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Why Western men gave up on war Those desperate to prove their masculinity are out of options

Why does the online Right mock these volunteers who've answered Zelensky's call to arms? Credit: Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Why does the online Right mock these volunteers who've answered Zelensky's call to arms? Credit: Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


March 24, 2022   6 mins

What has happened to literature’s manly men? Hemingway, arguably the most masculine of writers, ran repeatedly toward danger throughout his life — along with any other intense experience he could find. This done, he’d write about it: both fiction and nonfiction, covering “manly” topics such as hitmen, boxing, fishing, hunting, bullfighting, racing and extreme sports.

War, the subject of Hemingway’s two most famous books, is perhaps the quintessential subject of such manly writing. From the Mahabharata to the Iliad, it’s the central theme in the ancient world’s most immortal works. But something has happened to war-lit: first, the industrialisation of fighting, which Hemingway himself lived through and documented; then, the development of war technologies so terrible that battle itself came to seem unthinkable.

The world that has emerged since is in many ways (or at least in many places) a safer and more peaceful one. But what has become of those men who actually like danger, and for whom warfare has always been a proving-ground?

Some are still running into danger. There was a surreal echo of Hemingway’s love of danger in a recent wave of young Americans joining a conflict overseas, and then (albeit with less positive consequences) documenting it.

Hemingway was among the thousands who travelled to Spain between 1936 and 1938, to support the Republican side against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In February, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy issued a formal call to foreigners to join an “international brigade” fighting for the Ukrainian side against Putin’s invasion. At least according to Ukrainian reports, an estimated 20,000 have signed up to help — and many view what they’re doing as fightback against “a 21st-century version of fascism”.

You would think the Weird Online Right, the contemporary subculture most concerned with masculinity would approve of this risk-taking. A recurring theme in such spaces is the perceived subjection of manliness to the shrunken, heroism-free horizons of modern life and the culture of “bugmen” it has produced. Perhaps the most influential sacred text of this subculture is Bronze Age Mindset, an unclassifiable “exhortation” written in 2018 and now immensely influential among disaffected young men.

Written by the pseudonymous Bronze Age Pervert, it blames modern comforts and the undue influence of women for the stifling and emasculating nature of modern life: “In fact everything that you hate about modern life and that makes it into an Iron Prison 
 represents a return of the endless sallow night of matriarchy.” BAP extols the virtues of pre-Christian heroes of antiquity, and predicts that “Leviathan will not be able to hold itself together” whereupon “the age of high piracy will return”, enabling the men capable of it to develop “their ability to wage war”.

But instead of lauding their bravery, the Very Online Right tends to dismiss Zelenskyy’s resistance as a “fight to the death for globalist oligarchs like Soros and Kolomoisky” and mock any evidence of fear, regret or incompetence displayed by the young foreigners flocking to help. This so-called “Reddit Battalion” has been widely mocked for having reportedly compromised operational security on the battlefield by continuing to post from their phones while in a warzone: their compulsion to document their experience emitting signals allowing their location to be pinpointed and shelled.

What’s going on here? One response might be that simply proving oneself as a man isn’t the only consideration in battle, and if you are there in service of a despised political agenda, you’re still not one of the good guys. But there’s something deeper at work, too: an ambivalence about the idea of masculinity and writing as such that runs through the conflicted contemporary debates about men, warfare, heroism and propaganda that now orbit the conflict in Ukraine.

For while Hemingway is long since a byword for “masculine” writing, there’s also a tragic sense in which his work traces the Twentieth-century demise of an older, more warlike form of masculinity, at the hands not of the “endless sallow night of matriarchy” but of technology itself.

War literature prior to the Twentieth century is often unabashedly heroic, even as it documents horrors. Tennyson’s 1855 Charge of the Light Brigade describes an 1854 battlefield in the Crimea in terms both terrible and stirring, then asks:

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.

“When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality,” Hemingway wrote in 1942, of his experiences as an ambulance driver in World War I when he was just 19. “Then, when you are badly wounded the first time, you lose that illusion.” The war that deprived Hemingway of his illusions about immortality also stripped many of confidence in military glory full stop.

Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est, published 1921, draws a contrast between the heroic motto about dying for one’s country, and the reality of dying of poison gas in the trenches. In 1935, Hemingway expressed the same sentiment in an Esquire essay, where he stated that “in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason”.

Even so, to Hemingway the Spanish Civil War was a clear-cut moral issue: a battle between good and evil, man and machine, via the horrifying industrial technologies of Twentieth-century total war. And if, as some historians argue, this conflict was in fact the true start of the Second World War, what started as a battle between man and machine ended with the machine’s victory, in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A whole generation, slightly older than I am, grew up in the shadow of Mutually Assured Destruction: the fear that either (or both) sides in the Cold War might at any moment launch unstoppable nuclear-powered death through the air, obliterating millions in seconds.

Over the same period, conflict between nuclear powers avoided direct confrontation. Armies have shrunk, nationalism has been widely deprecated, and the world (unless you’re unlucky enough to live in a theatre of one of America’s or Russia’s proxy wars) is generally more peaceful than in Hemingway’s youth.

And while that has many upsides, it has also, paradoxically, created disaffected young men. For when national identity is infra dig, and open warfare is discouraged lest it set off nuclear Armageddon, what’s left for young men who thirst for danger and intensity?

Some find it anyway; some, too, also write about it, including my UnHerd colleague Aris Roussinos. As he said in 2014 of his experiences in Syria: “The hidden awful truth about war is how much fun it is.” But for those in the developed West, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most men remain in the “Iron Prison”. Many chafe at it, and seek to reclaim some form of masculinity, but few seem very certain as to how this might be done in practice.

Some, too, write about the stultifying nature of the world in which they remain. Two realist writers emerging from the disaffected online Right are the short story writers “Delicious Tacos” and “Bad Billy Pratt”, both of whom document the nihilistic landscape of contemporary sex relations in an aggressively unsentimental style. And it’s hardly surprising that writers committed to (as Pratt put it to me) “the unfiltered truth” should focus on the sexual anomie of self-absorbed protagonists.

After all, modern life has become — in BAP’s words — “an economic zone arranged much like a work camp”, a regimented place “of incredible ugliness” and “hateful to the raising of boys”. It’s easy to see how, as Pratt himself might conclude, “the only fiction worth writing is incel fiction”. What, in that context, is left but the self, and the sexual warzone?

