Photo borrowed from Francesca's Liberal Wingnut Corner
Stephen J. Ducat Dissects "Anxious Masculinity,"
Making Sense of America's Strutting, in a Psychoanalytic Kind of Way
BuzzFlash: You discuss “anxious masculinity” as exhibited by right wing America, the Bush Administration, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and George Bush. Why "anxious?" Is it that their masculinity has got to be constantly reproven?
Stephen J. Ducat: Yes. In fact, the kind of hyper-masculine strutting that we see on display by right wingers is a defense. It’s a defense against this anxious masculinity, against this fear of the feminine. In a culture in which it’s so important to deny the feminine in men, masculinity becomes a really brittle achievement. It’s quite Sisyphean--you know, you can never quite get there. You’re always having to prove it.
Part of the reason is that this type of masculinity is defined largely in terms of domination. The problem is that domination--either in a personal or a global context---can never be a permanent condition. It’s a relational state. It’s dependent on having somebody in a subordinate position. That means you could be manly today, but you’re not going to be manly tomorrow unless you’ve got somebody to push around and control, whether that is an abused wife or another country. So this kind of masculinity is really brittle.
BuzzFlash: Then peace is a threat to anxious masculinity?
Stephen J. Ducat: It’s a threat because of its link to the feminine. In fact, I have a chapter on the 19th Century, when there was enormous debate about whether the U.S. should embark on the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars. In a number of editorial cartoons, peace itself was personified as female.
BuzzFlash: To cooperate, then, is to give up one’s masculine prerogative to assert oneself as a male leader?
Stephen J. Ducat: Absolutely. In the world they live in, you’re either a top or a bottom. Mutuality, democracy, equality--that makes no sense to them.
BuzzFlash: Well, as Jon Stewart said recently in the context of the John Gannon/Jeff Guckert scandal in Washington, if you’re on top, you’re not gay. That may explain the inner circle acceptance of gays within the Republican Party, in spite of the gay-bashing national political line they give to their followers.
Stephen J. Ducat: The Republican homosexuals are not only honorary heterosexuals; they become honorary homophobes, as the most recent scandal illustrated.
Well, you get the idea. Cowboy, baby.