MEN

The human race, in its intellectual life, is organized like the bees: the masculine soul is a worker, sexually atrophied, and essentially dedicated to impersonal and universal arts; the feminine is a queen, infinitely fertile, omnipresent in its brooding industry, but passive and abounding in intuitions without method and passions without justice.

-- George Santayana


"Man," of course, is more than "woman." "Woman" is a specific biological being, "man" is a human being, universal, impersonal, beyond specifics. If we didn't have the dictionary to tell us, (twice as much in the entry on "man" as in the entry on "woman") then the generic masculine itself would. "The reader" (that means you, dear reader) is a "he." "She" can impossibly refer to a man -- men do not like having the feminine used on them generically.

But even if the male is generic, that doesn't mean he is too general not to have characteristics of his own. The problem is, as well informed magazines and newspapers have lately begun to tell us, masculinity is going through a crisis, which may or may not be midlife but which certainly has to do with identity. All those previously all-male clubs like supreme courts and congresses and universities and businesses are being infiltrated, putting men on the defensive. Male support systems are breaking down and no longer function as they should. Increasing numbers of women are refusing to worship their men. To top it all off, there are no more socially sanctioned male roles.

But if John Wayne is dead, Rambo isn't. Rambo may only be an anachronism, the last gasp of a doomed mentality, an overreaction to the Softie, who was obviously too much of a weakling to be a serious competitor for the title of New Man . Or perhaps the male zealot of the eighties was the two steps backward of the Softie's one step forward, the first sign of a neo-masculine era of male separatists and avant garde machos who obstinantly continue to believe in the myth of the hard guy. Either way, there are still more than enough male fossils out there, clinging to the tag end of assumptions we should have discarded long ago.


Love