And with heroism, action or drama in short supply in everyday life, those hungry for intensity must resort to the world of computer gaming — or fantasy writers such as Mike Ma, described as “Chaotic 21st century pastiche of Hemingway, Kierkegaard, Kaczynski, and the guy in your econ class who wears combat boots”; or else the neo-reactionary sci-fi writer “Zero HP Lovecraft”, a “horrorist” whose self-published short story collection sold out in less than 24 hours.

Hemingway began his life in the shadow of Tennyson’s Light Brigade, and finished it in the shadow of Hiroshima. Over the same period, the raw, elemental struggles between man and man, or man and nature, so characteristic of Hemingway’s work, grew more attenuated. His literary career was both as a “masculine” writer, but also as an elegy for a world where the conventionally masculine virtues of courage, risk-taking, stoicism and heroism were easily celebrated and widely accepted as culturally essential.

Since his time, the world has retreated steadily from conflict, toward mechanised and then mediated life; a process culminating in the radical safetyism and dematerialised common life of Covid lockdowns, and the online-first social life the pandemic ushered in. And now that we have virtualised social life to the point where any physical violence is foreclosed, even most arguments about masculinity now inevitably take place in the feminine key.

Young men, already restive, are growing mutinous under this regime. The lurid and angry literature emerging captures these men’s ambivalence: sickened by, but also usually still implicated in, the banality and perceived effeminacy of a modern world denuded of both danger and opportunity. We can only speculate on what may happen if (or when) such men leave behind the neutered disaffection off the internet, and start searching en masse for danger and heroism beyond the screen.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask some of the veterans who signed up without hesitation after 9/11, why they are some of the most jaded people on the planet? You know the same ones who used to proudly wear a t-shirt with an American flag and “freedom isn’t free” on it? After they got out and started complaining about the direction of American foreign policy (which they saw the flaws of firsthand), they were treated like dirt. “White supremacists! Racists! Yatzees! Deplorables!” They saw how there was no accountability after Iraq and Afghanistan. The same people still have a job and those that retired are now working as lobbyists for Lockheed and Raytheon. Gen. Milley still has his job and all he is good for is press briefings trying to understand “white rage”. No one even gave a damn about their buddies who died or were maimed. The American public has so little trust in Washington and the media, that if they say the sky is blue, the public will do a double check just in case. “WMDs in Iraq! Progress in Afghanistan! We totally know who we are arming in Syria!” Yet somehow it everyone else’s fault that there is no trust left. If you even ask basic questions like, what were we doing in Ukraine in 2014, you are called “unamerican”. Because everyone knows you are not allowed to ask questions of your government in free countries! Every time the dust settles after an overseas embarrassment, Washington briefly locks hands together and tries to reassure us that this latest disaster was not counterproductive to our interests. I could write an entire essay about how the intervention in Libya was a disaster for every single one of our stated foreign policy goals.
That is just overseas. What about at home? Talking heads go on and on about freedom overseas but then demand the destruction of civil liberties at home. Oh, I wonder why no one believes their talk of freedom and democracy anymore? The destruction of faith in institutions by wokeness is almost complete. The military was one the few institutions left people had some faith in just a couple of years ago but now even that has changed. Fighting wars, who cares about that? Trans issues are their biggest concerns now. Getting our money’s worth? No one in the Pentagon even cares if our military even gets quality equipment on time as long as a lot of money was spent. Look at how they lied about the F-22 program when it was finally time to start purchasing and mass producing fighters. Most of the money was already spent in development. As they cut the orders down the price per plane became higher and higher. Our defense people then used it as an excuse to ignore delivering on the planes and go all in on the also ridiculously expensive F-35 Joint Strike Turkey project. Wow, I sure love a defense industry that is not even obligated to deliver on the basics! Then we get to the awkward realization that most of the loudest voices denouncing your lack of “patriotism” just happen to be committed internationalists and globalists.
Finally, the contempt for the parts and social classes of the country who traditionally sent their kids to carry rifles and lug sandbags around cannot be denied. In America, it is just a 24-hour Twitter and media blitz about how they are the worst people on the planet and the world would be a better place if they dropped dead. Guess what? That white boy who shoots regularly with his AR-15 and long range with his scoped bolt-action, the poor Hispanic kid who fixes cars for a living, the rural guy who likes to camp and fish, the skilled machinist trying to stay in business, and the black guy working logistics in a warehouse for minimum wage are the ones who already have inbuilt skills the military needs. Try putting a bunch of Berkley students in the same position and see what happens. Despite all this they think those people are still obligated to sign up and serve even as they are debating on kicking them out because they are just racist trash (even the ones who aren’t white). Then they mock them for every religious or cultural value they have. Does that answer your question, Mary?

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

“there is no trust left”
And that’s the key to it
One of the more distressing episodes I have seen on YouTube is a young man (ex US army likely) screaming at Bush at some conference, pointing out that the ex President’s useless, illegal war killed off several of his squad members and friends, along with countless other Iraqis, demanding that he apologise.

As he was dragged away, not one of the many people seated there supported him. Either stared at the floor or heckled him instead. Bet plenty of them have Ukraine or BLM flags on their Facebook or social media profiles though.

If young men can’t trust their country to not sent them to unjust wars to die needlessly, if they stay in a society that disrespects them and their “toxic masculinity”, what do you expect.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Great essay and great comment on response. I follow ‘alt right’ media and was a bit surprised at first at how indifferent they are to Ukraine. However on reflection they are being consistent. There is consensus in that space that the War on Drugs, then the War on Terror, all the noise about Global Warming, the overreaction to Covid, Black Lives Matter and now Ukraine are part of the same thing. They consider it to be a distraction created by the global elite to keep people’s eyes off the ball, and fighting each other, while their rights and prosperity are eroded further. They are disaffected Republicans (who make up 90% of US military enlisted men) and they also take the position that if the Democrats and progressives want to go to war then they can send their own children. That is why they are enjoying the failures of the Reddit Battalion so much. It is hard to articulate how deeply cynical this subculture is – not without good reason – in my view.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

That isn’t cynicism, it’s the opposite: hard-earned knowledge.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

The responses here often enhance the article itself. This is a good example. I’m not sure that women are best placed to comment on masculinity, any more than men are well placed to comment on femininity.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Most virtues of traditional masculinity are now “toxic”. Familiarity with weapons and wanting to protect your family and country? Toxic! Willing to stoically endure hardship? Toxic! Pride and self worth? Toxic! Controlling your emotions? Toxic! Self-reliance and standing up for yourself? Toxic! Believing you should have the choice to make your own decisions in life? Toxic! Now that all that problematic toxic masculinity is gone, go out and fight in this war.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Matt,
after years of being told by gov and media what a piece of shit I was for being resilient, I looked forward to the headlines of ‘Where are the REAL Men?’

