Dealing with a Crisis
( As always this can be seen in the original context, and with he original comment threads of critical masculinities blog here )
As I've said earlier, a common refrain in contemporary discussions on masculinity is that in some form of crisis, that men have lost their way, and become in various ways, or depending who you listen to, emasculated, feminised or in some other way, less "manly". - For those interested in a readable book dealing with this mid twentieth century phenomenon - Susan Faludi's Stiffed is an interesting and informative read on the topic.
Two websites that also address the issue are the Art Of Manliness which I have been reading on and off for a year or so. The other one only came to my attention yesterday (Thanks Kate) and is called The Spearhead. (WARNING: Before clicking The Spearhead link - be advised that the content is potentially triggering and generally hateful - especially the comments)
Here is an excerpt from the AoM website - their rationale
And the equivalent section from The Spearhead website
So. These sites are quite different; AoM has a lot of lifestyle content, and talks a fair bit about dress and grooming etc. but still within the context of 'becoming a better man' - their idea of a better man is a very traditional, early twentieth century idea, and like all things nostalgic, I can see the appeal. AoM does not explicitly validate all the patriarchal, sexist etc. aspects of masculinity that we associate with that time - and it has a strong focus on empowerment, through skill building and building meaningful relationships. This article is a nice example.
Compared to this The Spearhead is, in my opinion, thinly veiled hate speech and misogyny of the worst, pseudo-objective, kind. While they deny that they are an activist website (here) I have rarely read such disgusting, inflammatory and vitriolic words on the internet or elsewhere. And while they are more explicit and overt in their hate, I think this attitude, and their rationale is increasingly common among men.
Both these sites deal with a perceived crisis (As I've already stated on this blog I tend to disagree with that concept), and there is a lot of subtextual anxiety, fear & anger on these sites. And while I disagree with the underlying ideology and thesis of both sites, it is with The Spearhead that I object to massively.
AoM, as a site, has an active community and a strong emphasis on self empowerment and behavior change. If you're going to use the internet to create and amend masculine identity AoM is a pretty good way of doing it, a broad range of content, from the lighthearted and superficial, to content relating to improving attitudes and relationships. it's not a type of masculinity I love, but I can see where it's coming from socially and it's appeal, and I think it's coming from a perspective of respect and equality.
The Spearhead on the other hand, does not attempt to rectify the perceived 'problems' through meaningful self change, preferring to espouse an easier message of opposition to all who have done them wrong, with feminists and women uppermost on that list. I am finding it difficult to come up with any more cogent analysis of that site, because it is making me so angry. So I will stop.