It concerns me that all this Nice-Guy bashing is really betraying a tendency to think small. If we are talking about self-pity and wetness, or manipulating people's sexuality by pretending to be something we are not, then fair enough. But we are all adults, we can all take care of ourselves. Manipulative and nasty people come unstuck in the end.
But I am deeply suspicious of the habit of ragging on men who show vulnerability. My charge is that under the guise of feminism, the Sex In the City generation is really doing nothing more than reaffirming archaic, and yes, Patriarchal ideals about masculinity. There is still a disgust at a man showing his underbelly. And the whole debate around 'Nice-Guys' reveals that we haven't actually gotten over any of that.
My own suspicion is that vulnerability reveals something else - flexibility. The worst thing a man can be is flexible. He must not deviate from his role as a workhorse, whether it is an intellectual workhorse or a physical one.
Misogyny and homophobia are just part of a deeper and, yes, very functional pathology. And it is a simple one. Men must know their place, they must stick to their duty, to the task at hand. Any challenge to 'gender-normativity' must necessarily intefere with these plans. Man is a political animal. Masculinity is a resource, and the ideals of masculinity are ways of controling and enforcing the effective use of that resource.
You can suss out a real feminist by how far she is willing to take the consequences of her own ideas. If she sees the liberation from gender normativity as a humanity-wide project, and she understands that the liberation of women should act as a kind of catalyst for the house of cards to collapse, then she is putting her money where her mouth is. She is a radical, and she is a true leader.
But if she is someone who thinks that the debate only reaches as far as women, then she is a Conservative in disguise. The language of liberation is being used to entrench ideals of Romanic power. Her ideas are acts of violence. Those who deny that there is any need to emancipate men from the tyrnanny of gender ideals and enslavement to social function, are really those who have their eyes on supreme power themselves. They want to turn the tables of power. They are the Mugabes and Idi Amins of feminism. When will feminism produce its very own Mandela?
So no. Nice-Guy bashing is just a secret way of entrenching gender normativity. We all need to take responsibility for our sexualities. Absolutely. Men need to explore and take the reins of their inner experience as it relates to sexuality, and they need to do it in ways that they have never done so before. The future of masculinity a radical one, and one of great soul-searching. We need to stop treating our sexualities as some internal but detached object, as if it was some beast inside of us that we don't have any control over. This is nonsense.
But much of what passes for feminism these days is a Trojan horse of gender-normalisation. Men will only be able to radicalise their sexual experiences when we all muck in to create the cultural climate for a new masculinity and a new sexuality. Until women, as much as men, take responsibility for the role they thmselves play in securing archaic gender-expectations, then we are at an impasse.
The truth is that, despite feminism, we are still a culture resistent to male vulnerability. Most women, I would charge, are reluctant to share the inner sensitivity of the male experience. To do so, would be to face to the horrifying truth of masculine psychosis, and to face up to how much they themselves are invested keeping the culture of masculinity in place. Nice-Guy bashing is just a way of covering up this tendency, dressing it in what looks like feminism. The truth is, it is nothing of the kind. It is the worst kind of conservative and reactonary agenda there is, and is dishonest to boot.
True, radical and evolved masculinity will only be able to manifest itself once we are able to embrace vulnerability in men. Once we allow them to cry, to feel, to show affection among their peers, and to express a creative charge of their own sense of self outwith the expecations of modern female sexuality. Vulnerability is not pretty. Sensitivity is not romantic. Only when men are allowed to confont their weaknesses without the fear of being shamed, will they grow into the leaders and visionaries we all need each generation of men to be.
And one note to the Liberal Reader. If you find this unacceptable, if you feel that what I am writing here is somehow just the politics of grievance, and you find yourself smugly dismissing it on those grounds, I invite you to pause. Take a look at yourself, and ask youself - is there any other reason that I might be resisting what is being offered up here? Is what is being said, really so unpalatable? Do I, myself, have a hidden agenda in discrediting all of this?
Just try it. If your conclusion is that I am still some wacko, lonely MRA nutbag, then fair enough. Maybe sometimes ignorance really is bliss.