The morning after 9/11 that exact headline was in extra large print in (Murdoch owned )The Australian and the question was asked throughout Australian radio, tv and papers.

I was the first to post in the comments section here, but didn’t make the grade. No point repeating as you have said it for me. Thank you.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Juhnke
Lori Wagner
Lori Wagner
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Women have a lot of masculine traits and also feel trapped in an iron cage of modern technology. I feel this article speaks to everyone.

Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Au contraire: the conversation-ending, shut-up-and-listen ethos of postmodern “liberalism” helped steer society into this ditch.”Standpoint epistemology” is for Grauniad readers! 😉

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Haven’t men been told to shut up and listen by the woke liberal elite versus writing about their experiences today? On the curious & sad side, a recent poll showed that a majority of the liberal, ‘leftist’ young would rather leave the USA rather than fight for it as the Ukrainians are doing for their homeland. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the state of liberalism today I am not sure what does.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Eamonn Von Holt
Eamonn Von Holt
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Really great summation Matt, in a nutshell!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

These points may all be valid but are only tangentially related to the article! Western societies used to praise masculine virtues, including violence (in context), and now they largely do not. They transactionally recognise the need for a military, but then say, anyone can do it, we will of course give a huge amount of attention to your ‘feelings’ etc.

In fact, Mary Harrington has really hit on upon something without explicitly saying it, which is that broadly the ‘Right’ today follow almost as much as a feminised discourse as ‘the Left’, which your comment rather exemplifies (let’s feel sorry for the poor oppressed white working class foot soldiers etc, not much different ultimately than ‘Black Lives Matter’).

The only writer I know of who has a real ‘masculine’ take on issues is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, especially with his emphasis on ‘skin in the game’.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

She asked the question and I gave her the real answer. Forget all that philosophical mumbo jumbo. As for the working class foot soldier? Maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to look at the political affiliation, regions, and class background the grunts (ones doing the actual fighting) overwhelmingly come from? Hint, it is rather relevant!

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt Hindman
Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Great comment Matt. I agree with everything you say.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

There are other seemingly innocuous regimes which add to safetyism. For instance risk assessments for everything which virtually remove any challenge from male adventure. Safeguarding too has its spin off: such as the drain of male teachers from primary schools or men working with young children because of the possibility of false accusations. It means some children never have meaningful interaction with men until secondary school. The rush to litigate too adds in – who wants to run adventures if you risk being sued? Not sure if we can reverse out of this risk averse cul-de-sac which is frustrating. How can anyone learn to responsibly manage risk through experience (and making mistakes) if one is never exposed to it?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

As often is the case an excellent article from Mary H. But you raise an important constraint on heroic behaviour in practice. Often when I watch a film celebrating the lone hero struggling against the armies of the wicked such as Die Hard or Taken I am struck by the manner in which the hero saunters off at the end of the film back to his ordinary life unhampered by endless litigation and enquiry regarding the mayhem he has left behind. Litigation and the threat of litigation increasingly constrains any action that might be termed heroic. The wretched soldier caught up in some war faces the toils of endless litigation over actions taken in the instant under the pressure of danger and the fog of war.
Men become increasingly fearful of intervening where some wrong is being perpetrated for fear of the potential legal consequences of their intervention.

Peter Beard
Peter Beard
2 years ago

Thank you Mary, this is a very interesting article, and I can agree with a lot of it. However I think that it isn’t necessarily masculinity alone that makes men want to go to war, but also belief in and a sense of duty to a community to which they belong.
In 1939 my father left a small village in Derbyshire to fight a war in Egypt against the Axis powers, he was 19. He volunteered to take up arms against the enemies of the England, the country to which he was proud to belong. He was driven by a sense of duty as much as his pride, love, and loyalty. This motivation was to his family, his street, his village, his county, and his country. These were concentric circles of community that ever increased until they reached the boundaries of the empire. He would never have understood why they should ever be a reason for shame.
Yes, he was of an age and at age when masculinity was expected, but the masculinity was what enabled him rather than what caused him to fight. In 1945 King George VI sent a card to thank everyone involved in the conflict, his card was kept by his bed until the day he died.
My father was not unusual. Just before the pandemic I visited Cockermouth in the Lakes and went to see an exhibition in William Wordsworth’s house. In a room on the top floor was a display of letters from an earlier war, the Great War. They were written by the men of Cumbria who had followed their king’s call to save the life they knew and loved from the war-mongering Kaiser and his rapacious horde. These letters revealed a common belief in what they were doing, and love for the people and country they had left behind. I would challenge anyone not to be deeply moved by what they wrote, however much masculinity they might have.
Today, we live in a country that we are encouraged to hate. I know that, but will my grandchildren?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Beard

To your point, I mentioned in a comment above that a recent poll in the USA, shows that a majority of young liberal, left leaning people would not fight for the country like the Ukrainians are doing to protect their own. homeland today. The hate-your-country indoctrination seems to have worked in liberal/left quarters; Not so for the young on the right.

Peter Beard
Peter Beard
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Cathy thanks for your comment. I read a very similar article recently that backs up your point.
Separating us from our history by making us hate it and then consequently loathing our community and identity is a strategy ingrained into the left-wing mindset. This is campism, undiluted from the Marxist/Leninist book of mind games. You may have already read this article, How to Avoid the Anti-Imperialism of Fools | The Nation

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

One thing you would notice is that hardly any women go into occupations that were typical until the 19th century, mining, factories, military, logistics.
That’s not a surprise. What is bewildering is why men slogged and died by the millions in those dirty, nasty jobs.

