Charen: Tucker Carlson and the Crisis of Masculinity | News, Sports, Jobs



Tucker Carlson’s foray into testicle toast is just the latest (and perhaps funniest) example of the right-wing’s obsession with masculinity. The theme of virility keeps reappearing. Trump’s tough talk was eagerly absorbed by fans eager to affirm manly virtues.

Trump and his cronies didn’t make this up; precarious masculinity is an ancient phenomenon.

At the start of the 20th century, Europe experienced something of a crisis of masculinity. Popular writers, doctors and journalists began to worry that the young English, French and Germans had grown soft after so many years of unbroken peace. In her masterful history of the time, “The War that Ended the Peace,” Margaret MacMillan traced the currents that ran through European society in the years leading up to the Great War. François Coppée, a French nationalist, feared that “the French are degenerating…too absorbed in the race for pleasure and luxury to retain that great subordination of self to great causes which has made the historical glory of the French character”. In Britain, General Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in part because he feared the emasculation of English youth.

In America, too, many feared that urbanization and industrialization had feminized men. Theodore Roosevelt glorified and personified the “exhausting life”.

It is a universal concern. Russian President Vladimir Putin has portrayed himself shirtless on horseback, defeating opponents in hand-to-hand judo combat and shooting tigers (staged, of course). In 2021, the Chinese government banned “effeminate men” from television and asked broadcasters to “resolutely end sissies and other abnormal aesthetics”. They were to represent only “revolutionary culture”.

It’s tempting to dismiss it all as pathetic hollow-man bleating that deserves nothing but derision. But as anthropologists, psychologists, and historians can attest, the male need for validation is universal, and when societies fail to provide constructive avenues for male expression, they risk backlash. The negative aspects of masculinity always lurk just below the surface.

Over the past 60 years, America and the rest of the developed world have witnessed dramatic and dramatic changes in the status of women and in the relationships between men and women. Not all have been positive. Boys and men felt neglected in the march towards ‘girl power’ and ‘woman power’. Cutting playtime robs children not only of an outlet for restless limbs, but also of crucial social and emotional learning.

Girls now outperform boys at almost all levels of education. They obtain 60% of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and include 70% of high school promotion majors. Women also dominate many workplaces. Women now hold the majority of jobs in the country, including 51.4% of managerial and professional positions, up from 26.1% in 1980.

The sexual and feminist revolutions of the 1960s sent mixed signals to men. At first, the message was, “The women were just as horny as the men, and sex was frolicking and frolicking.” Then it was, “No, wait, not getting consent for every touch and every kiss was assault.” Masculinity itself was not a constitutive part of humanity; it was “toxic”.

The other great upheaval of the last half-century is the decline of the two-parent family. The great dividing line in American life is not progressive versus conservative, urban versus rural, or — versus white. It’s married versus not. For example, African American husbands have higher labor force participation rates than white singles. The top third of the income distribution, who tend to marry and stay together, also tend to raise successful children. In contrast, the lowest third, who are mostly in revolving door relationships without marriage, tend to have children who don’t. The middle third looks more like the bottom than the top. Children living in homes with an unrelated adult are 11 times more likely to experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse than those living with their biological or adoptive parents.

Boys are more disadvantaged than girls when raised by single mothers. Two MIT economists studied pairs of siblings in Florida between 1992 and 2002. They found that “boys without fathers are less ambitious, less optimistic, and more likely to get into trouble in school than girls without fathers.” dad”. Being raised by a single mother significantly reduced a boy’s likelihood of going to college, but did not have a similar effect on girls.

A significant percentage of American men grow up without role models of manhood in the form of fathers. They don’t see a man taking on the responsibilities of his wife and children, helping with the expenses (or covering them), joking with mom, taking out the trash, throwing a ball with his kids, helping with homework, or cooking a meal. Without a balanced image of masculinity based on their life experience, they seek masculinity elsewhere and often find a vulgar version offered by the Carlsons and Putins of this world.

So, in a sense, we have a crisis of masculinity. We have a large number of men who never marry, never support their children, and are loosely attached to the community. They’re insecure about their masculinity for a good reason — and that’s a problem for all of us.

Mona Charen is the editor of The Bulwark and host of the “Beg to Differ” podcast. Her most recent book is “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense”.



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