The one world tree of extreme masculine douchebaggery.


Don Watson it was, I think, who identified the core problem of modern politics as being dumb blokes and what to do with them. Maybe I’m verbaling Paul Keating’s speech writer here, and if so, my apologies, but I’m pretty sure it was him. And he should take the compliment. No ink-stained wretch ever scribbled such truthy words.

The modern world contains a multitude of sorrows but men behaving badly embiggen so many of them that sometimes I wonder if the roots of our discontent all trace back into the one world tree of extreme masculine douchebaggery.

Hmm, good point, skeptical meme baby, but still. We lads definitely got some ‘splaining to do.

Back when the discourse was all about The Terrorismz a lot of pointy headed types pointed out that the original sin of your beardy nutters was not Islamism but misogyny. Twenty years on and your beardy nutters are from deepest Alabama or the mouth-breathing backwaters of far north Queensland - but the overt fear and palpable loathing of women is the same.

And it’s everywhere, all the time, so pervasive that its unremarkable until suddenly its not. Until a Grace Tame or a Brittany Higgins stands up and calls time.

There’s a term for power structures like that - dominance hierarchies. You can see them structuring human affairs for as long as there have been humans in need of a good structuring, and because of almost all of human history is a grotesquely violent bloodswarm, the enforcement of that structure has been similarly violent or at the very least coercive.

It has been, in that sense, very masculine and in that masculinity entirely predictable - especially for men. We knew our place, and what it demanded of us and everyone else. That knowing could be refined and intellectual or grossly visceral, but one way or another it was known.

You can see the shape of it in a fascinating study of online gamers by Michael Kasumovic and Jeffrey Kuznekoff, who suspected that “female-initiated disruption of a male hierarchy” led to “hostile behaviour from poor performing males who stand to lose the most status.”

Dewonkified: that kickass gamer grrls rolling into a tournament or even a simple multiplayer XBL meet up and kicking ass, would definitely cause a bunch of vicious man-babies who weren’t that good anyway to throw an absolute shit fit.

And that is exactly what happened when the researchers examined 163 games of Halo 3, played on Xbox Live.

(In a moment of academic drollery they admit in the Materials and Methods section of their paper that, “We stopped at 163 as this is a substantial time effort.”)

Kasumovic and Kuznekoff found that lower-skilled male players were way more hostile towards a female-voiced teammate, especially when the boys were playing like gimps and the ladies were eating their lunch.

Well duh, you say.

But it gets better. They also found that these manly joystick heroes “behaved submissively towards a male-voiced player in the identical scenario”.

So they weren’t just dumb cucks, they were soft-cocks.

And still, Kasumovic and Kuznekoff weren’t done. Not all men playing Halo 3 were terrible at video games and worse at life. Some were exceptionally skilled gamers and they’re reaction to the arrival of similarly accomplished women in the game world was also instructive. With nothing to fear, they were supportive and positive.

It’s a long bow, but I’m gonna draw it.

The Double-K boys findings that inept, low-status males ramped up their hostility towards female players to compensate for their loss of status as previously settled hierarchies reformatted around the arrival of competent women, explains a whole helluva lot more than the leader boards of a long ago Halo match up.

It explains this soft cock.

And these gigantic pork bollards

And even some of this

If you want to ride time’s arrow all the way back to the late 80s or early 90s it lands with a meaty thunk in the middle of Don Watson’s insight that the defining problem of politics was what to do with hapless dumb blokes.

You can’t live with them and at that point in time Reality TV had not been invented so you couldn’t send them to an island to fight each other for survival. Watson—Jeez I hope it was him. Don, call me, please—identified a critical fault line running through post industrial society; the status anxieties of a whole gender, or at least the poorly skilled, low status members of that gender who felt their already precarious toe-hold in the dominance hierarchy of late stage capitalism threatened by a bunch of uppity sheilas.

It’s not just a problem for rust belt or red-necked Anglophone cultures. Shibiru Ayalew, Shanthi Manian and Ketki Sheth detail “discrimination from below” in Ethiopia, where subjects of their study where less likely to “to follow the same advice from a female leader than an otherwise identical male leader”. Martin Abel, for the Institue of Labor Economics in Germany, found that having female managers “lowered workers’ interest in working for the firm in the future.”

And of course it’s not the only problem loose in the world.

But when billions and billions of soft cock idiots misidentify the major threat to their status and happiness, the chance of solving those other problems dramatically falls away.