They were not heroes. They were nobodies, stoic hard men who died with no glory, recognition, none of those patriarchy points. And the only reason they did do was because society forced them to be breadwinners and masculine protectors to be considered worthwhile as human beings.

If anything, “masculinity” is a con used to manipulate men.
What happens though when society denigrated and sneers at those masculine values?
Not enough truck drivers, soldiers and men willing to marry and commit to a lifetime of “wage slavery” for their families, for starters.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

What has happened to literature’s manly men?

They have been shunned into complete and total meekness by female feminists and male feminist-pleasers.
Nowadays, as a man with my own opinion that runs contrary to the group-think (an opinion based on extensive education and critical reflection, I might add), as soon as I open my mouth I am generally shouted down or guilted by both of the aforementioned groups of people. On top of that, as a hard-working but average-looking young man, I have rarely received any degree of appreciation in a romantic or even friendship setting with women my age. Ultimately, this has led me to the realization that young women generally see the average man as an absolutely replaceable source of attention, and nothing more than that.
As such, while I would have much to contribute to society, either by working to build and improve it, or by giving my life to protect it in a war, I feel that any effort on my side is not going to appreciated in any way, or would be deserved by any criteria. Society as a whole isn’t even trying to improve itself, so any effort on my part would be a complete and total waste.
The time I have saved by avoiding such wasteful activities I have invested into self-development. I am in excellent health, know how to use a weapon and am prepared for even a prolonged emergency setting. For a while now I have developed a beginning understanding for how it is that hard times create strong men. Unfortunately, if I do turn out to be a strong man I will only protect those who are immediately dear to me. Everybody else will have to live with the consequences of their own decadence.
Don’t expect the masculine men who are shunned by society to pull you out of the dirt if bad stuff starts happening. They won’t.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Another follower of the philosopher Testiclese…

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

I actually upvoted your comment, because I found it quite humorous. The internet search for Testiclese turned out to be worthwhile.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

The trouble is exactly that those who shun “toxically masculine” men will be the very same people who will expect those men to die in war when the time comes.
The same logic exists in the job market: Those people who are up in arms about gender disparities regarding female/male ratios in the boardroom are silent about addressing the far more serious gender equality issues in the sphere of rubbish collecting, plumbing and heavy construction.
The hatred of men is a luxury available in times of peace and, sadly, those same ungrateful people who treat men in this way, will be the same ones protected by those men when war comes.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

We can only speculate on what may happen if (or when) such men leave behind the neutered disaffection off the internet, and start searching en masse for danger and heroism beyond the screen.
I’m not convinced hordes of disaffected young men will start rampaging through society.
Young men are now often portrayed as incels who can’t get a date, or make much of a life for themselves, or the classic angry young men who’re just looking for trouble. No doubt both those types exist but my own observations suggest there’s a third group which is the one that’s growing in modern society.
These are young men who are intelligent, possess (or can readily learn) useful skills, can find a girlfriend when they want one, are not weighed down by debt, earn a significant part of their income “under the table”, might even have a college degree, but who have, in many ways, checked out of modern society and its institutions. They are pursuing their own path in a society that, as the author notes, is anti-male. They “prove” themselves by thriving independent of the institutions they despise–although I’m not sure they despise our institutions; they are simply alienated from them.
I know some of these young people because they are the sons of extended family members, friends and neighbors, and through my wife’s business. They are not angry and I think they’d view fighting in a war as stupid–they lack sufficient attachment to any country or cause to justify endangering their lives.
I suspect they, more than the losers and the hyper-aggressive, are the future of manhood, at least in the US. Whether this type of male will ever settle down and create their own families remains to be seen. I’m doubtful. But maybe this is how nature accommodates an environment that’s not conducive to a more instinctive, traditional form of masculinity and perhaps it’s all for the good. Do we really need more families and children in a society that increasingly can’t provide them with a decent economic future, and on a planet that (if you believe the climate doomsters) will be unable to support them?

Last edited 2 years ago by J Bryant
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

My observation of young men accords with your description of the “third group” who can see the absurdity of many of the woke shibboleths and note much of the anti-male rhetoric but just get on with building a life for themselves. They are for the most part not angry but accept the absurdity and official lies as part of the landscape to be navigated. They are not manning the barricades and protesting. They leave that to the conformist young agitators who look forward to making their career in this area.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It will be fascinating to see how this changes society. Careers in the public sector, quasi public sector, and large corporations are basically impossible for ambitious white men. You’d be insane as a young white man to work there as you will never be promoted. These institutions will become completely feminized. So ambitious men will likely become a new entrepreneur class and small business owners. I wonder how big corporations are going to deal with the realization that a significant % of the population won’t be applying to work there any more? There will also likely be even less men attending universities since university degrees feed into the ecosystem described above.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

And the resulting alienation between the public sphere and private enterprise will lead to more red-tape being imposed for the sake of safety, equity, social justice and all the other anti-meritocratic buzz-words. The resulting brain-drain to more entrepreneurial countries will simply be criticised and deplored by those working in the public sector who will fail to comprehend where the problem lies.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

It’s an opinion piece so it’s understandable as a heap of subjective generalisations. At least it’s not like a lot of armchair generalising at the moment glorifying other peoples’ deaths such as being ingloriously burnt alive in a BMP in a corner of a muddy field. Hardly Horatius at the bridge. Of course there are plenty of societies around that prefer male peacocking- Pakistan, Colombia. Hmm. Meanwhile this morning millions of peacable men will get up and set off for hard dull physical jobs to support their families without a warlike grimace or macho strut. Not so sexy or interesting.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

…still heros but.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

It’s what happens when you overeducate the middle class.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
2 years ago

We’ve not had a proper war for a while, maybe that’s why. Men have forgotten the simple pleasure of still being alive. When your life is in danger only one thing is significant, and that is the thing that you do next. Nothing else matters, nothing else can matter. Not only because it might save your life, but because it might be the last memory you ever make.

All the intellectual infrastructure about, masculinity, gender identity, “the good life,” moral agency, generational guilt, etc. etc. The hamster wheel of relentless position taking. It all goes away.

And you are left with, what? In my case, just some guy. An absolute certainty about what I am. Just some guy.

