OK, I'll bite :p Bit of the Devil's Advocate here.Looking at the cartoon, I don't see anything approaching a normal man. In fact, I don't know a single man who looks like that, and I've spent most of my adult life around Marines. The cartoon is a charicature of a man - one with physical characteristics exaggerated to suggest an arguably unhealthy end state that generally only comes about artificially (as when a body builder takes steroids).Kind of bizarre, juxtaposed with Trump, who doesn't look anything like that physically. He's very overweight and if anything, looks like he's allowed himself to go to seed. It takes discipline and focus to develop yourself in this way.So what is being suggested here? I don't think they're trying to associate the GOP with normal masculinity. 99% of males - perhaps higher - don't look anything like that, and couldn't even if they tried to. They're trying to associate it with an unnatural and unbalanced, overdeveloped masculinity most people associate with socially undesirable things like 'roid rage, mood swings, loss of impulse control, hyperaggressive behavior, bullying, etc.Question: is that intended as an insult? Yep - I'm pretty sure it is. Is that how conservatives want to view themselves? I'm pretty sure it's not. Do liberals hate/fear normal, garden variety masculinity so much that - to them - it looks grotesque, scary, unnatural?Eh - possibly :pBut there's an actual interesting question here: if this isn't an insult (but rather a back handed compliment), is that the image the GOP wants to project?
I don't think they're trying to associate the GOP with normal masculinity. 99% of males - perhaps higher - don't look anything like that, and couldn't even if they tried to.You may be underestimating what they could do if they tried, but I'll give you that they don't. I would say that if you asked the average man if he'd rather look like this, or if he'd prefer to be shaped more like a pear, he would pick this. Most men may not look strong, but almost any man would like to do. Most men may look a bit soft around the middle, but they probably wish that they didn't. That makes this a strange insult -- it plays into Trump's mythic language of wish-fulfillment quite well. A worse and more accurate insult might be to draw the Trump voter as a fat man looking into a mirror, and seeing himself like this. But the real give-away for me is the label "Testosterone." This is treating the natural hormone most prominent in males as if it were something to fear and hate. (An aside: I don't know how much the artist knows, but this isn't a steroid body -- what steroids do for you is allow you to get the deep "cuts" that you see in bodybuilders, because on steroids you can gain muscle mass while also losing fat. Normally that's nearly impossible to do: you need to eat so much to build big muscles that you're going to have a layer of fat as well. To get 'cut,' bodybuilders will then go through a starvation/dehydration phase, during which they inevitably lose some of the muscle, too. This cartoon guy is lifting heavy, but he's doing it honestly through hard work -- although, again, I don't know if the artist knows enough about strength sports to know that.)
I disagree that the cartoon doesn't look like someone who uses steroids. Yes, steroids *can* allow a person who also diets to look cut, but steroids alone won't make a person look cut. And there are tons of men who use them who get big muscles that are covered with a layer of fat.It would be very hard for most men to grow muscles of that size without using steroids. So, hard work + (unnatural) drugs.As for testosterone, I suppose I have a different view of it. It's one hormone of many, and when present in too large amounts, it acts as a poison on the body. So an overabundance of testosterone (same with estrogen) is not a "healthy" end state.I completely agree that much of the Left hates and fears masculinity, but as you have written many times, masculinity in and of itself can be an enormously destructive force (I'm reminded of your dangerous old man post, or of the eponymous tale about reintroducing mature male elephants to keep rampaging young bull elephants in line).FWIW, I don't view tons of estrogen as a good thing either. That's not a natural state, and both hormones tend to undermine rational thinking and self control. We're not animals - we're humans. We're *supposed* to develop our minds and spiritual strength to keep our base natures in check.What this cartoon suggests to me is a lack of balance (overgrowth of otherwise beneficial bacteria is well known to cause problems in nature, overgrowth of hormones causes health problems in both sexes, overgrowth of invasive species disrupts ecosystems). This seems like a point that - absent the political slant - is a valid one. Not defending the cartoon, but one thing I'm seeing a lot everywhere I look is the motivated reasoning that comes from attacking the other team or defending your own. Both the cartoon and the reaction to it are designed to satisfy the defend/attack impulse.I say this, because I see this short-circuiting of reason in myself. The anti-Trump attacks are often so idiotic and shameless that my natural reaction is to counter them reflexively (leaving me - too often - feeling somewhat manipulated). I don't want to commit the obvious compensating error ("a pox on both their houses"!) either. But I do find myself resistant to jumping on either bandwagon.Though I have a decided preference, should bandwagon jumping opportunities arise, to jump on the bandwagon taking the righthand road :p
...all of which leads me to the question my Democrat friend and I have been asking each other for the last 9 months or so:"How do people of good conscience make sense of all this nastiness? How do we defend our own values, and see things clearly (as opposed to filtered through a partisan lens)?"I am finding it very difficult when my emotions are so strongly engaged and my first impulse is ALWAYS to defend my own side.
