Monday, February 20, 2006

The Trouble With Boys (Soldiers, Poets and Theory, Oh My!)

What's wrong with men?

It's a very valid question, considering the fact that they kind of, you know, run more or

less everything. And, as has been pointed out, a fine mess they*'ve got us into. ("They" and

"us" being fairly nebulous concepts in this case, given that I am in face of a masculine

persuasion - there's a distinction to be made here between people who are phenotypically male

and males who define themselves fully by a societal conception of their gender role. A

differentiation between "men" and "gentlemen", if you like, although the reality tends to

differ from the etymology rather).
Right. Society is a self-perpetuating system, in that it reproduces the image of its subjects

into the next generation. What I mean by this is that the reason you fit into society is not

that it is designed for you, rather that its dictates have shaped aspects of your persona. So

far, so simple. This can be seen incredibly obviously in the choice of playthings we give

children. All little girls grow up to be mothers, so we give them plastic imitations of

children and household objects to train them for this role. Equally, we give little boys toy

guns and military uniforms, because all little boys... Hang on a minute.
The first statement is evil, anti-feminist and Wrong. However, the role of wifehood is more

or less achievable to women. (Slightly more sane note: Unless they're gay, asexual,

individualist, etc, but bear with me here.).
However, in a fairly non-militarised culture, we bring young boys up to be soldiers. Some of

these young boys can go on to fulfil their goal, and join one of the various

uniformed-forces-that-kill-people in their respective countries. Everyone else has to live in

a supposedly civilised society where you have to make your own decisions and try not to kill

people (unless you're in the Cabinet). So, in the simplest figuring, as a man you're either

trapped in a societally-approved and lethal childhood fantasy, or wishing you were.

So, Binky the Cheap-Suited Corporate Drone in middle-management wishes he was out on a

battlefield somewhere, blowing the backs of people's heads off, or, worse, he figures his

current career as if this were the case.
The problem is that this meme of men-as-soldiers is incredibly widespread, and it's not

restricted to simply to people who buy into societal concepts of gender. It's almost

tediously common for men in counter-cultural positions to figure themselves as soldiers or

rhetoric as warfare (look at the archives and you'll see how often I do it myself). To think

of yourself as a soldier in a war against the forces of conformity shores up the reactionary

paradigm of discourse and discussion as warfare. To a certain extent, for the polemicist to

represent hirself as a soldier is useful: a soldier is a utilitarian humanoid who is trained

to perform a task adequately, but is ultimately replaceable. This, then, is useful, but

ultimately anti-individualist. Therefore, it looks like we need another archetype to adopt for maximum cultural impact. Perhaps the poet symbol might work, given that it is the diametric opposite of the soldier. The poet is aesthetic, super-sensitive, artistic and irreplaceable. However, this archetype is seen by society as effete and irrelevant, and any polemic produced from this figure can be pigeonholed as "artistic" or otherwise not true. My suggestion is that a fusion of the two as a symbol would be the most efficacious. The polemicist should be a solder-poet; a sensitive figure that is fully capable of doing battlle in a rhetorical arena, an individual figure that is part of a wider ideological movement and so can't be dismissed on hir own... In other words, FORWARD THE LEGION OF DOOMED POETS!


At 4:47 pm, Blogger Sable X. Veins said...

Your concern is astute. However, I think this disgusting molding of kids may be in decline.

Note gradually dwindling numbers of army/navy/marine/airforce cadets; the gradual shift of cadet forces away from recruitment; the crippled and fading nature of that repulsive, monarchistic, moralistic, quasi-militaristic child-mold, the Scouts.

Note the apparent disappearance of GI Joe and Action Man from shelves, and the promising development in the latter's senility of fighting evils such as global pollution, personified by Dr. X, whom I once threw at (and with whom I once struck) a pigeon.

All that is required is a conscious effort to introduce equality of role-training. Many parents are coming close, encouraging their girls to put on football boots and boys to get into jazz shoes. As studies have demonstrated (and indeed, why should it be any other way?), babies are quite happy to play with Anything whether it is for little boys or little girls. Boys can't give birth, but there's no reason why they can't do the rest of "mothers'" duties.

Stop giving kids guns and soldiers (tennis rackets and football cards are ideal alternatives), and ensure that little boys get to play with toy kitchens and dolls. They may have to fight against societal preconceptions and media-reinforced gender roles in their later infancy, when they start school, but the education system and the media are other Problems altogether.

At 5:26 pm, Blogger Withiel said...

EDIT: This article is n ot finished yet. At the moment, I am drunk, so later today the other 500 words will be added.

At 7:47 pm, Blogger Talyn said...

The problem is that many parents consider themselves to have screwed up as a father or mother should their child turn out to be gay or lesbian, often respectively.

At 7:50 pm, Blogger Talyn said...

EDIT: Gay/lesbian not even need to refer to their sexuality. Simply if they grow up and don't play football or wear comfortable shoes when they go out. "Why isn't my son playing drinking beer like the rest of us?" etc.

At 12:12 am, Blogger Sable X. Veins said...

Ah, my comment is thrust into near-irrelevancy by your edit.

Well, I like your concept - but is it right to redefine society as poets any more than it is to define them as soldiers? Well, yes, but surely mass-role definition is also Wrong?

Answer yourself.

At 1:11 am, Blogger Sable X. Veins said...

Also, I assumed that the queer line-break structure of you updated article was an attempt to enverse it; however, a brief syllabic and sensical analysis makes this seem unlikely.

Might I suggest you explain yourself, or fix it?


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