None of that stuff mattered in that place of danger. And when you come back, it still doesn’t. Why should it? You know who you are, you have no more questions, so why should you entertain any?

People need you to be self critical because they still are. That’s all people really care about, so if you want to engage you have no choice but to engage with their insecurities.

But I’m only really interested in the very next thing that I do. Because it still might be the last memory I ever make.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” Ernest Hemingway

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Jennings

😉

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Thank you! The ironic thing here about these men seeking “adventure” is the underlying desire for appreciation, to be _seen_ as masculine rather than just acting.
That’s why the Incels (like the commenting above) seem so whiny and ultimately childish. An honorable man behaves as an honorable man because he believes in honor, not because he believes he’spromised a “hot babe” at the end of it.
When valiant men rush to fight for causes in which they believe, it’s because they have principles and selfLESSness, not the narcissism of the whiny incels who are furious that they’re not getting all of these goodies to which they believe they’re entitled just for being born with a p***s (and watching thousands of hours of violent online porn).
I agree that the prospects of job promotion in several fields are difficult (for white women too), and although one should empathize that this was the life of all women and black people until very recently, that’s hardly any consolation for the present, particularly if you’re imminently more qualified than your competition.
But if men want principled adventure, aren’t there countries all over the world who need strong young men to volunteer in difficult physical circumstances? The “Peace Corps” may not have a name like “Mortal Combat,” but some of those assignments require a lot of bravery, strength, humility, commitment, endurance, fellowship, risk-taking….all qualities that the author and most people traditionally associate with masculinity.
No “matriarchy” (how ridiculous) is preventing young men from inventing their lives and devoting their strengths to the service of human kind. And any woman who doesn’t appreciate the qualifies of men like this don’t deserve them anyway.
And btw, to the Incels, there are so many young Black women who face a 4:1 ratio of eligible women to men. Educated, passionate, devoted, hard-working young women are all over HBCUs at like a 80-90% ratio of women to men. Why don’t they ask them out?Why, because they want a white blonde 18-year-old porn-star airbrushed babe who somehow hangs on their every word, has no expectations, and thinks they’re superior simply because they have a p***s.
Females don’t owe you anything because you have a p***s. Get over it and go find your bliss in God’s miraculous creation. And as always, once you commit yourself to a mission larger than yourselves and stop whining about your entitlement, you’ll be fighting women off.

Last edited 2 years ago by leculdesac suburbia
Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago

It is difficult to understand why anyone would go to war for a United Kingdom which persecutes those who defend her – even fifty years on – while exonerating those who attack her. Surely the last stage of decadence in any society.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

I agree 100%.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

The short answer is feminism, feminists and feminisation.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

I’m a Vietnam Era US Air Force Veteran. My view is that western men have given up on fighting wars because western governments don’t think wars are important enough to win them. Our strategies are generally designed to postpone losing, rather than win. The architects of failure suffer no penalties.

My first example is Vietnam. In December, 1972, 11 days of unrestricted bombing and sea mines delivered by air closed all the ports in North Vietnam. We could have done that in 1965 or 1968. Our casualties would have been far lower. We might even have won.

It was obvious to me as a Reserve Officer Cadet in 1968 that we weren’t using our air power effectively in Vietnam. It must have been obvious to many generals and admirals. Not one resigned in protest. The only general punished after Vietnam, General John Lavelle, was punished for bombing Cambodia without orders. Congress forced him to retire as a 2 star, instead of a 4 star, general. Lavelle was posthumously cleared when President Nixon’s secret orders to Lavelle were discovered.

The next example is Afghanistan. You can’t win a guerilla war if your enemies have a reliable source of funding and supply, can use human shields effectively and have sactuary to retretreat to where they can rest and regroup. The US allowed the Talaban to collect and sell opium. The US required artillery and air strikes to be cleared by lawyers, some of them stateside. The US allowed the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan. The US continued this folly for 20 years. It was a guaranteed loser.

Again, no generals or admirals complained about our losing strategy, neither in the US nor any other country. There was no penalty for anyone for playing along with a losing war.

Why would anyone want to be a soldier in an army that fights to lose? Unless western countries get serious about winning, we’re not going to find as many volunteers as we might want.

In 1757, British Admiral John Byng was famously executed for not fighting a battle hard enough. Voltaire wrote at the time that the execution was to “encourage the others,” the other admirals. Although Voltaire meant it as a sick joke, it actually worked like that. Britannia ruled the waves until 1939.

While I’m not recommending executions, there are other things that we can do to generals and admirals who fail at war or managing the development of a weapons system. Bad performance should mean retirement at reduced rank.

In the US, the Senate has to confirm retirement at 3 or 4 stars, because 3 and 4 star rank is temporary. If the Senate doesn’t vote to confirm your 3 or 4 star rank for retirement, you retire at your permanent 2 star rank. The Senate can do alone. They did it alone to General Lavelle.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

In WW1 soldiers suffering post traumatic stress were shot for not fighting. Unfair on those who were shot but it no doubt encouraged others to persist who might have been tempted to throw in the towel.
Today we don’t shoot soldiers suffering some degree of PTS for not fighting instead we subject those who may or may not have made the wrong decision under the stress of combat to years of litigation. Not a prospect I imagine that encourages a ruthless will to win in our troops.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I didn’t suggest any punishment for any soldiers below the rank of general or admiral. The punishment I suggested was reduction in rank.

If there’s no penalty for a flag officer losing a war, or botching a weapon development, then the world will soon belong to violent dictators and fanatics.

World War I was a disaster because generals didn’t study Pickett’s Charge at the US Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. If a charge over open ground against muzzel loaded rifles and cannons was suicide at Gettysburg, how much more foolish was “going over the top” against machine guns and rapid firing cannons. Yet WW I generals persisted in such high casualty tactics for years, killing a whole generation of men. Nobody ever called them to account.

Wars are used as a means to steal what rightly belongs to others. People need to fight back, or lose their lives, liberty and property. Ukraine is showing us how it’s done, and why.

