An obsession with “hard” masculinity is a very old trope, but one that continues to plague us. It’s often supported by facile historical comparisons that fall apart upon closer inspection, but it remains one of the most reliable tools for manipulating men into a whole array of harmful behaviors. Self-destructive showing off, domestic abuse, abusive relationships between friends, violence, support for political “strong men”, support for war, hatred of “weakness”, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia – all the traits we currently categorize as “toxic masculinity” tend to be supported by the notion that being a “hard man” is a good thing, and being not that is a bad thing. I think this Lonerbox video is a good companion piece to Thought Slime’s earlier look at the same topic, from a different angle. The reality is that this psuedo-historical “ancient wisdom” is both a-historical and (in my opinion) instrumental in creating hard times.
Marcus Ranum says
The photographer in me saw that picture and immediately changed it to “hard lighting makes hard men.” If you light Rogan with straight on porn-lighting he looks like a schmoo with tattoos.
Marcus Ranum says
Oh, and I’m not sure what about traveling around in a limo and flying first class then pumping iron in a hotel’s gym is “hard man” stuff. Don’t real hard men walk about with swords, fighting at the crossroads? Or riding on horses wearing armor? Or, no, fuck that – real hard men walk around with their horse on their back. For fuck’s sake.
Joseph Zowghi says
It’s interesting, too, when talking about the fall of Rome and the other cultures that gave them a major kick in the ass, people almost never mention the Persians. Yes, I’m probably a bit biased in this regard, but when a single Persian emperor defeats three Roman emperors in a row, you’d think people would remember that. I suppose it gets forgotten because “Equally large, powerful, and sophisticated empire giving the Romans a black eye” doesn’t square very well with the narrative of “Hardscrabble tough guys humiliating the decadent, effete Roman snobs.”