Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the most important nationalist voice in America, seemed to sympathize with the gender politics of Taliban-supporting Afghans. “They don’t hate their own masculinity,” he said shortly after the fall of Kabul. “They don’t think it’s toxic. They like the patriarchy. Some of their women like it too. So now they’re getting it all back. So maybe it’s possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the entire neoliberal program is grotesque.” (By “neoliberalism” he seems to mean social liberalism, not austerity economics.)
From Michelle Goldberg (NYT), that in a nutshell is the case for the feminization of society, which I see as bringing strongly positive net benefits for both men and women, in most but by no means all cases.
Do note that if you ever see me describing this feminization in not entirely glowing terms, that is part of my desire to give you the entire unvarnished picture, as I would with most other topics. (The most common reading mistake you can make in these parts is to over-infer an entire mood affiliation from a single post.)
When it comes to feminization, I also think sometimes of my grade and junior high school gym teacher, Mr. O (I will omit his full name, but in fact we also called him “Mr. O”). He acted like a tough guy, but in fact was just a…grade school gym teacher. Nonetheless he acted as if he was auditioning for the role of Patton in a Hollywood movie.
He smoked his cigarillos (?) in that kind of plastic thing-y, like the Penguin did on the original Batman show.
If a smaller or less athletic kid took a tough spill, or was picked on by the others, he would say “Suck it up, kid!”, with little sympathy. (If you are wondering, the worst he ever said to me was “That was a stupid foul, kid,” in a fifth-grade basketball contest. So I didn’t bear a personal grudge against him.)
He seemed to love the game of Bombardment, as in fact I did too. (I still remember being one of the last two men standing, but losing to Jimmy Gravelis, who caught my too-weak toss.)
He was a Roman Catholic and a veteran of the Korean War. He seemed to stare too long at the boys entering and leaving the shower, after the exercise period of gym. But no one really questioned this.
Even as a kid, I thought he was a bit…sick and also over the top. In some ways though he was a good teacher and he definitely maintained discipline. Kids were afraid of him. And he toughened them up for the world to come.
Still, at the end of the day I am not wishing to return to the cultural ascent of Mr. O.
I would rather live in a more feminized world, even if I still miss Bombardment. But if you are not a fan of this new arrangement…hey, “Suck it up kid!”
Addendum: You might argue that I had the best of both worlds, namely to grow up in the “tougher” society, but live most of my life in the more feminized society — maybe so!