JĂĄnos Klein
JĂĄnos Klein
2 years ago

Some wars are just ; others are just wars.
My generation, born a few years after WW2, hasn’t known what’s at stake or what it’s like to fight for one’s life because conscription ended too soon in the UK and I can’t help envying or admiring countries that have retained it.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  JĂĄnos Klein

Biased news can make just wars appear unjust. The Viet Cong resorted to mass executions during the Tet Offensive in 1972, then lost to coordinated counter attacks that essentially wiped them out as an effective fighting force. The press didn’t report the mass executions, and reported the Tet Offensive overall as a Viet Cong victory.

After the war was over, victorious Communists executed several hundred thousand Vietnamese and Laotians. The Communist Khmer Rouge executed about 2 million Cambodian men, women and children. About a million people fled Vietnam in leaky boats.

The American intervention in Vietnam was justified by saying we were trying to prevent a bloodbath. However, the “give peace a chance” crowd never acknowledged their responsibility for the bloodbath that occurred after we gave peace a chance. To them, Vietnam was an unjust war. To me, it was a just war fought with an immoral intentionally losing strategy.

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

Another excellent piece – thank you, Mary.

Tris Torrance
Tris Torrance
2 years ago

I think that we all contain a brave version and a cowardly version of ourselves and either can come to the fore depending on circumstances.

Eventually we understand which is which, and can work on ourselves to develop the brave version. The more we do that, the less we need to seek validation from others by bragging about what we do. The genuinely braver the person, the less others will hear about it. This used to be known as humility. I’m uncertain if the word is even still in use.

The people we all hear plenty from are the adrenaline junkies and the thrill-seekers. They’re in early development – just getting to know what superficial bravery is, but not yet understanding of the real thing. Some will make it all the way; most won’t. But all may still have useful and satisfying lives.

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
2 years ago
Reply to  Tris Torrance

Beautifully put. And when cultural notions of entitlement based on biological sex are interwoven with this, it’s easy to blame “society” for not getting that to which we’ve been entitled.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Men don’t have to ‘prove’ their masculinity. Men are masculine. Going to fight in a war is simply a man being a man. Of course, for feminists, nothing is what it actually is, it has to be part of some debate or posturing.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Her views appear to be shaped by her immersion in the western liberal bubble and as such can be relied upon to be received sympathetically by many readers.
It’s worth remembering that the majority of men in the world have not been marinated in our post-modern neo-Marxist educational system and culture.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

You could argue that being a Hero included a certain amount of behavioural latitude from the remainder of society. Heroes could be violent, depressive, often drunk, and sexually unconstrained, but their heroism ‘for a good cause’ gave them a pass.
All of those personality foibles have been demonised by the managerialism of the late 20th century. It’s unforgiving being a hero in modern times – there are plenty of people willing to pull you down.
It’s perhaps not surprising that young men choose to avoid the unattractive Hero Contract with wider society.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

Very interesting by MH, thank you. The piece skirts several topics the author has discussed in the past, but without explicitly linking them here – the nature of the sexes and the negotiation between them, the patent fact that we are still (just about) our biological selves, etc. The author has championed ‘the human’ over the directions that technology is currently frog-marching humanity – industrialised, automated, computed mass scale play-outs few individuals have any hope of comprehending let alone countering. But I nevertheless am compelled to ask what ‘the human’ might actually mean. Let me explore this from a couple of counterpoints.

WWII kind of marked out the demarcation point when humanity became aware that it was losing the human – for example, you could hear the V1s arriving even if they didn’t give you much time to react, with the V2s, you had no forewarning, you were there one moment, an explosion you would know nothing about, and the next moment you were gone. At one level it is absolutely the case that the consequences of technology seem cold, impersonal, inhuman in fact, because not human is precisely what they are. But I am again compelled to ask: what would ‘the human’ look like in the present moment? A collective enshewing or repudiation of technology? A reversal back to our biological selves with a collective undertaking that the whole of humanity may not, forever, look beyond its bio-genetic inheritance so we as a species remain in a kind of balanced stasis, fixed biologies, fixed thought patterns, fixed existence? Doesn’t that require an undertaking to just ‘be’ us, not ever to hold up a mirror to ourselves and the world around us, an inevitable consequences of which would be that we would change ourselves and our world? Technology arising out of humanity was not some alien influence that has pushed humanity in a direction against its collective will – *we* discovered or created the technologies that *we* are now uncomfortable with, *we* created the societal models as a consequence of those technologies, that we now regarding with distaste, they are as much us as our bio-genetic inheritance. The fact that we have outrun that inheritance is not a surprise, the surprise is the fact that we are managing, still, to keep our balance so well, while undergoing such an incredibly rapid transformation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 years ago

This is not about the modern male experience, this is about the modern upper middle class suburban experience.
Want to experience existential threat? Grow up in a ghetto. Want to experience situations of life and death? Join the police, the firefighters, or paramedics, or mountain or marine search-and-rescue. The problem is not the absence of challenges, the problem is that the “communication” is taking place within an echo-chamber populated by financially insecure but physically unthreatened individuals in occupations like communications, social media, marketing, IT or some other function that has absolutely nothing to do with reality.
This is not the first time in history we have had an elite in that situation. But no, it has never ended well.

William Jackson
William Jackson
2 years ago

Of course, it was women who gave white feathers to those men they perceived as ‘cowardly’, during WW1.

Conversely and with great bravery, during the Spanish Civl War Women played very active fighting roles, throughout WW2 in occupied countries many resitance fighters were female, more recently there was Margaret Thatcher’s leadership and the Falklands.

Strange, how some ‘writers,’ in their belittlement of males, tend to neglect female involvement in conflicts either of the past, or in our age.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Jackson
Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

Harrington at her best. Unherd at its best.

Given that physical violence is not my thing, I’ve tried to express my masculinity through construction work, woodworking and heavy lifting in the garden. Would it be possible to gear young men towards endeavours of that type, given that one essential element that makes it so easy to activate blood thirst in mobs and propagandise populations into war, is that craving in (young) men for showing their bravery and getting away from the mothers, wives and kids to have fun with the boys (shooting, looting and raping)?

I remember Aldous Huxley writing about this in his last book, Island, but can’t remember what exactly. In that utopian world they do stuff with young boys who show these characteristics, like making them leaders in dangerous group mountain climbing expeditions.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

How I’d love to have seen you endure recruit training at the then Guards Depot in my era…

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

Might have been good for me. I now regret going to university to get some useless degree. My Makita tools have compensated up to a point.