Bearing in mind that I'm one of the men who does look sort of like this, and my testosterone is attested by my baldness as well as my musculature. Yet I don't find in these things anything that leads me to the abuses to which Trump himself too often inclines. Strength and masculinity are sources of confidence, and confidence permits grace, manners, kindness. Confidence does this because it disables fear. The social harmony post you're citing is about that, too. The bull elephant can restrain the younger ones because he's strong and wise. The old men don't restrain the young if they're weak or easily mocked, but because the young men see in them something they want to emulate. They have to choose the model for it to work, which means it has to be something they want to become:The question is how to move these young men from the first group (violent and predatory) into the second (violent, but protective). This is to ask: what is the difference between a street gang and the Marine Corps, or a thug and a policeman? In every case, we see that the good youths are guided and disciplined by old men. This is half the answer to the problem.But do we not try to discipline and guide the others? If we catch them at their menace, don't we put them into prisons or programs where they are monitored, disciplined, and exposed to "rehabilitation"? The rates of recidivism are such that we can't say that these programs are successful at all, unless the person being "rehabilitated" wants and chooses to be. And this is the other half of the answer: the discipline and guidance must be voluntarily accepted. The Marine enlists; the criminal must likewise choose to accept what is offered.The Eastern martial arts provide an experience very much like that of Boot Camp. The Master, like the Drill Instructor, is a disciplined man of great personal prowess. He is an exemplar. He asks nothing of you he can't, or won't, do himself--and there are very many things he can and will do that are beyond you, though you have all the help of youth and strength. It is on this ground that acceptance of discipline is won. It is the ground of admiration, and what wins the admiration of these young men is martial prowess.The right should certainly not be a party that is only for men, or only for strong men. But it is good to aspire to strength and not weakness, confidence and not fear, the honor of being an admirable figure for emulation and not otherwise. Those are desirable things, and not only the individual but the society has reason to hope that fully adult men will attain to them.
I think you're asking me to defend a position that I have not staked out here :pBearing in mind that I'm one of the men who does look sort of like this, and my testosterone is attested by my baldness as well as my musculature. Yet I don't find in these things anything that leads me to the abuses to which Trump himself too often inclines.Are you on steroids? Or is your physique more within the normal limits for men? I know quite a few very muscular men, but I still do not know anyone with proportions as exaggerated as this cartoon.If you're not on steroids and your testosterone levels are not being artificially elevated, then you're not what I'm talking about.The point I'm making is that what is conjured up by this cartoon is the very antithesis of self-control. And Trump himself is not known for self control (though he does project a more masculine image than most politicians). So we have a display of strength/aggression without the balancing display of discipline.That's my point. I don't see how talking about people who don't fit the cartoon's image in any way refutes it (nor do I see how citing your post, which seems to be arguing my position) does.
I think we disagree about whether this is an image of steroid use (which I don't think it is -- the shirt doesn't say "steroids," after all). The what you are reading as evidence of artificial inflation looks to me like an ordinary weightlifter, drawn in caricature. In that case, you're reading this as evidence of something wicked; to me, it looks like a guy who takes keeping his body in order seriously.Or is your physique more within the normal limits for men? Well, I'm not the best judge of that. But a buddy of mine who does strongman competitions and I have been following the same exercise program for a while (although its structured at percentages -- so his "80% of deadlift max" is quite a bit more than mine). No drugs, to be sure: just lots of protein, and lots of work.
