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November 11, 2003

DuToitglodytes and Other Irritants

Update: Apparently, John Wayne was no Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort. Streak mentions in my comments section that Wayne never served in the military and he avoided service. Real soldiers used to beat him up when he was filming in the South Pacific.

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I have neither heard of Kim Du Toit nor have I read his blog before his rant "The Pussification of the Western Male" became a one-hit wonder of the blogosphere. Lots of people are talking about it. I've since read some of his blog, and it really doesn't interest me much.

The fervor has died down somewhat, so I went back and reread his rant. I laid aside my sense of "you gotta be fucking kidding me" so that I could read it without wincing at the sight of every "pussy," "father who ruled the home," "simpering butt-bandits," "Some women deserve to be single moms," "girly-men," and "homo" that smeared across my computer screen.

I searched for his main point, and buried deep within his incessant whining, I actually found it. [Note: I've noticed over the years that one word that sets off DuToitglodytes big time is "whine." If you tell any of these overgrown toddlers to "stop whining," they whine even louder, and I mean shrill yippy-dog whining, not the mean-ass barking of Rhodesian ridgebacks, bull terriers, Rottweilers, and other dogs Du Toit thinks of as "manly." There is something about that word that sets their teeth on edge. That's why I use it.]

I think that his main point is this (big time main point in bold):


In the first instance, what we have to understand is that America is first and foremost, a culture dominated by one figure: Mother. It wasn't always so: there was a time when it was Father who ruled the home, worked at his job, and voted.

But in the twentieth century, women became more and more involved in the body politic, and in industry, and in the media -- and mostly, this has not been a good thing. When women got the vote, it was inevitable that government was going to become more powerful, more intrusive, and more "protective" (ie. more coddling), because women are hard-wired to treasure security more than uncertainty and danger. It was therefore inevitable that their feminine influence on politics was going to emphasize (lowercase "s") social security.

I am aware of the fury that this statement is going to arouse, and I don't care a fig.

What I care about is the fact that since the beginning of the twentieth century, there has been a concerted campaign to denigrate men, to reduce them to figures of fun, and to render them impotent, figuratively speaking.

The rants about women are important, but they are red herrings. His real gripe is that he perceives his sense of manhood has been threatened. Take special note of the castration metaphors that pepper his rant. Somebody's reeeeally nervous.

I get angry e-mail from misogynists like him every day. I see them picket state and county courthouses, whining about men ostensibly losing their rights. He's not the first man I've seen who has blamed the downfall of Western society on women getting the vote. Believe it or not, there is a concerted effort out there from other DuToitglodytes to repeal the 19th Amendment. I kid you not.

Other bloggers have addressed many of Mr. Du Toit's misconceptions, including the fact that Bush went AWOL while he was in the National Guard (rendering his stuffed flight suit strut across the U. S. S. Abraham Lincoln a slap in the face to real war veterans); that the demasculinized television characters he rails about were written and created mostly by men; that women have always worked hard to support themselves, their families, and society; and that "real men" don't necessarily want to hunt, race cars and motorcycles, and like sports. While those points are valid, I think they don't go deeply enough. Those corrections address the symptoms, not his underlying fear.

And it is fear that he's really talking about. No one will ever get him to admit it, either. Case in point, his quoted text below:


I want our culture to become more male. [...] We want more John Waynes, Robert Mitchums, Bruce Willises, and Clint Eastwoods. Never mind that it's simplistic -- we like simple, we are simple, we are men -- our lives are uncomplicated, and we like it that way. We Were Soldiers was a great movie, and you know why? Because you could have cut out all the female parts, and it still would have been a great movie, because it was about Real Men.

I found it interesting that he has confused actors with the roles they play. Rooster Cogburn, the Rev. Harry Powell, Max Cady, John MacClain, and Dirty Harry Callahan are fictional characters.

They aren't real. They do not exist except in someone's vivid imagination.

