Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity

The Wimp Factor : Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, a recent book by Stephen J. Ducat, Ph.D., is discussed in Shrinking Bush / S.F. psychologist argues that hyper-masculinity is undermining the American political culture.

Appears to me to be one of the silliest books in a season of silly books. I especially loved the assumption that the Bushes have a fear of therapy - as if they would just go to the author, he would straighten out their masculinity. He misses the reality that one of the reasons that a majority of voters preferred him to Mr. Kerry is that he is comfortable with who he is, and Mr. Kerry appeared never to really know who he was. The author felt that the scene where Mr. Bush landed on the carrier deck to declare an end to major hostilities in Iraq was silly, with him strutting around in his flight suit. But then, Mr. Bush did much of his military service in just such a flight suit, flying, yes, fighter jets. No wonder he looked comfortable in it - he had spent hundreds of hours in just such an outfit. Adding in Abu Ghraib was just as silly. This is essentially blaming the President for all of the (very few) atrocities committed in this war - just like blaming presidents Roosevelt and Truman for those committed by our troops in WWII, etc. The surprise is not that they happen, but rather, given human nature, esp. that of the very young adults involved, that it has not happened much more frequently in this war. But I attribute that to the professionalism of our volunteer military.

I think though that his basic premises are wrong. Sure, men may lack a feminine side, and be drawn to women because of it. Similarly, women lack to some extent a male side, and are drawn to men for similar reasons. Yin and Yang. But that doesn't mean that masculinity is wrong. Rather, the good doctor seems to believe that the feminine side is better, and therefore we should all try to bring it out. It isn't. It is just different. The world needs both. As a guy, one of the weirder sights is a bunch of women trying to make a joint decision. Often, after a lot of dithering, they can't. Can you imagine running a war that way?

Indeed, I don't find Mr. Bush's reelection surprising, just the closeness of it. We are at war, and a majority of the electorate obviously feel more comfortable with Mr. Bush running it. One thing he doesn't do is dither. And we are all left with the worry that Mr. Kerry, if he had been elected, would have.

Another aspect of this is that what we need right now is decisive, aggressive action. The time for talking is over. The time for trying to understand the other side is over. What we showed with two decades of inaction was weakness to a very chauvinistic society. And they did what most males would do when shown weakness, they attacked, and attacked. The more weakness we showed, the more brazen their attacks, culminating in 9/11. They respect fear. They respect Shock and Awe. They don't respect the feminine attribute of understanding. They respect force, and the willingness to use it. So, are we safer with a President who has shown the world that we will destroy any country harboring our enemies? I say yes.

Finally, I find it the ultimate in conceit for the good doctor to assume that Mr. Bush's problem is that he fears therapy. By all indications, the President is happy with who he is. He appears very happy with his wife and family. And she appears very happy with him too. And now the doctor (presumably without ever meeting with the President, and definitely without ever having seen him professionally) arrogantly declares that Mr. Bush is wrong. He shouldn't be happy with himself. He shouldn't be happy with his marriage and family. Why? I think obviously because the doctor wouldn't be. But he should know better with his training - he is projecting his own feelings on to the President. And as a psychologist, that is unprofessional.


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