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Metal Masculinity


It’s the horrific availability of guns that must be addressed first. But we also need to understand why America has fetishized weapons of death. Uvalde reminds us that we’ve also fetishized the police as protectors, and that’s gone badly wrong.

It’s clear that issues of masculity are part of the gun and police fetishes. Men’s desire (yes, it’s mostly men) to buy and hoard, sometimes use, weapons of war outweighs the right of children to study safely in school. The men who use those weapons to kill children in school overwhelmingly have histories of abusing the women in their lives.

Some quick thoughts –

The vision of masculinity has changed over the years. More muscles, more action. Here’s Marlon Brando.

I did some photo searching and find that Tom Cruise is somewhat similarly muscled – that is, what I consider a normal man who has paid some attention to his body. But we also see muscles that come from a lot of weightlifting or perhaps pharmaceuticals.

Henry Cavill. If you click to the source, you can see the progression of his muscles.

And when we get into the superhero universes, it’s worse. No pics of those cartoon muscles, which train our eyes to expect them.

Then there are the external accessories that accompany this vision of masculinity. Pickup trucks have changed even more than the vision of men’s bodies. And we see many more of those pickups. Here’s what Ford offered in that same year as the Marlon Brando photo.

Utilitarian. We have all seen the bechromed behemoths, sometimes jacked up to require ladders to climb into the cab.

It’s worth thinking about why we see these trappings of inflated masculinity. They might just be linked to the need for metal death-penises.

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