How obsession with "masculinity" twists our politics
Digby (from July 2005):
[...] our dominant political discourse is comprised of people like Rush Limbaugh calling others "wimps and sissies" for not supporting the torture policies he loves, and people like Joe Lieberman wanting to start new wars because they think it is a way that they become "powerful," and "journalists" like Chris Matthews, on a nightly basis, deciding who the best presidential candidates are based upon who emanates the strongest cigar odors from their bodies.None of this is about psychoanalyzing anyone. Unfortunately, all of this comes explicitly from their own mouths, and is tragically unavoidable. And there is simply no way to understand our degraded political discourse and the radical militarism of the last six years without thinking about these twisted character traits, which their carriers tout quite overtly and even proudly.
We are dealing with a group of right wing glory seekers who chose long ago to eschew putting themselves on the line in favor of tough talk and empty posturing --- the Vietnam chickenhawks and their recently hatched offspring of the new Global War On Terrorism. These are men (mostly) driven by the desire to prove their manhood but who refuse to actually test their physical courage. Neither are they able to prove their virility as they are held hostage by prudish theocrats and their own shortcomings. So they adopt the pose of warrior but never actually place themselves under fire. This is a psychologically difficult position to uphold. Bullshitting yourself is never without a cost.Harsh words. But there has to be some explanation for why Republicans are falling all over themselves to prove how ready to torture, invade, and bomb (McCain being something of an exception, though his desire to kiss up to the Republican establishment often seems to outweigh his abhorrence of torture).
[W]e are seeing much of the same pathology among younger warhawks as well. This is why we hear the shrill war cries of inchoate bloodlust from these quarters every time the terrorists strike. It's a primal scream of inner confusion and self-loathing. These are people whose highest aspirations and deepest longings are wrapped up in their masculinity, and yet they are flaccid failures. They are in a state of arrested development, never having faced their fears, never becoming men, remaining boys standing in the corner of the darkened hallway watching Bill Clinton emerge from a co-ed's dorm room to lead a rousing all night strategy session --- and sitting in the bus station on the way home for Christmas vacation as Chuck Hagel and John Kerry in uniform, looking stalwart and strong, clap each other on the back in brotherly solidarity and prepare to see what they are really made of. They have never been part of anything but an effete political movement in which the stakes go no higher than repeal of the death tax.