The Family Research Council’s “new masculinity”


Feminist backlash: Better than spinach!
Via Wendy Norris at RH Reality Check, we find out that the Christian conservative think tank Family Research Council wants dudes to be more manly. Apparently, the way men become more manly is by fighting back against feminism.

According to the seminar description on “The New Masculinity,” Pat Fagan, senior fellow and director of FRC’s Center for Family and Religion, will discuss how “feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new ‘masculinism’ right.”

What always strikes me as odd about conservative discussions of masculinity is how closely they’re tied with feminism and a fear of all things ‘woman’. As if the only way to be a “man” is to not be a woman. This oppositional definition of masculinity not only seems to give men a pretty short shrift, but also just furthers misogyny. (It reminds me a lot of Stephen Ducat’s great book, The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity and its discussion of femiphobia.)
Seriously, why is it that conservative masculinity is completely dependent on misogyny and keeping women in their supposed place? How many purity balls, dates with Dad and anti-feminism diatribes does one need before you feel like a “man”?

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31 Comments

  1. Captiver
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Funny (or not), but in doing research for a book, I came across this just today (below) from Billy Graham in 1970 showing, among other things, that these guys (!) can’t come up with anything new and, in what I think is kind of good news, that they’ve been fighting and blaming feminism forever because they just can’t seem to kill it off:
    NY dateline, 24 Nov. 1970 (Wire Services): “Evangelist Billy Graham today told militant feminists that women should stick to their God-given roles as wives, mothers and home-makers. Writing in the latest issue of the ‘ladies Home Journal’ Dr Graham said he believed the Women’s Liberation Movement was ‘an echo of our overall philosophy of permissiveness. Eve’s biological role was to bear children … her romantic role was to love her husband … her vocational role was to be the second in command,’ he wrote. {ellips in original]. Dr Graham said that after talking with hundreds of American women, ‘I am convinced that the overwhelming majority want to remain feminine – and to be what they were meant to be.’”

  2. nestra
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused about what’s so abhorrent about the Date with Dad article. Dads spending one-on-one time with their daughters, doing things she wants to do, without being connected to the pda or cellphone is a bad thing?
    The times my father took me out by myself, for specially planned, highly anticipated events, are some of my dearest memories and the main times we were able to talk together without siblings or work interfering. Those are the times we talked about sex, education, expectations, religion, and everything else that there just wasn’t time for in our lower working class, just hoping to get everyone fed and dressed, household. They were so important to me that I make sure to schedule similar times with my own children.

  3. Jessica
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Dads spending time with their daughters, naturally. I just think that there’s a way to do it that doesn’t invoke the language of “dating.” Why does everything a dad does with this daughter have to be about modeling a future romantic relationship? To me, that’s just wrong.

  4. llevinso
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I too just go out one on one with my dad to the movies and dinner and other things (we love playing golf together) but I don’t think that’s what Jessica is saying is the problem. It’s phrasing them like romantic dates with Dad. That’s creepy.

  5. Citizen Lane
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    They have a weird fetish for masculinity. It must be all that repressed homosexuality. They’d probably be a lot happier and less angry at women if they realized that there’s nothing wrong or unnatural with homosexual feelings and embraced a fuller spectrum of human sexuality.
    Also, dating your daughter is creepy and wrong. Just sayin’, in my neck of the woods, people go to jail for that.

  6. norbizness
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, the little red line still appears below ‘masculinism.’ And I think the new strategy goes a little something like this.

  7. Posted September 21, 2009 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I think the fetish for masculinity is repressed homophobia rather than homosexuality. But still a good point.
    -Nikki-

  8. Posted September 21, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I think the fetish for masculinity is repressed homophobia rather than homosexuality. But still a good point.
    -Nikki-

  9. Toongrrl
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Eeeewwww

  10. Brian
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Repressed Homophobia? You’re going to have to spell that one out more clearly.
    I’d guess, actually, that it is feeling threatened by women encroaching into what are traditionally male ways of being valuable people. One can (as a man) react by trying to expand your value base into duplicating the areas in which women have traditionally been seen as valuable, or one can retreat into the bits of masculinity that women haven’t embraced. The latter works out … well, badly like above. But it shouldn’t be surprising that people do it.

  11. Citizen Lane
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Same thing. I think most of their homophobia comes from denying sexuality (Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, etc.).

  12. alixana
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The thing that blows my mind about this sort of thing is that it’s fueled by this circular reasoning that seems like misogynistic men admitting that they treat women badly.
    Why do they need to cling so hard to this so-called masculinity? Because otherwise, they’ll be feminine. And why don’t they want to be feminine? Because that’s what women are, and being a woman is bad. Why is being a woman bad? Because these masculinity-loving men treat women like shit, and these men don’t want other people to treat them like shit.
    It’s like some perverted reading of the golden rule – don’t let others treat you the way you treat other people.

  13. Opheelia
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, darn. I saw mention of this without the source of the call, and actually had high hopes for “new masculinity.” If it was a term used to complement feminism by breaking down gender roles and expanding the validity of men’s experiences beyond the current definition of “manhood,” I’d be all over it.
    And that’s really what I thought it would be. I guess I was hoping it was more like Jackson Katz and less like Billy Graham. Bummed it’s the same old crap.

