So Paul Kemp wrote a thing. “Why I Write Masculine Stories.”
Both Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig responded. Probably other people did too, and I haven’t seen them, because I am writing a thesis and oh god oh god my life is a BLACK HOLE AND EVERYTHING IS DISAPPEARING –
So Kemp has written some books, and he wrote a thing about why they are masculine stories. (And how he’s not anti-woman and why no one should jump down his throat.) But there’s a problem here.* And because I’m cranky, I’m going to add my two cents pointing it out.
Kemp is basically framing the positive attributes of honour culture – among them defence of people less capable of defence than oneself, honesty, loyalty, self-discipline and true friendship – as essentially gendered, and ignoring the problems that creates. Framing it thusly removes women a priori from the category of those expected to participate in (capable of) honourable acts.
That’s prime retrograde bullshit right there, under the guise of “traditional masculinity.”
His comment in reply to Simon Spanton brings this problem a little more clearly into view, where he asserts that what would be cowardly in a man is seen as normal for a woman. Whatever his intentions, that right there reinforces a worldview in which femaleness is lesser than maleness.
I’m tired of treading this ground. I can’t quite express all my inchoate frustrations with it without resorting to expletives, so I’m just going to say:
REND IT WITH THE HANDS. TEAR IT WITH THE TEETH. KILL IT INTO PIECES.
*Quite aside from some apparent confusion over the Roman term virtus, but I’ll leave that to the Latinists.