The characters he chose also interested me because they came into existence at a time when the U. S., at least, was either under threat of war or actively engaged in it. It was interesting to me that he first named John Wayne. Wayne is the uberconservative's Patron Saint of Musky Testosterone. That embodiment of hairy-armpit masculinity was at its peak of popularity when the U. S. was in the midst of the Cold War. The U. S. was still in shell-shock after WWII. Over-masculinized icons like John Wayne were a response to overwhelming images of the mushroom cloud. The Red Scare had everyone terrified and suspicious of their neighbors. McCarthyism was in full swing. Americans needed a bogeyman to focus on, and Communism fit the bill. Americans needed bigger-than-life heros like Wayne and Mitchum to vanquish the bogeymen, or to embody the bogeymen who were always vanquished at the end of the movies without fail. These men were literally big men. Wayne was 6' 4" and wore a size 11 boot.

John Wayne, in the end, though, was still an actor. He was just a guy. He wasn't Rooster Cogburn. He always pounded the bad guys into the ground because that was in the script. The bad guys were paid to fall. The only bad guy he couldn't pound into the ground was the Big C. He came down with that after starring in the decidedly unmanly (and atrocious) "The Conqueror." That movie achieved legendary status of its own because it was filmed a little too close to a nuclear testing site. Many crew and cast members, including Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell, later died of cancer.

John Wayne wasn't really invincible after all.

The "real man" Du Toit yearns for never existed. He was and is only a reaction to intense fear. Du Toit is right that "we like simple." Fictionalized Superman images like Wayne and Mitchum are simple answers that, for a short time, quell those very real fears. For men like Du Toit, admitting that you are afraid is not manly. So, you create Supermen to act out that fear for you.

Or you cast actors Wayne and Mitchum together as real-life war heros Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort and Brigadier General Norman Cota in "The Longest Day" in 1962. That way, you can depict WWII in a way that makes the DuToitified men who long for those kinds of movies feel like the heros they didn't feel like when the bombs and sirens were going off around them when the war was actually going on. John Wayne strutting across the screen is much more soothing than pointless drills like "duck and cover." On the movie screen, the war lasts only about two hours, you have complete control over it, and you know who wins in the end. Can't say that about real life.

I'll tell you this much -- George aWol Bush is no Brigadier General Norman Cota.

If watching fictional Supermen doesn't help these men feel less afraid more manly, they blame women. Du Toit needs to learn that women have always been involved in "the body politic, and in industry, and the media." Some of the most powerful women throughout all of history, not merely the twentieth century, have contributed greatly to politics, industry, and media.

Under that fear also lies anger over a sense of his loss of entitlement.

While "father ruled the home, worked at his job, and voted," mother did... what? Stayed out of his way? Had sex with him when he demanded it and didn't resent it in the least? Didn't verbally "castrate" him in front of his daughter while eating breakfast cereal?

That world you yearn for never existed in real life, Dude. It's all smoke and mirrors. If men's lives were really as uncomplicated as you claim, then why do so many of them whine about it? The definition of masculinity you defend is as harmful to men as stereotypical overfeminization is to women. The problem is that rather than seek a healthy replacement for testosterone-poisoning, you want to maintain the toxic status quo. The fear of the unknown is a powerful motivator.

There's a word for a man who expects his woman to have dinner ready for him every night even if she herself worked outside the home all day. The same word applies to men who expect their women to care of the kids nearly every evening so they can hang out with the guys at the bar and watch "The Man Show." That same word applies to men who cannot understand why a woman may be offended if he leers at her, especially if he is crass enough to do it in front of his wife.

That word is "divorced."

I've seen plenty of DuToitified, angry, divorced men whine on courthouse steps, brandishing picket signs and sometimes bullhorns, complaining about an 'unfair" court system that is "biased against men." These angry men whine to state legislators that child support renders them impoverished and that they have been "castrated" by lawyers and that bitch, their ex-wives. These men constantly complain about the "pussification" of the Western male. They feel that their manhood has been degraded.

