I have an original blog post I'll probably put up in the next day or so (sorry for not writing more), but I read this article this evening and just had to write about it.
There really is an obsession with masculinity on the part of right-wing Republicans and the right-wing pundits. Sara at Orcinus has a fantastic post today about it. She also references great articles by Digby and Dave Niewert, also on the same topic. Sara writes:
Over the years, my online ex-fundie community has spent a lot of time puzzling over the ways in which fundamentalism arrests the moral, social, emotional, intellectual, and sexual development of anyone who embraces it...
Right-wing authoritarian (RWA) followers have little use for reason; but are very invested in their fantasy lives. They take myth and metaphor absolutely literally, because interpreting them requires a level of abstraction they aren't comfortable with.
It really seems to play into the whole Republican, conservative mindset. The thing is, they're interested only in the image, not the substance. I mean, you've got Tucker Carlson calling Barak Obama "a wuss" with "wimpy rhetoric," yet Chris Matthews raves about Fred Thomson's "daddy image." First of all, Twinkletoes Tucker shouldn't be criticizing anyone's butchness. (I should also point out that strong female figures make Carlson fear for his own manhood.) Yet when they're faced with real masculine figures, they go on the attack. Somehow in the last election, John Kerry and John Murtha had their war service mocked and belittled, while virtually no one in the Bush administration served in the military and even fewer in combat.
Which brings me around to my point, which is that the over-the-top behavior around masculine gender roles Digby and Dave are noticing is pretty classic early primary behavior, too. The games boys play at this age often involve extreme masculine archetypes -- cowboys, cops, soldiers, sports heroes, spacemen, and so on. The fact that so many mainstream and conservative media guys are suckered by this posturing shows that they don't really have a clue about what a Real Man looks like -- though, somewhere deep down inside, they're pretty sure they don't qualify. That's why they're so easily wowed by men who can put on the costume and make it look good.
Go read the whole thing; it's really very good.
Speaking of media narratives of masculinity, remember that iconic image of Dubya in his flight suit after flying the jet to the carrier where he gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech? Did you know that's the basis for the George W. Bush Top Gun Action Figure? Get this: it's anatomically correct. I'll just leave you with that.