March 23, 2010
According to Tracy Quan, a self-respecting man takes abuse and humiliation quietly
Huh? What? Quan's thesis, not quoted exactly but restated fairly in my post title, proves utterly ridiculous the moment it's said. But that's what she said.
It's a pity the message came from such an intelligent source. Author and sex workers' rights activist Tracy Quan had formerly earned my respect with her nuanced libertarian wisdom on sexuality, as in this excerpt from a 2005 interview by Kerry Howley of Reason:
Reason: What do you make of claims that sex workers are motivated by deep-seated psychological problems?
Quan: All human beings have deep-seated psychological problems. That's what makes us interesting. Writers have deep-seated psychological problems, and I would hope a prostitute has deep-seated psychological problems. I think those claims come from people who have been brainwashed by the medicalization of therapy; they want everyone to be flat and have no problems. But that's never been the goal of serious psychotherapeutic thinkers. The goal is to understand what lies beneath the human condition. These people are bureaucrats and they aren't thinking about the range of human experience. [page 2 of 3]
With this insight, Quan one-ups Playboy, which has betrayed the sexual revolution by endorsing that bureaucratic twit, Dr. Drew Pinsky (see here, here, here, and here). But her reaction to the sexual harassment scandal that helped force the resignation of Congressman Eric Massa really turns me off.
Could there be a more unsympathetic figure than the former Democratic New York Congressman? Maybe the tattletales who brought him down. If these guys knew their reports would reach Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, we'd have a masculinity meltdown on our hands.
Massa's swift exile from the political class was appropriate, but the follow-up was bizarre. For once, bipartisan accord: a nearly unanimous House vote (404-2) for a post-Massa investigation, at the taxpayer's expense. Who said what and when about the ex-Congressman's tickling? It's no longer a burning issue. What we really need to know is:
Where has all the testosterone gone?
"Taking it like a man" means dealing with the unacceptable without tattling to the principal. If it's controversial to call men out for behaving like middle school maidens, it shows that feminism-for-men is now America's white-collar default setting.
I have a problem with that.
We need to bring back the double standard. If Massa had groped, tickled or bothered his female staffers, I would not be saying the same things. Men and women aren't identical: our bodies make us vulnerable, and decent honorable guys will be mindful of this.
One of the more appealing American archetypes—despite modern feminism—is the man who will physically protect us. It's impossible for me to imagine this of a man who files an official complaint when his masculinity is challenged by an embarrassing jerk. As financial parity becomes a reality in our culture, as women sometimes even out-earn men, it's more crucial than ever for masculinity to retain its integrity. We need to feel something primal and irrational—it's called admiration—in order to respect the men around us. Too many women find themselves shacked up, legally partnered or otherwise connected with men they don't admire.
If it's not realistic, even after feminism, to expect women to stop thinking that macho is sexy, I hope Quan will at least acknowledge the unintended consequences of her glamorization of cruelty. Will she be patient and understanding when the degradation a man endures silently in the workplace kills his erection?
Or what if, instead, his pain turns into resentment of some of the women in his life? I like to think I have a healthy attitude about women in general, but my mother is a *u** for not letting me avoid the brutal machismo of the schoolyard. When I fantasize about beating her to death with a baseball bat, I'm just being human.
(Hat tip: Reason's Nick Gillespie made me aware of Quan's article.)