Those men do not look manly. They look pathetic. They have confused "rights" and "manhood" with "entitlement." These men are angry that they are losing their sense of entitlement.

They are not real men.

Posted on November 11, 2003 at 02:38 PM | Permalink

Comments

Good work. The great news emerging from the reaction to du Toit's whine is the number of people who regard him with complete contempt, as he deserves.

Posted by: PZ Myers at Nov 11, 2003 3:02:04 PM

I'm just figuring that out. There are a lot of posts out there dissecting his rant and showing what a pinhead he is. I'm sure there are plenty that I've missed.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Nov 11, 2003 3:34:35 PM

Great post. This is one male who finds this kind of masculine whining completely annoying. One more point about John Wayne. This icon of masculinity never served in the military and in fact avoided service. Real soldiers used to beat him up when he was filming in the South Pacific. That explains Wayne's own simplistic view of war, perhaps, but why people continue to adore him is less understandable.

Posted by: Streak at Nov 11, 2003 4:38:09 PM

Wow, Streak, I forgot about that. I now remember reading that soldiers used to beat the snot out of John Wayne in the South Pacific. Some hero.

I have a deck of "Idiot's Pursuit" cards. They're joke cards you're supposed to insert into a real "Trivial Pursuit" deck without anyone's knowledge to drive them nuts. I regularly had food thrown at me when I'd do that. This was one of the questions:

Q: What character did John Wayne play in "True Grit?"

A: Another posturing, self-righteous asshole.

Yup, that about sums it up.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Nov 11, 2003 5:04:53 PM

John Wayne once criticized Kirk Douglas for taking a role he deemed to be too effeminate: Vincent Van Gough. In reply, Kirk Douglas said: "You know ... you're not really John Wayne."

Posted by: Kerim Friedman at Nov 12, 2003 9:02:19 AM

DuToit's mention of Robert Mitchum as a "real man" made me snicker.I watched a biography of him on A&E a while ago. Apparently he was something of a poet in real life. I wonder if DuToit knows one of his idols enjoyed such a "sissy" past time.

Posted by: at Nov 12, 2003 12:47:09 PM

For what it's worth, I think DuToit's taking the piss; it's just too cartoonishly set up to be for real. My guess would be he's laughing at all the attention and enjoying his little joke.

But please, there's no need for digs at John Wayne, and certainly not at Robert Mitchum. Mitchum was a brilliant actor, a thinking man, and a genuine tough guy. John Wayne, if one must insist on reality, was a coward, a blowhard, a racist, and a number of other bad things, but he did create an image of a _fictional_ 'John Wayne' which superseded and eclipsed whoever Marion may have been. It's a fine legend, like Tarzan or James Bond, and I don't see that the 'real' John Wayne needs to be brought in to ruin it.

In any case, even if John Wayne had been 'John Wayne', and even if Robert Mitchum had not liked poetry and jazz music, DuToit's little rant would still be idiotic. From the picture on his site, he doesn't much look like Robert Mitchum, does he.

I'm pretty sure it's a joke.

Posted by: Sigmund Bjornstein at Nov 12, 2003 2:51:15 PM

That was such a breathtakingly-excellent post that no one need ever touch this subject again--but I think I may do so anyway. I'm not quite done kicking him in the groin yet. Notice I did not say "balls"--that might imply he has some.

Posted by: ilyka at Nov 13, 2003 6:04:17 AM

Well written. Throughout Christian history it is the fiction that people have fought to maintain, it is the fiction that is trumpeted as the real.

Protect us from self-knowledge!

***

Posted by: MJS at Nov 13, 2003 3:13:01 PM

Du Toit's article was humor. It was a joke. It was not to be taken seriously. He was not whining, much as you'd like him to be. Entitlement? Entitled to be left alone, maybe.

Posted by: Alan Huth at Nov 13, 2003 3:32:55 PM

Du Toit is the cheap knockoff. For the real thing, go to Phillip Wylie's Generation of Viper's, in which he rants insanely about Momism. Apparently Momism isn't instantly fatal, as Generation of Vipers was published at least 50 years ago.

