, for example, are not exactly working in my favor, female-wise. Now, see, maybe du Toit thinks that these guys expect you to have sex with them or something in exchange for the new couch and stuff, in which case it’s not as great a deal as it originally sounds like. I mean, that’d have to be a really good couch. But, anyway, nobody is forcing these guys to take a new couch, right? And nobody is saying “look, you are a loser if you don’t get a new couch,” right? So what I’m thinking is that consenting adults should be able to give couches to whomever they like, and that the government has no business telling us who we can exchange furniture with. But anyway, back to the other point: I don’t think you have to worry about these guys wanting to have sex with you, Kim. You see, you are probably a slob like me, and they probably aren’t interested.

But one thing most guys never think about, especially the duToitified conservative, is that women get this kind of bullshit all the time, except instead of “would you like a new couch?” it’s more like “you are worthless because you don’t have bigger boobs.” That is, real pressure about really personal stuff of the kind people already tend to be self-conscious about. The kind of pressure that would bother anybody after awhile, and the kind of pressure that ultimately causes lots of women real, serious, long-term psychological harm. So, by comparison, see, it seems pretty spineless to complain about the fact that some guys that you don’t even know gave another guy you don’t know a free couch.

There’s more, but I don’t have the stomach to go through it all in detail. There’s some whining about Annika Sorenstam getting to play golf with the boys, and an homage (note: this is a French word, but I think it counts as an English word, too) to the golfers who objected. I don’t know what’s so bad about competing against women. I like it actually, and in my life I’ve been bested by women at least once in each of the following activities: basketball, tennis, ping-pong, chess, mountain biking, racquetball. But not in Judo, and anybody who tells you different is LYING. Maybe the duToitified conservative is afraid of losing, or maybe he’s afraid of getting cooties, which is silly, because (a) girls don’t really have cooties, you morons, and (b) you can protect yourself just by keeping your fingers crossed, anyway, which would be hard in some sports but you could do it in others. What you should be worried about is the fact that you're playing GOLF instead of an actual sport.

Then there’s the part where du Toit compares his noble struggle against the Cheerios commercial to Omaha beach. (Yeah, I know. It's embarrasing to even have to type that.) Then there’s the part about how we should be able to get in fistfights, which I sort of agree with, except that he thinks it’s o.k. to get in fistfights over women, which I think is inevitable on occasion and not only o.k. but mandatory if you are defending her honor (probably from some Neanderthal conservative aspiring-to-be-tough guy). But stupid for any other reason. Anyway, nobody says you can't fight over women; all they do is toss your ass in jail for a night. Real men shouldn't have a problem with spending a night in jail, and for God's sake they do not whine about it. And then there's the part about how we should be able to shoot criminals, which I agree with under some conditions but not others. But then comes the part where he enumerates the Heroes For Our time, which enumeration includes (a) John Wayne and (b) Bruce Willis and (c) Clint Eastwood but excludes (d) Sylvester Stalone and (e) Schwartzengropper, which would be sensible except for the fact that these guys are all just actors. They are not really tough, see? They are getting paid to pretend to be tough. They win all their fights because the other actors are paid to fall down. Now, I know that it has been hard for right-wingers to tell reality from fiction ever since that "Morning in America" commercial, so let me try to clarify things a little: See Dirty Harry and Rooster Cogburn are just made up people. They aren't really who they seem to be. But other people, like, say, George W. Bush are....hmmm....wait a second...this IS kind of a hard distinction to make out sometimes, isn't it? Well, look, some things are just play acting. Like Hamlet, say. But other stuff, like, say, when Bush landed on the Abraham Lincoln, see, that was... Jeez, what was that, anyway?

So anyway, as I was saying, when I think of heroes, I tend to think of real people. Like Madison or Pericles or Thomas More or Henry Knox. Or Danel Morgan at Cowpens rallying his militia to turn and unleash one last volley into the teeth of Tarleton’s Redcoats. Or McAuliffe at Bastogne, telling Jerry—in effect, anyway—to bring that weak shit you pathetic Nazi sons of bitches.

