I Am NOT a Sissy


Just when you thought that men in power couldn’t get any crazier, along comes Donald J.Trump. Isn’t it bad enough we had to suffer through George W. Bush’s swaggering presidency with his bumper sticker slogans of “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Bring it On,” “Mission Accomplished,” “Don’t Pull Out,” “Stay the Course?” Apparently not. Day after day, on the TV, on the web, and in magazines and newspapers, we are treated to the many iterations of Trump’s hysterical masculinity—not the funny, ha-ha kind, but rather the overwrought, frenzied, wild, feverish, crazed, distraught, agitated, manic, delirious, unhinged kind of masculinity.

What is it with these men who rose to power and riches on the zippers of their fathers?

Unfortunately, many people have mistaken Trump’s rants—making American great again, building a wall, grabbing a woman’s p***y without her consent—as a sign of strength and not what they really are: the defiant, impotent flailings of a third-grade boy whose knickers have just been pulled down on the playground by bigger bullies. Instead of asking for help, this type of boy goes home and kicks the cat, burns down the house, or worse—shoots nine people in a church.

Such is the state of masculinity today. I coined the term “hysterical masculinity” because there is no adequate alternative to describe the over-amped electrical charge fueling these men’s desperate attempts to prove their adequacy and to confirm once and for all that they are not sissies, not fags, not girls. Why all the fuss?

Why are they so afraid of women?

According to research cited in the Washington Post and reported by The Week, “Men who feel a need to dominate women and consider themselves ‘playboys’ are more likely to suffer from depression and other psychological problems. … An analysis of nearly 80 different studies involving 20,000 men found those who adhere to traditional masculine norms—including a need to win, aggression, emotional isolation and pursuit of sexual conquests—are more likely to suffer from depression, stress, body image issues, and substance abuse.” God help us that Trump is now the leader of the free world.

Sports, as in politics has often been likened to war without the weapons, where hyper-masculine men play out the familiar old theme of “I-am-not-a-sissy-boy.” Take Wilt Chamberlain, for instance.

Malcolm Gladwell featured a story about him during a segment on “Bad Decisions” for the radio program, “This American Life.” Here’s a summary of the story Malcolm recounted on the broadcast in June of 2016.

On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain, 7’1” and 275 pounds, scored 100 points in the game between his Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks. Up until then, Wilt had averaged only 50 points per game.

What, or rather who, made the difference in Wilt’s performance? Rick Barry. Rick Barry was famous for his underhand free throw shots. At the time he retired from the NBA, his free throw percentage of .900 ranked first in NBA history. In 1996, Rick was named one of the 50 Greatest Players.

Prior to being coached by Rick, Wilt’s free throw average was 50% or less, but for that one game back in 1962, when Wilt changed to the underhand free throw, he made 87.5% of his shots. After that, he stopped.

Why in the world, Malcolm wondered, would someone stop doing something that brought him such success? Malcolm reports that in Wilt’s autobiography, Wilt said, “I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded.” He admitted he was wrong, but he just couldn’t do it. There was no rational reason for Wilt to stop; he had every incentive to continue. Very few players since then have adopted the underhand free throw. Some have even dubbed it the “Granny Shot.”

Again, I ask: Why are men so afraid of women?

Rosie Sorenson of Richmond, Calif., is humor columnist for the Foolish Times and other publications as well as essays broadcast on KQED-FM in San Francisco in its Perspectives series. Email RosieSorenson29@yahoo.com.

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2017


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