Posted by: serial catowner at Nov 13, 2003 5:23:25 PM

Though I pretty much disagree with your characterization of the Du Toit rant, your post is well-written and well-reasoned.

Oh and BTW: including the fact that Bush went AWOL while he was in the National Guard
Not.

Posted by: Juliette at Nov 13, 2003 8:42:03 PM

Juliette, thanks for saying my post was well-written and well-reasoned even though you disagreed with it.

"Oh and BTW: including the fact that Bush went AWOL while he was in the National Guard. Not."

You're right that he didn't technically go AWOL, but I think you're nit-picking over semantics.

What he did was worse.

MotherJones has a time-line that details the entire sordid affair. Not only did Bush get into Yale because of Daddy's pull (his grades sucked), he was bumped to the head of the line for a National Guard post after doing poorly on the air force officer's aptitude test. He scored in the 25th percentile on the pilot aptitude test --the lowest possible passing grade. All of this was due to Daddy's power and influence. When he was transferred to the Montgomery Alabama National Guard unit (he wanted to work on the Senate campaign of a family friend), his superior Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, says he was a no-show. No one in the unit can confirm that he was ever there. There is no documentation that he was ever there. Oh, he was grounded for skipping a mandatory physical four months after the Pentagon ordered random drug testing. When he returned to Texas after the elections, he didn't tell his old unit he was back.

He was and is a spoiled rich kid who used his family's influence and power to muscle his way out of his responsibilities. That spoiled rich kid and his neo-conservative cronies now have the U. S. caught up in an ugly war.

By the way, one month after returning to Texas, he took his 16 year old brother Marvin Bush out drinking and driving. Daddy told the two of them to duke it out "mano a mano."

This guy sits in our country's driver's seat. Fasten your seat belts.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Nov 14, 2003 5:38:22 AM

I don't think du Toit was joking. He couldn't have been more serious. If you want to see someone joking about the same thing, read this. (Go to his main page and read the Abercrombie catalogue and Gollum posts. I laughed so hard blood burst from my eyes.)

I've never been a John Wayne fan, but I definitely appreciate the image he created in Hollywood. It was needed at the time. I did like Robert Mitchum, though. "Night of the Hunter" gave me a good scare. Plus, he did those "beef - it's what's for dinner" commercials. Being a certified carnivore, that gave him extra points in my book.

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Nov 14, 2003 5:51:16 AM

Du Toit, the whiner par excellence, and his drive to repeal the 19th Amendment, reminds me of the early episode of The Man Show where the hosts set up a table in a parking lot with signs for "Stop the Suffrage" and got tons of people---including lots of women---to sign petitions to end the suffrage of women. I weep for our nation.

Posted by: Aaaaargh at Nov 14, 2003 11:58:29 AM

Thanks for the link to the General; that 'liberalses' thing was brilliant!

I may be wrong, but the internet seems full of nasty little 'practical jokers' who mainly just like to annoy people, and that's how I figure our Kim. Or if I'm wrong, and he really means it, well... jeezus.

I quote:

'When women got the vote, it was inevitable that government was going to become more powerful, more intrusive, and more "protective" (ie. more coddling), because women are hard-wired to treasure security more than uncertainty and danger'

That's serious, then, is it?

Posted by: Sigmund Bjornstein at Nov 14, 2003 8:38:07 PM

Trish:

The semantics you're referring to are taken very seriously by the
military. That's who counts.

As for all of the other things you listed, maybe true, maybe
not. However, they have absolutely no bearing on whether
GWB was AWOL.

You changed the position of the goalposts, ma'am.

Posted by: Juliette at Nov 15, 2003 4:02:07 PM

"That's who counts." By this I meant the officials who officially judge a person's service record. I didn't mean to suggest that
the layman couldn't give an opnion about it.

Posted by: Juliette at Nov 15, 2003 4:06:31 PM