But if you don’t want to talk about real people, and if you want to skip over literature entirely and you insist on talking about movies, then let me put it like my friend Beth does: the righties, their paradigm is maybe Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry (of whom du Toit writes approvingly). The liberals’ paradigm is Garry Cooper as Will Kane in High Noon. We’d rather not have any trouble; we’d rather everybody lived together in harmony and made nice. We’d certainly rather not have to start breaking things and hurting people. But we will bring the hammer down if absolutely necessary. In the end, we’re with Kane when he says Don’t shove me, Harv. I’m tired of being shoved.

Then there’s some REALLY weird stuff about how “only the strong men propagate”:

"And women know it. You want to know why I know this to be true? Because powerful men still attract women. Women, even liberal women, swooned over George Bush in a naval aviator's uniform. Donald Trump still gets access to some of the most beautiful pussy available, despite looking like a medieval gargoyle. Donald Rumsfeld, if he wanted to, could fuck 90% of all women over 50 if he wanted to, and a goodly portion of younger ones too."

Now, I thought this was pretty interesting, so I asked around a bit, but I couldn’t find even one woman I knew who views George Bush or Donald Trump or Donald Rumsfeld with anything but, well, obvious and obviously genuine disgust. Not a single one. I guess in right-wing fantasy land beautiful, intelligent, well-educated, self-possessed liberal women—women who are, in the real world of actual facts, forever unavailable to the conservative troglodyte—swoon over money and power, finally admitting that their independence and self-reliance were just a show, and that all they wanted all along was a macho man to put ‘em in their place. Perhaps it’s a gratifying fantasy, but it just ain’t so, Kim, not in the real world. Only in the fevered dream world of said conservative troglodytes. Of course some women DO go for that caveman crap, go for the guy with the big car and the small vocabulary (and the leeetle beeety wee-wee… But I digress…). Some women go for the macho man desperately insisting on his heterosexuality and virility—and that includes du Toit's “three-piece suit” crowd (here’s a big tie to compensate for my leeetle beeety… oops... Digressing again.) But some women go, instead, for the guy who actually has the occasional thought in his head, who read a book at least once, who is interesting or funny, and who treats women like human beings because he actually likes them (and who, incidentally, can usually kick the shit out of the macho caveman asshole when push comes to shove). I like the latter kind of woman, unsurprisingly. You might like the former, which is none of my business, but it takes a considerable degree of ignorance to think that that’s the only kind of woman there is. Donald Trump is about as alluring to the women I know as I am to Ivana (or she is to me, for that matter). Here’s a news flash for you: women are people, just like men! Weird, huh? They even have different, individual personalities, just like men! Some women like the caveman conservative and some women like the quiet guy who writes poetry and some women like the guy in the John Deere hat who knows how to run a combine, and some women like sensitive guy who’ll make an excellent dad, and some women like the macho girl in the corner...and so on and so forth. These and many other discoveries of modern science can be obtained by actually talking to some women, an activity that I can whole-heartedly recommend on account of its being not only informative but also enjoyable.

O.k., that’s enough. In fact, that’s way too much. Du Toit’s essay really wasn’t worth the effort. It is, as my dad would say, not worth the powder to blow to hell. Or the electrons in this case. Which is too bad, as I said, because I think that wimpification is a problem we should think about. And I wish somebody would write a sensible essay about it. But that’s not what du Toit did. Instead, du Toit just made the problem worse. For all its glorification of the masculine, the essay is really just a bunch of puling and whining, something I guess we should expect from duToitified conservatives. I have to say, I’ve never spent as much time in my whole life wringing my hands about my masculinity as du Toit spends in this plaintive yawp. Given all that human beings have gone through in the history of the world, the very idea of blubbering at such length about how hard it is to be a man in twenty-first century America is just about the most embarrassingly weinerly thing I can imagine. C’mon, Kim, buck up. Could you articulate your complaints with a straight face to Leonidas at Thermopylae? Or to General Washington and the boys at Valley Forge? (Look, I know you guys are cold, but this stuff hurts my feelings) If these petty irritiations elicit such a gnashing of teeth, God help us if you all ever have to endure something really difficult. Like, say, childbirth.

So, though men have ruled the world for all of recorded history, and though conservatism is everywhere ascendant, the duToitified conservative castrati wail and screech; self-proclaimed paragons of maleness emasculated by a Cheerios commercial and four episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, thus, in the end, confirming their own fears about the decline of man.

Christ, what a bunch of pantywaists.