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

exactly–I was writing about the Peace Corps above. Some very physically, materially difficult places to live all over the world where people need the strength, endurance, bravery and risk-taking of honorable young men. No “matriarchy” is holding them back, but some of these men would rather whine on an incel subreddit in their Mommy’s basement about how their masculinity isn’t appreciated.

Su Mac
Su Mac
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

From 2 years living on a Devon beef farm I can say there is plenty of manly endurance, strength and grit required in that and many oher farming businesses I’m sure!

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago

We can only speculate on what may happen if (or when) such men leave behind the neutered disaffection off the internet, and start searching en masse for danger and heroism beyond the screen.

They will start a Fight Club, the first rule of which will be…

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

I always thought Hemingway a bit of a show off. Real men don’t need to do that.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

Another insightful piece from Ms. Harrington. I’d very much agree about the significance of the advent of nuclear weapons. This ushered in an entirely new era that was wholly impossible at any point of human history in the past. It’s arguably the most important enabling event for contemporary feminism as well as the (start of the) end of many masculine virtues.
I’d go on to add it’s just the start of this process. Machines (really AI at this point) have successfully been eliminating more and more jobs, and will conceivably go on to eliminate even the war-waging utility of humans.
This gets humanity on path to a potentially very dangerous place where some powerful people may acquire unconstrained control over others in terms of both economy and military.

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago

“Why western men gave up on war” – it’s more fun to become women and win all sport competitions-)

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

May I comment as someone who has not seen military service, but who is aware of a family which did. My father served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in the First World War. In the Second he trained younger soldiers in the making and use of what we now call IEDs. My mother, younger, was an ambulance driver in the Blitz. In the evening she would be given the location of a phone box in the town and she would drive her ambulance there. For a safe space she had three alternatives: sit in the ambulance, stand in the telephone box, or shelter in a stout doorway near the telephone box. When she was called she drove to where bombs had fallen and deal with the gruesome consequences. My parents did their duty, and I am in awe of what they did, day after day, night after night. I am not sure what point the author is making. Perhaps the literature is just for peacetime; come the test we will know what is more important: the introspection, or the test.

JĂĄnos Klein
JĂĄnos Klein
2 years ago

The excellent article also makes an indirect argument for bringing back conscription in Western Europe. Military training seems to have been quite useful in Switzerland and Israel for example.

Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago

I am not sure the author understands the concept of “mutually assured destruction”. The near certainty that neither side could win (survive) a nuclear war was what prevented one. Instead, the US and the Soviet Union played out their rivalry by supporting conventional, proxy wars in Africa and elsewhere.

Lori Wagner
Lori Wagner
2 years ago

Danger and opportunity definitely does not have to take place during war. Heroism does not have to take place during war. Masculinity does not have to be synonymous with war.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

… even most arguments about masculinity now inevitably take place in the feminine key.
I would rephrase and say analyses about masculinity per se have, since feminism’s inception, occurred through feminist frames of reference that have over time, changed in their ideological emphasis.
It was a surprise to me that, going back to 1840, the Women’s Movement/feminism had a deep axiomatic focus and motivation for the denigration of men and masculinity.
Prof Janice Fiamengo has produced a series of YouTube videos documenting this dark animosity by going back to original writings of the Women’s Movement, court documents as well as writings of legal observers of the time. Her videos can be found at Studio B on you tube.
She was recently interviewed by Benjamin A Boyce
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lOZa5eY5SM&t=626s
She provides an interesting perspective.

Last edited 2 years ago by michael stanwick
John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“The lurid and angry literature emerging captures these men’s ambivalence: sickened by, but also usually still implicated in, the banality and perceived effeminacy of a modern world denuded of both danger and opportunity.”

I’m a bit too old to be able to relate directly to any thirst for violence and danger myself, but I do think that the modern world has been sapped of vitality at many levels, not merely that which is referred to here and the symptoms of which emerge in the disaffection of young men. The West in general is suffocating under a soul-destroying burden of self-inflicted, risk-avoidant, safetyism, and we see the problems everywhere, from energy policy through social policy, industrial policy and a general set of social attitudes that reflect such priorities.

What amazes me is that politicians still seem to be stumped by the apparent mystery of why growth rates in the West are so poor, yet the answer is staring us all straight in the face: nobody’s allowed to take risks any more, which is essential for progress.

I often make the point in other arguments that if the motor car had not been invented until last week, the modern State would ensure that it never would be possible for private individuals to own and use them. The notion, for instance that on a country road twenty feet wide, two cars could pass in opposite directions at 60mph each separated only by a white line painted down the middle of the road – can you imagine the risk assessment that would describe such a proposition?

We live in a world now in which there are multiple nuclear reactor designs that are hundreds of times safer and more efficient than the high pressure designs of the 1950s, we have drone technology that can transform regional freight and personal travel, we have nanotechnology that could revolutionise medicine and manufacturing, and yet for some reason the overwhelming sense is that the last century of material progress and comparative luxury is a historical aberration soon to end. The collective stupidity involved in accepting such self-defeat is mind-boggling, and it is very much the same problem as that which is described in the article above in what I see as highly selective and narrow terms.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Sean Meister
Sean Meister
2 years ago

FWIW Bronze Age Pervert and his fellow members of the “weird” right mock the volunteers because they are fighting for the enemy. The enemy is a feminising, neo-liberal machine. There is no honour there. There is no virtue in distinguishing yourself for them or proving your worth as a masculine warrior in that context. Whatever brave feats they may accomplish individually they surrender for their cause.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sean Meister
William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Sean Meister

Maybe the men who are fighting and dying are doing so because of an obsolete and misplaced sense of chivalry and honour while the people they are fighting for run to safety in neighbouring countries.
If men continue to think of themselves as disposable it’s difficult to blame women for taking advantage of that.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago

…wow, a non-male personage who actually gets it !

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I think you’ve inadvertently stumbled on a new definition of ‘woman’ for the wokies. God help us all.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

…under the Berne Convention, I hereby claim Moral Rights to the same.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Generalisations are innacurate: By and large Britain’s history and Regimental system, and the country’s love and respect for the military, makes it totally different from, for example, Holland, Germany and many other nations: recruiting drops off when there are no wars, as happened after Afghanistan

tom j
tom j
2 years ago

Good essay, I think you’re wise to leave the answer open-ended. This is what Houellebecq has been writing about for a generation.

