Dalrock recently wrote:
Women tend to fear a lot of different things. This makes sense given their vulnerability. Most men are wired to want to protect women and this includes protection from living in fear. In the right context this is a very beneficial trait.
One way to look at the history of feminism is consider it as men and women working to remove women’s fears.
At RealClearBooks, Philip Brand covers the “masculinity crisis” – including coverage of Kay Hymnowitz’s Manning Up – writes, of Harvey Mansfield’s book Manliness:
Today, however, men are unemployed, and the cause, Mansfield believes, is modernity, which relies on technology more than duty to satisfy our needs and protect us from trouble. The economy’s productivity and the government’s programs provide the baseline level of safety and security. Security, says Mansfield, is the “very antithesis of manliness.” There’s the rub. Today’s rescue mission is not men jumping from helicopters. It’s the Allstate man, or woman, handling your insurance claim. “The entire enterprise of modernity could be understood as a project to keep manliness unemployed.”
These are tied together by a post I wrote last year, to which Dalrock linked incidentally, titled “Insurance Men”:
Britney Spears’ bodyguard rarely if ever has to spring into action to defend the pop starlet from violent attack. Spears is really paying for the bodyguard’s mere presence which serves as a deterrent against attack or harassment. The bodyguard as deterrent is actually a more important role than bodyguard as Chuck Norris.
In this age where we mentally itemize and bill for every thing we do (“OK, we’re even on the dessert because you gave me a ride to work”), husbands and boyfriends deserve some sort of recognition for the role they play in protecting their women. This protection doesn’t have to be proven by defensive gun shots or fights in parking lots; the protection functions much like insurance. Not only is it there to protect you (financially) in case of an accident, it helps you proceed with confidence and peace of mind through a rough and tumble world.
I don’t think it can be stated too often: the so-called crisis of masculinity is, as Brand et al touch on, a collective confusion felt by men over a fundamental shift in the economy. The case that Hymnowitz makes in her book is that economy leads culture and that the cultural shift in masculinity is a reponse to the obsolescence of sweat, brawn, and protection – things on which men once held a monopoly.
The entire thrust of civilization has been to make manliness – or the work arising out of manliness – obsolete. Men’s back strength was made obsolete by machines. The 19th century legend of John Henry made that case. Meanwhile, protection and provision were outsourced to governmental agencies. ”It’s nice to have a man around,” no longer exists as a cultural meme as it once did (at least in Westerns).
But everything changed for men in such a short period of time. It’s pure culture shock. Men, more than women, have to move about now comparing the recent history of what they should be with the near future of what they possibly can achieve. And looking at it all laid out before us, it’s clear that these are two jigsaw pieces that don’t quite fit together. The negotiation will be a generations-long sorting out process which we’ll see playing out in various ways.