Caring for Each Other in Some Strange Night

A thoughtful op-ed by Susan Faludi in the 29 October New York Times echoes Eugenia Cheng's Ingressive vs Congressive remapping of "female" vs "male" classic behavior patterns. The core of Faludi's argument:

The masculine archetype of the 1930s and '40s was the anonymous common man who proved his chops through communal building, not gunslinging. In a 1932 speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that "the man of ruthless force had his place in developing a pioneer country" but he now endangered the nation.

"The lone wolf, the unethical competitor, the reckless promoter," he said, "whose hand is against every man's, declines to join in achieving an end recognized as being for the public welfare, and threatens to drag the industry back to a state of anarchy." New Deal America championed a manliness of usefulness, demonstrated through collective service and uncelebrated competence.

The '30s ideal of heroic civil servant carried into World War II, and was enshrined in Ernie Pyle's battlefront dispatches valorizing unsung grunts – "the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys." Pyle disparaged the silk-scarfed "flyboys," whose camera-ready star turns Pyle instinctively distrusted.

Of the grunt ethic, Pyle wrote, "We are all men of new professions, out in some strange night caring for each other." This service-oriented prototype of manhood – tending to the needs of others, providing protective support, spurning the spotlight – was essentially a maternal masculinity, all the purported qualities of motherhood, recoded for the Y chromosome.

(cf Howards End - Women and Men (2017-09-17), Eugenia Cheng on Thinking (2017-12-30), ...) - ^z - 2020-11-21