The XX Factor

The Effeminate War

Heather , I think I have your answer for why there’s so much characterization of Obama as being hen-pecked into war. It helps conservative-minded folks handle the cognitive dissonance of believing war manly but Democrats effeminate. During times when Republicans are in charge, the formulation is simple: Support for Republicans + support for foreign wars allows many a conservative man to feel satisfied in his manhood. But when Democrats are in charge, it’s just so hard to handle the cognitive dissonance! The desire to level-up in manhood by having other people put themselves in danger to kill foreigners competes directly with the fear that supporting a Democrat in any way will make you erupt into vaginas . The solution is to paint the war as not a real, manly kind of war.

Mark Krikorian of The Corner characterizes the choice for foreign invasion under Obama’s leadership as the act of a pussy-whipped half-man who-can you believe this?!-listens to the counsel of women whom he appointed into positions of authority outside of the Secretary of Putting Children to Bed and the Secretary of Baking Cookies. While disingenuously claiming that he has no problem with female leadership, Krikorian describes Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice as literally nagging Obama into attacking Libya. Of course, the excuse is not that Krikorian is sexist. Oh no. He’s just saying we should be sexist in order to be perceived as “strong” by “enemies abroad,” who now supposedly see Obama as “an effete vacillator who is pushed around by his female subordinates.” Well, if al-Qaida thinks women shouldn’t have roles as leaders, then I suppose that should be good enough for the United States.

There are actual, grown-up reasons to oppose military action in Libya, which I do. It’s especially disheartening to see the guns being whipped out after watching peaceful resistance topple the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. Dudes who want to spend their days posturing over who is a real man should get out of writing about important issues where actual people are getting killed, and take the honorable path of spending their time lifting weights at the gym until they prove themselves by being unable to turn their necks sideways. It may not seem like the most lucrative path, but it got the guys on “Jersey Shore” some serious cash. It’s not too late to put down the pen and start a new career of manhood demonstration through less harmful paths.