Masculinity is the crisis.
"Loneliness is discussed incessantly, but a discrepancy almost entirely ignored in masculinity discussions is workplace injury. Between 2003 and 2020, around 4000-5000 men died each year from workplace injuries; only around 350-400 women a year died. Men are encouraged to take dangerous jobs; women are often actively discouraged from taking them, sometimes by outright sexism. It seems likely that the absence of women in these jobs also reduces pressure on bosses and owners to maintain high standards of workplace safety."
SO MUCH THIS. I worked in industrial safety for several years- specifically, getting tech companies' physical operations up to speed with basic common-sense safety practices that have been standard for decades.
The tech bros at the top of these companies hated being told to anything to keep their staff from getting smashed, poisoned, and electrocuted on the job. There was always some excuse as to why it "just wasn't possible" or "of course we'll do it.......later!" and later never came. My impression was the people running these companies felt they "left software to do 'real' work." But they just didn't understand the hazards involved in what they imagined as "real" work. And then they found out "real" work involves a woman telling you to clean up your mess. (That was me, the industrial safety consultant they hired because their customers forced them to.) That was not their fantasy of "real" work at all.
So yeah, these tech bros were putting working-class men and women into dangerous situations to fit their fantasy of running a "real" workplace. Absolutely depraved behavior. I don't think those guys were picking it up straight from Jordan Peterson himself. But the way they threw actual men under the bus to worship at the shrine of manliness? 100% in line with what's described here.
The classic gender crisis fractured mirror: when women are in crisis, it's because they want more than they have (as in that age-old question, "Can women have it all?"); When men are in crisis, it's because they don't have what they want. A subtle but crucial distinction.
Thank you! This puts into words everything about that WaPo piece that drove me nuts.
Another reason people like fascism is that it subtly promises to overcome certain aspects of (for lack of a better word) the human condition. You’re right that it uses our culture but it can use any cultural/social elements to promise whatever that culture has taught people to want. In our culture, it is perfect security, high social status, a sense of belonging, a life partner (this they promise to incels but fascists always market to troubled young men), material abundance...Just a lack of mental discomfort. For racists, mental discomfort is caused by their own racism because they fear the other, sometimes envy them, are told they should feel guilty about racism, etc. The fascists reassures them with a promise of their superiority. For misogynists, it’s a world where women are pure mirrors without inner subjectivity, reflecting back at men whatever they want to see about themselves. (Fascism doesn’t generally appeal to people if they are not racist and misogynist.)
Fascism also promises to certain men that they will get to exercise their sadistic tendencies.
I deeply appreciate this post as it really bothers me to hear leftists like one recent podcast take the ‘crisis of masculinity’ at face value. I don’t understand how these people can be so naive! They basically take what Josh Hawley says on face value or think that these men who are stirred up should be understood on their own terms, terms that are deeply denigrating to women. Then they ask themselves things like ‘what can we, the left, do about the crisis of masculinity.’
Any sociocultural analysis of right wing thinking on the part of a leftist is going to be weak if you don’t interrogate the misogyny and the issues raised by gender, fragile masculinity, they way that masculinity is fundamentally used to control men--to get them to volunteer for the military, to be obedient workers because they cannot interrogate certain kinds of physical and emotional suffering, etc. It gives them the subordination of women as a little bon-bon but interrogating the way they are being subordinated by the ideals, and subjected to the dominance of other men in unjust hierarchies is an essential thing for so-called leftists to do. But I honestly wonder if they would not do this because then they would lost the bro audience and would not be bros. Or maybe they are simply ignorant of leftist work on race and gender. But my question is why they find it acceptable to be so ignorant when talking about things that this work is so relevant to.
Perhaps I am being unfair. But it is very disappointing to see people on the left and center fall for this BS from the right. I am extremely glad you wrote this.
Excellent essay! Dovetails nicely with this piece I just received from Jacobin from a former Peterson follower: https://jacobin.com/2023/07/alt-right-jordan-peterson-online-alienation-left-politics?mc_cid=07e7439ea9&mc_eid=cb2ceff8cc
Thank you, I’ve been asked by men to have ‘empathy’ for other men in positions of power before (which of course filled me with rage lol) but I didn’t know it was a THING! Himpathy sounds silly but really it is quite silly so maybe the name fits...
As Trump would say, “People have told me that Peterson wears red women’s underwear beneath his bespoke three piece suits.”