Derrick Hand
Derrick Hand
2 years ago

Here is the Cliff Notes version.
Millennia ago, dioecious, humanoid type creatures rose from evolution and trundled along through history in small, sometimes democratic, sometimes totalitarian troupes, hunting and gathering for survival. The females were fundamentally the species having the sole ability to reproduce. The males became ancillary tools to the females in providing physical protection and the duty of securing bulk protein in the form of large dangerous animals. The males had shorter lifespans due to fighting wars of protection and large dangerous animals. In exchange they got to have sex with the females if they were the more dominant males. The roles of women in tribe politics were often direct but could also be indirect in influencing the dominant males.
At some point, most likely it was women who discovered that they could grow excess food. This required more male labor to husband the crops and animals, ergo “husband.” The numbers of males began to expand along with their influence, in many cases supplanting women. Excess food also required the ability to account for food, which lead to commodity money. This provided leisure time which lead to inventions and the industrial revolution, which lead to science, which led to technology, all of which lead to an exponential increase in the size of humanity in an explosion that continues to this day. It also lead to the obsolescence of men, both in protectives services and the procurement of protein.
So here is the bad news. Men are still wired to protect and provide. Throughout history men have tested men in that regard, starting in their youth where they were universally torn from their mothers arms and tested by the other men, often to their demise. To this day, men respect each other by that metric. So yes, they are lying in wait, more than you can imagine. And as nature brings this algae bloom of humanity to a close, you can expect women to dive head long back behind men, the minute they are threatened by their circumstances. And men will go back to the business of protecting them, because they are wired that way. That idea is based on a history of thousands and thousands of years vs . . . 250?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

For some reason I’ve never been impressed by Hemingway. Perhaps because he was fashionable, and fashion ain’t for Real Men.
But I think it all comes down to two of my maxims.
“Women expect to be protected.” And when they are not, see A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous.
“Men know they are expendable.” So when men are called to war, they go.
Notice that while today’s women are all over Corporateville, fussing over harassment and lived experience and “I can’t believe she said that,” men are gravitating to the business start-up.
I wonder what that means.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

The truly staggering thing about the war in Ukraine is that fact that men are willing to fight to defend the country and the women who consider them to be toxic.
These men are dying to protect a society that considers them to be either unnecessary or oppressors of women.
Many more men are helping the women refugees fleeing the country.
When will men wake up and stop sacrificing themselves for people who see them as little more than a pay packet?

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Sam McGowan
Sam McGowan
2 years ago

It started in the 60s when women started taking over publishers and publishing houses. The men’s adventure magazines of the 30s-50s all folded. Now we have so socially-conscious comics and video games.

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
2 years ago

Judging by the comments here, Putin’s “Divide and Conquer” seems to be having an effect.
This is not just NATO’s problem. it is the UN’s problem.
This, from Simon Prentis, author of SPEECH!, put’s the remedy clearly…: It is significant that for the first time in nearly 30 years the UN actually did invoke Resolution 377 on February 27, shortly after the Russian invasion (following a Russian veto at the Security Council) and convened a Special Emergency Session of the General Assembly – only the 11th in its history – which adopted a resolution with a 73% majority deploring the Russian invasion and “demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian military forces from the territory of Ukraine”.
 
However, unlike during the Suez Crisis, the UNGA stopped short of recommending the formation of a UN Emergency Force tasked with compelling the Russian army to leave – or even just of imposing a no-fly zone, the quickest and easiest way of changing the balance of force on the ground. However, they certainly have it in their power to do that – and a no-fly zone imposed in the name of the UN, not NATO (even if in practice it might be NATO forces that carried it out) would be a completely different matter. Given that the Russian invasion is a clear breach of at least three international treaties (the UN Charter, the Budapest Memorandum and the Geneva Convention) it’s hard to see why the UN – our representatives, after all – are not prepared to act. This is not just an issue for NATO, or ‘The West’ to consider. It is an issue first and foremost for Ukraine, and if we’re afraid of taking action against Russia because of the ‘risks’ involved, we have to ask ourselves what we are defending, and when we might otherwise be prepared to so so.
 
Above all, we should remember the words Benjamin Franklin is said to have used to encourage those who were wavering over signing the US Declaration of Independence in 1776, “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Because if we don’t come together to save Ukraine, what is the point of the United Nations, anyway?
I could not have put it better myself.

Ken Charman
Ken Charman
2 years ago

Too many did soc sci?

Petr Hampl
Petr Hampl
2 years ago

I’m from Central Europe, the part of the world that is still old-fashioned about it. When the Ukrainian government started killing villagers in the Donbas in 2014 – with American help – some Czech men went to fight for the Donbas and others admired and supported them. Some of them were killed and others got 20-year prison sentences, so they cannot return to the Czech Republic. 
Now the problem is that we admire bravery but we cannot admire the monsters of Azov and other Ukrainian Nazi forces. And we cannot sympathize with the global corporate attempt to conquer Russia. Masculine men cheer for the Russians. That’s the problem. 

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

This was sent to me by a friend. Note that in apartheid South Africa for many years all white boys were conscripted to fight the ‘communist’ insurgents. They were drafted at ages 17 and 18 to fight in a horrendous bush war most didn’t agree with, yet they had to serve or leave the country and be branded cowardly. Or they could go to jail.
“
 War is not pretty. As a former conscript infantry serviceman who was shot at, I say spare a thought for those that didn’t volunteer to wear a uniform in Ukraine (90% of the combatants, at least on the Russian side?). They are victims, and they can’t run. The civilians can run. Their loss is great in terms of money and social upheaval. But they can run. Those that volunteer to wear a uniform deserve what they get – they signed up for it. The politicians, the generals and those calling for war and fomenting it are the ones who should be shot at
”

rob monks
rob monks
2 years ago

Good essay

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

As a column, this is the equivalent of ‘everybody’s wearing…’ in the fashion pages. The situation is no different now from the UK in the 1930’s, when there was lots of anti-war sentiment in literature.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

I must disagree, there has never been a time in which every form of expression of masculinity is treated with such contempt.

Jacob Smith
Jacob Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Amen