Jack O'Sullivan posted an interesting article over at Guardian about how men fear ridicule from women for talking about masculinity. It starts off:
The past week has again highlighted the inexplicable absence of an intelligent discussion conducted by men about ourselves. It's followed a familiar pattern: a leading female commentator – Diane Abbott on this occasion – diagnoses male ailments and prescribes her cures. What comes back from the patient? Silence. Can there be any group that is subject to so much debate and accusation, and is so apparently powerful – yet remains so utterly speechless?
It reminds me of a stereotypical scene: a woman challenging a man on some personal or domestic issue; him sitting before her silently, absorbing, stonewalling and eventually walking away. It's a dissatisfying experience for both. She complains to her friends. He has no one to talk to. Somewhere here are clues to this bewildering male silence on the public stage about our own condition.
The rest of the article is worth it too, but this is an interesting example to start with.
In many ways it is a masculine archetype: The man who stoically accepts the wrath of his woman, then goes about his business. But it is also an archetype of the pussy-whipped man: The wimp who silently accepts every criticism poured over him, and goes away with his tail between his legs.
It is a matter of viewpoint, but also about what he accepts.
Often accepting the torrent of anger is the right choice for a masculine man: I've previously argued that you should not argue against emotions and sometimes that means biting your tongue and letting the torrent escape her, and leave her to calm down. Especially when she is right - and face it, most guys do plenty of stuff that there is at least a subjective reason for a woman to feel angry about.
The problem is that for many men today, this is the only option they take. They don't make a stand against specific attacks and criticism that is totally unwarranted. They let her get away with anything, or they lash out with abuse in return. Is it a wonder then, that standing up for masculinity can lead to ridicule? Most women are not often exposed to strong men who will take what they deserve, but stand firm when she tries to cross a line.
This is the core: Men has been driven sufficiently into retreat that standing firm gets confused with misoginy or outmoded macho ideals. Yet most of the same women want men that are not wimps.
Men don't tend to talk about this because it is seen as a discussion you can only lose, and furthermore, a substantial proportion of men have become used to supplicate: We hope that by putting her on a pedestal, we will win her heart. But she's looking for that guy that demonstrates he has options by not paying her much attention. Yet most of us continue living in the illusion that anything that upsets women reduces our chances of getting laid. The irony is that acting this way is a sure-fire way of getting laid less.
These men do get relationships. But most of them settle. That is not to say that they all pick women they don't love or that they don't find attractive, but they don't set demands. Many would end up with the same women if they did set the bar higher, but they would expect a level of mutural respect that they will never get as long as they supplicate and don't dare to assert their masculinity.
Why should women not ridicule us when what they see around them show a tremendous gaping hole between the wimps on one end, and the uncouth brutish misogynists on the others, with few men daring to venture into the space in between where you'd expect to find the reflected masculine man who can stand up for his own interests while still listening and taking responsibility for his actions?