Friday, December 11, 2015

Manliness R.I.P?

Is western culture a boy, or a girl?

In four essays in June and July of 1927 (El Sol, Madrid). Jose Ortega y Gasset explored the way age and gender drive culture. His contention was that culture swings back and forth between being obsessed or controlled by the older generations or the younger, and by men or women. For example, back when men—even young men—all wore powdered, grey or white wigs, it was a time when age was respected. People of all ages wanted to appear older. Nowadays we are clearly more of a youth-obsessed culture. Likewise, one can think of the days of the French aristocracy, when the whole court would dress extravagantly, wear makeup and wigs, and they all hung out obsessed with manners. A feminine culture.

(These essays appear in Spanish and French editions of “The Revolt of the Masses” as another essay associated with them, grouped together under the heading “Dinamica del Tiempo,” became a chapter and the driving impulse of that longer work. They are not included in the English translation, and I am unable to confirm that they have ever been translated. They are in his complete world (Obras Completas) in volume 3, starting on page 455.)

So, what are we today, masculine or feminine? One could easily argue that we are entering, or about to experience, a feminine era once again. That might seem counterintuitive given the current obsession with beards, male fashion, and the workout craze. But Ortega would argue that this is exactly what a feminine culture looks like. Men preen and peacock around precisely because they are focused on women and what women want.

The metrosexual movement, and sites like “The Art of Manliness” try to tell men how to be fashionably correct. But let’s be honest, guys, true manliness is not caring what anybody else thinks. It is about getting done what needs to be done and not focusing on looking good doing it.

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Here is the brief NonModern guide to manliness regarding the hot button issues facing men today:

Beards: if you are fortunate enough to be able to grow a full (or at least evenly patchy) beard, you do. Laziness dictates, or at least most men have better things to do than shave every day. Shaving or trimming occurs when: A-You start to look like a cartoon character or an escaped mental patient. B-Your job requires it. Or C-It interferes with necessities like eating.

High Cut Hair: Remember back in the eighties when no one new mullets were stupid, but now we all look back and laugh at how stupid we were? The high cut, slicked back look is like that, only people are laughing at it right now. Add a big beard to the look and it is so ridiculous you have got to be in on the joke, but why would you do that?

“Man Buns”: Adding “Man” to something doesn’t make it OK. A “Man Purse” is just a purse. Why would you grow your hair out long only to ties it up so it looks short and put it all into a ball on top of your head? I am contemplating a line of pink, silk underwear that I can market as “Man Panties.” The worst is this current trend of men who don’t have enough hair for a bun but insist on tying a little “Man Bunlette” up there!

Clothes: If you can manage to dress like a grown-up, you are doing well.  Anything anyone else thinks is not your concern. But shorts on men over forty who aren’t working out? No. And, hats are awesome, but once again if you are a grown man, wear grown man hats.

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