Are men afraid of becoming emasculated?
Which brings us to the other important text. In his recently published book "Boys don't cry", the young British journalist Jack Urwin identifies precisely these ideas of masculinity as a problem. Men are taught from an early age that being "male" means placing no value on social and emotional skills. Urwin is to the debate about the male image what Laurie Penny is to feminism. A pop activist, flippant in style, but always understandable. Often redundant, but always with impressive clarity. The image of men in our society is an inherited ailment, he writes. Men would be raised by men who cannot communicate emotionally. And that not only poisons the lives of men themselves, but also of all people who are in a relationship with them: partners, children, friends. In the English original, Urwin's book is subtitled "Surviving Modern Masculinity". And that's exactly what it's all about: survival.
For Urwin, taking risks is a symptom of toxic masculinity. Men take greater risks than women because the willingness to take risks is a male characteristic that is deeply rooted in society - even if it comes at the expense of their own lives. "Toxic masculinity," Urwin writes, "basically arises from a fear of emasculation, which is considered the worst thing that can happen to a man, so bad that we accept death to avoid it. There is no real one Equivalent for women. Why? Because they are already at the bottom of the hierarchy. Men fear emasculation, because it means they fall all the way down and become equal to women. "
Fear, as a great and in the end perhaps the only driving force behind human trade, reappears. Fear of unemployment, fear of loss of meaning, fear of social decline. This is about men who are no longer where they once were. And who therefore have the feeling that something must have been taken away from them. Their answer is to withdraw into the role of victim and to reflect on a traditional concept of masculinity.
The remasculinization can be felt everywhere - also on ZDFneo
The male crisis debate is not all about gender roles. Behind this is the fundamental question of which society we want to live in. And while the one camp stubbornly underlines the productivity of men as the highest good in a performance society and invokes old virtues, the progressive position strives to improve the coexistence of all by not reducing the man to his active-productive role.
The masculinity crisis is not a steelworker problem. Remasculinization can be felt everywhere. On the wild magazine covers at the station kiosk. In the wood-paneled barbershops of the big cities. And, more moderately, on ZDFneo. You saw there recently in the panel discussion Schulz & Böhmermannhow deep the feeling of male insecurity runs. So deep that even an anti-macho man like Olli Schulz asks in a round on the subject of sexism whether he can still make a dick joke - or whether it is sexist. The problem is not the dick joke at all.
The problem lies rather in this perceived prohibition, in the fact that Schulz believes that he should no longer make dick jokes because it would forbid him to have any higher moral and more politically correct authority. Of course he is allowed to. Whether it enriches the discussion at this point is another question. Because this one-will-still-be-allowed-to-say-yes-indignation asserts a fight that is not waged that way. It draws boundaries where there are none.
Societies and their structures are changing. This has implications for people's lives and roles. Change creates uncertainty. From real unemployment to vague fears of relegation to the supposedly forbidden dick joke. It is in this zeitgeist of fear that remasculinization and renationalization meet. We withdraw into gender roles and boundaries that we thought we left behind long ago. In our perception, we make ourselves victims where there are no victims, only responsible people, men and women.
"The ultimate goal of feminism is to achieve gender equality in all aspects of our lives," writes Jack Urwin in his book. "And then there would be no more emasculation. If we men are no longer above women in the hierarchy, we cannot fall either." Perhaps one day we will understand the demand for gender equality as a project for a better society - for both men and women. Perhaps we will then understand that it is not about identities and genders, but about the struggle of the haves against the haves. And maybe then we will understand that some have to fall a little so that the others can rise.
At the end of the year we present the editors' favorite texts, the 17 from 2017. You can find all the stories on this page.
- Because it just couldn't be
Donald Trump's election victory came as a shock to many. A year later, our author wonders why, as a US correspondent, he didn't see this turning point coming.
- We are who we are? No, stupid san mia
On numerous trips abroad, SZ editor Max Scharnigg has seen many cities - and became increasingly dissatisfied with his hometown Munich. He has now vented his frustration.
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