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Identity Politics Gets Into Our Pants

Gender Politics and Political Justice

We seem to be headed toward a globalized cultural terra incognito noted for two huge realities: One, the United States as we’ve known it is declining from the status of undisputed Top Dog in the world to the status of Big Dog among other Big Dogs, some who used to be third world developing nations -- as the pussy-grabber-in-chief would say, former “shithole countries.” And, two, men as an Identity Group in America seem to be in crisis. Whether one likes it or not, gender is becoming more nuanced and complex. John Wayne (birth name Marion Morrison) is dead. A significant gray zone is growing between men and women. Following President Obama’s commutation, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning has just announced she'll be running in the Democratic primary for the US Senate seat in Maryland held by two-term Senator Ben Cardin. It should be an interesting forum for her brave and moral decision to reveal secret details of the cruel, militarist debacle in Iraq. Her voice could also be an eloquent expression of the need in this nation for a feminine, more nurturing and forgiveness-oriented counter to the vengeful, hyper-masculine impulses toward violence and war that tend to saturate our crazy culture. It will be interesting to follow her campaign.

Furthermore, the qualities of masculinity and femininity are becoming less and less linked exclusively with men and women, respectively. In a highly-regimented, high-tech, computerized world, hard, frontier-taming manhood becomes less necessary. This leads, as extreme reaction, to hypermasculinity and, on the other end of the masculine/feminine continuum, to the laid-back metrosexual male with manpurses and skin creams. Of course, females face a corresponding continuum of super femininity on a pedestal, at one end, and Seal team tough gals on the masculine end. In the political realm, think Hillary Clinton versus Melania Trump; and you won't find a more ridiculous cartoon of masculinity than Donald Trump. In a militarist, highly regimented, some would say virtual police state, the hypermasculine male reaction can cross the line of acceptability and lead to crime and violence. Some men overcompensate for the masculine crisis and become obsessed with pumping up their masculinity as muscle. In some circles, it seems the more irrelevant masculinity is to our life styles in such an affluent, regimented culture, the more narcissistic and cartoonish it can become. Look what it did for an Austrian kid who eventually became governor of California. Hasta la vista, baby. If power is the real issue, not sex, it makes sense how huge muscles, huge trucks and the obsession with huge guns can be potency crutches. Sometimes an obsession with masculinity fuels greed -- or is it the other way around? It certainly makes wars more likely. Think the misogynist men in ISIS versus the hyper-masculine icons of Seal Team Six; there seems to be a lot of truth in the idea that going to war with someone over time necessarily makes one assume some of the enemy’s characteristics. N+1's Dayna Tortorici put America's white male masculinity dilemma this way: "Combine male fragility with white fragility and the perennial fear of falling and you end up with something lethal."

story | by Dr. Radut