There is this new wave of concern, maybe an overwhelming fear, a cry from conservatives pointing to the crisis of masculinity. From the likes of Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate – men who capitalize on the patriarchies’ structure and prey on impressionable young men – have created a movement that claims that the true victims of the world are the ‘hardworking, traditional men’, who have been pushed aside by feminism, queer movement, and the so-called “woke agenda”. While I completely disagree that men are being socially displaced on the basis of their gender, I cautiously agree there is a crisis of masculinity, and that this crisis is a call for celebration.
A small, theoretical lesson: The Abject Women
In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Julia Kristeva introduced the theory of abjection – or the abject – which is a thing, concept, or event that threatens our notion of “borders, positions, [and] rules”. According to Kristeva, the abject ultimately threatens our “identity, order, [and] system”, evoking a sense of disturbance, horror, and rejection. An example Kristeva uses is human filth and waste as abject, as it is something unclean that comes from humans, something that should be clean. Because human waste threatens our idea that we as humans are clean, disturbs the trope of the clean self, it creates intense rejection and horror.
Applying this to a more complex system like gender, in Women as Abject: Resisting Cultural and Religious Myths That Condone Violence against Women, Elaine Lawless points to social rejection of the female identity as a whole, positioning women as abject. Lawless argues while men are seen as clean, pure and rational, beings who are the standard and the object, women are the opposite. Throughout history, women have been depicted as unclean, sinful, and irrational, beings that disrupts standards and boundaries, a being who is abject. Through this portrayal of women being abject, as a group that threatens morals and standards, it has become a tool to perpetuate social, political, and economic oppression.
One might think that the solution to end this oppression is to expand our notions and boundaries, so that women can fit into them. But actually, feminist and queer movements have done something different, something better. These movements have reclaimed their abject position, and have worked together in not expanding the boundaries, but demanding for them to be disrupted, a call for fluidity.
So why should we celebrate the crisis of masculinity?
I will be honest, the title of this piece is partially to just be controversial and provocative, but there is still truth to it. With the work from feminist and queer groups in helping create a world that is not defined by boundaries, and slowly tearing these boundaries down, this crisis of masculinity seems to be a hint that it is working. If the group that is meant to be the standard, the group used to define the boundaries, is beginning to doubt their masculinity, it means that the boundaries are crumbling. So while men like Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate pretend to be concerned about the men they claim are being left behind, they are really just scared that there is a future where the boundaries that protect them will disappear and they will have to face consequences for their actions.
So what next? Are you a man that is feeling the crisis of masculinity? Feeling a little bit lost, and out of place? Great, now you have room to grow and explore yourself, to learn who you are outside of a restrictive boundary. It is time to join the rest, and become an abject man.
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