Tag: Masculinity Page 2 of 3

God, Ultimate Alpha Male

In a new book, Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression, Hector A. Garcia explores the similarities between the ideas of God in the Abrahamic religions, and the mechanisms primate communities in general use to establish a social dominance hierarchy.


It should come as no surprise that these parallels are enough to fill a book.  One telling excerpt:

Foot kissing, a behavior observed widely in primatology, is another way submissive monkeys and apes demonstrate acquiescence to dominant members of their societies. This behavior carries forward to human societies that are highly rank structured, such as monarchies. For instance, kissing the king’s foot has always been synonymous with supplicant behavior — e.g., showing him extreme deference, begging for his mercy, or even recognizing that he represents God.

Christ — who is sometimes referred to as Christ the King — is also greeted with foot-kissing, as are his proxies. At the Basilica in Rome stands a large bronze statue of St. Paul, built in the fifth century. Though the statue has stood stalwart now for fifteen centuries its feet have been worn thin by the lips of pilgrims. There was even a custom in the Catholic Church of kissing the feet of the pope. The custom was actually made into law by Pope Gregory VII in his Dictatus Papae (Dictates of the Pope).

Many have observed what a stunning coincidence it is that the god people worship always seems to share their prejudices.  Well, it seems the similarities are more fundamental than that.  By declaring a conveniently invisible being the real apex of the hierarchy, the alphas of the pack can enjoy more of the benefits of being the alphas and at the same time, diffuse some of the responsibility for any unpopular rules.  Hey, it wasn’t my idea, {Elohim|Yahweh|Allah} said to do it.

Voltaire famously said, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”  Consider this as a conditional statement in Boolean logic,  A→B (read, “If A then B” or “A implies B”).  A statement like this can be true in one of two ways: if A is true and B is also true, then the whole statement is true.  Or if A is false, it does not matter what B is; the statement is still considered true.

The second case, where A is false, makes sense from a pure logic point of view but is unsatisfying from the point of view that it simply does not add much to our knowledge of the world.  Certainly not in comparison to the first case.

So the nonexistence of gods required the invention of same.  And the inspiration for the attributes of a god, one that was in any way useful to its inventors, came from the exact attributes that could make one ape higher in the pecking order than another.  Or as it has been put most succinctly, Man created God in his image.

via Friendly Atheist 

Not meant to offend

A Knoxville, TN church put up this sign and then had the temerity to be shocked that someone would take it the wrong way.

In the news story Andy Henry was quoted as saying, “It’s clearly a sign that was meant to offend a particular community – the LGBT community. Because of (the church’s) lack of foresight, they ended up offending everybody who had ever fought for equality or civil rights in general.”  After the yelling started, the church changed the sign to say, “Didn’t mean to offend.”  And of course it was never going to offend the white, straight cis-gendered Christian men who make decisions at a place like Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle.

Still, isn’t that the message of patriarchal religions and all patriarchal systems?  There cannot be an upper class/caste/race/gender without there being a corresponding lower.  Demanding that the playing field be leveled in any way is Evil.

Movie Plot Threats

Bruce Schneier runs this annual contest called the Movie Plot Threat contest.  The idea is to poke fun at the way a lot of “security” is done, where instead of reducing real components of vulnerability like attack surface or complexity, people concoct insanely specific scenarios and then expensively harden one thing against just that scenario.  What we get then is a very sexy and salable solution that reduces residual risk so little it’s well within the error bars.  Many, many tax dollars will be poured into it.

So without further ado, here’s a movie plot:

Gary William Baker works for the Facilities department at LAX.  He leads a typical, unremarkable, slightly sad single life.   

He’s at work on 2001-09-11 at 05:30.  He’s vacuuming a gate area when the first plane hits the tower at 05:47 local time.  Not many people in the airport but of course they start to freak out a little. 

At around 06:30 he and some passengers are huddled in a food court area waiting for official word of what to do next.  An A/C unit on the roof throws a bearing and makes a bad noise for a moment, then quits.  Gary goes to look at it and comes back with a story (that he might actually believe, a little) about how there was someone tampering with it and they ran away when he showed up.  It was just a shadow… but no matter. 

Gary becomes a minor hero to this scared little group of people.  He gets on the local news for 45 seconds, but is quickly forgotten by most.  Still, he has this bit of minor celebrity especially around the airport.  As an institution, LAX may be a little jealous about being otherwise completely uninvolved in the events of that day.  So they play along for what it’s worth. 

Five years later he’s supervisor of Facilities, he’s married, he has a better car and they’re expecting a baby.  All this success was seeded by his minor dollop of fame on 9/11. 

There’s a five-year anniversary commemoration planned at the airport and he’s going to be a major player in it.  Telling and retelling his story of course now he’s the one who fought off the band of a dozen terr’ists (he cannot pronounce “terrorist” correctly to save his life) who were going to sabotage all the HVAC at LAX and gas everyone.  Or something.

OK, this needs an ending.  Obviously this whole “structure” of his life will continue to inflate until it pops — because that’s how things like this work in movies.  In real life, we can hope for a softer landing.  But it’s no sure thing; there’s always that part of us that just wants to keep capitalizing on hero-fantasies until things fall completely apart.

Drunk dad advice

This Kids in the Hall video is unserious, but it makes some serious points.

Chad doesn’t know where they’re going, but he knows.  He’s being fitted for his own little manbox, and he can’t say it’s unexpected — he’s been shown this box since he was no older than 5, maybe younger.  His dad gets “pathetically drunk” because drinking = manhood.  Men make fire.  Men are the ones who know about money.  Men don’t care about pain. Pick a stereotype, it’s in there.

Chad isn’t happy about his box but he’s not offered much choice.  It’s his family tradition, after all.  And now he feels a lot older….

Prisoner of the Manbox

The manbox does not give up its captives lightly.  Consider Andrew O’Hagan, who wrote this tragic piece for the NY Times magazine a couple weeks ago.  O’Hagan has got the weepies, he’s got ’em bad.  He’s not allowed to smoke or absorb other carcinogens or eat bags of doughnuts anymore.  He sits in his Ford F-Series truck and cries.  Why?  Because his friends who are actors care if they look good.  After all, it’s not like that matters, for an actor!

Vanity and grooming are neutering men, he tells us.  I guess he means that men are literally being castrated in the interest of looking nice.  You’d think there’d be more news coverage of something like that.  As for me, I’ve decided to hang on to mine; I guess that means I will go on looking like a troll.

Obviously only women should care about their looks, or cleanliness, or health.  Because, isn’t it by their looks that we evaluate women?  (hint: It is)  The last thing we need to be doing is feminizing men by considering anything that matters to a woman might also matter to a man.

No, O’Hagan bemoans the fact that he’s not waking up daily with a hangover, and this is causing him to lose his “masculine solidity.”  Whatever that is.  He senses “…an explicit pressure on men to impersonate the women in their lives, and that is arguably becoming true of straight men in a way that it formerly wasn’t.”  Because grooming should be a more reliable marker of homosexuality?  Is that how he knows which guys are not going to hit on him… by the earwax?

All snark aside, I find it increasingly  difficult to deal with people like this, whose entire sense of self and premise for reacting to everyone around them is coming from such a pit of Victorian-grade sexism.


Disclaimer: if O’Hagan’s column was a Poe, it got me.

via The-Toast

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