We are still under curfew in Valparaiso, though I’ll go wandering about soon. But police with automatic weapons and full regalia are patrolling the streets, and it’s a bit scary.
Below is an op-ed in the New York Times (click on screenshot) about the latest issue of GQ (formerly Gentlemen’s Quarterly), featuring Pharrell Williams on the cover in a “down gown” and orange hair. The magazine’s topic is “The New Masculinity”, which apparently means “a masculinity in which men are feminized.” The author of the NYT piece is Matt Labash, author and (of course) conservative.
It’s a pretty funny piece, and I agree with a lot of it: GQ is trying to erase “toxic masculiinity” (which often just means “masculinity”) by erasing the distinction between the sexes, a lot of which, in my view, is based on biology. A few quotes:
For those curious to see just how much American masculinity is shifting — at least at Condé Nast headquarters in Manhattan — the trouble starts on the cover, in which the singer Pharrell Williams sports a canary-yellow, high-fashion Moncler sleeping-bag-as-gown, looking like Cinderella going to the Dick’s Sporting Goods ball. From there, “The Glorious Now of Men in Makeup” spread is little surprise, with lacquered-up boy-banders, models and influencers dispensing invaluable beauty pointers, such as Gen Z trans model Casil McArthur, who advises going with “mascara and lip tint. If I want to be extra, I’ll incorporate intense sparkles.”
. . .The bulk of GQ’s conversation starter is a package in which “18 powerful voices” have their say on the new masculinity. You’d think this would make for an interesting cross-section of representative men, but there, you’d largely be wrong, since traditional men seem afterthoughts in their own discussion. As the writer Rod Dreher has noted in his own analysis of the GQ spread, scratching out some back-of-the-envelope calculations, of these 18 purportedly definitive figures, “there are perhaps four who are heterosexual [cis] men — about 20 percent.” (Even though 95 percent of all males identify as hetero.)
Aside from the views of men like the filmmaker John Waters (“men are the ones who have penis envy”), or Magic Johnson’s son, who has chosen a life “embracing traditionally feminine clothing and cosmetics,” GQ seems primarily interested in soliciting women’s opinions of what being a man means. Imagine Ms. or Jezebel doing the mirror version of this, with men mansplaining what women should be. Then run for your life.
. . . Why keep fuzzing distinctions that for millenniums have resisted fuzzing? Punish the sex criminals and pelvic pinball wizards. Good riddance to them all. But otherwise, let men and women be men and women, however that appropriately breaks, without laboring so hard to fuse them. Maybe our opposites attracting, which the furtherance of our species has depended on, isn’t a design flaw, but its very essence. And maybe the wokerati ought to take their own most oft-repeated cliché to heart: Our diversity is our strength.
(Note the slight evolutionary error: natural selection doesn’t act to perpetuate a species; it acts on genes and individuals to perpetuate the DNA replicators. That’s how the two sexes evolved and how the mutual attraction, based in many animals on male traits and female preference, also came about.)
Of course I object to men lacking empathy for women, harassing them, and making their lives miserable by dominating them or pushing them aside. There are “traditional” masculine traits that are outmoded (if they ever were “moded”), like assuming women should stay in the home, cooking and making babies. And I have no objections to men who want to dress or act more like women, or wear makeup, or become full transgender women.
But arguing that the “new man” should be like Pharrell Williams on the cover is too much for me. I’m not going to wear gowns, nor will I decry all the differences between men and women—nor admit that they’re strictly “socially constructed.”
To a larger extent than many think, the biological binary is not only real, but based on evolution (natural selection, of course, is a main reason for the “binary”, which maps as a bimodality of traits, not a complete continuum). That doesn’t mean that all sex differences in behavior are acceptable or moral, but it doesn’t mean that all such differences are reprehensible and worthy of effacement, either.