  14. Tracey T
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Also, when they say date with dad they don’t intend for conversations to occur as much as indoctrination. It’s about protecting her hymen and trying to convince her of a certain strain and interpertation of Christianity, not having an open dialogue on dating/safety/expectations/boundaries and differing ideas about religion.

  15. HL Chilly
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I think, additionally, that it kind of perpetuates the idea that girls and women are man’s property. As a parallel, Dad walks you down the aisle and hands you to your husband because you are being passed from one “owner” to another. It seems to me that Dads acting like “dates” who fulfill the position of socially pairing with their daughters are making sure that the next guy who does so becomes a husband.
    Not only does this seem like the passing of property, but it also effectively eliminates the middle ground of girls dating for fun. In the article, it mentions that the daughter might talk to Dad about who’s going out with who, but not to worry because “going out” does not actually mean a “date”. So the rhetoric of the article seemed to imply that girls “dating” Dad will be safely passed to a husband if Dad does a good job as a male social partner.

  16. llevinso
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Very true.

  17. Comrade Kevin
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    What is a “man”? If I wasn’t so repulsed by the whole idea, I’d be tremendously confused. I guess what really makes me uncomfortable is is seeing the discomfort that men often feel when something challenges their gender assumptions of what constitutes “masculinity”. They aren’t suppose to be vulnerable, but yet, that’s exactly how they’re feeling at that moment. It makes me just as uncomfortable to see it as it they must be feeling inside.
    I really wish we could change that.

  18. IamnotTheDudeness
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see how being more manly will make you more potent to combat feminism. They’re basing their ideas on stereotypes.

  19. Furiousfemale
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I think this fear of all things womanly is why there is such a market for “Truck Nutz” I saw some the other day, and my husband and I had a good laugh, but it makes you wonder about how insecure some men are that there is actually a market for things like this

  20. Furiousfemale
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I spent of a lot quality time hanging out with my dad growing up, going to movies, the library, museums etc. And that’s what I want my husband to do with our daughters. Sometimes even as an adult I just feel like spending more time with my dad, especially when baby item shopping with my mom and sister gets exhausting. One time they were visiting and my mother and sister went shopping but I decided to stay behind ( i was 7 months pregnant and did not want to leave the couch) and watch a movie with my dad and husband. It was great :

  21. Tracey T
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Also, telling your pre-adolescent boys that all porn is gay porn will keep the evil porn away b/c they are the most homophobic demographic. Seriously, can not make this stuff up.
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2009/09/21/GOP_Staffer__All_Pornography_Is_Homosexual_Pornography/

  22. Tracey T
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Also, telling your pre-adolescent boys that all porn is gay porn will keep the evil porn away b/c they are the most homophobic demographic. Seriously, can not make this stuff up.
    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2009/09/21/GOP_Staffer__All_Pornography_Is_Homosexual_Pornography/

  23. IamnotTheDudeness
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Holy Crap!!!
    Michael Schwartz, the chief of staff for Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma,is saying “Parents can keep their sons from pornography by telling them the material is “homosexual,” says a Republican Senate staffer, because that is the last thing any young boy wants to be.”
    You have a better chance of deterring pornography by telling young boys that if you view porn, Santa Claus will not give you any presents. That’s more realistic than this crap this fool is babbling.
    As for the last thing, gay being the last thing any young boy wants to be, that’s true…unless the boy is gay!!

  24. CS
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t read the family counsel article but I probably wouldn’t agree with it.
    That being said, I support encouraging men to act like strong women feminist women…

  25. Devonian
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    What is a “man”?
    A miserable pile of secrets! But enough talk, have at you!
    You walked right into that one…

  26. cattrack2
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    If your only ideas of manhood are based in opposition to womanhood, you aren’t much of a man.

  27. qtiger
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    I dont thinking defining manhood as any set of ideas or actions, or attacking someone’s manhood, is productive.

  28. qtiger
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    *think
    Hands typing faster than brain.

  29. Newbomb Turk
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Memo to the Family Research Council:
    If you’re going to traffic in homophobic and misogynist stereotypes to create your New & Improved Masculinity, you might want to use a picture of a man without a shaved chest or underarms. Dude looks like a gay porn star!

  30. stéphane
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    These guys , Billy Graham etc… are everything but true christians .
    There’s already a conflict within christianity when it comes to gender roles . I believe ( and i want ) this conflict to soon escalate to an absolute ,all-out confrontation .
    I’m on the side of those who want to reclaim the christian label from morons like Billy Graham .
    In the end it all boils down to three simple things christians must agree on :
    _Teaching the value of abstinence and purity is not conflicting with giving information about contraception .Information and knowledge is empowerment and ignorance just fuels useless fascination .
    _The gender role assignation in christian mariage must simply be opened to a whole new array of combinations where men must DO THEIR DAMN SHARE OF HOUSEWORK CLEANING COOKING CLEANING REARING /EDUCATING CHILDREN STAYING AT HOME ETC … and women would without restraint pursue their professional careers .
    _ Equal expectations placed on young men when it comes to sexual conducts .

  31. kapogin
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone look at any of the other session descriptions? The one right below this one actually refers to the Obama administration as a “thugocracy”… So I guess their target demographic is sexist and racist.

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