So saith Katie today:
Civilization's central challenge is to channel male aggression to constructive purposes.
Success in this effort is intimately tied to the way that a society defines manhood. More than anything, most boys want to be "real men." They want rules and contests for establishing manhood, and strong male figures who can show them how it's done.
Western civilization traditionally has relied on the notion of honor to help channel male aggression to constructive ends. From King Arthur to John Wayne, a real man exhibits martial virtues: He is courageous, resourceful and self-controlled. He uses his strength to protect the weak. He fights fair and doesn't kick an opponent who is down.
But our postmodern society is uncomfortable with the very idea of manhood. Far from applauding honor, we often deride it.
Many factors account for this. Our cynical age does not believe in heroes. It constantly questions noble motives and searches for feet of clay. Feminism too -- in its more radical guises -- denigrates traditional male virtues, devalues fatherhood and questions society's very need for men. On top of this, our therapeutic culture elevates emotion and self-expression -- "letting it all hang out" -- over reason and self-restraint, mocking the traditional male "stiff upper lip." We are obsessed with youth, which tends to reject authority and places little value on self-mastery. [emphasis is Spot's]
What on earth is she talking about, Spotty?
Well, go read the column, grasshopper, but this is it in a nutshell: males are becoming increasingly violent. (Spot questions the premise. He wonders if Katie has ever seen West Side Story.) Why? Males have always been aggressive.
Katie thinks we should raise boys way the Spartans did, or at least they way they were portrayed in the movie 300.
Mommy, Mommy, I dropped Daddy's bowling ball on my foot! My toes are all purple and there's blood coming out of my big toe!
Well, little man, you know you're not supposed to be fooling with Daddy's bowling ball! That's what happens when you disobey authority! I will look at it when Martha Stewart is done showing Mommy how to make marshmallows. Until then, pipe down please.
You'll raise a guy with a stiff upper lip Katie, but he'll have the emotional range of Sam Waterson in Law & Order. And what are male virtues, Katie? Aren't virtues things that people of both sexes should aspire to? Frankly, if Spot loses his balance and starts to fall into the path of a oncoming light rail train, he doesn't really care if the courageous outstretched arm to save him is male or female.
Spot doesn't think the channeling of male aggression is civilization's central challenge. That puts taming males on a par with domesticating dogs or cattle. Do you really think, boys and girls, that adolescent boys fight because of the diminished role of fatherhood? Yeah, those darn feminists! Makin' me feel really devalued! Think I'll go pound the crap out of Freddie! Somehow, Spot doesn't think it works that way.
You know what the real problem is, boys and girls?
Fluoridation of the water supply.
Update: Actually, the Wege outlines Katie quite well today.