Valerie, being a little bit sideways,I think you two are assuming 'way, 'way too much knowledge on the part of both the cartoonist and the target audience. Remember the article by the guy who went to the firing range and got all intimidated by the kick of a weapon that has no kick? This is similar.I've been immersed in the culture of the East Coast self-styled intellectual elite, and I know this is supposed the be a picture of exactly the kind of guy that exhibits 'road rage. My ex was a modest size large (a whole 5' 10") with a medium build. He was a tennis player, with the typical, stringy tennis player's physique. His brother, giving the excuse why he did not lift weights, said that he "did not want to become muscle-bound like his brother." There was a huge push from the Democrats to mischaracterize the Republican Party as exclusively uneducated, angry white men. They did their best to convince the gullible that was true, and used a lot of shaming and fake posters with fake arguments in public fora.And yet, Trump won over more minorities, women, and educated folk than the last Republican candate.So, the Republican Party is not a monoculture.Valerie
Heh. Maybe you're right. The effect of that psychology is visible. To return to Cass' note that most Marines don't look like this -- that's a choice that the Marine Corps made. They elected to adopt a strict BMI height/weight standard, without the exceptions that the Army (for example) uses. Bodybuilders/powerlifters/strongmen of any kind put on enough muscle, which weighs more than fat per cubic inch, to be outside the acceptable BMI range. A mutual friend of ours had a son in the Corps with the nickname "Arms," who had to abandoned weightlifting for bodyweight exercises because of trouble making weight. The Marines are a lot smaller than they used to be because of a decision about 'what a man should look like' in terms of weight. Indeed, unlike the Marines I knew as a youth, the Marines I met in Iraq were always the smallest guys you'd ever encounter in uniform. That's the effect of a choice made by somebody about what a Marine should look like, rather than a disability among Marines to grow muscles. I wonder if it contributes to that downstream effect among the left-leaning civilian population of finding muscular "manly" guys disturbing.
Grim, I may well be misreading your responses, but it seems to me that you're taking things I'm saying personally in a a way they were never meant to be.For example, I had no thought in my head of Marines being either "small" or "unable to grow muscles", and yet you write this:That's the effect of a choice made by somebody about what a Marine should look like, rather than a disability among Marines to grow muscles. I wonder if it contributes to that downstream effect among the left-leaning civilian population of finding muscular "manly" guys disturbing.Also the para right above that. It's not clear to me that - absent height/weight standards, the average Marine would look anything like this.Muscular? Sure. Fit? Sure. But this isn't an "average" physique - it's one that requires almost professional dedication and/or drugs.To develop muscles as large as the guy in the photo requires a ton of work. And frankly, most people have no desire to look like that. The cartoon represents an extreme, so I don't understand why you're discussing it as though it's just an "ordinary weightlifter" (drawn in charicature - which is basically exaggeration :p).Anabolic steroids are essentially synthetic testosterone. We can disagree over whether the cartoon is meant to evoke steroid use (I still think it is, both because of the popular association between steroids and body building and the extremely overdeveloped physique of the cartoon character, but we can agree to disagree).But there's really no stigma in my mind attached to NOT looking like that cartoon. I don't consider that look at all attractive, any more than I consider the Barbie doll look attractive. I like men to look like men, but bodybuilders with extreme proportions don't look natural to me. Strength is attractive; looking musclebound, not so much.
Okay, just chiming on to be a nitpicky critic on both sides- "I don't know how much the artist knows, but this isn't a steroid body -- what steroids do for you is allow you to get the deep "cuts" that you see in bodybuilders, because on steroids you can gain muscle mass while also losing fat"-GrimSteroids come in all flavors. Some do just that, others mainly reduce inflammation (prednisone), some encourage recovery at faster than normal pace without the accelerated growth (like pro cyclists used to, or probably still use). I'm sure there are plenty of others."But this isn't an "average" physique - it's one that requires almost professional dedication and/or drugs."- CassTrue, not average, but there are probably around the seventh percentile give or take, of men that are pretty close, at least when they're younger and fitter. They tend to round out when they get older. Often they're Nordic, as they dominate the upper body strength world. I think of the father/son duo of Paul Teutul Sr and Jr. as pretty exemplary of this type(just google image search "Paul Teutul sr jr"). I don't know about Jr. but Senior was a Merchant Marine sailor, an iron worker, and lifts. To my eye, he does not appear to be a steroid user (looking primarily for the enlarged skull and face features and neck pockmarkcing). He (and Jr.) seem to fit this body type fairly well, excluding a little cartoon caricature as to be expected, so certainly these men exist and not at some highly rarified level.Nitpicks over.
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